Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/20

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[BK. XIV. CH. II
AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS.

stream on rafts hastily put together, the legions which at that time were wintering about Side, came down upon them with great speed and impetuosity; and having pitched their standards close to the bank with a view to an immediate battle, they packed their shields together before them in a most skilful manner, and without any difficulty slew some of the banditti, who either trusted to their swimming, or who tried to cross the river unperceived in barks made of the trunks of trees hollowed out.

11. And the Isaurians having tried many devices to obtain success in a regular battle, and having failed in everything, being repulsed in great consternation, and with great vigour on the part of the legions, and being uncertain which way to go, came near the town of Laranda. And there, after they had refreshed themselves with food and rest, and recovered from their fears, they attacked several wealthy towns; but being presently scared by the support given to the citizens by some squadrons of horse which happened to be at hand, and which they would not venture to resist in the extensive plains, they retreated, and retracing their steps summoned all the flower of their youth which had been left at home to join them.

12. And as they were oppressed with severe famine, they made for a place called Palea, standing on the sea-shore, and fortified with a strong wall; where even to this day supplies are usually kept in store, to be distributed to the armies which defend the frontier of Isauria.

13. Therefore they encamped around this fortress for three days and three nights, and as the steepness of the ground on which it stood prevented any attempt to storm it without the most deadly peril, and as it was impossible to effect anything by mines, and no other manœuvres such as are employed in sieges availed anything, they retired much dejected, being compelled by the necessities of their situation to undertake some enterprise, even if it should be greater than their strength was equal to.

14. Then giving way to greater fury than ever, being inflamed both by despair and hunger, and their strength increased by their unrestrainable ardour, they directed their efforts to destroy the city of Seleucia, the metropolis of the province, which was defended by Count Castucius, whose legions were inured to every kind of military service.