The siege of Syracuse
An architect discussing yesterday's melting of a Jaguar by sun's rays reflected by the "Walkie Talkie" building at 20 Fenchurch Street, reminded listeners of the siege of Syracuse. In 214-212 BC Syracuse was besieged by sea and land by the Roman Republic. The great mathematician and inventor, Archimedes, was called to help the city. One of his weapons of mass destruction, known as the Claw of Archimedes, was a great hook which lifted ships out of the sea and then dropped them back in from a great height. Another of his successful ideas was to build a huge mirror and reflect the sun's rays onto the wooden ships of the Romans, thereby setting them on fire. The Romans eventually managed to breach the city's defences while the people of Syracuse were partying at the Festival of Artemis. The Roman General Marcus Claudius Marcellus gave orders that Archimedes, then 78, should not be killed. He continued his mathematical studies under the Roman occupation but not long after the siege a Roman soldier burst into his house, annoying Archimedes who in no uncertain terms told him to leave. The soldier killed him on the spot.