Censorinus, having filled up a portion of the lake along the tongue of land in order to have more room, brought up two enormous battering rams, one of which was driven by 6000 foot-soldiers under charge of the military tribunes, and the other by oarsmen of the ships under charge of their captains. Moved by a spirit of emulation among officers and men in the performance of their similar tasks, they beat down a part of the wall, so that they could look into the city. The Carthaginians, on the other hand, drove them back and strove to repair the breaches in the wall by night. As the night time was not sufficient for the work and they feared lest the Roman arms should readily destroy by daylight their moist and newly made wall, they made a sally, some with arms and others with torches, to set fire to the machines. They did not succeed in destroying these entirely (the Romans rallying and not giving them sufficient time), but they rendered them quite useless and regained the city. When daylight returned the Romans conceived the purpose of rushing in through the opening where the Carthaginians had not finished their work and overpowering them. They saw inside an open space, well suited for fighting, where the Carthaginians had stationed armed men in front and others in the rear provided only with stones and clubs, and many others on the roofs of the neighboring houses, all in readiness to meet the invaders. The Romans, when they saw themselves scorned by an unarmed enemy, were still more exasperated, and dashed in fiercely. But Scipio, who a little later took Carthage and from that feat gained the surname Africanus, being then a military tribune, held back, divided his companies into several parts, and stationed them at intervals along the wall, not allowing them to go into the city. When those who entered were driven back by the Carthaginians, who fell upon them from all sides, he gave them succor and saved them from destruction. And this action first brought him renown, as he had shown himself wiser than the consul.
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THE PUNIC WARS
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