It happened that the caution he had observed with intent to guard him against the Carthaginians, proved useful against the Sicilians. Having caught them in disorder and dispersed, employed in forming their camp, and for the most part unarmed, he cut off all their infantry. Their cavalry, having commenced a slight engagement, fled to Acrae with Hippocrates.
This battle having checked the Sicilians in their purpose of revolting from the Romans, Marcellus returned to Syracuse, and a few days after Himilco, being joined by Hippocrates, encamped on the river Anapus, about eight miles distant from that place.
Nearly about the same time, fifty-five ships of war of the Carthaginians, with Bomilcar as commander of the fleet, put into the great harbour of Syracuse from the sea, and a Roman fleet of thirty quinqueremes landed the first legion at Panormus; and so intent were both the contending powers upon Sicily, that the seat of war might seem to have been removed from Italy.
Himilco, who thought that the Roman legion which had been landed at Panormus, would doubtless fall a prey to him on its way to Syracuse, was mistaken in his road;
for the Carthaginian marched through the inland parts of the country, while the legion, keeping along the coast, and attended by the
fleet, came up with Appius Claudius, who had advanced to Pachynum with a part of his forces to meet it. Nor did the Carthaginians delay longer at Syracuse.
Bomilcar, who at the same time that he did not feel sufficient confidence in his naval strength, as the Romans had a fleet more than double his number, was aware that delay which could be attended with no good effect, would only increase the scarcity of provisions among the allies by the presence of his troops, sailed out into the deep, and crossed over into Africa.
Himilco, who had in vain followed [p. 940]
Marcellus to Syracuse, to see if he could get any opportunity of engaging him before he was joined by larger forces, failing in this object, and seeing that the enemy were secured at Syracuse, both by their fortifications and the strength of their forces, to avoid wasting time in sitting by as an idle spectator of the siege of
his allies, without being able to do any good, marched his troops away, in order to bring them up wherever the prospect of revolt from the Romans might invite him, and wherever by his presence he might inspire additional courage in those who espoused his interest.
He first got possession of Murgantia, the Roman garrison having been betrayed by the inhabitants themselves. Here a great quantity of corn and provisions of every kind had been laid up by the Romans.