Battle of the Himeras

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The Battle of Himeras took place in June 310 BC. Chr. At the southern Himeras (now salso or Fiume Salso ) in Sicily between the Carthaginians and the army of Agathocles of Syracuse ended instead with a Carthaginian victory.

Battle of the Himeras
date 310 BC Chr.
place At the Himeras between Agrigento and Gela in Sicily
output Carthaginian victory
Parties to the conflict




Hamilkar (son of Gisko)

Agathocles , tyrant of Syracuse

Troop strength
40,000 foot soldiers,
1,000 slingshots,
5,000 mounted men
significantly less




Agathocles as a leading politician and sole general with unlimited authority ( strategós autókrator ) of Syracuse had made peace in 314/313 with an alliance of Greek cities directed against Syracuse. Akragas ( Agrigento ) was the driving force in this alliance . The Carthaginian commander Hamilcar had brokered the peace. The Carthaginians ruled western Sicily at that time and wanted to prevent Syracuse from becoming so powerful through military successes against the other Greek cities that it could threaten the Carthaginian territory. Because of the favorable peace for Agathocles, Hamilcar was criticized in Carthage and removed from his office. Agathocles continued his policy of expansion, whereby he could invoke a contractual clause, which granted him hegemony over the autonomous Greek cities in Sicily outside the Carthaginian rule. In the face of this threat, the Carthaginians were forced to intervene, with which they responded to a cry for help from Agathocles' Greek opponents. When Agathocles attacked Agrigento in 311, a Carthaginian fleet forced him to withdraw. The Carthaginians built a fortress on the strategically important hill Eknomon on the right bank of the southern Himeras near the mouth (today Colle Sant'Angelo above Licata ). Agathocles went there with his entire army, but the Carthaginians did not risk a field battle, and the Syracusans did not dare to attack the fortified position.

In 310 a new Carthaginian fleet arrived. The Carthaginian general was Hamilkar, son of Gisgo. He is not to be confused with the previous commander of the same name who brokered peace.


Hamilkar had a force of around 40,000 foot soldiers and almost 5,000 mounted men. A large part of it formed the Greek opponents of Agathocles under the leadership of Deinocrates . The Syracusans were clearly outnumbered.

Agathocles had taken possession of the city of Gela shortly before and had massacred his opponents there. He made camp on the left bank of the Himeras, opposite Eknomon. The Carthaginian army camped on the other side of the river. For a long time, neither side dared to cross the river to attack, but both parties sent out troops to plunder. Finally, Agathocles managed to lure an enemy raiding party into a trap and kill many soldiers. When the surviving Carthaginians fled to their camp, he and his entire army began the main attack on the surprised enemy. The Greeks managed to penetrate the camp and put the Carthaginians in a dangerous position.

Only now Hamilkar continued his 1000 from the Balearic Islands originating honderos one, which Agathocles could not counter equivalent. They drove the Syracusans from camp and the battle was undecided for some time. When the Carthaginians threatened to storm their camp again, an unexpected reinforcement from Libya brought them to the rescue. The Syracusans were surrounded and fled towards the river. They were pursued by the enemy cavalry. That decided the battle. The Syracusans are said to have lost 7,000 men, while only about 500 men fell on the opposing side.


After the battle, Agathocles gathered the remains of his army, set fire to his camp, and returned to Gela. After this defeat he lost many of his Greek allies who defected to the victor; almost all of Sicily fell into Hamilcar's hand. Agathocles had to withdraw to Syracuse and be besieged there. In this desperate situation he came up with the plan for his famous relief offensive, the Africa campaign.


The course of the battle is told by Diodorus .


  • Sebastiana Nerina Consolo Langher: Agatocle. Since capoparte a monarca fondatore di un regno tra Cartagine ei Diadochi. Messina 2000. ISBN 88-8268-004-5
  • Werner Huss : History of the Carthaginians. Beck, Munich 1985. ISBN 3-406-30654-3


  1. On the dating of Huss, p. 184.
  2. Diodor, Libraries 19, 108-110.