First Punic War > Battles > Battle of Agrigentum

Battle of Agrigentum

Battle of Agrigentum

Combatants

Roman Republic

Lucius Postumius Megellus

Quintus Mamilius Vitulus

• 40,000
• 50,000

• 1,200
• 30,000

Background

The Battle of Agrigentum was the first major battle of the First Punic War that occurred in 262 BC between the Carthaginians and the Roman Republic. The battle was fought after the prolonged siege of the city of Agrigentum on the island of Sicily. Following a Roman victory they would control the entire island.

Battle

There are a few versions of the Battle of Agrigentum that all give slightly different accounts of the pitched conflict. Based on the Greek historian Polybius, Hanno engaged the Romans who were on the verge of starvation who despite being in a distressed state managed to defeat the Carthaginians and capture the city. According to Polybius the Romans lost 3,000 infantry and 200 cavalry while the Carthaginians lost 30,000 infantry and 540 cavalry while another 4,000 were captured prisoner during the entire siege and battle of Agrigentum.

The later Byzantine historian Zonaras stated that Hanno wanted to fight but the Romans had declined due to previous losses of their cavalry. However, as food became scarce during the siege of the Roman camp they eventually resolved to fight. The Romans interrupted an attempt to coordinate assaults between the garrison in the city and Hanno's relief army and managed to outflank the Carthaginians. They attacked them on the rear and front and managed to also defeat an assault from the Carthaginian garrison as well.

Aftermath

Regardless of which account you chose to believe, the Romans defeated the Carthaginians and forced them to retreat from Agrigentum. According to some accounts Hannibal and his mercenaries were able to escape by filling the Roman trenches with straw. The Romans would attempt to pursue the Carthaginians but they would turn their attention back to capturing the city instead. Following this they looted and sacked the city.

In the aftermath of the looting and plundering the Romans would occupy the city of Agrigentum as well as sold the entire population of 25,000 into slavery. While they sought to make an example of the city, in reality all this did was make the other cities around resistant to harsh Roman rule. Hannibal Gisco and the rest of the Carthaginian garrison managed to escape relatively unscathed despite the victory. Following this control over the grain supply on Sicily would prove vital for the urban population of Rome and would give them confidence to the Romans to expand beyond Italy and Sicily.

Bibliography

Secondary Sources

Lazenby, John Francis (1996). The First Punic War: a military history. Stanford University Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-8047-2673-3. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Lazenby, John Francis (1996). The First Punic War: a military history. Stanford University Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-8047-2673-3. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Lazenby, John Francis (1996). The First Punic War: a military history. Stanford University Press. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-0-8047-2673-3. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Goldsworthy, Adrian (2007-04-01). The fall of Carthage: the Punic Wars, 265-146 BC. Cassell. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-304-36642-2. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Goldsworthy, Adrian (2007-04-01). The fall of Carthage: the Punic Wars, 265-146 BC. Cassell. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-304-36642-2. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Goldsworthy, Adrian (2007-04-01). The fall of Carthage: the Punic Wars, 265-146 BC. Cassell. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-304-36642-2. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Goldsworthy, Adrian (2007-04-01). The fall of Carthage: the Punic Wars, 265-146 BC. Cassell. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-304-36642-2. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Goldsworthy, Adrian (2007-04-01). The fall of Carthage: the Punic Wars, 265-146 BC. Cassell. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-304-36642-2. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Lazenby, John Francis (1996). The First Punic War: a military history. Stanford University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-8047-2673-3. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Lazenby, John Francis (1996). The First Punic War: a military history. Stanford University Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-8047-2673-3. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Lazenby, John Francis (1996). The First Punic War: a military history. Stanford University Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-8047-2673-3. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Goldsworthy, Adrian (2007-04-01). The fall of Carthage: the Punic Wars, 265-146 BC. Cassell. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-304-36642-2. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Lazenby, John Francis (1996). The First Punic War: a military history. Stanford University Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-8047-2673-3. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Goldsworthy, Adrian (2007-04-01). The fall of Carthage: the Punic Wars, 265-146 BC. Cassell. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-304-36642-2. Retrieved 23 June 2010.

Lazenby, John Francis (1996). The First Punic War: a military history. Stanford University Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-8047-2673-3. Retrieved 23 June 2010.