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The Roman Siege-Works Burnt

Meanwhile, the besieged were energetically carrying
A storm having damaged the siege-works, the Lilybaeans succeed in burning them.
on counterworks, having abandoned the hope of damaging or destroying the constructions of the enemy. But in the midst of these proceedings a storm of wind, of such tremendous violence and fury, blew upon the machinery of the engines, that it wrecked the pent-houses, and carried away by its force the towers erected to cover them. Some of the Greek mercenaries perceived the advantage such a state of things offered for the destruction of the siege-works, and communicated their idea to the commander. He caught at the suggestion, and lost no time in making every preparation suitable to the undertaking. Then the young men mustered at three several points, and threw lighted brands into the enemy's works. The length of time during which these works had been standing made them exactly in the proper state to catch fire easily; and when to this was added a violent wind, blowing right upon the engines and towers, the natural result was that the spreading of the fire became rapid and destructive; while all attempts on the Roman side to master it, and rescue their works, had to be abandoned as difficult or wholly impracticable. Those who tried to come to the rescue were so appalled at the scene, that they could neither fully grasp nor clearly see what was going on. Flames, sparks, and volumes of smoke blew right in their faces and blinded them; and not a few dropped down and perished without ever getting near enough to attempt to combat the fire. The same circumstances, which caused these overwhelming difficulties to the besiegers, favoured those who were throwing the fire-brands in exactly the same proportion. Everything that could obscure their vision or hurt them was blown clean away and carried into the faces of the enemy; while their being able to see the intervening space enabled the shooters to take a good aim at those of the enemy who came to the rescue, and the throwers of the fire-brands to lodge them at the proper places for the destruction of the works. The violence of the wind, too, contributed to the deadly effect of the missiles by increasing the force of their blows. Eventually the destruction was so complete, that the foundations of the siege-towers and the blocks of the battering-rams were rendered unusable by the fire. In spite of this disaster, though they gave up the idea of assaulting the place any longer by means of their works, the Romans still persisted. They surrounded the town with a ditch and stockade, threw up an additional wall to secure their own encampment, and left the completion of their purpose to time. Nor were the besieged less determined. They repaired the part of their walls which had been thrown down, and prepared to endure the siege with good courage.

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