Hamilcar was a Carthaginian general in the First Punic War, he was also the father of Hannibal, Mago, and Hasdrubal, and the father-in-law of a different Hasdrubal.

Hamilcar was given the admiralcy of the Carthaginian fleet in 247 B.C. and he used it to attack the coast of Bruttium. When he landed in Sicily he took the city of Heircte, near modern day Palermo. Here he held off the Romans engaging them in several small skirmishes. He also used this as a base to send raiding parties to Italy. He seized Eryx in 244 B.C. but was unsuccessful in breaking the Roman siege of Drepana.

In 241 B.C, after Carthage had been defeated Hamilcar negotiated the peace treaty. Hamilcar resigned his command immediately after the peace negotiations. However he was called upon the next year to replace Hanno, who had failed to put down the mercenary revolts. The fighting continued to 238 B.C. with both sides commiting atrocities until Hamilcar and Hanno were persuaded work together.

Following the mercenary war he went to Spain with his nine year old son Hannibal, and his son-in-law Hasdrubal acting as his second-in-command. From his base at Gades he gained control of south eastern and southern Spain. When asked by a Roman emmissary what the purpose of his conquests was, he replied that they were supposed to provide the money with which to pay the indemnity of the First Punic War. Hamilcar died in 229 B.C. when he drowned retreating from the siege of Helice.

Hamilcar is supposed to have made Hannibal swear an oath never to be a friend of Rome. While this story is possible it is unlikely Hamilcar was looking to wage war on Rome in his lifetime. However his capture of Spain gave Carthage the resources she would need for war after she lost Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily.

Hamilcar was also a Carthaginian leader at the start of the fifth century B.C.. He was a descendant of Mago, and his mother was a Greek. He joined with Anaxilas of Messana, Terillus of Himera and Xerxes of Persia, to crush Gelon and Theron in Sicily, whose combined power had the Carthaginians worried. To this end he landed in Sicily in 480 B.C., however he was defeated at Himera, where he died. Carthaginian tradition claims he sacrificed himself to the gods when he was defeated.

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