on, while missiles from each side flew without ceasing.
22. But the Persians were especially pressed by the various missiles shot from the balistae, which, from the artificial mounds, came down upon them in torrents; and having become desperate, they rushed on, fearless of death, and distributing their force as if at the last extremity, they left some to guard the walls, while the rest, secretly opening a postern gate, rushed forth valiantly with drawn swords, followed by others who carried concealed fire.
23. And while the Romans at one moment were pressing on those who retreated, at another receiving the assault of those who attacked them, those who carried the fire crept round by a circuitous path, and pushed the burning coals in among the interstices of one of the mounds, which was made up of branches of trees, and rushes, and bundles of reeds. This soon caught fire and was utterly destroyed, the soldiers themselves having great difficulty in escaping and saving their engines.
24. But when the approach of evening broke off the conflict, and the two sides separated to snatch a brief repose, the emperor, after due reflection, resolved to change his plans. Although many reasons of great urgency pressed him to force on the destruction of Phoenice, as of a fortress which would prove an impregnable barrier to the inroads of the enemy, yet the lateness of the season was an objection to persevering any longer. He determined, therefore, while he preserved his position, to carry on the siege for the future by slight skirmishes, thinking that the Persians would be forced to surrender from want of provisions, which, however, turned out very different.
25. For while the conflict was proceeding sharply, the heavens became moist, and watery clouds appeared with threatening darkness; and presently the ground got so wet from continual rain, that the whole country was changed into an adhesive mud (for the soil is naturally rich), and every plan was thrown into confusion; meantime, thunder with incessant crashes and ceaseless lightning filled men's minds with fear.
20. To these portents were added continual rainbows. A short explanation will serve to show how these appear-