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The War of Antiochus with Achaeus

(See 5, 107

Round Sardis ceaseless and protracted skirmishes were

Siege of Sardis from the end of B. C. 216 to autumn of B. C. 215.
taking place and fighting by night and day, both armies inventing every possible kind of plot and counterplot against each other: to describe which in detail would be as useless as it would be in the last degree wearisome. At last, when the siege had already entered upon its second year, Lagoras the Cretan came forward. He had had a considerable experience in war, and had learnt that as a rule cities fall into the hands of their enemies most easily from some neglect on the part of their inhabitants, when, trusting to the natural or artificial strength of their defences, they neglect to keep proper guard and become thoroughly careless. He had observed too, that in such fortified cities captures were effected at the points of greatest strength, which were believed to have been despaired of by the enemy. So in the present instance, when he saw that the prevailing notion of the strength of Sardis caused the whole army to despair of taking it by storm, and to believe that the one hope of getting it was by starving it out, he gave all the closer attention to the subject; and eagerly scanned every possible method of making an attempt to capture the town. Having observed therefore that a portion of the wall was unguarded, near a place called the Saw, which unites the citadel and city, he conceived the hope and idea of performing this exploit. He had discovered the carelessness of the men guarding this wall from the following circumstance. The place was extremely precipitous: and there was a deep gully below, into which dead bodies from the city, and the offal of horses and beasts of burden that died, were accustomed to be thrown; and in this place therefore there was always a great number of vultures and other birds collected. Having observed, then, that when these creatures were gorged, they always sat undisturbed upon the cliffs and the wall, he concluded that the wall must necessarily be left unguarded and deserted for the larger part of the day. Accordingly, under cover of night, he went to the spot and carefully examined the possibilities of approaching it and setting ladders; and finding that this was possible at one particular rock, he communicated the facts to the king.

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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SARDES
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