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Selzro

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I recently bought EU Rome Gold (it took me a few years longer than I had at first anticipated) and, while I was playing my first game, as the Achaean League, it occurred to me that I haven't written an AAR in ages. Since things were shaping up rather interesting in that game, I gathered what few screenshots I had taken at first and became more diligent with them while playing later. This is the resulting story, faithful to the events of the game but with some small measure of dramatic license not unknown to AARs. I'd say it's solidly 'history book'-style.


Index:
I. The Rise of Aratus
II. The Rule of Aratus
III. The Fumbling of Ephron
IV. The Resurgence of Ephron
V. The Great Game of Ephron
VI. The Exasperation of Ephron
VII. The Birth and Death of Ephron
VIII. The Egyptian Wars of Ephron the Younger
IX. The Civil War of Ephron the Younger
X. The Expansionism of Ephron the Younger
XI. The Reign of Ephron II
XI. The Early Reign of Aratus II
XIII. The Great War of Aratus II
XIV. The Imperialism of Ephron III
XV. The Peace of Nikon
 
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Selzro

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I. The Rise of Aratus

The Achaean League had existed, in various federal configurations, for centuries before the events that would propel it to the world stage would take place. It was reformed as an anti-Macedonian league just a few years before Pyrrhus reshaped the political map of Greece, but would not spread its influence until its greatest man, Aratus Peneid, attached Sicyon to it and became archon, steering it towards an expansionist policy that would lead to a confrontation with Macedonia. Aratus risked his personal fortune and even his life on a surprise night attack on the acropolis of Corinth, but his audacity paid off and Macedonia’s most secure stronghold in southern Greece was absorbed into the League. And that is where, in 515AVC, our story begins.

After his glorious liberation of Corinth, Aratus had no problem being re-elected archon by the jubilant Achaeans. He was, after all, a man of rare talent and leader of the military faction, at a time where Achaeans had much to fear from their neighbours.



And fear they should, for the two powers of the north, Macedonia and the Aetolian League, joined forces in an attempt to reclaim Corinth for the Macedonian throne. The Achaean army was not insignificant, but was made up of hypaspists and lighter missile troops – no match for the famous Macedonian phalanx. So a trade deal was struck up with Sparta, whose iron was used to hastily prepare a small Achaean phalanx. Aratus was not yet confident of his army’s abilities in the field, but with an invasion of Argolis imminent he had little choice but to defend the isthmus from the approaching Macedonians. Defend he did, but the enemy pezhetairoi were unstoppable in their attack and the enemy cavalry ruthless in their pursuit. The Achaean army managed to retreat in good order, and that was a testament to Aratus’ command abilities – for when facing such a disciplined foe, and furthermore strong in cavalry, it is easy for a retreat to turn into a rout, where men are slaughtered mercilessly by the pursuing horsemen. But the Achaean rearguard did not lose its cohesion, and the remnants of the army reached Achaea in safety, where they could regroup.

It was thought, then, that the Achaean League would have to concede defeat and give Corinth back to Macedonia. But the Corinthians, who had so recently and so briefly tasted freedom, were not about to give it up without a fight of their own. When the Macedonian army assaulted the city, the citizens repelled them from the walls with every old weapon they could find. People of all ages and social classes worked tirelessly to repair the damage to the walls, hoping that Aratus would return and deliver them from danger before their strength run out. Aratus, meanwhile, was informed of the Macedonian difficulties in assaulting the city, and made the decision to march his army to its relief. When he appeared under its walls, the Macedonians were surprised. Their phalanxes had become disorganized from the siege, while their famous cavalry could do little without infantry support. Soon, the entire enemy army was in retreat, while Aratus was given a second hero’s welcome in Corinth.

The success inspired hundreds of young Corinthians to join Aratus’ field army, while many mercenary pezhetaroi began converging in Achaea, hearing tales of money and victory. The Aetolian League took it upon itself to take the initiative and lead the next attack in Argolis. Their forces, all of them light infantry, were supported by Macedonian cavalry and phalanxes, but even though Aratus’ army took a heavy toll in casualties, it held fast and the enemy was repelled.



This victory, though bloody, bought the Acheans time to strengthen their heavy infantry core, and by the end of the year Aratus had gone on the offensive, raiding Aetolia and placing its cities under siege. On the 1st of March 516AVC Aratus won his most decisive victory, eradicating the routing and demoralized remnants of the enemy armies in Thessaly. After that, Achaean victory was assured.



In June 516AVC, the Aetolian League accepted its full annexation into the Achaean League. In September of that same year, the barbarians of Beni, who had rampaged through Macedonia, were defeated in Thessaly, greatly enriching the Achaean treasury.



A new order was being formed in Greece, but Sparta, never bearing to see anyone but itself call the shots, declared war on the Achaean League in protest over the annexation of the Aetolians. The Spartan army was a tiny shell of its former glory, and it took very little effort to defeat. Soon, Sparta itself was forced to join the League. But it was not the only foreign state to take an interest in Achaean expansion. The mighty Seleucid Empire declared war to contain the resurgent League. But before their armies would have a chance to fight the Achaeans, apart from a few naval skirmishes which the small Achaean navy won, a truce was made with Macedonia, in which the latter gave up Thessaly and Euboia to the Achaean League. King Seleucus was appeased with an offering of gold, after which the League was finally at peace.

Within less than five years, the Achaean League had gone from a small thorn on the side of Macedonia to a federation that encompassed most of Greece. But Aratus had seen no political gains for his actions. His faction had rapidly lost influence in the assembly, and even while the war raged he had to give up the position of archon to the leader of the populist faction. This turn of events planted the seeds of bitterness in him, which was cultivated when he lost the next elections as well. The mercantile faction, led by an expatriate Egyptian Greek, won instead, and this left Aratus feeling increasingly isolated and betrayed, with his loyal army in Thessaly.

Over the next few years, the assembly bestowed some honourary titles on Aratus but kept passing him up for the position of archon. Aratus wanted to have a strong say in the politics of the league he worked so hard to set up, but was frustrated by the complacency and ingratitude of those in the Assembly, most of them representatives of the lands he had fought to integrate. By the year 524AVC his sense of dignity could no longer suffer being treated as a useful servant of the republic by those who had not fought in the war for its survival, so in September he called upon his army, and his friends in various cities, to support his march on Sicyon. The Civil War had started.



The Assembly’s army was caught off guard when Aetolia and Euboia declared for Aratus, and calls to relieve the siege of Larisa, in Thessaly, fell on overly cautious ears, as archon Lacydes deemed it wiser to build up the army south of the isthmus, so as to better counter Aratus’ veterans. Lacydes, having heard of Aratus’ experience in commanding light and heavy infantry, came up with a plan of using masses of foot and horse archers to wear down his foe, while phalanxes would merely hold the enemy line into place. It was a good plan in theory, but underestimated Aratus’ tactical cunning and his ability to also recruit more forces. When Aratus outmaneuvered Lacydes’ forces and marched straight into Achaea, bypassing Argolis, Lacydes was forced to go on the offensive. The Battle of Achaea would determine the political future of the Achaean League.



The gods were clearly on Aratus’ side that day. Lacydes was killed by a stray arrow during the first rounds of battle, and the republican army found itself without leadership. Aratus wiped the field with them, and soon all of the Peloponnese had submitted to his army. After just over three months of fighting, the dictatorship was born.

 
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subbed

Good luck!
 

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Nice to see new life in this old thread. Subbed!
 

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Thanks for subscribing, guys! I plan to update this at a leisurely pace but, like all my AARs, it will inevitably be completed, barring unforeseen catastrophes.
 

Selzro

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II. The Rule of Aratus

When we last left the Achaean League, Aratus was tyrant, albeit a benevolent one. There were no unlawful imprisonments, no proscriptions, and there was not a single noble or popular uprising in Greece under his rule. Instead, the new-found power of the League was channeled to helping the less fortunate Greeks who had fallen under the rule of barbarians. Epiros was liberated from its Illyrian masters, who were forced to pay tribute to Achaea. An Achaean expedition to Crimaea, at the behest of the Bosporan Kingdom, saw the Roxolani threat repelled, and Tanais placed under the protective wing of the League.



For the next few years, Aratus’ policy remained the same, gradually expanding against the Roxolani whenever the latter got into disputes with the Bosporans, and aiding Bithynia in its defence against the ravenous Kingdom of Pontus. Even Macedonia, Achaea’s erstwhile enemy, had become an ally, along with Rhodes. But an act of God, Apollo’s deadly arrows of sickness, changed everything.

On 22 November 543AVC, Ameinias Peneid, Aratus’ oldest son, died of the plague. He was a gifted young man, as talented as he was humble, and many hoped that, upon succeeding his father, he would reinstate the republic – for he had given such an impression to his friends, and it would have surprised many had such hopes been ill-founded. But his sudden death robbed Achaea of that hope and, moreover, induced in his father a sadness that quickly turned to cynicism and diplomatic ruthlessness. The Roxolani were swiftly invaded and annexed, even though they posed no immediate threat to the Greek colonies neighbouring them. Then Aratus turned his attention southward, where events of great import were unfolding.







An unpopular fool had ascended to the throne of Egypt, quite literally the least skilled man for any throne, far less that of one of the great powers of the known world. As a result, Egypt quickly found itself fighting Pontus, Macedonia, Crete, the Bosporan Kingdom, Carthage and the Seleucid Empire, as well as some native uprisings in the heartland of its domain. Aratus made a cold, calculating decision that the Achaean League would join in carving up the lands of Egypt. That decision was not presented without justification. Carthage wanted Cyrene, a land populated by Greeks, so it was only right that the Achaean League conquered it before the Carthaginians had a chance to. Also, a much weakened Egypt would be distracted by its Crimaean holdings, so it would be much more reasonable for them to be placed under Achaean protection.

So it was that the Achaean armies attacked on two fronts – in Crimaea, where a small Egyptian army was easily defeated and the cities taken, and in Cyrene, where the Achaean navy landed the main army unopposed – since the Egyptian navy had recently suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of the Carthaginians. In Africa the heat and disease was a far worse enemy than any Egyptian army, but through Aratus’ haste all border settlements were besieged by Achaeans before the Carthaginians reached them. The Carthaginian army only managed to secure some settlements in north Libya, while the victorious Achaeans beat them to Alexandria, even as the Macedonians were marching south across Syria.



The result of this long war was the annexation of Taurica, Panticapeum, Cyrenaica, Cyrene and Barca by the Achean League in February 553AVC. While Carthage remained at war with Egypt after this truce, there was no longer something worth fighting for, so they eventually accepted peace for a paltry 10 gold talens. This was to be the pinnacle of Aratus’ glory which, however, he had little time to enjoy. Soon afterwards, Pontus declared war on Bithynia, the Achaean League’s oldest ally. Aratus led the Achaean army himself, as he almost always did, to protect Bithynia from the Pontics. But it was no Pontic spear but old age that was the death of him, in that distant land. His death, on the 20th of May 553AVC, deprived the League of its greatest leader. But the tyranny he had established would endure beyond his death, in the person of his 17-year old grandson, Ephron.
 

DKM

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I wonder at what point would the popular political thought change from being an Achaean League to being an Achaean Kingdom.
 

Selzro

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I guess it would be a bit like Rome in the principate years - a kingdom in all but name, because there's such a long republican tradition that giving the title of king to a ruler would only cause unrest without giving any clear benefits to that ruler. It should be noted that I did not intend for the Achaean League to become a dictatorship, particularly this early. I admire the historical Aratus and the Achaean League's political system (for its time), so when I saw the two of them on a collision course I couldn't decide which I'd rather give up. In the end, when the civil war broke out, I did my best to get the senate to win, but AI Aratus got the better of me...
 

DKM

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I guess it would be a bit like Rome in the principate years - a kingdom in all but name, because there's such a long republican tradition that giving the title of king to a ruler would only cause unrest without giving any clear benefits to that ruler. It should be noted that I did not intend for the Achaean League to become a dictatorship, particularly this early. I admire the historical Aratus and the Achaean League's political system (for its time), so when I saw the two of them on a collision course I couldn't decide which I'd rather give up. In the end, when the civil war broke out, I did my best to get the senate to win, but AI Aratus got the better of me...
I may have given the wrong impression. I was speaking about when it would change from being a confederation of nations to an actual "unified", so to speak, country.
 

Selzro

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Ah, yes, that is a good question. In the case of Rome, or even Athens or Sparta in the past, there was one dominant city which could enforce its civic identity on the rest, to the point that everyone eventually became a Roman citizen, but in the Achaean League there was no such dominant city. I can perhaps envision the works of Homer eventually being used as a propaganda tool to create a common, Achaean identity for all the Greeks participating in it, even though most Greeks were not Achaean in ethnicity. For now, I'm thinking of it as a sham federation, where a tyrant presides over a subservient senate made up of representatives of all the participating cities. The city-state frame of mind would be hard to overcome at that time, especially for southern Greeks.
 

Selzro

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III. The Fumbling of Ephron

Aratus’ death was sudden, but it did not leave a power vacuum. His grandson, Ephron, was 17 years of age and had been recognized as his grandfather’s official successor by everyone in the palace. He was a man of high finesse, but cold and distant, and with a complete ineptitude at all things martial.



Perhaps that was why the war with Pontus dragged on for over three years, depleting the League’s manpower reserve with no territorial gains made by either side. Uprisings in Cyrene and Crimaea were put down violently, while a crisis in Illyria prompted Ephron to join Macedonia and the Seleucid Empire in a war against Illyria, even though the latter paid tribute to the League. Even after lavish sacrifices, the League didn’t regain its lost stability. Ephron’s diplomatic skill was widely acknowledged when the Illyrian War ended with no territorial gains for Macedon or the Seleucids, neither the complete annexation of Illyria, which would have furthered Seleucid designs in the region.



This, however, angered the Macedonians, and put strain on their alliance with the Achaean League. The end of the Second Pontic War, together with the repelling of a barbarian horde from Crimaea, left the Achaean League depleted of recruits. It would take years for the population to recover from all those senseless losses. Meanwhile, the Macedonian-Seleucid alliance was more powerful than ever while Egypt, the traditional check to Seleucid expansion, was fragmenting.



The Achaean League was left with only two dependable allies – Bithynia, which was also recovering from the bloody war with Pontus, and tiny Rhodes. The following years would be dangerous, and Ephron would have to tread lightly on the world stage.

In June 558AVC Thracia declared independence from Macedonia. The Achaean League, honouring its alliance, rushed in an army to assist in quelling the rebellion. However, the Macedonian king, Antigonus, was less than grateful for the assistance, even though he was the one who requested it. The Achaean army was told to depart as soon as the Macedonian army had the situation under control, and the abruptness of the situation revealed a growing diplomatic iciness between the kingdom and the dictatorship. That iciness was a prelude to Antigonus’ cancelling of the alliance with Ephron and a declaration of war, on 7 December 558AVC.

The Achaean League had not yet recovered from its previous wars. Although its standing army was large, there were fewer than 10,000 men in reserve and, although Macedonian arms could not endanger Ephron’s dictatorship, the Seleucid Empire was quick to join the Macedonian side. Ephron, being untrained in matters of war, preferred to delegate all tactical matters to his generals, but the Achaean armies were scattered from Crimaea to Egypt, and the Seleucid navy made the seas dangerous for transport. It was decided to divide the mainland army into two parts. One would push north into Macedonia, to attempt to draw the war to a quick end by taking the Macedonian capital, while the other would defend Epirus from the strong Seleucid army in Dardania. While the Macedonians avoided combat, the Seleucids attacked in Epirus before all the Achaean armies could converge there.



The Achaean army had a marked advantage in heavy infantry, but the Seleucids brought thousands of horse archers, plus something the Achaeans had never seen before on the battlefield: elephants. The Achaean forces, led by Atheas Galatid, were defeated and had to retreat to Thessaly. While they were regrouping there, the Seleucids stormed the Epirote capital and quickly subjugated the province. This was an alarming setback for Ephron, since the way was open for an invasion of Aetolia and even the Peloponnese itself. Furthermore, the Macedonian army had maneuvered around the Achaeans and joined up with the Seleucids in Epirus. Faced with such a threat, and with news of Seleucid reinforcements on the way, Ephron felt that he had no choice but to order all armies to converge on Epirus, to force the enemy into a decisive battle. The second Battle of Epirus was the largest battle yet fought by the Achaean League, with 23,000 phalangites supported by 10,000 archers, 8,000 cavalry, and some light infantry.



The Seleucid and Macedonian host was defeated, albeit with great loss of Achaean blood, and Ephron began to hope that the tide of war was changing in Achaea’s favour. That was, until the 29th of August, 559AVC, when an envoy delivered a declaration of war by the Egyptian pharaoh.



With all attention focused on the Macedonian front, there were only 5,000 soldiers stationed in Cyrene. Ptolemy, foolish though he was, managed to recognize an opportunity to reclaim his lost provinces and acted upon it. Thankfully, the only Egyptian army near Cyrene was only 6,000 strong, so the Achaeans could nurture hopes of survival, or even victory in that front until reinforcements could be spared from Greece. Just five days later, news from Epirus gave Ephron cause for joy – the remnants of the Macedonian and Seleucid armies operating in that region had been captured or destroyed.



The Achaean army proceeded to besiege Macedonia. But a neglected front would give fresh cause for concern.



A fresh Seleucid army was pressing hard on the Achaean forces stationed in Crimea. The 12,000 Achaeans were used to fighting unorganized barbarians coming from the west, and they had done an excellent job protecting Crimea from such hordes, as well as protecting the newly founded Achaean colony of Olbia. But faced with an overwhelming Seleucid host, they retreated to the uncharted west. That would prove to be a mistake.

Meanwhile, the main Achaean army was having renewed success in the Macedonian front, but the Achaean navy was not as successful against its Seleucid counterpart.



The loss of 19 ships, one of them captured by the enemy, for only 6 Seleucid ships sunk, was a serious blow to the Achaean operational capacity. The treasury was immediately emptied to finance the construction of new triremes, since even if the Seleucids could be defeated on land, the war with Egypt would necessitate the re-establishment of a naval link to Cyrene. In that theatre, the Achaean army attempted to block an Egyptian incursion, but was unsuccessful.



Cyrenaica was left to the security of its walls, while mercenaries were sought in Barca and Cyrene to bolster the retreating 7th Stratos.

Meanwhile, in the Crimean front, the hapless Achaean armies, pursued mercilessly by the Seleucids, run into an emerging barbarian horde. The desperate Achaeans defeated the barbarians, but were immediately beset by the pursuing Seleucids.



The result was another bloody defeat, while the retreating barbarians found their way back towards Olbia, which was now undefended.

In January 560AVC, Ephron was worried enough about news of Seleucid reinforcements arriving through Bithynia that he called the Bithynians to arms. Those old allies answered the call, bringing over 30,000 men into the fight.



Unfortunately, not only were the Seleucid armies capable of repelling the Bithynians but a barbarian horde seized this opportunity to invade from the north. Back in Crimea, the situation was nightmarish for the Achaeans. The barbarians had razed the Olbia colony to the ground and were moving towards Taurica. A small Seleucid army had taken Ponticapeum and was itself besieging Taurica; while the Bosporan kingdom, which was allied to Egypt, invaded from the east, subduing Maeotae and threatening Tanais. The two Achaean armies, having made their way back from the wilderness, had lost most of their starting men, but could find no new recruits to bolster their ranks with.



A breakthrough finally came in Macedonia. On 14 May 560AVC the whole province was conquered by Achaean troops, even as the Seleucids had routed a smaller Achaean army in Maedi and were maneuvering to invade Epirus again.



One and a half month later, Macedonia agreed to a separate peace with the Achaean League. It would renounce all its claims to Thessaly, Euboea and Argolis and return to the status quo ante bellum. Ephron hoped that by removing the initial cause for the war the Seleucid Empire could be convinced to make a truce for a mere payment of gold. But it would take more than that.

On the other fronts, the remnants of the Achaean armies beat back a barbarian incursion into Alazones, while the 7th Stratos, reinforced with 3,000 mercenaries, lifted the siege of Cyrenaica. The Seleucids were repelled from Epirus once again, but the Achaean League had long since reached its manpower limits.



Ephron had to give extra gold to his mercenaries because they were unconvinced that he could win that war. With the situation in Crimea verging on hopeless and the Seleucid navy in control of the waves, Ephron used all his diplomatic skills to convince king Seleucus to come to an agreement with him. The Achaean League ended up ceding Panticapeum to the Seleucids and paying 100 gold to cover some of the latter’s war expenses.



Although it pained him to give up a lucrative colony that his grandfather had conquered to much acclaim, this opened up the seas again to the Achaean navy, meaning that both Crimea and Cyrene could be reinforced. Ptolemy must have understood the implications of Ephron’s truce with Seleucus, or someone must have explained it really slowly to him, because just two months later he asked for peace, demanding a mere 17 gold in reparations from the League. Ephron was happy to pay, to end the war as quickly as possible. In March 561AVC the situation in Crimea was stabilized again, when the main Achaean army defeated the barbarians, who had by then looted Taurica. The two parallel wars had lasted just two and a half years, but had brought the Achaean League near its breaking point. Worse still, Ephron’s popularity had plunged as a result of his conspicuous absence on the battlefield, and few generals could be trusted to still be loyal to him. This would mark the nadir of his popularity.

 

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For some reason, I can't see any of the pictures. They just serve as a link to servimg. Also, don't you just hate that for every awesome ruler in any game , you get at least 3 terrible ones?
 

Enewald

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Seleucids tend to be evil. Or at least that is what I remember from playing the game last time in 2008. :p
 

Selzro

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For some reason, I can't see any of the pictures. They just serve as a link to servimg. Also, don't you just hate that for every awesome ruler in any game , you get at least 3 terrible ones?
I think I had the same problem last night, but it seems to be fixed now. I have no idea what may be causing it. Do you see them now, or is it a persistent problem on your end? If it's persistent, can you check if it's the same for one of the other AARs in my sig (they all use servimg and I've never had such complaints in the past)?

Say what you will about Ephron's (lack of) martial skill, at least he's got finesse in spades!

Seleucids tend to be evil. Or at least that is what I remember from playing the game last time in 2008. :p
Ah yes, long have I heard stories about the evil yellow blob in this game, but now, at last, I get to experience it.
 
Last edited:

DKM

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I see them now.
 

Selzro

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Ah, that's good to hear!
 

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Good luck against the Selucids!
 

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Thanks!
 

Selzro

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IV. The Resurgence of Ephron

In the previous chapter we saw how the Achaean League came close to a humiliating defeat, with catastrophic consequences for its tyrant’s popularity. Coming out of the two wars, with Macedonia and the Seleucid Empire, and also Egypt and the Bosporan Kingdom, there were many generals who commanded the personal loyalty of their troops, but no soldier respected Ephron. The tyrant made haste to lessen the risk, by reorganizing the army structure and retiring those generals who were deemed a threat to his government. He assumed personal command over the 1st Stratos, traditionally the most powerful army, once commanded by his grandfather, Aratus. When a rebellion sprung up in Cyrene, he personally set sail to fight them.



The rebels were no match for Ephron’s phalanxes, and they were soon scattered. However, the magnitude of the threat was magnified by his propaganda machine back home, and he came back to a pompous triumph. Having finally established himself as a military figure, his popularity soared as the people started looking up to him for the first time as someone befitting the memory of Aratus.

For the next five years, Ephron busied himself with rooting out disloyalty, while the League’s manpower slowly recovered and stability increased. In 567AVC he felt that the League was secure enough that he could undertake a small military adventure, which would provide for him some easy military glory and a new boost to his popularity - and perhaps even the loyalty of some units. Cilicia had lost half of its territory since its independence from Egypt, but still retained Cyprus and some land on the opposite coast. Ephron landed with his army in Cyprus, defeated the small Cilician army and proceeded to besiege the capital. Although an initial rash assault proved to be a bloody failure, he persevered with more caution, making sure that news of his progress reached Achaea filtered of inconvenient details.



It was at around that time that a rebellion of far greater importance struck Egypt. The country had long been under the rule of the Ptolemies, a Greek dynasty established by one of the generals of Alexander the Great. The native Egyptians were kept in line through the official adoption of their ancient religion and through their inapplicability for military service. However, the declining fortunes of the Ptolemies had led to the necessity of a recruitment program for the Egyptians, who were no longer awed by their foreign kings’ power. The result was a major rebellion in April 568AVC, which became a full civil war.



Soon thereafter, the besieged remnants of the Ptolemaic Empire found themselves under attack by various neighbouring states, who circled like vultures the falling dynasty. In August, Rhodes called the Achaean League to arms in the war against Egypt. Ephron agreed, since Rhodes was one of the League’s oldest and staunchest allies, and since he could not forgive Ptolemy for the trouble he had put him through in the last war. By mid-November Cilicia was brought to the negotiating table, where it agreed to pay tribute to the Achaean League. Ephron returned to Achaea with pomp, from where he ordered a naval blockade of the Egyptian ports. The Egyptian rebels were progressing so rapidly that there was little need for Achaean ground troops to get involved in the war. On 16 March 569AVC, Ptolemy agreed to a truce, renouncing all Egyptian claims to Cyrene and its surrounding provinces in Achaean hands. By September, Egypt had a new dynasty. It was the end of an era for it.



The year 570AVC would find the Achaean League in a more stable situation than ever. All sources of contention with Macedonia and Egypt had been resolved. Although the League had had to cede a province in Crimaea and had suffered setbacks to its colonization efforts in that area, things could have turned out a lot worse, all things considered. But Ephron was restless. He could not forget that he was not a military commander of the same caliber as his grandfather, and that his recent military ventures paled in comparison to what his disloyal generals had accomplished. He was also uncomfortably aware that the League had only lost territory under his rule. That was something he dearly wished to change, and there was one easy way to do so. Illyria was a tributary state of the League, but he felt that it was time to outright annex it. It would help future colonization of the north, where the Seleucids were already expanding their territory, much to Ephron’s nervousness. Soon the tribute was cancelled under a flimsy pretext, and war was soon declared.

Ephron himself led the invasion, which was undertaken with overwhelming numbers. It proved to be as easy as he had hoped, and after only half a year the last free Illyrian province was annexed, in November 570AVC.



The war, thought short, was not without its lessons. Ephron gained a new appreciation for outflanking tactics and, indeed, his friends would say that no one could outflank like Ephron when having a 3-1 numerical superiority in infantry and total superiority in cavalry, on unobstructed plains. The tyrant was clearly a tactician.



Four years later, in June 574AVC, Ephron’s new skills would be tested in proper combat, for that was when Carthage declared war on the Achaean League.



The first phase of the war consisted mainly in transportation. Deeming that Cyrene was Carthage’s target, Ephron ordered the bulk of the Achaean army transported there, from where it could launch a pre-emptive strike in Carthaginian territory. But the Carthaginians had plans of their own, and landed an army on the Illyrian coast. The Achaean navy rushed towards the Adriatic Sea to force a decisive battle on its Carthaginian counterpart, and the two fleets met in Mare Ionium. Achaean seamanship proved vastly superior that day, since the Carthaginian fleet , although initially outnumbering the Achaean one in triremes 73-67, was crippled, for only minor Achaean losses.



That opened up the Dalmatian coast to the Achaean League, and Ephron arranged it so that an army under his command would be the one to relieve the besieged city.



The Carthaginians, however, proved more resilient on the ground than at sea, and their elephants spread panic among the Achaean infantry. Ephron’s army lost almost 5,000 men, while the Carthaginians had half as many casualties. Thankfully, another Achaean army soon disembarked and attacked the disorganized Carthaginians, defeating them decisively.



The first phase of the Carthaginian War, fought in Europe and at sea, was over, and the Achaean League had come out on top. The second phase would prove much bloodier, and would take place in the sands of Libya. The Achaean armies had advanced west from Cyrene, conquering settlements in their path, until they were attacked by the main Carthaginian army, 45,000 strong.





The Achaeans were victorious, but the casualties they sustained blunted their advance. The Nassamones-Leptis Magna line would demark the fighting ground for the rest of the war, with tens of thousands of young men from both sides being buried there by the time the war ended. All through 567AVC the Achaean and Carthaginians fought along that line, with the latter usually suffering higher combat casualties but the former losing a great many men to attrition. By the end of the year it was becoming clear that a way would have to be found out of that stalemate. Since the Achaean navy ruled the sea, an expedition was sent to capture the Carthaginian island of Malta. They were successful by May 577AVC.



Ephron then felt confident enough to launch an attack on the regrouping Carthaginian forces in Laguatan, but it ended in disaster, with over 7,000 Achaean casualties. So the front remained stable until, a year later, Carthage agreed to a truce, on the condition that it would drop all claims to Barca, which were the reason it had started the war in the first place. Ephron had hoped for some territorial gains, but after all that bloodshed it was clear that any further progress would have been impossible and would have only kept draining the League’s manpower.



But the League had gone toe to toe with one of the two great powers of the west and had won. Ephron now openly referred to it as a ‘great power’, with a sphere of influence possibly extending across the better part of eastern Europe. That would bring it in competition with the Seleucid Empire, but the first signs of that policy shift wouldn’t appear for another five years.


 

Enewald

Enewald Enewald Enewald
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