Episode 25 – Gridlock

Artistic engraving of Regulus and his army battling the Bagradas dragon by Jan Collaert (1566-1628 AD). For a full length article discussing the sources on the Bagradas Dragon, click here.
First Punic War Sicily - Post Battle of Drepana
After their defeat at the Battle of Panormus, the Carthaginians were relegated to the westernmost portion of Sicily with only their strongholds at Lilybaeum and Drepana remaining. While the Roman siege of Lilybaeum dragged on, the Carthaginians won an impressive naval victory at the Battle of Drepana, defeating the chicken-murdering Consul Claudius Pulcher. Even so, the war stagnated as both sides reeled from the fifteen years of constant conflict.
Artistic sketch of a Roman velite, lightly-armed missile troops who primarily used javelins to harry oncoming soldiers. By using his velites effectively at the Battle of Panormus, the Roman Consul Metellus succeeded in causing the Carthaginian war elephants, which had been so pivotal at the Battle of Tunis, to run amok among their own men, throwing the entire Carthaginian army into confusion and securing a Roman victory. Sketch by Theodore Ayrault Dodge – A HISTORY OF THE ART OF WAR AMONG THE CARTHAGINIANS AND ROMANS DOWN TO THE BATTLE OF PYDNA, 168 B.C., WITH A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE SECOND PUNIC WAR (Published 1891).
Diagram of the Battle of Drepana, Carthage’s only significant naval victory of the First Punic War. Sailing out from the harbor, the Carthaginian Admiral Adherbal managed to pin his Roman counterpart against the shore, leaving them no room to escape. In the ensuing battle, the Romans lost 93 ships due to capture or sinking. Original diagram by Muriel.

Following the Battle of Tunis, the Carthaginians felt supremely confident in their newly revamped land forces and rebuilt navy. That confidence did not last, however. The Roman relief fleet sent to retrieve the survivors of Regulus’ failed expedition trounced Carthage’s war fleet once again, right before it was also destroyed in a cataclysmic storm. The next eight years saw the fortunes of each side vacillate back and forth with the Romans winning the Battle of Panormus by effectively countering the Carthaginian war elephants while the Carthaginian Admiral Adherbal managed to score Carthage’s only significant naval victory of the war. Gridlock ensued, but the tedium of military stalemate would soon be relieved by a lightning bolt of a commander who would single-handedly seek to turn the war in Carthage’s favor and save Carthaginian Sicily. Oh, and this episode also covers a dragon, so there’s that.

Download: Episode 25 – Gridlock

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