1st Punic war
|First Illyrian war|
A new general
Now the Carthaginians appointed Hamilcar Barca as the general on Sicily. He already had made name as a capable and cunning miliary commander. With his fleet her plundered the south coasts of Italy.
Next he landed near Panormus and conquered Eryx (Polybius claims the Romans were in the city and Hamilcar was besieging them.). From here he waged a kind guerilla war with the Romans. He created a kind of stalemate against the Romans.
A new fleet
The Romans realized Hamilcar was depending on the Carthaginian fleet to provide him with the needs of his soldiers. And as long this was the case they could not win the war. The senate decided to build a new fleet, but there was a problem, the public treasury was empty! The senators then decided to put in private means. They had built a fleet of 200 ships out of their own pockets. Under the obvious condition they would get their money back after the war.
The last sea battle
Hanno the admiral of the Carthaginian fleet crossed the sea from Carthago to Drepanum in order to bring the necessary supplies to Hamilcar. According to Polybius he had these supplies within his warships. These ships were a lot less maneuverable than normally. But Diodorus mentions cargo ships. Anyway, when he was attacked by the Roman fleet he lost the battle. As usual the figures given are quite exaggerated.
Now the supply line to Hamilcar was cut off, the suffetes in Carthago lost heart and ordered Hamilcar to discus the terms of peace with the Romans. He opened the negotiations with the Romans. This very much against the will of his men, who didn't understand why, they weren't loosing were they?
The Roman terms for peace
"There shall be friendship between the Carthaginians and Romans on the following terms if approved by the Roman people.
The Carthaginians to evacuate the whole of Sicily and not to make war on Hiero or bear arms against the Syracusans or the allies of the Syracusans.
The Carthaginians to give up to the Romans all prisoners without ransom. The Carthaginians to pay to the Romans by installments in twenty years two thousand two hundred Euboean talents."
Note: Not a word about prohibition of attacking Roman allies
The Roman people must have felt the war more than the Carthaginians, because Carthago sent mercenaries under Carthaginian command and the Romans sent their own sons and those of the Latins. Above that, the peace treaty was pretended to be a great victory, what wasn't entirely true. Just Carthago became exhausted just before Rome would have. The Romans people didn't accept these terms and in addition to the terms agreed upon they demanded 1000 talents more; instead of payment in 20 years Carthago had to pay the 2200 talents in 10 years. Also the islands between Sicily and Italy had to be evacuated by Carthago
New problems for Carthago
While Hamilcar planned to leave Sicily as the last men he sent his troops back to Carthago. Here they expected to be paid off, but the government said they had no money left. They would pay them later, bust asked them to leave Carthago together with their families, who had stayed in Carthago. This led to a huge rebellion of the mercenaries.
A new war for Carthago
The rebellion grew out to a real war. Once more Hamilcar was asked to clear the mess. So he did. In this war unbelievable atrocities were committed on both sides. In the end in 237 bc Hamilcar won the war and in spite of his promises he had the leaders of the rebels crucified. But who reads Polybius (1.65-83) can see how he came to this act. As soon as this war was over the Romans confiscated Sardinia and Corsica while extorting Carthago 1000 talents more. Carthago really wasn't ready for another war so it had to comply.
Soon hereafter Hamilcar went to Spain, with his family and his three sons, Hannibal, Hasdrubal and Mago and of course his army. Here he conquered large parts of the peninsula until he met his fate. He fell into an ambush in 228 bc. He was succeeded by his son in law Hasdrubal (the fair).
|First Illyrian war|