Following the coming to power of the tyrant Agathocles, tensions between Carthaginians and Syracuse flare up again after fifteen years of peace. This confrontation, which will be the last Greco-Punic war, will mark, for the benefit of Carthage, the decline of the influence exerted by the Greek city of Syracuse on Sicily.

In 315 BC. J.-C., the tyrant of Syracuse Agathocles develops his plans to take control of Sicily. He will begin by showing his ambitions by first contenting himself with attacking the free city of Messina. Then in 311 BC. J.-C., he crossed a course by allowing himself to directly invade the part of Sicily which was under Carthaginian domination in defiance of the peace treaty then in force. He will then besiege Agrigento-Akragas. In Carthage, the news caused a stir, Sicily being one of its most important colonies. General Hamilcar, who is also the grandson of Hanno the navigator, commander-in-chief of the Carthaginian army, is then called to the rescue and leads the Carthaginian response with success. In 310 BC, he controlled practically all of Sicily and laid siege to Syracuse. Agathocles, very close to a total defeat then decides to embark on an offensive that is at the same time surprising, courageous and audacious. He secretly leads an expedition of 14,000 men on the African continent to save his reign by directly attacking the city of Carthage.

Agathocles’ Expedition

This expedition is a victory. Indeed, as Agathocles hoped, Carthage was forced to recall Hamilcar and most of his army to face the new threat which was at the very gates of the Punic city. Agathocles’ expedition even had a series of victories. Nevertheless, it will ultimately be unable to succeed in taking the Punic capital. Agathocles’ army will eventually be defeated in 307 BC. AD This defeat will be facilitated by the attitude of the Libyan allies of Agathocles who will then defect. Nevertheless, Agathocles still managed to escape and return to Sicily. He will take the opportunity to negotiate a peace that will allow Syracuse to keep its status as a Greek stronghold. Agathocles no longer attacked the Punic places until his death in 289 BC. J.-C. The consequences of the third Sicilian war are that Carthage has henceforth acquired the statute of dominant power in Sicily and that nobody will dispute this state of fact during about thirty years. Syracuse, for its part, remains a powerful Greek stronghold in Sicily and the Mediterranean. However, having greatly lost its influence, it will no longer be able to play the leading roles in the future…


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Agathocles, the tyrant of Syracuse

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