woensdag 24 juni 2015

Drepana & Eryx 8.




The battle of Drepana.
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: In het jaar 249 v.C beleeft Drepana zijn hoogtepunt. Het zal beroemd worden door een grote zeeslag, die voor de haven van de stad zal worden uitgevochten. In de aanloop daarnaar gelukt het ene Hannibal om aanzienlijke versterkingen naar Lilybaeum te brengen.
Polybius I 46: “Hierna voer Hannibal, terwijl het nog nacht was, met zijn schepen, zonder dat zijn vijanden het merkten, naar Drepana, naar de Carthaagse bevelhebber Adherbal. Omdat Drepana zo’n mooie en gunstig gelegen stad is, spanden de Carthagers zich er namelijk altijd sterk voor in deze haven in handen te houden. Drepana ligt ongeveer 120 stadiën van Lilybaeum.”
De echte naam van Adherbal is in feite Adirbaal (machtige Baal) en deze bevelhebber zal een cruciale rol gaan spelen in de komende zeeslag, ondanks het feit dat hij slechts de stadscommandant was.
B.H.Warmington in zijn boek Carthage (blz 193/194) ziet het als volgt verder gebeuren:
“.... Carthage had prepared a considerable naval reinforcement. This was destined for Drepana, a naval station some twenty miles north of Lilybaeum, which the Carthaginians were now using as their main base. They prepared a fleet there, under a general named Adherbal, but it presumably was outnumbered by the Roman force blocking Lilybaeum. One of the consuls, P.Claudius Pulcher, the son of Claudius, who had been consul when the war began, determined to attack Drepana before reinforcements arrived, his plan being to sail directly into the harbour there and destroy the Carthaginian fleet at anchor or beached. Adherbal, however, was able to get his ships under way, and sailed out of the harbour by the other of its two entrances. This gave him a dominating position, as he was able to draw his fleet up facing the shore while the Romans were putting about in a confined space.”
Adherbal, de stadscommandant van Drepana, ontwikkelt zich tot een admiraal van formaat. Hij is vroeg die dag wakker (gemaakt) en ziet de stipjes aan de horizon aankomen. Hij komt onmiddellijk in actie en roept zijn mannen naar de schepen. Volgens de overlevering heeft hij nog zelfs even tijd om een korte toespraak te houden, waarbij hij zegt, dat er een grote kans op succes is, wanneer iedereen zijn bevelen goed opvolgt en hij leidt zijn vloot de haven uit naar de open zee. Daarmee omsingelt hij de Romeinse vloot, die dicht langs de kust naderbij komt.
Polybius describes the battle as follows:
The Carthaginian ships were faster than those of the Romans owing to their superior construction and the skill of their rowers, and their position was favourable, as they had developed their line in the open sea. If any found themselves hard pressed, they could use their speed to retreat to open water and then turn on their pursuers and take them in the rear or in the flank; in such a situation, the Roman ships had to turn about also, and getting into difficulty because of their weight and the poor oarsmanship of their crews, were repeatedly rammed, and many were sunk. Again, the Carthaginian ships could easily sail to the assistance of each other in open water astern of their own line. By contract, no Roman ship could retire backwards, as they were too close to the land, and those who were hard pressed either ran aground by the stern or made for the shore. To sail through the Carthaginian line and take in the rear enemy ships already engaged (one of the most effective manoeuvres in naval warfare) was impossible, owing to the weight of the ships and the inexperience of the crews. They could not give each other help from the rear, because they were so hemmed in to the shore….
Such was the difficult position of the Romans in the battle; some of the ships grounded in shallow water, and other ran ashore. The consul, seeing what was happening, slipped out to the left along the coast and escaped with about thirty ships”.
B.H.Warmington (Carthage,p.194/5):
“……ninety-three Roman ships were captured. The only consolation for the Romans was that a fair number of men escaped ashore and got back to (the camps near) Lilybaeum. The arrival of the expected reinforcements under Carthalo – seventy ships – completed the domination of Carthage in the western Sicilian waters. A number of Roman transports were taken off Panormus and a few warships seized or destroyed near Lilybaeum. Carthalo sailed along the south-coast of the island, to intercept supplies that were being sent by the Romans for the relief of their forces outside Lilybaeum.”

Op dit moment beschikte Carthago over drie kundige admirals, die met hun eskaders prima opereerden. Hannibal had zijn provianderingeskader behendig naar Lilybaeum en Drepana gekregen. Adherbal wint overtuigende de zeeslag en Carthalo manoevreert zo handig aan de zuidkust van Sicilië, dat twee transportvloten van de Romeinen met behulp van natuur compleet verloren gaan. Carthago had nu ook de beschikking over een paar honderd schepen in de Siciliaanse wateren. En toch op dit hoogtepunt beslissen ze om te gaan onderhandelen met Rome om vrede te bewerkstelligen. Met de Grieken zou dat gelukt zijn, maar Romeinen onderhandelen nooit in een voor hen slechte positie. Dat doen ze alleen in gewonnen positie.
De Carthagers benutten hun zo gunstige situatie niet. We horen nog wat over kaapvaart langs de Italische kusten, maar dat zet geen zoden aan de dijk. Adherbal verdwijnt in de vergetelheid, nadat hij nog wel een groep Romeinen had uitgeschakeld op het schiereiland Aigithallos. De vloot wordt niet meer onderhouden. Men wacht slechts af tot de Romeinen moe worden van deze oorlog. Deze Carthaagse resignatie mag wel de grootste misrekening van de Carthagers in deze oorlog genoemd worden. 
Het antwoord van de Romeinen op al hun tegenslagen laat niet lang op zich wachten.
Werner Huss (Die Karthager, p.177):
“(Lucius Iunius) Pullus (die andere Consul) suchte der Gefahr der Resignation dadurch zu begegnen, dass er in der Karthagischen Epikrateia offensive Aktionen startete. Es gelang ihm auch – im oktober des Jahres 249 v.C) – der Stadt Eryx zu bemächtigen.”
Polybius (I,55):
Toen hem (Iunius) dan ook door een onbetekenende aanleiding in de schoot werd geworpen, wist hij door verraad Eryx te bezetten en kreeg de macht over de tempel van Afrodite en de stad.”

Drepana & Eryx part 8.
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The battle of Drepana.
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In the year 249 BC Carthaginian Drepana comes to its climax. It will become famous due to the big naval battle that will be fought in front of  the port of the city. In the run-up one of the Hannibals succeeded to bring substantial reinforcements to Lilybaeum.
Polybius I 46: "After this Hannibal, while it was still night, escaped with his ships without his enemies noticed it, to Drepana, to the Carthaginian commander Adherbal. Because Drepana is such a beautiful and convenient city, hitched the Carthaginians themselves always strong to keep this port in their possession. Drepana is about 120 furlongs from Lilybaeum. "
The real name of Adherbal is actually Adirbaal (mighty Baal) and this commander will play a crucial role in the coming battle, despite the fact that he was only the city- commandander.
B.H.Warmington in his book Carthage (page 193/194) sees it happen like this:
“.... Carthage had prepared a considerable naval reinforcement. This was destined for Drepana, a naval station some twenty miles north of Lilybaeum, which the Carthaginians were now using as their main base. They prepared a fleet there, under a general named Adherbal, but it presumably was outnumbered by the Roman force blocking Lilybaeum. One of the consuls, P.Claudius Pulcher, the son of Claudius, who had been consul when the war began, determined to attack Drepana before reinforcements arrived, his plan being to sail directly into the harbour there and destroy the Carthaginian fleet at anchor or beached. Adherbal, however, was able to get his ships under way, and sailed out of the harbour by the other of its two entrances. This gave him a dominating position, as he was able to draw his fleet up facing the shore while the Romans were putting about in a confined space.”
Adherbal, the city commandant of Drepana, is developing himself into a formidable admiral. He woke up early that day (or was waked) and saw the dots on the horizon arrive. He comes immediately into action and in a hurry calls his men as fast as possible to the ships. According to tradition he even has some time to make a short speech, in which he says that there is a high chance of success, when everyone will follow his orders and he leads his fleet out of the harbour to the open sea. This way he surrounds the Roman fleet, which close to the coast is approaching.
Polybius describes the battle as follows:
The Carthaginian ships were faster than those of the Romans owing to their superior construction and the skill of their rowers, and their position was favourable, as they had developed their line in the open sea. If any found themselves hard pressed, they could use their speed to retreat to open water and then turn on their pursuers and take them in the rear or in the flank; in such a situation, the Roman ships had to turn about also, and getting into difficulty because of their weight and the poor oarsmanship of their crews, were repeatedly rammed, and many were sunk. Again, the Carthaginian ships could easily sail to the assistance of each other in open water astern of their own line. By contract, no Roman ship could retire backwards, as they were too close to the land, and those who were hard pressed either ran aground by the stern or made for the shore. To sail through the Carthaginian line and take in the rear enemy ships already engaged (one of the most effective manoeuvres in naval warfare) was impossible, owing to the weight of the ships and the inexperience of the crews. They could not give each other help from the rear, because they were so hemmed in to the shore….
Such was the difficult position of the Romans in the battle; some of the ships grounded in shallow water, and other ran ashore. The consul, seeing what was happening, slipped out to the left along the coast and escaped with about thirty ships”.
B.H.Warmington (Carthage,p.194/5):
“……ninety-three Roman ships were captured. The only consolation for the Romans was that a fair number of men escaped ashore and got back to (the camps near) Lilybaeum. The arrival of the expected reinforcements under Carthalo – seventy ships – completed the domination of Carthage in the western Sicilian waters. A number of Roman transports were taken off Panormus and a few warships seized or destroyed near Lilybaeum. Carthalo (Melqarthilles) sailed along the south-coast of the island, to intercept supplies that were being sent by the Romans for the relief of their forces outside Lilybaeum.”
At this time Carthage had three skilful  admirals, who operated just fine with their squads. Hannibal had brought his provisions squadron agile to Lilybaeum and Drepana. Adherbal, very convincing, wins the sea-battle and Carthalo manoeuvres so convenient on the south coast of Sicily, that two transport fleets of the Romans, with the help of mother nature are completely lost. Carthage at this time had access to a few hundred ships in the Sicilian waters. And yet, at this high point of power they decide to negotiate with Rome to establish peace. The Greeks would have responded, but the Romans never negotiate in a bad position for them. They do so only when they are in a winning position.
The Carthaginians does not exploit their favourable situation at all. We still hear about privateering along the Italic coasts, but that has not many results. Adherbal disappear into oblivion after he destroys a group of Romans on the peninsula Aigithallos. The fleet is however no longer maintained. They just wait until the Romans are tired of this war. This Carthaginian resignation may be called the greatest miscalculation of the Carthaginians in this war.
The response of the Romans on their set-backs is coming very soon.
Werner Huss (Die Karthager, p.177):
"(Lucius Junius) Pullus (the other Consul) examined the danger of resignation to face the fact that he launched offensive actions in the Carthaginian Epikrateia. He succeeded - in October of the year 249 BC – to seize the city of Eryx". (translated from german).
Polybius (I, 55):
"When he (Iunius) then was given by an insignificant occasion the opportunity, he managed to occupy Eryx by treachery and took control of the Temple of Aphrodite and the city."
The splendid naval successes are ending in minor.

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