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Hannibal the Rhodian

After this affair Hannibal eluded the enemy's watch, and sailed out of the harbour by night with his ships to Drepana, to join the Carthaginian Commander-in-Chief, Adherbal. Drepana is about one hundred and twenty stades from Lilybaeum, and was always an object of special care to the Carthaginians from the convenience of its position and the excellence of its harbour.

Now the Carthaginian government were anxious to learn

Hannibal the Rhodian offers to run the blockade.
the state of affairs at Lilybaeum, but could not do so because the garrison was strictly blockaded, and the Romans were exceedingly vigilant. In this difficulty a nobleman, called Hannibal the Rhodian, came to them, and offered to run the blockade, to see what was going on in Lilybaeum with his own eyes, and to report. The offer delighted them, but they did not believe in the possibility of its fulfilment with the Roman fleet lying at the very entrance of the channel. However, the man fitted out his own private vessel and put to sea. He first crossed to one of the islands lying off Lilybaeum. Next day he obtained a wind in the right quarter, and about ten o'clock in the morning actually sailed into the harbour in the full view of the enemy, who looked on with amazement at his audacity. Next day he lost no time in setting about a return voyage. The Roman Consul had determined on taking extra precautions for watching the sea near the channel: with this view he had during the night got ready his ten fastest-sailing vessels, and taking up a position on shore close to the harbour mouth, was watching with his own eyes what would happen. The whole army was watching also; while the ships on both sides of the mouth of the channel got as close to the shallows as it was possible to approach, and there rested with their oars out, and ready to run down and capture the ship that was about to sail out. The Rhodian, on his side, attempted no concealment. He put boldly to sea, and so confounded the enemy by his audacity, and the speed of his vessel, that he not only sailed out without receiving any damage to ship or crew, scudding along the bows of the enemy as though they were fixed in their places, but even brought his ship to, after running a short way ahead, and, with his oars out and ready, seemed to challenge the foe to a contest. When none of them ventured to put out to attack him, because of the speed of his rowing, he sailed away: having thus with his one ship successfully defied the entire fleet of the enemy. From this time he frequently performed the same feat, and proved exceedingly serviceable both to the government at Carthage and the besieged garrison. To the former by informing them from time to time of what was pressingly necessary; and to the latter by inspiring them with confidence, and dismaying the Romans by his audacity.

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