Meanwhile, Marcellus, who had set out with about a third part of the army, to recover the towns which, during the commotion, had gone over to the Carthaginians, regained Helorus and Herbessus by voluntary surrender.
Megara, which he took by storm, he demolished and plundered, in order to terrify the rest, but particularly the Syracusans.
Much about the same time, Himilco, who had kept his fleet for a long time at the promontory of Pachynus, landed twenty-five thousand infantry, three thousand horse, and twelve elephants, at Heraclea, which they call Minoa. This force was much greater than that which he had before on board his fleet at Pachynus.
But after Syracuse was seized by Hippocrates, he proceeded to Carthage, where, being aided by ambassadors from Hippocrates, and a letter from Hannibal, who said that now was the time to recover Sicily with the highest honour, while his own advice given in person had no small influence, he had prevailed upon the Carthaginians to transport into Sicily as large a force as possible, both of foot and horse.
Immediately on his arrival he retook Heraclea, and within a few days after Agrigentum;
and in the other states which sided with the Carthaginians, such confident hopes were kindled of driving the Romans out of Sicily, that at last even those who were besieged at Syracuse took courage; and thinking that half their forces would be sufficient for the defence of the city, they divided the business
of the war between them in such a manner, that Epicydes superintended the defence of the city, while Hippocrates, in conjunction with Himilco, prosecuted the war against the Roman consul.
The latter, having passed by night through the intervals between the posts, with ten thousand foot and five hundred horse, was pitching a camp near the city Acrillae, when Marcellus came upon them, while engaged in raising [p. 939]
the fortifications, on his return
from Agrigentum, which was already occupied by the enemy, having failed in his attempt to get there before the enemy by expeditious marching.
Marcellus calculated upon any thing rather than meeting with a Syracusan army at that time and place; but still through fear of Himilco and the Carthaginians, for whom he was by no means a match with the forces he had with him, he was marching with all possible circumspection, and with his troops so arranged, as to be prepared for any thing which might occur.