Appian, The Civil Wars (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [App. BC].
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Cassius summons Rhodes to surrender -- The Rhodians resolve to fight -- They send Archelaus as an Ambassador to Cassius -- Speech of Archelaus -- Reply of Cassius -- Sea-fight between Cassius and the Rhodians -- The Rhodians retreat -- Cassius lays Siege to the City -- Rhodes captured and put under Contribution -- Ten Years' Tribute exacted from Asia


When Brutus and Cassius had their conference, [Note] Brutus was in favor of uniting their armies and making Macedonia their chief concern, since the enemy had forty legions, of which eight had already crossed the Adriatic. Cassius was of the opinion that the enemy might still be disregarded, believing that they would waste away for want of supplies by reason of their great numbers. He thought it would be best to subvert the Rhodians and Lycians, who were friendly to Octavius and Antony and who had fleets, lest they should fall upon the rear of the republicans while the latter were busy with the enemy. Having decided to do this, they separated, Brutus proceeding against the Lycians and Cassius against Rhodes, in which place he was brought up, and educated in the literature of Greece. As he had to contend with men of superior naval prowess, he prepared his own ships with care, filled them with troops, and drilled them at Myndus.


The Rhodians of distinction were alarmed at the prospect of a conflict with Romans, but the common people were in high spirits, because they recalled former victories achieved over men of different character. They launched thirty-three of their best ships, but while doing so they sent messengers to Myndus nevertheless to urge Cassius not to despise Rhodes, which had always defended herself against those who underestimated her, and not to disregard the treaty which existed between the Rhodians and the Romans which bound them not to bear arms against each other. If he complained of them for not rendering military assistance, they would be glad to hear from the Roman Senate, and if called upon they would lend such assistance. When they had spoken thus Cassius replied that as to the other matters [Note] war would decide instead of words, but as regarded the treaty, which forbade them to bear arms against each other, the Rhodians had violated it by allying themselves with Dolabella against Cassius. The treaty required them to assist each other in war, but when Cassius asked for assistance they quibbled about the Roman Senate, which was either in flight or held captive at present by the tyrants who had mastered the city. Those tyrants would be punished, and the Rhodians would be punished also for siding with them, unless they speedily obeyed his commands. Such was the answer Cassius returned to them. The more prudent Rhodians were still more alarmed, but the multitude were excited by two public speakers named Alexander and Mnaseas, who reminded them that Mithridates had invaded Rhodes with a still larger fleet, [Note] and that Demetrius had done so before him; whereupon they elected Alexander as prytanis, who is the magistrate exercising the supreme power among them, and Mnaseas as admiral of their fleet.


Nevertheless, they sent still another ambassador to Cassius in the person of Archelaus, who had been his teacher in Greek literature in Rhodes, to present a more earnest petition. This he did, taking Cassius by the right hand in a familiar manner, and saying, "O friend of the Greeks, do not subvert a Greek city. O friend of freedom, do not attack Rhodes. Do not put to shame the glory of a Doric state hitherto unvanquished. Do not forget the famous histories you learned both at Rhodes and at Rome -- at Rhodes, what the Rhodians accomplished against states and kings (and especially against Demetrius and Mithridates, who were deemed invincible), in behalf of that freedom for which you say that you also are now contending -- at Rome, our services to you, among others those that were rendered when we fought with you against Antiochus the Great, concerning which you have monuments inscribed in our honor. So much, O Roman, for our race, our dignity, our condition hitherto unenslaved, our alliance, and our good-will toward you.


"As for you, Cassius, you owe a peculiar reverence to this city in which you were brought up and educated, restored to health when sick, where you had your hearthstone, and where you attended my very school. You owe respect to me who have hoped that I should some time plume myself on your education with different hopes, but I am now pleading this relation in behalf of my country, lest it be forced into a war with you, its pupil and its ward, where one of two things must necessarily happen: either that the Rhodians perish utterly, or Cassius be defeated. In addition to my entreaty I give you the advice that while engaged in such important tasks in behalf of the Roman commonwealth you take the gods for your leaders at every step. You, Romans, swore by the gods when you recently concluded the treaty with us through Gaius Cæsar, and to the oaths you added libations and gave the right hand, which is valid even among enemies, not to mention friends and wards. Besides dreading the judgment of the gods, have regard for the opinions of mankind, who consider nothing more base than a violation of treaties, which causes the violators to be distrusted in all respects by both friends and enemies."


When the old man had thus spoken he did not let go Cassius' hand, but shed tears on it, so that Cassius blushed at the spectacle and was moved somewhat by the sense of shame, yet he drew away his hand, and said, "If you have not counselled the Rhodians not to wrong me, you have yourself done me wrong. If you have so counselled them and they have not followed your advice I will avenge you. That I have suffered injury is plain enough. The first wrong done me was when I asked assistance and was slighted by my guardians and instructors. In the next place they gave the preference to Dolabella, whom they had not brought up and educated, rather than to me. And what makes it worse, O freedom-loving Rhodians, is that Brutus and I and the noblest men of the Senate, whom you see here, were fugitives from tyranny for endeavoring to liberate their country, while Dolabella was seeking to enslave it to others, whom you also favor while pretending to abstain from our civil wars. This would be a civil war if we also were aiming at supreme power, but it is plainly a war of the republic against monarchy. And you, who appeal to me in behalf of your own freedom, have refused aid to the republic. While professing friendship for the Romans you have no pity for those who have been sentenced to death and confiscation without trial. You pretend that you want to hear from the Senate, which is suffering from these very evils and is not yet able to defend itself. But the Senate had answered you beforehand when it decreed that all the peoples of the Orient should lend aid to Brutus and myself.


"Whatever aid you have rendered us when we were adding to our possessions (for which you reaped an abundant reward) you remind us of, but when in our time of adversity you fail us in the struggle for freedom and safety, you have very short memories. Even if we had had no relations with each other before, you ought, as members of the Doric race, to be willing to begin now to fight for the Roman republic. Instead of such thoughts and deeds you quote to us treaties, -- treaties made with you by Gaius Cæsar, the founder of the present monarchy, -- yet these very treaties say that the Romans and the Rhodians shall assist each other in case of need. Therefore, assist the Romans in the time of their greatest peril! It is Cassius who quotes these very treaties to you and calls for your help in war, -- Cassius, a Roman citizen and a Roman general, whom, as the Senate's decree says, all the countries beyond the Adriatic are required to obey. The same decrees are presented to you by Brutus, and also by Pompeius, who has been invested by the Senate with the command of the sea. Added to these decrees are the prayers of all these senators who have fled, some to myself and Brutus, and others to Pompeius. The treaty provides that the Rhodians shall lend aid to the Romans even in cases where the application is made by single individuals. If you do not consider us as generals or even as Romans, but as exiles, or strangers, or persons condemned, as the proscribers call us, O Rhodians, you have no treaties with us, but only with the Roman people. Being strangers and foreigners to the treaties, we will fight you till you obey our orders in everything." With this ironical remark Cassius sent Archelaus away.


Alexander and Mnaseas, the Rhodian leaders, put to sea with their thirty-three ships against Cassius at Myndus, intending to surprise him by the suddenness of their attack. They built their hopes somewhat lightly on the supposition that by sailing against Mithridates at Myndus they had brought that war to a successful end. In order to display their seamanship they took their station the first day at Cnidus. The next day they showed themselves to the forces of Cassius on the high sea. The latter in astonishment put to sea against them, and it was a battle of strength and skill on both sides. The Rhodians with their light ships darted swiftly through the enemy's line, turned around, and attacked them in the rear. The Romans had heavier ships, and whenever they could come to close quarters they prevailed, as in an engagement on land, by their greater strength. Cassius, by reason of his more numerous fleet, was enabled to surround his enemy, and then the latter could no longer turn and dart through his line. When they could only attack in front and then haul off, their nautical skill was of no avail in the narrow space where they were confined. The ramming with their prows and broadside movements against the heavier Roman ships did little damage, while those of the Romans against the lighter vessels were more effective. Finally, three Rhodian ships were captured with their crews, two were rammed and sunk, and the remainder took flight to Rhodes in a damaged condition. All of the Roman ships returned to Myndus, where they were repaired, the greater part having suffered injury.


Such was the result of the naval engagement of the Romans and the Rhodians at Myndus. Cassius watched the fight while it was going on from the summit of a mountain. When he had repaired his ships he sailed to Loryma, a fortified place belonging to the Rhodians on the mainland opposite the island, from which he sent his foot-soldiers across in transports under the command of Fannius and Lentulus. [Note] He advanced in person with eighty ships rigged in a way to produce terror. He surrounded Rhodes with his land and naval forces, and then remained quiet, expecting that the enemy would show signs of weakening. But they sailed out again valiantly and, after losing two more ships, were hemmed in on all sides. Then they mounted the walls, heaped them with missiles, and resisted simultaneously the soldiers of Fannius, who were assailing them on the landward side, and Cassius, who was advancing his naval force, prepared for wall-fighting, against the defences on the sea. Anticipating such a necessity he had brought with him turrets in sections, which were then elevated. Thus was Rhodes, after suffering two naval defeats, beleaguered by land and sea, and, as frequently happens in sudden and unexpected trouble, found herself wholly unprepared for siege; whence it became evident that the city must speedily be taken either by assault or by famine. The more intelligent of the Rhodians perceived this and opened communications with Fannius and Lentulus.


While they were doing so Cassius suddenly made his appearance in the midst of the city with a chosen band of soldiers, without any show of violence or use of ladders. Most people conjectured, as seemed the fact, that those of the citizens who were favorable to him had opened the small gates, being moved by pity for the town and the apprehension of famine. Thus was Rhodes captured; and Cassius took his seat on the tribunal and planted a spear by the side of it to indicate that he had taken the city by force. Laying strict commands upon his soldiers to remain quiet, and threatening with death any who should resort to violence or plunder, he summoned by name about fifty citizens, and punished with death those who were led before him. The others, who were not found, numbering about twenty-five, he ordered to be banished. All the money that was found, either gold or silver, in the temples and the public treasury, he seized, and he ordered private citizens who had any to bring it to him on a day named, proclaiming death to those who should conceal it, together with a reward of one-tenth to informers and freedom in addition in the case of slaves. At first many concealed what they had, hoping that in the end the threat would not be carried out, but when they saw the rewards paid and those who had been informed against punished, they became alarmed, and having procured the appointment of another day, some of them dug their money out of the ground, others drew it out of wells, and others brought it from tombs, in much larger amounts than the former collections. [Note]


Such were the calamities that befell the Rhodians. Lucius Varus was left in charge of them with a garrison. Cassius, although delighted with the quickness of the capture and the quantity of money taken, nevertheless ordered all the other peoples of Asia to pay ten years' tribute, and this they did within a short space of time. News now reached him that Cleopatra was about to sail with a large fleet and very extensive apparatus to Octavius and Antony. She had espoused their cause previously on account of her relations with the first Cæsar, and now she espoused it all the more by reason of her fear of Cassius. The latter sent Murcus, with a legion of the best soldiers and a certain number of archers, with sixty decked ships, to the Peloponnesus, to lie in wait in the neighborhood of Tænarum and to collect what booty they could from that country.

Appian, The Civil Wars (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [App. BC].
<<App. BC 4.8 App. BC 4.9 (Greek) >>App. BC 4.10

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