First Punic War Battles > Battle of the Lipari Islands

Battle of the Lipari Islands

Punic Wars - Punic Wars Decoration

Battle of the Lipari Islands/h2>


Military Forces

  • 20 Ships
  • 17 Ships


  • 4 Ships
  • 17 Ships


The Battle of the Lipari Islands occurred in 260 BC and was the first major naval battle of the First Punic War between the Carthaginians and the Roman Republic. Following their victory during the Siege and Battle of Agrigentum the Romans began to construct a navy in order to fulfull their goal to dominate the Mediterranean Sea.

Eventually they built a navy of 150 quinqueremes and triremes in only two months span of time. During this time the Roman consul Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio was given control over a fledgling fleet of the first 17 ships. He sailed directly to Messana to await the rest of the Roman navy and their eventual voyage to Sicily.


While Scipio was in the strait he received word that the garrison of Lipara was willing to betray the Carthaginians and switch their allegiance to the Roman banner. While he was supposed to be training his crew in naval tactics, Scipio instead went to try and capture the city where he naively sailed into the harbor with his brand new ships. While he did this, part of the Carthaginian navy commanded by Hannibal Gisco and Boodes either waited in am ambush or received information from their spy and trade network that the Romans were moving to take the city and the Carthaginians rode to blockade the harbor and capture the upstart fleet.

Boodes sailed with around twenty of the Carthaginian vessels to blockade the Lipara harbor where Scipio and his sailors and marines surrendered without any resistance. Most of the inexperienced crews fled and Scipio himself would be captured by the Carthaginians. For this humiliating capture and public smear of Rome, Scipio was given the nickname Asina which was the feminine word for donkey, instead of the male asinus which was even more insulting to him.


The Battle of the Lipari Islands while representing a defeat for the Romans, was not major enough to affect the outcome of the war. The bulk of the rest of the Roman navy continued to operate in the Mediterranean and following this the Roman junior consul named Gaius Duillius was able to score a massive victory against the Carthaginians during the Battle of Mylae when the fleets would engage once again.

First Punic War

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Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

Goldsworthy, Adrian (2003). The Fall of Carthage. London: Cassel. ISBN 0-304-36642-0.

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