Hamilcar Barca, d. 229 or 228 B.C., Carthaginian general. He was assigned the command in Sicily in 247 in the First Punic War (see Punic Wars). From mountain bases near Palermo he made repeated raids on the Romans and relieved the Punic garrison in Lilybaeum. However, the Carthaginians were defeated, and Hamilcar Barca negotiated the terms of the peace that led to Carthage's withdrawal from Sicily. The Carthaginian mercenaries shortly afterward revolted and besieged Carthage, but Hamilcar defeated them in 238. After that his popularity made him virtual dictator. He then set out (237) to conquer Spain as a new base against Rome and had won considerable territory when he died. Hamilcar was probably the ablest general and statesman that Carthage had before his son Hannibal.
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