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 As there had been many skirmishes throughout Sicily, but no general engagement, Octavius sent Taurus to cut off Pompeius' supplies by first capturing the towns that furnished them. Pompeius was so much inconvenienced by this that he decided to stake everything on a great battle. Since he feared the enemy's infantry, but had confidence in his own ships, he sent and asked Octavius if he would allow the war to be decided by a naval engagement. Octavius, although he dreaded all naval encounters, which until now had turned out badly for him, considered it base to refuse, and, accordingly, accepted the challenge. A day was fixed by them, for which 300 ships were put in readiness on either side, provided with missiles of all kinds, with towers and whatever machines they could think of. Agrippa devised one called the harpago, a piece of wood five cubits long bound with iron and having rings at the extremities. To one of these rings was attached the harpago, an iron claw, to the other numerous ropes, which drew the harpago by machine power after it had been thrown by a catapult and had seized the enemy's ships.
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