Carthage’s Other Wars — Carthaginian Warfare Outside the “Punic Wars” Against Rome — Review

Dexter Hoyos has taken a look at something that has very poor coverage, namely Carthage’s Other Wars. We are all aware of the Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome and to a lesser extent, Carthage’s attempts to expand into Sicily and the conflict that arose with Syracuse among others.

The popular image of Carthage is as a maritime, mercantile state that fought a couple of wars against Rome, eventually losing and setting Rome up to to be the only major power in the Mediterranean.

Carthage’s Other Wars – Carthaginian Warfare Outside the ‘Punic Wars’ Against Rome written by Dexter Hoyos (published by Pen & Sword Military, on 18 September 2019, ISBN: 9781781593578 and 235 pages long) sets out to look at Carthage’s other wars.

According to Timaeus the Sicilian Greek, Carthage was founded in the 38th year prior to the first Olympiad, which in modern terms dates the foundation around 814/13 BC. The city was, according to legend, founded by Dido, who was fleeing from the Tyrian King, Pygmalion. She travelled through Cyprus then on to North Africa. Her alternative name in the stories of the time is Elissa.

While there is not a great deal of Carthaginian text, with the exception of Hanno’s Periplus (sea voyage) in Greek translation and referring to the journey west of the Strait of Gibraltar and down Africa’s West coast, there is information in other sources and Hoyos refers to Herodotus, Aristotle, Diodorus of Sicily who referenced Ephorus, Timaeus of Sicily and Philistus. Pompeius Trogus wrote a history that survived to later times and was abbreviated in Justin’s works. Plutarch provided information on Carthage’s involvement in Sicily and Polybius translated Carthaginian texts of Carthage’s treaties with Rome.

The contents of the book are:

  1. Sources of Knowledge
    1. Carthaginian remnants
    2. Greek and Latin Records
  2. Carthage: city and state
    1. Foundation and footprint
    2. The Carthaginian republic
    3. Trade and business
    4. Merchants, landowners, commoners and slaves
    5. Friends, neighbours and potential foes
  3. Fleets and armies
    1. Carthage’s navy
    2. The army
    3. The defences of Carthage
  4. Early Wars: Malchus to ‘King’ Hamilcar
    1. Malchus: fiction or fact?
    2. Malchus: victories, revenge and ruin
    3. The Magonids: ’empire’ builders?
    4. The expedition of ‘king’ Hamilcar
  5. The Revenge of Hannibal the Magonid
    1. The aftermath of Himera
    2. A new Sicilian war: the first expedition of Hannibal the Magonid
    3. Carthage victorious, 406-05 BC
  6. Carthage against Dionysius and Syracuse
    1. Uneasy peace, 405-398
    2. Himilco vs Dionysius
    3. Mago vs Dionysius
    4. Mago and Himilco against Dionysius
    5. Last war with Dionysius
  7. Carthage against Timoleon
    1. Carthage and the turmoils of Sicily
    2. The arrival of Timoleon
    3. Sorting out sources
    4. The enigma of Mago
    5. The battle at the Crimisus
    6. Gisco and peace
  8. Carthage against Agathocles
    1. The advent of Agathocles
    2. Agathocles frustrating Carthage
    3. Carthage at war with Agathocles
    4. Africa invaded
    5. The destruction of Hamilcar
    6. The destruction of Ophellas and Bomilcar
    7. Agathocles fails in Africa, wins in Sicily
    8. The end of the war
  9. The Sicilian stalemate: Pyrrhus and Hiero
    1. The woes of post-Agathoclean Sicily
    2. The war with Pyrrhus
    3. Hiero of Syracuse
  10. Carthage at War in Africa and Spain
    1. Libya: subjects and rebels
    2. The Truceless War: origins and outbreak
    3. Horrors of the Truceless War
    4. Carthage’s victory
    5. Barcid Carthage’s Spanish empire

There is also a Concluding Chapter, List of Plates, Maps, Preface and Acknowledgements, Abbreviations and Reading, along with Endnotes and Index.

The writing style of Hoyos is quite easy to read and flows well. He examines the sources and secondary readings critically and well, although I did have some trouble locating some of his references (for example, Connolly (1981) is referenced in Carthage’s Navy’s endnotes  but there is no reference to his works in the reading list (I could reasonably guess that we are referring to Connolly, Peter (1981), Greece and Rome at War, Macdonald Phoebus Ltd).

Having said that, the book is a solid piece of research into a little covered area of Carthaginian history. I have had an interest in Carthage since the mid-1970s but most of my previous reading was around the Punic Wars. This has opened an entire other area of interest to me in Carthaginian History.

Best of all, the book is currently on special at Pen and Sword – and it is well recommended.