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1. The commander of the great Carthaginian expedition to Sicily B. C. 480. He is called by Herodotts (7.165) the son of Hanno, by a Syracusan mother: the same historian styles him king (Βασιλεύς) of the Carthaginians, a title by which the Greeks in general designate the two chief magistrates at Carthage, who are more properly styled suffetes or judges. There can be little doubt that this Hamilcar is the same as the person of that name mentioned by Justin (19.1, 2) as having served with great distinction both in Sardinia and Africa, and having been subsequently killed in the war in Sicily, though he is said by that author to have been the son of Mago. If this be so, it is probably to his exploits in those countries that Herodotus refers, when he says that Hamilcar had attained the dignity of king, as a reward for his warlike valour; and the same services may have caused him to be selected for the command of an expedition, undoubtedly the greatest which the Carthaginians had yet undertaken, although we cannot but suspect some exaggeration in the statement of Herodotus and Diodorus, that the army of Hamilcar amounted to 300,000 men. He lost several ships on the passage by a storm, but arrived with the greater part of the armament in safety at Panormus. From thence, after a few days' repose, he marched at once upon Himera, and laid siege to that city, which was defended by Theron of Agrigentum, who shut himself up within the walls, and did not venture to face the Carthaginians in the field. Gelon, however, who soon arrived to the assistance of his father-in-law, with a'considerable army, was bolder, and quickly brought on a general engagement, in which the Carthaginians, notwithstanding their great superiority of numbers, were utterly defeated, and their vast army annihilated, those who made their escape from the field of battle falling as prisoners into the hands of the Sicilians. (Hdt. 7.165-167; Diod. 11.20-22; Polyaen. 1.27.2.) Various accounts are given of the fate of Hamilcar himself, though all agree that he perished on this disastrous day. A story, in itself not very probable, is told by Diodorus, and, with some variation, by Polyaenus, that he was killed at the beginning of the action by a body of horsemen whom Gelon had contrived by stratagem to introduce into his camp. Herodotus, on the other hand, states that his body could not be found, and that the Carthaginians accounted for this circumstance by saying, that he had thrown himself, in despair, into a fire at which he was sacrificing, when he beheld the total rout of his army. A remarkable circumstance is added by the same historian (7.167), that the Carthaginians, after his death, used to sacrifice to him as a hero, and erected monuments to his memory not only at Carthage, but in all their colonial cities. Such honours, singular enough in any case as paid to an unsuccessful general, seem strangely at variance with the statement of Diodorus (13.43), that his son Gisco was driven into exile on account of his father's defeat. According to Justin (19.2), Hamilcar left three sons, Himilco, Hanno, and Gisco.

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480 BC (1)
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