While these matters were passing in Macedon, Lucius Aemilius Paullus, being, on the expiration of his consulate, continued in command, led his army at the commencement of spring into the country of the Ingaunian Ligurians.
He had no sooner pitched his camp in the enemy's territory, than ambassadors came to him under pretext of suing for peace, but in reality as spies.
When Paullus declared that he would enter into no treaty whatever, unless they first surrendered; to this they did not object, but said that it would require time to procure the consent of such a rude kind of people.
When, for that purpose, a suspension of arms for ten days was granted, then they further requested that his men might not go beyond the mountains for wood or forage, for that was the part of their lands which they had under tillage.
After they obtained this request, they collected all their forces behind those mountains, which they had prevented the Romans from approaching; and on a sudden, with a vast multitude, assaulted every gate of his camp at once.
During that whole day, they prosecuted the attack with such vigour, that Paullus had not time to march out of the camp, nor room to draw out his troops: crowding together at the gates, they defended their camp by blocking up the passage, rather than by fighting.
When the enemy had retired a little before sun-set, the general despatched two horsemen to Pisae, to Cneius Baebius, proconsul, with a letter, requesting him to come with all speed to his relief, as he was besieged in the midst of a truce.
Baebius had given up his army to Marcus Pinarius, the praetor, who was going into Sardinia, but he informed the senate by letter that Lucius Aemilius was besieged by the Ligurians, and
also wrote to Marcus Claudius Marcellus, whose province lay the nearest, that, if he thought proper, he should march his army out of Gaul into Liguria, and relieve Lucius Aemilius from the blockade. These [p. 1882]
succours would have come too late.
The Ligurians returned next day to the attack of the camp. Aemilius, although he was aware that they would come, and although he could have drawn out his army to meet them, yet kept his men within the lines, in order that he might protract the business until such time as Baebius should come with his army from Pisae.