Battle of Nola (214 BC)
The Third Battle of Nola was fought in 214 BC between Hannibal and a Roman army led by Marcus Claudius Marcellus. It was Hannibal's third attempt to take the town of Nola. Once again, Marcellus prevented the town's capture. Upon Hannibal's descent from the alps he had for 3 years won an impressive string of victories against Rome The battle of Ticinus, Trebia and Cannae were some of the more notable victories that he'd won These had been disastrous defeats for the Romans the latter battle; this victory brought the Romans to the brink of despair. The Senate had issued a decree. Mourning was legislatively circumscribed to 30 days, women were not permitted to cry in the public venues. In spite of these and other like measures, there was much despair in the city and there were a number of young Romans of high birth who proposed desertion to all in the army and to establish a new colony elsewhere; this proposed defection was put down and all thoughts of surrender were circumscribed. However, in spite of the tremendous blow to the cause of Rome, Hannibal could not take the city itself - he did not think he had the resources that a siege of the city itself would have required- and as a result did not attempt it.
There were two reasons. Not a single member of the Italian Confederacy broke its treaty with Rome, the roots of Roman power in the peninsula were sown deep, based upon time and the mutual benefit that both Rome and her subordinate allies had received from the alliance. To be sure, there were colonies, detached from the Confederacy in Cisalpine Gaul, but no demoralizing blow had been struck at the Symmachy. So after Cannae, Hannibal set about just this task, it was indeed upon the basis of his being able to detach the confederates of Rome, that Hannibal had calculated upon a lasting victory. Without them, nothing serious could be brought about. So after the battle itself, Hannibal started to conduct diplomacy to this effect. Phillip of Macedon promised a navy and an army to descend on Italy - it was in this way that he hoped to strike a blow at Rome herself while regaining Epirus to his kingdom. In addition to this, Hiero II of Syracuse passed, his successor concluded a treaty with Hannibal. With the end of detaching more confederates from the Roman Symmachy, after the battle Hannibal released all soldiers, enlisted under the banners as a result of their cities treaty with Rome without request for ransom.
However, in spite of the seeming ascendancy of Hannibal over Rome, his cause was in reality anything but that. His military chest was stretched to its limit, to this effect he sent a deputation to Rome that requested money in return for hostages; this deputation was forbidden to enter the city, the Senate forbid anyone from purchasing hostages from the Carthaginians on an individual basis - deeming the enrichment of Hannibal through the wealth of Rome and its citizens to be unacceptable. What happened at this point, was a number of Roman Allies - although no Latin confederate - were detached. Capua, the second city of all Italy and in a commanding position on the crucial plain of Campania was detached; this city had been much oppressed by the Romans, faced discriminatory treatment by the Senate and the chief magistrates of the Republic. This city was said to be able to furnish 4,000 cavalry; this was a major blow to the Symmachy, was in and of itself as demoralizing as the defeat at Cannae had been.
Following the example of Capua was. Hannibal had won over all of southern Italy. From the mouth of the Vulturnus river to the peninsula of Mons Garganus and south nothing could be found except a string of Roman forts holding out and adherents of Hannibal. Dodge, Theodore. Hannibal. Mechanicsburg, PA: Greenhill Books. ISBN 9781853671791. Reprint of 1891 work
Battle of Baecula
The Battle of Baecula was a major field battle in Iberia during the Second Punic War. Roman Republican and Spanish auxiliary forces under the command of Scipio Africanus routed the Carthaginian army of Hasdrubal Barca. According to Polybius after Scipio’s surprise attack and capture of Carthago Nova, the three Carthaginian armies in Iberia remained separated, their generals at odds with each other, thus giving the Romans a chance to deal with them one by one. Early in 208 BC, with 30,000 Roman and Italian troops and 10,000 Spanish auxiliaries, moved against Hasdrubal Barca, whose 30,000-strong force had wintered at Baecula, on the upper reaches of the river Baetis. On learning of the Roman approach, Hasdrubal shifted his camp to a strong defensive position — a high and deep plateau south of Baecula, protected by ravines on the flanks and the river to the front and rear. Moreover, the plateau was formed into two steps, on which Hasdrubal posted his light troops on the lower one and his main camp behind.
After his arrival, Scipio was at first uncertain as to how to attack such a formidable position, but concerned that the other two Carthaginian armies might take advantage of his inaction and join with Hasdrubal, he took action on the third day. Before his main attack, Scipio sent one detachment to block the entrance to the valley separating the two armies and one to the road leading north to Baecula, thus providing security to his main force, while harassing any Carthaginian attempt to retreat. After these preliminary deployments were done, the Roman light troops advanced against their Carthaginian counterparts on the first step. Despite the steep slope, under a shower of missile attack, the Romans had little difficulty driving back the Carthaginian light troops once they got into hand-to-hand combat. After reinforcing his leading force, Scipio derived a pincer attack on the flanks of the Carthaginian main camp by ordering Gaius Laelius to lead half of the remaining heavy foot to the right of the enemy position, he himself scaling the left.
Hasdrubal, was under the impression that the Roman attack was only a skirmish and failed to properly deploy his main force, thus his ill-prepared army was caught on three sides by the Romans. Despite being trapped, Hasdrubal was able to retreat unmolested with his elephants, main baggage train, some of his Carthaginian troops, it appeared that his main losses in the battle were the majority of his light troops and Iberian allies. This was due to the legionnaires' choice to plunder the Carthaginian camp rather than pursue Hasdrubal with any earnestness. After the battle, Hasdrubal led his depleted army over the western passes of the Pyrenees into Gaul, subsequently into Italy in an attempt to join his brother Hannibal. Scipio's failure to stop Hasdrubal's march to Italy was criticized by the Roman Senate. Scipio did not exploit his victory at Baecula to drive out the Carthaginians from Spain, instead choosing to withdraw to his base at Tarraco, he secured alliances with many of the Spanish tribes, who switched sides after the Roman successes at Carthago Nova and Baecula.
Carthaginian reinforcements landed in Iberia in 207 BC, would soon launch a final attempt to recover their losses at the Battle of Ilipa in 206 BC. Polybius. Ian Scott-Kilvert. Mastering the West: Rome and Carthage at War. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-986010-4. Nigel Bagnall. Antonia Nevill. H. Liddell Hart.
Battle of Cannae
The Battle of Cannae was a major battle of the Second Punic War that took place on 2 August 216 BC in Apulia, in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage, under Hannibal and decisively defeated a larger army of the Roman Republic under the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro, it is regarded both as one of the greatest tactical feats in military history and as one of the worst defeats in Roman history. Having recovered from their losses at Trebia and Lake Trasimene, the Romans decided to engage Hannibal at Cannae, with 86,000 Roman and allied troops, they massed their heavy infantry in a deeper formation than usual, while Hannibal used the double-envelopment tactic and surrounded his enemy, trapping the majority of the Roman army, who were slaughtered. The loss of life on the Roman side was one of the most lethal single day. Only about 15,000 Romans, most of whom were from the garrisons of the camps and had not taken part in the battle, escaped death. Following the defeat and several other Italian city-states defected from the Roman Republic to Carthage.
As news of this defeat reached Rome, the city was gripped in panic. Authorities resorted to extraordinary measures, which included consulting the Sibylline Oracles, dispatching a delegation led by Quintus Fabius Pictor to consult the Delphic oracle in Greece, burying four people alive as a sacrifice to their Gods. To raise two new legions, the authorities lowered the draft age and enlisted criminals and slaves. Despite the extreme loss of men and equipment, a second massive defeat that same year at Silva Litana, the Romans refused to surrender to Hannibal, his offer to ransom survivors was brusquely refused. With grim determination the Romans fought for 14 more years until they achieved victory at the Battle of Zama. Although for most of the following decades the battle was seen as a major Roman disaster, by modern times Cannae acquired a mythic quality, is used as an example of the perfect defeat of an enemy army, it was studied by German strategists prior to World War II, General Norman Schwartzkopf claimed to have drawn inspiration from Hannibal's success for his devastatingly effective land offensive in the First Gulf War.
Shortly after the start of the Second Punic War, Hannibal crossed into Italy by traversing the Pyrenees and the Alps during the summer and early autumn of 218 BC. He won major victories over the Romans at Trebia and at Lake Trasimene. After these losses, the Romans appointed Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus as dictator to deal with the threat. Fabius used attrition warfare against Hannibal, cutting off his supply lines and avoiding pitched battles; these tactics proved unpopular with the Romans who, as they recovered from the shock of Hannibal's victories, began to question the wisdom of the Fabian strategy, which had given the Carthaginian army a chance to regroup. The majority of Romans were eager to see a quick conclusion to the war, it was feared that, if Hannibal continued plundering Italy unopposed, Rome's allies might defect to the Carthaginian side for self-preservation. Therefore, when Fabius came to the end of his term, the Senate did not renew his dictatorial powers and command was given to consuls Gnaeus Servilius Geminus and Marcus Atilius Regulus.
In 216 BC, when elections resumed, Gaius Terentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paullus were elected as consuls, placed in command of a newly raised army of unprecedented size and directed to engage Hannibal. Polybius wrote: The Senate determined to bring eight legions into the field, which had never been done at Rome before, each legion consisting of five thousand men besides allies.... Most of their wars are decided with their quota of allies, but on this occasion, so great was the alarm and terror of what would happen, they resolved to bring not only four but eight legions into the field. Rome employed four legions each year, each consisting of 4,000 foot soldiers and 200 cavalry. Perceiving the Carthaginian army as a real threat, for the first time the Senate introduced eight legions, each consisting of 5,000 foot soldiers and 300 cavalry, with allied troops numbering the same amount of foot soldiers but 900 cavalry per legion—more than triple the legion numbers. Eight legions—some 40,000 Roman soldiers and an estimated 2,400 cavalry—formed the core of this massive new army.
Livy quotes one source stating the Romans added only 10,000 men to their usual army. While no definitive number of Roman troops exists, all sources agree that the Carthaginians faced a larger foe. Consuls were each assigned two of the four legions to command employing all four legions at once to the same assignment. However, the Senate feared a real threat and not only deployed all four legions to the field but all eight, including allies. Ordinarily, each of the two consuls would command his own portion of the army, but since the two armies were combined into one, Roman law required them to alternate their command on a daily basis; the traditional account puts Varro in command on the day of the battle, much of the blame for the defeat has been laid on his shoulders. However, his low origins seem to be exaggerated in the sources, Varro may have been made a scapegoat by the aristocratic establishment, he lacked the powerful descendants that Paullus had, descendants who were willing and able to protect his reputation—most notably, Paullus was the grandfather of Scipio Aemilianus, the patron of Polybius.
In the sp
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
Battle of Ebro River
The Battle of Ebro River was a naval battle fought near the mouth of Ebro River in the spring of 217 BC between a Carthaginian fleet of 27 quinqueremes, under the command of Himilco, a Roman fleet of 55 ships, under Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus. Hasdrubal Barca, the Carthaginian commander in Iberia, had launched a joint expedition to destroy the Roman base north of the Ebro River; the Carthaginian naval contingent was defeated after a surprise attack by the Roman ships, losing 29 ships and the control of seas around Iberia. The reputation of the Romans was further enhanced in Iberia after this victory, causing rebellion among some of the Iberian tribes under Carthaginian control. After Hanno's defeat in the Battle of Cissa in the winter of 218 BC, Gnaeus Scipio had spent his time consolidating his hold on the Iberian regions north of the Ebro and raiding the Iberian territory of Carthage south of the Ebro from his base at Tarraco, he had received no major reinforcements from Rome to augment his forces.
Meanwhile, Hasdrubal Barca, the Carthaginian commander in Iberia, had raised a number of Iberian levies to expand his army substantially. The Punic naval contingent in Iberia contained 32 quinqueremes and 5 triremes in 218 BC when Hannibal had departed from Iberia. During the winter of 218 BC, Hasdrubal had added a further 10 quinqueremes to this fleet and trained additional crews to man them. In the Spring of 217 BC, Hasdrubal mounted a joint expedition towards the Roman territory north of the Ebro. Hasdrubal himself commanded the army, the exact number of, unknown, his deputy Himilco led the fleet; the expedition followed the coastline, with the ships beaching beside the army at night. Gnaeus Scipio, fearing that the Carthaginian army outnumbered his own, resolved to fight a naval battle. Although he could only man 35 quinqueremes, the allied Greek city of Massilia had provided 20 ships for his fleet. After reaching the Ebro River, the Carthaginian fleet anchored near the estuary; the sailors and crew left their ships for foraging, as the fleet lacked transports carrying provisions.
Although Hasdrubal had posted scouts to detect the activities of the Romans, Himilco had no ships out at sea scouting for Roman ships. A pair of Massalian ships located the Punic fleet as it lay at anchor, slipped away undetected to warn Gnaeus of the Carthaginian presence; the Roman fleet sailed from Tarraco and was positioned only 10 miles to the north of the Carthaginian position when the warnings reached Gnaeus Scipio. Gnaeus manned his ships with picked legionaries, now sailed down to attack the Punic fleet. Hasdrubal's army scouts detected the approaching Roman fleet before the Punic navy and warned their fleet of the coming danger through fire signals. Most of the crews had been foraging, they hastily had to man their ships and sail out in a disorderly manner. There was little coordination and some ships were undermanned because of the surprise achieved by the Romans; as Himilco sailed out, Hasdrubal drew up his army on the shore to give encouragement to his fleet. Not only did the Romans have the advantage of total surprise and numbers, but the combat effectiveness of the Carthaginians is not reflected in the number of ships as one-quarter of their fleet had newly trained crew.
The Romans formed 2 lines with the 35 Roman ships in front and the 20 Massalian ships behind them, with the formation and the naval skill of the Massalians nullifying the superior manoeuvrability of the Carthaginian fleet. The Romans engaged the Carthaginian ships as they came out of the river and sinking four of them and boarding and capturing two more; the Carthaginian crews lost heart, beached their ships and sought safety among the army. The Romans hauled away 23 of the beached ships; the defeat proved to be decisive in the long run. Hasdrubal was obliged to march back to Cartagena, fearing seaborne attacks on Carthaginian territories. With the Iberian contingent of the Carthaginian navy shattered, Hasdrubal was forced to either call Carthage for reinforcements or build new ships, he did neither. The performance of the Iberian crews had been poor in the battle, their dismissal would spark a rebellion in the Turdetani tribe, forcing Carthage to send 4,000 infantry and 500 cavalry to Hasdrubal.
Hasdrubal would spend all of 216 BC subduing the rebels. In 217 BC, the main Carthaginian fleet captured. Publius Cornelius Scipio arrived in Iberia with 8,000 soldiers in the fall of that year with instructions from the Roman Senate to prevent any help from reaching Hannibal in Italy from Iberia; this is the only reinforcement the Roman Republic would send to Iberia before 211 BC. The Scipio brothers would raid Carthaginian Iberia, meet Hasdrubal at the Battle of Dertosa in 215 BC. Gnaeus Scipio had ensured that Roman seaborne supplies would not be intercepted by Carthaginian ships based in Iberia, that the Roman fleet in Iberia could raid the Carthaginian domain at will; the only major naval expedition against the Romans from Iberia would be that of Mago Barca to Italy in 204 BC. Bagnall, Nigel; the Punic Wars. ISBN 0-312-34214-4. Cottrell, Leonard. Hannibal: Enemy of Rome. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80498-0. Lazenby, John Francis. Hannibal's War. Aris & Phillips. ISBN 0-85668-080-X. Goldsworthy, Adrian.
The Fall of Carthage. Cassel Military Paperbacks. ISBN 0-304-36642-0. Peddie, John. Hannibal's War. Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-3797-1. Lancel, Serge. Hannibal. Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-21848-3. Baker, G. P.. Ha
Battle of Tarentum (212 BC)
The Battle of Tarentum in March 212 BC was a military engagement in the Second Punic War. The Romans had been waiting for a chance to strike at Capua, the capital of Campania in southern Italy, after it revolted against them following their defeat by the Carthaginian Hannibal at Cannae in 216 BC. Hannibal had made the city his winter headquarters, his proximity deterred the Romans. In 212 BC, Hannibal was called south to Tarentum, giving the Romans a chance to strike. Hannibal hoped for a success big enough to risk the loss of Capua, his eyes had long been set on the city of the richest in the whole of southern Italy. Hannibal had been in communication with a party of Tarentine citizens who were unhappy with Roman rule. A previous attempt had been made by the people of Tarentum to rid themselves of the Romans. However, it was thwarted by the precautions, he took effectual means for the defence of the city and sent some of the possible malcontents to Rome to serve as hostages for the good behaviour of the rest of the population.
These hostages were caught trying to escape, several of whom were convicted by the quaestores parricidii and sentenced to be flung from the Tarpeian Rock. This act infuriated the people of Tarentum. Marcus Livius, the governor of the city, was a good soldier but is said to be a man of indolent and luxurious habits. On the night appointed by Hannibal for the attack he was feasting with friends and retired to rest, heavy with food and wine. In the middle of the night he was awakened when the conspirators blew the alarm on some Roman trumpets and found Hannibal and 10,000 of his soldiers within the city. Many of the Roman soldiers were asleep or drunk and were cut down by the Carthaginians as they stumbled out into the streets. Hannibal kept control of his troops to the extent. Committed to respecting Tarentine freedom, Hannibal asked the Tarentines to mark houses where Tarentines lived. Only those houses not so marked and thus belonging to Romans were looted. Marcus Livius managed to bring his surviving troops to the citadel where they held off the Carthaginians for the duration of the war.
However, the city was lost. All the Greek towns in Southern Italy with the exception of Rhegium were now under Hannibal's control. Southern Italy provided Hannibal with a powerful foothold on the peninsula. However, when he heard news that the Romans were besieging Capua he turned his army around and only days after capturing Tarentum he was outside Capua. In the First Battle of Capua the besieging armies were temporarily driven off. At this point in history Hannibal looked invincible, having allies in southern Gaul, owning Southern Italy and Iberia. Cities in Sicily such as Syracuse had revolted as well. Hannibal was promised the support of the powerful army of King Philip V of Macedon across the Adriatic. However, Hannibal's successes were not enduring; the Romans soon re-established their siege of Capua, took the city following the Second Battle of Capua the next year. In 209 BC, Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus recaptured Tarentum through treachery. In the following years, Scipio Africanus rose to prominence in Rome's military campaigns, by copying Hannibal's tactics gained victory over Carthage.
The Punic Wars Later Campaigns
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