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Mediterranean Hegemon of Ancient Greece – Chapter 334: Syracuses Expansion Bahasa Indonesia

Dionysius, accompanied by Macias, was inspecting the construction of Syracuse’s fortress when the news of Theonia’s conquest of Bruttii reached Syracuse.

Seeing the fortress’ near completion, he was in a good mood, but when he heard the news, his face immediately became gloomy and blurted out, “Damn Carthage, they are hindering my plan!…”

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

In the early spring of 397 B.C., an army of a hundred thousand led by Carthage’s shofet Himilco set out from Carthage and landed in Sicily after a small-scale battle with the Syracusan Navy at sea. Soon after, they quickly captured Eryx in western Sicily, then stormed the city of Motya and succeeded.

They then forced the Syracusan troops to withdraw from the siege of Segesta. Rather than taking advantage of their victory, Himilco destroyed Motya and built a new city near the coast, and named it Lilybaeum.

When the Carthaginian army stopped their advance, the cautious Dionysius began stationing his troops in Syracuse.

Shortly after laying the foundation for Lilybaeum, Himilco led the army to continue their attack eastward just as February arrived. This time, rather than taking the attack route that Syracuse took last year, he instead took a boat around the northeast corner of Sicily and easily took down the defenceless Messina.

The fall of Messina became a reminder to Rhegium, who was on the other side of the strait. This great Greek city-state, which was wealthy due to its advantageous geographical position and prosperous port transit trade, had been quietly communicating with Carthage for many years to prevent Syracuse from coveting the strait of Messina. But all of a sudden, Rhegium’s friendly foreign city-state bared its fangs and captured its sister city-state, Messina. Why sister city-state? It is because Messina was established by the joint colonization of Cumae and Chalcis and was initially named Zancle and later renamed Messina because of the arrival of the immigrants from Messene. The Messinians have long realised that the other side of the Strait must be under their control in order to ensure their safety, so they encouraged their mother-state, Cumae. Cumae together with the Messinians then jointly established the friendly city-state of Rhegium.

Rhegium became panicked that they hurriedly decided to send envoys to the base of the South-Italia Alliance in Scylletium and ask them to join the alliance. So far, with the exception of Locri and its subordinate city-states, all the other Greek city-states have an alliance agreement with Theonia.

After the complete destruction of Messina, Carthage built a new city, Tauromenium, on the coast south of Messina, in order for Himilco to please the natives of eastern Sicily, the Sicels, and to prepare for their attack on Syracuse, which he then presented to the Sicels.

In March, Dionysius felt that he could no longer let the Carthaginians continue attacking its subordinate city-states. And if he still did not do anything, Syracuse’s allies might fall to Carthage. Thus he mobilised both his land and sea army to push northward to the Plain of Catania.

Hence a naval battle broke out between Syracuse and Carthage near Catania. The Greek warships were more than that of Carthage, and they also had an advantage in equipment. However, Dionysius had appointed his brother, Leptines, due to favouritism. But as the commander of the navy, his brother made a mistake in his command, leading to the defeat of Syracuse’s navy and causing heavy losses.

As the naval battle happens, the Greek army watches it on the shore. And due to this, they witnessed the tragedy of the navy and began wavering.

Fortunately, the army led by Himilco did not arrive at the battlefield in time due to Mount Etna, on the southwest of Tauromenium, suddenly erupting, spewing down hot lava and destroying the road to the south. The dark volcanic ash blocked the sky, making the Carthaginian army have no choice besides to take a detour.

And the Syracusan army sang the ode of Hephaestus, the god of fire, silently in awe and hurriedly returned to Syracuse. Then Catana and Leontini fell into Carthage’s hand.

With the aftereffect of his naval victory, Himilco finally led his army to Syracuse. At the same time, the Carthaginian navy sailed into the harbour of Syracuse, where they then set up camp on the banks of the Anapus river, trying to besiege Syracuse from both land and sea.

At this time, Dionysius anxiously sent messengers to Campania in Italia, Corinth in Greece, Sparta and other city-states to seek emergency assistance. Although Magna Graecia is the closest to Syracuse, Dionysius intentionally or unintentionally ignored this area and did not ask for any help from Theonia Union, the hegemon of South Italia.

Naturally, Theonia could not send any troops without any invitation, as it would make the Sicilians suspect them of some ulterior motives. Moreover, Theonia, after frequent wars and rapid expansion, also needed time to rest, consolidate and integrate. Therefore, when the Greek city-state in Sicily was facing a critical moment, the Theonians and the Greeks in South Italia just watched from across the sea with mixed feeling.

The Greek reinforcements from other places soon came one after another, especially Sparta, who had even sent the young strategos Phidias to lead thirty warships and five hundred Spartan warriors.

At this time, the Syracusans launched a riot against Dionysius, prompting Phidias to lead the Greek coalition forces to stop the riot. However, they all began complaining that it was precisely because of Dionysius’ poor command that Syracuse was now facing a predicament and the people losing their loved ones. And at the same time, they also included Dionysius’ tyrannical rule, begging Sparta and the allies to help them get rid of the shackles of this tyrant.

Phidias, remembering the advice of Agesilaus, told them straightforwardly that Sparta came to Syracuse to help Dionysius fight against Carthage, not to help Syracuse overthrow Dionysius. He hoped that the rioting people would calm their anger down and work together to drive out the Carthaginians who were already close to the city.

At the same time, he also asked Dionysius to make a promise that from now on, he will not retaliate against the people who participated in the riot and to be more tolerant of his rule in the future.

With the full support of Sparta, Dionysius got through a difficult crisis.

After the Carthaginians settled down outside the city, they began destroying all the facilities outside Syracuse. They had not only destroyed the farms, villages and towns but also desecrated the gods by destroying the Temple of Zeus on Polichne and also robbing the temples of Demeter and Persephone.

This kind of desecration angered the Syracusans, and the two sides had many small-scale lands and sea battle outside the city and in the great harbour.

With the coming of summer, the situation began benefiting Syracuse. As the temperature rose, the number of mosquitoes in the marshes near the Anapus River increased, causing the bitten Carthaginian soldiers to be tortured by a plague, resulting in an increasing number of deaths.

At this time, under the pressure of internal and external troubles, Dionysius was inspired and made a clever plan. After marching at night and using the tactic of making a sound in the east and striking in the west, the navy and land forces simultaneously attacked the weakened side of the enemy’s fortress.

Because of the plague, the Carthaginians were demoralised and unable to fight back against the attack of Syracuse.

At the cost of thousands of mercenaries’ lives, Dionysius successively captured the two fortresses, Polichne fortress and Dascon fortress, that the Carthaginians built on the banks of Anapus. At the same time, Dionysius defeated the Carthaginian navy. After suffering successive casualties, the Carthaginian camp of Himilco was in chaos and was in danger of the whole army being wiped out.

At this moment, Dionysius ordered to halt the attack.

That night, in Carthage’s military camp, there are confidential exchanges with the envoy of Dionysius.

And for the next three days, both sides remained peaceful, and no battles occurred.

On the fourth night, Himilco led the only remaining thirty triremes and fled the port, abandoning most of the Carthaginian soldiers, allies, and mercenaries, which were then annihilated by Syracuse and its allies.

After the great victory, Dionysius did not pursue the Carthaginians. Because the previous Syracusan ousting incident made him aware that he could only secure his tyranny if Carthage continued to exist in Sicily. He had not only allowed the remnants of Himilco’s army to run away but also did not continue sweeping the Phoenician towns in Sicily. Instead, he began focusing on attacking the indigenous power of Sicily, the Sicels, who had become the accomplices of Carthage and caused great trouble to Syracuse, making him realise that it was not enough just to unify the Greek city-states on the island and that he had to expand Syracuse’s sphere of influence in the Sicels’ settlements in order to completely consolidate the east of Sicily.

Therefore, the Syracusan army began conquering the towns of the Sicels, such as Morgantina, Centuripa, Henna, and etc., forcing more Sicels powers to sign a subsidiary agreement with him.

He also surrounded Tauromenium, the only coastal city built by Himilco for the Sicels, but failed to capture it momentarily.

By the second year (396 B.C.), Syracuse’s power had expanded northward to the northeast corner of Sicily.

On the ruins burned by Carthage, Dionysius rebuilt Messina. The inhabitants of the new city of Messina were composed of the settlers of Syracuse’s allies such as, Locri, Medma and so on., which were mainly his allies in Magna Graecia. In addition, there were also hundreds of Messenians(Messene) who had just been driven out from their original home by the Spartans and were living without a place to stay. Because of this, the new inhabitants no longer had any kinship with the Rhegians.

But soon after, the Spartans sent a messenger to express their dissatisfaction with Dionysius placing the enemies of Sparta in such an important city.


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