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The Siege of Agrigentum

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.
They select Agrigentum as their headquarters.
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. And 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

B.C. 262.
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.
Observing the measure which the Carthaginians were taking, and the forces they were concentrating at Agrigentum, 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.
Now 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.

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