Geographical sites:

  • Crimisus (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #462175)
    Pleiades_icon Crimisus fl. river Geocontext: Freddo
    Description: An ancient place, cited: BAtlas 47 B3 Crimisus fl.


Text #3757

Diodorus Siculus. The Library of History. Vol. 1
[Diod. 8.80. Translated by C. H. Oldfather. Harvard University Press. 1935. (12 Vols.) pp. 61--63]

As the battle was renewed, the Phoenicians were overwhelming the Greeks with their superior numbers when, suddenly, from the heavens sheets of rain broke and a storm of great hailstones, while lightning flashed and thunder roared and the wind blew in fierce gusts. All of this tempest buffeted the backs of the Greeks but struck the faces of the barbarians, so that, though Timoleon’s soldiers were not much inconvenienced by the affair, the Phoenicians could not stand the force of circumstances, and as the Greeks continued to attack them, they broke into flight.

As all sought the river together — horse and foot intermingled, while the chariots added to the confusion — some perished helplessly trodden under foot or pierced by the swords or lances of their comrades, while others were herded by Timoleon’s cavalry into the bed of the river and were struck down from behind. Many died without an enemy’s stroke as the bodies piled up in the panic. There was crowding and it was difficult to keep one’s feet in the stream. Worst of all, as the rain came down heavily, the river swept downstream as a raging torrent and carried the men with it, drowning them as they struggled to swim in their heavy armour.

In the end, even the Carthaginians who composed the Sacred Battalion, twenty-five hundred in number and drawn from the ranks of those citizens who were distinguished for valour and reputation as well as for wealth, were all cut down after a gallant struggle. In the other elements of their army, more than ten thousand soldiers were killed and no less than fifteen thousand were taken captive. Most of the chariots were destroyed in the battle but two hundred were taken. The baggage train, with the draught animals and most of the wagons, fell into the hands of the Greeks. Most of the armour was lost in the river, but a thousand breastplates and more than ten thousand shields were brought to the tent of Timoleon. Of these, some were dedicated later in the temples at Syracuse, some were distributed among the allies, and some were sent home by Timoleon to Corinth with instructions to dedicate them in the temple of Poseidon.

Text #3758

Pritchett. The Greek State at War. Series: Dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. Vol. 1
[p. 122]

During the Battle of the Crimisus1 (near the Crimisus river, today the Belice river in western Sicily) - a battle fought between the Corinthian Timoleon and a Carthaginian army led by Hamilcar and Asdrubal - peals of thunder crashed down and flashes of lightning darted forth upon the combatants. The accompanying rain, wind and hail smote the Carthaginians in the face and so completed their defeat. The Carthaginians died in great number (10 000 according to Plutarch, 12500 according to Diodorus), ending for some time the continual warfare between the Africans and the Greeks for the control of Sicily.

After Timoleon’s victory, a fresh series of Syracusan coins was issued with heads of Zeus Eleutherios. Furthermore, a set of bronze coins all with same god’s head bore a thunderbolt, possibly a reference to this great victory.

  1. Diodorus dates the battle under the archonship of Theophrastus in 340-339, while from Plutarch’s narrative it can be inferred that the battle occurred in 341. Plutarch’s date is more probable: see Talbert, R. J. A. Timoleon and the Revival of Greek Sicily: 344-317 B.C., p. 44-47

Text #8688

Plutarch. Lives. Series: Plutarch's Parallel Lives. Vol. 6
[Plut. Tim. 28. Translated by Bernadotte Perrin. Cambridge University Press. 1918. (11 Vols.) pp. 329--331]

But these withstood his first onset sturdily, and owing to the iron breastplates and bronze helmets with which their persons were protected, and the great shields which they held in front of them, repelled the spear thrusts. But when the struggle came to swords and the work required skill no less than strength, suddenly, from the hills, fearful peals of thunder crashed down, and vivid flashes of lightning darted forth with them. Then the darkness hovering over the hills and mountain summits came down to the field of battle, mingled with rain, wind, and hail. It enveloped the Greeks from behind and smote their backs, but it smote the Barbarians in the face and dazzled their eyes, a tempest of rain and continuous flames dashing from the clouds. In all this there was much that gave distress, and most of all to the inexperienced; and particularly, as it would seem, the peals of thunder worked harm, and the clatter of the armour smitten by the dashing rain and hail, which made it impossible to hear the commands of the leaders. Besides, since the Carthaginians were not lightly equipped, but, as I have said, encased in armour, both the mud and the bosoms of their tunics filled with water impeded them, so that they were unwieldy and ineffective in their fighting, and easily upset by the Greeks, and when they had once fallen it was impossible for them to rise again from the mud with their weapons. For the Crimesus, having been already greatly swollen by the rains, was forced over its banks by those who were crossing it, and the adjacent plain, into which many glens and ravines opened from the hills, was filled with streams that hurried along no fixed channels, and in these the Carthaginians wallowed about and were hard beset. Finally, the storm still assailing them, and the Greeks having overthrown their first rank of four hundred men, the main body was put to flight. Many were overtaken in the plain and cut to pieces, and many the river dashed upon and carried away to destruction as they encountered those who were still trying to cross, but most of them the light-armed Greeks ran upon and despatched as they were making for the hills. At any rate, it is said that among ten thousand dead bodies, three thousand were those of Carthaginians — a great affliction for the city. For no others were superior to these in birth or wealth or reputation, nor is it recorded that so many native Carthaginians ever perished in a single battle before, but they used Libyans for the most part and Iberians and Numidians for their battles, and thus sustained their defeats at the cost of other nations.

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