The siege of Syracuse (Part Two)


The Roman army is laying siege to the city of Syracuse but can’t find a way through due to the city’s advanced defence systems devised by the brilliant mind of Archimedes.

With Archimedes array of inventions holding the Syracuse fortifications steady, the conflict entered a phase of stalemate with the attackers unable to breakthrough but still refusing to withdraw. The Romans however, had a few ideas of their own…

A giant drawbridge mounted to a ship, the sambuca or sambyke allowed soldiers to overwhelm the upper battlements of city walls. Up to 18 metres (60 feet) in height, was originally designed for use on land but was adapted to be used from Roman triremes and galleys.

Starving the city
With Archimedes’ heat ray and claw being devastatingly effective, the Romans decided to pull back momentarily. Now they devised a new tactic of cutting of the Syracusian trade and resource routes in an attempt to starve the city. The blockade was middy effective but a huge slice of luck was to prove decisive.

As a Greek colony, Syracuse celebrated the festival of the god Artemis during the siege. The extravagant celebrations caused the city’s defenders to neglect their duty and the Romans were able to break into the city. As troops poured in, the city was sacked which meant the whole of Sicily was now under Roman control. But what of Archimedes?

Sources claim that in an attempt to utilise the wonderful brain of Archimedes for the Roman civilisation, commander Marcus Claudius Marcellus ordered that his life be spared. However, this decree was not heeded and one of the world’s greatest thinkers was killed by a Roman gladius.