When the text of this treaty reached Rome
, and the
The Carthaginians alarmed at Hiero's defection make great efforts to increase their army in Sicily.
people had approved and confirmed the terms
made with Hiero, the Roman government
thereupon decided not to send all their forces,
as they had intended doing, but only two
legions. For they thought that the gravity of
the war was lessened by the adhesion of the
king, and at the same time that the army would thus be
better off for provisions. But when the Carthaginian government saw that Hiero had become their enemy, and that the
Romans were taking a more decided part in Sicilian politics,
they conceived that they must have a more formidable force
to enable them to confront their enemy and
maintain their own interests in Sicily
Accordingly, they enlisted mercenaries from over sea
—a large number of Ligurians and Celts, and a still larger
number of Iberians—and despatched them to Sicily
perceiving that Agrigentum
possessed the greatest natural advantages as a place of arms, and was the most powerful city in
their province, they collected their supplies and their forces into
it, deciding to use this city as their headquarters for the war.
On the Roman side
a change of commanders had now
taken place. The Consuls who made the
treaty with Hiero had gone home, and their
successors, Lucius Postumius and Quintus Mamilius, were
come to Sicily
with their legions.
The new Consuls, Lucius Postumius Megellus and Quintus Mamilius Vitulus, determine to lay siege to Agrigentum.
the measure which the Carthaginians were taking, and the forces they were concentrating at
, they made up their minds to take
that matter in hand and strike a bold blow.
Accordingly they suspended every other department of the war, and bearing down upon Agrigentum
itself with their whole army, attacked it in force; pitched their
camp within a distance of eight stades from the city; and confined the Carthaginians within the walls.
The Carthaginians make an unsuccessful sally.
it was just harvest-time, and the siege was
evidently destined to be a long one: the
soldiers, therefore, went out to collect the corn with greater
hardihood than they ought to have done. Accordingly the
Carthaginians, seeing the enemy scattered about the fields,
sallied out and attacked the harvesting-parties. They easily
routed these; and then one portion of them made a rush to
destroy the Roman entrenchment, the other to attack the
pickets. But the peculiarity of their institutions saved the
Roman fortunes, as it had often done before. Among them it
is death for a man to desert his post, or to fly from his station
on any pretext whatever. Accordingly on this, as on other
occasions, they gallantly held their ground against opponents
many times their own number; and though they lost many of
their own men, they killed still more of the enemy, and at last
outflanked the foes just as they were on the point of demolishing the palisade of the camp. Some they put to the sword,
and the rest they pursued with slaughter into the city.