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Fulvius Aims to Fight at Ambracia

Some envoys from Epirus having visited the Roman
M. Fulvius Nobilior at Apollonia.
Consul, he consulted with them as to the best way of attacking the Aetolians. They advised that he should begin by attacking Ambracia, which was at that time a member of the Aetolian league. They gave as their reasons that, if the Aetolians ventured to give battle, the neighbourhood of Ambracia was very favourable for the legions to fight in; and that if, on the other hand, the Aetolians avoided an engagement, the town was an excellent one to besiege; for the district round it would supply abundant timber for the construction of siege artillery; and the river Arachthus, which flowed right under the walls, would be of great use in conveying supplies to the army in the summer season, and serve as a protection to their works.
Fulvius advances upon Ambracia.
Fulvius thought the advice good, and accordingly marched through Epirus to attack Ambracia. On his arrival there, as the Aetolians did not venture to meet him, he reconnoitred the city, and set vigorously to work on the siege.
The Aetolian envoys intercepted.
Meanwhile the Aetolian envoys that had been sent to Rome were caught off Cephallenia by Sibyrtus, son of Petraeus, and brought into Charadrus. The Epirotes first resolved to place these men at Buchetus and keep them under strict guard. But a few days afterwards they demanded a ransom of them on the ground that they were at war with the Aetolians. It happened that one of them, Alexander, was the richest man in Greece, while the others were badly off, and far inferior to Alexander in the amount of their property. At first the Epirotes demanded five talents from each. The others did not absolutely refuse this, but were willing to pay if they could, because they cared above everything to secure their own safety. But Alexander refused to consent, for it seemed a large sum of money, and he lay awake at night bewailing himself at the idea of being obliged to pay five talents. The Epirotes, however, foresaw what would happen, and were extremely alarmed lest the Romans should hear that they had detained men who were on a mission to themselves, and should send a despatch ordering their release; they, therefore, lowered their demand to three talents a-piece. The others gladly accepted the offer, gave security, and departed: but Alexander said that he would not pay more than a talent, and that was too much; and at last, giving up all thought of saving himself, remained in custody, though he was an old man, and possessed property worth more than two hundred talents; and I think he would have died rather than pay the three talents. So extraordinarily strong in some men is the passion for accumulating money. But on this occasion Fortune so favoured his greed, that the result secured all men's praise and approval for his infatuation. For, a few days afterwards, a despatch arrived from Rome ordering the release of the ambassadors; and, accordingly, he was the only one of them that was set free without ransom. When the Aetolians learnt what had happened to him, they elected Damoteles as their ambassador to Rome; who, however, when as far as Leucas on his voyage, was informed that Marcus Fulvius was marching through Epirus upon Ambracia, and, therefore, gave up the mission as useless, and returned back to Aetolia. . . .

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