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Fall of Syracuse, B. C. 212

He counted the layers; for as the
The method taken by a Roman to estimate the height of the wall of Syracuse. Livy, 25, 23.
tower had been built of regular layers of stone, it was very easy to reckon the height of the battlements from the ground. . . .

Some days afterwards on information being given by a deserter that the Syracusans had been engaged in a public sacrifice to Artemis for the last three days; and that they were using very scanty food in the festival though plenty of wine, both Epicydes and certain Syracusans having given a large supply; Marcus Marcellus selected a part of the wall somewhat lower than the rest, and thinking it probable that the men were drunk, owing to the license of the hour, and the short supply of food with their wine, he determined to attempt an escalade.

Fall of Syracuse by an escalade, autumn B. C. 212. Livy, 24, 23-31.
Two ladders of the proper height for the wall having been quickly made, he pressed on the undertaking. He spoke openly to those who were fit to make the ascent and to face the first and most conspicuous risk, holding out to them brilliant prospects of reward. He also picked out some men to give them necessary help and bring ladders, without telling them anything except to bid them be ready to obey orders. His directions having been accurately obeyed, at the proper time in the night he put the first men in motion, sending with them the men with the ladders together with a maniple and a tribune, and having first reminded them of the rewards awaiting them if they behaved with gallantry. After this he got his whole force ready to start; and despatching the vanguard by maniples at intervals, when a thousand had been massed in this way, after a short pause, he marched himself with the main body. The men carrying the ladders having succeeded in safely placing them against the wall, those who had been told off to make the ascent mounted at once without hesitation. Having accomplished this without being observed, and having got a firm footing on the top of the wall, the rest began to mount by the ladders also, not in any fixed order, but as best they could. At first as they made their way upon the wall they found no one to oppose them, for the guards of the several towers, owing to it being a time of public sacrifice, were either still drinking or were gone to sleep again in a state of drunkenness. Consequently of the first and second companies of guards, which they came upon, they killed the greater number before they knew that they were being attacked. And when they came near Hexapyli, they descended from the wall, and forced open the first postern they came to which was let into the wall, through which they admitted the general and the rest of the army. This is the way in which the Romans took Syracuse. . . .

None of the citizens knew what was happening because of the distance; for the town is

Livy, 25, 24.
a very large one. . . .

But the Romans were rendered very confident

The first quarter occupied. Livy. 25, 24.
by their conquest of Epipolae. . . .

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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 23
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