Having spoken thus, Scipio forthwith expelled the crowd of useless persons and with them whatever was superfluous, idle, or luxurious. The army being thus purged, and full of awe for him, and keenly intent for his commands, he made an attempt one night, in two different places, to surprise that part of Carthage called Megara. This was a very large suburb adjacent to the city wall. He sent a force round against the opposite side, while he advanced directly against it a distance of twenty stades with axes, ladders, and crowbars, without noise and in the deepest silence. When their approach was perceived and a shout was raised from the walls, they shouted back -- first Scipio and his force, then those who had gone around to the other side -- as loudly as possible. The Carthaginians were at first struck with terror at finding such a large force of the enemy attacking them on both sides in the night-time, but Scipio with his utmost efforts was not able to scale the walls. There was a deserted tower outside the walls, belonging to a private citizen, of the same height as the walls themselves. He sent some of his bravest young men to the top of this tower, who with their javelins fought back the guards on the wall, threw planks across, and made a bridge by which they reached the walls, descended into the town, broke open a gate, and admitted Scipio. He entered with 4000 men, and the Carthaginians made a hasty flight to Byrsa, as though the remainder of the city had already been taken. All kinds of noises were raised and there was great tumult. Many fell into the hands of the enemy, and the alarm was such that those encamped outside left their fortification and rushed to Byrsa with the others. As Megara was planted with gardens and was full of fruit-bearing trees divided off by low walls, hedges, and brambles, besides deep ditches full of water running in every direction, Scipio was fearful lest it should be impracticable and dangerous for the army to pursue the enemy through roads that they were unacquainted with, and lest they might fall into an ambush in the night. Accordingly he withdrew.
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THE PUNIC WARS
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