The thousand armed men had now taken a part of the city, when the rest, applying a greater number of ladders, mounted the wall on a signal given from the Hexapylos. To this place the former party had arrived in entire solitude; as the greater part of them, having feasted in the towers, were either asleep from the effects of wine, or else, half asleep, were still drinking. A few of them, however, they surprised in their beds, and put to the sword.
They began then to break open a postern gate near the Hexapylos, which required great force; and a signal was given from the wall by sounding a trumpet, as had been agreed upon.
After this, the attack was carried on in every quarter, not secretly, but by open force; for they had now reached Epipolae, a place protected by numerous guards, where the business was to terrify the enemy, and not to escape their notice.
In effect they were terrified; for as soon as the sound of the trumpets was heard, [p. 992]
and the shouts of the men who
had got possession of the walls and a part of the city, the guards concluded that every part was taken, and some of them fled along the wall, others leaped down from it, or were thrown down headlong by a crowd of the terrified townsmen.
A great part of the inhabitants, however, were ignorant of this disastrous event, all of them being overpowered with wine and sleep; and because, in a city of so wide extent, what was perceived in one quarter was not readily made known through the whole city.
A little before day, Marcellus having entered the city with all his forces, through the Hexapylos, which was forced open, roused all the townsmen; who ran to arms, in order, if possible, by their efforts, to afford succour to the city, which was now almost taken.
Epicydes advanced with a body of troops at a rapid pace from the Insula, which the Syracusans themselves call Nasos, not doubting but that he should be able to drive out what he supposed a small party, which had got over the wall through the negligence of the guards.
He earnestly represented to the terrified inhabitants who met him, that they were increasing the confusion, and that in their accounts they made things greater and more important than they really were.
But when he perceived that every place around Epipolae was filled with armed men, after just teazing the enemy with the discharge of a few missiles, he marched back to the Achradina, not so much through fear of the number and strength of the enemy, as that some intestine treachery might show itself, taking advantage of the opportunity, and he might find the gates of the Achradina and island closed upon him in the confusion.
When Marcellus, having entered the walls, beheld this city as it lay subjected to his view from the high ground on which he stood, a city the most beautiful, perhaps, of any at that time, he is said to have shed tears over it; partly from the inward satisfaction he felt at having accomplished so important an enterprise, and partly in consideration of its ancient renown.
The fleets of the Athenians sunk there, and two vast armies destroyed, with two generals of the highest reputation, as well as the many wars waged with the Carthaginians with so much peril, arose before his mind;
the many and powerful tyrants and kings; but above all Hiero, a king who was not only fresh in his memory, but who was distinguished for the signal [p. 993]
services he had rendered the Roman people, and more than all by the endowments which his own virtues and good fortune had conferred.
All these considerations presenting themselves at once to his recollection, and reflecting, that in an instant every thing before him would be in flames, and reduced to ashes;
before he marched his troops to the Achradina, he sent before him some Syracusans, who, as was before observed, were among the Roman troops, to induce the enemy, by a persuasive address, to surrender the city.