The Romans carried on the assault upon this city by means of works more than by their arms; the Aetolians, on the contrary, maintained their defence by dint of arms.
For when the walls were shaken by the ram they did not, as is usual, intercept and turn aside the strokes by the help of nooses formed on ropes, but sallied out in large armed bodies, with parties carrying fire, which they threw into the works.
They had likewise arched passages through the parapet, for the purpose of making sallies;
and when they built up the wall anew, in the room of any part that was demolished, they left a great number of these, that they might rush out upon the enemy from many places at once.
In several days at the beginning, while their strength was unimpaired, they carried on this practice in numerous parties, and with much spirit, but afterwards in smaller numbers and more languidly. For though they had a multiplicity of difficulties to struggle with, what above all things utterly consumed their vigour was the want of sleep, as the Romans, having plenty of men, relieved each other regularly in their posts;
while among the Aetolians, their numbers being small, the same persons had their strength consumed by unremitting labour night and day. During a space of twenty-four days, without any time being unemployed in the conflict, their toil was kept up against the attacks carried on by the enemy in four different quarters at once.
When the consul, from computing the time, and from the reports of deserters, judged that the Aetolians were thoroughly fatigued, he adopted the following plan:
—At midnight he gave the signal of retreat, and drawing off all his men at once from the assault, kept them quiet in the camp until the third hour of the next day.
The attacks were then renewed, and continued until midnight, when they ceased, until the third hour of the day following. The Aetolians imagined that the Romans suspended the attack from the same cause [p. 1634]
by which they felt themselves distressed, —excessive fatigue.
As soon, therefore, as the signal of retreat was given to the Romans, as if themselves were thereby recalled from duty, every one gladly retired from his post, nor did they again appear in arms on the walls before the third hour of the day.