And an attempt made with so much energy would have succeeded, had it not been for one person then at Syracuse.
That person was Archimedes, a man of unrivalled skill in observing the heavens and the stars, but more deserving of admiration as the inventor and constructor of warlike engines and works, by means of which, with a very slight effort, he turned to ridicule what the enemy effected with great difficulty.
The wall which ran along unequal eminences, most of which were high and difficult of access, some low and open to approach along level vales, he furnished with every kind of [p. 937]
warlike engine, as seemed suitable to each particular place. Marcellus attacked from the quinqueremes the wall of the Achradina, which, as before stated, was washed by the sea.
From the other ships the archers and slingers and light infantry, whose weapon is difficult to be thrown back by the unskilful, allowed scarce any person to remain upon the wall unwounded.
These, as they required room for the discharge of their missiles, kept their ships at a distance from the wall.
Eight more quinqueremes joined together in pairs, the oars on their inner sides being removed, so that side might be placed to side, and which forming as it were ships, were worked by means of the oars on the outer sides, carried
turrets built up in stories, and other engines employed in battering walls. Against this naval armament, Archimedes placed on different parts of the walls engines of various dimensions.
Against the ships which were at a distance he discharged stones of immense weight. Those which were nearer he assailed with lighter, and therefore more numerous missiles.
Lastly, in order that his own men might heap their weapons upon the enemy, without receiving any wounds themselves, he perforated the wall from the top to the bottom with a great number of loop-holes, about a cubit in diameter, through which some with arrows, others with scorpions of moderate size, assailed the enemy without being seen.
Certain ships which came nearer to the walls in order to get within the range of the engines, he placed upon their sterns, raising up their prows by throwing upon them an iron grapple, attached to a strong chain, by means of a tolleno which projected from the wall, and overhung them, having a heavy counterpoise of lead which forced back the lever to the ground;
then the grapple being suddenly disengaged, the ship falling as it were from the wall, was, by these means, to the utter consternation of the mariners, dashed in such a manner against the water, that even if it fell back in an erect position it took in a great quantity of water.
Thus the attack by sea was foiled, and their whole efforts were directed to an attack by land with all their forces.
But on this side also the place was furnished with a similar array of engines of every kind, procured at the expense of Hiero, who had given his attention to this object through a course of many years, and constructed by the unrivalled abilities of Archimedes.
The nature of the place also assisted [p. 938]
them; for the rock which formed the foundation of the wall was for the most part so steep, that not only materials discharged from engines, but such as were rolled down by their own gravity, fell upon the enemy with great force;
the same cause rendered the approach to the city difficult, and the footing unsteady.
Wherefore, a council being held, it was resolved, since every attempt was frustrated, to abstain from assaulting the place, and keeping up a blockade, only to cut off the provisions of the enemy by sea and land.