With the entrance of Rome into Rhodes' war with Philip V come new and persistent problems in evaluating the Rhodian navy. It cannot be said too many times that the struggles of Rhodes; the performance of her fleet; have been badly served by their absorbtion into the themes and narrative of Roman historiography. However penetrating the analysis in a work focused on Rome, the fact remains that Rhodes was an island naval power of the eastern Mediterranean; the Roman republic a western continental confederation with a dominant army tradition. Any effort to understand Rhodes' wars from Rome's perspectives must be deficient in important areas. The matter runs far deeper than the vastly different economic positions of men who lived by overseas trade in contrast with the leaders and beliefs produced by Rome's long agrarian heritage.
In the course of the wars with Philip V and Antiochus III, Rhodes and her navy have been treated as adjuncts to the forces of the Roman commanders and politicians. The analysis here must make it absolutely clear that Rhodes fought her own wars with both Philip and Antiochus, sometimes with Roman help, often in the face of Roman neglect and indifference to matters of vital concern to the island trading state. Rhodes fought the giants well, and with genuine good feeling for her Italian co-belligerents, but she went to war with Philip and Antiochus in her own interest and on terms she selected herself. Beliefs among modern writers that Rhodes was "a cool ally" to the Romans, or less than eager to accept Rome's new presence in the east do not consider the Rhodians' own tactical, strategic, and economic requirements for survival. Confronted by the full power of three large empires, the Rhodian navy faced and performed the herculean task of meeting all the demands the new wars, new enemies, and new allies posed upon it. The means by which it did so are worthy of close examination.
Both Rhodes and Rome had sufficient reason to desire a final remedy for Philip V's desire to dictate policy outside of Macedonia, as both powers understood before they fought the same enemy together. The Roman Senate, if not the war-weary populus, had found ample nourishment for its own continued fear of Philip's intentions even before the Rhodian, Pergamene, and Athenian diplomats arrived with their plea for aid.
It is certain that the Romans were aware of the Rhodian navy's reputation, and it may have been the news of Chios and Lade that prompted the Senators to transfer a powerful squadron from Sicily to the Illyrian coast in 201. The belief that even the Rhodians could not prevail at sea against Philip V would have provided ample fuel for those desiring to stoke the flames of Roman paranoia in order to secure a declaration of war. The Rhodians themselves would have good reason to encourage such a view. Again, neither the Rhodians nor the Macedonian king himself realized that Philip's fleet had passed the peak of its strength. To all parties, especially the Romans, it appeared that the king's ambitions could still be projected overseas. Livy's account preserves a report to Rome's first admiral sent to the war, delivered by a Marcus Aurelius, a negotiator-cum-military observer in Macedonia. Aurelius's warning that Philip's naval ambitions made him a potential second Pyrrhus expressly catered to the idea that Italy shared Rhodes' own peril of a Macedonian invasion.
There was additional confirmation for Roman fears. Philip did, after all, escape the Rhodian/Pergamene blockade at Bargylia, probably in 201, by means of a ruse preserved in Polyaenus's compilation. Attalus had been deceived by an Egyptian "deserter," who told him that Philip intended a breakout on the following day, an move fires on the beach seemed to herald. Philip's success in slipping out from the bay came via Attalus's bemusement and preparations for battle, but that did not prevent the allies from continuing a hot pursuit until they reached the Pergamene king's base at Aegina. Philip had been kept busy starving and running in the earlier part of the year, but his reverses in Asia did not mean that his lack of opportunity to rebuild his fleet and resume an offensive would be necessarily permanent. The garrisons Philip left behind to preserve his conquests in Rhodes' Peraea certainly maintained a military threat to both Rhodes and Pergamon, one that lasted throughout the war. Only nineteen miles of water separated these Macedonians from the island, even if the city was safe enough inside its walls. The king of Pergamon's actions throughout the war suggest that Attalus always had the thoughts of those Macedonian troops in Asia uneasily in the back of his mind. Philip's ruse may have had less to do with his ships' escape than the allies' willingness to allow him to strand troops in Caria, but Rome was and had to be courted to be won.
Philip himself continued to be his own worst enemy. Immediately after his return home with his surviving fleet, Philip found an exploitable crisis at hand to reacquaint the Greeks with his continued power, despite his setbacks in Asia. The Athenians had overreacted when they executed two Acarnanians for profaning the temple of Eleusis. Philip's fit of pique over this insult to his allies and subsequent raids upon the territory of Attica in response were considerably more childish and infinitely more costly.
The commanders of the Rhodian navy once again figured prominently in bringing Philip's plans to ruin, this time in Greece. Athens had cause dating at least from the Byzantine war to appreciate Rhodes' efforts at maintaining the flow of Black Sea grain through the Bosphorus, and Attica had been among the many territories ravaged by the pirates operating from Crete. When the Athenians pleaded for aid against Philip from Egypt, Mysia, and Rhodes, the Rhodians made their assistance as visible as Attalus's, despite the Pergamene king's great advantage in having a naval base at Aegina and a tradition of benefaction in Athens.
Again, the allied fleet had followed Philip to Greece and anchored at Aegina. Soon afterwards, Attalus made a triumphal procession from the Piraeus to the Pnyx surrounded by the cheering demos. Meanwhile, however, the Rhodians performed the infinitely more dramatic act of rescuing four Athenian warships--with their crews--from a Macedonian raiding force. Attalus's current benevolence could not mask the fact that he himself was another foreign king out to extend his power in Greece, while Rhodes was, like Athens, a Greek democracy with a long cultural and naval heritage. The king of Pergamon got his grand parade, but the Athenians extended their gratitude, recognition, and admiration to Rhodes to the extent of granting Rhodian citizens full citizen rights at Athens. The Rhodians either reacted or had already begun wooing Athens with exactly the same gesture.
Pausanias seems to preserve a slightly garbled account of what appears to have been a long maturing Rhodian diplomatic overture to Athens. Athens herself was an ally to be courted against Philip V. Besides the chance an alliance offered to employ what remained of Athens' influence over popular sentiment in Greece, the Rhodians sought to convince the Athenians to join them in their appeals to Rome. Referring to a monument to the Athenian diplomat, Cephisodorus, Pausanias notes:
Further on is constructed the monument of Cephisodorus, a man who led the Athenian assembly and was hostile in the highest degree to Philip, son of Demetrius, when he was the king of Macedon. For Cephisodorus made the Mysian King Attalus and the Egyptian king Ptolemy allies of the Athenians, and the independent tribes of the Aetolians and, of the islanders, the Rhodians and the Cretans. Yet, as support from Egypt and Mysia and from the Cretans was in many areas insufficient, and the Rhodians, being only strong in their ships, were not much use against the Macedonian hoplite troops, accordingly Cephisodorus, having sailed over with other Athenians into Italy, asked the Romans to come to their aid.
Philip's activities around the Hellespont had posed a threat to Athens long before his soldiers were close to the Academy. So had his support of Aegean piracy and intervention on Crete. Rhodes would have acquired good will in Athens from her ongoing activities in all these trouble spots even before she offered her navy and citizenship to her fellow democracy. Rhodes' example in appealing to Rome would have been an easy one for the Athenians to follow in the light of Rhodes' already vindicated foresight.
Certainly the Rhodians seemed the most helpful and disinterested of Athens' new allies. The Athenians could well have wondered if Attalus was to be satisfied with his possession of Aegina, while the Ptolemaic response to Athens' plea for help had consisted of a pause in the struggles of Ptolemy Epiphanes' regents while the Egyptian government sent to Rome for instructions. What Athens needed was heavy infantry to oppose the Macedonian phalangites. Rhodes was and had been militarily and politically ready to offer some help and more direction to the frightened Athenians in where to get such support, hence statements of the Pausanias passage.
The importance of enlisting Athens in the plea for aid was vindicated by the result. The Rhodian and Pergamene embassies in Rome created a surprisingly small stir, at least in the surviving historical record, in the light of their consequences. Philip's attack upon the cultural and historical capital of Greek civilization added touching urgency to the pleas of all the Greek ambassadors in Rome. In combination with the specter of Philip's potential military threat to Italy, the Greek diplomats prevailed. Livy makes it clear that Philip's ability to project force--again, as evinced by his success against the Rhodians--and his attack upon Athens combined to allow the Senate's success the second time in moving the vote for the Macedonian War.
The king of Macedonia's character contained a mixture of an erratic and petulant personality combined with flashes of outstanding ability. Polybius, ever the admirer of a decisive general, found much to praise in Philip's immediate reaction to the news that Rhodes, Pergamon, and now Athens, joined by the eternally hostile Aetolians, were asking the Romans to enter the lists against him. Rome's own navy remained a powerful force, however the worse for wear, if not combat, from the Second Punic war. In the impending hostilities, Rome's admirals could threaten the Eastern coast of Macedonia, where geography offered less defenses than the Illyrian frontier. It should be noted that the Rhodians were already posed to do that from their bases among the Aegean islands, which they had acquired thanks to Philip's past depredations there. Philip immediately resumed his activities in Thrace with a Scipionic speed that prompted Polybius' praise of the king and censure of the Pergamenes and Rhodians for not anticipating his actions.
Philip's objective was to establish a secure land route to Asia and his garrisons there, and to deny the hostile navies ports for operations against him. His fleet, now under the arsonist Heracleides, reduced Maronea, while one of Ptolemy Epiphanes' viceroys surrendered the outpost of Aenus, and the rest of Philadelphus's old naval stations fell one by one: Elaeus, Alopeconnesus, Callipolis, and Madytus. Despite Polybius's censure, the region had not been left completely undefended by Philip's antagonists. When Philip reached the excellent harbors of Abydos, he found that city's defenders stiffened by a garrison of three hundred of Attalus's soldiers. A Rhodian quadrireme soon appeared in the harbor. The citizens of Abydos would not even allow his envoys within their gates to demand a surrender.
Modern scholarship has applied Polybius's criticism of alleged Rhodian and Pergamene lethargy specifically to the siege of Abydos. The charge may have elements of truth when applied to Attalus, whose garrison attests to some awareness of the city's danger but whose assistance stopped with those three hundred soldiers. It does not apply to the Rhodians. A theory has arisen that the previous Rhodian and Pergamene acrimony over Byzantium had endured through Chios and now acted to paralyze the allies in argument while Abydos literally burned. It is absolutely certain, however, that the Rhodians took immediate action on the city's behalf, and discovered at once that neither they nor Attalus could save the doomed city.
The evidence is this: Livy does report that Attalus had left his fleet at Aegina while he began a diplomatic effort to convince the Aetolians to do something more than complain to the Romans about their difficulties with Philip. The Rhodians, however, returned home with their fleet through the Cyclades, either restoring or reaffirming their alliance with all but Samos, Paros, and Cythnos, which were actually occupied by Philip's garrisons--incidentally, now cut off in a sea of Rhodian allies. There is some evidence that they sought to ward both the islands and Attica at the same time by establishing a presence on the island of Keos. Strategically, they had chosen to move against Philip in the south while he was active in the north. The fact remains that they had acted militarily in an area where their fleet could be employed in either isolating Philip's troops or showing his pirate allies, presumably still in physical existence and by their nature hostile to Rhodes, that the island Republic had by no means abandoned the sea, nor waited passively for the Romans to arrive and take charge of them. Philip, for all his speed in Thessaly, had done nothing to forestall the Rhodians' action, despite what it was going to cost him.
Nor did the Rhodians hesitate when the news came of Philip actually was doing in the north. The Rhodian quadrireme had been lying off the island of Tenedos when the news came that Philip was attacking Abydos. That ship was still in Abydos's harbor along with a vessel from Cyzicus when the city's exhausted defenders made a horrible decision to slaughter themselves and their families rather than submit to the man who had depopulated Kios and Thasos. The people of Abydos's request that Philip allow the Pergamene garrison to evacuate and the allied ships to sail betrays their lack of acrimony towards their unavailing allies. The fact that a Rhodian man of war was still in the harbor to be loaded with costly garments and set on fire in the citizens' dying frenzies attests to the reason that Abydos fell--Philip had closed the harbor immediately after the ship's arrival. Polybius relates how Philip's vessels and batteries had been briefly driven away by the defenders' accurate catapult fire, possibly an indicator itself of Rhodian activity, but Philip had had the time to construct a line of piles across the harbor mouth before even a crack Rhodian vessel could escape the trap. When their warship did not return from its reconnaissance, the Rhodians understood that the city was doomed, by starvation, if nothing else, and that they could not risk their entire fleet in a situation where escape for one unit had proved impossible. It is also true that if the Rhodians could not fight their way into a city by sea, there should be some understanding of Attalus's failure to attack the Macedonian army from the landward side after he arrived at Tenedos. He did perhaps justify Polybius's ire by nonetheless promising the defenders aid.
The Rhodians were quick to inform a Roman delegation visiting their island of the fate of Abydos even as the Senate was preparing its last round of ultimatums to Philip before the final declaration of war. When the Rhodian demos subsequently received an Achaean embassy offering peace with Philip, the resulting vote was to remain in the new alliance with the Romans. A modern interpretation that Rhodes was wavering in her hostility to Philip and consequently her commitment to Rome is absolutely untenable. The democracy that had protested Philip's attack on Kios and fought him at Chios and Lade was not about to make terms with the Besieger's descendant after his most recent display of brutality, whatever had been the fate of the quadrireme's crew. Philip had paused in his attacks upon Abydos to give the defenders three days to finish killing themselves.
Roman naval forces for the war comprised around seventy-five warships, a number presumably including the earlier squadron sent to the Illyrian coast. The combined armada accompanied the army under the consul P. Sulpicius Galba to Illyria. The bulk of the fleet went into winter quarters at the island of Corcyra, but the Macedonian attacks upon Athens were sufficiently pressing for Galba to delegate C. Claudius Cento to take a detachment of twenty "threes" and proceed around Malea to Piraeus. The Rhodians met them there with three quadriremes while the Athenians, possibly with Rhodian help, had already fitted out three aphract coast defense vessels of their own. The combined forces proved sufficient to frighten away the raiders operating from Philip's bastion at Chalcis, whose activities had previously made the entire Attic coastline untenable to the Athenians.
The distortions of a strictly Roman perspective in analyzing this conflict become clearly manifest in a belief in modern scholarship that "Rhodes was but a very cool ally" in the early war effort, and for evidence, more than one author has adduced the small size of the flotilla that met Cento at Piraeus. The view must be discarded unequivocally.
Consider the actual military situation in the winter of 200. Philip V still possessed a navy that had been powerful enough to seize Maronea on its own and to support his army at Abydos--a fleet now under the command of the man who had tried to burn Rhodes' arsenal. Polybius makes it clear that Philip's actions along the Thracian coast were as much to secure his route back to Asia as to deny the Ptolemaic bases to hostile fleets. For his part, Attalus appears to have been frightened enough of a new Macedonian offensive in the east to pull his own fleet back to Asia, leaving only those three Rhodian vessels to protect the coast of Attica and the Rhodian battle fleet to operate on its own once more. If more reasons are required to explain why the Rhodians had not committed their entire fleet to the rescue of the doomed city of Abydos, the Macedonian navy, tactically victorious at Lade, must be factored into the equation.
Again, Philip had left relatively strong forces in the Peraea, while the bulk of the Roman navy remained in the Adriatic that winter. Rhodes' desire to keep the greater part of their own battle fleet in Carian waters or refitting in the city's arsenals should be, and should have been, explicable in terms of strategic and tactical necessity.
There is more. Consider Rhodes' other obligations. Again, the islands of the resurrected Nesiotic league had been reassured of Rhodes' commitment to their preservation, with the "cool allies" even on the occasion of their voyage home continuing the war at sea against Macedon by supporting the bases they would need to raid Philip's vulnerable coast. With Livy testifying to raiding vessels in Macedonia's service at Chalcis, the Cycladic islanders would have required something more than Rhodes' word to protect them from Philip's own plunderers, or other the products of his wars. Nabis, the tyrant of Sparta, had joined in Philip's efforts to stir up the pirates of Crete, and throughout the war his own marauders took the fullest advantage of the other states' preoccupation. The islands could not endure programmatic plundering from any source and continued to be allies worth having, and so Rhodes would have had to allocate ships for the islands' defense, once they had taken them, as Livy says they had, into their alliance.
Consider the economic situation of the time, from the Rhodian point of view. Philip had closed the Hellespont. Athens and the islands had to be fed, and with a plundering army in the Peraea, raids on Attica, and Pergamon itself recovering from Philip's "life of the wolf" activities of the winter before, Rhodes herself would be hard put to it for her corn supply. Egypt remained a source for grain, although the continuing political instability and ongoing war with Antiochus III in Gaza undoubtedly threatened even that source of food--some of which had to be convoyed through hostile waters to Athens, if that city was to be expected to endure Philip's ravaging armies in the Attic countryside. At a time when Philip was stirring his pirate allies to a continuing frenzy, when there was no evidence that the Cretans, federated or otherwise, had abandoned their traditional maritime banditry, and a strong Macedonian fleet was very much still in existence, Rhodes' "cool alliance" stands revealed as the flat-out struggle for survival that it was, Rome's own series of ultimatums and lethargic entry into the war notwithstanding. Going back to their of necessity requirement to do more with less, the Rhodians sought to make up for the limited size of their uncommitted naval force in Greece by their traditional tactical sagacity, and the ancient sources clearly record their success.
The epitomator Florus is the most enthusiastic regarding the Rhodian contribution to the Roman war effort, and it is significant that he does not draw his praise from Livy. "And present of his own will in support was Attalus, king of the Pergamenes, and the Rhodians were there, a sea-going people, who with their ships from the sea, and the consul from land with his infantry and horse, kept everything unsettled." A Roman was willing to acknowledge how well the distant island succeeded in taking the war to Macedonia. Moreover, if there is a need, at any time, to explain the failure of Philip's navy to appear at a given tactical moment, its admiral Heracleides' awareness of the Rhodians' eagerness to settle accounts should be added to the answer.
When the narrative of the naval war resumes, the actual role of the Rhodian navy in Rome's opening campaign at sea becomes clear. Cento's first offensive once his fleet arrived at Piraeus has all the hallmarks of the Rhodian naval tradition--enterprise, an unexpected attack, and Rhodian warships at the fore.
With the pirates operating from Chalcis, the obvious tactic was the one the Rhodians appear to have employed on Crete--destroying the nest. Exiles from the Euboean city brought the news that Philip had stretched himself too thin, with his forces in Euboea dispersed and not expecting any sort of hostile action. The Rhodians at Halicarnassus and Ephesus had previously established a style of operations identical to what came next. Cento's fleet lay off Sunion in the lee of the promontory, waiting until darkness to enter the Euripus strait and arrived at the harbor walls of Chalcis just before daybreak. Roman sapping parties ascended ladders and killed the sentries; it did not take them long to penetrate well into the center of the city and admit the rest of their army. While the Italians fired Philip's granaries and dumps of munitions and artillery, the Rhodians, specifically mentioned, struck the shrewdest blow at Philip's power in Greece the opportunity offered. The political prisoners in what Philip had thought would be the safest custody were released by the Rhodian landing parties, to spread both their hatred of Philip and the news of this latest setback throughout their native areas. The site could not be held--but before the scattered Macedonian forces on Euboea could be drawn together into killing strength, the ships and landing parties had departed with their booty and the damage done to Philip's image in Greece. The king was soon standing in the smoking ruins of his erstwhile fortress, thoughts of Asia abandoned.
Philip's rage led him to yet another blitz attack on a fortified city. He nearly surprised Athens, as he had tried to do at Pergamon. In his baffled hostility, he nearly gave the operators of Athens' catapults a chance to end the war at once. The only thing that saved Philip from his own foolhardy pursuit of some Athenian troops to the very Dipylon gate was the fear of the artillerymen in the neighboring towers that their bolts might hit their own retreating troops. Athens held out, and Philip was reduced, again, to venting his anger on the outlying temples and sacred groves. Livy has Roman ships from Piraeus delivering a garrison into Eleusis in time to maintain that city against Philip's next attack, while a diversionary assault by an Athenian renegade, Philocles, failed to win Philip his grandfather's old fortress of the Piraeus. Even the ruined Long Walls sheltered Athenian cavalry and infantry rushing to the Piraeus's aid, driving Philip to an even more thorough destruction of the temples, tombs, and art works of Attica before he withdrew north through Boeotia.
When the bulk of the Roman fleet came into the Aegean in 199, under the appointed commander, Apustius, Attalus soon joined it with his squadron by way of his base at Aegina, and a message was sent to the Rhodians requesting them to take up their part of the war. As demonstrated previously, the Romans could not truthfully chide the Rhodians for inactivity, although Attalus might have wished to minimize their role in comparison with his own. The Rhodians had carried their share of the total war effort and more by their activities among the islands and by pinning down Philip's forces in their Peraea. Conquerors before and after Philip tended to find war with Rhodes expensive. Philip was getting ready to fight the armies that had destroyed the might of Carthage, but the island state and its navy had the courtesy neither to yield gracefully nor to allow him to recall his own forces from Asia, where they were absolutely useless in the coming Götterdämmerung with the Romans. In the meantime they had given Philip ample reason to watch his back.
What the Romans wanted and did get were the services of the Rhodian battle fleet. When the Romans confirmed by their message that they were ready for them, the islanders dispatched Acesimbrotus and twenty quadriremes to the combined Roman and Attalid squadron off Andros.
Attalus had already resumed his old style of operations with the Romans. Apustius's full force probably numbered approximately thirty vessels, joined with Cento's twenty and with twenty-five ships, by estimate, left behind off the Illyrian coast--if so, another testament to continued anxiety in Rome about Philip's plans. The initial rendezvous came off Cape Scyllaion on the easternmost Argolid. Apustius and Attalus soon comfortably re-established the arrangement of the previous war, the same that Rome had had with the Aetolians. After taking on supplies at Piraeus, the Roman/Attalid fleet launched an attack on Andros. The Romans, as they had in the last war, received the movable property from the evacuated island, while Attalus acquired a second naval base in the manner he had obtained Aegina. The fleet then made a desultory and unsuccessful attack upon Cythnos, and at Prasiae received a force of twenty lemboi from the allied Dalmatian Issaei. These piratical islanders and vessels were sent to ravage the south-western tip of Euboea, just as Philip's own such craft had punished Attica.
When the Dalmatians had returned from their raid, the fleet moved north to the Thraceward region, touching briefly at the island of Sciathus, which Philip had ordered evacuated and destroyed the previous winter precisely because he feared its use as a base against him. An amphibious assault upon Mende, the seaport of Cassandrea, failed after a storm damaged the invasion fleet. Apustius and Attalus made some additional landings in the Chersonese, sacking Acanthus and its territory, before the fleet returned with its booty to a safe anchorage at Euboea. The two then took ten light vessels into the Malian gulf for an unsuccessful effort to rouse the Aetolians to active hostilities.
The Rhodians had made all this activity possible, although they had managed to refrain from the distasteful practice of enslaving fellow Greeks. Philip had shown concern for the Thracian coast and his own troops in Asia when he turned on the Ptolemaic possessions. He now began to understand the growing danger to his own coasts, and had destroyed the island of Peparethos because it and Sciathos offered a position from which a hostile fleet could threaten Philip's main fleet base at Demetrias. If we are to accept Livy's remark that "Philippus impigre terra marique parabat bellum," then the implication is that the ships at his grandfather's city received some form of refit after their year abroad and voyages across the Aegean. Heracleides' command included the coast as well as the fleet, and the fact that Philip made his preparations in expectation of joint Roman-Pergamene activities from Aegina implies that Heracleides was expected to do something--anything--about them.
Heracleides accomplished nothing at all. Immediately after its arrival off the coast of Greece, the Rhodian fleet under Acesimbrotus took up station off a promontory called Zelasium somewhere off Demetrias and stayed there--which explains both the Roman/Attalid fleet's absolute freedom of action and Heracleides' otherwise inexplicable immobility. Livy's reference to this blockade comes when he is describing the Roman/Attalid attack upon the vital strategic site of Oreus--but he does not refer to the Rhodians' presence anywhere else in the entire discussion of the campaign, and his narrative is complete for this period. What Livy does say is that Heracleides was "more inclined to take his risks based upon his enemy's negligence, rather than through outright force." In other words, he hoped that the Rhodians would relax their guard enough for him to break out of his anchorage without a struggle. Refitted, and with the man who had burned their arsenal in a position to be fought or caught, the Rhodians allowed no such failing.
Concerns about whether the Rhodians alone could have stopped a Macedonian breakout in 199 miss the point of the Rhodians' presence. Livy's Latin is quite clear. The Rhodians were in place off Demetrias "so that, if the Macedonian ships made some move from that place, they would be on guard." At best, the Rhodians would revenge themselves by destroying the hated saboteur; at worst, they could function as trip-wires for the next line of defense. One reason that their position off Zelasium has been strictly associated with the siege of Oreus has been the idea that the allied fleet operating off Euboea could have reinforced the Rhodians if the Macedonians had sortied. It must be noted that such an argument does not apply to the earlier part of the campaigning season. After a winter's refit at Rhodes, twenty naves tectae, as Livy called them, were a formidable force in their own right, as Heracleides knew from Chios and the successful withdrawal, if nothing better, at Lade. The Rhodians had a tradition of opposing larger fleets and expecting superior ships and seamanship to prevail. In this case, their pride was neither unreasoned nor reckless. Whether the Romans and Pergamenes were at Oreus or not, had the Macedonian fleet escaped either Rhodian vigilance or vengeance, it would eventually have faced the three hostile fleets united--a challenge to daunt a daring commander, much less a fugitive arsonist. Florus's remark that the Rhodians raided the Macedonian coasts may well have described the picket fleet's other activities at this time, if so, a testimony of Acesimbrotus's contempt for his opponent. Heracleides, in fact, was cashiered by Philip as fleet commander, arrested, and thrown into prison at the first convenient opportunity. In the meantime, he lay safe in his anchorage at Demetrias while Oreus fell after a brave defense.
What the allies had been doing was chopping away at Philip's connection with the last of his grandfather's fortresses in Greece. With the fall of Oreus, Corinth was essentially cut off. The Macedonians' southward connection on the East was removed by the allied fleets' ability to close the Euripus strait from the newest conquest. Oreus's fall finally stimulated the Aetolians to active hostility which combined with the Roman armies to seal Philip up in Macedonia. The end was a matter of time.
The Romans changed consuls and consequently naval commanders over the winter of 199-198, but the legatus, C. Livius Apustius, accomplished little owing to passing political confusion at Rome. The succeeding consul Flamininus's brother, Lucius Quinctius, nearly missed taking command of the fleet as legatus pro praetore when he arrived at Corcyra just after Livius had taken the forty-five ships there to sea to escort a troop convoy around Malea. Difficulties in rounding the infamous cape allowed the newest commander to assume his position, after he overhauled the warships as they were being forced to tow the laboring transports through Malea's difficult combination of high seas and a strong headwind. Quinctius took an admiral's escort of three quinqueremes and sailed ahead to join the thirty ships Apustius had left to guard the Piraeus over the winter.
Attalus and the Rhodians, still under Acesimbrotus with twenty cataphracts, had rendezvoused off Andros and had resumed harassing raids on Euboea, where Philip still maintained a strong garrison at Chalcis. Events over the previous months had made it more difficult for either power to devote itself exclusively to the war with the doomed Macedonian king. Both Rhodes and Pergamon were coming under increasing pressure from the aggressive Seleucid monarch, Antiochus III. Attalus had dispatched an embassy to the Romans begging for them either to release his troops and fleet from their western commitment, or to order Antiochus away from his kingdom, which he claimed was under attack. The Romans had obliged him to the extent of proclaiming their amity, and Antiochus apparently found it advisable to divert his resources southward for his ongoing struggle in Egypt, and eastward, where he was reasserting his ancestral claims. If Antiochus was operating in Mysia, that meant that the Rhodians in 198 had two Macedonian forces in the territories opposite their island and grounds to be concerned about both. Acesimbrotus may have spent his winter among the islands while the rest of the fleet guarded the grain convoys and watched the strait between Rhodes and the mainland. Nonetheless, both allies sent fleets westward for the final reckoning with Philip.
The younger Flamininus followed his allies' lead by joining them in what had become by his arrival a full-scale amphibious assault on Eretria, another Macedonian outpost. Quinctius left orders during his stopover in Piraeus for each ship arriving there to join the attacking fleet. Livy seems to describe a catapult bombardment by the three fleets united, which he describes as carrying a variety of artillery and other assault machinery as they successfully created a breach in the city's wall.
After it became clear that there would be no help from Chalcis, Eretria tried to surrender to Attalus, who was at least a known evil, while Quinctius took advantage of the defenders' hopes for peace and captured the city with a night attack. The fleet then appeared off Philip's other remaining position at Carystus, where the garrison bought their paroles and were transported unarmed to Boeotia, while the three fleets departed for Cenchreae, preparatory to a large-scale assault on Corinth.
A major reason for striking at the southernmost "fetter" of Greece was the difficulty the Romans had heretofore had in supplying their forces in Greece. The previous strategy of using the army in the west had been dictated as much by supply as by tactical preference, for Malea's storms and the pirates, again, Philip's traditional allies, offered a serious menace to the movement of transports and supply ships. The isthmus and diolkos of Corinth would do much to alleviate that danger, although Flamininus had already made the decision to concentrate his landward assault on Macedonia on the eastern front of Thessaly. Supplies could be delivered by way of Phocis, which allowed access to the Corinthian gulf.
The siege was primarily carried out on the landward side by Roman troops and Attalus' soldiers from Aegina, and failed. Livy suggests that Italian deserters, from the fleet and elsewhere, were decisive in stiffening the defenders' resolve, but his account of an earlier siege at Atrax in the north also makes it clear that, in a breach, the phalanx could and did prevail against Roman cohorts, pila, short-swords and the testudo.  The idea may well have come from Demetrius of Pharos's maneuver of two decades before. The light ships detached from Demetrias could have scurried southward over the winter to the portage and thence to the Corinthian gulf--as the lemboi of Demetrius had done to put the Peloponnesus between themselves and the Rhodian navy. By this time, Philip had undoubtedly stripped his larger vessels of marines and oarsmen out of his need for manpower in the ongoing struggle on land.
The size of Philip's squadron in the Corinthian gulf can be calculated from ancient evidence with a fair amount of certainty. The term lembos can be translated as "skiff," and originally was applied to harbor boats before the appearance of fleet units with the misleading title. Lemboi could have as many as fifty or as few as sixteen oarsmen, in one or two levels, and be equipped with or without a ram. There is, however, a reference to ten Macedonian lemboi in 168 each carrying twenty captured Gauls and two horses in addition to their crews, which the vessels of 198 would have required to make the voyage to Corinth and retrieve Philocles' soldiers. Perseus probably used vessels similar to those constructed by his father. Allowing four men in the place of two horses, which also makes a weight allowance for equipped soldiers in the place of disarmed captives, that would put the carrying capacity of a Macedonian lembos at twenty-four passengers. The resulting size of the squadron of 198 becomes sixty-three ships. That is a reasonable figure for the bulk of the survivors of Chios and the intervening years. In the Corinthian gulf, they could menace Roman ships attempting to supply the army based in Phocis unless a more powerful squadron stood guard at all times.
The arrival of the relief troops allowed Attalus to convince Quinctius to abandon the siege. Fortunately for the allied war effort, negotiations with the Achaean league had thoughtfully been started before the debacle at Corinth, and proved successful. The alliance would have done much to eliminate the threat the Corinthian lemboi posed to Roman transports in the Corinthian gulf by forcing them to operate off hostile shores whenever they departed their base. Once again, Rhodian diplomacy could expedite a combination against Philip, for the simple presence of Attalus and the Rhodians in the Roman alliance allowed an immediate military juncture with the newest Greek allies, without the delay required for a full political foedum with the Roman populus..
Still, the defeat at Corinth was made the more bitter when Argos reacted to the presence of Philocles's troops with a pro-Macedonian coup of its own. The entire Roman fleet withdrew for the winter to Corcyra, probably drawn back into the Adriatic by the presence of the Corinth-based lemboi and the danger they could still pose to the lines of communication with Italy. The allies also went elsewhere, Attalus at least as far as the Piraeus. Livy does not mention the Rhodians, who had probably sailed east earlier to face their ongoing problems in Asia, which they could not afford to ignore.
Meanwhile, Philip's mixture of reverses and minor successes drew him to a round of abortive negotiations in Locris in the winter of 198-7, with what were probably the gleanings of the fleet at Demetrias, five ram-less lemboi and a "shark," pristis, whose name suggests a fast galley. The unimposing size of his naval escort was in keeping with the contemporary state of his navy, and Philip provided the otherwise fruitless negotiations with some moments of farce when, standing on the nose of his "shark," he loudly refused to leave his ship despite Flamininus's shouted proffers of safe-conduct. Philip singled out the Aetolians as objects for his distrust, but perhaps his reluctance to bring his "shark" close to shore can also be explained by the presence of Acesimbrotus, still admiral, back in Greece and among the negotiators.
The Rhodians had much for which to thank Philip, although murder at parley does not seem to have been a tactic they ever employed. Acesimbrotus was demanding the immediate return of the still-garrisoned cities of the Peraea, the inland city of Euromos, and in particular the fortified ports of Iasos and Bargylia. There was also a requirement that Philip allow Perinthus to re-establish its old connection with Byzantium, and to free Sestos and all Philip's other Asian footholds. Philip was not to have another chance to reduce Rhodes by either starvation or assault.
It took an unfavorable comparison of Philip to his ancestors by the Aetolian negotiator Alexander to make Philip forget his caution and have his galley rowed closer to the shore. Philip rowed back to Demetrias for the first night of the conference, with the result that he kept the rest of the negotiators waiting the following morning before another round of shouted bargaining. To the Rhodians Philip was willing to yield the Peraea itself, but not the ports from which he could re-invade it at his pleasure, and the rest of his proffered concessions were in similar vein. The sole item of progress in the negotiations was Philip's brief appearance on shore for a private conference with Flamininus.
The Rhodians continued their war against Philip despite the lack of success against him on the diplomatic front. It is from about this period that their growing influence on the islands of the old Nesiotic league becomes more clearly manifest. The islanders and the aphracts of the Athenian coast guard were joining in the Rhodian patrols of the Aegean, as an inscription from the time attests describing a predominantly Rhodian squadron under the command of Epicrates, son of Polystratus:
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Resolved by the Council and the People, Telemnestus the son of Aristeides made the motion. Since Epicrates, son of Polystratus, the Rhodian, having been dispatched by his People in charge of cataphract warships during a time of war, and with the islanders' triremes and the aphract vessels of the Athenians serving with him, has provided for the safety of those on the seas and for the protection of the islands and the sanctity of matters related to the shrine, there having been a marked preference that those raiding the enemy should not employ their harbors, yet with him keeping to the terms of the clear decision of the people and the piety concerning the sanctuary...
The Rhodians had provided a core of cataphract heavier units around which operated the islanders' triremes and presumably the same Athenian aphracts they had rescued from Philip's clutches at the very start of the war. The Delians were making the most of their shrine's inviolability while at the same time courting those who had protected them in past times of uncertainty. Two other inscriptions from Delos allude to a similar command of the Rhodian Anaxibios, whose good relations with the sacred island apparently endured for some time, possibly into the next war:
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Resolved by the Council and the People, Telemnestos the son of Aristeides made the motion. Since Anaxibius the son of Pheidianax, the Rhodian, having been dispatched by the People of the Rhodians as commander of the islands and the vessels of the islanders and having remained on the sacred island for some time, having both made his dwelling here and conducted himself well and piously and worthily of the People who dispatched him and has in all other matters constantly conducted himself like a good man concerning both the shrine and the people of Delos and has provided both publicly for the needs of the city and privately for those who meet him... Let the council inscribe this resolution on the wall of the council chamber and let the temple-builders inscribe it on the wall of the shrine. Xenocrates the son of Hierombrotus put it to a vote.
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Resolved by the Council and the People: Telemnestos the son of Aristides made the motion. Since Anaxibius the son of Pheidianax, a Rhodian, being proxenos and a benefactor of the shrine and Delian people and has constantly conducted himself like a good man concerning the shrine and People of the Delians, it was resolved by the council and the assembly that he should be crowned with a sacred crown of laurel, and let the sacred herald proclaim so in theater during the Apollonia, when the boy dancers are competing; this the proclamation: the People of the Delians crown Anaxibios, son of Pheidanax, the Rhodian, the proxenos, with a crown of laurel on account of his virtue and piety concerning the sanctuary and his good will toward the People of the Delians...
It would be tempting, and not unreasonable, to take the neutral in its most general sense as "ships," and have Anaxibius a man placed in charge of organizing the merchant fleets of the islanders into convoys for the duration of the first war, with his connection to Delos lasting in the years to come. The reference to his "providing for the needs" of the Delians in line eleven of the first inscription would support this hypothesis more strongly if it existed unrestored. Whether he was in charge of their merchant marine or the commander of an allied contingent, once again, a Rhodian commander had earned the Delians' thanks. Neither sluggishness nor a desire to let Macedon and Rome bleed each other explains any perception of limited Rhodian naval participation in what scholars of Rome call the Second Macedonian war--counting Attalus, Antigonus and Demetrius, Ptolemy II and Philip, Rhodes' fourth.
There is one more interesting testimonial to the frequency of the Rhodian presence in the islands, in an incident also describing the traditional enterprise of Rhodian sailors. Residual volcanic activity in Thera's shattered caldera produced a small cinder cone islet within the harbor, and accompanying religious awe. A prophecy circulated that it signaled an unhappy result for Philip in his ongoing war with the Romans, but the first to set foot on the new bit of land were Rhodians, who erected a shrine to Poseidon Asphaleios before departing. Justin also speaks of a strong earthquake at Rhodes in 196, the same year as the appearance of the cone, which would appear to make sense in geophysical terms. Rhodes' navy would have suffered in inverse proportion to the numbers of ships safely at sea, but even moderate damage from a temblor and accompanying seas would have been a heavy addition to Rhodes' host of burdens.
Meanwhile, the ongoing land war in the Peraea required men, and sometime before 197 the Rhodians transported eight hundred Achaean infantry and a hundred cavalry into Caria for the expulsion of the Macedonians. With Philip himself facing a prorogued Flamininus in the campaign that would end the war at Cynoscephalae, the Rhodians made their own final effort to evict the Macedonians from their ancestral holdings. For all their navy's operations in concert with Roman ships and commanders, the Rhodians fought their land war in Asia without the assistance of a single Roman legionary. They won it, but the modern failure to understand Rhodes' war against Philip V extends to the fighting in the Peraea and manifests itself in this staggering misstatement about the way the Rhodians fought this campaign: "Traders are not often good fighters, and especially they do not like to interrupt their business with active service in the field."
The Rhodian commander of the previous four years of combat is known from his tombstone and a monument to him at Cedreai, Nicagoras son of Pamphilides. He had retaken the smaller villages of Pisye, Idymos, and Kyllandos, but the commander for this final assault was to be Pausistratus, one of Rhodes' most celebrated and tragic commanders.
Polyaenus records Pausistratus's shrewdness and reputation on Rhodes at the same time as he provides evidence for the islanders' distaste for warfare on land, for all their willingness to interrupt their business with military service. Pausistratus is called a "praetor" in Livy's account of this year. Polyaenus uses a different title:
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Pausistratus, the Rhodian admiral, gave orders to his soldiers for a muster and an armed parade. And when they appeared in their finest equipment, he, having embarked them on ship, led them on board the vessels and he ordered all on deck one by one to remove their armor and posted guards so that indeed no one could bring off his equipment.
That this quote applies to the land war in Caria is suggested by the apparent numbers of soldiers involved and the commander's clear need for them. Pausistratus succeeded in defeating the Macedonian army, which also had hired mercenaries, in a set-piece battle at Alabaunda, a fairly fierce struggle of three thousand men on a side. The result was the recapture of the Peraea, although Livy preserves censure for Pausistratus's failure to prevent the Macedonians' escape to Bargylia and to recapture Stratonicea when its garrison was dismayed by the news. The latter city apparently desired to stay independent from Rhodian control even after the terms of the peace of 196 forced the recall of the Macedonians. Antiochus III seems to have returned Stratonicea to the Rhodians as one of his many overtures to the island, while the Rhodians finally secured the authority of a direct Roman delegation to roust the Macedonians out of Bargylia.
The whole of his reverses forced Philip himself to negotiate at Nicaea in 196. The Rhodian presence at the negotiations goes unremarked in the sources, but the final testimony to the value of their contribution in the war effort comes from the fact that the islanders did in fact get everything they wanted. Philip lost both his holdings in Asia Minor and the invasion route he had so laboriously prepared, and all that was left to him of his dream of reviving his great-grandfather's naval hegemony was Demetrius's monster "sixteen," , despised, for the moment, by the Romans as nearly too big to handle. Rhodes could not have asked for more than the surrender of the neglected ships at Demetrias and the evacuation of Philip's possessions near the Hellespont, all of which were in the terms of capitulation. There may have been intervention by Rhodian diplomats at Rome to secure the handing over of the Macedonian navy, since the Senate added that clause to the terms after Flamininus and Philip had made their own arrangements. One more thing is worth noting. Whatever the personal role and praises of Flamininus for his celebrated policy of leaving the Greek cities free and independent of external dominators, that policy had a much longer pedigree on Rhodes than at Rome.
The contrast between Rome's gratification of all Rhodes' desires and the full effects of Flamininus's proclamation at the Isthmian games is much worth noting if there remains any need to evaluate Rhodes' role as a Roman ally in comparison with the part played by Attalus I. When Flamininus liberated the cities of Greece for, among other things, trade with Rhodes, he also neatly deprived the rulers of Pergamon of the chain of naval bases in Greek waters Attalus had been occupying after each was reduced by his combined efforts with the Romans. It is not clear whether the Romans were salving their consciences or catering to their fears of instability resulting from continued Attalid expansion. The death of the redoubtable Attalus himself in 196 undoubtedly made the fait accompli more difficult for his successor Eumenes II to resist. There does remain some evidence that Rome's senior ally got some consolation prizes. Pergamon did keep Andros, which had earlier been part of the Egyptian Nesiotic League, and the Romans confirmed Eumenes' title to Aegina. Moreover, although Livy makes no reference to the disposition of Philip's lemboi, presumably surrendered along with Corinth, Eumenes appeared with thirty-nine such vessels for the chastisement of Nabis, which came hard on the heels of the peace.
The tyrant of Sparta had been everyone's enemy and no man's friend during the war, and the one thing nearly all of Greece agreed upon after the peace was the necessity of his immediate suppression. Philip had offered him Argos after the coup to take his part. Nabis had taken Argos and the Romans' side against Philip, although his raiders continued throughout the war to prey upon shipping from Italy. Nabis had raided the Achaean League's territory, prompting a masterful retaliatory raid by Philopoemen, while the extortionate conduct of Nabis's wife at Argos found its way into the history books. The Senate had agreed with Flamininus's estimation that Nabis could not be left unrestrained if the Romans were to evacuate Greece, and at a council at Corinth all the combatants of the previous war--including Philip, but excluding the suspicious Aetolians--agreed to chastise the obstreperous Lacedaemonian.
The Rhodians were pleased to employ their navy in the long-awaited opportunity to punish Nabis, among other things a perennial pirate, whose role in making their efforts to stabilize Crete more difficult had continued even when Philip had been preoccupied. Nabis gone so far as to employ Crete itself as his favored base for his operations off Malea, and Cretan infantry were his favored mercenaries. The Rhodians struck accordingly, with the help of Nabis's other antagonists.
Argos proved too strongly held by Nabis's forces for the first levies of the allies and the residual Roman army, partially because the news that the allied forces were on the way had prompted an unsuccessful rising. Those most virulently hostile to Nabis in Argos had been killed in the agora or had shinnied down ropes from the walls, leaving the city firmly under Spartan control. After a skirmish with the garrison, Flamininus chose to devastate the city's fields and move the land army directly against Sparta itself while additional troops and a naval contingent gathered.
It is much worth noting that co-operation between Rhodes and Pergamon continued against Nabis even after the defeat of Philip V. Concurrently with the "cool ally" thesis of previous scholarship has run a theory of Rhodian-Pergamene hostility in the opening two decades of the second century, throughout the war with Philip. Attalus certainly had had ideas of expanding towards the Hellespont, manifested in the events around Byzantium. On the other hand, there is little evidence to support actual hostility between Rhodes and Pergamon outside of the Byzantine conflict, where the Rhodians had effectively checkmated Attalus with Prusias and Achaeus. The events leading to Chios and Lade have been explained satisfactorily by relying on the military evidence of our sources. The idea that Abydos fell because of that supposed Rhodian-Pergamene antipathy likewise cannot be sustained, and if Attalus had placed himself in position to exert naval power in the waters off Greece, Eumenes, as noted, found nothing but Andros and Aegina left of his predecessor's wartime acquisitions after Flamininus's proclamation at the Isthmus. Setting aside past theories, what appears consistently in the sources for the third century is a system of Rhodian-Pergamene cooperation during a period of the greatest danger to both independent states. The war with Nabis continues to substantiate the pattern.
To quote Livy describing the mobilization of the fleets against Nabis:
iam ab Leucade L. Quinctius quadraginta navibus venerat, iam Rhodiae duodeviginti tectae naves, iam Eumenes rex circa Cycladas insulas erat cum decem tectis navibus, triginta lembis mixtisque aliis minoris formae navigiis.
L. Quinctius had already arrived with forty vessels from Leucas, with eighteen heavy vessels of Rhodes, and King Eumenes who was in the vicinity of the Cyclades islands with ten heavy warships, thirty lemboi, and assorted vessels of lesser size.
An accepted view holds that the Rhodians were throughout the war trying to keep the Attalids out of the Cyclades and had established their alliance with the islands to prevent a Pergamene hegemony. What actually appears here in Livy is that Eumenes had integrated his squadron with a fleet in the Cyclades that sounds suspiciously like the mixed force of cataphracts and lighter vessels Epicrates was commanding when the Delians honored him. The admiral of the Rhodian core was Sosilas. Nabis's depredations were a threat to the mainland and island Greek allies of both Rhodes and Pergamon. Once again, both had joined forces against a common foe, and as the preceding decade had foreshadowed and the next decade would show, Rhodes and Pergamon were yet to run out of common foes.
There is no record that any of Nabis's corsairs made an effort to prevent the allied fleet's arrival, although the Roman and Rhodian-Pergamene contingents had been separated while Quinctius had accepted the surrender of some Laconian coastal towns. Both squadrons converged on Nabis's defended port at Gythion. In the lack of a naval threat, Quinctius was able to disembark the combined fleets' roughly twenty thousand men and begin extensive siege operations. A detailed list of a light Rhodian vessel's complement from the first century B.C. offers a hint that the Rhodians could have made their trademark contribution to the siege: two , artillerymen, appear on the roster, indicating that even a smaller Rhodian vessel could have offered two trained men and a weapon that could have been dismounted for this and other land operations. There was soon an adequate number of siege engines deployed against the city; sappers undermined a section of the wall, and Flamininus's appearance with four thousand picked troops on a hill overlooking the city proved sufficient intimidation for Nabis's surviving commander to ask for terms.
Nabis lost hope when he lost access to the sea, but found Flamininus's offered conditions for surrender too harsh to prevent a siege of Sparta, while the other Greeks for their parts considered anything that spared Nabis's authority too lenient. The naval allies were accordingly brought up from Gythion, with a variety of terror-producing mechanical apparatus. Sparta chose to capitulate. Among the terms of surrender were again trademarks of Rhodian policy: Nabis was forbidden to possess more than two sixteen-oared lemboi, ordered to restore all captured vessels of which he still had possession, and was prohibited either from possessing a town in Crete, forming an alliance with the Cretans, or waging warfare in concert with the Cretans or any other city. What he held in Crete was to be handed over to the Romans. The naval allies returned to their ships, and Quinctius brought the Roman fleet back into the Adriatic for the immense labor of convoying the evacuating Roman armies home.
To a historian strictly of Rome, there would seem to be a clear break in the fighting in the eastern Mediterranean with the return of the Roman armies, Flamininus's celebrated proclamation of the freedom of Greece, and the confinement of Philip and Nabis within the closest borders of their respective domains. An accurate understanding of the situation in the east shows otherwise. There was no rest for Rhodes, nor would there be for quite some time to come.
The subject of the "robbers' pact" between Philip V and the Seleucid monarch Antiochus III has been left to this section of the narrative simply because it had no importance for Rhodes' declaration of war on Philip V, whatever effect its real, alleged, or suspected existence may have had on Rome's decision to resume hostilities with Macedon. The agreement itself is a most difficult matter to treat if one feels a need to go beyond the explicit statement of its existence in our ancient sources. Any arrangement, formal or informal, between Philip and Antiochus to divide the "spoils of Egypt" between them for this treatment serves the same purpose as the departure of Rhodian ambassadors to Rome. Both indicate the same thing, in the Rhodians' point of view and others. The old balance of power in the Eastern Mediterranean had collapsed, apparently irrevocably. Rhodes had used Ptolemy's rivalry to sustain her against the onslaught of Demetrius when the Besieger and his father controlled Greece and Asia. Antiochus I had been the ally at Ephesus that allowed that rebuke to the growing naval power of Ptolemy II. The "sick man on the Nile" had been too enfeebled to offer anything more than pious words against Philip V and for some reason, Antiochus did nothing. When Seleucid armies succeeded Macedonian forces in Asia Minor, pact or no pact, it became very clear for any that wished to see that Alexander's dream of a united East had not yet died. The Romans had stamped out Demetrius's version of it, for the moment, as transmitted to Philip V, but when Antiochus moved his armies into Thrace, he invoked the legacy of Seleucus I to justify his presence there. As had always been the case, the Rhodians knew that sooner or later this latest in a string of would-be diadochi would remember that among Alexander's possessions had been Rhodes.
There should be no need to justify Rhodes' decision to invoke Rome's aid against either Philip V and Antiochus III, since both decisions can be solidly defended. It must be admitted that, in the east, the Roman alliance had done little to bolster either Rhodes or Pergamon once the war with Philip had ended, with Rhodes left on her own in the Peraea and islands, and Pergamon receiving little but reassurance under building pressure from Antiochus III. Still, the chess board was not as Philip and Antiochus had known it when they began their respective overseas campaigns. Rhodes must not be seen as facing the collapse of the previous favorable strategic balance with passive resignation. Bringing in the Romans was one of the means by which Rhodes, and the rulers of Pergamon, stabilized an international situation menaced by two competing dreams of international conquest. Action against the conqueror's forces at sea was another.
The armada Antiochus III had prepared against them was a far cry from the ten quinqueremes his father had been pleased to bestow on the Rhodians. The newest ruler of Syria had begun his first great effort to restore ancestral hegemony in the Levant by a move against Egypt, which had captured Seleucid holdings on the coasts of Asia Minor and Thrace during the reign of Ptolemy II and had quarrelled with Seleucus I over the spoils from Monopthalmus's fall. Antiochus had the old naval bases at Tyre and Egyptian Ptolemais at his disposal as early as his campaign of 219, where he captured twenty cataphracts, "fours," and up, and a mixture of twenty more open vessels in the two harbors. Polybius describes the excellent condition of these vessels, which, along with Philip's seizures at Samos, suggests a "mothball fleet" policy on the part of the earlier Ptolemies. In the next year, Antiochus's acquisitions faced the gleanings of the Alexandrian shipyards off Mt. Libanus in an interesting confrontation of the infant versus the dotard, the result decided when the Egyptian army lost an accompanying land battle. Despite the pharaoh's reputation for sloth, Ptolemy IV's court had found strength enough in desperation to rout Antiochus's original invasion force at Raphia in 217. The decision to arm the native Egyptian populace would eventually hamstring the ultimate authority of the Ptolemaic raj, but that time had not yet come.
Antiochus shifted fronts and continued his advance. After a stunningly-successful campaign in the East from 212 to 205, the Seleucid monarch again moved on Egypt. Once he had defeated the already-sagging levies of Ptolemy V's regents at Panion in 199, Antiochus was the master of the Syrian and Phoenician territories from which Demetrius and Antigonus had built their navies. Antiochus offered the infant Egyptian king a marriage-alliance with his daughter as the price for abandoning the southern Levant and his claims to Syria, and decided again to transfer his attentions elsewhere for the moment.
Ptolemy seems to have recovered Tyre after Raphia, although Polybius's surviving narrative is not explicit, but Antiochus would have had time to send the captured stores and fleet north after the debacle and been able to continue building up his navy even during his march upcountry to recover Alexander's conquests in the further east. Back in the Levant, Tyre and Sidon were both firmly Seleucid after Panion, and in 197 Antiochus appeared in Asian waters with a formidable fleet.
The constraints of Rome-based histories have led scholars to attribute Antiochus's next check to Roman prodding. Once again, the central role of Rhodes and her navy is obscured by such a perspective.
Antiochus's immediate goal after his return to the Mediterranean was much the same as Philip's in 202-200, the capture of isolated Ptolemaic holdings and dependencies, in this case, those remaining on the southeast coast of Asia Minor. Sending an army ahead to Sardis, Antiochus left Syria in command of one hundred cataphracts and two hundred lighter vessels, among which were vessels called cercuri. These originated as civilian merchant galleys, in wartime functioning as supply ships that could keep up with the war fleet, or serve as fast transports. Livy's description of the Rhodians' reaction is as follows:
Multa egregie Rhodii pro fide erga populum Romanum proque universo nomine Graecorum terra marique ausi sunt, nihil magnificentius quam quod ea tempestate, non territi tanta mole inminentis belli, legatos ad regem miserunt, ne Chelidonias--promunturium Ciliciae est inclutum foedere antiquo Atheniensium cum regibus Persarum--superaret: si eo fine non contineret classem copiasque suas, se obviam iturus, non ab odio ullo, sed ne conjungi eum Philippo paterentur et impedimento esse Romanis liberantibus Graeciam.
The Rhodians have dared many distinguished accomplishments out of their loyalty to the Roman people and also on behalf of shared reputation of the Greeks, by land and sea, but none more grandly than at this crisis, when, not deterred by so immense a threat of an impending war, they sent envoys to the king that he should not pass Chelidoniae--a promontory of Cilicia famous in the old treaty of the Athenians with the kings of Persia. If he did not restrain his fleet and his forces within that limit, they would move against him--not from any ill feeling, but because they could not allow his being joined with Philip and posing an obstacle to the Romans in the liberation of Greece.
The reactions of modern scholarship to Livy's account in most cases are more historiographically interesting than illuminating about either the passage itself or the situation that forced the Rhodians into a point blank face-off with the Seleucid king. Antiochus was besieging a stubborn Ptolemaic garrison at Coracesium when the Rhodian warning reached him. One remark is that "the actual language of the ultimatum may have been milder than portrayed here," an interesting statement when neither Livy nor the surviving scrap of Polybius bearing on the incident gives the slightest intimation of the exact wording or the manner in which it was delivered. That Antiochus heeded the injunction and responded in soothing words is explained with the statement "Antiochus didn't want a collision with the Rhodians, who, if it came to fighting, would be backed up by the Rhodian and Pergamene fleets." As they had not been at the battle of Lade, which took place the last time Attalus had faced the threat of a landward assault on Pergamon? Antiochus had already posed that threat and sent Attalus scurrying with his fleet back to Pergamon from the west, just as Attalus had done in the immediate aftermath of Chios. For their part, as noted, the Romans had done absolutely nothing to assist Rhodes in the east, either in her struggle to protect the islands from Philip's residual influence in the Aegean, or in the Peraea. A legion of Roman soldiers would have been far more useful at Alabaunda and previously than Theoxenus' Achaeans. Livy's note that Rome faced sudden unrest in Spain even as Rhodes issued her warning is not found in the Polybius fragment, but it would certainly explain the Roman historians' lavish praise for the Rhodians' courage. Nothing explains the modern failure to recognize it but the continuing problem of faulty perspective.
In the glow of hindsight, the fear quoted in Livy that Antiochus was on his way to join Philip becomes obscured and doubtful, provided that certain strategic realities are ignored. Flamininus was on the point of maneuvering Philip into that dream of all generals, a decisive battle. The Macedonian king could not be permitted even to hope that Antiochus could reduce some of Rome's pressure upon him--hence that factor in the Rhodians' decision and still more Roman esteem.
It is all very well to say that Polybius, and accordingly Livy, "was clearly dependent on Rhodian sources for these events" and go on to remark that "Neither Polybius and nor L[ivy] saw any inconsistency between this encomium and Rhodes' virtual withdrawal," referring to how both sides retreated from the confrontation when the news arrived of Cynoscephalae. Polybius in his previous narrative went to great lengths to describe his skepticism of those same Rhodian sources. Livy preserved both Polybius's and the corresponding Roman reaction to Rhodes' stand. Assumptions of either ancient historians' lack of critical ability here are suspect, and smack of obstructive cynicism.
What exactly had the Rhodians done in 197 to impress their contemporaries, at least? As noted previously, they had pulled their fleet back from the west and moved it into the city's protected anchorages whence it could back up their ultimatum. When Antiochus responded, his envoys made a delicate allusion to previous Rhodian/Seleucid friendship. The king of Syria knew his family history well enough to recall what had happened sixty years previously at Ephesus and after the great earthquake of 228. He would also have known that Rhodes' navy, protected by the city's fortifications, could pose a threat to even as powerful a monarch as Antiochus--as the preceding material in this study should have made abundantly clear. In the ensuing war, the Rhodians faced and fought Antiochus's fleet alone twice, despite continued Roman co-belligerency. Even in 197, Antiochus's navy could not have been expected to have had more luck than Demetrius's or Ptolemy II's in penetrating the cordon of Rhodes' defenses, or in succeeding where Philip's had failed in forcing the Rhodians fleet to stand and be fought to the finish. Meanwhile, lines of supply would be insecure, Rhodian descents on unprotected outposts a thing to be dreaded, and there was Pergamon in the north and Egypt in the south to be factored into Antiochus's calculations.
Last of all, there was Rome. The Rhodians had brought the new presence to mind when they imposed their limit to his advance. Antiochus responded by reassuring the Rhodians of his good faith and his own good relations with what he also accepted as the newest eastern power. The news of Rome's victory at Cynoscephalae closed the incident--for the moment. Antiochus spoke soothingly and quietly continued seizing the coast cities of southern Asia Minor. The Rhodians stood down from their preparations for war and just as quietly supported Antiochus's intended prey with intelligence and covert material aid.
There are two other points which deserve consideration in evaluating the aftermath of the ultimatum. Antiochus's powerful fleet of 197 suffered severe damage in a storm off the coast of Southern Asia Minor in 196. He had considered a direct assault upon Alexandria itself upon the false report of Ptolemy V's death, but was still intending to deprive his future son-in-law of the base and timbers of Cyprus before some species of mutiny among his oarsmen delayed the fleet that the storm destroyed. As noted previously, Rhodes herself endured the earthquake mentioned by Justin in the same year--possibly including damage to her vital fortifications. Of necessity for both Antiochus and Rhodes, there would be a calm before the storm.
Smiling at each other the while, both Antiochus and the Rhodians followed the dictates of their respective destinies. The king had long employed Polyxenidas, a Rhodian mercenary banished "upon certain charges," from his native island. The Rhodian may have offered his employer an exile's hope of enduring political connections at home, and suggested that the return of Stratonicea would generate good feeling enough for Rhodes to ignore or even to cooperate with the king's advance in Asia Minor. Polyxenidas's Rhodian origin certainly did provide Antiochus with one decisive advantage over his admiral's former countrymen at a crucial moment in the future. The prospect of Rhodian ships and crews as well as the islanders' naval expertise added to the Syrian fleet must have been a tempting one to a monarch aware of his own kingdom's lack of a naval tradition, for all its new strength in men and ships. Antiochus had been willing to leave the task of reducing Rhodes and destroying her navy to Philip. Had the Rhodians been so foolish as to become Antiochus's allies, he could have transferred the final task of their destruction to the Romans, at their cost and his ultimate gain.
The Rhodians themselves could not have afforded to entertain any illusions. Antiochus, despite his courtship, could have a final goal no different from Philip's when that demi-Alexander had moved on Egypt and the Hellespont. Antiochus's may have been the support that suddenly enabled the Black Sea pirates to threaten the theoroi of Delos in the mid 190's. The Syrian king continued to speak softly even as he conquered Ephesus, which had been and became again a major naval and army base. From that city he moved up towards the Hellespont. Antiochus paid the Rhodians the potentially-damaging compliment of referring a land dispute between Lampsacus and Smyrna to them. Local hostility resulting from the verdict would be directed at a local target. The Rhodians themselves the while carefully avoided giving any overt appearance of hostility and yet received the credit for preserving the freedom of Caunus, Myndos, Halicarnassus--and Samos, which offered a base of their own from which Ephesus could and would be checkmated. Evidence persists for the Rhodians' growing influence among the allied islands, although it is difficult to show how the alliance progressed from an isolated reference to a Rhodian garrison commander, a league proxenos, island coins with the Rhodian rose, and Rhodes' settlement of a property dispute between Samos and Priene. During the coming war the Rhodians would put twenty new ships into the water in the course of a campaigning season--clear evidence of previous preparation for the impending struggle. Meanwhile, the Rhodians would allow Antigonus to move on the Hellespont, where his intentions were diverted, at least, from the granaries of Egypt and into a potentially fatal direction.
Antiochus cited ancestral right of conquest when he seized and began rebuilding Lysimacheia on the European side of the Hellespont. Lysimachus had also once held Pergamon, and that city's ruler, Eumenes, had two ancestral traditions of his own to uphold: massive fortifications and frenzied, successful pleas to Rome for aid. When Antiochus went on to begin making noises about his own right and intention to intervene in Greece, as Philip had, the Rhodians had additional grounds to watch and ward while they waited for Antiochus to hang himself with the rope they had allowed him. The Romans, also, were strong believers in precedent--and had ordered all other powers to refrain from intervention in Greece after having once gone to war to assert their own right to do so.
It should not at this point surprise the reader that unflattering conclusions have been drawn about the amount of time the Rhodians required to begin their own active participation once the Romans actually declared war upon Antiochus III. It is quite true that the islanders waited until a Roman fleet was actually in Asian waters before they attempted to supplement C. Livius's force with warships of their own. It is as firmly in the record, however, that the Romans had previously offered Antiochus carte blanche among the Greek cities of Asia if he would only refrain from intervention in Europe. That Roman version of "the liberty of the Greeks" had left the Rhodians very conscious that their own survival as an independent republic was ultimately a product of their own abilities to preserve it. Hence, their navy would have to be carefully husbanded.
There had been some moments of significant importance and unintentional levity in the events leading up to Rhodes' actual entry into the war. As the grumbling Greeks of 195 had predicted, once the Romans actually had evacuated Greece, Nabis began attempting to re-establish his profitable link to the sea. He had already seized the other coastal towns before he laid siege to his old base at Gythion, where there was an Achaean garrison. The league as a whole itself preferred appealing to Rome to action, but Philopoemen felt that haste was preferable to the returned Flamininus's promise of the Roman fleet. The result was an interesting fiasco. Nabis already possessed a resurgent fleet of three cataphracts and some lemboi, which he was exercising furiously even as he continued his efforts to repossess his old base. Philopoemen recommissioned an eighty-year old war memorial captured from the Macedonians, a decrepit, if famous, quadrireme. The diolkos of Corinth was in Achaean hands, but it could apparently not transport a ship of that size, or in that condition, and so the rest of the allied fleet was forced to escort the disintegrating flagship around the Peloponnese. At the first shock of impact with Nabis's ships she broke into her component timbers and Nabis had her crew, the victory, and Gythion. Philopoemen made it to shore in a scouting vessel and Nabis's joy proved short-lived, since the Achaean commander soon destroyed his land army. Nabis tried to recoup his fortunes by colluding with the Aetolians, thieves fell out, and the Spartan tyrant's lengthy career finally came to an end with his murder. The Aetolians for their part decided to conspire with Antiochus and by the end of a complicated string of events, outside the purview of this study, the Romans and Eumenes were formally at war with Antiochus.
Antiochus's land campaign in Greece would turn out badly, but the Rhodians' decision to keep their own fleet near their own shores becomes more than prudent in the light of two aspects of the European theater of the war, the first being Antiochus's alliance with the perennially-piratical Aetolians, the second, his sea-borne invasion of Greece. Antiochus would land at Demetrias and occupy Chalcis with his force of ten thousand men in two hundred transports escorted by forty cataphracts and sixty lighter vessels. When that armada put to sea under the command of a Rhodian exile, Rhodes cannot without anachronism be blamed for adopting a defensive posture. The Syrian expeditionary force proved inadequate to conquer Greece, but it could have mounted a very respectable attack on Rhodes.
Rome's own navy, in terms of ships and command, was already clearly well advanced in decline by the outbreak of hostilities. The electrifying news that Hannibal had found refuge at Antiochus's court prompted the Senate to order the construction of a hundred ships in three increments, but it seems clear that these were never completed. The Roman war at sea was fought with vessels ranging from sixteen to twenty-five years of age. The Roman fleet had accomplished very little in European waters. It had failed to relieve Chalcis, allowed the escape of a Syrian squadron trapped when Philip snapped up its anchorage at Demetrias, and permitted the capture at sea of the son of Scipio Africanus near Euboea. There had been some successful, if minor, operations in the Adriatic before the land victory at Thermopylae, after which Antiochus withdrew back across the Hellespont and the Romans slowly made ready to take the war to Asia Minor.
The Roman fleet commander in the campaigning season of 191 was C. Livius Salinator, who had relieved Atilius, the previous admiral, at Piraeus. Livius did what he could to add an edge to his fleet by calling upon his socii navales. Among the ships that joined him on his voyage from Ostia to the east were squadrons from Rhegium and Locri, and six Carthaginian cataphracts. Combined with the force in Attica, that left him with eighty-one cataphracts and twenty-four lighter vessels. At Piraeus also was Eumenes with three vessels, wavering between remaining at the Romans' pleasure at Aegina or heading back to Asia Minor, whence word had reached him of ominous preparations on the part of Antiochus and his returning navy.
Antiochus was doing his best to confine the war to Europe by controlling the land route to Asia. Lysimacheia had by this time been turned into a northern fleet base for the Syrian navy, and a picket of Syrian scouting vessels had been established throughout the Aegean islands. Polyxenidas himself was refitting the fleet at Ephesus. The base Antiochus built there was ideally placed for the upcoming war, in as much as it sat squarely in between Rhodes and Pergamon, posed to prevent a union of the two powers' forces, such as the one that had so vexed Philip. The major strategic concern of both sides during the upcoming naval war involved bringing divided fleet strengths together. Ephesus sat between Rhodes and Pergamon, but Rhodes lay in between Ephesus and Antiochus's Phoenician shipyards. Both Rhodes and Antiochus feared, with very good reason, the piecemeal destruction of a separated squadron by the enemy's united force.
The strategy of Rome's own naval commanders throughout this war would be a consistently erratic one of haphazard maneuvering between extremes of geographic locality, disaster, and success. A combination of Eumenes' anxiety and a strong headwind seem to have pushed Livius into Rome's most successful naval movement of the war.
What the Roman admiral did was to take his fleet directly across the Aegean and confront the Seleucid navy from Delos. It was the last time in the struggle a Roman admiral would completely overcome an apparently primal urge to keep station off the Hellespont, and in this sole example, it is almost certain that Livius cannot be credited with a brilliance not shared by his colleagues in Rome's command at sea. The desire to safeguard the Roman army's route to Asia, whether there was an army to use it or not, was the one constant in all Roman plans for the ensuing war at sea. It seems clear that Eumenes, anxious about his own kingdom, had convinced Livius at Piraeus to sail by way of Delos to the Pergamene navy's base at Elaea, from which the Hellespont--and Pergamon--could be protected. To give Livius his due as regards the Hellespont, Polyxenidas himself withdrew from the area of the strait as soon as he learned that the Roman fleet was to the south of him.
The Rhodians themselves understood the news of Livius's sudden dash across the Aegean as the final hard evidence that the Romans did intend to fight in Eastern waters, and promptly dispatched Pausistratus from Rhodes with twenty-seven ships to Samos. From that allied island, with two protected harbors, the Rhodians could await the arrival of the Roman and Pergamene squadrons, or seize their own opportunity to fall upon the Syrians leaving or returning to Ephesus.
The evidence, however, would indicate that Livius himself cared more about completing the voyage to safe harbor at Elaea than bringing the allies' naval forces together. Opposing winds prevented him from sailing towards Elaea and further away from the Rhodian fleet for a while, and a need for supplies prompted Livius and Eumenes to touch at Chios instead. Polyxenidas had a clearer grasp of the tactical situation and knew that each side's proper target was the other side's navy. What had drawn him south was the idea that he would, in fact, have the desired chance to destroy the isolated components of the allied fleet. Polyxenidas took his fleet from Ephesus to Phocaea expressly to intercept what he correctly anticipated would be Livius's further movement northwards.
The surviving narrative does not provide a clear explanation as to why Polyxenidas suddenly chose to withdraw from his position at Phocaea to the harbor of Cissus at Erythrae and await the battle there--Livy's Latin implies his own lack of understanding: "classis ad Cissuntem portum Erythraeorum, tamquam ibi aptius expectatura hostem, contendit." By some means--possibly a night voyage with the help of guides intimately acquainted with the coast--the Romans had gotten past him on their voyage north from Chios, and Eumenes himself was by that time on his way back from Elaea with twenty-four cataphracts of his own and a larger number of auxiliaries. Before they arrived at Phocaea, however, Polyxenidas had already abandoned that city, which, although an ally of Antiochus, had no choice but to admit the combined overwhelming force of the Roman/Pergamene fleet.
The actual truth emerges upon closer investigation from other than Livy's perspective. Once again, the Rhodian navy had freed the fleets of Rome and Pergamon for independent action, despite the fact that the Romans from Livius to Livy did not understand the effect their presence at Samos was having on Polyxenidas. The Rhodian renegade had shifted his position southward to the town of Cissus upon the news that his countrymen had entered the war, where he could "await the enemy," although Livy's own vague wording could leave scholars focused upon the Roman fleet unaware of which foe was implied. Geography provides the answer. The site was much more suited to intercept Rhodians moving north from Samos than it was the fleets of the other two allies. Polyxenidas was willing to allow the Romans to join forces with Eumenes if it meant a chance to fight the Rhodians separately, and Livy does note his accurate assessment of the inferior construction and fighting trim of Livius's own command.
Final proof of Polyxenidas's fear of his former countrymen comes from Livy's account of his joy when he discovered that the fleet bearing down on him at Cissus was, in fact, the combined forces of Rome and Pergamon. The Rhodians had nonetheless preoccupied him into letting those two fleets unite, and the battle of Cissus occurred because Polyxenidas took his last chance to fight the Roman and Pergamene fleet before the Rhodians at Samos could intervene. Livy restricts the casualties on the Roman side to the bewildered crews of three of the Punic warships, but he also does admit the poor condition of the Roman ships involved. Polyxenidas, however, had his native predilection for tactics of manuever and had not expected a boarding combat, which his Carthaginian prisoners could have told him was not a style of naval warfare in which the Romans could be beaten easily.
A lumbering pursuit by the supply- and troop-laden Roman fleet allowed Polyxenidas to return to his protected anchorage at Ephesus, but when the Romans finally did arrive off the enemy base, they found the Rhodian fleet waiting for them. Polyxenidas was left battered and corked up in Ephesus for the rest of the campaigning season of 191, and Antiochus, with a fair chance of losing his hold on the Hellespont, shifted his personal attention to making ready to fight in Phrygia.
After touching at Chios, the Roman fleet sailed to Pergamon's lesser used naval base at Canae, while the Attalid fleet used their traditional base at Elaea for winter quarters. Livius left four quinqueremes to maintain the allies' hold on Phocaea, but these ships ironically served to catalyze the revolt they had been left to suppress. Meanwhile, the Romans had no problems with drawing their aging ships up on the beach for the winter and surrounding them with a palisade and ditch, leaving the elements to work their will upon their vessels. The Rhodian fleet returned to the neoria and shipsheds of Rhodes, while Antiochus spurred his naval preparations to a final great burst of activity.
Antiochus sent Hannibal, who had been his partially-heeded strategic advisor throughout the war, to Phoenicia to facilitate the delivery of new warships from the shipyards there. Polyxenidas he spurred to greater efforts at Ephesus in repairing the damaged ships of the last campaign and in constructing such new ones as the landward lines of supply to the base allowed. It is perhaps a bit too harsh to criticize this effort as "eleventh hour" and fault the mechanics of Syrian naval construction--warships could be built quickly, true, but Antiochus's orders to Hannibal and Polyxenidas imply that those laid down in previous years were only at that time nearing completion. Antiochus's main concern, as expressed by Livy, was that the Rhodians in the upcoming Spring would unite their forces with the allies, making future battles even more hopeless unless he had new fleet units to rectify the odds.
The Rhodians set out to realize Antiochus's worst fears at the very start of the spring sailing season on 190. Fortunately for the Syrian war effort, the Romans had priorities of their own. As early as had been the departure northwards of thirty-six ships from Rhodes, again under the command of Pausistratus, Livius had even earlier sailed with his entire fleet and a portion of Eumenes' north to the Hellespont. There he began siege operations against some of the occupied towns in the vicinity with the idea of preparing the route of an invading Roman army, still a year away from appearing. The Rhodians were left completely without support to resist whatever threat Antiochus's entire navy and army could mount to their island, allies, and fleet. The eventual result was the worst combat disaster the Rhodian navy ever survived.
Three factors allowed the tragedy at the Samian harbor of Panhormus, all of which had previously been strengths of the Rhodian naval system: the islanders' justified pride in their ability, their traditional enterprise, and the perpetual feud with the Mediterranean pirates. Livy frames the chain of events in the appealing Italianate framework of a vendetta, with Pausistratus in council at Rhodes speaking in slighting terms of the exile's ability and Polyxenidas determined to take an appropriate revenge.
It was pride that had prompted Acesimbrotus to blockade Demetrias with twenty vessels in 199, pride that Pausistratus shared in maintaining station at Samos when he could have justified seeking the protection of the massive fortifications at Rhodes in the absence of the other two allies. It was the same Rhodian enterprise that had prompted the raids on Halicarnassus, Ephesus, and most recently exhibited itself in the landing at Chalcis that Polyxenidas exhibited in his own plans, and the enduring hatred of the Mediterranean pirates for Rhodes that allowed him to execute them.
Through a possibly innocent third party known to both men, Polyxenidas sent a message to Pausistratus saying that he would be willing to surrender the whole or part of Antiochus's fleet as the price of his restoration to Rhodes. Pausistratus transferred his own ships to the harbor of Panhormus on Samos, Livy says to investigate the proposed defection further, but also because the site offered a defensible position, as previously, from which Ephesus could be monitored. Later events proved that the harbor mouth could be effectively barricaded against a sudden attack.
Polyxenidas employed the same ruse as Heracleides to gain his target's confidence--false documents, in this case formal plans for the betrayal signed and sealed in the presence of Pausistratus's own trusted agent. Polyxenidas promised to keep the bulk of his oarsmen in winter quarters, with ships drawn up on the beach on the pretence of repair. A few would be kept at sea to allay the king's suspicions, on the pretext of gathering supplies. Both Livy and Appian agree that Pausistratus was completely convinced by this point in time, but the Rhodian admiral did not neglect his duty. Pausistratus continued to keep his main fleet opposite the bulk of the enemy, although he dispatched part of his force to secure grain at Samos town and Halicarnassus. Meanwhile, he occupied himself in bringing his crews to a high pitch of readiness by manuevers inside the harbor, the exercises possibly for the benefit of allied Coan vessels mentioned later in the narratives.
He had nonetheless doomed his command. Livy brings out the damning anecdote that Pausistratus refused to believe an Ephesian prisoner who revealed Polyxenidas's complete intentions. By that time Pausistratus was basing all his plans on the expected treachery, which he was taking measures to exploit to the utmost. Among the exercises conducted in the harbor of Panhormus were those involving the use of the admiral's own invention, the fire-carrier, one of the last innovations in naval warfare known in Classical antiquity. Livy and Appian agree that the weapon consisted of an iron container riding between two poles projecting over the ram of the vessel carrying it, carrying some kind of burning material. A Polybius fragment from the Suda provides more detail--the iron container was shaped like a funnel and controlled by a chain hanging from the lower extremity. The poles were attached by hawsers running through the inner hull, looped to allow for flexibility if the weapon itself struck something, or perhaps, had to be jettisoned. The favored tactic of that era was an attempt to ram prow-to-prow, against which the Rhodians had, as noted at the battle of Chios, the counter of depressing their ships' bows. Now their lighter vessels would have an additional defense against an attacker's greater mass, for the enemy would face the uninviting prospect of continuing his charge and having the funnel upended over his foredeck, or flinching away and allowing the Rhodian vessel access to his broadside and rowing system. The material inside the container is not specified, but pitch-based adhesive incendiary liquids considerably antedate this period, and would have been ideal--not to mention easily produced from standard naval stores. Pausistratus may well have intended to use it to burn the Syrian fleet at its moorings, a faster and more certain means of destroying the enemy than would have proved any effort to tow off larger numbers of heavier ships.
Livy's narrative also indicates that the prisoner's information did not have any chance to be confirmed before Polyxenidas put his plans into operation. He had concealed his oarsmen in Magnesia, from which they returned by night, and the Syrian ships drawn up on shore required only men to become fully combat-ready. The complete absence of the Roman and Pergamene fleet allowed Polyxenidas to send seventy cataphract vessels against the twenty-seven Rhodian and Coan ships in the harbor of Panhormus.
Despite his superiority in numbers, Polyxenidas also had to find a way to drive the Rhodian fleet out of Panhormus's defensible harbor. By means which can be deduced, Polyxenidas was able to secure the services of the arch-pirate Nicander to land troops on the landward side of the harbor and convince Pausistratus of the need to leave the safety of his anchorage.
A mystery of the entire naval war after Cissus is what had happened to the lighter craft of Antiochus's navy. Livy reports thirty aphracts in the battle there, while Appian's number of two hundred vessels in the battle and Polyxenidas's willingness to engage the allies suggests that he may have had as many as one hundred and thirty such vessels, a figure also suggested by Philip's earlier employment of such pirate-type craft as troop transports, commerce raiders, and auxiliaries. Antiochus's fleet of 197 had, as noted, contained a number of cercuri. None of these light craft proved useful at Cissus, and the terrible casualties such vessels suffered at Chios demonstrated the futility of sending them against the Rhodians--in the line.
It is reasonable to believe that these ships were the price of Nicander's aid. Livy specifies that Nicander had five cataphract vessels, but these might have been the core of a much larger lembos-based landing force carrying the bulk of the pirates. Throughout the rest of the war pirates are found preying upon the allies from all quarters, which also suggests that they were equipped with the abandoned Syrian aphracts. Certainly, if the lemboi had proven ineffective in battle, there must have been some other reason why at the start of the Rhodian-inspired clauses in the Peace of Apamea, Antiochus was forbidden to possess a monores for the purpose of aggressive war.
At dawn the Syrian battle fleet appeared at the harbor mouth. Pausistratus recovered quickly enough from his shock to order his marines to take up landward positions on either side of the harbor, from which their missile fire kept the Syrian ships at a distance. Possibly, as at Gythion earlier, the Rhodians dismounted their ships' catapults and employed them as shore batteries. It was still dark when Nicander's pirates suddenly fell upon the Rhodians from the landward side. The thought that Antiochus's army had joined his navy in this onslaught was enough to throw the Rhodians into complete disorder. Pausistratus's only choice left was to lead such ships as could put to sea in a sauve qui peut break-out. His own flagship was surrounded and rammed by three Syrian quinqueremes as it left the harbor, and by the time it was over twenty ships and their crews had been captured either on shore, within the harbor, or immediately outside of it. Pausistratus had died at the outset. However badly he had been fooled, Pausistratus's reputation for tactical sagacity had one final vindication. In the darkness and confusion, the Syrians had veered away from the five Rhodian and two Coan ships which had managed to arm their fire-carriers. The approaching ships would have appeared as oncoming streaks of flame.
The terrible nature of the disaster should not lead to complete deprecation of the fallen Pausistratus, despite his defeat and fate. Above all other factors, Pausistratus had not made the decision to take the Roman fleet north and force the isolated fleet of Rhodes to defend the island against the whole of the Syrian navy. Pausistratus had moved into Samos's northern harbor with the laudable goal of continuing to shadow the Syrian fleet at Ephesus while allowing Polyxenidas's promised treachery to come to fruition. Had Nicander's landing not surprised him, his fortress would not have become the death trap it turned out to be. Nor was Pausistratus's doom a function of tactical inflexibility, as is shown by his quick and successful decision to close the harbor mouth by employing his marines, and, probably, artillerymen, at the harbor mouth. What finally caused his command to degenerate into confusion and disaster was one unexpected factor too many, added to the gathering physical and mental darkness at the time of Polyxenidas's assault. Pausistratus led the breakout, in the most fundamental commander's gesture of restoring unit cohesion, and it was his invention that, after all, allowed the seven Rhodian and allied vessels to escape. All the reasons above explain why Pausistratus's memory was not execrated in later years on his native island. Rather, the koinon of the Pausistrateioi kept the legacy of his brilliance alive in later years. Even in death, the fallen admiral would be responsible for successes against the enemy. The Syrian navy and Polyxenidas himself would come to have further acquaintance with the fire-carrier.
Eudamus was the admiral placed in charge of picking up the pieces, and appears to have done so successfully. Polybius, betrayed by his copyists, preserves the contrast between the late admiral and his successor. Pausistratus had been chosen u . Eudamus, his name changed by the time the fragment reached the Suda into that of his subordinate, Pamphilidas, in the emergency won his command u u u . There was less time at Rhodes for mourning and despair than there was for emergency preparations and, admittedly, there was also a certain desire to settle accounts with the renegade.
No recriminations survive in the record against the Roman commander whose absence had allowed the disaster. Livius had to abandon his entire program on the Hellespont, as any sortie by the Syrian navy would have prompted him to do. The Roman admiral received the news of the catastrophe when some triremes from Erythrae on their way to join the Rhodians had fled to the Roman fleet upon encountering some survivors. At the same time he learned that Phocaea had also taken advantage of his fleet's absence to revolt successfully, making two disasters the price of the useless Hellespont expedition. Meanwhile, Antiochus's pirate allies had been left free to wreak havoc on the sea routes to Italy. Livius at once returned to his borrowed base at Canae, and arrived at Phocaea too late to do anything but loot the surrounding countryside. The approaching end of his command may have prompted the eagerness Livy notes in the Roman commander's quest for two-legged booty. Once Eumenes had joined him, Livius set sail for Samos, in the course of which voyage he was nearly intercepted by Polyxenidas, who was awaiting such an opportunity. The weather again came to Livius's rescue. The gale that scattered the allied fleet also kept Polyxenidas from destroying it piecemeal before the allies could reorganize their squadron at Samos, where the Rhodians soon joined them. The complete allied fleet made a successful morale-building demonstration off Ephesus, to which Polyxenidas had returned. Part of the collected vessels lay in front of the enemy's harbor, while another portion landed marines for a raid on the coast. Livy's account has Andronicus, the commander of the garrison at Ephesus, leading out his men to drive the allies back to their ships in disorder, while either Appian or his copyist attributed the success to Nicander himself, who seized the accumulated booty. The reason for the allied landing is clear from what happened afterwards, and provides a clearer appraisal of Rome's performance in this war than a mere assertion of ultimate victory. After the gain from the landing was lost, Livius sent four vessels westward in the very face of the enemy fleet to restore the supply lines near Cephallenia from Italy. The Roman fleet was starving.
The Rhodian fleet, by way of contrast, had nearly recovered from Polyxenidas's staggering blow. Two of the vessels Livius sent out against the pirates off Cephallenia were Rhodian. The superb facilities of the Rhodian neoria had allowed the swift commissioning of twenty replacement vessels. The Rhodian people themselves demonstrated their own resolve when those twenty vessels found full crews to replace the men slaughtered at Panhormus. The prytaneis also seem to have taken prompt additional measures to limit the damage of the disaster, despite the fact that the sons of island's leading families would have been among those captured and killed.
Rhodes' enemies could not be allowed to believe the island state destroyed by the calamity. When Livius's replacement as admiral, L. Aemilius Regillus, sailed from Brindisi to Piraeus, he found Epicrates with the two Rhodian triremes and two Italian vessels refitting there. From his island command, Epicrates knew the islands themselves and the islanders knew him--and was accordingly living proof to friend and foe alike that the Rhodian navy was by no means swept from the seas by Panhormus, hence his acceptance of Livius' assignment away from his home waters even after what Livius had allowed to happen to Pausistratus. When Regillus sailed for Asia, having left eighteen ships to deal with the pirates of Cephallenia, he took Epicrates and his four vessels back with him, accompanied by Athenian aphracts just as Epicrates had commanded in the last war's inscription from Delos.
Regillus set course directly for Chios, which Livy calls the main depot for Roman supplies--when they got through. The most logical explanation for such an indirect voyage to the actual Roman fleet at Samos appears to be the anxiety in Italy, whence Regillus came, about the dangers involved in reaching Chios. The news of Panhormus had already added to his fears concerning the safety of the seas. At Chios he found yet another Rhodian commander, Timasicrates, whose mission Livy's Latin leaves ambiguous in nature between guarding the supply route or guarding the new admiral himself from "royal ships" coming down from the Hellespont and Abydos:
Eodem Timasicrates Rhodius cum duabus quadriremibus ab Samo nocte intempestata venit, deductusque ad Aemilium praesidii causa se missum ait, quod eam oram maris infestam onerariis regiae naves excusionibus crebris ab Hellesponto atque Abydo facerent.
One Timasicrates, a Rhodian, came to the same place with two quadriremes from Samos in the dead of night, and, conducted to Aemilius, he said that he had been sent to provide an escort, because the king's vessels were making that coast of the sea dangerous to merchant vessels with repeated raids from Abydos and the Hellespont.
Perhaps the mission itself was intentionally undefined, nor is it certain exactly who had sent Timasicrates, whose own admiral by that time was present on Samos. There was still a need for the Rhodian navy to demonstrate that its will to fight had survived Panhormus, and the extra hazard of a night voyage would have accentuated the desired message. As he sailed with Timasicrates' escort to Samos, Regillus fell in with yet two more Rhodian quadriremes Livius had sent to bring him in. Also present were Eumenes and two of his quinqueremes, likewise out to broadcast the existence of his fleet and his presence in the naval war.
Roman strategy, or the lack of it, becomes very visible in the transmitted accounts of the subsequent joint council of war on Samos. Asked to give his opinion, Livius, now relieved of his command, suggested loading large numbers of cargo ships with sand and sinking them among the shoals at the mouth of Ephesus harbor, trapping the Syrian navy. As another scholar has pointed out, such a tactic was often considered as late as World War II, but Eumenes, without the benefit of later historical examples, raised the correct objection. Unless the entire fleet stayed in position to prevent it, the Syrians and their facilities at Ephesus would have less trouble in raising the ships than the allies would have had in sinking them in the face of enemy opposition. Livius could have been reckoning that the sunken ships would trap the silt that did, eventually, destroy Ephesus as a port, and so form an effective blockade. Roman experience at Ostia would suggest that possibility, presuming the Syrians would generously give the process time to take hold. Ideas somewhat less visionary prevailed.
The means by which the structure of Rhodes' naval command functioned at this stage of cooperation with Rome also become visible at this council. The Rhodians' diplomatic and strategic skill prevailed in determining what the combined fleet would do, as least to the extent that Roman obduracy allowed. Eudamus, as chief commander, appears in Livy's account as having disapproved of Livius's fantastic plan, but his failure to advance one of his own would have provided him with an air of impartiality while sparing the departing Roman admiral's feelings. The announcement of the Rhodian plan was left to his competent subordinate, Epicrates, who would have had time to win his way into Regillus's graces during the long cruise from Piraeus. The suggestion to detach part of the fleet to reoccupy Patara on the Asian mainland had to be presented carefully. It made the height of strategic sense, since the port was defensible and well posed to shelter ships positioned to intercept Antiochus's forthcoming fleet from Phoenicia well before it could menace Rhodes or points further north. Patara, however, had belonged to Rhodes before its seizure, and the islanders could not risk their plan being dismissed on the grounds that it was in their self-interest alone.
Diplomatically, the Rhodians' tactics succeeded. Regillus dispatched Livius, whose presence and past seniority were an embarrassment anyway, to liberate Patara after a visit to Rhodes. Not surprisingly, the plan was well received there and the straining neoria produced still three more quadriremes for the expedition. Regillus nonetheless had made certain that the expedition would fail. He was unwilling to divide his forces in the face of the Syrian squadron at Samos, and gave Livius a pair of quinqueremes for his descent upon a garrisoned city. The Rhodians could not manage to detach more than four of their own quadriremes and two aphracts from Side, and the total force of eleven ships lost surprise and all hope of success when a changing wind trapped them in a neighboring harbor under cliffs which were soon crowned with the garrison and citizen troops from Patara. A full fledged land battle resulted, in which the Roman Apustius fell and the very oarsmen from the galleys were engaged before the attackers were driven back within Patara's walls. Livius abandoned the entire project and sent the Rhodians home, not even returning to Samos to report before making his own way back to Greece and Italy.
Regillus's reaction to the debacle was worse, if possible, than initiating it in the first place. He brought the entire fleet down from Ephesus and, after again launching grain-raids in surrounding countryside, landed his marines to attack the city of Iasos, previously Rhodian, now occupied by a Seleucid garrison. Exiles from the occupied city had to beg the Rhodians to ask Regillus to call off his destructive assault on a target that even the Rhodians themselves had considered less valuable than Patara.
By the time the Romans had returned to their fleet and continued south to the port of Loryma, the nearest mainland point to Rhodes, Regillus had lost the faith of his own command. His military tribunes were complaining that Regillus had allowed himself to be drawn away from their war with Antiochus while leaving Polyxenidas unguarded to ravage in their rear. They do not appear to have cared what would happen to Rhodes if the fleet sailed north again, even after what had happened at Panhormus. At a loss to carry out any positive action, Regillus called the Rhodian officers before him and asked if Patara could shelter the entire allied fleet--which it could not, nor would it have had to even while holding a squadron sufficient to prevent Hannibal's approaching fleet from reaching Ephesus or any other point north. Regillus at once sailed back to Samos after he received his answer at Loryma. Rome's admiral had displayed the full extent of his vacillation, indecision, and indifference to their safety before the entire Rhodian people, a mere nineteen miles away.
Only so many opportunities could be offered before the Syrians took advantage of one of them. Seleucus, Antiochus's son, had been left with an army in Aeolis to support the king's allies there and to intimidate the rest of the region. With the allied fleet oscillating off the southern coast, he at first marched his troops against its base at Elaea and then moved directly on Pergamon. No intuition was required to predict that Eumenes would have his fleet back in his own domains as soon as the news reached him, and rather than let the Pergamenes be destroyed in detail, the Roman and Rhodian squadrons soon followed after. From the time of Theophiliscus, the Rhodians had shown greater faith in their city's fortifications than the rulers of Pergamon ever displayed in the walls of their mountain fortress.
Antiochus bore down on the assembled squadrons at Elaea with his entire army--and asked for peace. The Rhodians alone were slightly inclined to accept it, their faith in Rome's ability to establish a new international balance of power almost undoubtedly deeply submerged by the allies' current ghastly strategic situation. No one was guarding Polyxenidas in their rear, and Rhodes itself was now posed to be ground between the exile's fleet in the north and Hannibal's ships from the south. If Antiochus could take either Pergamon or Elaea, the prospect of a Roman invasion of Asia Minor in the face of such a fait accompli would have been dim, presuming it arrived in time to do the Rhodians any good at all. Also, with the entire Syrian navy free to wander where it would, Regillus in overall command, and Polyxenidas likely to appear at any moment before Elaea, it is understandable that the Rhodians were becoming nervous about being trapped in yet another harbor.
Good luck and what appears to have been fatigue on the part of all sides prevented yet another disaster. Eumenes, with his kingdom already partially occupied by the Syrian army, argued that honor was at stake, at the same time hinting that any treaty Aemilius negotiated would be abrogated by the consul or the Senate. Regillus was pleased to dodge the decision by telling the Syrian king that he'd have to wait for the consul, and, incidentally, the consul's army. Antiochus did not press either his negotiations or his siege of Pergamon further, and Polyxenidas made no use whatsoever of the strategic opportunity laying before him.
No further reference appears to the Rhodian navy as an independent unit until Regillus had abandoned yet another assault, again at Phocaea, in the face of a relieving force from Antiochus. By that time the Roman commander had lost sufficient prestige for the allies each to go their separate ways. Eumenes would return to Elaea and stay there until he could escort the Roman army across the Hellespont, while the Rhodians left Regillus at Samos and made their own preparations to intercept Hannibal. By the late campaigning season of 190, it made as much or more sense for the Rhodian navy to operate without the Roman fleet and commander as with them.
Eudamus took thirteen of the Rhodian ships from Samos and set sail for the city itself, accompanied by a quinquereme each from Cos and Cnidus. The prytaneis had two days before his arrival at Rhodes sent Pamphilidas with thirteen vessels south with speed, in the face of intelligence reports of Hannibal's immediate arrival. Pamphilidas had been present at the Elaea negotiations, but was now off the coast of Pisidia, having added four ships patrolling the Carian coast to his command, to a total of seventeen ships. The continuing determination of the Rhodian navy to engage its enemies was about to be demonstrated by something more than its mere presence at sea.
All Rhodes itself could offer Eudamus were supreme command of the combined fleet and six aphracts, probably escorts from a returned convoy, with which he set out to overtake the earlier squadron. Eudamus overhauled Pamphilidas at Megiste, and from there the reunited Rhodian fleet took station at Phaselis, a headland offering shelter and a chance to observe ships coasting northwards at a considerable distance.
Hannibal did not disappoint the Rhodian navy. He may well have been training his crews as he moved north from Phoenicia--his fleet contained three "sevens" and four "sixes," vessels which required large numbers of oarsmen even if their construction also favored less-skilled rowers. His delay in putting to sea had forced his fleet to fight its way north against opposing Etesian winds, the voyage, Livy notes, usually ruled out by their presence at that time of the year. The climate of mid-summer also served Eudamus badly--Phaselis was and remains near a malarial swamp and growing illness among the Rhodian crews forced their commanders to shift the site of their ambush to the mouth of the Eurymedon river. There came word from Aspendus that Hannibal was at Side, and as the fleet moved further south lookouts sighted the Phoenician fleet from a watchtower on the adjacent coast. Both fleets were nonetheless in cruising formation when they sighted each other at daybreak of the next day.
Livy's numbers for the Rhodian ships actually engaged at Side do not include the two allied quinqueremes, which may well have been left behind since their differing performance would have made them a tactical liability in a Rhodian fleet. Additional efforts to reconcile the figures of ships fighting and ships sent require two of the Rhodian quadriremes and all of the ships Livy calls triremes to be aphracts, or ships with their upper decks uncovered. Livy's "triremes" were almost certainly the famous triemioliai, which Rhodes' own records classified as aphracts. It is difficult to imagine that there would be an aphract quadrireme in the Rhodian inventory--unless, perhaps, the dockyards had been forced to send two uncompleted ships into the line by the emergency. As transmitted, Livy's actual figures for the battle give the Rhodians thirty-two quadriremes and four triremes. Hannibal commanded thirty-seven larger vessels, including the very heavy vessels mentioned, surrounded by ten more triremes.
Hannibal's ability to mold any sort of troops into supremely functional units had made him the terror of Italy for seven years. His great skill as a commander allowed him on this occasion to convert his own cruising formation into a proper line of battle before Eudamus could match his move. He was undoubtedly assisted by one Apollonius, who commanded the landward wing of the Syrian line. The Rhodian fleet at the very start of the engagement was in the gravest danger.
What was one of the finest moments and one of the bravest actions in the history of the Rhodian navy has been obscured by yet another modern misunderstanding of Livy's account. There is no reason to believe that Livy himself wished to diminish the full tale of Eudamus's personal heroism at the battle of Side, but all but one modern analysis of the battle has chosen to censure the Rhodian commander's entire conduct of the battle for Hannibal's superior speed in forming a line of battle. The exception is that of another admiral, capable of appreciating a correct and timely decision made under the greatest stress of personal danger and potential disaster. Rhodes had no shortage of skilled officers to replace an officer who had truly blundered as badly as most extrapolate from Livy's account. The fact that the Rhodians themselves chose to retain Eudamus in command throughout the war and long afterwards confirms that his countrymen, at least, gave him the respect he deserved.
Eudamus's counter to Hannibal's plan to engulf his clustered ships came as soon as he saw the greater numbers of the enemy posed to envelop him. He had no time to hesitate, with the fate of his country and his command hanging in the balance. The Rhodian admiral's instantaneous reaction was to rush his own attack before Hannibal could flank his line, or in other words, Eudamus engaged the seaward wing of Hannibal's fleet with his flagship and four escorts in order to buy time for the rest of the Rhodian formation to arrange itself for combat.
The Rhodians had not yet had the interval needed to sail out far enough from the coast for their ships to form the usual long line perpendicular to the shore, and throughout the battle the Rhodians' seaward right flank was in danger of collapsing under the press of Hannibal's superior numbers and larger warships. It did not collapse. With his spoiling attack, the Rhodian admiral had successfully interposed himself between the foe and disaster. Living up to his reputation for determination, Eudamus was also true to the Rhodian naval tradition of engaging superior numbers if it meant foiling an enemy's objective.
The battle nonetheless remained a near thing, on the Rhodian right, at least. Livy makes no reference to the use of Pausistratus's fire-carrier, but the sudden initiation of combat might not have provided the Rhodians with a chance to arm the weapon properly. Otherwise, throughout the line, Rhodian ships and seamanship proved uniformly superior. Polyxenidas had been defeated at Cissus by the heavier vessels of the Roman and Pergamene squadrons, accordingly, the Phoenician shipyards produced the monsters Hannibal commanded now. But the Rhodians fought their favored battle of maneuver, and, as at Chios, won in prow-to-prow collisions, presumably by the same bow-depressing tactics. Nothing in this battle prevented their penetration of the enemy line. Rhodian rams crushed oars and the human bodies suddenly on the other end of their ships' momentum, and, again, neither the overhangs of their targets' rowing systems nor the oars themselves interfered as the lighter Rhodian vessels drove their beaks into the unprotected sterns of Hannibal's warships. The greatest testimony to the Rhodians' mastery of such ramming tactics in this battle came when an enemy "seven's" hull was ruptured by a blow from a much smaller vessel, resulting in the capture of the ship and a serious blow to the enemy's morale. The landward wing of the Syrian fleet took flight.
Eudamus himself was nearly surrounded by Hannibal's own command, but preserved his crew and vessel by employing what may have been the same tactic he would later use at Myonessus. He displayed the traditional signal for the fleet to make formation around the flagship, and Hannibal soon found himself engaged by superior numbers freed by the retreat of his landward wing. Moreover, after Eudamus's forced rush to engage, Rhodian ships still in column would have been trapped behind the press of ships on the seaward flank. These unengaged vessels might well have been deliberately left in the rear in case Hannibal did succeed in getting past the Rhodian admiral, and charged into the combat at the flagship's signal. Eudamus had subordinate officers to spare for such a division of forces. Livy refers to one Chariclitus as commander of the Rhodian agmen, with Pamphilidas in charge of the middle, and Eudamus had made signals to these officers even as he charged Hannibal. Eudamus himself would lead a similar charge from behind an engaged line at Myonessus later in this year.
From his bridge, Eudamus suddenly ordered his deck crew to silence and told them to stand and behold a magnificent sight. His fever-ridden rowers, had been grabbing a mouthful at their oars during a sudden lull. All looked up and saw the crippled Phoenician vessels being towed off by the aphracts; the retreat covered by the twenty least-damaged enemy as Hannibal ran for the Syrian-occupied shore. Weakness and weariness were forgotten as the sailors shouted for immediate pursuit, but fever, exhaustion, and an opposing wind prevented Chariclitus and Pamphilidas's commands from overtaking the enemy. Eudamus's flagship was too damaged to pursue the man he had beaten, and there were recriminations after the fleet returned to Rhodes about the admiral's failure to destroy the enemy utterly. At the time, no one on Rhodes knew that Hannibal would never bring his battered fleet northward again and that it was only a matter of time before Polyxenidas would be brought to battle.
Eudamus's pause on his bridge signaled the most impressive recorded victory of the island's fleet. In turn, the Rhodian navy had faced the fleets of Egypt, Macedonia, and Syria, and each time it had frustrated the ambitions of Alexander's would-be heirs.
The "seven" swamped earlier in the battle made a good trophy at Rhodes, and the news of the victory was brought to the Romans at Samos by the seven largest vessels and Eudamus himself. Chariclitus remained at the island of Megiste in case Hannibal could rally his sailors for another try at entering Rhodian waters. Eudamus had his own orders from Rhodes to use whatever auctoritas the victory gave him to press for another attack on Patara. Livy preserves his renewed argument that Patara conquered would leave the Rhodian navy completely unshackled to render the seas in the region safe. Once again, the other allies had other priorities.
For his part, Antiochus had been attempting to win the king of Bithynia to his side with the ominous and quite accurate argument that the Romans apparently could not brook the existence of an independent powerful kingdom, witness the fates of Nabis and Philip. Upon hearing that Eumenes was in the north and that the Rhodian ships were off Patara--four more under Pamphilidas had joined the twenty already there--he ordered Polyxenidas to seek any sort of battle he could manage against the Romans at Samos. In effect, the king of Syria was expending his fleet.
The plan was lure Regillus into a confrontation by Antiochus's own siege of Notion. The town had previously proved an irritant by transmitting reports of the fleet's movements from neighboring Ephesus. The king's siege apparatus were already in position when messengers from the beleaguered city reached Samos and pleaded for aid.
Eudamus had remained close by the Roman commander. Regillus was doing his very best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory via his expressed intention of sailing north to the Hellespont, again. His desire to supplant Eumenes in escorting the Scipios' army across the Hellespont did not fade despite the desperate plea for aid from Notion. Eudamus had to pour a mixture of argument and entreaty over the Roman commander. He pointed out, quite correctly, that it would be better to relieve an allied city or destroy the enemy fleet than to abandon the entire Asian coast to Antiochus. He may have employed a bit of irony in his request that the Romans not leave the Rhodian navy to be ground between the fleets of Polyxenidas and Hannibal. Livy reads:
quanto satius esse vel socios obsidione eximere vel victam iam semel classem iterum vincere et totam maris possessionem hosti eripere, quam, desertis sociis, tradita Antiocho Asia terra marique in Hellespontem, ubi satis esset Eumenis classis, ab sua parte belli discedere.
how much better it would be either to deliver allies from beleaguerment or to defeat again a fleet already once beaten, rather than, with allies abandoned, and Asia on land and sea entirely handed over to Antiochus, to abandon his own part in the war and retreat up into the Hellespont, where the fleet of Eumenes was sufficient.
In 199, the first year of Rhodian and Roman military cooperation, while Rhodes was desperately fighting Philip in the Peraea and Aegean islands, Livy phrases a message sent to the Rhodians thus:
Ad Rhodos quoque missi legati ut capesserent partem belli.
Whatever tactics Eudamus used, they were successful. Regillus could not be prevented from sending some of his ships north to the Hellespont., Nonetheless, a need for supplies and the presence of the Rhodian navy, as they had before Cissus, combined to produce another "Roman" naval victory. Ships such as Epicrates' two Rhodian triremes, picketed across the Aegean, had apparently succeeded in restoring the merchant lanes from Italy. As supplies ran low on Samos Regillus received the news that a great quantity of grain had arrived at the depot on Chios. En route there, a message came that storms had delayed the Italian wine vessels, but that the inhabitants of Teos had offered five thousand amphorae of wine to Antiochus's fleet. This opportunity for combined supply and vengeance was too good to miss. Halfway to Chios from Samos Regillus turned the fleet and bore down on Teos.
The intended raid was nearly disrupted when fifteen strange vessels suddenly rounded the neighboring Myonessus promontory in the face of the approaching fleet. Regillus had an excuse for suspecting that they were from the king's fleet if, as suggested earlier, Polyxenidas had turned over his fleet's lighter vessels to the allied pirates. It was the pirates who crewed these ships, returning from raiding the coast of Chios. Fleeing, the marauders' vessels outdistanced the battle fleet and took shelter under Myonessus itself. Regillus wasted a day in continuing the pursuit before he realized that the surrounding cliffs were covered with pirates capable of damaging his vessels from their heights. The Teans, at least, were sufficiently intimidated when Regillus landed raiding parties on the shore behind their city and offered to submit and turn over the wine. Regillus still had and nearly took one last chance to destroy his own fleet.
The harbor in which he had chosen to land his landing force was Gerasticus, on the back of the peninsula containing Teos. Polyxenidas was aware of the episode with the pirates, and he knew that harbor, which bore a close resemblance to Panhormus. He had transferred his fleet into a concealed mooring off a neighboring island, Macris, in expectation of blocking Geraesticus with ten ships on a side and again landing troops to flush the quarry--his friends the pirates were close at hand. Livy reports that Eudamus had tried to call attention to the potential trap when two ships attempting to leave the narrow harbor exit fouled each other's oars, and Regillus was not allowed for an instant to forget the close proximity of the enemy's fleet. What finally prompted Regillus to leave what could have been his tomb was a desire to transfer the wine aboard more easily at Teos's wharves.
The Roman marines and sailors had left their ships on the beach at Teos to load provisions and especially the wine when the news came that Polyxenidas's ships had been spotted pulling out of Macris. It is charitable to call even Livy's version of the Romans' rush into their ships, "hurried." Regillus did manage to restore a semblance of order by simply ordering each Roman ship putting to sea to follow in line behind his flagship as it set off into deep water.
Eudamus and the Rhodians had not seen fit to dock their vessels in the imminent presence of a powerful enemy fleet, and the Rhodians stood out in the face of Polyxenidas's ships to give the Romans a chance to put to sea. Livy provides the squadron strengths as fifty-eight Roman and twenty-two Rhodian vessels, eighty ships, facing the eighty-nine vessels Polyxenidas had built or repaired at Ephesus. Appian gives Polyxenidas one and the Rhodians three more cataphracts. Once again, Antiochus's fleet included heavy units: three "sixes" and two "sevens." As the Romans formed up, Eudamus reversed course, took his ships around the Romans' flank,and maneuvered at high speed directly behind his allies. He had for a second time anticipated that Antiochus's admiral would attempt to overwhelm the enemy's seaward right. Regillus had sailed directly for the enemy as Eudamus himself had been forced to do against Hannibal, but when Polyxenidas moved to envelop the exposed Roman flank with his longer line, he found himself facing his former countrymen and Pausistratus's fire-carrier. Eudamus steered directly for the enemy's flagship.
As usual, the Roman point of view scants the performance of the Rhodians. Livy praises the strength of the Roman ships and the fighting ability of the Roman marines, and credits final victory, as always, to the enduring virtue of the infantry. Undoubtedly Regillus and his countrymen were well able to fight an enemy who remained directly in front of them, and they eventually broke the Syrian center and swung into the Syrians' rear. Appian the Greek, however, preserves the telling note that Polyxenidas had to draw ships from the middle of his line as he tried to prevent disaster on his left. The Rhodians were doing a very great deal to avenge the slaughter at Panhormus, and the resulting chaos in Polyxenidas's formation caused difficulty even on the relatively unengaged Syrian right. Ships throughout the Syrian fleet found themselves maneuvering to avoid foes or sudden confusion and shipping seas in their steerage way as they did so.
The slain Pausistratus was fully vindicated in his invention--the Syrians could not withstand the fire-carrier. Some ships steered aside to elude the device and received a ram in their broadsides or had the overhang of their steering system crushed. Those that withstood the strike of the weapon caught fire. Superior oarsmen and the maneuverability and speed of the ships themselves were the rest of the story. The enemy casualty figures, broken down, provide the best picture of the battle. Roman marines captured thirteen enemy vessels. The remaining twenty-nine were either sunk--or burned.
A lone Rhodian ship fell captive to the enemy when her anchor inadvertently hooked upon the larger ship she had rammed and its trailing hawser snared her laboring oars as she tried to wrench herself free. Polyxenidas personally undertook to escort the prize to safety in Ephesus, while the ships of his right wing, still in an intact formation, saw their admirals' flight and shipped emergency sails before a favoring wind to follow him. The Romans suffered two vessels severely damaged, but, after an appearance off Ephesus to seal the victory, Regillus had to spend some time on Chios repairing his command.
The naval war was effectively over. Antiochus abandoned his trans-Hellespontine possessions and awaited the Scipio brothers in Asia, where the war would be lost at Magnesia in 189. When he heard the news, Polyxenidas broke out of Magnesia with whatever was left and headed south, perhaps hoping to join Hannibal. Rather than face the Rhodian fleet still waiting at Megiste, the renegade abandoned his command at Patara and fled inland. Hannibal himself had anticipated that his surrender would be a clause of the peace treaty and had already abandoned his command and fled to Bithynia. The account of his own affable conversation with Scipio may be a legend, satisfying tale as it is, but the proof of Hannibal's enduring respect for the Rhodians is more substantial. Before his death he wrote a book detailing the Asian settlements of C. Manlius Vulso, which he dedicated to the islanders who had beaten him in the expectation that they would preserve his memory.
The pattern established throughout Rhodes' co-belligerency with Rome seems to have manifested itself for one last time within the Syrian war. There is some evidence that Regillus sought to deprive the Rhodians of their share of credit for the victory at Myonessus. After awarding the islanders some of the ornaments from the captured Syrian vessels, he ordered the Rhodians to set sail for home. Instead, the islanders quite pointedly insisted on accompanying him to the Hellespont and assisting in the transport of the Scipios' army into Asia. Livy quotes from the tablets dedicated by Regillus after his naval triumph in 188--with its reference to forty-two vessels captured at Myonessus. Perhaps thanks to those unwanted Rhodian ships at the Hellespont, there were those in Rome aware of the truth. Elsewhere in the city there were stelai lasting for centuries confirming the Romans' gratitude for Rhodes' services during the Syrian war.