The thousand armed men had already taken a part of the wall, when the rest of the forces were brought up, and on more ladders they were making their way to the top of the wall, a signal having been given from the Hexapylon.1
To that point they had advanced without encountering a soul, since many of the enemy, after feasting in the towers, either had been put to sleep by their wine or, while half-intoxicated, were still drinking.
A few of them, however, they surprised and slew in their beds. Near the Hexapylon there is a postern. This they had begun to break open with great force, and from the wall the signal had been given by a trumpet, as agreed; and now the fighting was from every side, no longer by stealth, but with open violence.
For [p. 435]
they had reached Epipolae, a well-guarded region,2
and the enemy had rather to be terrified than deceived, as they were in fact terrified.
For as soon as they heard the notes of the trumpet and the shouting of the men holding the walls and a part of the city, the guards, thinking the whole city was occupied, fled, some of them along the wall; others leaped from the wall or were pushed over by the panic-stricken crowd.
A large part of the people, however, were unaware of the great danger; for all were heavy with wine and sleep, and in a city of immense size knowledge concerning its quarters failed to reach the whole.
At daybreak Marcellus burst open the Hexapylon, and entering the city with his entire force awakened everybody and set them to arming themselves and bringing aid, if possible, to a city now all but captured.
Epicydes came out from the Island, which they themselves call Nasos,3
with a quickly moving column, not doubting that he would drive out a few men who, owing to the carelessness of the guards had got over the wall.
When men met him in alarm, he would say that they were adding to the confusion and bringing exaggerated and unduly alarming news. On discovering that in and near Epipolae armed men were everywhere, he merely challenged the enemy by a few missiles and then marched his column back into Achradina.
He feared, not so much the attack of the enemy and their great numbers, as that some treachery within the city might have opportunity to break out, and he might find the gates of Achradina and the Island closed during the disturbance.
Marcellus, on entering the walls and from the higher ground viewing one of the most beautiful of all cities4
in [p. 437]
that age lying before his eyes, is said to have wept,5
partly for joy over his great achievement, partly for the ancient glory of the city.
The sinking of the fleets of the Athenians and the destruction of two mighty armies along with two very distinguished generals6
came to his mind, and so many wars waged with so great a risk against the Carthaginians;
tyrants and kings, so many and so wealthy, above all Hiero, a king vividly remembered and also, above all that his own merit and success had given him, conspicuous for his favours to the Roman people.
Since all that came to mind and the thought suggested itself that now in the course of an hour everything there would be in flames and reduced to ashes, before
advancing his standards into Achradina, he sent forward the Syracusans who had been within the Roman lines, as has been said before, in order to entice the enemy by mild words to surrender the city.