Second Punic War Battles > Siege of Saguntum

Siege of Saguntum

The Siege of Saguntum in 219-218 BC marked the beginning of the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage. It was a crucial event that escalated tensions between the two powers and eventually led to the outbreak of war. Here's an overview of the siege. Saguntum was an independent city located on the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain). It had formed an alliance with Rome, which Carthage viewed as a direct challenge to its influence in the region.

Hannibal Barca, the Carthaginian general, sought to expand Carthaginian control in Spain and viewed Saguntum as a strategic obstacle to his ambitions. Hannibal aimed to capture Saguntum to solidify Carthaginian dominance in Spain and weaken Roman influence in the region. Rome sought to defend its ally, Saguntum, and maintain its position in Spain against Carthaginian aggression.

Hannibal initiated a siege of Saguntum, surrounding the city with his forces and cutting off its supply routes. Despite Saguntum's appeal for Roman assistance, Rome initially refrained from intervening directly, hoping to avoid a direct confrontation with Carthage. The inhabitants of Saguntum resisted the Carthaginian siege fiercely, but they were gradually weakened by hunger and exhaustion. After a prolonged siege, Saguntum fell to the Carthaginians. The city was sacked and its inhabitants subjected to brutal treatment.


The fall of Saguntum outraged the Romans and led to a formal declaration of war against Carthage, marking the beginning of the Second Punic War. Both Rome and Carthage began mobilizing their armies and navies for what would become one of the most significant conflicts in ancient history. The Siege of Saguntum was a catalyst for the Second Punic War, which would last for over 17 years and involve extensive military campaigns across the Mediterranean region. It demonstrated the ruthlessness of Hannibal Barca as a military commander and the willingness of both Rome and Carthage to engage in total war to achieve their objectives. The fall of Saguntum underscored the strategic importance of alliances and control over key territories in the power dynamics of the ancient Mediterranean world.

Second Punic War

+ Second Punic War Links


Polybius, The Histories

Livy (21.13-14) History of Rome, xxi)

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