Hannibal of Carthage

                                       Key Players of Carthage 




Monarchs (Kings) of Carthage, 814 BC-308 BC


Dido 814-c.760 BC -queen

           The traditional founding of Carthage was 814 B.C. by Dido, the beautiful queen from the Phoenician city of Tyre. Tyre was a powerful maritime city that had achieved great wealth through trade. Tyre and other Phoenician city-states formed a "loose"  alliance much the same as the Greek city-states. These cities were not known for powerful land armies, however, their navies were among the most powerful of the ancient world, many times assisting other nations, through hire or force, during  wars. The Phoenicians were scattered throughout the world around modern Lebanon. The history of Tyre dates back to 1500 B.C. and until around 900 B.C. had established trading colonies only in the middle east. After this time Tyre and the other Phoenician cities began to focus their trade interests westward into the Mediterranean Sea and established trading colonies in Sicily, North Africa, Sardinia, and Spain. The two most prominent cities were Utica, in North Africa and Gades, in Spain.    Around 814 B.C. Pygmalion, the King of Tyre, set about to have his sisters (Dido) husband, the high-priest Acerbas, murdered. Acerbas was second only to the King in regards to the power that he held in Tyre. He was very wealthy and had buried his wealth for protection. When the King heard about the extent of this wealth he had Acerbas murdered in hopes  of aquiring this wealth through his sister, Dido. After hearing of her husbands death, Dido gathered her wealth and secretly set sail, under cover of darkness, with a small group of family and friends. Her small fleet set sail west, towards the Mediterranean, where the influence of her brother would be remote. After building Carthage and seeing the city prosper, Dido would later commit suicide after her lover, Aeneus of Troy, would leave her.

  • unknown
  • Hanno l c.580-c.556 BC
  • Malchus c.556-c.550 BC


  • Mago l c.550-c.530 BC -

              Under Mago, Carthage established itself as the dominant Phoenician miltary power in the western Mediterranean.  It remained economically dependent on Tyre, the capital of Phoenicia, but acted increasingly independent. One of Mago's political achievements was an alliance with the Etruscans  against the Greeks. This alliance lasted until around the time when the city of Rome expelled the Etruscan kings. He was also active in Sicily, and married a Syracusan  wife.

              In 546 BC, Greeks fleeing from Persian invasion established Alalia in Corsica (Greeks had settled there since 562 BC), and began preying on Etruscan and Punic commerce. Between 540 and 535 BC, a Carthaginian-Etruscan alliance had expelled the Greeks from Corsica after the Battle of Alalia. The Etruscans took control of Corsica, Carthage concentrated on Sardinia, ensuring that no Greek presence would be established in the island. The defeat also ended the westward expansion of Greeks for all time.

              A war with Greek Massalia followed. Carthage lost battles but managed to safeguard Phoenician Spain and close the Strait of Gibraltar to Greek shipping,  while Massalians retained their Spanish colonies in Eastern Iberia above Cape Nao. Southern Spain was closed to Greeks. Carthaginians in support of the Phoenician colony Gades in Spain, also brought about the collapse of Tartessos in Spain by 530 BC, either by armed conflict or by cutting off Greek trade. Carthage also besieged and took over Gades at this time. The Persians had taken over Cyrene by this time, and Carthage may have been spared a trial of arms against the Persian Empire when the Phoenicians refused to lend ships to them in 525 BC for an African expedition. Carthage may have paid tribute irregularly to the Great King. Carthage also participated in the Battle of Cumae in 524 BC, after which the Etruscan power began to wane in Italy.

  • Hasdrubal l c.530-c.510 BC -

              In the mid 520's, Hasdrubal, along with his brother Hamilcar l, launched an expedition against Sardinia. Hasdrubal was elected as "King" eleven times, was granted a triumph four times (the only Carthaginian to receive this honor - there is no record of anyone else being given similar treatment by Carthage) and had died of his battle wounds received in Sardinia. Carthage had engaged in a 25 year struggle in Sardinia, where the natives may have received aid from Sybaris, then the richest city in Magna Gracia and an ally of the Greeks. The Carthaginians faced resistance from Nora and  Suicici in Sardinia, while the city of Carales and Tharro had submitted willingly to Carthaginian rule in exchange for Carthage support. Hasdrubal’s war against the Libyans failed to stop the annual tribute payment that Carthage had paid since her founding.

              Around this time, the Carthaginians managed to defeat and drive away the colonization attempt near Leptis Magna in Libya by the Spartan prince Dorieus after three years of brutal warfare. Dorieus was later defeated and killed by the Carthaginians at  Eryx in Sicily ( around 510 B.C.) while attempting to establish a foothold in Western Sicily for the Greeks. Hasdrubal l was said to have been the commander of the Carthage army.

  • Hamilcar l c.510-480 BC-

              Was king of Carthage during the first Sicilian War with the Greeks. Hamilcar prepared the largest Punic overseas expedition to date and after three years of preparations, sailed for Sicily. This enterprise coincided with the expedition of Xerxes against mainland Greece in 480 BC, prompting speculations about a possible alliance between Carthage and Persia against the Greeks, although no documented proof of this exists. The Punic fleet was battered by storms en route, and the Punic army was destroyed and Hamilcar killed in the Battle of Himera by the combined armies of Himera, Akragas and Syracuse under Gelo. Carthage made peace with the Greeks and paid a large indemnity of 2000 silver talents, but lost no territory in Sicily.

Hanno ll 480-440 BC-

Hanno the Navigator (also known as Hanno II of Carthage) was a Carthaginian explorer c. 500 B.C., best known for his naval exploration of the African coast.

          This Hanno is called the Navigator to distinguish him from a number of other Carthaginians with this name, including the perhaps more prominent, though later, Hanno the Great, the enemy of the Carthaginian Barca family. The name Hanno (Annôn) means "merciful" in Punic. 

          Carthage dispatched Hanno at the head of a fleet of sixty ships to explore and colonize the north western coast of Africa. He sailed through the straits of Gibraltar, founded or repopulated seven colonies along the African coast of Morocco, and explored significantly further along the Atlantic coast of the continent. Hanno may of also founded the Punic colonies upon the Easter Islands, and further to the west, the Azores Islands, 2,400 miles to the east of North America. Hanno is credited with establishing the Moroccan city of Mogador, where the Carthaginians established an important purple dye manufacturing plant using the mollusks found in the local Atlantic Ocean. Hanno encountered various indigenous peoples on his journey and met with a variety of welcomes, sometimes friendly and other times hostile.

          On his return to Carthage, Hanno found an island heavily populated with what were described as hairy, savage people. Attempts to capture the males failed, but three of the females were taken. These were so vicious they were killed, and their skins preserved for transport home to Carthage. The interpreters called them gorillae, and when European explorers first encountered gorillas in the 19th century, the apes were given this name on the assumption that they were the "people" Hanno described.

          The travels of Hanno were written on text and are one of the few Punic writings to have survived the Roman destruction of the city. The Greeks were later able to translate the text and did find in the Hanno writings that once his ships sailed through the straits of Gibraltar, he continued to sail to the west, into the open ocean,  for a period of 35 days, and was want of water and supplies in the worst way, before turning back. It is possible that some of these ships may have reached North America, due to being blown off course by storms long before Christopher Columbus ever set foot on the Americas.  Treasure hunters have found numerous collections of Punic coins buried in North America, always along the Atlantic Ocean coast along inlet river beds. There also was found an interesting, but possibly a hoax, Punic stone monument with engravings in Pennsylvania that translated to "This monument placed by Hanno, do not deface".

          There was also a recent Carthage coin uncovered in North Africa that showed a map of the Mediterranean Sea upon one side of the coin. Africa was to the south, Europe to the north, and a large island was to the west, possibly proving that Carthage knew of the North American continent.

  • Himilco l (in Sicily) 460-410 BC      
  •           Was a Carthaginian navigator and explorer, and lived during the height of Carthaginian power during the 5th century B.C. Himilco is the first known explorer from the Mediterranean world to reach the island of Great Britain.

              We know next to nothing of Himilco himself. Himilco described his sea journeys as quite harrowing, repeatedly reporting seeing huge sea monsters and seaweed so thick that it would render ships unable to sail, likely in order to deter Greek rivals from competing on their new trade routes.          

  • Hannibal l 440-406 BC
  •           Was one of the grandsons of Hamilcar Mago and was nicknamed Mago.

              He was the shofet of the Carthage empire in 410 BC and in 409 BC commanded a Carthaginian army sent to Sicily in response to a request from the Sicilian city of Segesta. He successfully overtook the city of Selinus, which was of Greek descent. He them marched to Himera, the site of his grandfather's historic defeat and death, and crushed a Greek army that opposed him. In the process of this conquest he was said to have killed some 3000 prisoners of war, reportedly as revenge for the defeat his grandfather seventy years before.

              In 406 BC Hannibal Mago died in a plague that had broken out in his army during the siege of another Greek city on Sicily called Agrigento.

  • Himilco ll 406-396 BC
  •           Was the shofet of Carthage from 406 to 396 B.C. He succeeded Hannibal Mago who had died of plague and after suffering defeats at the hand of the Greek city of Syracuse, committed suicide and was succeeded by Mago II.
  • Mago ll 396-375 BC
  •           Was Shofet of Carthage from 396 to 375 B.C. He became Shofet after the suicide of Himilco II, who had been defeated by the Greek city of Syracuse  was succeeded by Mago III 

              His reign started during wars with the Greeks of Sicily, who under the leadership of Dionysius I had defeated his predecessor. Mago quelled a rebellion in Libya, and made peace with Syracuse at the expense of his Sicilian allies who were treated harshly by the Greeks.

              War broke out again at the end of his reign and he died in the Carthaginian defeat of the Battle of Cabala, he was succeeded by his son, another Mago who would avenge his father's death by leading  the Carthaginians to a great victory against Dionysius at the Battle of Cronium around the year 375 B.C.

  • Mago lll 375-344 BC 
  •           Little is known about Mago III      
  • Hanno lll 344-340 BC
  •           Little is known about Hanno III


  • Hanno the Great 340-337 BC
  •           was a politician and military leader of the Carthaginians during the 4th century B.C.

            In 367 B.C. he commanded the Carthage fleet of 200 ships which won a decisive naval victory over the Greeks on the island of Sicily. His victory effectively put an end to the attempts that the Sicilian Greeks were planning in regards to an offensive against the Carthaginian city of Lilybaeum, upon the western end of the island. For about twenty years he was the leading figure of Carthage, and perhaps the wealthiest. In the 340s he schemed to become the tyrant. After distributing food to the populace, the time for a show of force came and he utilized for that purpose the native slaves and was able to procur an alliance with a native chieftain. As his military threat to Carthage would fail, he was captured, found to be a traitor, and tortured to death. Many members of his family were also put to death.  Yet later his son Gisgo was given the command of seventy ships with Greek mercenaries and sent to Lilybaeum, after which peace was concluded with of Syracuse, circa 340. His family's prestige and influence at Carthage would tell in later generations.

  • Gisco 337-330 BC  Not much is known
  • Hamilcar ll 330-309 BC Not much is known
  • Bomilcar 309-308 BC -was a Carthaginian commander in the war against Agathocles, who invaded Carthage in 310 B.C.

               He held the title as the last "king" of Carthage, even though at the time the kings had little power compared as they had in the past. In the first battle with the invaders, Bomilcar, his co-commander Hanno,  having fallen in battle, betrayed the fortune of the day to the enemy, with the intentions of humbling the spirit of his countrymen, with the inentions of later overthrowing the senate and restoring the real power of the city to the kings. Two years after this, 308 B.C.,  after many delays and misgivings, he attempted to seize the government with the aid of 500 citizens and a number of mercenaries; but his followers were induced to desert him by promises of pardon, and he himself was taken and crucified for crimes against the state.

                   From 308 B.C. until 146 B.C. Carthage was a Republic governed by the Senate of Elders..


Hanno the Great-was a wealthy Carthaginian aristocrat in the 3rd century B.C.

          Hanno's wealth was based on the land he owned in Africa and Spain, and during the First Punic War,he led the faction in Carthage that was opposed to continuing the war against the Roman Republic.   He preferred to continue conquering territory in Africa rather than fight a naval war against Rome that would bring him no personal gain. In these efforts, he was opposed by the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca. Hanno demobilized the Carthaginian navy in 244 B.C., giving Rome time to rebuild its navy and finally defeat Carthage by 241 B.C.

          After the war, Hanno refused to pay the mercenaries who had been promised money and rewards by Hamilcar. The mercenaries revolted, and Hanno took control of the Carthaginian army to attempt to defeat them. His attempt failed and he gave control of the army back to Hamilcar. Eventually, they both cooperated to crush the rebels in 238B.C.

          His nickname "the Great" was apparently earned because of his conquests among the African enemies of Carthage, and he continued to oppose war with Rome, which would necessarily involve naval engagements. During the Second Punic War, he led the anti-war faction in Carthage, and is blamed for preventing reinforcements from being sent to Hamilcar's son Hannibal after his victory at the Battle of Cannae. After Carthage's defeat at the Battle of Zama in 202B.C. he was among the ambassadors to negotiate peace with the Romans.



          The Barcid family was a notable family in the ancient city of Carthage; many of its members were fierce enemies of the Romans. "Barcid" was coined by historians; the actual by-name was Barca or Barcas, which means lightning

          During the 3rd century B.C., the Barcids were one of the leading families in the ruling oligarchy of Carthage. They seem to have realized that the expansion of the Roman Republic into the Mediterranean Sea threatened the mercantile power of Carthage. Accordingly, they fought in the First Punic War and prepared themselves for the Second Punic War. During the second war they were nearly successful.  

          The Barcids were the founders of several Carthaginian cities in the Iberian peninsula, some of which still exist today. Mahon and Qart Hadast (more famous by its Latin name: 'Carthago Nova' - New Carthage) which currently bears the name of Cartegena, Spain. Barcelona also was founded by Hamilcar and was originally named Barcino.

The known members of this family were:

  • Hamilcar (275-228 B.C.), a Carthaginian general in the First Punic War  and in the subsequent Mercenary War, in which he saved Carthage from destruction. Reputedly, he made his eldest son swear a sacred oath upon an altar of the gods "to never be a friend of Rome." After the Roman victory, he expanded the colonial possessions in modern Spain and Portugal, where he drowned crossing a river.
  • His wife; her name is unknown.
  • His eldest daughter (name unknown) married to Bomilcar, and mother of Hanno.
  • His 2nd-eldest daughter (name unknown), who was married to Hasdrubal the Fair.
Hasdrubal the Fair (?-221 B.C.), Hamilcar's son-in-law, who followed the latter in his campaign against the governing aristocracy at Carthage at the close of the First Punic War, and in his subsequent career of conquest in Hispania. After Hamilcar's death (228 BC), Hasdrubal succeeded him in the command and extended the newly acquired empire by skillful diplomacy. He consolidated it with the foundation of Carthago Nova, establishing it as the capital of the new province. By a treaty with Rome he fixed the River Ebro as the boundary between the two powers. He was killed by a Celtic assassin.
  • His youngest daughter (name unknown) married to Navaras, a Numidian chieftain. Her supposed name was Salammbo, although this is at times disputed .
  • Hannibal (247-182 B.C.) oldest son of Hamilcar Barca, one of the most famous generals of classical antiquity, and arguably the greatest enemy of Rome. Won the famous Battle of Cannae but at the end lost the Battle of Zama.
  • Hasdrubal, (245-207 B.C.) second son of Hamilcar Barca. He defended the Carthaginian cities in Hispania as Hannibal departed to Italy in 218 B.C. Leading reinforcements for his brother Hannibal in 207 B.C., he was defeated and killed in the decisive Battle of the Metaurus.
  • Mago (also spelled Magon) (243 - 203 B.C.) third son of Hamilcar Barca, was present at most of the battles of his famous brother and played a key role in many of them, often commanding the forces that made the "decisive push". Mago played an important role in the Second Punic War , leading  mixed mercenary armies fighting for the Carthaginian empire against forces of the Roman Republic in Spain, Gaul(modern France), and Italy. Little is known about his early life, other than the fact that he was too young to follow his father Hamilcar during his expedition to Spain, and was sent there several years later and was said not to be at the ambush which led to his fathers death as his two older brothers were.  Hannibal included Mago among the Carthaginian officers who accompanied him to the Italian Peninsula. Among them were Maharbol, Hanno the Elder, Muttinus, Carthalo and another Hasdrubal. Mago fought at his brothers side during the Iberian campaigns and was responsible for ensuring many key phases of his brothers battles were put forth effectively. Mago was also with Hannibal during the initial invasion of Italy, having crossed the Alps with his older brother. At the Battle of the Trebia, Hannibal entrusted him with 2,000 of their best troops to lay in ambush and strike the Roman rear guard. After Trebia, he fought with his brother at the Battle of Lake Trasimene, and at the crushing Roman defeat at the Battle of Cannae, he fought next to his brother at the Carthage center line with their Gallic recruits. After Cannae, Hannibal sent Mago to southern Italy where he welcomed numerous cities who joined the Carthaginians after the Roman defeat at Cannae. Mago also reduced several cities who remained for Rome, before leaving for Carthage. Once Mago arrives, he goes before the Carthage senate and pours over 6,000 gold rings from slain Roman noblemen from Cannae from a basket and tells the senate of the great Carthage victory. He then asks for reinforcements so Hannibal can finish the Romans. In response,  Hanno the Great, leading opponent of the Barcids, placed several questions to Mago, which took most of the gloss off Mago's presentation. This prompted the supporters of the Barcid party in the senate to taunt their opponents, who had bitterly opposed any aid to Hannibal. However, when the news of the disastrous Battle of Ibera in Spain, which pitted Hasdrubal Barca against the Romans under Scipio, reached Carthage, Mago and his army were sent to Spain, instead of back to Italy, as reinforcements for Hasdrubal. But the Carthaginian Senate did not entirely ignore the Italian front for once. A force of 4,000 Numidian cavalry and 40 elephants was sent t0 Locri in Bruttium, escorted by the Punic fleet under Bomilcar. This is the only significant reinforcements Hannibal was to receive from his government.

        Although Hasdrubal Barca nominally commanded all Carthaginian forces in the Spain, Mago received an independent command, a division which was to have grave consequences later. The two Barca brothers, aided by  Hasdrubal Gesco, son of Gesco,from Sicily and the Mercenary War,battled the Romans under the command of the Scipio brothers (Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio and Publius Cornelius Scipio) throughout 215–212 BC. Mago, in a cavalry ambush of Publius Scipio, killed 2,000 Romans near Acre Luce in 214 BC, and also aided in keeping the Hispanic tribes loyal to Carthage. On the whole, the Carthaginians managed to maintain the balance of power in Hispania despite the efforts of the Scipios, but failed to send any aid to Hannibal. The situation was favorable enough, as Hasdrubal Barca managed to cross over to Africa with an army to crush the rebellion of Syphax, king on Numidian tribes in 212 BC, without the Scipios causing any disruptions in Hispania. Mago and Hasdrubal Gisco guarded the Carthaginian possessions in Iberia without difficulty, despite the Scipios outnumbering their armies during the absence of Hasdrubal.

          The Scipio brothers launched a major offensive in 211 BC. The Carthaginian armies were separated, with Hasdrubal Gisco near Gades with 10,000 troops, Mago near Castulo with another 10,000, and Hasdrubal Barca with 15,000 soldiers near Amtorgis. The Scipios planned to confront the Carthaginians simultaneously and destroy their armies in detail.

          The coordination of the three Carthaginian armies were crucial in defeating and killing the Scipio brothers and destroying most of the Roman forces in Hispania in the battles that followed. The Scipios had split their army, with Publius Scipio marching west with 20,000 soldiers to attack Mago near Castulo, while Gnaeus Scipio took 35,000 to attack Hasdrubal Barca. Hasdrubal Gisco force marched to join Mago Barca, who, aided by Indibilis and Massinissa defeated and killed Publius Scipio, then with the combined armies joined Hasdubal Barca to defeat and kill Gnaeus Scipio as well in a span of 23 days. However, the lack of coordination after the battle led to the escape of the Roman survivors, about 8,000 men, to the north of the Ebro river. These men checked Carthaginian attacks twice, and were later reinforced by 20,000 troops from Italy by 210 BC.

           Publius Cornelius Scipio the Younger, exploiting the lack of coordination among the Carthaginian generals, and the scattered location of their armies, ended up taking Cartegena in a daring expedition in 209 BC. Mago and his army was 3 days march from Cartagena at that time. The Carthaginians moved their base to Gades.

          In 208 BC, after the Battle of Baecula, Hasdrubal Barca left Hispania to invade Italy and bring reinforcements to his brother Hannibal, who was operating in Lucania. Mago moved with his army to the area between Tagus and Douro rivers in a recruiting mission with Hanno, a newly arrived general. Their mission was successful, but they split the army into 2 camps and relaxed their vigilance. Their army was surprised and scattered by Romans forces commanded by Marcus Silanus in 207 BC. Hanno was captured, but Mago managed to lead a few thousand survivors to Gades, where he joined forces with Hasdrubal Gisco. The Carthaginians dispersed their army in several towns and focused on recruiting fresh troops. This strategy frustrated the strategy of Scipio to force a decisive battle that year.

          Mago enjoyed joint command of the new army and raided the Roman army with his cavalry. The foresight of Scipio Africanus, who had kept his cavalry outside camp in a hidden position, led to the defeat of this raid.

          After suffering defeat at Ilipa in 206 BC, Hasdrubal Gisco returned to Africa and Mago retreated to Gades  with the remnants of his army. His deputy, another Hanno, was defeated by L. Marcius, and Mago was unable to take advantage of the rebellion of Hispanic tribes under Indibilis or the mutiny of the Roman troops in 205 BC. He led a raid on Cartagena, believing the city to be lightly held, and suffered severe losses. Upon returning, he found the gates of Gades barred, and sailed away to the Baelearic Islands after crucifying the city magistrates for treason.

          Mago then led a campaign to invade Italy (this time by sea) with 15,000 men in early summer of 205 BC. The army sailed from Minorca to Liguria under the escort of 30 Carthaginian ships. Mago managed to capture Genoa, and he held control of Northern Italy for nearly three years, warring with the mountain tribes and gathering troops. The Romans devoted 7 legions to maintain watch over him and guard Northern Italy, but no general action was fought. In 204 BC Mago was reinforced with 6,000 infantry and some cavalry from Carthage. the Romans refused to give battle and blocked Mago so he couldn't reach Hannibal.

          Wounded in a battle in Cisalpine Gaul, Mago was recalled back to Carthage along with Hannibal to aid in its defense, as the future Scipio Africanus  had shattered the armies of Hasdrubal Gisco, Hanno, son of Bomilcar, and had captured Syphax, who was allied to Carthage, in Africa. Mago and his army sailed from Italy in 202 BC under the escort of the Punic fleet, and was unmolested by the Roman navy as he made for Africa. Before arriving in Carthage, however, he died at sea.

          The ability of Mago as a field commander can be glimpsed from his actions at the battles of Trebbia and Cannae, where his failure might have doomed the Carthaginian army. He was a capable cavalry leader, as his repeated ambushes of the Romans in Iberia and Italy demonstrate.

          The Port of Mahon in the Balearics was allegedly founded by him and still bears his name. The local egg sauce that is now consumed all over the world is called mayonnaise and named after the city.

                                                                                                              Bust of Hannibal Barca 

Hannibal (247-182 B.C.) oldest son of Hamilcar Barca, one of the most famous generals of classical antiquity, and arguably the greatest enemy of Rome. Won the famous Battle of Cannae but at the end lost the Battle of Zama.

                                                                        Coin of Hamilcar Barca 

  • Hamilcar (275-228 B.C.), a Carthaginian general in the First Punic War  and in the subsequent Mercenary War, in which he saved Carthage from destruction. Reputedly, he made his eldest son swear a sacred oath upon an altar of the gods "to never be a friend of Rome." After the Roman victory, he expanded the colonial possessions in modern Spain and Portugal, where he drowned crossing a river.
  •                                                          Coin thought to depict Hasdrubal Barca            

  • Hasdrubal, (245-207 B.C.) second son of Hamilcar Barca. He defended the Carthaginian cities in Hispania as Hannibal departed to Italy in 218 B.C. Leading reinforcements for his brother Hannibal in 207 B.C., he was defeated and killed in the decisive Battle of the Metaurus.
  •                                                                                                                         Massinissa 

                                                                                         Syphax, leader of the Numidians 

              Syphax was a king of the ancient Libyan tribe Masaesyli of western Numidia during the last quarter of the third century B.C..  When in 218, the second Punic war broke out between Carthage and Rome, Syphax was originally sympathetic to the Romans, being further from Carthage than the eastern Numidians, of whom were his enemies,  and in 213, he concluded an alliance with the Romans and they sent military advisers to help Syphax train his infantry troops, who were unskilled in warfare. The Romans proceeded with the alliance to gain the addition of his superb cavalry, where Rome was vastly inferior to the Carthaginians.  Syphax then attacked the eastern Numidians, the Massylians, ruled by king Gala; at that time allied to the Carthaginians. When Gala died in 206, his sons Massinissa and Oezalces quarreled about the inheritance, and Syphax was able to conquer considerable parts of the eastern Numidian kingdom. During this time Massinissa was assisting the Carthage armies in Spain against the Romans and left Spain to return to Africa, thus allowing the Romans favorable advantages in Spain against the Carthage armies.  

              After Publius Scipio's victory in the battle of Ilipa against the combines Carthage armies of Mago and Hasdrubal Gisco, he sent his friend Gaius Laelius, who was his second-in-command in Spain,  to visit Syphax to ratify the treaty with Rome. Syphax however, refused to ratify any treaty except with Scipio, so Scipio sailed with two quinquiremes to meet with Syphax, taking a considerable risk in doing so. In fact he arrived at the Numidian harbor, at exactly the same time as Hasdrubal Gisco (who had fled from Spain following the Carthage defeat at Ilipa) anchored there on his way back to Carthage. However, Scipio's ship managed to make harbor before Hasdrubal's seven trimenes could make out to intercept them, and in a neutral harbor, Hasdrubal dared not act against the Romans as such went against the conduct of war. . Syphax invited both to dinner, where both Syphax and Hasdrubal were taken in by Scipio's charm. Syphax entertained both, attempting to get a feel for who he should cast his support with. The entire dinner was surrounded by suspicion between Hasdrubal and Scipio and when both left their uneasy dinner, they both had been promised strong support from Syphax.

              Meanwhile, Massinissa, who had fought with Carthage in Spain,  had concluded that Rome was winning the war against Carthage and therefore decided to switch sides to save himself.. Having lost the alliance with Massinissa, it was vital for Carthage to solidify their alliance with Syphax. He was successful in sealing the alliance by offering his daughter, the beautiful Sophonisba,  in marriage who until 206 had been betrothed to Massinissa. His new wife begged him to not despair Carthage in her time of need and he sent an envoy back to Scipio in Spain, demanding not to invade Africa.

              With the reversal of alliances it looked like Carthage and Syphax were in a strong position in Africa, certainly during the early stages of Scipio's campaign in North Africa, the joined forces of Syphax and Hasdrubal Gisco were able to force the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio to abandon the siege of Utica. Scipio at first asked Utica to open her walls for him to use as a base of operations against Carthage. Utica, however, despite her frigid alliance with Carthage, was not yet able to determine that the Romans were powerful enough to defeat Carthage, and fearing Carthage respite should Scipio be defeated, agreed not to abandon her sister.  However in the Battle of Bagbrades, also called the Battle of the Great Plains,  Scipio overcame Hasdrubal and Syphax with a predawn attack on their camp and while the Roman general concentrated on Carthage, pursuing the Carthaginian army as they fled, Laelius and Massinissa followed Syphax with their cavalry  to Cirta, the capitol of Syphax.

              During the pursuit, Syphax halted his army outside the walls of his capitol and set battle lines to attack his enemies and protect his capitol. Syphax was threatened with desertion by his shaken, demorilized, army when Laelius and Masinissa's undaunted cavalry approached the Numidian battle line. As his enemies approached, his lines began to break and flee.  In a brave attempt to rally his troops, according to Livy, Syphax rode alone, straight towards the Roman cavalry, but in this desperate attempt his badly wounded horse threw him off. Syphax was pounced upon immediately by Roman soldiers and taken to the ecstatic Masinissa. Syphax's troops retreated to the capital city which later fell as Masinissa claimed his kingdom. Syphax was delivered to Scipio and was taken in chains as a prisoner to Rome where he was paraded around the city. He was held captive and tortured before dying in Tibur, modern Tivoli, circa 203 / 202 BC. The fact that the Romans paraded Syphax throughout Rome in chains, attests to the influence which he attained during his reign.

              In a twist of fate, the manipulative Sophonisba then married Massinissa, who was taken by her beauty and fell quickly in love with her. Sophonisba hoped to sway her new husband to rejoin Carthage. However Scipio, suspicious of Sophonisba, demanded that she be taken to Rome and appear in the triumphal parade with Syphax. To save her from such humiliation, Masinissa sent her poison, with which she killed herself.

              The Tunisian  city Sfax is said to be named after Syphax

                       Was a beautiful Carthaginian noblewoman who lived during the Second Punic War with Rome,  and the daughter of Hasdrubal Gisco.   A celebrated beauty, until her death in 203 B.C., she was originally bethroned to Massinissa of the eastern Numidians.   But in 206 Massinissa allied himself to Rome. Hasdrubal having lost the alliance with Massinissa started to look for another ally, which he found in Syphax, King of the western Numdians. As was normal in those days, Hasdrubal used his daughter to conclude the diplomatic alliances with Syphax who had previously been allied to  the Romans. At her request, Syphax responded by raising a huge army to support Carthage during the waning years of the Second Punic War as the tide had turned against Carthage.

           When Syphax was defeated in 203 B.C. by Masinissa, King of Numidia, and the Romans, Masinissa fell in love with Sophonisba and married her, in hopes of saving her from his Roman allies. . Scipio refused to agree to this arrangement, insisting on the immediate surrender of the princess so that she could be taken to Rome and appear in the triumphal parade. Masinissa, scolded by Scipio for his weakness, was ordered to surrender her immediately.    Massinissa feared the Romans more than he loved Sophonisba. Thus, he went to Sophonisba and swore his love to her. He told her that he could not free her from captivity or shield her from Roman wrath, and so he asked her to die like a true Carthaginian princess. With great composure, she drank a cup of posion that he offered her. The outrage that Sophonisba escaped through suicide angered Rome, who wanted to parade her around Rome, in chains,  with its accompanying degradations and humiliations.



                  Hasdrubal Gisco bethroning his daughter, Sophonisba, to Syphax, King of the Numidians 

                                                                                                                             Hannibal Crossing the Alps 

                                                                                                 Statue of Dido stabbing herself 

                                                                         Statue in Barcelona, Spain Commemarating Hamilcar's Founding of the City 

                     Depiction of Hamilcar Barca 

                        Bust of Young Hannibal 

                             Coin of Hannibal   


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