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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.

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