Hannibal's Dynasty by Dexter Hoyos

By Dexter Hoyos

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In the sixth and fifth centuries a Punic empire, too, began to grow. By the start of the fifth century this embraced the far west of Sicily with its old Phoenician settlements and natural wealth, Sardinia’s southern coastal lowlands, and Carthage’s own hinterland with its people the Libyans. The Libyans paid taxes and Libyan conscripts were an important component of Punic armies. On the plateaux and in the mountains beyond, the Numidian peoples under their various kings varied between friends and vassals of the Punic republic, depending on distance and Punic assertiveness.

Hamilcar then sought a truce from the consul in command, C. Fundanius, to bury his dead, thus conceding defeat. Fundanius brusquely refused, only to be forced to make the same request when he in turn suffered heavy losses. He must have tried to follow up his success against Bostar by launching an attack of his own, either on Hamilcar’s position or on Drepana, without success. Hamilcar set him an example of civility by granting his request, ‘stating that he was at war with the living, but had come to terms with the dead’.

This is part of the hostile and romantic notion that no sooner was the first war with Rome over than Hamilcar Barca began plotting the second. In reality, not only could hungry Drepana and Lilybaeum (not to mention Eryx) now be starved out before the Carthaginians could hope to build a new navy and find crews for it, but the Romans were in a position to repeat Regulus’ invasion of North Africa. Hamilcar could see that as well as or better than anyone over at Carthage. Even if he beat off a new Roman attack on his stronghold, as a late writer implies, it made no difference on the larger scale.

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