CHAPTER XIII: SIEGE MACHINES
1. IT is related that the battering ram for sieges was originally invented as follows. The Carthaginians pitched their camp for the siege of Cadiz. They captured an outwork and attempted to destroy it. But having no iron implements for its destruction, they took a beam, and, raising it with their hands, and driving the end of it repeatedly against the top of the wall, they threw down the top courses of stones, and thus, step by step in regular order, they demolished the entire redoubt.
2. Afterwards a carpenter from Tyre, Bright by name and by nature, was led by this invention into setting up a mast from which he hung another crosswise like a steelyard, and so, by swinging it vigorously to and fro, he threw down the wall of Cadiz. Geras of Chalcedon was the first to make a wooden platform with wheels under it, upon which he constructed a framework of uprights and crosspieces, and within it he hung the ram, and covered it with oxhide for the better protection of the men who were stationed in the machine to batter the wall. As the machine made but slow progress, he first gave it the name of the tortoise of the ram.
3. These were the first steps then taken towards that kind of machinery, but afterwards, when Philip, the son of Amyntas, was besieging Byzantium, it was developed in many varieties and made handier by Polyidus the Thessalian. His pupils were Diades and Charias, who served with Alexander. Diades shows in his writings that he invented moveable towers, which he used also to take apart and carry round with the army, and likewise the borer, and the scaling machine, by means of which one can cross over to the wall on a level with the top of it, as well as the destroyer called the raven, or by others the crane.
4. He also employed the ram mounted on wheels, an account of which he left in his writings. As for the tower, he says that the smallest should be not less than sixty cubits in height and seventeen in breadth, but diminishing to one fifth less at the top; the uprights for the tower being nine inches at the bottom and half a foot at the top. Such a tower, he says, ought to be ten stories high, with windows in it on all sides.
5. His larger tower, he adds, was one hundred and twenty cubits high and twenty-three and one half cubits broad, diminishing like the other to one fifth less; the uprights, one foot at the bottom and six digits at the top. He made this large tower twenty stories high, each story having a gallery round it, three cubits wide. He covered the towers with rawhide to protect them from any kind of missile.
6. The tortoise of the battering ram was constructed in the same way. It had, however, a base of thirty cubits square, and a height, excluding the pediment, of thirteen cubits; the height of the pediment from its bed to its top was seven cubits. Issuing up and above the middle of the roof for not less than two cubits was a gable, and on this was reared a small tower four stories high, in which, on the top floor, scorpiones and catapults were set up, and on the lower floors a great quantity of water was stored, to put out any fire that might be thrown on the tortoise. Inside of this was set the machinery of the ram, termed in Greek κπιοδόχη, in which was placed a roller, turned on a lathe, and the ram, being set on top of this, produced its great effects when swung to and fro by means of ropes. It was protected, like the tower, with rawhide.
7. He explained the principles of the borer as follows: that the machine itself resembled the tortoise, but that in the middle it had a pipe lying between upright walls, like the pipe usually found in catapults and ballistae, fifty cubits in length and one cubit in height, in which a windlass was set transversely. On the right and left, at the end of the pipe, were two blocks, by means of which the iron-pointed beam, which lay in the pipe, was moved. There were numerous rollers enclosed in the pipe itself under the beam, which made its movements quicker and stronger. Numerous arches were erected along the pipe above the beam which was in it, to hold up the rawhide in which this machine was enveloped.
8. He thought it needless to write about the raven, because he saw that the machine was of no value. With regard to the scaling machine, termed in Greek ἐπιβάθρα and the naval contrivances which, as he wrote, could be used in boarding ships, I have observed that he merely promised with some earnestness to explain their principles, but that he has not done so. I have set forth what was written by Diades on machines and their construction. I shall now set forth the methods which I have learned from my teachers, and which I myself believe to be useful.