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The Victory of Mylae

When the Romans had neared the coasts of Sicily and learnt the disaster which had befallen Gnaeus, their first step was to send for Gaius Duilius, who was in command of the land forces. Until he should come they stayed where they were; but at the same time, hearing that the enemy's fleet was no great way off, they busied themselves with preparations for a sea-fight. Now their ships were badly fitted out and not easy to manage, and so some one suggested to them as likely to serve their turn in a fight the construction of what were afterwards called "crows." Their mechanism was this.
The "corvi" or "crows," for boarding,
A round pole was placed in the prow, about twenty-four feet high, and with a diameter of four palms. The pole itself had a pulley on the top, and a gangway made with cross planks nailed together, four feet wide and thirty-six feet long, was made to swing round it. Now the hole in the gangway was oval shaped, and went round the pole twelve feet from one end of the gangway, which had also a wooden railing running down each side of it to the height of a man's knee. At the extremity of this gangway was fastened an iron spike like a miller's pestle, sharpened at its lower end and fitted with a ring at its upper end. The whole thing looked like the machines for braising corn. To this ring the rope was fastened with which, when the ships collided, they hauled up the "crows," by means of the pulley at the top of the pole, and dropped them down upon the deck of the enemy's ship, sometimes over the prow, sometimes swinging them round when the ships collided broadsides. And as soon as the "crows" were fixed in the planks of the decks and grappled the ships together, if the ships were alongside of each other, the men leaped on board anywhere along the side, but if they were prow to prow, they used the "crow" itself for boarding, and advanced over it two abreast. The first two protected their front by holding up before them their shields, while those who came after them secured their sides by placing the rims of their shields upon the top of the railing. Such were the preparations which they made; and having completed them they watched an opportunity of engaging at sea.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CORVUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), NAVIS
    • Smith's Bio, Dui'lius
    • Smith's Bio, Sci'pio
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CARTHA´GO
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