The Romans Take Mount Eryx
This occurrence caused the Carthaginian interests to
The Romans abandon the sea.
look up again and their hopes to revive. But
the Romans, though they had met with partial
misfortunes before, had never suffered a naval
disaster so complete and final. They, in fact, abandoned the
sea, and confined themselves to holding the country; while the
Carthaginians remained masters of the sea, without wholly
despairing of the land.
Great and general was the dismay both at Rome
Lucius Junius perseveres in the siege. B. C. 248.
the camp at Lilybaeum
. Yet they did not
abandon their determination of starving out that
town. The Roman government did not allow
their disasters to prevent their sending provisions into the
camp overland; and the besiegers kept up the investment as
strictly as they possibly could. Lucius Junius joined the
camp after the shipwreck, and, being in a state of great distress at what had happened, was all eagerness to strike some
new and effective blow, and thus repair the disaster which
had befallen him.
Accordingly he took the first slight opening that offered to surprise and seize Eryx
and became master both of the temple of
Aphrodite and of the city. This is a mountain close to the
sea-coast on that side of Sicily
which looks towards Italy
, but nearer to Drepana
of the two. It is by far the greatest mountain in Sicily
; and on its summit, which is flat, stands the
temple of Erycinian Aphrodite, confessedly the most splendid of all the temples in Sicily
for its wealth and general
magnificence. The town stands immediately below the
summit, and is approached by a very long and steep
ascent. Lucius seized both town and temple; and established a garrison both upon the summit and at the foot
of the road to it from Drepana
. He kept a strict guard
at both points, but more especially at the foot of the ascent,
believing that by so doing he should secure possession of
the whole mountain as well as the town.