ⓘ Xanthippus of Carthage


ⓘ Xanthippus of Carthage

Xanthippus of Lacedaemon, also known as Xanthippus of Carthage, was a Spartan mercenary general employed by Carthage during the First Punic War. He led the Carthaginian army to considerable success against the Roman Republic during the course of the war, training the army to a professional standard before defeating the Romans at the Battle of Tunis, where Carthaginian forces routed the Roman expeditionary force and captured the Roman consul Marcus Atilius Regulus in 255 BC.

Diodorus says that Xanthippus was the leader of a small squad of Spartan mercenaries, prepared by Carthage during the war. Polybius says that he first came in sight of the leaders of the Carthaginian, when he criticized the behavior of Carthages generals, claiming that they, not the Romans, who were the cause of the failures. When called for explanation in Carthages elite, he successfully argued his case and was placed in command of the Carthaginian army. Despite initial fears among the Carthaginians, that Xanthippus will not be with this problem, he quickly proved himself, to successfully drill the Carthaginian army and received the approval of the soldiery.

Loans Polybius with the education Xanthippus of Carthage in the battle in Tunisia. He placed the citizen phalanx in the centre of its formation, with the experienced mercenaries, with the right flank. His elephants he placed "distance" ahead of the phalanx and his cavalry on the wings supported by more mercenary infantry, where they could use their numerical superiority to crush their Roman counterparts and attack the Roman flanks, attacking the Roman troops. After defeating a Roman force in Africa, Polybius says that Xanthippus sailed home to Greece.

Diodorus tells of the death of Xanthippus. After the battle of Tunis, Xanthippus stayed in Liliba, which was besieged by the Romans. He inspired courage, and led an attack defeating the Romans. Jealous of the success Xanthippuss, the city betrayed him, giving him a leaky ship and it supposedly sank in the Adriatic sea on the way home. Scientist John Lazenby argues that this story is completely implausible, a claim supported by report of a Xanthippus being Governor of the newly acquired province of Egypt Ptolemy Euergetes in the year 245 BC. This is confirmed by the statement of Polybius, that Xanthippus returned to Greece, rather than stopping at Liliba, but rather a requirement, as Polybius lived closer to Xanthippus than Diodorus.

Silius Italicus writes that Xanthippus was a native of Amyclae in Laconia, but it may also be an invention for metrical convenience. He also claims that three sons Xanthippus, named Xantippus, Eumachus and Critias, served under Hannibals cavalry as mercenaries and was killed in the battle of Ticinus.

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