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Hamilcar

Ἀμίλκας).


1.

A Carthaginian general, son of Mago, or, according to others, of Hanno , conquered by Gelon, in Sicily, the same day that Xerxes was defeated at Salamis. Herodotus (vii. 165) states that he was never seen either living or dead after the battle in which his army was defeated. According to Polyaenus, however (i. 27, 2), Gelon destroyed him by a stratagem while sacrificing.


2.

Surnamed Rhodănus, a Carthaginian general of considerable talent. Perceiving his fellow-citizens to be greatly disquieted at the projects of Alexander of Macedon (B.C. 332), he betook himself to that prince, in order, if possible, to penetrate his designs, and give his countrymen timely notice of them. After the death of Alexander he returned to Carthage, where he was put to death, on false accusations of treason, as the recompense of his devotion to his country (Just.xxi. 5).


3.

A Carthaginian general, in the time of Agathocles, tyrant of Sicily. He came to the succour of Syracuse when besieged by that usurper. Being gained over, however, by the gold of Agathocles, he prevailed on the Syracusans to make peace, and favoured by his inaction the schemes of the tyrant. The Carthaginian Senate condemned him to lose his head, but he died at Syracuse, B.C. 311, before the sentence could be made public (Just.xxii. 2).


4.

The son of Giscon; a Carthaginian general, sent into Sicily about B.C. 311, to oppose the progress of Agathocles. On his arrival he gained a victory, which opened to him the gates of several large cities. In attempting to make himself master of Syracuse, during the absence of Agathocles in Africa, he was taken prisoner and put to death, B.C. 309.


5.

Surnamed Barca, the leader of the popular party at Carthage, appointed in the eighteenth year of the First Punic War (B.C. 247) to the command of the Carthaginian armies. No particulars have been preserved respecting his early life or the time of his birth; but it is learned from Nepos (Hamil. 1) that he was very young when he obtained the command. He ravaged with his fleet the coast of the Bruttii and the Epizephyrian Locrians, and afterwards seized upon a strong fortress in Sicily, which was situated between Eryx and Panormus. In this place he continued for some years, with very little support from the Carthaginian government; and, although the Romans were masters of almost the whole of the island, they were unable to dislodge him. He frequently ravaged the southern coasts of Italy as far as Cumae, and defeated the Roman troops in Sicily. On one occasion he took Eryx, which he held till the conclusion of the war. The Romans at length fitted out a fleet to cut off all communication between Hamilcar and Carthage; the Carthaginian fleet sent to his assistance was defeated by the Roman consul Lutatius Catulus (B.C. 241), and the Carthaginians were obliged to sue for peace. This was granted by the Romans; and Hamilcar led his troops from Eryx to Lilybaeum, whence they were conveyed to Africa. But a new danger awaited Carthage. The Carthaginian treasury was exhausted; and it was proposed to the troops that they should relinquish a part of the pay which was due to them. The soldiers rejected the proposal, appointed two of their number, Spendius and Matho, commanders, and proceeded to enforce their demands. Being joined by many of the native tribes of Africa, they defeated Hanno , the Carthaginian general sent against them, and brought Carthage to the brink of ruin. In these desperate circumstances Hamilcar was appointed to the command, and at length succeeded in subduing them after the war had lasted three years and four months. After the end of this war Hamilcar was sent into Spain (B.C. 238). He remained in Spain nearly nine years, during which time he extended the dominion of Carthage over the southern and eastern parts of that country. He fell in a battle against the natives (B.C. 229), leaving three sons, Hasdrubal, Mago, and Hannibal.

The abilities of Hamilcar were of the highest order; and he directed all the energies of his mind to diminish the power of Rome. Polybius states his belief (Bk. iii.) that his administration would soon have produced another war with the Romans, if he had not been prevented by the disorders in which his country was involved through the war of the mercenaries. Hamilcar was succeeded in his command in Spain by his son-in-law Hasdrubal, who must not be confounded with Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal. See Polyb. i., ii.; Corn. Nep. Hamil. 3, and the striking picture given in Flaubert's novel, Salammbô.


6.

A Carthaginian general, son of Bomilcar, conquered by the Scipios (B.C. 215) when besieging Ilitingis, in Hispania Baetica, along with Hasdrubal and Mago. He is supposed by some to be the same with the Hamilcar who, fifteen years after, at the head of a body of Gauls, took and sacked Placentia, and was defeated and slain before Cremona. Others affirm that he was taken prisoner three years later in a battle fought near the Mincius, and served to grace the victory of the conqueror (Livy, xxiii. 49; xxxi. 10; xxxii. 23; Pliny , Pliny H. N. iii. 1).

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.1
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 23, 49
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