Marcellus, by gaining possession of the Euryalus, and placing a garrison in it, was freed from one cause of anxiety; which was, lest any hostile force received into that fortress on his rear might annoy his troops, shut up and confined as they were within the walls.
He next invested the Achradina, erecting three camps in convenient situations, with the hope of reducing those enclosed within it to the want of every necessary.
The outposts of both sides had remained inactive for several days, when the arrival of Hippocrates and Himilco suddenly caused the Romans to be attacked aggressively on all sides;
for Hippocrates, having fortified a camp at the great harbour, and given a signal to those who occupied the Achradina, attacked the old camp of the Romans, in which Crispinus had the command; and Epicydes sallied out against the outposts of Marcellus, the Carthaginian fleet coming up to that [p. 995]
part of the shore which lay between the city and the Roman camp, so that no succour could be sent by Marcellus to Crispinus.
The enemy, however, produced more tumult than conflict; for Crispinus not only drove back Hippocrates from his works, but pursued him as he fled with precipitation, while Marcellus drove Epicydes into the city; and it was considered that enough was now done even to prevent any danger arising in future from their sudden sallies.
They were visited too by a plague; a calamity extending to both sides, and one which might well divert their attention from schemes of war.
For as the season' of the year was autumn, and the situation naturally unwholesome, though this was much more the case without than within the city, the intolerable intensity of the heat had an effect upon the constitution of almost every man in both the camps.
At first they sickened and died from the unhealthiness of the season and climate; but afterwards the disease was spread merely by attending upon, and coming in contact with, those affected; so that those who were seized with it either perished neglected and deserted, or else drew with them those who sat by them and attended them, by infecting them with the same violence of disease. Daily funerals and death were before the eye; and lamentations were heard from all sides, day and night.
At last, their feelings had become so completely brutalized by being habituated to these miseries, that they not only did not follow their dead with tears and decent lamentations, but they did not even carry them out and bury them;
so that the bodies of the dead lay strewed about, exposed to the view of those who were awaiting a similar fate; and thus the dead were the means of destroying the sick, and the sick those who were in health, both by fear and by the filthy state and the noisome stench of their bodies.
Some preferring to die by the sword, even rushed alone upon the out-posts of the enemy.
The violence of the plague, however, was much greater in the Carthaginian than the Roman army; for the latter, from having been a long time before Syracuse, had become more habituated to the climate and the water.
Of the army of the enemy, the Sicilians, as soon as they perceived that diseases had become very common from the unwholesomeness of the situation, dispersed to their respective cities in the neighbourhood;
but the Carthaginians, who had no place to retire to, perished, together [p. 996]
with their generals, Hippocrates and Himilco, to a man.
Marcellus, on seeing the violence with which the disease was raging, had removed his troops into the city, where their debilitated frames were recruited in houses and shade. Many, however, of the Roman army were cut off by this pestilence.