Plutarch

Parallel Lives - The Life of Brutus

30 At the time when they were in Smyrna, Brutus asked Cassius to give him a part of the large treasure which he had collected, since he had expended what he had himself in building a fleet large enough to give them control of all the Mediterranean. The friends of Cassius, then, tried to dissuade him from giving anything to Brutus, arguing that it was not right that what he was keeping by his frugality and getting together at the price of men's hatred should be taken by Brutus for the winning of popular favour and the gratification of his soldiers. However, Cassius gave him a third of the whole amount. Then they parted again for their respective undertakings. Cassius took Rhodes, but managed matters there with undue rigour, and that too though he had replied to those who hailed him, when he entered the city, as their lord and king, "Neither lord nor king, but chastiser and slayer of your lord and king." Brutus, on his part, demanded money and soldiers from the Lycians. But Naucrates, the popular leader, persuaded the cities to revolt, and the inhabitants occupied certain commanding hills in order to prevent the passage of Brutus. Brutus, therefore, in the first place, sent horsemen against them while they were at breakfast, and these slew six hundred of them; next, he took their strongholds and villages, but dismissed all his captives without ransom, in order that he might win the people over by kindness. They were obstinate, however, feeding their anger upon their injuries, and despising his clemency and kindness, until he drove the most warlike of them into Xanthus and laid siege to the city. They tried to escape by swimming under the surface of the river which flowed past the city. But they were caught in nets which were let down deep across the channel; the tops of these had bells attached to them which indicated at once when any one was entangled. Then the Xanthians made a sally by night and set fire to some of the siege-engines, but they were perceived by the Romans and driven back to their walls; and when a brisk wind fanned the flames back towards the battlements and some of the adjoining houses took fire, Brutus, fearing for the safety of the city, ordered his men to assist in putting out the fire.

31 But the Lycians were suddenly possessed by a dreadful and indescribable impulse to madness, which can be likened best to a passion for death. At any rate, all ages of them, freemen and slaves with their wives and children, shot missiles from the walls at the enemy who were helping them to combat the flames, and with their own hands brought up reeds and wood and all manner of combustibles, and so spread the fire over the city, feeding it with all sorts of material and increasing its strength and fury in every way. When the flames had darted forth and encircled the city on all sides, and blazed out mightily, Brutus, distressed at what was going on, rode round outside the city in his eagerness to help, and with outstretched hands begged the Xanthians to spare and save their city. No one heeded him, however, but all sought in every way to destroy themselves, men and women alike; nay, even the little children with shouts and shrieks either leaped into the fire, or threw themselves headlong from the walls, or cast themselves beneath their fathers' swords, baring their throats and begging to be smitten. After the city had been thus destroyed, a woman was seen dangling in a noose; she had a dead child fastened to her neck, and with a blazing torch was trying to set fire to her dwelling. So tragic was the spectacle that Brutus could not bear to see it, and burst into tears on hearing of it; he also proclaimed a prize for any soldier who should succeed in saving the life of a Lycian. But there were only a hundred and fifty, we are told, who did not escape such preservation. So then the Xanthians, after long lapse of time, as though fulfilling a period set by fate for their destruction, had the boldness to renew the calamity of their ancestors; for these too, in the time of the Persian wars, had likewise burned down their city and destroyed themselves.

32 When Brutus saw that the city of Patara was holding out strongly against him, he hesitated to attack it, and was in perplexity, fearing that it would be afflicted with the same madness; but as he held some of its women prisoners of war, he released them without ransom. They were the wives and daughters of prominent men, and by rehearsing the praises of Brutus, calling him a man of the greatest moderation and justice, they persuaded them to yield and surrender their city. Consequently all the rest of the Lycians came and entrusted themselves to him, and found that his goodness and kindness exceeded their hopes. For whereas Cassius, about the same time, compelled the Rhodians individually to pay in to him all the gold and silver they possessed (thus accumulating about eight hundred talents), and fined the city as a whole five hundred talents more, Brutus exacted only a hundred and fifty talents from the Lycians, and, without doing them any other injury, set out with his army for Ionia.