previous next

The Assault By Land Repulsed

Nor was Appius Claudius more successful. He, too, was compelled by similar difficulties to desist from the attempt; for while his men were still at a considerable distance from the wall, they began falling by the stones and shots from the engines and catapults. The volleys of missiles, indeed, were extraordinarily rapid and sharp, for their construction had been provided for by all the liberality of a Hiero, and had been planned and engineered by the skill of an Archimedes. Moreover, when they did at length get near the walls, they were prevented from making an assault by the unceasing fire through the loop-holes, which I mentioned before; or if they tried to carry the place under cover of pent-houses, they were killed by the stones and beams let down upon their heads. The garrison also did them no little damage with those hands at the end of their engines; for they used to lift the men, armour, and all, into the air, and then throw them down. At last Appius retired into the camp, and summoning the Tribunes to a council of war, decided to try every possible means of taking Syracuse except a storm.
The siege turned into a blockade, B.C. 214. Coss. Q. Fabius Maximus IV. M. Claudius Marcellus III.
And this decision they carried out; for during the eight months of siege which followed, though there was no stratagem or measure of daring which they did not attempt, they never again ventured to attempt a storm. So true it is that one man and one intellect, properly qualified for the particular undertaking, is a host in itself and of extraordinary efficacy. In this instance, at any rate, we find the Romans confident that their forces by land and sea would enable them to become masters of the town, if only one old man could be got rid of; while as long as he remained there, they did not venture even to think of making the attempt, at least by any method which made it possible for Archimedes to oppose them. They believed, however, that their best chance of reducing the garrison was by a failure of provisions sufficient for so large a number as were within the town; they therefore relied upon this hope, and with their ships tried to cut off their supplies by sea, and with their army by land. But desiring that the time during which they were blockading Syracuse should not be entirely wasted, but that some addition should be made to their power in other parts of the country, the two commanders separated and divided the troops between them: Appius Claudius keeping two-thirds and continuing the blockade, while Marcus Marcellus with the remaining third went to attack the cities that sided with the Carthaginians. . . .

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Syracuse (Italy) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
214 BC (1)
hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 43-44, commentary, 43.20
  • Cross-references to this page (4):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: