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THE HISTORIES 16.18-19, by Polybius


18-- I will attempt to make my meaning clear by the following instance. 2 The above-mentioned author in narrating the siege of Gaza and the engagement between Antiochus and Scopas at the Panium in Coele-Syria has evidently taken so much pains about his style that the extravagance of his language is not excelled by any of those declamatory works written to produce a sensation among the vulgar. 3 He has, however, paid so little attention to facts that his recklessness and lack of experience are again unsurpassed. 4 Undertaking in the first place to describe Scopas's order of battle he tells us that the phalanx with a few horsemen rested its right wing on the hills, while the left wing and all the cavalry set apart for this purpose stood on the level ground. 5 Antiochus, he says, had at early dawn sent off his elder son, Antiochus, with a portion of his forces to occupy the parts of the hill which commanded the enemy, and when it was daylight he took the rest of his army across the river which separated the two camps and drew it up on the plain, placing the phalanx in one line opposite the enemy's centre and stationing some of his cavalry to the left of the phalanx and some to the right, among the latter being the troop of mailed horsemen which was all under the command of his younger son, Antiochus. 7 Next he tells us that the king posted the elephants at some distance in advance of the phalanx together with Antipater's Tarantines, the spaces between the elephants being filled with bowmen and slingers, while he himself with his horse and foot guards took up a position behind the elephants. 8 Such being their positions as laid down by him, he tells us that the younger Antiochus, whom he stationed in command of the mailed cavalry on the plain opposite the enemy's left, charged from the hill, routed and pursued the cavalry under Ptolemy, son of Aeropus, who commanded the Aetolians in the plain and on the left, 9 and that the two phalanxes met and fought stubbornly, 10 forgetting that it was impossible for them to meet as the elephants, cavalry, and light-armed troops were stationed in front of them.

19-- Next he states that the phalanx, proving inferior in fighting power and pressed hard by the Aetolians, retreated slowly, but that the elephants were of great service in receiving them in their retreat and engaging the enemy. 2 It is not easy to see how this could happen in the rear of the phalanx, or how if it did happen great service was rendered. 3 For once the two phalanxes had met it was not possible for the elephants to distinguish friend from foe among those they encountered. 4 In addition to this he says the Aetolian cavalry were put out of action in the battle because they were unaccustomed to the sight of the elephants. 5 But the cavalry posted on the right remained unbroken from the beginning as he says himself, while the rest of the cavalry, which had been assigned to the left wing, had been vanquished and put to flight by Antiochus. 6 What part of the cavalry, then, was it that was terrified by the elephants in the centre of the phalanx, and where was the king all this time and what service did he render in the action with the horse and foot he had about him, the finest in the army? We are not told a single word about this. 8 Where again was the king's elder son, Antiochus, who had occupied positions overlooking the enemy with a part of the army? 9 Why! according to Zeno this young man did not even take part in the return to the camp after the battle; naturally not, for he supposes there were two Antiochi there, sons of the king, whereas there was only one with him in this campaign. 10 And can he explain how Scopas was both the first and the last to leave the field? For he tells us that when he saw the younger Antiochus returning from the pursue and threatening the phalanx from the rear he despaired of victory and retreated; 11 but after this the hottest part of the battle began, upon the phalanx being surrounded by the elephants and cavalry, and now Scopas was the last to leave the field.


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