Battle of Mylae

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Template:Infobox Battles The battle of Mylae (offshore Mylae Sicily, 260 BC) was the first real naval battle between the fleets of Carthage and the Roman Republic, fought during the First Punic War. The result was a decisive Roman victory.

After the conquest of Agrigentum, the Roman Republic felt confident to pursue war with Carthage on sea. With this purpose, Rome built and equipped a fleet of about 150 ships, quinqueremes and triremes, in a record two months. The first episode of Roman naval warfare, the battle of the Lipari Islands, was not brilliant: consul Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Asina managed to loose his whole squadron of 17 ships to Carthage without a fight.

Shortly afterwards this small incident, the junior consul, Gaius Duilius, sailed with the rest of the fleet to meet the Carthaginians. A sea power for already a long time, Carthage had the experience and naval skills, but the Romans had introduced the corvus in the prow of their ships, a boarding mechanism that would nullify this advantage. The fleets met offshore Mylae and right at the beginning of the confrontation, 30 Punic ships were conquered by Roman soldiers, boarded with the corvi, including the Carthaginian flagship. Hannibal Gisco, the Punic admiral, was forced to escape in extremis in a small boat and boarded another of his vessels. He tried to outmanoeuvre the Romans and attack by astern (safe from the corvi), but was utterly defeated.

In the aftermath of the battle, the first naval success for Rome, Gaius Duilius was revered as a hero. The consul celebrated a Roman triumph featuring the prows of the apprehended Carthaginian ships. Afterwards, these were used to decorate the speakers platform in the Forum, known from that day onwards as the rostra (prows, in Latin. Duilius retired soon from political life, in the height of his career. Hannibal Gisco was crucified for incompetence shortly afterwards.

References

The Fall of Carthage, by Adrian Goldsworthy, Casselde:Schlacht von Mylae pl:Bitwa morska pod Mylae fr:Bataille de Mylae

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