Mediterranean Hegemon of Ancient Greece - Chapter 522
The Hipponian defenders watched in horror as the Rhegian army easily defeated their comrades outside the city, scattering them in all directions. However, they did not dare go outside the city to rescue them. On the contrary, they close the city gates tightly.
An hour later, more than 5,000 Rhegian soldiers surrounded the city of Hipponion.
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During that same time, Davos led his large army into Scylletium’s territory. While marching, Davos stayed quiet as he thought about what action to take next in order to completely defeat Syracuse and end the war.
Beside Davos was the cheerful Henipolis. In Davos’ tent last night, Davos finally accepted his idea and seriously conceived several proposals for him to safeguard Henipolis’ interest. Hence Henipolis felt relaxed when he woke up early this morning as he no longer had to think about Laos.
For a while, Henipolis excitedly talked with Tolmides, then chatted with Martius, wanting to know more about yesterday’s battle.
Finally, the Theonian army arrived outside Scylletium without any hindrance.
Davos then took the guard with him to scout the city: Scylletium’s wall is about seven metres high and has a perimeter of more than 500 metres. Although it has no moat, it instead has trenches in front of the city. It also has three gates, one to the west, one to the south and one to the north. Moreover, its port was enclosed within the walls as it was integrated with the city. Scylletium wasn’t a big city compared to Thurii and Crotone, but it was bigger than Terina and Hipponion.
After interrogating the prisoners last night, Davos learned of Syracuse’s forces in Scylletium: Besides the 4,000 troops stationed in Scylletium, they had more than 20,000 civilians and slaves from Syracuse and its allies, who were mainly responsibly for transporting rations and supplies.
Moreover, there is also a special group of people that Dionysius took from Sicily: Mathematical scholars, highly skilled construction engineers, equipment manufacturers, carpenters, shipwrights…and so on. They numbered nearly a thousand people and were responsible for allowing Dionysius to breach the city of Crotone as they were the ones who produced the ballistae, siege towers, gastraphetes…and other various siege equipment and facilities… They are also the group that Davos coveted to get the most.
Besides them were the captured Crotonian and Scylletian soldiers in the Battle of Allaro River. Although Dionysius sold some of the captives to the slave merchants, they still had three or four thousand people.
However, with the defeated Syracusan soldiers retreating to Scylletium now, the number of people in the city was probably as high as 60,000. If Dionysius hadn’t killed and sold the Scylletians, Scylletium would not have been able to accommodate so many people.
Davos watched the Syracusan soldiers on top of the city wall and imagined whether the Syracusan soldiers, who had just suffered a defeat, would maintain their composure once he gave the order to attack the city.
Naturally, Davos would not rush to attack a city that has more than 30,000 soldiers and possible 20,000 reserve soldiers. Besides, he has other plans.
At the top of the city wall, Dionysius stared at the group of men and horses running around with a complicated expression. Then his gloomy voice squeezed out from his teeth, “I heard that Davos of Theonia likes to observe the enemy before every big battle, so I guess he must be somewhere there!”
“Do you want to fire a ballista at them and hope Apollo would bless you and have a stone projectile hit him right on the head?” Phidias, whose hands, arms and waist were wrapped in bandages, said mockingly. He was badly wounded in yesterday’s battle but was lucky to escape. After getting treated and sleeping until noon today, he heard the arrival of the Theonian army, so he braced himself to climb the city wall.
Dionysius did not respond as Phidias guessed his thought was.
“I truly didn’t expect that this young man was the reason for our powerful army’s defeat!” Phidias exclaimed with doubt as he had still not had the time to think about the details of yesterday’s battle after fleeing back to the city. Thus even until now, he still couldn’t figure out how the Syracusan army had lost.
“We failed precisely because the Theonians had completely seen through your battle arrangements and made targeted changes…” Dionysius closed his eyes painfully: The quick change of direction of Theonia’s left-wing, the hidden sarissa phalanx behind the cavalry, and the rear attack of Theonia’s reserve on their right-wing…
He didn’t want to recall yesterday’s nightmarish battle. He even placed the main responsibility for their defeat on the Spartan with resentment as he didn’t want to admit the fact that the Theonians were far better than his Syracusan soldiers. Even though their left, centre and right-wing had more troops than the Theonians, they still failed to pressure the other side that they could even dare to deploy their troops and carry out their plans daringly.
Now it’s Phidias’ turn to be speechless. Although he still hasn’t found the reason for their defeat, it’s a fact that his tactics didn’t work.
“Still, it’s just a defeat in a battle. A few years ago, the situation was even more critical than today when the Carthaginians had defeated us in a battle. At that time, not only there was a large army surrounding us, but even our populace rioted. However, under my command and with the help of our allies, you Spartans, we finally defeated Carthage that I even heard the Carthaginian general Himilco committed suicide!” Dionysius then looked at his demoralised men and realised they could no longer afford to lose, so he needed to cheer them up. Otherwise, the next battle will become even more challenging. At the same time, he could not be hard on Phidias because of Syracuse’s extremely unfavourable situation, as they still needed to rely on the Spartan even more, “Although they are proud of their victory today, we Syracusans, with the protection of Apollo, will let those Theonians, who were just freemen a few years ago, know that the final victor of this war will only belong to Syracuse!”
“Lord Dionysius is right. In the past few years, we first lost the battle when facing Carthage but won the war and finally became the master of Sicily! Is Theonia more powerful than Carthage?!” Damocles immediately followed up.
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“There is no need to fear the Theonians! We just need to rally our soldiers’ morale and wait for the opportunity to fight back!” Phacipessas spoke loudly as well.
After getting encouraged, the strategoi and officials’ faces became brighter, and even Phidias’ frustration disappeared. However, only the intelligence officer – Androstini, wondered, ‘If Dionysius was not afraid of Theonia, why would he secretly send an envoy?…’
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After going around the city, Davos returned to the army and ordered them to build a camp 500 metres away from the city.
Davos planned to take advantage of the enemy’s defeat and low morale to set up a camp near the city. Afterwards, they would quickly have their two wings advance for a complete siege.
As soon as the heralds issued Davos’ order, half of the 50,000 troops began digging trenches and building earthen walls, while the other half were fully armed and alert of Syracuse’s sneak attack. On the other hand, Siprus led the more than 1,000 Terinian soldiers to the west as they eagerly wanted to take back their homeland – Terina.
Just as Davos urged the whole army to speed up the camp’s construction, Tolmides came to report that a Syracusan envoy asked to see him.
“Oh, it’s you again!” Davos smiled as he saw the envoy of Syracuse, “Did Dionysius send you this time to surrender?”
“Lord Davos, Syracuse is the hegemon of Sicily. Besides our 70,000 soldiers and 500,000 population, we also have more than a dozen city-states as allies that would accept our calling.” Damocles then proudly said, “So even if we lost in the naval and land battle, and lost a lot of ships and soldiers, this defeat means nothing. After all, we, Syracusans, could still organise another army no less than the current army that had come to Magna Graecia at any time! But can Theonia do the same?!”
“Since Syracuse is so powerful, why have you come here instead of welcoming your new army at Scylletium’s port?!” The clerk, Henipolis, spoke out with a sneer.
Damocles ignored him and looked at Davos as he solemnly said, “If the war between Syracuse and Theonia continues, the strength of our Greeks in the western Mediterranean would weaken no matter who wins or losses and would only benefit those people like the Carthaginians, Messapians, Samnites…those indigenous races who hate us Greeks. I think that neither Lord Dionysius nor Lord Davos wants to see such a situation happen. Hence Lord Dionysius sent me to ask Lord Davos a question on his behalf and proposed, ‘Does Lord Davos agree to a truce?’”
“What a ridiculous joke! Who was it that led their great army to invade Magna Graecia to burn, slaughter and plunder, doing nothing but all kinds of evil?! How come that tyrant of yours at that time did not consider that such fierce invasion and slaughter would greatly weaken the Greeks on the Italian peninsula, benefiting the nearby natives?! But now that you have suffered defeats, you remembered to make peace to defend the interests of the Greeks?!!” Henipolis sneered, “I just want to know if Dionysius knows the word ‘shameless’?!”
Damocles evaded the question and instead said with a straight face, “It wasn’t Syracuse who started the war first, but the South Italian Alliance! If you did not plan to attack Locri, we wouldn’t accept our allies’ invitation to come to Magna Graecia-”
Henipolis laughed and angrily said, “Now I know what-”
At this time, Davos raised his hand to stop Henipolis from continuing, so Henipolis could only glare at the Carthaginian envoy with hatred.