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Polybius, Histories, book 1, The Romans Build Ships (search)
that, without so much as a preliminary trial, they took upon themselves there and then to meet the Carthaginians at sea, on which they had for generations held undisputed supremacy. Proof of what I say, and of their surprising audacity, may be found in this. When they first took in hand to send troops across to Messene they not only had no decked vessels but no war-ships at all, not so much as a single galley: but they borrowed quinqueremes and triremes from Tarentum and Locri, and even from Elea and Neapolis; and having thus collected a fleet, boldly sent their men across upon it. A Carthaginian ship used as a model. It was on this occasion that, the Carthaginians having put to sea in the Strait to attack them, a decked vessel of theirs charged so furiously that it ran aground, and falling into the hands of the Romans served them as a model on which they constructed their whole fleet. And if this had not happened it is clear that they would have been completely hindered from carrying