The combined Carthage/Syracuse attack on Roman-held Messina in 263
BC, which launched the First Punic War, was
repulsed by the Roman forces with relative ease. Then the tables were
turned, and Rome unleashed a counterattack slashing into Syracuse's
home territory. Syracuse's leaders chose discretion, not valor, and
struck an expedient bargain with Rome. Syracuse retained its nominal
independence, but as a vassal or client-state of Rome.
Syracuse's allegiance secured, Rome redirected its attack against
Agrigento, the other major Carthaginian ally in eastern Sicily. Agrigento
was besieged and captured in 262 BC, leaving Rome in secure possession
of eastern Sicily, while the Phoenician allies of Carthage maintained
their strongholds in the rugged cities of western Sicily. With the
division of Sicily between the two foreign powers, the period of Sicilian
independence was ended forever.
speedy advance was finally halted and stalemated in western Sicily.
By 260 BC the Roman commanders concluded that victory over Carthage
could not be achieved on the ground in Sicily. The center
of war moved out to sea and to the coast of Africa.