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5. Commander of the Carthaginian forces at Lilybaeum during the first Punic war. At what time he was sent to Sicily does not appear, but we find him in command of Lilybaeum when the Romans, after the great victory of Metellus over Hasdrubal (B. C. 250), determined to form the siege of that important fortress. Himilco appears to have done all that an energetic and able officer could do: the forces under his command amounted to only 10,000 regular troops, while the Romans are said to have brought not less than 110,000 men to the siege; but this must, of course, include all who took part in the works, not merely the fighting men. Both consuls (C. Atilius and L. Manlius) were with the Roman army, and they carried on their operations with the utmost vigour, endeavouring to block up the port by a great mole, at the same time that they attacked the walls on the land side with battering rams and other engines. Himilco, on his side, though he had to contend with disaffection among the mercenaries under his own command, as well as with the enemy without the walls, was not less active; but he was unable to prevent the progress of the Roman works on the land: a great storm, however, swept away the mole that the Romans were constructing; and Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar, succeeded in running into the port with 50 ships and a force of 10,000 men, in the very teeth of the Roman fleet. Thus reinforced, Himilco renewed his attacks upon the works of the besiegers; and though repulsed in a first sally, he ultimately succeeded in burning all the battering engines and other works of the Romans. This decisive blow compelled the consuls to turn the siege into a blockade: nor were they able to make even this effectual, as they could not succeed in cutting off the besieged altogether from their communications by sea. The next year (B. C. 249) the great victory of Adherbal at Drepanum rendered the Carthaginians once more masters of the sea; and Himilco is again mentioned as co-operating with Carthalo after that event, in the attempt to destroy the Roman squadron, which still kept guard before Lilybaeum. The enterprise was only partially successful; but from this time the communications of the city by sea appear to have been perfectly open. The name of Himilco occurs once more in the following year as opposing the operations of the consuls Caecilius and Fabius, but this is the last we hear of him; and we have no means of judging how long he continued to hold the command of Lilybaeum, or when he was succeeded by Gisco, whom we find in that situation at the conclusion of the war. (Plb. 1.41-48, 53; Diod. Exc. Hoeschel. 24.1; Zonar. 8.15, 16.)

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250 BC (1)
249 BC (1)
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  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.41
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.48
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.53
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