Siege of Akragas
The Carthaginian army was unopposed by the Greeks when they marched towards Akragas in the early summer of 406 BC. Hannibal left his warships at Motya before setting out for Akragas. The citizens of Akragas, not wanting to face the Carthaginians by themselves or contribute to their spoils, had gathered the harvest and the entire population(some 200,000 people) within the city as part of their preparations. Hannibal began preparation for the siege in earnest once his army reached Akragas. Two fortified camps were built, one camp (protected by a ditch and a palisade) on the western side of Akragas on the right bank of river Hypsas, the other on the left bank of the river Akragas, housing about a third of the army, on the east side of the city, blocking the roads to Gela. The Akragans did not oppose these activities, but stayed within their city.
Hannibal offered terms to the city before commencing hostilities: Akragas could either become an ally of Carthage or stay neutral while Carthage dealt with the other Greeks in Sicily. Both conditions were rejected by the Akragan government. The entire male population of the city was armed and posted on the walls, the mercenaries were placed on the hill of Athena,(some argue they were posted at the acropolis) and some troops were placed as reserve to plug any gaps created by the Carthaginians on the city walls. After the final preparations were made, Greeks awaited the Carthaginian assault.
Hannibal decided not to build circumventing walls but to starve the Greeks into submission. The position of the city on high ground made it difficult to assault directly or storm from several directions at once. Hannibal chose to use two siege towers to assault one of the gates on the west side of the city. The Carthaginians managed to inflict casualties on the defenders but after an all-day struggle, could not force the gate. At night the Greeks made a sortie and burnt the towers down. Hannibal then ordered his soldiers to tear down the tombs and other buildings outside the walls to make siege ramps, so any part of the city wall could be assaulted by siege engines. The Punic soldiers were uneasy about desecrating tombs, and they panicked when a plague broke out in the Carthaginian camps. The Carthaginians lost many men, including Hannibal himself.
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