Monday, 22 May 2017

Cassius - The Battle of Myndos

AN630780001001CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 © Trustees of the British Museum

The silver denarius above, now held in the British Museum, was struck to celebrate Cassius’ capture of Rhodes following the battle of Myndus.

The design on the reverse of the coin shows the rose of Rhodes and an untied diadem on the left; with a crab, representing Cos, holding an aplustre, the ornamented stern post of a ship, in its claws, on the right.

Appian writing approximately 200 years later describes the battle in his The Civil Wars

App. BC 4.9.71 Perseus Digital Library at Tufts

"Alexander and Mnaseas, the Rhodian leaders, put to sea with their thirty-three ships against Cassius at Myndus, intending to surprise him by the suddenness of their attack. They built their hopes somewhat lightly on the supposition that by sailing against Mithridates at Myndus they had brought that war to a successful end. In order to display their seamanship they took their station the first day at Cnidus. The next day they showed themselves to the forces of Cassius on the high sea. The latter in astonishment put to sea against them, and it was a battle of strength and skill on both sides. The Rhodians with their light ships darted swiftly through the enemy's line, turned around, and attacked them in the rear. The Romans had heavier ships, and whenever they could come to close quarters they prevailed, as in an engagement on land, by their greater strength. Cassius, by reason of his more numerous fleet, was enabled to surround his enemy, and then the latter could no longer turn and dart through his line. When they could only attack in front and then haul off, their nautical skill was of no avail in the narrow space where they were confined. The ramming with their prows and broadside movements against the heavier Roman ships did little damage, while those of the Romans against the lighter vessels were more effective. Finally, three Rhodian ships were captured with their crews, two were rammed and sunk, and the remainder took flight to Rhodes in a damaged condition. All of the Roman ships returned to Myndus, where they were repaired, the greater part having suffered injury."

Contrary to what is written in some of the local websites and guides Cassius and Brutus did not flee to Myndos following the assassination of Julius Caesar. Cassius had been recruiting troops in Syria and had fought at Laodicea before arriving at Myndos. It is not known how long Cassius’ fleet was stationed at Myndos but Appian (4.9.65) states that as the Rhodians were renowned for their naval skills “he prepared his own ships with care, filled them with troops, and drilled them at Myndus”.

It seems highly unlikely that Brutus ever visited Myndos, at least during the period between the assassination and the final battle at Philippi. At the time Cassius was taking Rhodes Brutus was in Lycia.


  1. It's a pity that day visitors don't have this info - but maybe I'm overestimating the interest that would be shown.

    1. Some visitors may be interested, but the they are more likely to be told about how the “King’s Road” was built so that Mausolus and Artemisia could visit the island, feed the rabbits and watch the sunset :-)