Siege of Lilybaeum

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Siege of Lilybaeum
Part of the Pyrrhic War
Date 278 BC
Location Lilybaeum, Sicily
Result Carthaginian victory
Carthage Epirus
Commanders and leaders
unknown Pyrrhus of Epirus

The Siege of Lilybaeum was an action of the Pyrrhic War in 278 BC, when an Epirote-Syracusian army led by Pyrrhus of Epirus attempted to capture the port city of Lilybaeum held by the Carthaginian Empire.

Postponing his Italian campaign, Pyrrhus sails for Sicily to fight the Carthaginians who were besieging Syracuse.[1] He evaded the Carthaginian fleet, landed in Catana and entered Syracuse where he was proclaimed commander-in-chief.[1] Then the Epirote King drove off Carthage's field army, captured the cities of Panormus and Eryx and refused Carthage's offer to surrender everything in Sicily except for Lilybaeum, which they direly needed if they sought to keep their hold on Sardinia.

The city of Lilybaeum (modern Marsala), lying on the western end of Sicily, connected the island with Africa and provided Carthage with an advanced harbor on the route to Sardinia. Pyrrhus besieged the city but after two months he found the fortifications to be too strong to be taken and unwilling to be bogged down in a lengthy sea blockade he lifted the siege.[2] After Lilybaeum Pyrrhus decided to take the war on Carthage's own soil in Africa for which he built a fleet,[3] but his preparations were frustrated by Greek resistance to the heavy demands the expedition exacted on the Sicilians.[2]



  1. ^ a b Venning & Drinkwater 2011, p. 80
  2. ^ a b Cowan 2007, p. 66
  3. ^ Mommsen 2008, p. 107