Marsala is an Italian town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily. Marsala is the fifth in Sicily; the town is famous for its Marsala wine. A feature of the area is the Stagnone Lagoon Natural Reserve — a marine area with salt ponds. Marsala is built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city of Lilybaeum, includes in its territory the archaeological site of the island of Motya, an ancient Phoenician town; the modern name derived from the Arabic مَرْسَى عَلِيّ, or مَرْسَى اللّٰه. Situated at the extreme western point of Sicily, the town was founded on Lilibeo Cape from where the Aegadian Islands and the Stagnone Lagoon can be seen; the territory of Marsala, 241 square kilometres, has a rich landscape heritage. The city of Marsala had a population of about 86,000 until the end of 1970, when Petrosino, a village part of Marsala, decided to become a self-governing town after a local referendum; the area of Marsala is classified as a seismic zone 2. In the last 200 years three earthquakes of medium-high intensity were recorded: 18 May 1828 – magnitude 5.17 15 January 1968 – Belice earthquake which in Marsala reached VII Mercalli scale.
7 June 1981 – magnitude 4.60 with epicentre in Borgo Elefante in Mazara del Vallo, about 20 kilometres from the town-centre of Marsala. Marsala has a hot-summer mediterranean climate, similar to most coastal towns in Sicily, with hot and dry summers coupled with moderately wet and mild winters. Weather in Marsala is similar to that of nearby Trapani. Summers are warm with a record maximum temperature of 37 °C in August 2017. In the summer, due to how dry it is, it is not unusual to experience the effect of Sirocco wind, which brings dust and sand from the Sahara. Winters are rainy and cooler with temperatures ranging between minimum of 1 °C and 21 °C. Snowfall occurs rarely, since the temperature has never dropped below freezing, although snow has fallen before, for example in December 2014. In 397 BC the Phoenician colony of Motya on the southwestern coast of Sicily was invaded and destroyed by the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius I; the survivors founded a town on the mainland nearby, the site of modern-day Marsala, which they called by a Punic name meaning "Town that Looks on Libya".
This was recorded in Latin as Lilybaeum. The First Punic War began here when the Punic army landed at Lilybaion in 265–264 BCE marched across Sicily to Messina, where the opening clash of the war took place; the Punic fortress Lilybaion was never conquered although it was besieged several times, e.g. by Pyrrhus of Epirus and by the Romans. In 241 BC it was given to the Romans as part of the peace treaty ending the First Punic War and became one of the most important towns in Sicily; the commercial centre was enriched with mansions and public buildings and dubbed splendidissima urbs by Cicero, who served as quaestor in the region between 76 and 75 BC. Ravaged by Vandals during the 5th century AD, the town was annexed in the 6th century to Justinian's Byzantine Empire. In this period the town was struck by dysentery, raided by pirates, neglected by Constantinople; the arrival of Arabic Berbers at the nearby Granitola mount in the 8th century entailed the resumption of commerce and the start of the rebirth of the town.
The town was renamed Marsa ʿAlī "ʿAlī's harbour" or maybe, Marsa ʿāliyy, "Big harbour", for the width of the ancient harbour, placed near Punta d'Alga. Another possible derivation is Marsa Allāh, "God's harbour". Another theory is that Marsala comes from mare salis, "salt pans by the sea" from the presence of salt pans along the whole northern coast, although mention of this theory cannot be found in contemporary references and the installation of the bigger salt ponds on the group of islands composing the contemporary single island "Isola Lunga" was made just during the 19th century. Since the end of the 11th century, the area has been conquered by Norman and Aragonese troops. During this time, Marsala became wealthy through trade; however the blocking up of the harbour of Punta Alga, decreed by Emperor Charles V so as to stop Saracen forays, brought an end to this period of prosperity. The development of Marsala wine at the end of the 18th century, headed by English merchants settled in Sicily improved local trade.
This triggered an economic expansion in Marsala, including the funding of infrastructure projects such as the current harbour of Margitello. On 11 May 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi landed at Marsala. On 11 May 1943, in the lead-up to the World War II Allied invasion of Sicily, an Allied bombardment of the town permanently damaged its Baroque centre and claimed many victims: "Marsala Wiped Off the Map" titled the New York Times on 13 May 1943; the archaeological area of Marsala has been investigated both through excavations and topographic studies. Lilybaeum, the ancient town, took up a rectangular area on Capo Boeo, a low and rocky promontory sloping down towards the sea; the urban layout of the town can be dated back to the 2nd century BC, taking the shape of a Roman camp, with modern-day Viale Vittorio Veneto the Decumanus Maximus and Viale Cesare Battisti the Cardo Maximus. In 350 BC the newly formed town of Ma
Battle of Herdonia (210 BC)
The second battle of Herdonia took place in 210 BC during the Second Punic War. Hannibal, leader of the Carthaginians, who had invaded Italy eight years earlier and destroyed a Roman army, operating against his allies in Apulia; the heavy defeat increased the war's burden on Rome and, piled on previous military disasters, aggravated the relations with her exhausted Italian allies. For Hannibal the battle did not halt for long the Roman advance. Within the next three years the Romans reconquered most of the territories and cities lost at the beginning of the war and pushed the Carthaginian general to the southwestern end of the Apennine peninsula; the battle was the last Carthaginian victory of the war. There is a controversy among modern historians arising from the narrative of Titus Livius, the major source of this event, who describes two battles taking place in the span of two years at the same place between Hannibal and Roman commanders with similar names; some state that there was just one battle in fact.
Following his incursion into southern Italy in 217 BC, Hannibal defeated the Roman forces in the battle of Cannae. This victory brought him a host of new allies from Campania, Apulia, Lucania and Magna Graecia, who revolted from Rome enticed by his narrative of Roman oppression. One of these allies was the city of Herdonia in northern Apulia, it was the site of a general engagement between Hannibal and the Romans in 212 BC, because despite the severe defeats on the battlefield Rome still managed to preserve intact the core of its system of alliances in Italy and continued to mount a slow but steady counter-offensive. The first battle of Herdonia ended with the total annihilation of the troops led by the praetor Gnaeus Fulvius Flaccus; however Flaccus' army was just a fraction of the forces fielded by Rome. The siege of Capua, which had begun years before, ended in 211 BC with the fall of the largest city that had taken the side of Hannibal after Cannae; the Carthaginian's inability to defend Capua reversed the mood among many of his allies and Hannibal's position began to weaken.
The Roman advance in southern Italy continued in 210 BC. Two armies stood against Hannibal in Apulia; the one was under the consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus. The proconsul Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus commanded the other, their overall strength was four Roman legions plus an equal allied contingent. Since they operated not far from each other Hannibal did not dare to challenge them; this allowed Marcellus to capture the city of Salapia, betrayed to him by a fraction of its citizens, to destroy the Carthaginian garrison. Following this setback Hannibal retreated and a rumour was spread that he was going away to Bruttium. Upon learning this Marcellus moved to Samnium and reduced two more towns that served as Carthaginian bases in this region. Meanwhile, Hannibal returned to northern Apulia with forced marches and managed to catch Centumalus off-guard when the latter was besieging Herdonia. Despite the Carthaginian numerical superiority the proconsul did not decline the battle, he clashed with the Carthaginian infantry.
Hannibal waited until the Romans and their allies were engaged and sent his Numidian cavalry to surround them. Part of the Numidians attacked the Roman camp, insufficiently protected; the others dispersed it. The same happened to the Romans fighting in the front line. Centumalus, eleven military tribunes and 7,000–13,000 soldiers were slain; the rest were scattered and some escaped to Marcellus in Samnium. The victory did not bring strategic advantages to Hannibal. Judging that in the long run he could not retain Herdonia, the Carthaginian general decided to resettle its population in Metapontum and Thurii to the south and destroy the city itself. Before that he set an example to other eventual traitors by executing some of the distinguished citizens who had conspired to betray Herdonia to Centumalus. For the rest of the summer he was forced to fight off the second Roman army; the next battle with Marcellus at Numistro was inconclusive and Hannibal was unable to regain the positions lost at the beginning of the campaign.
The second defeat at Herdonia did not make the Roman Senate change its warlike stance. Once again, as in the aftermath of Cannae, the senators resorted to punitive actions against the remnants of the defeated army. 4,344 men were rounded up and sent to Sicily where they joined the survivors of Cannae and were sentenced to serve on the island until the end of the war. This had undesired repercussions; the deportation of the soldiers, most of whom were of Latin origin, caused considerable discontent among the Latin colonies, drained by ten years of continuous warfare on Italian soil. Amidst great want of additional manpower and financial resources twelve out of thirty colonies refused to send any more levies and money to Rome; this crisis put severe strain on the Roman war effort. First Battle of Herdonia Note: All links to online sources were active on October 26, 2007 Appian, Roman History, The Hannibalic War, Livius Articles on Ancient History Eutropius, Abridgement of Roman History, Book III, available on Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum - A Digital Library of Latin Literature Livius, The History of Rome, Vol. IV, University of Virginia
Siege of Saguntum
The Siege of Saguntum was a battle which took place in 219 BC between the Carthaginians and the Saguntines at the town of Saguntum, near the modern town of Sagunto in the province of Valencia, Spain. The battle is remembered today because it triggered one of the most important wars of antiquity, the Second Punic War. After Hannibal was made supreme commander of Iberia at the age of 26, he spent two years refining his plans and completing his preparations to secure power in the Mediterranean; the Romans did nothing against him. The Romans went so far as turning their attention to the Illyrians who had begun to revolt; because of this, the Romans did not react when news reached them that Hannibal was besieging Saguntum. The capture of Saguntum was essential to Hannibal's plan; the city was one of the most fortified in the area and it would have been a poor move to leave such a stronghold in the hands of the enemy. Hannibal was looking for plunder to pay his mercenaries, who were from Africa and the Iberian Peninsula.
The money could be spent on dealing with his political opponents in Carthage. Some historians doubt whether Hannibal attacked Saguntum deliberately or whether he was provoked by the Saguntines, who had Rome's support. Since most of the remaining ancient sources covering this period are pro-Roman, one cannot rule out the possibility that Rome encouraged Saguntum to defy Hannibal. However, Rome failed to support their ally during the siege of Saguntum; this might be due to the fact that Rome's legions were occupied elsewhere or might have been a calculated move to have a casus belli against Carthage. Hannibal's alleged hatred of Rome and all Romans might have been an idea of Roman propaganda to justify the second and the third Punic war. During Hannibal's assault on Saguntum, he suffered some losses due to the extensive fortifications and the tenacity of the defending Saguntines, but his troops stormed and destroyed the city's defenses one at a time. Hannibal was severely wounded by a javelin, fighting was stopped for a few weeks whilst he recovered.
The Saguntines turned to Rome for aid. In 218 BC, after enduring eight months of siege, the Saguntines' last defenses were overrun. Hannibal offered to spare the population on condition that they were "willing to depart from Saguntum, each with two garments"; when they declined the offer and began to sabotage the town's wealth and possessions, every adult was put to death. This marked the beginning of the Second Punic War. Hannibal now had a base of operations from which he could supply his forces with food and extra troops. After the siege, Hannibal attempted to gain the support of the Carthaginian Senate; the Senate did not agree with Hannibal's aggressive means of warfare, never gave complete and unconditional support to him when he was on the verge of absolute victory only five miles from Rome. In this episode, Hannibal was able to gain limited support which permitted him to move to New Carthage where he gathered his men and informed them of his ambitious intentions. Hannibal undertook a religious pilgrimage before beginning his march toward the Pyrenees, the Alps, Rome itself.
The next phase of the war was marked by extraordinary Carthaginian victories at Trebia, Lake Trasimene, the Battle of Cannae. At the end of the 1st century AD the siege of Saguntum was described in much detail by the Latin author Silius Italicus in his epic poem Punica. In his verses several Saguntine leaders and heroes stand out, as well as a Libyan warrior princess fighting for Carthage, but few historians give the tale any credit as a historical source. In 1727 the English dramatist Philip Frowde wrote a tragedy entitled The Fall of Saguntum, based on Silius' poem; the band Ex Deo has a song called Hispania On their album “The Immortal Wars”, about the siege. Alorcus
A trireme was an ancient vessel and a type of galley, used by the ancient maritime civilizations of the Mediterranean the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks and Romans. The trireme derives its name from its three rows of oars, manned with one man per oar; the early trireme was a development of the penteconter, an ancient warship with a single row of 25 oars on each side, of the bireme, a warship with two banks of oars, of Phoenician origin. The word dieres does not appear until the Roman period. According to Morrison and Williams, "It must be assumed the term pentekontor covered the two-level type"; as a ship it was fast and agile, it was the dominant warship in the Mediterranean during the 7th to 4th centuries BC, after which it was superseded by the larger quadriremes and quinqueremes. Triremes played a vital role in the Persian Wars, the creation of the Athenian maritime empire, its downfall in the Peloponnesian War; the term is sometimes used to refer to medieval and early modern galleys with three files of oarsmen per side as triremes.
Depictions of two-banked ships, with or without the parexeiresia, are common in 8th century BC and vases and pottery fragments, it is at the end of that century that the first references to three-banked ships are found. Fragments from an 8th-century relief at the Assyrian capital of Nineveh depicting the fleets of Tyre and Sidon show ships with rams, fitted with oars pivoted at two levels, they have been interpreted as two-decked warships, as triremes. Modern scholarship is divided on the provenance of the trireme, Greece or Phoenicia, the exact time it developed into the foremost ancient fighting ship. Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, drawing on earlier works, explicitly attributes the invention of the trireme to the Sidonians. According to Thucydides, the trireme was introduced to Greece by the Corinthians in the late 8th century BC, the Corinthian Ameinocles built four such ships for the Samians; this was interpreted by writers and Diodorus, to mean that triremes were invented in Corinth, the possibility remains that the earliest three-banked warships originated in Phoenicia.
Herodotus mentions that the Egyptian pharaoh Necho II built triremes on the Nile, for service in the Mediterranean, in the Red Sea, but this reference is disputed by modern historians, attributed to a confusion, since "triērēs" was by the 5th century used in the generic sense of "warship", regardless its type. The first definite reference to the use of triremes in naval combat dates to ca. 525 BC, according to Herodotus, the tyrant Polycrates of Samos was able to contribute 40 triremes to a Persian invasion of Egypt. Thucydides meanwhile states that in the time of the Persian Wars, the majority of the Greek navies consisted of penteconters and ploia makrá. In any case, by the early 5th century, the trireme was becoming the dominant warship type of the eastern Mediterranean, with minor differences between the "Greek" and "Phoenician" types, as literary references and depictions of the ships on coins make clear; the first large-scale naval battle where triremes participated was the Battle of Lade during the Ionian Revolt, where the combined fleets of the Greek Ionian cities were defeated by the Persian fleet, composed of squadrons from their Phoenician, Carian and Egyptian subjects.
Athens was at that time embroiled in a conflict with the neighbouring island of Aegina, which possessed a formidable navy. In order to counter this, with an eye at the mounting Persian preparations, in 483/2 BC the Athenian statesman Themistocles used his political skills and influence to persuade the Athenian assembly to start the construction of 200 triremes, using the income of the newly discovered silver mines at Laurion; the first clash with the Persian navy was at the Battle of Artemisium, where both sides suffered great casualties. However, the decisive naval clash occurred at Salamis, where Xerxes' invasion fleet was decisively defeated. After Salamis and another Greek victory over the Persian fleet at Mycale, the Ionian cities were freed, the Delian League was formed under the aegis of Athens; the predominance of Athens turned the League into an Athenian Empire. The source and foundation of Athens' power was her strong fleet, composed of over 200 triremes, it not only secured control of the Aegean Sea and the loyalty of her allies, but safeguarded the trade routes and the grain shipments from the Black Sea, which fed the city's burgeoning population.
In addition, as it provided permanent employment for the city's poorer citizens, the fleet played an important role in maintaining and promoting the radical Athenian form of democracy. Athenian maritime power is the first example of thalassocracy in world history. Aside from Athens, other major naval powers of the era included Syracuse and Corinth. In the subsequent Peloponnesian War, naval battles fought by triremes were crucial in the power balance between Athens and Sparta. Despite numerous land engagements, Athens was defeated through the destruction of her fleet during the Sicilian Expedition, at the Battle of Aegospotami, at the hands of Sparta and her allies. Based on all archeological evidence, the design of the trireme most pushed the technological limits of the ancient world. After gathering the proper timbers and materials it was time to consider the fundamentals of the trireme design; these fundamentals inclu
Carthage was a Phoenician state that included, during the 7th–3rd centuries BC, its wider sphere of influence known as the Carthaginian Empire. The empire extended over much of the coast of Northwest Africa as well as encompassing substantial parts of coastal Iberia and the islands of the western Mediterranean Sea. Phoenicians founded Carthage in 814 BC. A dependency of the Phoenician state of Tyre, Carthage gained independence around 650 BC and established its political hegemony over other Phoenician settlements throughout the western Mediterranean, this lasting until the end of the 3rd century BC. At the height of the city's prominence, it served as a major hub of trade, with trading stations extending throughout the region. For much of its history, Carthage was on hostile terms with the Greeks in Sicily and with the Roman Republic; the city had to deal with hostile Berbers, the indigenous inhabitants of the area where Carthage was built. In 146 BC, after the third and final Punic War, Roman forces destroyed Carthage redesigned and occupied the site of the city.
Nearly all of the other Phoenician city-states and former Carthaginian dependencies subsequently fell into Roman hands. According to Roman sources, Phoenician colonists from modern-day Lebanon, led by Dido, founded Carthage circa 814 BC. Queen Elissa was an exiled princess of the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. At its peak, the metropolis she founded, came to be called the "shining city", ruling 300 other cities around the western Mediterranean Sea and leading the Phoenician world. Elissa's brother, Pygmalion of Tyre, had murdered the high priest. Elissa escaped the tyranny of her own country, founding the "new city" of Carthage and subsequently its dominions. Details of her life are sketchy and confusing, but the following can be deduced from various sources. According to Justin, Princess Elissa was the daughter of King Belus II of Tyre; when he died, the throne was jointly bequeathed to her brother and her. She married her uncle Acerbas known as Sychaeus, the High Priest of Melqart, a man with both authority and wealth comparable to the king.
This led to increased rivalry between the monarchy. Pygmalion was a tyrant, lover of both gold and intrigue, who desired the authority and fortune enjoyed by Acerbas. Pygmalion assassinated Acerbas in the temple and kept the misdeed concealed from his sister for a long time, deceiving her with lies about her husband's death. At the same time, the people of Tyre called for a single sovereign. In the Roman epic of Virgil, the Aeneid, Queen Dido, the Greek name for Elissa, is first introduced as a esteemed character. In just seven years, since their exodus from Tyre, the Carthaginians have rebuilt a successful kingdom under her rule, her subjects present her with a festival of praise. Her character is perceived by Virgil as more noble when she offers asylum to Aeneas and his men, who had escaped from Troy. A spirit in the form of the messenger god, sent by Jupiter, reminds Aeneas that his mission is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, but to sail to Italy to found Rome. Virgil ends his legend of Dido with the story that, when Aeneas tells Dido, her heart broken, she orders a pyre to be built where she falls upon Aeneas' sword.
As she lay dying, she predicted eternal strife between Aeneas' people and her own: "rise up from my bones, avenging spirit" she says, an invocation of Hannibal. Aeneas goes on to found the Roman Kingdom; the details of Virgil's story do not, form part of the original legend and are significant as an indication of Rome's attitude towards the city she had founded, exemplified by Cato the Elder's much-repeated utterance, "Carthago delenda est", "Carthage must be destroyed". The Phoenicians established numerous colonial cities along the coasts of the Mediterranean to provide safe harbors for their merchant fleets, to maintain a Phoenician monopoly on an area's natural resources, to conduct trade free of outside interference, they were motivated to found these cities by a desire to satisfy the demand for trade goods or to escape the necessity of paying tribute to the succession of empires that ruled Tyre and Byblos, by fear of complete Greek colonization of that part of the Mediterranean suitable for commerce.
The Phoenicians lacked the population or necessity to establish large self-sustaining cities abroad, most of their colonial cities had fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, but Carthage and a few others developed larger populations. Although Strabo's claim that the Tyrians founded three hundred colonies along the west African coast is exaggerated, colonies were established in Tunisia, Algeria, to a much lesser extent, on the arid coast of Libya; the Phoenicians were active in Cyprus, Corsica, the Balearic Islands and Sicily, as well as on the European mainland at present-day Genoa in Italy and Marseille in present-day France. The settlements at Crete and Sicily were in perpetual conflict with the Greeks, but the Phoenicians managed to control all of Sicily for a limited time; the entire area came under the leadership and protection of Carthage, which in turn dispatched its own colonists to found new cities or to reinforce those that declined with the loss of primacy of Tyre and Sidon. The first colonies were settled on the two paths to Iberia's mineral wealth — along the Northwest African coast and on Sicily and the Ba
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War referred to as The Hannibalic War and by the Romans the War Against Hannibal, was the second of three wars between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of Greek polities and Numidian and Iberian forces on both sides. It was one of the deadliest human conflicts of ancient times. Fought across the entire Western Mediterranean region for 17 years and regarded by ancient historians as the greatest war in history, it was waged with unparalleled resources and hatred, it saw hundreds of thousands killed, some of the most lethal battles in military history, the destruction of cities, massacres and enslavements of civilian populations and prisoners of war by both sides. The war began with the Carthaginian general Hannibal's conquest of the pro-Roman Iberian city of Saguntum in 219 BC, prompting a Roman declaration of war on Carthage in the spring of 218. Hannibal surprised the Romans by marching his army overland from Iberia to cross the Alps and invade Roman Italy, followed by his reinforcement by Gallic allies and crushing victories over Roman armies at Trebia in 218 and on the shores of Lake Trasimene in 217.
Moving to southern Italy in 216, Hannibal at Cannae annihilated the largest army the Romans had assembled. After the death or imprisonment of 130,000 Roman troops in two years, 40% of Rome's Italian allies defected to Carthage, giving her control over most of southern Italy. Macedon and Syracuse joined the Carthaginian side after Cannae and the conflict spread to Greece and Sicily. From 215–210 the Carthaginian army and navy launched repeated amphibious assaults to capture Roman Sicily and Sardinia but were repulsed. Against Hannibal's skill on the battlefield, the Romans adopted the Fabian strategy – the avoidance of battle against Hannibal and defeating his allies and the other Carthaginian generals instead. Roman armies recaptured all of the great cities that had joined Carthage and defeated a Carthaginian attempt to reinforce Hannibal at Metaurus in 207. Southern Italy was devastated by the combatants, with hundreds of thousands of civilians killed or enslaved. In Iberia, which served as a major source of silver and manpower for the Carthaginian army, a Roman expeditionary force under Publius Cornelius Scipio captured Carthago Nova, Carthage's capital city in Iberia, in 209.
Scipio's destruction of a Carthaginian army at Ilipa in 206 permanently ended Carthaginian rule in Iberia. He invaded Carthaginian Africa in 204, inflicting two severe defeats on Carthage and her allies at Utica and the Great Plains that compelled the Carthaginian senate to recall Hannibal's army from Italy; the final engagement between Scipio and Hannibal took place at Zama in Africa in 202 and resulted in Hannibal's defeat and the imposition of harsh peace conditions on Carthage, which ceased to be a great power and became a Roman client state until its final destruction by the Romans in 146 BC during the Third Punic War. The Second Punic War overthrew the established balance of power of the ancient world and Rome rose to become the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin for the next 600 years. Carthage's defeat in the First Punic War meant the loss of Carthaginian Sicily to Rome under the terms of the Roman-dictated 241 BC Treaty of Lutatius. Rome exploited Carthage's distraction during the Truceless War against rebellious mercenaries and Libyan subjects to break the peace treaty and annex Carthaginian Sardinia and Corsica to Rome in 238 BC.
Under the leadership of Hamilcar Barca and his family, Carthage defeated the rebels and began the Barcid conquest of Hispania from 237 BC onward. Control over Spain gave Carthage the silver mines, agricultural wealth, military facilities such as shipyards and territorial depth to stand up to future Roman demands with confidence; the Second Punic War was ignited by the dispute over the hegemony of Saguntum, a Hellenized Iberian coastal city with diplomatic contacts with Rome. After great tension within the city government, culminating in the assassination of the supporters of Carthage, Hannibal laid siege to the city of Saguntum in 219 BC; the city called for Roman aid. Following a prolonged siege of eight months and a bloody struggle, in which Hannibal himself was wounded, the Carthaginians took control of the city. Many of the Saguntians chose to commit suicide rather than face subjugation by the Carthaginians; the loss of Saguntum as a potential base of operations in Carthaginian Iberia was a serious setback to the main Roman strategic objective in Spain: the eviction of the Carthaginians from the peninsula.
The Roman Senate sent an embassy to the Carthaginian Senate that declared war on Carthage in early 218 BC over the attack on Rome's Saguntine ally. Before the war and Hasdrubal the Fair had made a treaty. Livy reports that it was agreed that the Iber should be the boundary between the two empires and that the liberty of the Saguntines should be preserved; the highest priority in Carthaginian strategy was to keep the war away from Carthage's agricultural heartland in Africa and protect the property of the wealthy Carthaginian landowners who controlled Carthaginian politics. Spanish mines and sources of manpower comprised the second pillar of the Carthaginian power base and their protection was essential to maintaining Carthage's status as an independent continental great power. Hannibal's invasion of Italy forced the Romans to abandon their intended invasion of Africa and de-prioritize the reinforcement of Roman armies in Spain. Most Roman troops during the war fought in Italy, which became the main theater of the war as a result of Hannibal's offensive.
Africa remained undisturbed by a Roman invasion army until 204 BC and the Roman military presence in Spain was confined to its northeastern corn
Siege of Syracuse (213–212 BC)
The Siege of Syracuse by the Roman Republic took place in 213–212 BC, at the end of which the Magna Graecia Hellenistic city of Syracuse, located on the east coast of Sicily, fell. The Romans stormed the city after a protracted siege giving them control of the entire island of Sicily. During the siege, the city was protected by weapons developed by Archimedes. Archimedes, the great inventor and polymath, was slain at the conclusion of the siege by a Roman soldier, in contravention of the Roman proconsul Marcellus' instructions to spare his life. Sicily, wrested from Carthaginian control during the First Punic War, was the first province of the Roman Republic not directly part of Italy; the Kingdom of Syracuse was an allied independent region in the south east of the island and a close ally of Rome during the long reign of King Hiero II. In 215 BC, Hiero's grandson, came to the throne on his grandfather's death and Syracuse fell under the influence of an anti-Roman faction, including two of his uncles, amongst the Syracusan elite.
Despite the assassination of Hieronymus and the removal of the pro-Carthaginian leaders, Rome's threatening reaction to the danger of a Syracusian alliance with Carthage would force the new republican leaders of Syracuse to prepare for war. Despite diplomatic attempts, war broke out between the Roman Republic and the Kingdom of Syracuse in 214 BC, while the Romans were still busy battling with Carthage at the height of the Second Punic War. A Roman force led by the proconsul Marcus Claudius Marcellus laid siege to the port city by sea and land in 213 BC; the city of Syracuse, located on the eastern coast of Sicily was renowned for its significant fortifications, great walls that protected the city from attack. Among the Syracuse defenders was the scientist Archimedes; the city was fiercely defended for many months against all the measures the Romans could bring to bear. Realizing how difficult the siege would be, the Romans brought their own unique devices and inventions to aid their assault.
These included the sambuca, a floating siege tower with grappling hooks, as well as ship-mounted scaling ladders that were lowered with pulleys onto the city walls. Despite these novel inventions, Archimedes devised defensive devices to counter the Roman efforts including a huge crane operated hook – the Claw of Archimedes –, used to lift the enemy ships out of the sea before dropping them to their doom. Legend has it that he created a giant mirror, used to deflect the powerful Mediterranean sun onto the ships' sails, setting fire to them; these measures, along with the fire from ballistas and onagers mounted on the city walls, frustrated the Romans and forced them to attempt costly direct assaults. The siege bogged down to a stalemate with the Romans unable to force their way into the city or keep their blockade tight enough to stop supplies reaching the defenders, the Syracusians unable to force the Romans to withdraw; the Carthaginians realised the potential hindrance a continuing Syracusian defense could cause to the Roman war effort and attempted to relieve the city from the besiegers but were driven back.
Though they planned another attempt, they could not afford the necessary troops and ships with the ongoing war against the Romans in Hispania, the Syracusians were on their own. The successes of the Syracusians in repelling the Roman siege had made them overconfident. In 212 BC, the Romans received information that the city's inhabitants were to participate in the annual festival to their goddess Artemis. A small party of Roman soldiers approached the city under the cover of night and managed to scale the walls to get into the outer city and with reinforcements soon took control, but the main fortress remained firm. Marcus Claudius Marcellus had ordered that Archimedes, the well-known mathematician – and equally well-known to Marcellus as the inventor of the mechanical devices that had so dominated the siege – should not be killed. Archimedes, now around 78 years of age, continued his studies after the breach by the Romans and while at home, his work was disturbed by a Roman soldier. Archimedes coarsely told the soldier to leave.
The Romans now controlled the outer city but the remainder of the population of Syracuse had fallen back to the fortified inner citadel, offering continued resistance. The Romans now put siege to the citadel and were successful in cutting off supplies to this reduced area. After a lengthy eight-month siege which brought great hardship onto the defenders through hunger, with parleys in progress, an Iberian captain named Moeriscus, one of the three prefects of Achradina, decided to save his own life by letting the Romans in near the Fountains of Arethusa. On the agreed signal, during a diversionary attack, he opened the gate. After setting guards on the houses of the pro-Roman faction, Marcellus gave Syracuse to plunder. Frustrated and angered after the lengthy and costly siege, the Romans rampaged through the citadel and slaughtered many of the Syracusians where they stood and enslaved most of the rest; the city was thoroughly looted and sacked. The city of Syracuse was now under the influence of Rome again, which united the whole of Sicily as a Roman province.
The taking of Syracuse ensured that the Carthaginians could not get a foothold in Sicily, which could have led to them giving support to Hannibal's Italian campaign, this allowed the Romans to concentrate on waging the war in Spain and Italy. The island was used as a vital gathering point for the final victorious ca