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7. A general of the Carthaginians in the first Punic War. We know nothing of his family or connections, but he must be carefully distinguished from the great Hamilcar Barca [No. 8], with whom he has been confounded by Zonaras (8.10), as well as by some modern writers. It was in the third year of the war (B. C. 262) that he was appointed to succeed Hanno in the command, when that general had failed in averting the fall of Agrigentum. (Diod. xxiii. Exc. Hoeschel. 9. p. 503; Zonar. l.c. See [HANNO, No. 5].) His first operations were very successful; and notwithstanding the great defeat of the Carthaginian fleet off Mylae by Duilius (B. C. 260), Hamilcar for a time maintained the superiority by land. Learning that the Roman allies were encamped near Therma, apart from the legionary troops, he fell suddenly upon them, surprised their camp, and put 4000 of them to the sword. (Plb. 1.24.) After this he appears to have traversed the island with his victorious army, as we find him making himself master of Enna and Camarina, both of which were betrayed to him by the inhabitants. He at the same time fortified the stronghold of Drepanum, which became in the latter part of the war one of the most important fortresses of the Carthaginians. (Diod. xxiii. p. 503; Zonar. 8.11.) In the year 257 he commanded the Punic fleet on the north coast of Sicily, and fought a naval action with the Roman consul C. Atilius, in which, according to Polybius, the victory was undecided, though the Roman commander was honoured with a triumph. (Plb. 1.25, 27; Zonar. 8.12; Fast. Capitol.) In the following year (256), we find him associated with Hanno in the command of the great Carthaginian fleet, which was designed to prevent the passage of the Roman expedition to Africa under the consuls M. Atilius Regulus and L. Manlius Vulso. The two fleets met off Ecnomus, on the south coast of Sicily: that of the Carthaginians consisted of 350 quinqueremes, while the Romans had 330 ships of war, besides transports. In the battle that ensued, Hamilcar, who commanded the left wing of the Carthaginiar. fleet, at first obtained some advantage, but the Romans ultimately gained a complete victory. Above 30 of the Carthaginian ships were sunk or destroyed, and 64 taken. (Plb. 1.25-28; Zonar. 8.12; Eutrop. 2.21; Oros. 4.8.) Hamilcar escaped with his remaining ships to Heraclea Minoa, where he soon after received orders to repair immediately to Carthage, now threatened by the Roman army, which had effected its landing in Africa. On his arrival, he was associated with Hasdrubal and Bostar in the command of the army, which was opposed to Regulus, and must consequently share with those generals the blame of the want of skill and judgment so conspicuous in the conduct of the campaign. [BOSTAR; XANTHIPPUS.] This incapacity on their part led to the defeat of the Carthaginian army at Adis: we are not told by Polybius what became of the generals after this battle, but his expressions would seem to imply that they still retained their command; it appears at least probable that the Hamilcar mentioned by Orosius (4.1) as being sent immediately after the defeat of Regulus to subdue the revolted Numidians was the one of whom we are now treating. On the other hand, it is vaguely asserted by Florus (2.2) that the Carthaginian generals were either slain or taken prisoners; and it may perhaps be this Hamilcar of whom Diodorus relates (Exc. Vales. xxiv.) that he was given up, together with Bostar, to the kindred of Regulus, and tortured by them in a cruel manner, in revenge for the fate of their kinsman. It is not, however, clear whether in this story, which is at best but a doubtful one, Hamilcar and Bostar were represented as captives or as hostages. (See Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, vol. iii. p. 300; Plb. 1.30, 31; Eutrop. 2.21; Oros. 4.8; Florus, 2.1.)

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  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.28
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.30
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.24
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.25
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.27
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.31
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