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Text #626

Polybius. The Histories. Vol. 1
[Polyb. 1.36.10--1.37.4. Translated by W. R. Paton. Harvard University Press. 1922. (6 Vols.) pp. 101--103]

In the early summer the Romans, having launched three hundred and fifty ships, sent them off under the command of Marcus Aemilius and Servius Fulvius, who proceeded along the coast of Sicily making for Libya. Encountering the Carthaginian fleet near Hermae um they fell on them and easily routed them, capturing one hundred and fourteen ships with their crews. Then having taken on board at Aspis the soldiers who remained in Libya they set sail again for Sicily.

They had crossed the strait in safety and were off the territory of Camarina when they were overtaken by so fierce a storm and so terrible a disaster that it is difficult adequately to describe it owing to its surpassing magnitude. For of their three hundred and sixty-four ships only eighty were saved; the rest either foundered or were dashed by the waves against the rocks and headlands and broken to pieces, covering the shore with corpses and wreckage. History tells of no greater catastrophe at sea taking place at one time. The Blame must be laid not so much on ill fortune as on the commanders; for the captains had repeatedly urged them not to sail along the outer coast of Sicily, that turned toward the Libyan sea, as it was very rugged and had few safe anchorages: they also warned them that one of the dangerous astral periods was not over and another just approaching (for it was between the rising of Orion and that of Sirius1 that they undertook the voyage).

  1. Sirius rises in July, Orion early in December [OF]

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