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[122] The Romans were so astounded by the sudden appearance of this new entrance, and of the fleet issuing from it, that if the Carthaginians had at once fallen upon their ships, which were in disorder by reason of beleaguerment of the walls, neither sailors nor rowers being present, they might have possessed themselves of the whole fleet. But now (since it was fated that Carthage should perish) they only sailed out to make a show, and, having flouted the enemy in a pompous way, they returned inside the harbor. Three days later they set out for a naval engagement, and the Romans advanced to meet them with their ships and other apparatus in good order. They came together with loud shouts on both sides and cheers from the rowers, steersmen, and marines, the Carthaginians resting their last hope of safety on this engagement and the Romans hoping to make it their final victory. The fight raged till midday. During the battle the Carthaginian small boats, running under the sides of the Roman ships, which were taller, stove holes in their sterns and broke off their oars and rudders, and damaged them in various other ways, advancing and retreating nimbly. As the day verged toward evening the battle was still undecided, and the Carthaginians thought best to withdraw, not that they were beaten, but to renew the engagement the next day.


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