Sicilian Wars (480-306)

Table of content:

  • Battle of the Helorus River (~492 BC)
  • I. First Sicilian War (480 BCE)
  • I-A-001 Battle of Himera (480 BCE)
  • Naval Battle of Cumae (474 BC)
  • Battle of Akragas (~472 BC)
  • The Sicilian Expedition [415-413 BCE)
  • II. Second Sicilian War (410-404 BCE)
  • II-A-001 Battle of Selinus (409 BCE)
  • II-A-002 Second Battle of Himera (409 BCE)
  • II-A-003 Naval Battle of Eryx (406 BCE)
  • II-A-004 Siege of Acragas (406 BCE)
  • II-A-005 Battle of Gela (405 BCE)
  • III. Third Sicilian War (398-392 BCE)
  • III-A-001 Siege of Motya (398 BCE)
  • III-A-002 Battle of Catania (397 BCE)
  • III-A-003 Siege of Syracuse(397 BCE)
  • III-A-004 Siege of Tauromenium(394 BCE)
  • III-A-005 Battle of Abacaenum (393 BCE)
  • Battle of the Elleporus (389 BCE)
  • Siege of Rhegium (387 BCE)
  • IV. Fourth Sicilian War (383-376 BCE)
  • IV-A-001 Battle of Cronium (376 BCE)
  • IV-A-002 Battle of Cabala (~377/375)
  • V. Fifth Sicilian War (368-367 BCE)
  • VI. Sixth Sicilian War (345-339 BCE)
  • Battle of Hadranum (344 BC) (Timoleon)
  • Siege of Syracuse (343 BCE)
  • VI-A-001 Battle of Crimissus river (339 BCE) (Timoleon)
  • Battle of Damurias river (338 BCE) (Timoleon)
  • Battle of Abolus river (337 BCE) (Timoleon)
  • VII. Seventh Sicilian War (311-306 BCE)
  • VII-A-001 Battle of the Himera River (311_BC)
  • VII-A-002 Battle of Ecnomus mountain (311 BCE)
  • VII-A-003 Siege of Syracuse (311-309 BCE)
  • VII-A-004 Battle of White Tunis (310 BCE)

Sicilian Wars (Greco-Punic Wars) (480-306[*]BCE)

Greco-Punic Wars
The Greco-Punic Wars (Sicilian Wars) – An Epic Saga of Changing Fortunes fought against the backdrop of centuries.


POD-001: Trade with Egypt, Conflict with Carthage

POD-002: How to Build an Ancient Greek Warship

POD-003: The Maritime History Podcast (47 Episodes)

The Greco-Punic Wars, (Sicilian Wars), were a series of conflicts fought between ancient Carthage and the Greek city-states led by Syracuse, Sicily over control of Sicily and the western Mediterranean between 480 and 306 BC.

Carthage’s economic success and its dependence on seaborne trade led to the creation of a powerful navy to discourage both pirates and rival nations.

They had inherited their naval strength and experience from their forebears, the Phoenicians, but had increased it because, unlike the Phoenicians, the Punics did not want to rely on a foreign nation’s aid. This, coupled with its success and growing hegemony, brought Carthage into increasing conflict with the Greeks, the other major power contending for control of the central Mediterranean.

The Greeks, like the Phoenicians, were expert sailors who had established thriving colonies throughout the Mediterranean. These two rivals fought their wars on the island of Sicily, which lay close to Carthage. From their earliest days, both the Greeks and Phoenicians had been attracted to the large island, establishing a large number of colonies and trading posts along its coasts. Small battles had been fought between these settlements for centuries.

No Carthaginian records of the war exist today because when the city was destroyed in 146 BC by the Romans, the books from Carthage’s library were distributed among the nearby African tribes. None remain on the topic of Carthaginian history. As a result, most of what we know about the Sicilian Wars comes from Greek historians.

(source: Wikipedia)

I. First Sicilian War (480[*]BCE)

Seahorse and Chess Piece
A tale of two Cities, Carthage and Syracuse, fighting for Dominance.


Carthage responded to the call for aid by Terrilus, tyrant of Himera, after Theron deposed him in 483 BC to set up an expedition to Sicily. Carthage could not ignore this imminent threat because the Gelo-Theron alliance was about to take over the whole of Sicily, and Hamilcar was a guest friend of Terrilus.

Carthage may have also chosen this time to attack because a Persian fleet attacked mainland Greece in the same year.

The theory that there was an alliance with Persia is disputed, because Carthage neither liked foreign involvement in their wars, nor wanted to contribute to foreign wars, unless they had strong reasons to do so. But because control of Sicily was a valuable prize for Carthage and because Carthage fielded its largest military force to date, under the leadership of the general Hamilcar, Carthage was eager for war.

Traditional accounts give Hamilcar’s army a strength of 300,000 men; this number seems unlikely because, even at its peak, the Carthaginian Empire would have only been able to muster a force of about 50,000 to 100,000 men.

If Carthage had allied with Persia, they might have supplied Carthage mercenaries and aid, which the Persians undoubtedly had, but there is no evidence to support this cooperation between the Carthaginians and the Persians.

En route to Sicily, the Punic fleet suffered losses, possibly severe, due to poor weather.

After landing at Ziz, the Punic name for Panormus, modern-day Palermo, Hamilcar was then decisively defeated by Gelo at the Battle of Himera, which was said to have occurred on the same day as the Battle of Salamis.

Hamilcar was either killed during the battle or committed suicide in shame.

The loss caused changes in the political and economic landscape of Carthage, the old government of entrenched nobility was ousted, replaced by the Carthaginian Republic. The king still remained, but he had very little power and most power was entrusted to the Council of Elders. Carthage paid 2,000 talents as reparations to the Greeks, and did not intervene in Sicily for 70 years.

In Sicily, Carthage lost no territory and the Greeks gained none.

Syracuse did not attack Rhegion or Selinus, allies of Carthage.

The booty from the war helped to fund a public building program in Sicily, Greek culture flourishing as a result. Trading activity saw the prosperity of the Greek cities increase and the wealth of Akragas began to rival that of Sybaris.

Gelo died in 478 BC and, within the next 20 years, the Greek tyrants were overthrown and the Syracuse-Akragas alliance fragmented into 11 feuding commonwealths under oligarchs and democracies.

Their bickering and future expansionist policies led to the Second Sicilian war.

(source: Wikipedia)

I-A-001 Battle of Himera (480[*]BCE)

Gelon of Syracuse - Tyrant and Estute Miltary Commander
Gelon of Syracuse – Tyrant and Astute Military Commander


VID-001: How the Battle of Himera Started the Sicilian Wars

VID-002: Greco-Carthaginian Sicilian Wars

POD-001: Battle of Himera

POD-002: Himera

POD-003: The Histories of Herodotus Excerpt

POD-004: Battle of Himera

PRIM-001: Diodorus on Himera

PRIM-002: Herodotus on Himera

The Battle of Himera (480 BC), supposedly fought on the same day as the Battle of Salamis, or at the same time as the Battle of Thermopylae, saw the Greek forces of Gelon, King of Syracuse, and Theron, tyrant of Agrigentum, defeat the Carthaginian force of Hamilcar the Magonid, ending a Carthaginian bid to restore the deposed tyrant of Himera.

The alleged coincidence of this battle with the naval battle of Salamis and the resultant derailing of a Punic-Persian conspiracy aimed at destroying the Greek civilization is rejected by modern scholars.

Scholars also agree that the battle led to the crippling of Carthage’s power in Sicily for many decades. It was one of the most important battles of the Sicilian Wars.

The discovery in 2007 and 2008 of mass graves from the battle has confirmed the location and nature of the battle.

(source: Wikipedia)


VID-001: The Ancient City of Cumae

POD-001: Battle of Cumae 474 BCE. The rise of Syracuse.

In the naval battle, after he was called on for military assistance, Hiero I of Syracuse allied with naval forces from the maritime Greek cities of southern Italy to defend against Etruscan expansion into southern Italy.

In 474, they met and defeated the Etruscan fleet at Cumae in the Bay of Naples.

After their defeat, the Etruscans lost much of their political influence in Italy.

They lost control of the sea and their territories were eventually taken over by the Romans, Samnites, and Gauls.

(source: Wikipedia)

The Sicilian Expedition (415-413[*]BCE)

[Note by Mako: Although the Sicilian Expedition onto itself primarily belongs to the Peloponnesian War — fought between Athens on one side and Sparta, Syracuse and Corinth on the other — rather than the Greco-Punic Wars, I have included it here because it had a powerful long lasting effect on both Syracuse and Athens, while serving as a prime example of the Unpredictable Nature and Shifting Fortunes of Human Affairs…]

The Sicilian Expedition
The Sicilian Expedition, the Inglorious Downfall of Ancient Athens and Classical Greece.


VID-001: The Fall of Athens: The Peloponnesian War

VID-002: The Peloponnesian War and its Aftermath

VID-003: Consequences of the War

POD-001: Sicilian Expedition 415 BC

POD-002: Nicias – Sicilian Expedition

POD-003: Alcibiades

POD-004: Alcibiades and the Art of Intrigue

POD-005: Disaster in Sicily

POD-006: Alcibiades, Sicily, and the War’s End

POD-007: Peloponnesian War – Will Durant

POD-008: The Struggle for Hegemony in Fourth-Century Greece

POD-009: War and Empire

POD-010: The Psychopathy of Alcibiades

POD-011: Nemesis: Alcibiades and the Fall of Athens

PRIM-001: Thucydides on the destruction of the Athenian army

The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian military expedition to Sicily, which took place from 415-413 BCE during the Peloponnesian War between Athens on one side and Sparta, Syracuse and Corinth on the other.

The expedition ended in a devastating defeat for the Athenian forces, severely impacting Athens.

The expedition was hampered from the outset by uncertainty in its purpose and command structure — political maneuvering in Athens swelled a lightweight force of twenty ships into a massive armada, and the expedition’s primary proponent, Alcibiades, was recalled from command to stand trial before the fleet even reached Sicily.

Still, the Athenians achieved early successes.

Syracuse, the most powerful state in Sicily, responded exceptionally slowly to the Athenian threat and, as a result, was almost completely invested before the arrival of back up in the form of Spartan general, Gylippus, who galvanized its inhabitants into action.

From that point forward, however, as the Athenians ceded the initiative to their newly energized opponents, the tide of the conflict shifted.

A massive reinforcing armada from Athens briefly gave the Athenians the upper hand once more, but a disastrous failed assault on a strategic high point and several crippling naval defeats damaged the Athenian soldiers’ ability to continue fighting and also their morale.

The Athenians attempted a last-ditch evacuation from Syracuse.

The evacuation failed, and nearly the entire expedition were captured or were destroyed in Sicily.

The effects of the defeat were immense.

Two hundred ships and thousands of soldiers, an appreciable portion of Athens’ total manpower, were lost in a single stroke.

The city’s enemies on the mainland and in Persia were encouraged to take action, and rebellions broke out in the Aegean.

Some historians consider the defeat to have been the turning point in the war, though Athens continued to fight for another decade.

Thucydides observed that contemporary Greeks were shocked not that Athens eventually fell after the defeat, but rather that it fought on for as long as it did, so devastating were the losses suffered.

(source: Wikipedia)

II. Second Sicilian War (410-404[*]BCE)

Hermocrates the Sicilian - Sycilian General
Hermocrates the Sicilian – Syracuse General both involved with the Sicilian expedition and the Second Sicilian War


While the Greek cities in Sicily bickered and prospered for 70 years after Himera, Carthage had conquered the northern fertile half of modern-day Tunisia, and strengthened and founded new colonies in North Africa, such as Leptis and Oea, modern Tripoli.

Carthage had also sponsored the journey of Mago Barca (not to be confused with Mago Barca, Hannibal Barca’s brother) across the Sahara Desert to Cyrenaica, and Hanno the Navigator’s journey down the African coast. The Iberian colonies had seceded in that year with the help of the Iberians, cutting off Carthage’s major supply of silver and copper.

In Sicily, Dorian-Greek Selinus and Ionian-Greek (former Elymian) Segesta renewed their rivalry.

Selinus encroached on Segestan land and defeated the Segestians in 416 BC.

Carthage turned down their plea for help, but Athens responded to the Segestan plea and the Sicilian Expedition sent by Athens was destroyed in 413 BC by the joint effort of the Sicilian cities with Spartan aid.

Selinus again defeated Segesta in 411 BC.

This time Segesta submitted to Carthage, and a Carthaginian relief force sent by Hannibal Mago helped Segesta defeat Selinus in 410 BC. Carthage sought to end the matter diplomatically while assembling a larger force.

After a round of diplomacy involving Carthage, Segesta, Selinus, and Syracuse failed to bring about a reconciliation between Segesta and Selinus, Hannibal Mago set out for Sicily with a larger force. He succeeded in capturing Selinus after winning the Battle of Selinus, then destroyed Himera after winning the Second Battle of Himera despite Syracusan intervention. Hannibal did not press on to attack Akragas or Syracuse, but returned triumphantly to Carthage with the spoils of war in 409 BC.

While Syracuse and Akragas, the strongest and richest cities of Sicily, took no action against Carthage, the renegade Syracusan general Hermocrates raised a small army and raided Punic territory from his base Selinus. He managed to defeat the forces of Motya and Panormus before losing his life in a coup attempt in Syracuse. In retaliation Hannibal Mago led a second Carthaginian expedition in 406 BC.

This time the Carthaginians met with fierce resistance and ill-fortune.

During the Siege of Akragas the Carthaginian forces were ravaged by plague, and Hannibal Mago himself succumbed to it.

Himilco, his successor, captured and sacked Akragas, then captured the city of Gela, sacked Camarina and repeatedly defeated the army of Dionysius I, the new tyrant of Syracuse.

The plague struck the Carthaginian army again, and Himilco agreed to a peace treaty that left the Carthaginians in control of all the recent conquests, with Selinus, Thermae, Akragas, Gela and Camarina as tributary vassals.

Carthaginian power was at its peak in Sicily.

(source: Wikipedia)

II-A-001 Battle of Selinus (409[*]BCE)

Sicily_Selinunte (Selinus) Temple-E Dedicated to Hera
Sicily – Selinunte (Selinus) Temple-E Dedicated to Hera, the goddess of women, marriage, family and childbirth (source – Wikimedia commons)


VID-001: The Battle of Selinus

VID-002: Selinus

POD-001: Revenge of the Magonids

The Battle of Selinus, which took place early in 409 BC, is the opening battle of the so-called Second Sicilian War.

The ten-day-long siege and battle was fought in Sicily between the Carthaginian forces under Hannibal Mago (a king of Carthage of the Magonid family, not the famous Hannibal of the Barcid family) and the Dorian Greeks of Selinus.

The city of Selinus had defeated the Elymian city of Segesta in 415, an event that led to the Athenian invasion of Sicily in 415 and ended in the defeat of Athenian forces in 413.

When Selinus again worsted Segesta in 411, Carthage, responding to the appeal of Segesta, had besieged and sacked Selinus after the Carthaginian offer of negotiations had been refused by the Greeks.

This was the first step towards Hannibal’s campaign to avenge the Carthaginian defeat at the first battle of Himera in 480.

The city of Selinus was later rebuilt, but never regained her former status.

(source: Wikipedia)

II-A-002 Second Battle of Himera (409[*]BCE)
3D Rendering of the Ancient Temple of Victory at Himera dedicated to the First Battle of Himera, dated 480 BCE (source:

VID-001: The Battle of Himera

VID-002: Himera

Near the site of the first battle and great Carthaginian defeat of 480 BC, the Second Battle of Himera was fought near the city of Himera in Sicily in 409 between the Carthaginian forces under Hannibal Mago (a king of Carthage of the Magonid family, not the famous Hannibal of the Barcid family) and the Ionian Greeks of Himera aided by an army and a fleet from Syracuse.

Hannibal, acting under the instructions of the Carthaginian senate, had previously sacked and destroyed the city of Selinus after the Battle of Selinus in 409.

Hannibal then destroyed Himera which was never rebuilt.

(source: Wikipedia)

II-A-003. Naval Battle of Eryx (406[*]BCE)


In 406 BC, a sea-fight took place between a Carthaginian and a Syracusan fleet off the neighborhood of Eryx, in which the latter was victorious.

On occasion of the great expedition of Dionysius I of Syracuse to the west of Sicily in 397 BC, Eryx was one of the cities which joined the Syracusan despot just before the siege of Motya, but it was speedily recovered by Himilco in the following year.

It again fell into the hands of Dionysius shortly before his death,] but must have been once more recovered by the Carthaginians and probably continued subject to their rule until the expedition of Pyrrhus (278 BC).

On that occasion it was occupied by a strong garrison, which, combined with its natural strength of position, enabled it to oppose a vigorous resistance to the king of Epirus. It was, however, taken by assault, Pyrrhus himself leading the attack, and taking the opportunity to display his personal prowess as a worthy descendant of Heracles.

(source: Wikipedia)

II-A-004. Siege of Akragas (406[*]BCE)

Temple of Concordia, Agrigento
Temple of Concordia, Agrigento, the largest and best-preserved Doric temple in Sicily.



VID-001: Battle of Akragas

VID-002: Quick History of the Greek Colony of Acragas

VID-003: Akragas, the temple of Zeus

VID-004: Ancient Greek city of Akragas (Agrigento) Sicily

VID-005: Valley of the Temples – Agrigento

VID-006: Ancient Sicily and the Valley of Temples

The siege of Akragas took place in 406 BC in Sicily; the Carthaginian enterprise ultimately lasted a total of eight months.

The Carthaginian army under Hannibal Mago besieged the Dorian Greek city of Akragas in retaliation for the Greek raids on Punic colonies in Sicily.

The city managed to repel Carthaginian attacks until a relief army from Syracuse defeated part of the besieging Carthaginian army and lifted the siege of the city.

During the siege, Hannibal and a large number of Carthaginian soldiers perished from the plague, and the survivors were in dire straits after the Greeks managed to cut their supply lines.

The Carthaginians, now led by Himilco, a Magonid kinsman of Hannibal, managed to capture a Greek supply convoy of ships using the Carthaginian fleet, which forced the Greeks to face the threat of starvation in turn.

This caused first the Sicilian Greek detachment, then most of the population of Akragas to leave the city, enabling Himilco to capture and sack the city.

(source: Wikipedia)

II-A-005 Battle of Gela (405[*]BCE)

Battle of Gela 405 BC – A Grand Multi-Unit Stratagem by Dionysius the Elder, hampered by weak battlefield communication and out-of-sync tactical unit coordination.


VID-001: History of Greek and Hellenistic Sicily

VID-002: History of Sicily, ancient period

VID-003: Ancient Greeks in Italy and Sicily

The Battle of Gela took place in the summer of 405 BC in Sicily.

The Carthaginian army under Himilco (a member of the Magonid family and kinsman of Hannibal Mago), which had spent the winter and spring in the captured city of Akragas, marched to confront the Greeks at Gela.

The Syracuse government had deposed Daphnaeus, the unsuccessful general of the Greek army at Akragas, with Dionysius, another officer who had been a follower of Hermocrates.

Dionysius schemed and gained full dictatorial powers.

When the Carthaginians advanced on Gela and put the town under siege, Dionysius marched from Syracuse to confront the threat.

He planned to use a complex three-pronged attack plan against the Carthaginians, which failed due to lack of proper coordination.

Dionysius chose to evacuate Gela, as the defeat caused discontent in Syracuse and he did not wish to lose his power.

Himilco sacked the abandoned city after the Greeks had fled to Camarina.

(source: Wikipedia)

III. Third Sicilian War (398-392[*]BCE)

Dionysius I of Syracuse (Dionysius the Elder)
Dionysius I of Syracuse, a competent harsh despot whose conquests made Silicy the most powerful of the Western Greek Colonies.


By 398 BC, Dionysius had consolidated his strength and broke the peace treaty, commencing the Siege of Motya and capturing the city.

Himilco responded decisively, leading an expedition which not only reclaimed Motya, but also captured Messina.

Finally, he laid siege to Syracuse itself after decisively defeating the Greeks in the naval Battle of Catana.

The siege met with great success throughout 397 BC, but in 396 BC plague again ravaged the Carthaginian forces, and they collapsed.

Carthage lost her new Greek conquests but retained control over the western territories and the Elymians.

No treaty was signed between the belligerents to signal the end of the war.

Dionysius soon rebuilt his power and sacked Solus in 396 BC.

He was engaged in eastern Sicily during 396-393 BC, including the Siege of Tauromenium (394 BC).

At this time, Carthage was occupied in Africa dealing with a rebellion.

In 393 BC, Mago, successor of Himilco, led an attack on Messina, but was defeated near Abacaenum by Dionysius.

Reinforced by Carthage, Mago led another expedition through central Sicily, but ran into trouble near the River Chrysas. Dionysius also faced difficulties of his own, and a peace treaty was concluded that basically ensured Carthage and Syracuse left each other alone in their respective spheres of influence.

(source: Wikipedia)

III-A-001 Siege of Motya (398[*]BCE)

Statue of a Youthfull Charioteer found in October 1979 in the ancient city of Motya
Statue of a Youthfull Charioteer found in October 1979 in the ancient city of Motya (Mozia), originally a Phoenician settlement which occupied the island of San Pantaleo off the coast of Sicily (Museo Giuseppe Whitaker, Mozia)


POD-001: The Death of Motya

POD-002: The Motya charioteer

PRIM-001: Diodorus on the Fall of Motya

The siege of Motya took place either in 398 or 397 BC in western Sicily.

Dionysius, after securing peace with Carthage in 405 BC, had steadily increased his military power and had tightened his grip on Syracuse. He had fortified Syracuse against sieges and had created a large army of mercenaries and a large fleet, in addition to employing the catapult and quinqueremes for the first time in history.

In 398 BC, he attacked and sacked the Phoenician city of Motya despite the Carthaginian relief effort led by Himilco.

Carthage also lost most of her territorial gains secured in 405 BC after Dionysius declared war on Carthage in 398 BC.

(source: Wikipedia)

III-A-002 Battle of Catania (397[*]BCE)

Battle of Catania ending in a Crushing Naby Defeat for the Greeks
Battle of Catania, which ended in a Crushing Navy Defeat for the Greeks, set against the Historical Background of an erupting Mount Etna.


VID-001: Ships for Trade and Naval Warfare (478 – 336 BC)

VID-002: Armies and Tactics: Ancient Greek Navies

VID-003: Inside an Athens Trireme

VID-004: “The Greek Trireme” – by Professor Boris Rankov

POD-001: Battle of Catania

The Battle of Catana took place in the summer of 397 BC.

The Greek fleet under Leptines, the brother of Dionysius I of Syracuse, engaged the Carthaginian fleet under Mago near the city of Catana in Sicily.

While the Greek army under Dionysius was present near the city of Catana during the battle, the Carthaginian army under Himilco was away in the interior of Sicily, making a detour around the erupting Mount Etna.

The Carthaginian fleet crushed the Greek fleet in the battle, leading to the Carthaginian siege of Syracuse later in 397 BC.

(source: Wikipedia)

III-A-003 Siege of Syracuse(397[*]BCE)

The Epic Struggle for Dominance of the Mediterranean Sea between Carthage and Syracuse
The Epic Struggle for Dominance of the Mediterranean Sea between Carthage and Syracuse


VID-001: Siege of Syracuse

VID-002: Arial Drone Voyage of Syracuse

VID-003: Ancient Sicily and the Valley of Temples

VID-004: History of Ancient Sicily – Year by Year

VID-005: Siracusa 3D Reborn

VID-006: Sicily The Wonder of the Mediterranean 1

VID-007: Sicily The Wonder of the Mediterranean 2

VID-008: History of Greek and Hellenistic Sicily

POD-001: Sicily a force to be reckoned with in the ancient world

POD-002: How did Greek Rule Impact Ancient Sicily

POD-003: Sicily: An Island at the Crossroads of History

POD-004: Introduction to Ancient Greek Colonies

POD-005: The Greek “Renaissance” – Colonization and Tyranny

POD-006: Megas Hellas: The Greeks of Italy and Sicily

POD-007: Sculptural Display in Ancient Greek Temples

The siege of Syracuse in 397 BC was the first of four unsuccessful sieges Carthaginian forces would undertake against Syracuse from 397 to 278 BC.

In retaliation for the siege of Motya by Dionysius of Syracuse, Himilco of the Magonid family of Carthage led a substantial force to Sicily. After retaking Motya and founding Lilybaeum, Himilco sacked Messana, then laid siege to Syracuse in the autumn of 397 BC after the Greek navy was crushed at Catana.

The Carthaginians followed a strategy which the Athenians had used in 415 BC and were successful in isolating Syracuse.

A pestilence broke out in the Carthaginian camp in the summer of 396 BC, which killed the majority of the troops.

Dionysius launched a combined land and sea attack on the Carthaginian forces, and Himilco escaped with the Carthaginian citizens after an underhanded deal with Dionysius. The surviving Libyans were enslaved, the Sicels melted away while the Iberians joined Dionysius.

Dionysius began expanding his domain, while Carthage, weakened by the plague, took no action against Syracusan activities until 393 BC.

(source: Wikipedia)

III-A-004 Siege of Tauromenium(394[*]BCE)

A phiale is a special type of bowl, used to pour wine onto an altar in sacrifice to the gods
Metropolitan.Museum.New.York – Phiale [dated 4th/3rd Century BCE]. A phiale is a special type of bowl, used to pour wine onto an altar in sacrifice to the gods (Almost Identical to the one found on Sicily)


POD-001: Siege of Tauromenium

[Note by Mako: The below three videos are NOT about Tauromenium but Greek BBC Documenturies on Greek History Worth Watching]

VID-001: Ancient Greece: BBC – T.G.S.O.E – Democrats

VID-002: Ancient Greece: BBC – T.G.S.O.E – Kings

VID-003: Ancient Greece: BBC – T.G.S.O.E – Romans

The Siege of Tauromenium was laid down by Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, in the winter of 394 BC, in the course of the Sicilian Wars against Carthage.

After defeating the Carthaginians at the Battle of Syracuse in 397 BC, Dionysius had been expanding his territory and political influence by conquering Sicilian lands and planting Greek colonies in northeastern Sicily.

Tauromenium was a Sicilian city allied to Carthage and in a position to threaten both Syracuse and Messina.

Dionysius laid siege to the city in the winter of 394 BC, but had to lift the siege after his night assault was defeated.

Carthage responded to this attack on their allies by renewing the war, which was ended by a peace treaty in 392 BC that granted Dionysius overlordship of the Sicels, while Carthage retained all territory west of the Halykos and Himera rivers in Sicily.

(source: Wikipedia)

III-A-005 Battle of Abacaenum (393 BCE)

Coinage from Abacaenum, Sicily, Ca. 450-400 BC (source:


VID-001: History Summarized – Sicily

VID-002: Ancient History Guy – Ancient History Cartoons

VID-003: History of Greek Colonies in Sicily

VID-004: Sicily – Myth and History

The Battle of Abacaenum took place between the Carthaginian forces under Mago and the Greek army under Dionysius in 393 BC near the Sicilian town on Abacaenum in north-eastern Sicily.

Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, had been expanding his influence over Sicels’ territories in Sicily. After Dionysius’ unsuccessful siege in 394 BC of Tauromenium, a Carthaginian ally, Mago decided to attack Messana.

However, the Carthaginian army was defeated by the Greeks near the town of Abacaenum and had to retire to the Carthaginian territories in Western Sicily.

Dionysius did not attack the Carthaginians but continued to expand his influence in eastern Sicily.

(source: Wikipedia)

IV. Fourth Sicilian War (383-376[*]BCE)



Dionysius opened hostilities again in 383 BC. Mago allied with the Italiot league led by Taras and landed in force at Bruttium, forcing Syracuse into a two front war.

Details of the first four years of campaigns are sketchy, but in 378 BC Dionysius defeated Mago in Sicily in the Battle of Cabala. Carthage, also faced with rebellions in Africa and Sardinia, sued for peace.

Dionysius asked Carthage to evacuate all Sicily, so war was again renewed, and Himilco, son of Mago, destroyed the Syracusan army at the Battle of Cronium in 376 BC.

The subsequent peace treaty forced Dionysius to pay 1000 talents as reparations and left Carthage in control of Western Sicily.

IV-A-001 Battle of Cronium (376[*]BCE)

The Fourth Sicilian War saw the Syracusean army of Dionysius I defeated by Carthaginian forces led by Hamilco Mago.


VID-001: Ancient Greek Cities in Italy – I

VID-002: Ancient Greek Cities in Italy – II

VID-003: Sicily the Greek Legacy in the West

VID-004: Magna Graecia – Western Greeks at War

VID-005: A Brief History of Greek Colonisation

VID-006: Why did the Greeks establish colonies?

VID-007: What did the Ancient Greeks eat?

POD-001: Greek and local populations in Magna Graecia

The Battle of Cronium (c. 376 BCE) was part of the Sicilian Wars and took place in Sicily.

A Syracusan army, led by Dionysius I, was defeated by a Carthaginian army, led by Himilco Mago, Mago II’s son.

The Carthaginians won the day having routed the enemy army. Leptines, Dionysius’ brother, was killed during the battle.

The location of Cronium is considered to be close to modern Palermo.

(source: Wikipedia)

IV-A-002 Battle of Cabala (375[*]BCE)

MAN - Contemplating the Human Cost Merciless Nature of War.
MAN – Contemplating the Terrible Cost and Merciless Nature of War.


PRIM-001: The Library of History – Diodorus Siculus

VID-001: Bibliotheca Historica

VID-002: Legendary Passages (100+ Ancient – excellent!)

The Battle of Cabala was fought in Sicily between Carthage and Syracuse. Syracuse was victorious.

It is uncertain in what year it was fought and could have occurred in any year from 378 BCE to 375 BCE.

The exact location of Cabala is also unknown.

Dionysius I commanded the Syracusian forces while Mago commanded the Carthaginians.

Diodorus states that Mago was killed and the Carthaginians lost 10,000 dead and a further 5000 were taken prisoners.

(source: Wikipedia)

V. Fifth Sicilian War (368-367[*]BCE)

With a Weak and Incompetent Tyrant on the Throne, Dionysius II, and the Economy Drowning in Debt, Syracuse Future does not look bright.

Dionysius again attacked Punic possessions in 368 BC, and laid siege to Lilybaeum.

The defeat of his fleet was a severe setback.

After his death in 367 BC, his son Dionysius II (Dionysius the Younger) made peace with Carthage, and Carthage retained her Sicilian possessions west of the Halcyas and Himeras rivers.

(source: Wikipedia)

V-A-001 Dionysius the Younger (Dionysius II)

Dionysus II and Damocles Sword
Dionysius II draws Damocles’s attention to the sword hanging above him, (Richard Westall – 1812).


POD-001: Wars in Ancient Sicily

POD-002: Sicily – culture and conquest

POD-003: Sicily – An Island at the Crossroads of History

POD-004: Sword of Damocles

When his father died in 367 BCE, Dionysius, who was at the time under thirty years old, and completely inexperienced in public affairs, inherited the supreme power and began ruling under the supervision of his uncle, Dion, whose disapproval of the young Dionysius’s lavishly dissolute lifestyle compelled him to invite his teacher Plato to visit Syracuse. Together they attempted to restructure the government to be more moderate, with Dionysius as the archetypal philosopher-king (see the Seventh Letter of Plato).

However, under the influence of opponents of Dion’s reforms, Dionysius conspired with the historian Philistus and banished his uncle, taking complete power in 366 BCE.

Without Dion, Dionysius’s rule became increasingly unpopular, as he was mostly incompetent in governing men and commanding soldiers.

When Plato appealed for Dion’s return, the irritated Dionysius interfered with Dion’s property and finances and gave his wife to another man. Before this, Dion’s Syracusan estates had financed his peaceful and comfortable life overseas in Athens, but Dionysius’s last offence spurred him into action.

Dion formed a small army at Zacynthus and returned to Sicily in 357 BCE, much to the delight of the Syracusans.

As Dionysius was in Caulonia, Italy at the time, Dion took all but Syracuse’s island citadel easily.

Dionysius sailed back to Syracuse immediately, attempted attacks from the citadel and tried to negotiate peace treaties. When he was unsuccessful in all attempts, he sailed to Locri and left the citadel in the hands of his son Apollocrates.

While in exile, Dionysius took advantage of the friendly citizens of Locri and became the city’s tyrant, treating the locals with great cruelty.

He did not return to Syracuse until 346 BCE, eight years after Dion’s assassination by his officers.

(source: Wikipedia)

VI. Sixth Sicilian War (345-339[*]BCE)

Timoleon the Great
Timoleon the Great – A brilliant Corinthian general whom defeated Carthage’s Powerful Sacred Band at the battle of Crimissus and liberated Syracuse and Sicily from Tyranny.


POD-001: Plutarch Timoleon

POD-002: Nepos – Timoleon Corinthius

POD-003: Life of Timoleon by Plutarch

PRIM-001: Plutarch on Timoleon

PRIM-002: Plutarch – Parallel Lives – Timoleon

The Battle of the Crimissus was fought in 339 BC between a large Carthaginian army commanded by Asdrubal and Hamilcar and an army from Syracuse led by Timoleon.

Carthage had tried to prevent Timoleon’s arrival on Sicily, where he had been invited by the citizens of Syracuse to depose the Greek tyrants and restore democracy and order.

After liberating Syracuse itself, Timoleon sent his mercenaries to raid the Carthaginian territory on western Sicily.

Carthage had already gathered a large army, which was moving towards Syracuse in response to the raids.

Vastly outnumbered, Timoleon attacked the Carthaginian army while it was crossing the Crimissus river.

The Carthaginians fiercely resisted the initial assault, but a storm which started during the battle worked to the advantage of the Greeks. When the first rank of the Carthaginian army was defeated, the whole army was routed. The Greeks killed or captured many of those who fled and Carthage lost a large number of its wealthiest citizens in the battle.

When he defeated another much smaller force of Carthaginians shortly afterwards, Carthage sued for peace.

The peace allowed the Greek cities on Sicily to recover and began a period of stability.

However, another war between Syracuse and Carthage would erupt after Timoleon’s death, not long after Agathocles seized power in 317 BC.

(source: Wikipedia)

VII. Seventh Sicilian War (311-306[*]BCE)

Agathocles of Syracuse
Agathocles of Syracuse, a cunning ruthless Tyrant who led his troops on a daring blitz to the Walls of Carthage but ultimately failed to score a decisive victory in the Greco-Punic War Saga, causing the age old struggle to end in an Inglorious Stalemate.


VID-001: Agathocles, the tyrant of ancient Syracuse

VID-002: Battle of White Tunis

VID-003: Battle of White Tunis

POD-001: Agathocles of Syracuse – Tyrant & King

POD-002: Machiavelli, Agathocles, and Cruelty Well Used

PRIM-001: Diodorus on Agathocles’ coup

PRIM-002: Polybius on Dionysius I and Agathocles

PRIM-003: Attalas – Agathocles

In 315 BC Agathocles, the tyrant of Syracuse, seized the city of Messana, present-day Messina.

In 311 BC, he invaded the last Carthaginian holdings on Sicily, which broke the terms of the current peace treaty, and he laid siege to Akragas. Hamilcar, grandson of Hanno the Navigator, successfully led the Carthaginian counterattack.

He defeated Agathocles in the Battle of the Himera River in 311 BC.

Agathocles had to retreat to Syracuse while Hamilcar won control over the rest of Sicily. In the same year, he laid siege to Syracuse itself.

In desperation, Agathocles secretly led an expedition of 14,000 men to the mainland of Africa, hoping to save his rule by leading a counterstrike against Carthage itself.

In this, he was successful: Carthage was forced to recall Hamilcar and most of his army from Sicily to face the new and unexpected threat.

The two armies met in the first Battle of White Tunis outside Carthage. The Carthaginian army, under Hanno and Hamilcar, was defeated. Agathocles and his forces laid siege to Carthage, but it was too strongly fortified for them to assault.

Instead, the Greeks slowly occupied the whole of northern Tunisia until they were defeated two years later in 307 BC.

Agathocles himself escaped back to Sicily and negotiated a peace treaty with the Carthaginians in 306, in which Agathocles retained control of the eastern half of the island.

(source: Wikipedia)

Primary Sources:

Diodorus Siculus

Diodoro Siculus
Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily, was an ancient Greek historian. He is known for writing the monumental universal history Bibliotheca historica, in forty books, fifteen of which survive intact, between 60 and 30 BC.

Diodorus Siculus I II III IV V VI VII


The Great Thucydides (460 – 400 BC) was an Athenian historian and general. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the fifth-century BC war between Sparta and Athens until the year 411 BC.


  • Important Academic Resources for the Study of Ancient Greece:

Ancient History Sourcebook – Greece

History of Greece – Primary Documents

Thesaurus Linguae Graecae

Perseus Digital Library

Perseus Collection of Greek and Roman Materials


The Center for Hellenistic Studies

Center for the Study of Ancient Documents

National Archeological Museum

Attic Inscriptions

Greek Economy and Society

Online Library of Liberty

Project Gutenberg

Internet Sacred Texts – Classics

Ancient Rome and Greece

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Pyrric War