Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/275

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crushed with huge stones, with the exception of a few, who, in spite of the difficult ground over which their flight lay, escaped by their swiftness of foot. At last, when the contest had been protracted till evening, the usual signal for retreat was given, and the combatants parted to pass the night with very different feelings.

12. The losses of the besiegers, who had suffered greatly, encouraged the defenders of the town with hopes of victory, though they also had to mourn the deaths of some few of their number. Nevertheless, the preparations went on rapidly. Rest and food refreshed their bodies during the night; and at dawn of day the conflict was renewed at the trumpet's signal.

13. Some, holding their shields over their heads, in order to fight with more activity; others, in front, bore ladders on their shoulders, and rushed on with eager vehemence, exposing their breasts to wounds from every kind of weapon. Some endeavoured to break down the iron bars of the gates; but were attacked with fire, or crushed under stones hurled from the walls. Some boldly strove to cross the fosses, but fell beneath the sudden sallies of soldiers rushing out from postern gates, or were driven back with severe wounds. For those who sallied forth had an easy retreat within the walls, and the rampart in front of the walls, strengthened with turf, saved those who lay in wait behind it from all danger.

14. Although the garrison excelled in endurance and in the arts of war, without any other aid than that of their walls, still our soldiers, being attacked as they were from a more numerous force, became impatient of the long delay, and moved round and round the suburbs, seeking diligently to discover by what force or what engines they could make their way out of the city.

15. But as, through the greatness of the difficulties in their way, they could not accomplish this, they began to slacken their exertions as to the siege itself, and leaving a few watches and outposts, ravaged the adjacent country, and thus obtained all kinds of supplies, dividing their booty with their comrades. The consequence was, that excessivo eating and drinking proved injurious to their health.