12. Surnamed the Great (ὁ Μέγας
, Appian, App. Hisp. 4
34, 49) apparently for his successes in Africa, was during many years the leader of the aristocratic party at Carthage, and, as such, the chief adversary of Hamilcar Barca and his sons.
He is first mentioned as holding a command in Africa during the first Punic war, at which time he must have been quite a young man. We know very little of his proceedings there, except that he took Hecatompylus, a city said to have been both great and wealthy, but the situation of which is totally unknown. (Diod. Exc. Vales,
xxiv. p. 565; Plb. 1.73
.) Nor do we know against what nations of Africa his arms were directed, or what was the occasion of the war, though it seems probable that it arose out of the defection of the African cities from the Carthaginians during the expedition of Regulus. Whatever may have been the occasion of it, it appears that Hanno obtained so much distinction by his exploits in this war as to be regarded as a rival to his contemporary, Hamilcar Barea.
According to Polybius, the favour with which Hanno was regarded by the government at home was due in part to the harshness and severity he displayed towards their African subjects, and to the rigour with which he exacted from these payment of the heavy taxes with which they were loaded. (Plb. 1.67
.) When the mercenaries that had been eniployed in Sicily, returned to Africa after the end of the first Punic war (B. C. 240), and were all assembled at Sicca, it was Hanno who was chosen to be the bearer to them of the proposition that they should abate some part of the arrears to which they were justly entitled.
The personal unpopularity of the envoy added to the exasperation naturally produced by such a request, and Hanno, after vain endeavours to effect a negotiation through the inferior commanders, returned to Carthage.
But when matters soon after came to an open rupture, and the mercenaries took up arms under Spendius and Matho, he was appointed to take the command of the army which was raised in all haste to oppose them. His previous wars against the Numidian and African troops were, however, far from qualifying him to carry on a campaign against an army disciplined by Hamilcar; and though he at first defeated the rebels under the walls of Utica, he soon after suftered them to surprise his camp, and this proof of his incapacity was followed by others as glaring. Yet notwithstanding that these disasters compelled the Carthaginians to have recourse to Hamilcar Barca, and that general took the field against the rebels, it would appear that Hanno was not deprived of his command, in which we find him soon after mentioned as associated with Hamilcar.
But the two generals could not be brought to act together; and their dissensions rose to such a height, and were productive of so much mischief, that at length the Carthaginian government, finding it absolutely necessary to recal one of the two, left the choice to the soldiers themselves, who decided in favour of Hamilcar. Hanno was in consequence displaced: but his successor, Hannibal, having been made prisoner and put to death by the rebels, and Hamilcar compelled to raise the siege of Tunis, the government again interposed, and by the most strenuous exertions effected a formal reconciliation between the two rivals. Hanno and Hamilcar again assumed the roint command, and soon after defeated the rebel army in a decisive battle.
The reduction of Utica and Hippo, of which the one was taken by Hamilcar, the other by Hanno, now completed the subjection of Africa. (Plb. 1.74
.) If we may trust the statement of Appian (App. Hisp. 4
), llanno was again employed, together with Hamilcar, in another expedition against the Numidians and more western tribes of Africa, after the close of the war of the mercenaries; but was recalled from his command to answer some charges brought against him by his enemies at home. From this time forward he appears to have taken no active part in any of the foreign wars or enterprises of Carthage.
But his influence in her councils at home was great, and that influence was uniformly exerted against Hamilcar Barca and his family, and against that democratic party in the state by whose assistance they maintained their power. On all occasions, from the landing of Barca in Spain till the return of Hannibal from Italy, a period of above thirty-five years, Hanno is represented as thwarting the measures of that able and powerful family, and taking the lead in opposition to the war with Rome, the great object to which all their efforts were directed. (Liv. 21.3
; V. Max. 7.2
, ext. § 13; Zonar. 8.22
It is indeed uncertain how far we are entitled to regard the accounts given by Livy of his conduct on these occasions as historical: it is not very probable that the Romans were well acquainted with what passed in the councils of their enemies, and on one occasion the whole narrative is palpably a fiction. For Livy puts into the mouth of Hanno a long declamatory harangue against sending the young Hannibal to join Hasdrubal in Spain, though he himself tells us elsewhere that Hannibal had gone to Spain with his father nine years before, and never returned to Carthage from that time until just after the battle of Zama. (Liv. 21.3
, compared with 30.35, 37.) Still there can be no doubt of the truth of the general fact that Hanno was the leader, or at least one of the leaders, of the party opposed to Hannibal throughout the second Punic War.
As one of those desirous of peace with Rome, he is mentioned as interposing to preserve the Roman ambassadors from the fury of the Carthaginian populace in the year before the battle of Zama, B. C. 551; and, after that defeat, he was one of those sent as ambassadors to Scipio to sue for peace. (Appian, App. Pun. 34
After the close of the war, he is mentioned, for the last time, as one of the leaders of the Roman party in the disputes which were continually recurring between the Carthaginians and Masinissa (Appian, Ib.
68); but we have no information as to the period of his death.
The character of Hanno will be found drawn in a masterly manner by Sir W. Raleigh in his History of the World (book v. ch. i. sect. 11. p. 117, Oxf. edit.); though that writer has committed the mistake of confounding him with the general defeated at the Aegates [No. 11], an error into which Arnold also appears to have fallen. (Hist. of Rome,
vol. ii. p. 619.) So far as we know concerning him, we cannot but wonder at his bearing the title of " the Great," an epithet which few characters in history would appear less to deserve.