The consul had by now completed the fortifications by which the town had to be surrounded as well as the siege-engines which he was making ready to move up to the walls, and attacked the ramparts in five places at once.
Three of the assaults, equidistant from one another, the approach from the plain being easier, he directed against what they call the “Pyrrheum,”1
one on the side of the temple of Aesculapius, one against the citadel.
He was shaking the walls with battering-rams; he was pulling down the parapets with hooks fixed on poles.2
The citizens were at first stricken with terror [p. 17]
and confusion both at the sight and at the blows which3
struck the walls with fearful din; then, when they saw the walls still standing, contrary to expectations, they recovered their courage and with the aid of cranes they dropped on the rams masses of lead or stone or stout logs;
seizing the wall-hooks with grappling-irons they pulled them inside the walls and broke off the poles; besides, by sallies conducted both by night against the guards of the engines and by day against the outposts they did their part in spreading terror.
While matters before Ambracia were in this state, the Aetolians had now returned to Stratus from the devastation of Acarnania. Then the praetor Nicander, conceiving the hope of raising the siege by a bold stroke, sent a certain Nicodamus with five hundred Aetolians into Ambracia.
He appointed a certain night and even an hour of the night when both the troops from the city should attack the enemy's siege-works which faced the Pyrrheum and he himself should cause a panic in the Roman camp, thinking that something memorable could be accomplished by an attack from two directions and with night adding to the terror.
And Nicodamus, at dead of night, after eluding some pickets and forcing his way past others by a resolute attack, crossed one branch of the wall4
and entered the town thereby inspiring in the besieged no small degree of courage for any deed of daring and of hope, and as soon as the appointed night arrived, according to the agreement, he suddenly attacked the siege-works.
This venture was more serious in its purpose than in [p. 19]
its result, since no attack was made from outside,5
whether because the Aetolian praetor was prevented by fear or because it
seemed better to assist the Amphilochians who had just been recovered and whom Perseus, the son of Philip, sent to regain control of Dolopia and the Amphilochians, was attacking with the greatest vigour.