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Polybius: the First Punic War


Map of ancient Sicily. Map design Jona Lendering.

According to the Greek historian Polybius of Megalopolis (c.200-c.118), the First Punic War (264-241) between Carthage and Rome was "the longest and most severely contested war in history". And indeed, it lasted almost a quarter of a century and probably, a million people lost their lives. In the end, Rome had conquered the island of Sicily, and had become a Mediterranean superpower.

Polybius' World History was translated by W.R. Paton.

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Map of Motya and the siege of Lilybaeum during the First Punic War. Design Jona Lendering.
The siege of Lilybaeum

Book 1, chapter 52

[249 BCE] The battle having resulted so, Adherbal gained a high reputation at Carthage, the success being regarded as due to his foresight and boldness. Publius [Claudius Pulcher], on the contrary, fell into ill repute among the Romans, and there was a great outcry against him for having acted rashly and inconsiderately and done all a single man could to bring a great disaster on Rome. He was accordingly brought to trial afterwards, condemned to a heavy fine, and narrowly escaped with his life.

Yet so determined were the Romans to bring the whole struggle to a successful issue, that, notwithstanding this reverse, they left undone nothing that was in their power, and prepared to continue the campaign. The time for the elections was now at hand, and accordingly when the new consuls [1] were appointed they dispatched one of them, Lucius Junius Pullus with grain  for the besiegers of Lilybaeum and such other provisions and supplies as the army required, manning 60 ships to act as a convoy to him.

Junius, on arriving at Messana and being joined by the ships from Lilybaeum and the rest of Sicily, coasted along with all speed to Syracuse, having now a 120 ships and the supplies in about 800 transports. There he entrusted half the transports and a few of the war-ships to the quaestors and sent them on, as he was anxious to have what the troops required conveyed to them at once. He himself remained in Syracuse waiting for the ships that were left behind on the voyage from Messana and procuring additional supplies and grain from the allies in the interior.

 
to book 1, chapter 53
Note 1:
In fact, Lucius Junius Pullus was colleague of Publius Claudius Pulcher, and not one of the new consuls.
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