After Himilcon had exhibited his hatred for the Greeks by the
calamity he visited upon the Messenians, he dispatched Magon his admiral with his naval
armament under orders to sail to the peak known as Taurus.1
This area had been taken by Siceli in large numbers, who, however,
had no leader.
They had formerly been given by Dionysius the
territory of the Naxians,2
this time, having been induced by Himilcon's offers, they occupied this peak. Since it was a
strong position, both at this time and subsequent to the war, they made it their home, throwing
a wall about it, and since those who gathered remained (menein
) upon Taurus, they
named the city Tauromenium.
Himilcon, advancing with his land forces, made so rapid a march that he arrived at the place
we have mentioned in the territory of Naxos at the same time as Magon put in there by sea. But
since there had recently been a fiery eruption from Mt. Aetne as far as the sea, it was no
longer possible for the land forces to advance in the company of the ships as they sailed
beside them; for the regions along the sea were laid waste by the lava, as it is called, so
that the land army had to take its way around the peak of Aetne.
Consequently he gave orders to Magon to come to port at Catane, while he himself
advanced speedily through the heart of the country with the intention of joining the ships on
the Catanaean shore; for he was concerned lest, when his forces were divided, the Sicilian
Greeks should fight a battle with Magon at sea. And this is what actually took place.
For Dionysius, when he realized that Magon had a short sail,
whereas the route of the land forces was toilsome and long, hastened to Catane with the object
of attacking Magon by sea before the arrival of Himilcon.
hope was that his land forces lined up along the coast would embolden his own troops while the
enemy would be the more fearful, and, what was the most important consideration, that if he
should suffer a reverse of some kind, the ships in distress would be able to take refuge in the
camp of the land forces.
With this purpose in mind, he
dispatched Leptines with his whole fleet under orders to engage with his ships in close order,
and not to break his line lest he be endangered by the great numbers of his opponents; for,
including merchantmen and oared vessels with brazen beaks, Magon had no less than five hundred