Sunday, 11 March 2012

Hannibal's Brother Mago (243 - 203 BC)

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Mago (probably)
The Barca brothers were a formidable team. Mago (also written as Magon) was the younger brother, the third son of Hamilcar. He  played a major part in the Second Punic War in Italy and Spain and took the war to the Balearic Islands.

Mago accompanied his brother Hannibal on the invasion of Italy and held key commands in the great victories of the first three years of that conflict.

After Hannibal's triumph at the Battle of Cannae (216), he was sent to Spain to fight alongside his other brother, Hasdrubal. He and Hasdrubal suffered defeat at Ilipa in 206 at the hands of Publius Cornelius Scipio (later Africanus).

He stayed for several months to Gades (now Cádiz) and then retreated to the Balearic Islands. Mago (Magon) may have given his name to Port Mahon, the capital of Minorca. If that is true then he may be to thank for mayonnaise (or at least the name), which seems to have originated there.

He then led a third Carthaginian invasion of Italy, this time by sea. In spring 205, with 30 ships and 15,000 men he made the journey directly from Minorca to the Ligurian coast - an impressive maritime journey for the period. He took Genoa and Savona, received reinforcements from Carthage and occupied - for nearly 3 years - the north of Italy.

In 203, advancing from his base in Liguria, he fought a drawn battle against four legions in the valley of the Po in Cisalpine Gaul, where he was seriously wounded. Scipio's expedition to North Africa forced him to return his troops there. However, he died at sea before having been able to reach Carthage.

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