The consul Acilius dispatched agents from Thermopylae to the Aetolians at Heraclea that then at least, having made trial of the king's unreliability, they might regain their senses, surrender Heraclea, and take counsel about asking pardon from the senate for their madness or, if they preferred, their mistake.
Other states of Greece too in that war, he said, had revolted from the Romans who deserved so well of
them, but because, after the flight of the king, from confidence in whom they had thrown off their allegiance, they had not added stubbornness to their fault, they had been received into alliance; the Aetolians also, though they had not followed the king but had summoned him, and had been the leaders in the war and not allies, if they could repent, could likewise be saved.
When they gave no pacific reply to this, and it was evident that he must have recourse to arms, and that after the defeat of the king the Aetolian war remained as before, he moved camp from Thermopylae to Heraclea, and on the same day, to
reconnoitre the site of the city, he rode on horseback around the walls on every side.
Heraclea is situated at the foot of Mount Oeta, and the town proper was in a plain, with a citadel that overhung it, in a position lofty and steep on every side.
In the direction of the Asopus river, where there is also a gymnasium, he put Lucius Valerius in charge of the works and the assault; the quarters outside the walls, which were almost more densely populated than the city itself, he gave to Tiberius Sempronius Longus to attack;
on the side towards the Malian gulf, which had a [p. 227]
rather difficult approach, he placed Marcus Baebius,1
and at another little stream, which they call Melas, facing the temple of Artemis, he stationed Appius Claudius.2
With great rivalry on their part, within a few days towers and battering-rams and all the other engines for attacking cities were prepared.
And while the lands of Heraclea, all marshy and abounding in tall trees, made generous provision of materials for every kind of device, then too,
because the Aetolians had taken refuge within the walls, the deserted houses in the entrance to the city offered them, for their various needs, not only beams and planks but brick and cement and stones of different sizes.