Second Punic War Battles > Siege of Syracuse (214–212 BC)

Siege of Syracuse (214–212 BC)


The Siege of Syracuse, which took place from 214 to 212 BC during the Second Punic War, was a protracted and significant military campaign between the Roman Republic and the city-state of Syracuse, allied with Carthage. Led by the Roman general Marcus Claudius Marcellus, this siege is notable for its complexity, technological innovation, and the involvement of famous mathematician and inventor Archimedes. Here's an overview:

Syracuse, a wealthy and strategically important Greek city-state in Sicily, had allied with Carthage against Rome during the Second Punic War. The Romans aimed to gain control over Sicily to secure their dominance in the western Mediterranean and disrupt Carthaginian naval operations. The Roman Republic sought to capture Syracuse and eliminate it as a threat to their control over Sicily. Syracuse aimed to repel the Roman siege and maintain its independence and alliance with Carthage.

The Roman fleet, under the command of Marcellus, blockaded the harbor of Syracuse, cutting off its maritime supply routes. The Romans constructed siege works and employed various siege engines to assault the city's walls, including battering rams, siege towers, and catapults.

The Syracusans, under the guidance of the renowned mathematician and inventor Archimedes, devised ingenious defensive mechanisms, such as the "Claw of Archimedes" and giant mirrors used to focus sunlight on Roman ships. Despite facing formidable resistance and suffering setbacks due to Archimedes' inventions, the Romans persisted with their siege, gradually breaching Syracuse's defenses. After a lengthy siege, the Romans finally breached Syracuse's defenses, leading to the city's capture in 212 BC. The Romans sacked the city and imposed their authority over Sicily.


The fall of Syracuse consolidated Roman control over Sicily and weakened Carthaginian influence in the region, furthering Rome's dominance in the western Mediterranean. The Siege of Syracuse showcased the innovative genius of Archimedes and his contributions to military engineering and mathematics. However, Archimedes himself was killed during the sack of the city, reportedly by a Roman soldier unaware of his identity.

The Siege of Syracuse demonstrated the effectiveness of Roman siege warfare tactics and the importance of technological innovation in ancient warfare. It highlighted the strategic significance of Sicily in the power struggles between Rome and Carthage during the Second Punic War. The fall of Syracuse marked a significant milestone in Rome's expansion and solidified its position as the preeminent power in the western Mediterranean.

Second Punic War

+ Second Punic War Links


Plutarch, "Life of Marcellus", Lives

Livy xxi. 49–51, xxii. 37, xxiii. 21.

Norman Davies, Europe: A History, page 144.

Sabalico Logo
Sabalytics Logo
World Map Logo
rStatistics Logo
Time Zone Logo
Galaxy View Logo
Periodic Table Logo
My Location Logo
Weather Track Logo
Sprite Sheet Logo
Barcode Generator Logo
Test Speed Logo
Website Tools Logo
Image Tools Logo
Color Tools Logo
Text Tools Logo
Finance Tools Logo
File Tools Logo
Data Tools Logo
History of Humanity - History Archive Logo
History of Humanity - History Mysteries Logo
History of Humanity - Ancient Mesopotamia Logo
History of Humanity - Egypt History Logo
History of Humanity - Persian Empire Logo
History of Humanity - Greek History Logo
History of Humanity - Alexander the Great Logo
History of Humanity - Roman History Logo
History of Humanity - Punic Wars Logo
History of Humanity - Golden Age of Piracy Logo
History of Humanity - Revolutionary War Logo