The Selinuntians, who had for a long time been without
experience in sieges and had been the only Sicilian Greeks to fight on the side of the
Carthaginians in the war against Gelon,1
had never conceived that they would be brought to such a state of fear by the
people whom they had befriended.
But when they saw the great
size of the engines of war and the hosts of the enemy, they were filled with dread and dismayed
at the magnitude of the danger threatening them.
did not totally despair of their deliverance, but in the expectation that the Syracusans and
their other allies would soon arrive, the whole populace fought off the enemy from the walls.
Indeed all the men in the prime of life were armed and
battled desperately, while the older men busied themselves with the supplies and, as they made
the rounds of the wall, begged the young men not to allow them to fall under subjection to the
enemy; and women and girls supplied the food and missiles to the defenders of the fatherland,
counting as naught the modesty and the sense of shame which they cherished in time of peace.
Such consternation prevailed that the magnitude of the
emergency called for even the aid of their women.
had promised the soldiers that he would give them the city to pillage, pushed the siege-engines
forward and assaulted the walls in waves with his best soldiers.
And all together the trumpets sounded the signal for attack and at one command the army
of the Carthaginians as a body raised the war-cry, and by the power of the rams the walls were
shaken, while by reason of the height of the towers the fighters on them slew many of the
For in the long period of peace they had enjoyed
they had given no attention whatever even to their walls and so they were easily subdued, since
the wooden towers far exceeded the walls in height. When the wall fell the Campanians, being
eager to accomplish some outstanding feat, broke swiftly into the city.
Now at the outset they struck terror into their opponents, who were few
in number; but after that, when many gathered to the aid of the defenders, they were thrust out
with heavy losses among their own soldiers; for since they had forced a passage when the wall
had not yet been completely cleared and in their attack had fallen foul of difficult terrain,
they were easily overcome. At nightfall the Carthaginians broke off the assault.