Syracuse Allies with Rome

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.

Location MapWith 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.

Rome's 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.


2000 C. I. Gable