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Old March 3rd, 2011, 03:51 AM   #221

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Old March 8th, 2011, 04:38 AM   #222

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Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus
Part II

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Claudius followed his nephew's example and wasted no time in pursuing a bold foreign policy to further popularise his new reign by announcing his intention to annex Britannia. While the campaign was being organised, Claudius ordered the suppression of a new revolt in Mauretania. Under the command of the Legate Suetonius Paulinus and Hosidius Geta, this was accomplished and Mauretania divided into two procuratorial provinces, Caesariensis and Tingitana.

A full-scale invasion of Britannia was presented as the completion of Julius Caesar's unfinished business (and probably a snub to his nephew's failure), and that it would give Rome unfettered access to important slave, hides and metal markets. In fact, these benefits were greatly exaggerated. The island was not an unknown quantity. Roman-style coinage was already in widespread use by the Belgic and Celtic tribes and trade between Britannia and Gallia well established. A generation earlier in his Geographical Sketches, Strabo had written “Though Rome could have taken Britannia she declined to do so. In the first place Britons are no threat, having insufficient strength to cross over and attack us. In the second, there would be little to gain. It seems that we presently get more out of them in duty on their exports than we would be direct taxation, especially if the costs of an occupation army and of tax collecting be discounted.”

Glossing over this, Claudius found a political excuse for action in 42. The Roman client king Verica was defeated by Caratacus and Togodumnus, sons of the British ruler Cynobelinus, and fled to Rome from his kingdom in what is now West Sussex. This left the whole of South-east Britannia under Cynobelinus's control, a theoretical challenge to the empire. Managing the north-western colonies required a divide-and-rule strategy that insured the incessantly quarrelling barbarian tribes never became strong enough to make common cause and engage imperial forces. If Cynobelinus allied with the Gauls, argued Claudius's advisers, it would be a recipe for rebellion.

In 42, preparations for the invasion were complete, but delays occasioned by the troops' reluctance to embark – a replay of the same problem faced by Caligula two years earlier – meant that the actual crossing took place in the spring of 43. Under the command of Aulus Plautius Silvanus three legions of experienced troops from the Rhine – II Augusta, XIV Gemima, and XX Valeria Victrix – joined IX Hispania, which had been transported from Pannonia. The gap this created along the Rhine was filled by raising two new legions: XV Primigenia and XXII Primigenia. With auxiliaries and units from other legions, the task force numbered some fifty thousand men.

The landing took place at Richborough in Kent. From there the four legions fought their way north, halting at the Thames to await the carefully stage-managed arrival of the emperor. It was eight weeks before the imperial bandwagon, complete with war elephants, caught up with them, by which time all immediate resistance had been crushed. Claudius continued unchallenged to Colchester, Cynobelinus's capital, where he held a victory parade. Sixteen days later he left the new province in the hands of Plautius and returned to Rome.

Claudius celebrated his triumph in 44, his military credentials firmly established. He was keen to stress that his principate was one of military achievements. In addition to the annexation of Mauretania and Britannia, he extended Roman influence in the state of Palmyra, situated between Syria and the Euphrates, annexed Lycia in 43 and the allied client kingdom of Judea in 44, Thracia in 46, and Ituraea ( an area between the north of Judea and the plains of Damascus) in 49, which was incorporated into Syria.

In the case of Judea, the actions of Herod Agrippa I led to the kingdom's incorporation. The client prince had grown up at Rome as a pampered princely hostage of Augustus and had been awarded tetrarchic lands in Galilee by Gaius Caligula. There is some indication that he was beneficial to Claudius during the days after Gaius's murder and he was rewearded by the additional grant of Judea and Samaria. He fell from grace, however, when he suspiciously extened Jerusalem's walls and invited other oriental kings to a conference at Tiberias. When he died suddenly in 44, his former kingdom came under direct Roman rule. Claudius was not entirely opposed to the Augustan concept of client kingdoms, however, establishing some on the borders of the new British province and giving Comagene to Antiochus IV. But the relationship of these kings to the emperor was made clear by their offical titles of Legatus (or Procurator) Augusti.

Claudius also continued the policies of Julius Caesar and Augustus of founding colonies to extened the romanisation process in the imperial provinces, which were lagging behind the senatorial ones. Colonies were established in Mauretania, along the Danube, and in the west, the most most famous being Augusta Treverorum (Trier) and Colonia Agrippina (Cologne) in Germania. Tiberius's road-building programme was also continued and extended all over the empire. Claudius encouraged further romanisation by beginning a process that would become a contentious feature of later principates, that of granting Latin rights to tribal groupings that were deemed ready for the benefits and the tax obligations.

One act that was to have far-reaching consequences was the ruling that wealthy Gallic noblemen were eligible for senate membership as long as they were Roman citizens. There was no immediate flood of tribal chieftains to Rome, however, since the mass granting of citizenship rights and extending the senate to non-Italians was deeply unpopular with the Roman senatorial nobility, and a deal of passive resistance towards the ruling was evident. But it is hard to put the genie back in the bottle, and it must have been self-evident that this generous extension to the tribal nobility of Gallia would soon apply to the local aristocracy of other regions of the empire.

In Italia, Claudius was responsible for several major construction programmes, the most significant of which included a new harbour to replace nearby Ostia, which had become too silted for use, and two new aqueducts for Rome, the Aqua Claudia and Aqua Anio Novus. It was also during his reign that new roads were built, the via Claudia Valeria to the Adriatic coast, and roads over the western and eastern Alps. The biggest undertaking was the draining of Fucine Lake. Historical sources are at pains to highlight the almost catastrophic outcome of this brave but doomed project, but its scale cannot be denied. Intended to provide much needed farming land, thirty thousand men were employed in the work for eleven years. Suetonius's assessment that “his public works were grandiose and necessary rather than numerous” is appropriate.

Claudius always emphasised his resemblance in efficiency and administration to Julius Caesar and Augusts. Unlike his immediate predecessor, he made haste slowly, preferring evolution instead of revolution, which went a way to placating the senatorial class. His relations with the senate were generally cordial – at least on his side – and he treated its members with courtesy, and avoided parading his pre-eminence overtly. He only held the consulship four times during his reign (42,43,47, and 51), and did not demand divine honours, although he did not refuse permission for provincials, especially in Britannia, to worship him on the pragmatic grounds that they would anyway. Claudius strengthened the powers of the princeps in a low-key way in which he could point to both ancient and recent precedents to justify his actions. Because of his absences from Rome, Tiberius had been obliged to appoint various secretaries to look after administrative business, such as reading petitions and supervising inheritance tax. The annual appointment of magistrates under the Republic was a system of government for a simpler time; it could not supply a stream, of trained and experienced men to administer the numerous additions of business created by the expanding state. Claudius began to recruit a new civil service to help in his labours, a reform that inevitably centralised more power in the hands of the principate.

The most noticeable changes came in the area of public finance, which had hitherto been split between various financial bureaux. These were now united under one central imperial treasury; even the public treasury was brought under the emperor's domain in 44, by its removal from the control of senatorial propraetors and its restoration to equestrian quaestors. While this had ancient precedent, what was new was that the quaestors were the princeps' nominations and served for three years instead of the traditional one. Almost all forms of taxation were transferred to the imperial treasury, and offices of state were created to organise every aspect of imperial policy, from the emperor's personal correspondence to the management of the State Library.

The recruits to the Imperial Civil Service came from the ranks of the equites, but imperial freedmen held the most important posts. The histories are united in portraying Claudius as a dupe to his ex-slave secretaries (as well as to his wives). It is possible that Claudius's reliance on his freedmen may have stemmed from his suspicion that the aristocracy was untrustworthy. But it is more likely that he appreciated the native intelligence and experience of the slaves which he had earlier surrounded himself and rated their abilities more highly that those of any aristocrat. For whatever reasons, there is no doubt that Claudius's reign is the first era of the great imperial freedmen. This type of secretariat had existed before Claudius, but centralisation meant that freedmen now wielded more power than they would have done under Augustus or Tiberius. His closest advisers were Greeks: Pallas, financial sectary; Narcissus, secretary-general; Callistus, legal secretary (who had gained prominence under Gaius); and Polybius, the privy seal. On occasion, these men even sat in the senate to represent the emperor's interests. In this, we might see a further humbling of the senate, but Claudius's main concern appears to have been efficiency in government, and that is evident in all his widespread legislation, which he preferred to enact as senatorial consultant rather than by imperial decree. The senate was again allowed its ancient right of issuing copper coinage and recovered the right to conduct the elections that Gaius had given to the people (which replaced the defunct elections of the ancient assembly years before).

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Old March 20th, 2011, 04:42 AM   #223

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Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus
Part III


The Wives of Claudius

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While Claudius the princeps was a considerable success, his domestic life was something of a shambles. One bride-to-be, Livia Medullina, died on her wedding day. Claudius then divorced his first two wives, Plautia Urgulanilla and Aelia Paetina (the sister of Sejanus), had the third, Valeria Messalina, executed after she cuckolded him, and was poisoned by the fourth, his niece Agrippina the Younger.

Paetina bore him a daughter, named Antonia after her grandmother. Her first husband, Gnaeus Pompey, was executed by Claudius and her second, Faustus Cornelius Sulla, by Nero. The elder Pliny implicated Antonia in the Piso plot against Nero, but since she was never punished this seems a fabrication. However, Nero later had her killed as a revolutionary – the daughter of Claudius would always pose a threat to childless Nero.

Messalina bore Claudius two children, a daughter, Octavia, in 39 and a son, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus, in 41, who was recognominated Britannicus in commemoration of his father's conquest of Britain. The marriage, which had been arranged by Gaius Caligula for purely mischievous motives, was otherwise not a success.

Claudius already knew of Messalina's lax sexual reputation when he married her in 38, so it is unlikely that he was duped into the role of blissful cuckold that Suetonius and Tacitus suggest. The union was politically useful because she was of Julian stock and he no doubt tolerated her misplaced passions for that reason. What he was unable to overlook, however, was Messalina's proclivity for palace intrigue. While Claudius was visiting Ostia in 48, Messalina held a palace party in the course of which a form of marriage ceremony was performed (or play-acted) between herself and the consul-elect, Gaius Silius. Reminded of the similar conspiracy of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Agrippina the Younger in Gaius's reign, Claudius ordered their immediate executions, along with others implicated in the plot, including the Prefect of the Vigiles.

There is no clear record of Claudius's desire (or lack of it) to remarry, since at the age of fifty-seven he might be thought to have been content to remain single and name Britannicus as his heir. However, he was probably mindful of the need for someone with more Julian blood to succeed him. In any event, Messalina's death initiated a scramble among the freedmen, each wishing to place his preferred candidate at Claudius's side as the new empress. His intimate friend Lucius Vitellius argued for Agrippina the Younger, forcefully backed by his financial secretary – Pallas had good reason to support Agrippina for she was his mistress, and the union was unlikely to spoil their relationship, while at the same time it would strengthen his position in the hierarchy. For Claudius, the infatuation for Agrippina suggested by the ancient histories seems improbable. As the daughter of Germanicus she was his niece, as sister of Gaius he was well aware of her reputation as one of her brother's court prostitutes and of her affair with Lepidus that had resulted in her banishment. Agrippina had been married to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, scion of a powerful but dissolute Roman family, some thirty years her senior. By this marriage she had an eleven-year-old son, Lucius Somitius Ahenobarbus. Pallas waved aside the fact that under Roman law such a marriage would be incestuous – he got the appropriate statutes changed – and Claudius saw the sense in a union that brought to him a direct descendant of Augustus with strong Julian connections. However, Agrippina's ambitions for her son proved to be the undoing of Claudius.

Agrippina's powerful personality dominated Claudius's last years. She was the daughter, after all, of Germanicus's wife Agrippina the Elder, who had caused Tiberius so many headaches, and she had inherited her mother's volubly imperious temperament. In addition, she had survived the vicissitudes of her brother's arbitrary reign and probably felt that dealing with the ageing Claudius would be simple by comparison. The aim, of course, was to see her son on the throne in place of the younger Britannicus, but more than that to rule the empire through him. She began her campaign of personal advancement immediately after the marriage in 48 and, with the active help of Pallas, soon became influential enough that her image began to appear on official inscriptions and coins. In 50 the senate voted her the title Augusta, the second prominent imperial woman so honoured since Livia; and Livia had only earned it after Augustus's death. Official documents prove that Agrippina even greeted foreign embassies to Rome from her own tribunal, and also wore a gold-embroidered military cloak at such functions. The extent of her influence can be seen in the naming of the new town in Germania Inferior that bore her name, Colonia Agrippina.

Shortly after her marriage to Claudius, Agrippina's son Lucius was betrothed to the emperor's daughter Octavia, and in 50 Claudius adopted the youth with priority over his own son Britannicus, who was five years the junior. There is every indication that Claudius loved his natural son, but the fact was that Lucius had more Julian blood in his veins. Lucius now took the Claudian names of Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus as his own. In 51, when he was only fourteen, he assumed the toga virilis, was named consul elect for the year 58, and was given the title of Princeps Iuventutis (the first among the young). In 52 he became Urban Prefect, made his first senate appearance in 53, and married Claudius's daughter Octavia later in the same year. Claudius also took the precaution – as Tiberius had done – of appointing a loyal man, Sextus Afranius Burrus, as Praetorian Prefect to safeguard Nero's succession when the time came.

At this point Claudius was sixty-three, but seems to have been fit and well for a man whose mother – had she been a real ancient Roman matron – might have had him put down after his childhood sickness. For Agrippina this posed a problem. Were he to live for another ten years or so there would be sufficient time for Britannicus to grow up and Claudius to alter the priority of the succession. And this was not an empty threat, since the secretary-general Narcissus, in opposition to Pallas, was urging Claudius to designate Britannicus as his heir. But there was another possible motive for hurrying her husband to the grave. Nero at sixteen was beginning to shows signs of intractability and if she had to wait much longer for him to become emperor he would no longer need nor heed his mother's advice and Agrippina would lose her hold over him.

On 13 October 54, a month into his sixty-fifth year, Claudius died of poisoning. Some said his personal taster, the eunuch Halotus, administered the fatal dose, but most fingers pointed in Agrippina's direction. According to the senator and author Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), she supposedly paid a notorious poisoner called Locusta to doctor a dish of mushrooms, but Pliny loathed the Augusta, so his accusations are suspect. In his translation of Suetonius's The Twelve Caesars Robert Graves mentions a treatise by Gordon Wasson which claimed to prove conclusively that Claudius died from eating an edible Porcino cooked in a sauce of a similar poisonous variety. Apparently he then vomited this up and was poisoned a second time with the juice of a colocynth (also known as bitter apple, or vine of sodom) administered both orally and as an enema. And then, just to make sure, he was smothered.

Claudius turned out to be the most enigmatic of the Julio-Claudian emperors. His reign was graced by stability and good government at home and in the provinces, and the successful management of client kingdoms. He was careful, intelligent, aware and respectful of tradition, but given to bouts of rage and cruelty. He was willing to sacrifice precedent to expediency, while using precedent to justify his actions. And, despite an apparently amiable disposition, he was utterly ruthless in his treatment of those who crossed him. Augustus's suspicion that there was more to his “idiot” step-grandson than met the eye was more than fully borne out in the events of his unexpected reign. In almost universal gratitude – there were some detractors, notably Nero's tutor Seneca – he was accorded divine honours after his dearth, the first since Augustus to be so distinguished.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 09:58 AM   #224

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Excellent post, Caracalla.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 03:45 PM   #225

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Flavius Gratianus
359 – 383

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Gratian was born on 18 April 359 at Sirmium, Serbia, the eldest son of Valantinian I and his first wife, Marina Severa. In 367, he was with his father on campaign against the Alamanni, when Valentinian was stricken with an illness. Fearing that the emperor was dying, the court immediately scrambled to find his successor. The Magister Memoriae (Master of Memory) Rusticus Julianus was popular with the ministers, while the army supported the Master of Horse Severus. However, Valentinian recovered and designated Gratian as his successor by proclaiming him co-Augustus in an attempt to forestall any further friction between the imperial court and his senior officers. The general concern over Gratian's elevation is understandable. Not only was he just eight but he showed little interest in military matters, being a studious boy. According to Ammianus, Valentinian assuaged the officers' fears by telling them that Gratian's ability to rule would be based on his sense of justice and the nobility of his character, and that the boy would in time grow to be a military commander.

In pursuing his son's military education, Valentinian took him on the campaign of 368, but after it became clear that Gratian was not up to the rigours of military life, the emperor kept him behind the front lines. The leading rhetorician of the time, Ausonius, was appointed to be the young prince's tutor, and he proudly described his student as possessing a golden mind. By all accounts, he was a passable poet, but also enjoyed athletics, at which he excelled, and his skill at hunting Ausonius called “almost supernatural”. At the age of fifteen he was married to Constantia, daughter of the late emperor Constantius II. (Constantia narrowly escaped capture by the Quadi in Pannonia while on her way to the wedding.) After her death in 383 he marred Laeta, about whom nothing else is known.

Gratian was resident at Treveri in Gaul when Valentinian died at Brigetio, Hungary in November 375, and heard that his half-brother, Valentinian II, had also been nominated co-Augustua. One version of the account suggests that it was the Master of Infantry in Pannonia who arranged to have Valentinian II proclaimed emperor, in order to quell a rebellion by the army, which wanted to install its own candidate. However, it may have been that he emperor, fearing that sixteen-year-old Gratian was still no warrior, would not be acceptable to the soldiers, whereas the infant Valentinian II could be vested with the imperial title, which would allow his mother Justina and the generals who supported her a continued free hand in the infant's name. Gratian, upset that he was not consulted, nevertheless acquiesced to the army's demands and accepted Valentinian II's elevation in a graceful manner. Thus Gratian controlled Gaul, Britain and Spain, while the regents of Valentinian II ordered the affairs of Illyria, Africa and Italy. At this point in her history the empire was in the hands of three rulers, a child of four years, a boy of sixteen, and Valens, a middle-aged sadist without any merit.

When his uncle Valens requested his help against the Goths who had revolted in Thrace after their crossing of the Danube in 376, Gratian ordered the dispatch of some Pannonian legions under the command of Dux (Duke) Frigeridus, and several Gallic legions under his Comes Domesticorum (Earl of the Household) Richomeres. However, the most senior of his generals, a Frankish noble called Merobaudes who had taken service under the empire and risen to high rank, disobeyed by leaving a greater strength of troops along the Rhine frontier to guard against a possible Alamanni attack. Merobaudes' defiance of the emperor's orders suggests that his officers did not hold Gratian in high esteem. As the situation in Thrace deteriorated, it became clear that Gratian himself would have to take to the field, and was preparing to do so when the Alammani invaded across the Rhine at the beginning of 378. He now had reason to thank Merobaudes for his foresight, for with a small mobile force, the garrisons along the river were sufficient to mount a campaign against the barbarians and defeat them. Gratian then turned on the southernmost tribe of the Alammani nation, the Lentienses, and won a great victory in Argentaria in February, killing some thirty thousand of the enemy. With the western provinces temporarily secured, he set out for the East again, but before he could arrive, Valens made the fateful decision to attack the massed Goths at Hadrianopolis on 9 August 378.

With the empire of the East in chaos, Gratian wisely decided that his limited military skills were insufficient to the task of restoring order against so large a host. Besides, he was uncertain that his recent victories had restored the frontier's security. He recalled the superb skills of his father's Dux Moesiae, Theodosius, who had distinguished himself in 373 in the campaign against the Sarmatae. Although he was only about thirty-two, Theodosius had retired to the family estates in Galicia after his father had fallen foul of palace intrigues and been executed two years earlier. When the call to duty arrived, Theodosius welcomed it, and on 19 January 379, Gratian raised him to co-Augustus.

In 381 Gratian moved his court from Treveri to Mediolanum (Milan) and, unusually for the time, visited Rome. He had proved himself an inspiring leader in the field, but now in his early twenties, he was growing lazy. According to Ammianus, like Commodus, he was more concerned with participating in displays of personal prowess in the arena than with supervising military affairs. And life in the cities provided him with a greater opportunity to indulge in the predilection he felt for the more handsome of his tall blond Alani bodyguards. However, he reconciled this unchristian affection with a great piety, and his adherence to the orthodox creed led to conflict with provincial bishops, and between himself and the still-pagan senatorial aristocracy. When the case of Priscillian, a Hispanic noble who was preaching a new ascetic form of Christianity in the south of Gaul, reached Gratian, the emperor intervened. Priscillian had gained many followers, including serveral provincial bishops. Some of the clergy, including the influential Hyginus, bishop of Corduba, wanted the new sect branded heretic and its followers condemned, and Gratian agreed with them. Priscillian was saved – at least for a while – by the intrigue of his bishop followers, who bribed the local governor to rescind the imperial order for his arrest.

The emperor's orthodoxy was felt with a particularly heavy hand in Rome when, in 382, at the instigation of Ambrose, the formidable bishop of Milan, Gratian had the altar and statue of Nike, that Julian had restored to the senate house, swept away. He expropriated the wealth of the temple of Vesta and its Vestal Virgins for the treasury, and withdrew the state subsidies that funded many pagan activities. When the senate protested, Gratian rejected the title of Pontifex Maximus and the ceremonial robes that went with that ancient and most Roman of offices. It was, therefore, with no great regret that the Roman senate would hear of his death shortly after.

Early in 383 Gratian went north to counter another incursion of the Alammani. This coincided with news of the proclamation by his troops of the Comes Britannicae Magnus Clemens Maximus as Augustus, and in fact the barbarian incursion and the proclamation may have been connected. In any event, a few days later Maximus landed in Gaul and confronted Gratian near Lutetia Parisiorum (Paris). Gratian may have won the day, but his preferment of barbarians in his household and guard had destroyed the soldier's affection for their young emperor, and when his Moorish cavalry unexpectedly defected, most of his troops followed suit. Gratian fled towards the Alps, but was caught at Lugdunum by Maximus's Master of Horse, Andragathius, who killd him on 25 August 383.

The events of Gratian's reign highlight the continuing trend of assimilating barbarians and making many of them – notably the Frank Merobaudes – a part of the imperial court. Indeed, before many more years had passed, there would be no recognisable Roman in a position of power, not even an Italian. It was a time in Roman history when it might be compared to the old adage about the lunatics taking over the asylum. His elevation and his death show that once again it was the power of the army that made and broke emperors,and with a few exceptions this would remain the case until the fall of the Western empire. Ammianus wryly observed that despite his “golden mind”, Gratian's talents lay in the opposite direction for what the empire needed.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 04:28 AM   #226

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Hamilcar Barca
275-228 BC


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Coin minted at Carthagena C.230 BC, showing the bearded head of Melqart, generally regarded as a portrait of Hamilcar Barca



In respect of individual courage the Romans were far superior, but the general who must be acknowledged as the greatest on either side, both in daring and in genius, was Hamilcar, surnamed Barca.
(Polybius, 1.64)

Part 1 – Birth, Family and Sicily
275 -244 BC


Hamilcar Barca was born in around 275 BC to a ruling elite family, both rich and socially prominent. The family was said to have descended from a brother of Dido, the exiled princess of Tyre who, according to legend, founded Carthage in 814 BC. His father was called Hannibal, and in traditional custom, would also be the name of Hamilcar's first born son. We do not know if they were related to the other numerous Hamilcars and Hannibals in Punic history.

By the late 250s he had already become a father, and by 238 one of his daughters was already married to a Numidian prince, while a few years later another was married to Hasdrubal, a political ally. It is thought that his wife was expecting a child when he left for Sicily in 247 BC, a child that would be his first born son, Hannibal. To be appointed at a young age in command of Sicily reveals Hamilcar had strong political connections. Aristotle says that in order to attain Punic office, one was chosen because of birth and wealth.

After the Roman naval disaster of the Battle of Drepana in 249 BC, which brought about the lowest ebb for the Romans during the First Punic War (264-241 BC), they once again focused on their land forces. From 255 to 249 BC, Roman losses at sea were 550 ships and around 200,000 men. Despite Carthaginian success at sea, this victory had been nullified by their impotence on land. They could not break the sieges of Lilybaeum and Drepana nor Roman mastery of the countryside.

When Hamilcar Barca was appointed command in Sicily in 247 BC, he was in an unenviable position. He had limited funds due to Carthage's expensive maintenance of the navy, her efforts of subduing the Numidians and extending their Libyan conquests. He had limited forces and only two surviving strong points in which to face a well supplied Roman force which consisted of two consular armies amounting to some 40,000 Romans and allied troops. The force in which Hamilcar had to work with is thought to have been around 10,000 infantry, and a few hundred cavalry, while the garrisons of Lilybaeum and Drepana also reached about 10,000 men. With such little to work with, he could not directly raise the siege of Drepana, nor mount an attempt to capture Panormus. Large scale battles and campaigns were simply not doable, and he would have to make do with simply fighting to keep the war effort going, and not lose the war. At best, he could wear them down to make peace.

In Sicily, he found widespread disaffection amongst the mercenaries in Carthage's employ who, under the passive command of Carthalo, had been trapped in the defence of the towns of Lilybaeum and Drepana. In order to gain control, he quickly set about punishing the malcontents using very harsh measures, cutting many down in one night and throwing others into the sea. Through this and his leadership, injecting a sense of purpose into the men, he won the loyalty of the mercenaries throughout the remainder of the war.

According to Zonaras, he then tried to recapture an islet just outside the harbour of Drepana, but was drawn off by a Roman attack on the town, which reveals Hamilcar's problems with manpower and may explain his coming strategy.

With Roman naval power extinguished, he began to ravage the southern Italian coast, devastating the territory of Locri and the Brutti. Hiero of Syracuse, Rome's recent ally, made no move to stop them with his own fleet. After his ravaging, which the Romans countered by founding three new colonies and garrisoning them with local troops, Hamilcar crossed to Siciliy and found the sieges of Lilybaeum and Drepana had continued, while the Roman consul Buteo had captured the island of Pelias at the mouth of the Drepana harbour and held it firmly. Hamilcar landed on the north coast and took possession of a stronghold near Heircte which Polybius describes as the best situation to establish a well-protected and permanent camp. (Polybius, 1.56) The heights of Heircte were most probably the broad mountains five miles west of the city of Panormous, with the fort laying in a pass to the south.

After establishing his base here, Polybius says he left and ravaged the coast of Italy as far north as Cumae at the Bay of Naples before returning to harass the Romans encamped in front of Panormus with a variety of attacks and offensive patrols that lasted three years, involving ambushes, sorties and counter-attacks, but Polybius does not go into any detail here, but does describe the encounter as a boxing match: Hamilcar's campaign in Sicily against the Romans might be compared to a boxing match in which two champions, both in perfect training and both distinguished for their courage, meet to fight for a prize. (Polybius. 1.57) Diodorus adds he attacked Italium, a fort of Catana's near Longon, thought to be the town of Longane held by the Marmertines. Hoyos believes he may have, from time to time, sailed over to the besieged towns on the coast to keep up the defence and occasionally to Carthage as he had another son in the 240s and it is not plausible that his wife was with him in his mountain camps. (Hoyos, p.14)

His sound strategic aims of occupying Heircte were to obstruct Roman forces and supplies moving to the sieges of Lilybaeum and Drepana. His position by Panormus had already prevented the Romans from using the coast road while the inland route was mountainous and zigzagging and perfect for ambushes. The alternative route would have been a long detour via Agrigentum and the south coast. Hamilcar hit at ships too, preventing the Romans supplying them from the sea.

It is thought that this guerilla warfare strategy earned him his nickname of Barca, the Punic word for lightning, and one can imagine his swift sorties from sea and land garnering him this name. Sadly, despite all his efforts, the war was still a stalemate. He could not lift the sieges, and the Romans could not take the towns either. In 244 BC however, Hamilcar made an audacious move to capture Mt Eyrx, and the Romans awoke one morning to find Hamilcar's camp at Heircte deserted, his ships gone. He had struck like a lightning bolt near Drepana.


Bibliography:


Polybius, (Walbank, 1979) The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire

Aristotle (Sinclair, 1992) The Politics

Bagnall, N. (1999) The Punic Wars: Rome Carthage and the struggle for the Mediterranean

Hoyos, D. (2003) Hannibal's Dynasty: Power and politics in the western Mediterranean, 247-183 BC

Last edited by diddyriddick; April 1st, 2011 at 12:02 PM. Reason: Correcting typo
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Old April 1st, 2011, 04:29 AM   #227

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Great work,mardienekes.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 04:32 AM   #228

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It would be nice if our Romanophiles would to do Aurelian and our Greek fans Pericles,respectively.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 05:20 AM   #229

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Originally Posted by Alcibiades View Post
It would be nice if our Romanophiles would to do Aurelian and our Greek fans Pericles,respectively.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 07:10 AM   #230

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Cheers for reading Alc.

Hamilcar Barca


Part Two: Mt Eyrx and Rome victorious
244 – 241 BC


Mt Eyrx was said by Polybius to be the second highest mountain in Sicily. Upon the crest stood a famous temple of the goddess known to Phoenicians as Astarte, while a little town below was also named Eyrx. The Romans had captured it in 249 BC, and marked their only success of that year. Hamilcar sailed at night to a small bay north of the mountain, then led his men towards the town, slaughtered the garrison and seized Eyrx. The captured townsfolk he sent to Drepana. The summit however, had a garrison of Roman troops. If Hamilcar made plans to capture the summit, he failed, as it remained in possession of Rome.

Hamilcar's capture of Eyrx is puzzling, as the advantages he had in Heircte were now lost, but perhaps he deemed Heircte too remote and Drepana too hard pressed. If he could not get replacements for his losses it would lead to a loss of impact of his actions. We hear no more of naval raids and by 242 BC, there were no Carthaginian ships in Sicilian waters. Whatever his reasons for abandoning Heircte, at Mt Eyrx he was now wedged half-way up a mountain, between two enemy garrisons with only one route to the anchorage. It is clear that the Romans on the summit could be supplied and reinforced, while on the plain below a consular army was encamped. Hamilcar's fleet was also recalled from Sicily and no effort was made to replace them which proved costly indeed. However precarious his new position was, Hamilcar would now operate here for the next two years while the wheel of fortune turned in Rome's favour.

From Mt. Eyrx he still managed to give the besiegers plenty of trouble. We hear of a likely attack on a Roman siege-camp from an excerpt of Diodorus in 243-2. He mentions an action by a Punic officer named Vodostor followed up a victory by allowing his men to plunder against the orders of Hamilcar, which led to the Carthaginans suffering heavy losses. Hamilcar managed to save the total loss of his infantry only by the discipline of his 200 horse. Hamilcar sought a truce with the Roman consul C. Fundanius to bury his dead, conceding defeat, a request the consul refused. Fundanius however, was forced to make a similar request shortly afterwards following heavy losses in which Hamilcar accepted by stating 'he was at war with the living, but had come to terms with the dead.' (Hoyos, p.15-16)

There is mention of a certain number of Celts deserting Carthage and plotting the betrayal of the town of Eyrax to the Romans, but the plot was foiled and the Celtic deserters were sent to reinforce the Roman garrison on the summit. This further reduced Hamilcar's shrinking force by about a thousand men.

No Roman consul could match Hamilcar Barca's tactical skills however and it had become apparent that the war could not be won by a military land campaign alone. The Senate then, decided upon building a new fleet whose goal would be to aid in starving out the tenacious Carthaginian towns into submission. This would be difficult with little funds however. Instead of a new levy of taxes on the population, they would loan money from the wealthiest families, to be paid back with the war indemnity. With this money, they raised a new fleet of 200 light and manoeuvrable quinqueremes. In 242, the consul C. Lutatitius Catulus arrived with the fleet on the western coast of Sicily and apparently, this was the first the Carthaginians had heard of the renewed Roman naval effort. If that is so, it really does suggest a shutdown on overseas contact. With the fleet, Catalus gained control of the ports of Lilybaeum and Drepana, before pressing the siege at Drepana hard. The Roman fleet had cut off all supplies to Sicily, and the only way to regain it would be to take control of the water.

For the last four years, Hamilcar had been denied supplies from Carthage, and only now, with this new naval threat did Hanno hastily assemble ships and supplies to attempt to achieve maritime supremacy. The position of Hamilcar and the besieged towns was truly desperate. This hastily assembled force was an enormous undertaking, and they built many new ships and recruited about 75,000 rowers that needed training, which proved costly as Catalus had not wasted his time and had been training his rowers extensively. This new Carthaginian fleet sailed towards Sicily eight months later.

Hanno's intentions were to drop off supplies at Eyrx and pick up Hamilcar with some of his best troops and sail back to engage the Roman fleet at Drepana. However, all did not go to plan. After putting in at Hiera, a small island of the Aegates group waiting for a favourable wind so he could dodge a Roman blockade to reach Eyrx, the consul Catalus got wind of Hanno's movements and sailed to an island that lay opposite Lilybaeum.On the morning of 10 March 241 BC, Hamilcar Barca watched from his mountain stronghold as the Romans decisively beat the Carthaginian fleet. The Romans sank or captured 120 ships, and took 10,000 prisoners and lost only about a dozen vessels. Hanno escaped with 50 ships back to Carthage and met a grisly fate, being crucified for his failure.

This defeat made the war impossible to win, despite many writers maintaining Hamilcar's romanticised determination to maintain the struggle. He could see from his position the hopelessness of Carthage's war in Sicily. He is said to have fought off a Roman attack on his fort, but shortly after the defeat of Hanno's fleet, the Carthaginian's sought peace, with Hamilcar appointed to negotiate with full powers, which he no doubt approached with mixed feelings. He had commanded for a longer period than any other officer in Sicily and had caused the Romans such grief that he earned their respect – all this achieved with a small budget and soldiers that had not been paid for years.

The Roman terms were Punic withdrawal from Sicily, the return of all Roman prisoners without ransom while Carthage would have to pay ransom for theirs, a guarantee not to make war on Hiero of Syracuse and an indemnity of 2,200 Euboric talents to be paid over the course of twenty years. Nothing was mentioned of the Punic fleet or Sardinia, which may well have come as a surprise to Hamilcar.

This treaty however, was not ratified by the Senate who sent a commission of ten senators to examine the whole question. However, on arrival they made no major changes and only introduced a few minor alterations that would impose a few harsher conditions on Carthage. They reduced the time to repay the indemnity to ten years instead of twenty and added a further 1,000 talents to the total, along with the removal of Carthaginian power from the islands between Sicily and Italy.

With the treaty ratified and accepted, Hamilcar led his veteran troops from Mt. Eyrx, picked up the garrison from Drepana and marched to Lilybauem, where he left about 20,000 troops in the care of the Lilybaeum commandant Gisco to organise transport to Africa, while he set sail ahead of them to face official scrutiny at home for having not won the war and achieving no particular major success. His political situation at home was weaker than it had been when he set sail to Sicily in 247 BC, but, according to Hoyos, he had picked up valuable lessons on leadership, politics and resources that would be useful to an ex-general in his prime (Hoyos, p.20) These lessons would have been put to the test in the coming struggles with the Mercenary Revolt that was to follow Carthage's loss of the First Punic War.


Part Three will be on the Mercenary War, but I can't write it up now, I have some work to do : (

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