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Hamilcar Barcas' Seven Years in Hercte

Next year, the eighteenth of the war, the Carthaginians
B. C. 247.
appointed Hamilcar Barcas general, and put the management of the fleet in his hands.
Occupation of Hercte by Hamilcar.
He took over the command, and started to ravage the Italian coast. After devastating the districts of Locri, and the rest of Bruttium, he sailed away with his whole fleet to the coast of Panormus and seized on a place called Hercte, which lies between Eryx and Panormus on the coast, and is reputed the best situation in the district for a safe and permanent camp. For it is a mountain rising sheer on every side, standing out above the surrounding country to a considerable height. The table-land on its summit has a circumference of not less than a hundred stades, within which the soil is rich in pasture and suitable for agriculture; the sea-breezes render it healthy; and it is entirely free from all dangerous animals. On the side which looks towards the sea, as well as that which faces the central part of the island, it is enclosed by inaccessible precipices; while the spaces between them require only slight fortifications, and of no great extent, to make them secure. There is in it also an eminence, which serves at once as an acropolis and as a convenient tower of observation, commanding the surrounding district. It also commands a harbour conveniently situated for the passage from Drepana and Lilybaeum to Italy, in which there is always abundant depth of water; finally, it can only be reached by three ways—two from the land side, one from the sea, all of them difficult. Here Hamilcar entrenched himself. It was a bold measure: but he had no city which he could count upon as friendly, and no other hope on which he could rely; and though by so doing he placed himself in the very midst of the enemy, he nevertheless managed to involve the Romans in many struggles and dangers. To begin with, he would start from this place and ravage the sea-board of Italy as far as Cumae; and again on shore, when the Romans had pitched a camp to overawe him, in front of the city of Panormus, within about five stades of him, he harassed them in every sort of way, and forced them to engage in numerous skirmishes, for the space of nearly three years.
B. C. 247-244.
Of these combats it is impossible to give a detailed account in writing.

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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), PANORMUS
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