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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

diskoerekto

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How will they endure it? Will they endure it?
Let's find out!

And so it came to ante diem quartum Nonas (the 4th day before the Nones) of October 549, when yet again the chickens proved fickle and uncooperative.
Future historians will have some difficulty explaining to people chicken were one of the main reasons Roman science was not as advanced as it should be...

this was more than balanced by news that was almost literally worth a 1,000 talents of gold: a bumper harvest had raised the Republic’s stability [back to +3] without him having to lift a finger – or spend a denarius!
These kind of events is one of the reason I mostly improve stability up to +2 and don't take the final costly step

And while the declaration was pushed through, the Senate [rather stupidly and obstinately :mad:] absolutely refused to sanction any calls to arms being sent!
:eek:

There was a call for the now under-performing Gallic chickens to be turned into ‘chicken a la rex’ and eaten for dinner that evening.
:D the consul has to find that manual chicken manipulating populists and employ them!

A great episode! Just when I thought there'll be more setup and rebel bashing, suddenly the Second Eastern War began. The beginning of the war has been good until now, and the fact that we have now been able to call Egypt into this, I think this will go smoother after now. The last roadblock is to destroy the main army of Pontus now. Already waiting for the next episode!
 
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El Pip

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All those failed invocations to Minerva are really starting to add up. I get the impression that not only is Rome failing to catch up, but it is actually falling even further behind. Now none of the techs developed appear to actually do anything useful, so this isn't as bad as it could be, but surely at some point this lack of science will become serious?

This perhaps explains why the Consuls are so keen to drive East, no amount of new land in Hispania or Gaul can match the boost that would come from a 'civilised' Greek or Eastern province. And Roman research is clearly desperately in need of a boost!
 
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Bullfilter

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Those seem like sensible goals. Also, I love how you also use real history as a background, to flesh things out! It makes things feel more alive, and it's a nice refresher course for us readers.
Thank you! I do like a little of the history (where it fits in) to give the story some contemporary flavour.
Future historians will have some difficulty explaining to people chicken were one of the main reasons Roman science was not as advanced as it should be...
It’s all pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? :rolleyes:
These kind of events is one of the reason I mostly improve stability up to +2 and don't take the final costly step
I was hoping that would happen, and the game was very obliging this time.
:D the consul has to find that manual chicken manipulating populists and employ them!

A great episode! Just when I thought there'll be more setup and rebel bashing, suddenly the Second Eastern War began. The beginning of the war has been good until now, and the fact that we have now been able to call Egypt into this, I think this will go smoother after now. The last roadblock is to destroy the main army of Pontus now. Already waiting for the next episode!
Chicken manipulating always sounds like something you do before roasting them. :D Come to think of it ...

Thanks, glad I was able to slip a little surprise in there. It was a bit of a risk, then the problem with the call to arms caught me out a bit. It started ok, anyway. But then, these wars always do, then turn nasty later. o_O
All those failed invocations to Minerva are really starting to add up. I get the impression that not only is Rome failing to catch up, but it is actually falling even further behind. Now none of the techs developed appear to actually do anything useful, so this isn't as bad as it could be, but surely at some point this lack of science will become serious?

This perhaps explains why the Consuls are so keen to drive East, no amount of new land in Hispania or Gaul can match the boost that would come from a 'civilised' Greek or Eastern province. And Roman research is clearly desperately in need of a boost!
Grabbing those Greek provinces is indeed very much about that - the Seleucids in particular are tech monsters at he moment. Strategically and for taxes and research, annexing Greece really is getting more important.
 
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Wraith11B

Call Kenny Loggins, you're in the DANGER ZONE...
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Makes one wonder if putting off a drive against Carthage (as much as they needed to be destroyed and salted away!) in favor of absorbing Greece might have played differently.
 
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Bullfilter

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Makes one wonder if putting off a drive against Carthage (as much as they needed to be destroyed and salted away!) in favor of absorbing Greece might have played differently.
I even wondered that at the time, but basically that first war against Macedon, when they just had Pontus helping, was a tough one. Then the Seleucids joined the pact, and without Egypt as an ally, and a massive military build-up, I just didn’t think I had the oomph to tackle them. Hence the long period wooing the Egyptians and taking down Carthage and expanding elsewhere, mainly in order to build enough and have the west reasonably secure, then going east.

But you’re right, not having more rich Greek provinces earlier hurt. Then again, OTL Rome didn’t have a monolithic pact of three of the four Hellenistic successor states arrayed against them in the east, with a pact that has lasted decades. Well done game for making it a challenge! ;)
 
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Chapter LXXXV: War is Wearing New

Bullfilter

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Chapter LXXXV: War is Wearing
(1 August 552/202 BC to 31 July 554/200 BC)



Foreword. While I want to move the story forward in longer chunks of time, a lot happens in a major war that I think should be related, even while trying to keep it more succinct. So, by cutting out a little more extraneous stuff (like Gubernatorial building events, or too much on military movements that aren’t that crucial to the final result), I’ve managed to get two years’ worth into a single chapter.

The last chapter finished with a new Consul – M.C. Scipio of the Mercantile faction – pondering calls to arms being made to Rome’s allies Egypt and Massilia. Meanwhile, Macedonian remnant armies were still being chased around, while many sieges were in progress in Greece and Pontic Thrace.

In Asia Minor, a large Pontic army, commanded by the formidable Sophronius Zagreid, was bearing down on Legio VI in Bithynia, which was waiting on the Roman Navy to clear the Propontis and lift them away to safety before Zagreid (who now had a large numerical advantage) could strike them.

§§§§§§§

1 August – 31 December 552

By 7 August, the new ‘mini-legion’ of Legio XIII had finished its retreat to Taulanti after its surprise defeat in Epirus the month before. Rookie legate S.C. Metellus picked up three fresh cohorts there, giving him around 6,800 men, and immediately turned around (barbarian style) and marched straight back to Epirus, determined to revenge himself on Macedonian Basileus Ptolemy and redeem the honour of the 'Unlucky 13th', as some were informally calling his legion.
As in the last chapter, I recommend if possible having the campaign map up in one window as the descriptions are worked through, as in some cases I leave the details to that visual summary rather than repeating them all in the text.

Campaign Summary, the Second Eastern War, August 552 to July 554 AUC.
Note: Included here at the start more for reference as the combat descriptions progress, rather than to be 'consumed whole' at the start, but of course that is up to the Dear Reader.

The siege of Seleucid Sparta (194 days, map note 1) finished on 11 August, with Gurges’ Legio VIII ordered to march north, to confront one of the ‘loose’ Macedonian armies sheltering in Achaea. The same day, Classis I (Blaesus) and IV (Cotta), with 60 ships between them, attacked 14 Pontic triremes in the Propontis (note 2). No ships were lost on either side, but the battle went longer than it should with these overwhelming odds [Rome 3 v 7 and 1.5 v 2 Pontus], which delayed the escape of Legio VI (Licinus) from Bithynia. As it happened, this delay was fatal for a good many Roman legionaries.

After this delay, Legio VI would have made it on to the ships on 25 August, but Zagreid’s army arrived in Bithynia the day before, on 24 August. All Licinus' men had to do was defend for the minimum of four days before they could retreat to the boats, without suffering too many casualties. Alas, this is not the way things turned out. The crucial initial (and only) exchange was a complete and unmitigated Roman disaster – one of the worst and most disproportionate losses in Roman history, with over 10,000 men lost in just four days (note 3).


As the humiliated and eviscerated Legio VI stampeded onto the boats on 29 August, Gurges' Legio VIII was attacking the Macedonian army in Achaea, wiping out the entire force of over 6,000 men by the next day, for minimal loss (note 4).

But when Legio VI began to disembark in Thracia on 2 September, they had lost around another 3,000 men to attrition during the brief trip. In all, the foray into Bithynia had proven an ill-advised disaster. Since crossing into Bithynia, over 20,000 men had been lost to combat and attrition, for no gain. In retrospect, staying with the original plan of sitting in Thracia and either blockading the Propontis or inviting a Pontic attack at a large disadvantage over the waterway would have been the wise choice.

In reaction to all this – and the prospect of a more protracted war – the calls to arms were issued by Consul Scipio on 4 September 552 AUC [Egypt ‘likely’, Massilia ‘very likely’]. But the replies were not entirely what the Romans had been hoping for.


The Romans were so irate that a casus belli on Egypt was available and the alliance was [automatically] broken as a result of the Egyptians' failure to honour their obligations, while the basic strength of the relationship was also damaged.

That day, another Macedonian army was spotted heading south from barbarian Eravisci (north of the Danube) towards Roman territory. Legio XI, still making its way back from the west, was given the task of intercepting them. The chase would end up taking quite some time and would finally end in Paeonia.


Five days later, Suci (in Pontic Thrace) fell to its Roman besiegers (305 days, note 5). Also on 10 September, a small fleet of Pontic ships was spotted in Mare Aegeum. Cotta (Classis IV, 31 ships) set off from the Propontis to teach them a lesson, leaving Classis I to continue the blockade.

Over in Eprius, on 14 September S.C. Metellus did indeed exact his revenge on Basileus Ptolemy, with now over double the enemy’s men to his name. The battle started well for Legio XIII [Rome (5) 6 v 0 Macedon], then things slowed down [(0) 1 v 0] before victory was achieved on 26 September, the Macedonians taking very heavy casualties for only a few Romans killed (note 6).

The second battle in Mare Aegeum from 21-28 September (note 7) was a convincing victory, with five of the 12 Pontic ships sunk. But 11 of Cotta’s 31 vessels required repairs, for which they soon docked in nearby occupied Thessaly.

By early October, Roman manpower reserves stood at 50,404, but after the disaster in Bithynia 21,309 men were required to replenish the legions. Recruiting sat at 1,377 per month.

A few days later, Consul Scipio was taking diplomatic advice from Humphronius Obscurus. Before Egypt could again be asked to join the war, the alliance would need to be renewed. But Scipio did not have the numbers in the Senate, which overwhelmingly opposed such a request. Humphronius did suggest sending a ‘gift’ to Egyptian courtiers, however, as an interim measure to rebuild the relationship and make any future diplomatic requests more likely to be approved by them. The Senate had no problems with that, anyway.


Good news came on the ante diem quartum decimum Kalendas (the 15th day before the Kalends) of October 552 AUC, with a favourable omen despite the narrow odds for success, with Cupid’s Blessing received.


“Have one child for the husband, one for the wife, and one for the Republic!” decreed the Consul.

Ptolemy’s few remaining stragglers arrived in Thessaly on 9 November, where Legio I was waiting for them and Legio VIII was passing through on its way to the north. Over 40,000 Romans made light work of the 836 soldiers the Basileus could muster from 25 regiments – all of which were destroyed (note 8).

A month later, Consul Scipio was back in Hispania, commanding Legio X in Vaccaei. Bernardius Lanatus Reverens, there to help him administer the affairs of state, went to wake him with the morning despatches. But the Consul was unresponsive as he lay peacefully - and quite cold - in bed. A very fast carrier pigeon [;)] soon had the news being reported in Rome, where a new election was held immediately.


The dominant Religious faction was back in charge, its leader taking the Consular reins. Another A.C. Caudex [Civic faction, Martial 5] was given the ‘backwater’ command of Legio X. The sceptical Centho would prove a drag on research in the Republic, but would at least improve the chance for successful omens.

On 10 December, Macedonia fell to Rome after a lengthy 434 day siege (note 9). The satisfaction of the Senate's earlier standing resolution to retake it prompted a new - and more ambitious - objective to be put forward. Not impossible, though unlikely.


With this progress, Centho had Humphronius present options for peace settlements – not that he intended to take any up as yet.

“I just want to know what is on offer and what we could gain, from a separate peace with Macedon or a general one via the Seleucids.”

“Yes, Consul.” The Fetial priests soon had a report available. There was still some way to go to get a substantial settlement.


Neither option was pursued. The strategy would continue to be to methodically reduce the army and forts of Macedon and Pontic Thrace, while keeping the area sealed off from the rest of Pontus and Seleucia. But a short time later, Centho’s increased backing in the Senate was just enough to force through a request to renew the Egyptian alliance, which was accepted.


This was followed soon after by a small naval skirmish in Mare Aegeum on 16 December, which was becoming a focal point of Roman-Pact naval operations in this phase of the war. Two more Pontic galleys were sunk, though Classis IV took a little more damage (note 10). But while the Romans were distracted with this engagement, the main Seleucid battle fleet – 52 ships strong – had slipped into Mare Icarium unnoticed and would reach Cotta’s fleet the next day!


Cotta decided to stand and fight, calling up the ships under repair in Thessaly and D.C. Scipio’s Classis II from Argolis to join him. Eventually, this should give him a healthy numerical advantage, even without calling in Blaesus from the Propontis, who had another 29 ships.

Fighting started on 17 December, with Roman numbers building by stages as each new detachment arrived, but it meant Cotta’s Classis IV (21 ships) bore the initial brunt. By 31 December, fighting still raged, the Seleucids with 52 ships and the Romans still only 30. From this time, the daily tactical advantage swung to and fro. The Seleucid admiral – Polyperchon Arid [Martial 9, of course! :rolleyes:] had the slight advantage over T.A. Cotta [Martial 8].
Not all were recorded, but the following applied:
  • 31 December: Rome 5 v 2.5 Seleucid
  • 2 January: 2 v 6.5
  • 6 January: 4 v 5.5
  • 15 January: 2 v 0.5
  • 17 January: 2 v 5.5
  • 21 January: 5 v 6.5
  • 27 January: 2 v 4.5
  • 2 February: 0 v 2.5
So the Seleucids received the overwhelming random advantage of the winds for most of this long-running naval battle.
The key points were the arrival of Classis II on 5 January, by which time Rome had lost three ships but now had a numerical advantage. Seeing the way things were turning by then, Classis I was called up from the Propontis that day. It was gambled that the battle would be over in plenty of time for them to resume the blockade before Zagreid could get his army across the waterway to invade Thracia.

Classis I arrived on 15 January, which swung the numbers and relative morale firmly back in Rome’s favour. But carry-over damage and early toll on Classis IV was showing: by then 15 Roman vessels had been lost but no Seleucids sunk. In retrospect, Cotta should have probably pulled his badly damaged fleet out at that point, letting Blaesus and Scipio keep up the fight. But all were fixated on victory and revenge and the option was not taken.

By 2 February, just one Seleucid vessel had been sunk but many more Roman triremes lay at the bottom of the sea. At this point, just as the Seleucids were wearing, they withdrew a couple of days later. Cotta could claim a victory on paper, but the casualties were once more catastrophic, with almost a quarter of the combined Roman Grand Fleet lost (note 11). With the Propontis to seal up again and the rest of the Roman ships too badly damaged to risk, the Seleucids were able to escape without follow-up.


As the great Battle of the Mare Aegeum raged, Pontic Crobobizi had fallen to its Roman besiegers on 31 December 552 (419 days, note 12). Tomis would be their next target.

§§§§§§§

1 January – 30 June 553

Over in the west, which had remained remarkably quiet for many months, a relatively minor rebellion broke out in Vaccaei (Hispania), where A.C. Caudex ‘Minor’ had a hard time of it initially [Rome 0 v (6)7 Rebel], but eventually prevailed at the cost of 1,836 of his 13,000 men, with 1,780 of the 5,000 rebels killed and the rest dispersed.

And as Mare Aegeum raged on, Legio XI (T.J. Bubulcus, 15 cohorts) finally ran down the last wandering Macedonian army of Phidias Xenodid in Paeonia. It was over in a couple of days, with just eight Romans killed while all 6,021 of the last formed Macedonian army were slaughtered [Rome (6)8 v Macedon 0] (note 13).

The aftermath of the ‘victory’ in Mare Aegeum saw the Roman fleets dispersed either to repair in Thessaly or back to the Propontis where Classis I would beat Zagreid’s crossing by only nine days! And after all the hard work and sacrifice of the Roman sailors, Arid fled without hindrance to Mare Icarium.


Every shipbuilding yard in the entire Republic was then put to work to start replacing the grievous losses, but the Roman treasury was strong and 13 new vessels were ordered the day the battle ended.


And on the diplomatic front, with the Senate approving, a more problematic call to arms was sent to Egypt (only a ‘maybe’ this time, as the relationship had slipped a bit since the first request).


But once more the dastardly and cowardly Egyptians shirked their responsibilities, with the alliance again broken and relations further strained. Consul Centho and the entire Senate were livid!

But, ever patient, after the latest Roman envoys to Alexandria had returned a month later, Humphronius once more urged the effort to be made to renew the alliance, though again this would cost Centho political support. Even if they had been twice disappointed with the results.


Away from the war, there was more good news with Raetia being fully absorbed into the Republic as a province, with Roman culture and religion, on 24 March 553. And four days later, Peiphigi fell to the Romans (note 14). The small Legio XII, with S.V. Laevinus [a second-stringer legate, Martial 5] in charge, was sent north through barbarian lands to make an attempt to take the isolated Alazones from Pontus.


By 2 May, relative peace on land in recent months meant most of the legions had been brought close to full strength, at the cost of running down the manpower reserve (33,006 in reserve, 8,781 replacements needed). Population growth and absorbed provinces meant the monthly recruiting rate had risen to 1,463.

Epirus was the next Macedonian province to fall, taken on 8 April after a 191 day siege (note 15). A few weeks later, the Massilian contribution to the war effort finally appeared in Liburni: their 2nd Stratos, with 20 regiments. Good old Massilia!

As the war now focused on siege work, on 6 May Liburni was also fully absorbed as a province. And on 13 May, another 22 gold talents were shipped off to Egypt, to again try to build the relationship and give a subsequent call to arms more chance of succeeding – given past bitter disappointments.

Legio XIII, now up to its full strength of 7,000 and waiting in Thessaly, was broken into two contingents, ready to land on the Pontic island outposts of Crete and Rhodes, as had been dome in the First Eastern War. By 23 May the first four cohorts were ready to sail to Crete.

Back in Roma, the next iteration of the cursus honorum was prosecuted on 25 May 553, the 25 year-old T.O. Crassus [Martial 9] was now old enough to become Pontifex Maximus. T.A. Barbula [Martial 9] was promoted from Pontifex to Censor, and outgoing Censor Arivargus Vodenosid [Martial 7] was sent into the field to take command of the detachment that would soon head to Rhodes.

A week later, the loyalty of senior officials and Senators was shored up with the introduction of a a new system of open courts.


And with the completion of the first two new ships on 24 June, another two were laid down in Samnium and Liguria. Two days later, Legio XII (eight cohorts) was in Olbia and spotted a small army of five Pontic regiments in Alazones. Like any good Roman general, he advanced to the attack, even though the enemy were trying to vacate it, heading west towards barbarian Navari.

§§§§§§§

1 July – 31 December 553

8 July brought the fall of Euboea (191 days, note 16), leaving Aetolia as the only unoccupied Macedonian province, with no Macedonian troops left in the field. Then on 17 July, the important Italian province of Samnium finally became fully Romanised, with its culture now following the way of its religious affiliations to complete its absorption.

Vodenosid arrived off Rhodes the same day, only to find a Pontic garrison of three regiments (though with no assigned leader) in occupation. Rather than risk a naval landing with only even numbers, he sailed back to pick up another cohort from Legio I in Euboea (noting that more than four at a time would attract seaborne attrition). The siege of Crete, which had no Pontic garrison, remained in its early days.

Laevinus arrived in Alazones to wreak mayhem on the Pontic force there, which was only made up of light infantry militia, without even archers to support them. Laevinus had a balanced force of principes, cavalry, horse archers and archers. But the enemy had the advantage of defending a forest and their general had twice the talent of Laevinus. Things only got worse after a poor start, and the Romans were administered a shameful beating, though the legate did at least redeem his honour by bravely commanding the rear-guard – and living to tell the tale (not included on the campaign map).


With news of the defeat, Legio XI (T.J. Bubulcus, [Martial 8], 15,000 men) was sent north from reserve in Triballi on 30 July to ‘do the job properly’ – but it was a long journey.

Tomis fell on 15 August 553 (191 days, note 17), completing the occupation of Pontic Thrace. That day, Vodenosid, back now with four cohorts, began his naval landing attack [-2 die roll penalty] on Rhodes. The beach landing disadvantage more than offset by his superior tactical acumen [+3.5, with no enemy leader]. Most Roman casualties were sustained in the first five days, [Rome (0)1.5 v 6 Pontus], but this was turned around [(4)5.5 v 3] and the battle was won by 24 August, with any Pontic troops not killed in the combat taken prisoner and the siege begun (note 18).

After the longest siege to that date in Roman experience (534 gruelling days) Aetolia finally fell on 20 August (note 19), meaning Macedon was now completely occupied. It was time to enforce a separate peace on them and grab as much territory as could be squeezed out of them, plus the relinquishment of a number of core claims. Macedon was now reduced to a rump state with no standing army.


At this time, Roman manpower reserves were 27,779, with 9,853 replacements needed and monthly recruiting now up to 1,614. The war with Pontus and the Seleucids would continue as Crete and Rhodes were reduced.

Another five triremes were ordered on 7 September as more ships finished construction around the Republic. This was timely, as on 18 October the main Seleucid battle fleet, with 53 ships (no doubt all fully repaired) was sighted in the eastern Mediterranean, headed west. Cotta kept a careful eye on them, not eager to see more of his ships destroyed when his numbers were still less than during the last vicious battle.

The Seleucid fleet was tracked through Mare Carpathicum (sailing past the siege of Rhodes) and Mare Icarium, arriving in Mare Aegeum on 15 November, as Classis II and IV remained safely in port at Thessaly. Arid’s fleet then headed for the Propontis, which they were due to reach on 24 November – but Blaesus’ Classis I headed back to port in Thracia, and reached there on 17 November.

At this point, Arid turned back south towards Mare Icarium as Zagreid’s 2nd Pontic Stratos (now numbering 38 regiments) began to cross the Propontis. The Seleucids had only feinted north to clear the Propontis – quite a clever ploy. But by turning around, the Romans would be left free to resume the blockade most likely before Zagreid could complete his crossing from Bithynia.

And by then, Rome had Legio VI (Q.M. Vitulus, now recovered to 24,000 men, including after some consolidation or mercenary cohorts) and Legio VIII (Gurges) in Thracia – 41,500 Roman troops manning the shoreline. Though by exceeding the provincial supply limit (33 cohorts), they were suffering attrition (5% - ‘half decimation’). When Legio II (another 25,700 men under the verable A.P. Albinus) began marching from reserve in Maedi to Thracia on 21 November, Zagreid decided to halt his crossing in any case. The Romans had been half hoping he would continue.

All this prompted the Romans to reorganise again in Thracia, to deal with the attrition problem. On 23 November Legio VI was brought back to 33 cohorts, while Legio VIII, now with just 10 cohorts, headed back to reserve in Triballi and Legio II halted again in Maedi. Both could march to reinforce Thracia if necessary.

And to fully lock down the defence of Thracia, Classis I resumed the blockade of the Propontis on 21 December, with the Seleucid fleet having slipped off south – without any Roman attempt to intercept them.

§§§§§§§

1 January – 31 July 554

The new year began with sad but unsurprising news: old Albinus finally shuffled off the stage, active till the end at the ripe age of 82. No immediate replacement was appointed.


'Postumius posthumous.' :(
By the ante diem duodevicesimum Kalendas (18th day before the Kalends) of January, it was time for the chickens to be released again. With a religious Consul in charge, the chances of success were enhanced [up to 65%]. But the news was infuriating, with important research now even further delayed. The consequences were even more dire for the misbehaving poultry.


“Looks like chicken’s back on the menu, boys!”

The Seleucid fleet was next spotted in the Central Mediterranean, turning up in the Aegates Insulae off Panormus on 26 January. At that time, the seven-ship Classis III, under the personal command of Consul Centho, was chasing pirates further west in Insulae Gymnesiae. They won a battle against the five pirate ships there that day, sinking three and chasing the other two north. But a wary eye was kept on Arid’s 53-ship fleet.

In Roma, the much disliked malcontent former legate Theodoric Geroldid, still in prison after refusing to relinquish command in Graecia, met with a grisly end.


Humphronius promised the Senate he would launch a ‘full inquiry into the matter’, an assurance delivered with a knowing smirk and received with much good humour. There was even talk of voting Licinia Varia Prima a gift ‘for services rendered to the Republic’, but this was seen as just a little too obvious – and not a little gauche.

Crete fell to Rome on 7 February after 229 days of siege (note 20), though Rome hoped to wring still more out of Pontus before they were sent terms. In the west, Arid’s fleet (now south of Sardinia) definitely seemed to be chasing Centho’s little anti-piracy task force, by then in Pyreneae Promontorum with nine ships and still chasing the last few pirates. Centho abandoned the pirate chase on 23 February and headed to the nearby Massilian port of Emporion to take shelter. Denied his prey, Arid headed back east.

In early March, Centho decided enough was enough with Pontus: they were sent terms, which were agreed to on 5 March 554.


Now only Seleucia remained at war with Rome. Peace with them was considered, but at present Sparta remained just out of reach of a viable settlement demand [20% war score, Sparta 24% value]. A white peace was the only realistic alternative.

Plans were set afoot to try to eke out one more provincial conquest from the Seleucids, to allow Sparta to be demanded. In the south, troops would be ferried across in small increments to Egypt’s enclave in Asia Minor, where (with Egypt still neutral) they would be safe from Seleucid strikes and could build up to a strength of 25 cohorts in the two provinces without sustaining attrition.

In the north, Rome by now had two legions in Alazones, who had been besieging it when peace with Pontus was agreed. They hoped to march across Rhoxolani to attack Maeotae, but military access to do so was refused on 7 March. Next, Classis I was ordered to the north of the Euxine Sea (to what is modern Sea of Azov) to see if they could start ferrying troops across by sea.

In a long-awaited development, Histri – the last remaining unsettled province between Italia and Rome’s eastern holdings – became available for colonisation in mid-March. Settlers were sent immediately and one of the reserve legions sent across to help guard it.


A month later, there was more good news when manpower received a boost, while a week later another seven ships commenced building.


But when Classis I arrived in the north in late April, they spotted a Seleucid garrison of 8,000 in Maeotae, making any naval landing problematic. Instead, four cohorts were embarked to be sent south to Asia Minor, while the rest of the troops marched back overland to Thrace.

Things remained quiet until 2 June, when a revolt broke out in the restive former Macedonian province of Paeonia. The need to find an effective new commander for Legio II now came to the fore, sparking another evolution along the cursus honorum. Aulus Iacus Dives (Martial 8, a 29 year old a former Governor) was made Pontifex, T.O. Crassus [Martial 9] now became Censor, with S.C. Metellus [Martial 8] taking over command of Legio II in Maedi, marching straight away to put down the 6,000 rebels in Paeonia.

As all this was happening and forces were gradually built up in Egyptian Lycia and Caria (in Asia Minor), at sea the Seleucid battle fleet had been tracked heading back east from their fruitless foray into the western Mediterranean. Cotta massed Classis I, II and IV in Mare Aegeum, awaiting an imminent Seleucid onslaught with 76 Roman ships, all concentrated in one place this time, for a fourth naval battle in that nautical graveyard.

Arid’s fleet came into view on 26 June 554, but as they neared the Roman Grand Fleet, which had secured the slightly better winds, one Seleucid ship bearing a flag of truce (and, it transpired, the Seleucid admiral), came into view. Arid brought an offer of a white peace. As both sides remained tensed for combat, Titus Aurelius Cotta, the commander of the Roman Navy, pondered the situation.


He was tempted to press the slight advantage he held and perhaps gain some revenge on the Seleucids, but then again ... would risking another great blood-letting be worth the possibility of fighting for a single Seleucid province in Asia Minor, to possibly gain Sparta? It would take some months to assemble the large force they would need, Egypt would need to join the war and then another great loss of life would probably occur, win or lose…
In the end, Cotta agreed to the truce. There were fresh reports of a 40 regiment Seleucid army approaching Lydia and most of the planned gains for the war had been won. And Asia Minor had proven a difficult proposition in recent years.


The provisional truce was soon confirmed by the Senate. The Second Eastern War came to an end, the two coalition leaders agreeing to the white peace. Rome would not need to make another risky attempt to induce perfidious Egyptians to join.
This caused the unlikely mission to take Meshketi fail formally, resulting in a heavy loss of support for Centho’s Religious faction.


Meanwhile, Rome’s leading general A.C. Caudex (Major) was reportedly becoming disaffected. If he were to start a civil war, things could become dangerous indeed. And he was too great an asset to lose. Amidst this political turmoil, Centho sought the advice of his wily chief assistant.

“Humphronius, we must sort this out, and quickly,” said the Consul as he worriedly scanned this latest despatch. “Can we offer him triumph?”

“Alas no, Consul,” that worthy replied. “I’m afraid he hasn’t done enough of late to credibly warrant it.”

But then, Humphronius’ usual remedy for sticky situations came to the fore: filthy lucre.

“Consul, the results can vary and one instalment may not be enough, but I think ship full of amphorae containing gold coins rather than wine should do the trick. But it will be expensive.”

“Should fifty gold talents suffice, Humphronius?”

“Yes, Consul.”


In the event, the bribe was very effective, doing wonders for the general’s loyalty to the Republic. He should remain safe for some time, anyway.

Metellus had his first outing as a commander on 10 July, taking five days to comfortably defeat and scatter the rebels in Paeonia for only light losses (note 21). It would be the last combat action for the Roman Army in the two year period reviewed in this chapter.

As the battle ended, Histri was established as the latest Roman colony, finally linking both halves of the Republic by land. A stockade was started, as the small garrison sent earlier from the east made its way over.


As July 554 AUC finished, a review of the Senate and leading candidates for the next consulship (due for election in early December that year), gave cause for concern. The recent run of events had lent greater power to the Populists, who now stood as the single largest faction on the Senate floor. Of even more concern, their lead candidate Publius Cornelius Rufinus was well ahead of his two nearest Religious faction opponents.


"This Rufinus is nothing but a low Populist swine,” grumped Centho, quite agitated. “And he is not very competent, charismatic, prominent or even popular! Is there anything we can do to … er, I mean about him?” The Consul's raised eyebrow said all it needed to.

Bernardius, standing unobtrusively in the background, lost all colour in his face.

“There are some dirty deeds that could be done,” Humphronius responded smoothly. “One of them is not dirt cheap though very permanent, but highly unlikely to succeed. The other is cheap – a smear campaign to dent his popularity - but not much more likely to work. And the consequences of either failing would only make the problem worse. To proceed with either would, I’d vouchsafe, be extraordinarily courageous, Consul.”

“So I suppose we just have to bide our time and hope for a lucky break? Pray to the Gods?”

Yes, Consul.” Bernardius was relieved, but still concerned at the ruthless implications of all this dark talk. Centho was just glum.


With a month of peace behind them, Rome’s manpower sat at 34,502 from an increased upper limit of 194,000. There were 1,623 new recruits being trained each month, with 9,050 still needed to replenish the legions. Another period of consolidation and rebuilding beckoned.


A statue thought to depict Consul Servius Claudius Centho proclaiming victory in the Second Eastern War to the Senate in 554 AUC (200 BC). However, not everyone was convinced by the soaring rhetoric of his oration. A strong Populist reaction against the long dominance of the Religious faction was taking hold.

§§§§§§§

Finis
 
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Well, it is nice to see that the war has ended. Still, it could have gone better.

A Third Eastern War will have to be fought to take Greece.

Perhaps the Egyptians should be punished for their presumptuousness. Refusing to aid Rome when their alliance was the only thing protecting their European territories and Carthage.

Why didn't you make the Seleucids annul their alliance with Macedon and Pontus? Surely you had enough war score to do that?
 
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Well, it is nice to see that the war has ended. Still, it could have gone better.

A Third Eastern War will have to be fought to take Greece.

Perhaps the Egyptians should be punished for their presumptuousness. Refusing to aid Rome when their alliance was the only thing protecting their European territories and Carthage.

Why didn't you make the Seleucids annul their alliance with Macedon and Pontus? Surely you had enough war score to do that?
I wasn’t aware that was an option (it’s been years since I last played the game). It wasn’t obvious on the negotiation screen. I’ll have another look to check it out.

As for the war: yes, reasonable but not stellar gains. Got the maximum possible under the game rules for Macedon, anyway. Apart from those two big battles in Bithynia and Mare Aegeum, losses weren’t too heavy though. Had Egypt joined, I would almost certainly have been able to do the Seleucids some damage, but figured it was time to cut bait. ;)

PS: checked just now: no ‘break alliance’ option available in the diplomatic or peace (demand) screens :( That I could find, anyway.:confused:

PPS: the heart said punish Egypt, but the head said we still need them to bring down Pontus and the Seleucids. We’ll have to settle their hash later. Some delayed gratification.
 
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Holy crap, why did the Consul not go to Thrace and demand that the commander give him back his legions?!
 
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Holy crap, why did the Consul not go to Thrace and demand that the commander give him back his legions?!
Still, Vitulus was rather left out to dry by the high command on this occasion: “well, where were the ships!?” he would have retorted in injured tones. :p
 
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A victory with 25 ships lost to one - talk about going all-in in the Pyrrhic victory stakes!
 
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The same day, Classis I (Blaesus) and IV (Cotta), with 60 ships between them, attacked 14 Pontic triremes in the Propontis (note 2). No ships were lost on either side, but the battle went longer than it should with these overwhelming odds [Rome 3 v 7 and 1.5 v 2 Pontus], which delayed the escape of Legio VI (Licinus) from Bithynia. As it happened, this delay was fatal for a good many Roman legionaries.

After this delay, Legio VI would have made it on to the ships on 25 August, but Zagreid’s army arrived in Bithynia the day before, on 24 August. All Licinus' men had to do was defend for the minimum of four days before they could retreat to the boats, without suffering too many casualties. Alas, this is not the way things turned out. The crucial initial (and only) exchange was a complete and unmitigated Roman disaster – one of the worst and most disproportionate losses in Roman history, with over 10,000 men lost in just four days (note 3).
:eek: :eek: :eek:


With news of the defeat, Legio XI (T.J. Bubulcus, [Martial 8], 15,000 men) was sent north from reserve in Triballi on 30 July to ‘do the job properly’ – but it was a long journey.
Beware the barbarians of the area, they’re numerous and strong.


With a religious Consul in charge, the chances of success were enhanced [up to 65%]. But the news was infuriating, with important research now even further delayed. The consequences were even more dire for the misbehaving poultry.
BBQ!


In a long-awaited development, Histri – the last remaining unsettled province between Italia and Rome’s eastern holdings – became available for colonisation in mid-March. Settlers were sent immediately and one of the reserve legions sent across to help guard it.
A great step in the way to make Rome contiguous again!
 
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A week later, the loyalty of senior officials and Senators was shored up with the introduction of a a new system of open courts.


I can see why this would be popular with Roman high society -the number of unforced disasters in that war was shocking. The naval massacre stands out, as does the Bithynia catastrophe, but I imagine the Fetial priests are also looking nervously over their shoulders. A lot of money and effort has been poured into Egyptian relations with absolutely nothing to show for it, this is not what one would expect from a properly executed policy. Indeed it may result in the policy of some proper executions to encourage the next lot of Priests to start delivering results.

In a close court they could be convicted, their fellows ganging up on them to agree a scapegoat and give the mob someone to blame for the disasters. But in an open court the accused knows who to bribe, who to intimidate, you can get a mob to turn up to scare everyone. Much less chance of ever being held accountable, which I'm sure Humphronius would agree is the important thing. ;)
 
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I can see why this would be popular with Roman high society -the number of unforced disasters in that war was shocking. The naval massacre stands out, as does the Bithynia catastrophe, but I imagine the Fetial priests are also looking nervously over their shoulders. A lot of money and effort has been poured into Egyptian relations with absolutely nothing to show for it, this is not what one would expect from a properly executed policy. Indeed it may result in the policy of some proper executions to encourage the next lot of Priests to start delivering results.

In a close court they could be convicted, their fellows ganging up on them to agree a scapegoat and give the mob someone to blame for the disasters. But in an open court the accused knows who to bribe, who to intimidate, you can get a mob to turn up to scare everyone. Much less chance of ever being held accountable, which I'm sure Humphronius would agree is the important thing. ;)
“Quite. One can’t acknowledge the principle of officials being made personally accountable for being incompetent. We could lose hundreds of our chaps, Bernardius. Thousands! It would be the thin end of the wedge. A Bennite solution!” :eek:
 

El Pip

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“Quite. One can’t acknowledge the principle of officials being made personally accountable for being incompetent. We could lose hundreds of our chaps, Bernardius. Thousands! It would be the thin end of the wedge. A Bennite solution!” :eek:
One could almost say a Populist Solution! ;)
 
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Bullfilter

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Le Jones

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So the thing that made me roar with laughter was the behaviour of the sneaky Egyptians. As ever wittily done with heavy and wry resignation.
 
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