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The Carthaginians Prosperous

But next summer the new Consuls Gnaeus Servilius
B. C. 253. Coss. Gn. Servilius Caepio G. Sempronius Blaesus.
and Gaius Sempronius put again to sea with their full strength, and after touching at Sicily started thence for Libya. There, as they coasted along the shore, they made a great number of descents upon the country without accomplishing anything of importance in any of them. At length they came to the island of the Lotophagi called Mēnix, which is not far from the Lesser Syrtis. There, from ignorance of the waters, they ran upon some shallows; the tide receded, their ships went aground, and they were in extreme peril. However, after a while the tide unexpectedly flowed back again, and by dint of throwing overboard all their heavy goods they just managed to float the ships. After this their return voyage was more like a flight than anything else. When they reached Sicily and had made the promontory of Lilybaeum they cast anchor at Panormus. Thence they weighed anchor for Rome, and rashly ventured upon the open sea-line as the shortest; but while on their voyage they once more encountered so terrible a storm that they lost more than a hundred and fifty ships.

The Romans after this misfortune, though they are eminently persistent in carrying out their undertakings, yet owing to the severity and frequency

B. C. 252.
of their disasters, now yielded to the force of circumstances and refrained from constructing another fleet.
B. C. 251. Coss. Lucius Caecilius Metellus, G. Furius Pacilus.
All the hopes still left to them they rested upon their land forces: and, accordingly, they despatched the Consuls Lucius Caecilius and Gaius Furius with their legions to Sicily; but they only manned sixty ships to carry provisions for the legions. The fortunes of the Carthaginians had in their turn considerably improved owing to the catastrophes I have described. They now commanded the sea without let or hindrance, since the Romans had abandoned it; while in their land forces their hopes were high. Nor was it unreasonable that it should be so. The account of the battle in Libya had reached the ears of the Romans: they had heard that the elephants had broken their ranks and had killed the large part of those that fell: and they were in such terror of them, that though during two years running after that time they had on many occasions, in the territory either of Lilybaeum or Selinus, found themselves in order of battle within five or six stades of the enemy, they never plucked up courage to begin an attack, or in fact to come down upon level ground at all, all because of their fear of an elephant charge.
B. C. 252-251.
And in these two seasons all they did was to reduce Therma and Lipara by siege, keeping close all the while to mountainous districts and such as were difficult to cross. The timidity and want of confidence thus displayed by their land forces induced the Roman government to change their minds and once more to attempt success at sea.
B. C. 250.
Accordingly, in the second consulship of Caius Atilius and Lucius Manlius, we find them ordering fifty ships to be built, enrolling sailors and energetically collecting a naval armament.

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