When Epicydes and Hippocrates had occupied Syracuse
Siege of Syracuse, B. C. 215-214.
and had alienated the rest of the citizens with
themselves from the friendship of Rome
Romans who had already been informed of the
murder of Hieronymus, tyrant of Syracuse
, appointed Appius
Claudius as Pro-praetor to command a land force, while
Marcus Claudius Marcellus commanded the fleet. These
officers took up a position not far from Syracuse
determined to assault the town from the land at Hexapylus,
and by sea at what was called Stoa Scytice in Achradina,
where the wall has its foundation close down to the sea.
Having prepared their wicker pent-houses, and darts, and
other siege material, they felt confident that, with so many
hands employed, they would in five days get their works in
such an advanced state as to give them the
advantage over the enemy.
But in this they
did not take into account the abilities of Archimedes; nor calculate on the truth that, in certain circumstances, the genius
of one man is more effective than any numbers whatever.1
However they now learnt it by experience. The city was strong
from the fact of its encircling wall lying along a chain of hills
with overhanging brows, the ascent of which was no easy task,
even with no one to hinder it, except at certain definite points.
Taking advantage of this, Archimedes had constructed such
defences both in the town, and at the places where an
attack might be made by sea, that the garrison would have
everything at hand which they might require at any moment,
and be ready to meet without delay whatever the enemy might
attempt against them.