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He soon commenced the Sicilian war, but it was protracted by various delays during a long period;1 at one time for the purpose of repairing his fleets, which he lost twice by storm, even in the summer; at another, while patching up a peace, to which he was forced by the clamours of the people, in consequence of a famine occasioned by Pompey's cutting off the supply of corn by sea. But at last, having built a new fleet, and obtained twenty thousand manumitted slaves,2 who were given him for the oar, he formed the Julian harbour at Baiae, by letting the sea into the Lucrine and Avernian lakes; and having exercised his forces there during the whole winter, he defeated Pompey betwixt Mylae and Naulochus; although just as the engagement commenced, he suddenly fell into such a profound sleep, that his friends were obliged to wake him to give the signal. This, I suppose, gave occasion for Antony's reproach: " You were not able to take a clear view of the fleet, when drawn up in line of battle, but lay stupidly upon your back, gazing at the sky; nor did you get up and let your men see you, until Marcus Agrippa had forced the enemies' ships to sheer off." Others imputed to him both a saying and an action which were indefensible; for, upon the loss of his fleets by storm, he is reported to have said: "I will conquer in spite of Neptune;" and at the next Circensian games, he would not suffer the statue of that God to be carried in procession as usual. Indeed he scarcely ever ran more or greater risks in any of his wars than in this. Having transported part of his army to Sicily, and being on his return for the rest, he was unexpectedly attacked by Demochares and Apollophanes, Pompey's admirals, from whom he escaped with great difficulty, and with one ship only. Likewise, as he was travelling on foot through the Locrian territory to Rhegium, seeing two of Pompey's vessels passing by that coast, and supposing them to be his own, he went down to the shore, and was very nearly taken prisoner. On this occasion, as he was making his escape by some by-ways, a slave belonging to Aemilius Paulus, who accompanied him, owing him a grudge for the proscription of Paulus, the father of Aemilius, and thinking he had now an opportunity of revenging it, attempted to assassinate him. After the defeat of Pompey, one of his colleagues,3 Marcus Lepidus, whom he had summoned to his aid from Africa, affecting great superiority, because he was at the head of twenty legions, and claiming for himself the principal management of affairs in a threatening manner, he divested him of his command, but, upon his humble submission, granted him his life, but banished him for life to Circeii.
1 A.U.C. 712-718.
2 The Romans employed slaves in their wars only in cases of great emergency, and with much reluctance. After the great slaughter at the battle of Cannae, eight thousand were bought and armed by the republic. Augustus was the first who manumitted them, and employed them as rowers in his gallies.
3 In the triumvirate, consisting of Augustus, Mark Antony, and Lepidus.
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