The land forces of the Carthaginians being thus destroyed, the Sicilians, who had served under Hippocrates, retired to two towns of no great size, but well secured by natural situation and fortifications; one was three miles, the other fifteen, from Syracuse. Here they collected a store of provisions from their own states, and sent for reinforcements.
Meanwhile, Bomilcar, who had gone a second time to Carthage, by so stating the condition of their allies as to inspire a hope that they might not only render them effectual aid, but also that the Romans might in a manner be made prisoners in the city which they had captured, induced the Carthaginians to send with him as many ships of burden as possible, laden with every kind of provisions, and to augment the number of his ships.
Setting sail, therefore, from Carthage with a hundred and thirty men of war and seven hundred transports, he had tolerably fair winds for crossing over to Sicily, but was prevented by the same wind from doubling Cape Pachynum.
The news of the approach of Bomilcar,
and afterwards his unexpected delay, excited alternate fear and joy in the Romans and Syracusans.
Epicydes, apprehensive lest if the same wind which now detained him should continue to blow from the east for several days, the Carthaginian fleet would return to Africa, put the Achradina in the hands of the generals of the mercenary troops, and sailed to Bomilcar;
whom he at length prevailed upon to try the issue of a naval battle, though he
found him with his fleet stationed in the direction of Africa, and afraid of fighting, not so much because he was unequal in the strength or the number of his ships, for he had more than the Romans, as because the wind was more favourable to the Roman fleet than to his own.
Marcellus also seeing that an army of Sicilians was assembling from every part of the island, and that the Carthaginian fleet was approaching with a great want of supplies, though inferior in the number of his ships, resolved to prevent Bomilcar from coming to Syracuse, lest, blocked up in the city of his enemies, he should be pressed both by sea and land.
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two hostile fleets were stationed near the promontory of Pachynum, ready to engage as soon as the sea should become calm enough to admit of their sailing out into the deep.
Accordingly, the east wind, which had blown violently for several days, now subsiding, Bomilcar got under sail first, his van seeming to make for the main sea, in order to double the promontory with greater ease;
but seeing the Roman ships bearing down upon him, terrified by some unexpected occurrence, it is not known what, he sailed away into the main sea; and sending messengers to Heraclea, to order the transports to return to Africa, he passed along the coast of Sicily and made for Tarentum.
Epicydes, thus suddenly disappointed in such great expectations, to avoid returning to endeavour to raise the siege of a city, a great part of which was already in the hands of the enemy, sailed to Agrigentum, intending to wait the issue of the contest, rather than take any new measures when there.