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Other Inventions of Archimedes

Other machines which he invented were directed against storming parties, who, advancing under the protection of penthouses, were secured by them from being hurt by missiles shot through the walls. Against these he either shot stones big enough to drive the marines from the prow; or let down an iron hand swung on a chain, by which the man who guided the crane, having fastened on some part of the prow where he could get a hold, pressed down the lever of the machine inside the wall; and when he had thus lifted the prow and made the vessel rest upright on its stern, he fastened the lever of his machine so that it could not be moved; and then suddenly slackened the hand and chain by means of a rope and pulley. The result was that many of the vessels heeled over and fell on their sides: some completely capsized; while the greater number, by their prows coming down suddenly from a height, dipped low in the sea, shipped a great quantity of water, and became a scene of the utmost confusion. Though reduced almost to despair by these baffling inventions of Archimedes, and though he saw that all his attempts were repulsed by the garrison with mockery on their part and loss to himself, Marcellus could not yet refrain from making a joke at his own expense, saying that "Archimedes was using his ships to ladle out the sea-water, but that his 'harps' not having been invited to the party were buffeted and turned out with disgrace." Such was the end of the attempt at storming Syracuse by sea.

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