When the consul arrived before Ambracia, the siege seemed to him to involve great toil.
Ambracia lay at the foot of a rugged hill; the natives call it Perranthes. The city, where the wall turns towards the plains and the river, looks west; the citadel, which is situated on the hill, faces east.
The river Aretho, rising in Athamania, empties into the gulf of the sea which is called “the Ambracian” from the name of the neighbouring city.
In addition to the fact that the river on one side and the hills on the other defended the city, it was also protected by a strong wall, extending in circumference a little more than four miles.
Fulvius established two camps on the side of the plain, separated from one another by a moderate distance, and one redoubt on a high spot facing the citadel;
all these he planned so to connect by means of a wall and ditch that no [p. 15]
egress from the city might be allowed the besieged1
nor ingress from without to a relieving force. At the report of the siege of Ambracia the Aetolians had already assembled at Stratus in response to the edict of the praetor Nicander.
It had been their first intention to march from there with their entire force to prevent the siege; then, when they saw that the city was already in large part hemmed in by siege-works, and that the camp of the Epirotes lay on level ground across the river, they decided to divide their forces.
Eupolemus with a thousand light-armed troops, setting out for Ambracia, entered the city through the fortifications which had not yet been joined together.
It had been the original plan that Nicander, with the rest of the troops, should make a night attack on the camp of the Epirotes, which could not readily be aided by the Romans because the river was between them;
later, thinking that there was in the enterprise the danger that the Romans might somehow learn of it and he have no escape to a place of safety, he abandoned that design and turned aside to plunder Acarnania.