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The Sicilian Wars: from 409 BC

The military involvement of Carthage in Sicily begins in 409 BC when Hannibal (one of several Carthaginian generals bearing this name, and not the most famous) lands with an army near Marsala. This western port becomes the Carthaginian stronghold. Greek power is based in Syracuse at the opposite end of the island.

The amount of territory held by either side fluctuates through a succession of wars, several of them conducted for the Greeks by Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse. For much of the time the river Platani (and the Torto continuing the same line to the northern coast) forms an agreed boundary between the two sides.

The last effective Greek adversary of the Carthaginians is Agathocles, who becomes tyrant of Syracuse in 317. After himself being besieged in Syracuse, he retaliates by crossing with an army to Africa and laying siege to Carthage in 310-308.

He fails to take it and withdraws to Sicily. A treaty of 306 re-establishes the Platani as the effective border between the adversaries. But after the death of Agathocles, in 289, the Carthaginians are able to extend their control over much of the island.

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