Domestic Conflicts part 21


Indeed, when Landulph saw Bohemund crossing the sea with this dread array and with transports carrying myriads of men, as we have already more accurately described, he sailed away a little from Valona as he was unable to fight against such numbers and gave Bohemund a free entry. The latter made use of his good fortune and crossed from Bari to Valona and disembarked all the army he had brought over the sea on the opposite coast, and then first of all devastated the whole sea-coast. For he brought an incredibly large army of Franks and Gauls, and men from the island of Thule who usually fought for the Romans, but through force of circumstances had on this occasion joined him; and besides this there were many of the Germanic race and of the Celtiberians.

Famous Demetrius Poliorcetes

Next he dispersed all these troops which he had mustered over the whole country along the Adriatic sea and after ravaging that systematically he attacked Epidamnus, which we call Dyrrachium; for his intention was to take this town and then devastate all the country right up to Constantinople. Now Bohemund was skilled above all men in the art of sieges even surpassing the famous Demetrius Poliorcetes, and as he had set his whole mind on Epidamnus, he moved up all his engineering contrivances against that town.

First he encompassed with his army and besieged all the places close to, and those at some distance from, the town of Dyrrachium; at times the Roman armies would oppose him, and at others there was nobody at all to interfere with him. After several battles and encounters and massacres he contemplated, as we said before, besieging the town of Dyrrachium itself.

But before speaking of the tyrant Bohemund’s fight for Dyrrachium it is necessary to explain the position of the city. It is situated on the very shores of the Adriatic sea. In front of it lies the deep, long sea which in breadth [321] stretches across to the opposite coast of Italy; in length by turning to the north-east it goes right up to the barbarian Vetones, opposite whom lies the province of Apulia. These form the boundaries of the Adriatic. The town Dyrrachium, or Epidamnus, an ancient Greek city, lies somewhat lower than Elissus and on its left side, for Elissus stands higher and more to the right. This Elissus is either named after some river Elissus, a tributary of the great river Drymon, or the fortress was simply given t at name, I cannot say which it was.

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