Aeneas Tacticus 23.6-11: a plot to take over a city.

Magistrates raise a false alarm and exploit the situation to bring in mercenaries and to take over the city.





6. But you should never, not even at night, go out incautiously with a disorganised mob: in times of danger traitors both within and without devise plans with the special object of drawing an attack, by such tricks as lighting fires or setting fire to a dockyard, gymnasium, or public shrine, in short, by any ruse likely to entice a crowd of unusual size out of the city. You must therefore use care, and not be too ready to take such proceedings seriously. 7. I will mention here a scheme originated by certain magistrates. They arranged for an alarm to be raised in the country and for a report to be brought in from the fields of an intended attack by robbers, which they know would bring the citizens in haste to the rescue. 8. When the alarm was raised, these magistrates and their supporters called upon the citizens to go to the rescue. When the citizen body had mustered at the gates under arms, their next manoeuvre was to direct the assembled force to divide into three detachments and lay ambushes at a little distance from the city: 9. an order which suited their own plans without exciting the suspicions of their hearers. 10. Thereupon they led out the force and posted it in likely spots with directions to lie in wait for the invaders; they themselves with their accomplices went on ahead, saying that they would test the truth of the report and meet the danger first, their plan being, nominally, to entice the enemy into the ambush by a pretended flight. 11. They then went ahead to a spot where a force of mercenaries, who had arrived secretly by sea, was ready waiting, picked them up, and without attracting notice, succeeded in conveying them into the city by another route: for it looked as if they were merely leading back the citizens on their return from the expedition. Then, when the mercenaries were in occupation of the city, some of the citizens who had formed the ambush were banished, and the rest permitted to return. All such reports, therefore, should be looked at with suspicion, and no sallies in force should be made at night without due precautions.









created 14/02/2010 - updated 14/02/2010