At first, the Tyrians sailed up to the mole and mocked the king, asking if
he thought that he would get the better of Poseidon.1
Then, as the work proceeded with unexpected
rapidity, they voted to transport their children and women and old men to Carthage, assigned
the young and able-bodied to the defence of the walls, and made ready for a naval engagement
with their eighty triremes.
They did succeed in getting a part
of their children and women to safety with the Carthaginians,2
but they were outstripped by the abundance of Alexander's
labour force, and, not being able to stop his advance with their ships, were compelled to stand
the siege with almost their whole population still in the city.
They had a wealth of catapults and other engines employed for sieges and they had no
difficulty in constructing more because of the engineers and artisans of all sorts who were in
All kinds of novel devices were fashioned by them,
so that the entire circuit of the walls was covered with machines, especially on that side
where the mole was approaching the city.3
As the Macedonian construction
came within range of their missiles, portents were sent by the gods to them in their danger.
Out of the sea a tidal wave tossed a sea-monster of incredible size into the midst of the
Macedonian operations. It crashed into the mole but did it no harm, remained resting a portion
of its body against it for a long time
and then swam off into
the sea again.4
This strange event threw both sides into
superstition, each imagining that the portent signified that Poseidon would come to their aid,
for they were swayed by their own interest in the matter.
There were other strange happenings too, calculated to spread
confusion and terror among people. At the distribution of rations on the Macedonian side, the
broken pieces of bread had a bloody look.5
Someone reported, on the Tyrian side, that he had seen a vision in
which Apollo told him that he would leave the city.
suspected that the man had made up the story in order to curry favour with Alexander, and some
of the younger citizens set out to stone him; he was, however, spirited away by the magistrates
and took refuge in the temple of Heracles, where as a suppliant he escaped the people's wrath,
but the Tyrians were so credulous that they tied the image of Apollo to its base with golden
cords, preventing, as they thought, the god from leaving the city.6