Book Review: Truceless War: Cathage's Fight for Survival, 241 to 237 BC


by Dexter Hoyos

Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2007. Pp. xxvi, 286+. Illus, maps, diagr., chron., notes, biblio., index. $148.00. ISBN:9004160760

Shortly after the First Punic War (264-241 BC), Carthage was plunged into a desperate war against its own mercenaries, a struggle that that very nearly brought the great city to utter destruction.
In Truceless War, classicist Dexter Hoyos has attempted to put together a coherent account of a struggle known only in outline from the works of Polybius, who lived about a century later, plus some fragmentary evidence.  Hoyos starts with Polybius, but draws on every other ancient writer, from biographers to philosophers to poets who had even the slightest reference to the conflict, as well as archaeological evidence.
We are then given a very detailed look at the origins of the mercenaries' mutiny, perhaps, as traditionally held, due to arrears of pay, or perhaps for other reasons, since the mutiny seem to have sparrked rebellions among some of Carthage's dependencies and allies.  Discussion deals with the nature of the forces involved the various leaders as they rose and fell, and, of course, the progress of the war, which ultimately left Carthage victorious, broke, and humiliated. 
The book presupposes some prior knowledge of the period, particularly the origins of Carthage and its history through the end of the First Punic War.

An excellent book for those interested in the ancient Mediterranean and particularly the rise of Rome .


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