|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXI Chapter 49: Attack of Lilybaeum[218 BC]
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While the war by land was at a stand beside the Trebia, in the mean time operations went on by land and sea around Sicily and the islands adjacent to Italy, both under Sempronius the consul, and before his arrival. Twenty quinqueremes, with a thousand armed men, having been sent by the Carthaginians to lay waste the coast of Italy, nine reached the Liparae, eight the island of Vulcan, and three the tide drove into the strait. On these being seen from Messana, twelve ships sent out by Hiero king of Syracuse, who then happened to be at Messana, waiting for the Roman consul, brought back into the port of Messana the ships taken without any resistance. It was discovered from the prisoners that, besides the twenty ships, to which fleet they belonged, and which had been despatched against Italy, thirty-five other quinqueremes were directing their course to Sicily, in order to gain over their ancient allies: that their main object was to gain possession of Lilybaeum, and they believed that that fleet had been driven to the islands Aegates by the same storm by which they themselves had been dispersed. The king writes these tidings, according as they had been received, to Marcus Aemilius the praetor, whose province Sicily was, and advises him to occupy Lilybaeum with a strong garrison. Immediately the lieutenants, generals, and tribunes, with the praetor, were despatched to the different states, in order that they might keep their men on vigilant guard; above all things it was commanded, that Lilybaeum should be secured: an edict having been put forth that, in addition to such warlike preparations, the crews should carry down to their ships dressed provisions for ten days, so that no one when the signal was given might delay in embarking; and that those who were stationed along the whole coast should look out from their watch-towers for the approaching fleet of the enemy. The Carthaginians, therefore, though they had purposely slackened the course of their ships, so that they might reach Lilybaeum just before daybreak, were descried before their arrival, because both the moon shone all night, and they came with their sails set up. Immediately the signal was given from the watch-towers, and the summons to arms was shouted through the town, and they embarked in the ships: part of the soldiers were left on the walls and at the stations of the gates, and part went on board the fleet. The Carthaginians, because they perceived that they would not have to do with an unprepared enemy, kept back from the harbour till daylight, that interval being spent in taking down their rigging and getting ready the fleet for action. When the light appeared, they withdrew their fleet into the open sea, that there might be room for the battle, and that the ships of the enemy might have a free egress from the harbour. Nor did the Romans decline the conflict, being emboldened both by the recollection of the exploits they had performed near that very spot, and by the numbers and valour of their soldiers.
Event: Battle of Sicily