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A Manual of Ancient History by A. H. L. Heeren

Routs the Carthaginians near Himera


_From the breaking out of the wars with Syracuse, to the commencement of those with Rome, B. C. 480-264._

1. The great object of Carthaginian policy during the whole of the above period, was to subdue Sicily; this object the nation pursued with extraordinary pertinacity, often approximating to, but never obtaining, complete success. The growing power of Syracuse, which likewise aimed at the sole possession of the island, laid the foundation of that national hatred which now arose between the Sicilian Greeks and the Carthaginians.

2. First attempt, arising out of the league formed with Xerxes I. upon his irruption into Greece. Gelon of Syracuse, in a victory more decisive even than that gained by Themistocles over the Persians at Salamis, routs the Carthaginians near Himera, and compels them to accede to a disgraceful peace.

3. This defeat was followed by a period of tranquillity lasting seventy years, during which we know little about Carthage. All that we can say with any probability is, that in the mean time the struggle for territory between Cyrene and Carthage commenced and terminated to the advantage of the latter state, whose dominion was generally extended and confirmed in Africa by wars with the aboriginal tribes.

4. But the accession of Dionysius I. to the throne of Syracuse, and the

ambitious project formed by him and his successors, of subjecting to their rule all Sicily and Magna-Grecia, rekindled once more the embers of war, which had only smouldered for a short time, to burst forth with additional violence.

Repeated and bloody wars with Dionysius I. between the years 410-368. Neither party able to expel the other: terms of the last peace; that each party should remain in possession of what he then occupied. Second commercial treaty with Rome.

Crafty advantage taken by the Carthaginians of the internal commotions at Syracuse during and subsequent to the reign of Dionysius II: they endeavour to obtain their end; but are thwarted by the heroism of Timoleon, 345-340.

A new and frightful war with Agathocles, the seat of which is transferred from Sicily into Africa itself; it at last terminates in favour of Carthage, 311-307.

The war with Pyrrhus, 277-275, whose ambition gave rise to an alliance between Carthage and Rome, contributed likewise to increase the preponderance of the Carthaginians in Sicily; and probably the perseverance of that people, and their skill in profiting by circumstances, would at last have enabled them to attain their object, had not the seeds of war been thereby scattered between Carthage and Rome.

5. What effect these Sicilian wars had upon the state we are not informed. They were probably regarded in Carthage as a beneficial channel for carrying off the popular fermentation;--nevertheless, two attempts, both unsuccessful, were made by some of the aristocratical party, to overthrow the constitution; first by Hanno, 340, and afterwards by Bomilcar, 308.--At the breaking out, however, of the war with Rome, the commonwealth was so formidable and mighty, that even the finances of the state do not appear to have been at all affected; a circumstance of the highest importance. What consequence was it to Carthage whether 100,000 barbarians more or less existed in the world, so long as there remained plenty of men willing to suffer themselves to be sold, and she possessed money to purchase them?

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