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[119] When the appointed day came the rival shouts of the oarsmen were first heard, accompanied by missiles thrown by machines and by hand, such as stones, firebrands, and arrows. Then the ships dashed against each other, some striking amidships, others on the prows, others on the beaks, where the blows are most effectual in discomposing the crew and rendering the vessel useless. Others broke the opposing line by sailing through it, at the same time discharging arrows and javelins; and the small boats picked up those who fell overboard. There was a struggle of soldiers while the sailors put forth their strength and the pilots their skill and their lung-power. The generals cheered their men, and all the machines were brought into requisition. The harpago achieved the greatest success. Thrown from a long distance upon the ships, as it could be by reason of its lightness, it clutched them, especially when the ropes pulled on it from behind. On account of the iron bands it could not be easily cut by the men whom it attacked, and those who tried to cut the ropes were prevented from reaching them by its length. As this apparatus had never been known before, the enemy had not provided themselves with scythe-mounted poles. One thing seemed advisable in this unexpected emergency, and that was, to back water and draw the ship away; but as the enemy did the same the force exerted by the men was equal on both sides, and the harpago did its work.

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