Best Carthaginian military leaders

Sep 2019
219
Vergina
Here are some names I came up with. My 1# would be a toss-up between Hamilcar Barca, Hasdrubal Barca, and Xanthippus all showed good command ability. Hannibal Mago and Himilco seem to have been competent enough commanders in the Sicilian Wars. Mago, Gisco and Maharbal could be effective subordinates at times. Hasdrubal the Fair did a good job expanding Carthaginian rule in Spain. Adherbal won the Battle of Drepana.

The final Hamilcar mentioned on my list is perhaps the most interesting. Hamilcar continued to resist Rome in Northern Italy after the end of the Second Punic War sacking Placentia and raising a massive Gallic Army. He was ultimately defeated in battle by Lucius F. Purpureo and killed.

Hannibal Mago
Himilco
Hamilcar Barca
Adherbal
Xanthippus (?)
Hasdrubal the Fair
Hasdrubal Barca
Mago Barca
Maharbal
Hasdrubal Gisco
Hamilcar (Fought Lucius F. Purpureo)
 
Oct 2018
2,138
Sydney
Certainly Hamilcar Barca ought to be high up there. Adherbal and Xanthippos did indeed win impressive victories. The Carthalo of the First Punic War appears to have been a skilled naval commander, and Muttones commanded well in Sicily in the Second Punic War. Hannibal's half-Syracusan subordinates Hippocrates and Epicydes proved to be surprisingly skilful politicians when they seized control of Syracuse, but were less adept at defending the city. Mago Barca, Maharbal, Hanno son of Bomilcar, Carthalo and the Hasdrubal at Cannae were competent subordinates of Hannibal, although Mago, Hanno and Carthalo are definitely less impressive as independent commanders. Massinissa was a competent subordinate of the Barcids in Spain and was later also proficient when he led the Massyli and then the united Numidian army. The Magonids Hannibal and Himilco appear to have been decent, decent enough to take Sicilian cities and threaten Syracusan hegemony. I agree with the selection of Hamilcar's son-in-law Hasdrubal for his activities in Spain and the Hamilcar who persisted as a commander of Gauls after the war, although I wish we had more information on the two of them. Honestly, I'm yet to be convinced that Hannibal's brothers were anything more than mediocre when they commanded armies. It seems to me that they merely benefited from Barcid political supremacy. Hasdrubal son of Gisco was mediocre too, but clearly a very good politician and diplomat, since he repeatedly bounced back from defeats and secured the alliance of Syphax despite the efforts of the recently victorious Scipio.
 
Oct 2015
1,042
Virginia
The final Hamilcar mentioned on my list is perhaps the most interesting. Hamilcar continued to resist Rome in Northern Italy after the end of the Second Punic War sacking Placentia and raising a massive Gallic Army. He was ultimately defeated in battle by Lucius F. Purpureo and killed.
Lucius Furius Purpureo, praetor 200 BC, triumphed for his victory; consul 196 BC campaigned against the Boii with Marcus Claudius Marcellus.
(Livy xxxi.10, 21; DioCass fr 58.6)
(Livy xxxiii.37)
 
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Oct 2018
2,138
Sydney
Certainly Hamilcar Barca ought to be high up there. Adherbal and Xanthippos did indeed win impressive victories. The Carthalo of the First Punic War appears to have been a skilled naval commander, and Muttones commanded well in Sicily in the Second Punic War. Hannibal's half-Syracusan subordinates Hippocrates and Epicydes proved to be surprisingly skilful politicians when they seized control of Syracuse, but were less adept at defending the city. Mago Barca, Maharbal, Hanno son of Bomilcar, Carthalo and the Hasdrubal at Cannae were competent subordinates of Hannibal, although Mago, Hanno and Carthalo are definitely less impressive as independent commanders. Massinissa was a competent subordinate of the Barcids in Spain and was later also proficient when he led the Massyli and then the united Numidian army. The Magonids Hannibal and Himilco appear to have been decent, decent enough to take Sicilian cities and threaten Syracusan hegemony. I agree with the selection of Hamilcar's son-in-law Hasdrubal for his activities in Spain and the Hamilcar who persisted as a commander of Gauls after the war, although I wish we had more information on the two of them. Honestly, I'm yet to be convinced that Hannibal's brothers were anything more than mediocre when they commanded armies. It seems to me that they merely benefited from Barcid political supremacy. Hasdrubal son of Gisco was mediocre too, but clearly a very good politician and diplomat, since he repeatedly bounced back from defeats and secured the alliance of Syphax despite the efforts of the recently victorious Scipio.
For those interested, I'll quote my thoughts on Hasdrubal Barca from a different thread (Most brilliant campaigns in history):

"As for Hasdrubal Barca, I have to question how good he really was. He and Mago remained in the command of armies for a long time, but the Barcid faction was very powerful, as is demonstrated for instance by the numerous other Barcid kinsmen who received commands, Polybius' claim that Hannibal was the effective generalissimo over the entire war effort, and Livy's presentation of Hanno the Great being powerless to oppose the Barcids and their allies. The Barcids enjoyed a powerful political network built around marriage alliances, the sending of gifts, loot and silver from Spain to Africa, and in all likelihood the provision of economic and military opportunities in Spain. The commands of Hasdrubal and Mago can thus be viewed as products of the political victories won by their family. But Hasdrubal ended up losing major battles: Dertosa against Scipio the Elder and Scipio Calvus, Baecula against Scipio Africanus, and the Metaurus against Nero and Salinator. The first and last had decisive effects on the course of the war. As for his role in defeating the Scipio brothers in 211, this seems to have been the result of cooperation between himself, Mago and Hasdrubal son of Gisco. Mago and the son of Gisco defeated Scipio the Elder at Castulo, and then they joined Hasdrubal to overwhelm and defeat Calvus at Illorca. It's questionable how much Hasdrubal was responsible for this. He was not present at Castulo, and even at Castulo it was Scipio who dictated events with his night march, albeit in a blundering manner that got himself killed. Hasdrubal's command over his fellow generals was not unquestionable at this time. From 211 to 209 the generals in Spain were at odds with one another and often incapable of cooperating effectively. Indeed, this is why these generals failed to finish off the Roman army in Spain after Illorca, in the process missing an opportunity to turn the tides of the war and maybe march into Italy. One suspects that the reason the 211 campaign worked well was not because of Hasdrubal's generalship per se, but the fact that on some level the three generals actually managed to cooperate until the end of the battle of Illorca, if not immediately afterwards."
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,780
Portugal
Here are some names I came up with. My 1# would be a toss-up between Hamilcar Barca, Hasdrubal Barca, and Xanthippus all showed good command ability. Hannibal Mago and Himilco seem to have been competent enough commanders in the Sicilian Wars. Mago, Gisco and Maharbal could be effective subordinates at times. Hasdrubal the Fair did a good job expanding Carthaginian rule in Spain. Adherbal won the Battle of Drepana.

The final Hamilcar mentioned on my list is perhaps the most interesting. Hamilcar continued to resist Rome in Northern Italy after the end of the Second Punic War sacking Placentia and raising a massive Gallic Army. He was ultimately defeated in battle by Lucius F. Purpureo and killed.

Hannibal Mago
Himilco
Hamilcar Barca
Adherbal
Xanthippus (?)
Hasdrubal the Fair
Hasdrubal Barca
Mago Barca
Maharbal
Hasdrubal Gisco
Hamilcar (Fought Lucius F. Purpureo)
Am I wrong, or you named them all? :D

Unfortunately, we don’t know many!

Yeah, it appears that the Carthaginian elites had a very limited pool of names to choose from!
Hehhe! Or that the Romans didn't take much care to differentiate them!!! After all the Romans, the Carthaginian enemies, are almost our only written source.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,139
Cornwall
Yes I was going to say myself - presumably the OP could check the vast resource of Carthaginian historical sources we have before us? Oops - hang on a minute..................................

How can we possibly know what any of those people were like?
 

At Each Kilometer

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
4,241
Bulgaria
I've never been able to really get into Carthaginian history, and this list is one of the reasons why. They all have so the same damn name! I can never remember who is doing what when
There are many variations indeed. Take for example the given name of the first from @arrhidaeus' list, the Baal is gracious historical figure (there are many with that name idd/ Hannibal), then add the second name of tenth from the list (Baal helps guy/ Hasdrubal), who is a son of Gisco and you get the name of a general from first punic war son of another Gisco - Hannibal Gisco.
 
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