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from the Rhore any head aga Mithradates
hands of the king's generals, and 100,000 Pontic troops occupied its chief fortresses.
But Sulla showed no sign of discouragement. He paid his legions by the desperate expedient of seizing the temple treasures of Delphi and Olympia. To raise a fleet he sent forth his legate, L. Lucullus, bidding him appeal to all the smaller powers of the East, who were frightened by the conquering career of Mithradates. But the Oriental states were cowed, and Lucullus at first met with many refusals; he could only procure a few galleys from the Rhodians and the Phoenicians, with which he could not make any head against the large Pontic fleet. The armies and supplies of Mithradates continued to pass and repass the Ægean without hindrance during the first two years of the war.
But on land, where Sulla was at work himself, things looked better. The generals of Mithradates were beaten at Mount Tilphossium in Boeotia and pressed back towards Athens. Then the greater part of the Greek states sent to ask for terms: they had not liked their experiences of the last year, while they were under the Pontic yoke. Sulla let them buy safety at a price: he wanted money above all other things, and consented to overlook their treason in consideration of huge fines. Having secured his rear, he proceeded to lay siege to the strongholds of the enemy, the city of Athens and its port the Piraeus. They were two fortresses, and no longer one, for the “ Long Walls” which had connected them in the days of Pericles had disappeared, so that their defence was carried out on separate lines.
The first great episode, therefore, in Sulla's Greek campaign of B.C. 87–86 was the double leaguer of Athens and the Piraeus. He had with a very small army-for many of his troops were detached in the direction of Thessaly—to besiege superior numbers in two strong
SULLA STORMS ATHENS
places, of which one was perpetually receiving succour from the sea. The Pontic garrison and the Athenians held out with great resolution, knowing the massacre that awaited them if they gave way. The walls were too strong for Roman siege-craft, and the city had to be starved out, while at the same time several attempts to relieve it both from the inland and from the side of Piraeus had to be beaten back. But Sulla never despaired, and after many months the garrison of Athens grew so weak from famine that they failed to guard the circuit of the walls with sufficient care. The Romans entered by escalade at a point near the Dipylon gate, and met with little resistance in the streets. Sulla allowed his men to plunder the place as a reward for their long endurance in the trenches, and to put to the sword many of the citizens. When at last he ordered the sack to cease, he observed that “he spared the living for the sake of the dead,” i.e. the degenerate Athenians of his own day obtained mercy in memory of Pericles and Plato [March 1, B.C. 86].
Hardly was Athens won, when a great army of succour, over 100,000 strong, came down from Macedonia, driving before it the Roman corps which had been detached on the side of Thessaly. Sulla hastened up from Athens with reinforcements; whereupon Archelaus, the governor of Piraeus, came round by sea with his garrison and joined his colleague, Taxiles. The armies met at Chaeronea, one of the inevitable battle-spots of Greece, where an invader advancing from the north can be brought to action in the narrow space between Lake Copais and the Phocian foothills. Sulla had only 15,000 foot, and less than 2000 horse, but he never doubted for a moment of success. He had seen Asiatic armies before in their own land, and had the greatest contempt for them. But at first he had some difficulty in bringing over his own men to his opinion; they feared the masses of cavalry and the many regiments of mercenaries equipped in the Macedonian fashion with the brazen shield and the long sarissa. To quiet their minds Sulla had to cover his flanks with entrenchments and stockades; but presently the men grew tired of the spade and asked to be allowed to fight. Sulla told them that they should have their will, " though it seemed that it was not so much courage as dislike for digging that inade them so eager.” The event showed that an Oriental army when manfully faced, even by very inferior numbers, would never stand firm before a resolute attack of European troops. There was much confused fighting, but the story of the battle reads like that of the early British victories in India. The odds seemed hopeless, but the balance of courage compensated for them. The scythechariots of the Asiatic turned out as great a fraud as they had been at Cunaxa or Arbela. The legionaries soon learnt their futility; "they clapped their hands and asked for more, as if they had been looking at the races in the circus.” The unwieldy phalanxes of infantry got into disorder, and when the line of pikes was broken, fell an unresisting sacrifice to the Roman sword. Only the cavalry of Archelaus gave some trouble; it pierced the Roman line at one point and had to be driven off by hard fighting. But, seeing his infantry cut to pieces, the Pontic general rode off the field and escaped.
We can hardly believe Sulla's allegation that he slew 100,000 men in this battle, more especially when he couples it with the astounding statement that he himself lost but fourteen legionaries, of whom two were only “missing” and turned up next morning. Even Asiatic armies cannot be routed with such a light butcher's bill, and the wild lie must have been put about merely to cheer the spirits of the army, and inspire them with contempt for the miserable enemy [March B.C. 86).
FLACCUS AND SULLA
133 But just when the subjection of Greece seemed complete, a new danger fell upon Sulla. The Democrats at Rome had just landed an army in Epirus under the Consul Flaccus, in order to attack him in the rear. For Cinna and his friends had not the magnanimity of Sulla, and would not reserve their swords for the foreigner, or defer civil strife till the state was free from external enemies. Fortunately for the victor of Chaeronea, Flaccus proved a feeble foe, as was to be expected from a hero of the Forum,—one whose only achievement had been to pass a disgraceful law which allowed debtors to pay off their liabilities by tendering one-fourth of what they owed to their unfortunate creditors. The consul marched into Thessaly, spreading proclamations which invited the legionaries of Sulla to desert the standard of an outlaw and to join the legitimate representative of the Roman people. But when the two armies faced each other near Melitaea, Flaccus's raw levies showed no eagerness to fight; they began to pass over to Sulla, whose reputation as a general and notorious liberality impressed their minds. The Optimate, on the other hand, could thoroughly rely on his men, though he had bought their loyalty by methods of very doubtful morality, not only by paying them well, but by allowing them to live at free quarters, to pillage every place that offered resistance, and to maltreat the inhabitants to their heart's content. Flaccus found his own army much more likely to melt away than that of his rival, and hastily sheered off towards Macedonia, giving out that he would march against Mithradates instead of against the Optimates. This he actually did, to the great relief of Sulla, who not only was relieved of an enemy, but saw that enemy doing good work for him by making a diversion in Asia For Flaccus crossed the Hellespont, and though he was soon after murdered in a mutiny, his successor, the demagogue Fimbria, continued his policy,
left the Optimates alone, and began harrying Mysia and Bithynia.
But long ere Flaccus reached Asia, Sulla was compelled to fight one more great battle in Greece. While he had been marching into Thessaly to face the Democrats, Mithradates had sent reinforcements to join Archelaus, who after his defeat at Chaeronea had taken refuge at Chalcis in Euboea. To watch this new army Sulla had fallen back to Athens, where he spent the winter of B.C. 86–85, waiting for the enemy to make a move on to the mainland. For as long as the Pontic troops were protected by the channel of the Euripus they were unassailable. Sulla had no fleet to ferry him over the strait, and the sea belonged to his adversaries. The Pontic ships wandered far and wide, even as far west as Zacynthus, and there was no Roman squadron to keep them in check.
But in the spring of B.C. 85 Archelaus had been strengthened by new levies, till he had 80,000 men ir hand. The king wished him to fight, and he had been sent a colleague named Dorylaus, who was eager to take the offensive. Accordingly the Pontic army crossed the straits into Boeotia, and gave Sulla the opportunity for which he had been longing. His second great battle was fought in the marshy plain near Orchomenus, only ten miles away from the spot where he had won his first victory in the preceding year. The decisive engagement was brought about by the Romans commencing to run lines across the plain, so as to hem in the enemy with their backs to the morasses of Lake Copais. As Sulla had expected, this manoeuvre compelled his adversaries to attack him. The Pontic cavalry came suddenly charging down on the half-completed entrenchments, and drove back for a moment the cohorts which were covering the work. Seeing them give way, Sulla sprang from his