History of Sicily - Wars of Carthage and Syracuse - Passion For Italy

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History of Sicily - Wars of Carthage and Syracuse


Although decisively defeated by Syracuse and its allies at the battle of Himera in 480 BC, the city-state of Carthage continued to enjoy remarkable economic prosperity. Carthage had expanded its domain well beyond its seat on the north coast of Africa, and by 409 BC was ready to renew its adventures against the Greeks of Sicily. Confusing hostilities ensued in seesaw fashion for over a century.


The wars opened with a lightning-fast three months invasion by Carthage. In addition to the Phonecian settlements in northwest Sicily that were her traditional allies, Carthage was further strengthened by an alliance with Segesta. The allied forces first stormed and destroyed the coastal Sicilian city of Selinunte [Selinus], Segesta's long-time enemy. Then the Carthaginian forces sped across Sicily to Himera on the northern coast, site of their overwhelming defeat just 69 years earlier. Led by Syracuse, other Greek cities of the island hurridly sent support to Himera, but the Sicel and Siculi settlements sided with the invaders. After seizing Himera in a furious assault and slaughtering its inhabitants, the victorious Carthaginian leader returned to Carthage, leaving his forces in firm control of the entire area to the north and west of the captured cities.


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