The consul having now finished the intrenchments with which it was necessary to surround the city, and likewise the works which he was preparing to bring forward to the walls, attacked the city in five different places;
three attacks, at equal distances from each other, he directed against the quarter which they called Pyrrheum, as the approach was easier from the plain; one opposite to the temple of Aesculapius, and one against the citadel.
He broke down the walls with battering-rams, and tore down the battlements with poles armed with scythes.
At first, terror and dismay seized the townsmen, at the formidable appearance of the works, and the shocks given to the walls, which were attended with a dreadful noise: afterwards, when they beheld them contrary to their hopes standing, having again resumed courage, they, by means of cranes, threw down upon the battering-rams weighty masses of lead, or stone, or beams of timber; dragging the armed poles, with iron grapples, within the walls, they broke off the hooks;
besides, by sallies, both by night against the watch-guards of the engines, and by day against the advanced posts, they kept the besiegers in a state of continual alarm.
While affairs at Ambracia were in this state, the Aetolians had returned from ravaging Acarnania, to Stratus. Their praetor, Nicander, having conceived hopes of raising the siege by a bold effort, sent a person called Nicodamus, with five hundred Aetolians, into Ambracia, and appointed a certain night, and
even the time of the night, on which, from within the city, they were to assault the works of the enemy, opposite to the Pyrrheum, while he himself should alarm the Roman camp. He supposed that, in consequence of the alarm on both sides, and night increasing the terror, something memorable might be achieved.
And Nicodamus, in the dead of the night, (when he had escaped the notice of some of the parties on watch, and broken through others by his determined onset,) having passed the intrenchment, penetrated into the city; and gave the besieged considerable hope and courage for any enterprise; and as [p. 1727]
soon as the appointed time arrived, according to the plan pre- concerted, he made a sudden assault on the works.
This undertaking was more formidable in the attempt than in the effect, because no attack was made from without;
for the praetor of the Aetolians had either been deterred by fear, or had judged it more advisable to carry succours to Amphilochia, which had been lately reduced; which Perseus, the son of Philip, who was sent to recover Dolopia and Amphilochia, was besieging with the greatest vigour.