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Herodotus on Himera

Battle of Himera (480 BCE): decisive Syracusan victory over the Carthaginians, which secured Syracuse's hegemonial position in the fifth century. This is the translation of Herodotus, Histories 7.165-167, made by G.C. Macaulay.

The story which here follows is also reported by those who dwell in Sicily, namely that [...] Gelon would have come to the assistance of the Greeks, but that Terillus, the son of Crinippus and lord of Himera, having been driven out of Himera by Theron, the son of Aenesidemus and the ruler of Acragas, was just at this very time bringing in an army of Phoenicians, Libyans, Iberians,  Ligurians, Elisycans, Sardinians and Corsicans, to the number of 300,000, with Hamilcar the son of Hanno kingnote Perhaps, Hanno and Hamilcar were suffetes, an office not unlike the Roman consulship.}} of the Carthaginians as their commander, whom Terillus had persuaded partly by reason of his own guest-friendship, and especially by the zealous assistance of Anaxilaus the son of Cretines, who was despot of Rhegium, and who to help his father-in-law endeavored to bring in Hamilcar to Sicily, and had given him his sons as hostages; for Anaxilaus was married to the daughter of Terillus, whose name was Cydippe. Therefore, they say, Gelon was not able to come to the assistance of the Greeks, and sent money to Delphi.

In addition to this they report also that, as it happened, Gelon and Theron were victorious over Hamilcar the Carthaginian on the very same day when the Greeks were victorious at Salamis over the Persian. And this Hamilcar, who was a Carthaginian on his father's side but on his mother's Syracusan, and who had become king of the Carthaginians by merit, when the engagement took place and he was being worsted in the battle, disappeared, as I am informed; for neither alive nor dead did he appear again anywhere upon the earth, though Gelon used all diligence in the search for him.

Moreover there is also this story reported by the Carthaginians themselves, who therein relate that which is probable in itself, namely that while they fought with the Greeks in Sicily from the early morning till late in the afternoon (for to such a length the combat is said to have been protracted), during this time Hamilcar was remaining in the camp and was making sacrifices to get good omens of success, offering whole bodies of victims upon a great pyre: and when he saw that there was a rout of his own army, he being then, as it chanced, in the act of pouring a libation over the victims, threw himself into the fire, and thus he was burnt up and disappeared. Hamilcar then having disappeared, whether it was in such a manner as this, as it is reported by the Phoenicians, or in some other way, the Carthaginians both offer sacrifices to him now, and also they made memorials of him then in all the cities of their colonies, and the greatest in Carthage itself.note

This page was created in 2003; last modified on 18 June 2014.