Unlike the Campanians, who wanted to hold a great banquet to welcome the Theonian army’s arrival, the Volscian quickly and carefully asked Amintas if they could explain the whole war’s situation to him now and start discussing how the two sides should cooperate against the Romans.
Amintas didn’t even need to think about it and immediately agreed.
And this also made the Volscians’ perception of the Theonian increase.
Thus the two sides held a military meeting in the consul of Circeii’s residence.
Amintas and Phryntor’s eyes opened wide once the map of Volscians and the surrounding area drawn in a cowhide unfolded. Although the map was drawn crudely and perhaps even less accurately, it was at least more detailed than the map of central Italia made by Theonia’s Ministry of Military. After all, with many races and forces in this area, some of which simply didn’t welcome outsiders to enter, and Theonia had few roots here, so Aristias’ intelligence had no way to send its men to probe deep into the interior of the area.
As the two men looked at the map closer, Toulus, the consul of Circeii, pointed at the map and said in Greek with a heavy accent, “Strategoi Amintas and Phryntor, more than thirty thousand Romans invaded our territory and surrounded the city of Velitrae more than a month ago. But since we had just suffered a defeat in the battle against the Romans, we could only gather twenty thousand men to rescue them and fought them outside Velitrae, only to suffer another defeat…”
When saying that, anger and shame filled Toulus’ expression. He then coughed lightly and continued, “After defeating us, the Romans began to siege the city of Velitrae by using terrifying siege equipment that could shoot stones at a distance and bombard the wall constantly. As a result, they opened a hole in the wall and caused the city of Velitrae to fall…”
Phryntor exclaimed in surprise, “Could it be the Romans can also make ballistae?!”
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As a statesman of Theonia, Amintas had attended the emergency meeting of the Senate on Carthage’s affairs during this period. In addition, he went to the Ministry of Military to read some secret information about Rome after he got his appointment from Davos. Thus he knows a lot about them. So when he saw Phryntor’s surprise, he whispered to him, “Those ballistae should have come from Carthage, which had formed a military alliance with the Romans. I heard they sent fleets of ships to Rome in the past to finance their armaments. And before I led my army to leave Thurii, a Carthaginian envoy had gone to our Senate to express their support for the Romans and tore up our treaty…”
The Ministry of Military did have information about the Carthaginians’ secret attempt to develop ballistae and siege towers…but Phryntor was more shocked about a possible war between Theonia and Carthage!
Although Toulus noticed the two Theonian generals’ expressions changing, he didn’t stop his report, “After capturing Velitrae, the Romans went to attack Satricum, but we had learnt our lesson this time. Thus instead of fighting against the Romans, we defended the city with our strength, which allowed us to repel the Romans’ attack many times. However-”
He then angrily said, “Ten days ago, another Roman army sneak attacked Antium. And since most of Antium’s citizens had gone to aid Satricum, they were caught unprepared! After capturing Antium, that Roman army marched rapidly south along the coast. But to avoid getting cut off by them, most of our reinforcements had to leave Satricum…”
Then with a pained look, Toulus sighed, “What’s Satricum’s situation now? We aren’t sure, but it won’t last long as there aren’t many soldiers in the city. And we couldn’t help them because this Roman army attacked so fast, and this area-”
Toulus drew a small circle on the map with his finger, “Has no large towns, only several villages and few small towns, with flat terrain. Although there are several rivers, they can easily be traversed. Thus our hastily organised army to stop them was defeated by the Romans…now, they have reached the city of Setia.”
Amintas found the place where Toulus’ finger was on the map, and it seemed it wasn’t too far away from Circeii, so he immediately interjected, “How far is this place from us?”
“It’s about twenty kilometres.” Toulus’ answer made Amintas and Phryntor look at each other, thinking the same thing, ‘It’s no wonder the Volscians anxiously wanted to hold a military conference! The Romans were already on the verge of killing them on their doorstep!!!’
Toulus’ finger then moved slightly southward on the map, pointing to another city close to Setia, “We were currently concentrating our reinforcements in the city of Privernum when those cunning Romans stopped attacking Setia. Instead, they built a camp not far away, resulting in a stalemate for several days. But I fear that once the other Roman army captured Satricum, they would join up and launch their attack!”
Once the worried-looking Toulus said that, the other people in the room also became saddened.
After thinking for a moment, Amintas pointed at Privernum’s icon on the map and asked, “How many people are there here?”
“About twelve thousand men,” Toulus replied without bothering to hide their weakness. He then emphasises, “That is the largest force that our Volsci alliance can muster now, including the three thousand reinforcements sent by Aurunci and Sidixi.”
The Volscians present felt a mix of embarrassment and sadness. Previously, the Volscians once dominated Latium but were now in such a state of decline that they could not even muster ten thousand soldiers.
Tapirus, who was just listening, suddenly became enlightened, ‘It’s no wonder there weren’t many Volscian citizens in the port and the city!’
Without even caring about that, Amintas pointed at Setia and asked, “How many Roman troops are here?”
“Since that Roman army has two military tribunals, I fear it won’t be below twelve thousand. And per the Roman regulations, a military tribune would lead a legion in battle, with a legion having about five thousand men, plus some troops from Rome’s allies…”
Before Toulus could even finish speaking, Tapirus couldn’t help but exclaim, “Rome also has legions?!”
Amintas glanced at him and calmly said, “Yes, Rome also has a legion, and its organisation is slightly similar to Theonia.”
Before coming here, Amintas, who had gone to the Ministry of Military to learn about Rome, was astonished when he saw the description of the Roman military system. At that time, he thought, ‘The Romans stole our Theonia’s legionary tactics!’ However, that also made him underestimate the Roman army less.
“More than twelve thousand… If they were to merge with another Roman army with more than thirty thousand men, then there would be nearly fifty thousand Roman soldiers near Setia.” Amintas said slowly.
The Volscians in the room all turned grave. After the initial alliance with Theonia, they expected their powerful ally in the south to send more troops here. Unexpectedly, they only send ten thousand men. But they immediately understood the reason after listening to Matepola’s explanation regarding “Theonia couldn’t send more soldiers because of the drought and food shortage.” In fact, Volsci also had some difficulty supplying the ten thousand men of the Theonian army and their army with food.
Amintas also turned serious as he naturally knew the First Legion couldn’t repel fifty thousand Roman soldiers no matter how brave they were. From the information about Rome, the Romans constantly fought for years, making them more difficult to deal with than the weak Tarantines.
He pondered for some time while staring at the map. Amintas then pointed to the west of Privernum and decisively said, “I will lead my troops to camp here tomorrow. After that, I would try to lure this Roman army to fight with us, depending on the situation!”
After Amintas said that, he looked at the people in the room. But when his gaze landed on Phryntor, he paused and asked, “Phryntor, do you have any suggestions?”
If it were Alexius, he would first ask Phryntor for his opinion before making his decision. Obviously, Amintas still needs to adapt to Phryntor’s presence, so his question is more like a formality.
Phryntor compared the characteristics of these two important legati of Theonia inwardly and shook his head, “I have no other opinion. Legatus’ decision is correct!”
Phryntor analysed the pros and cons of Amintas’ decision in his mind. With Privernum being an important town in Volsci and the First Legion building a camp west of Privernum, the two would become horns that would undoubtedly add great difficulties for the Roman army to attack. Since the west of the to-be-built camp is a swamp area, it would create a simple defensive line to protect the two most important towns in Volsci, Terracina and Circeii, as well as the surrounding fields and villages. Thus that would also ensure these two towns and villages would constantly give logistical support to the camp. But if the Romans gave up attacking Sethia and the Theonian camp and instead forced their way through the gap between the camp and the swamp area to attack the empty Circeii in the rear, the Romans would risk being wiped out!
After Phryntor expressed his approval, Amintas slapped the table and said before the Volscians could decide, “Then it’s settled! I will depart with the army tomorrow morning!”
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