Episode 27 – The Truceless War: Part I

The remains of a Punic necropolis in Utica. When the mercenaries rose in revolt, they besieged the Phoenician colony of Utica. The city and its countryside would become the sight of several battles during the Truceless War including ones fought by Hanno the Great and Hamilcar Barca. Public Domain.
Close up picture of a Punic tomb within the necropolis of Utica. Utica, meaning “old town,” held the distinction of being one of the oldest Phoenician colonies in North Africa. Although part of the Carthaginian hegemony as a privileged ally, relations were strained at times due to the Carthaginian attitude of superiority towards her colonies as well as local trade rivalries. Original photo by Wikipedia User Chikenrun.
Post First Punic War
With the coming of peace, Carthage was forced to evacuate Sicily and relinquish it to the Romans. The sudden arrival of her Sicilian army of unpaid veterans placed Carthage in a difficult situation since she could not afford to pay the men what was due. After a series of blundering attempts to appease the soldiers’ wrath, Carthage inadvertently provoked the men into revolt. Her Libyan subjects soon joined the rebels, and Carthage would soon have to fight for her very existence against her own army of 20,000 veteran troops as well as 70,000 Libyans.
mercenary war
Following the evacuation of Lilybaeum, the Carthaginians gathered the mercenaries in the capital until they could decided what to do. When the disgruntled soldiers became restless and began attacking civilians, the Carthaginians had the mercenaries move to the town of Sicca in the interior. However, attempts at negotiation failed miserably under Hanno the Great, and the mercenaries returned and made Tunis their headquarters. At the outbreak of hostilities, the mercenaries under Spendius and Matho besieged Utica and Hippo Acra, effectively cutting Carthage off from her farmlands.

In the wake of the First Punic War, Carthage soon found the loss of her Sicilian holdings and Rome’s harsh indemnity to be the least of her problems. Nearly bankrupt after twenty-four years of continuous warfare, she could not afford to pay her mercenary army which was returning from Sicily. The crisis was further compounded by the blundering efforts of the Carthaginian leaders to defuse the situation, and what began as a pay dispute suddenly exploded into full-scale rebellion. What followed was a war which shocked even the Ancients with the brutality and savagery with which it was fought. A war without respite, without rules, and without mercy. A Truceless War.

Download: Episode 27 – The Truceless War: Part I

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