2. Son of Gisco, and grandson of the Hamilcar who was killed at Himera B. C. 480. [HAMILCAR, No. 1.] He was one of the suffetes, or chief magistrates, of Carthage at the time that the Segestans, after the defeat of the great Athenian expedition to Sicily, implored the assistance of the Carthaginians, to protect them against the Selinuntines.
The senate of Carthage, having determined to avail themselves of the opportunity of extending their power and influence in Sicily, Hannibal was appointed to conduct the war: a small force was sent off immediately to the support of the Segestans, and Hannibal, having spent the winter in assembling a large body of mercenaries from Spain and Africa, landed at Lilybaeum the following spring (B. C. 409), with an army, according to the lowest statement, of not less than 100,000 men. His arms were first directed against Selinus, which, though one of the most powerful and opulent cities of Sicily, appears to have been ill prepared for defence, and Hannibal pressed his attacks with such vigour, that he made himself master of the city, after a siege of only nine days: the place was given up to plunder, and, with the exception of some of the temples, almost utterly destroyed. From hence Hannibal proceeded to lay siege to Himera, into which place Diocles had thrown himself, at the head of a body of Syracusans and other auxiliaries; but the latter, after an unsuccessful combat, in which many of his troops had fallen, became alarmed for the safety of Syracuse itself, and withdrew, with the forces under his command, and a part of the citizens of Himera, leaving the rest to their fate.
The remnant thus left were unable to defend their walls, and the city fell the next day into the power of Hannibal, who, after having abandoned it to be plundered by his soldiers, razed it to the ground, and sacrificed all the prisoners that had fallen into his hands, 3000 in number, upon the field of battle, where his grandfather Hamilcar had perished.
After these successes, he returned in triumph to Carthage. (Diod. 13.43
; Xen. Hell. 1.1.37
It appears that Hannibal must have been at this time already a man of advanced age, and he seems to have been disposed to rest content with the glory he had gained in this expedition, so that when, three years afterwards (B. C. 406), the Carthaginians determined on sending another, and a still greater, armament to Sicily, he at first declined the command, and was only induced to accept it by having his cousin Himilco associated with him.
After making great preparations, and assembling an immerse force of mercenary troops, Hannibal took the lead, with a squadron of fifty triremes, but was quickly followed by Himilco, with the main army; and having landed their whole force in safety, they proceeded immediately to invest Agrigentum, at that time one of the wealthiest and most powerful cities in Sicily.
But while the two generals were pushing their attacks with the utmost digour on several points at once, a pestilence sudvenly broke out in the camp, to which Hannibal himself fell a victim, B. C. 406. (Diod. 13.80