Scipio Creates a Distraction
The men in the town were accordingly in high spirits
Towards evening Scipio renews the assault on the gate, to distract attention from his attack by way of the lagoon.
at having, as they thought, repulsed the assault.
But Scipio, who was conscious that the time
was now approaching for the ebb of the lagoon,
had five hundred men stationed ready by its
edge with ladders; and meanwhile massed some
fresh soldiers upon the gate and isthmus, and,
after urging them to undertake the work, furnished them with
a larger number of ladders than before: so that the wall was
almost covered with men scaling it. When the signal for
attack was sounded, and the men placed their ladders against
the wall, and began ascending at every point, the excitement
and consternation inside the walls was extreme; for when
they thought themselves released from the threatened danger,
they saw it beginning all over again by another assault. Besides, their missiles were beginning to fall short; and the
number of men they had lost greatly disheartened them. Still,
though they were in great distress, they continued the defence
as well as they could.
Just when the struggle at the ladders was at its hottest the
Scipio crosses the lagoon and gets his men upon the wall.
ebb of the tide began. The water began gradually to leave the edges of the lagoon, and the
current ran with such violence, and in such a
mass through its channel into the adjoining
sea, that to those who were unprepared for the sight it appeared incredible. Being provided with guides, Scipio at
once ordered his men, who had been stationed ready for this
service, to step in and to fear nothing. His was a nature especially fitted to inspire courage and sympathy with his own
feelings. So now the men at once obeyed him, and when
the army saw them racing each other across the marsh, it
could not but suppose that the movement was a kind of
heaven-sent inspiration. This reminded them of the reference
Scipio had made to Poseidon, and the promises contained in
his harangue: and their enthusiasm rose to such a height that
they locked their shields above their heads, and, charging up
to the gate, they began trying to hew their way through the
panels of the doors with their axes and hatchets.
Meanwhile the party which had crossed the marsh had approached the wall. They found the battlements unguarded:
and therefore, not only fixed their ladders against the wall,
but actually mounted and took it without striking a blow; for
the attention of the garrison was distracted to other points,
especially to the isthmus and the gate leading to it, and they
never expected that the enemy were likely to attack on the
side of the lagoon: besides, and above all, there was such
disorderly shouting, and such a scene of confusion within the
wall, that they could neither hear nor see to any purpose.