Hannibal's Family


There may have been a wife, Imilce, but whether there was a son, seems even more doubtful.

Livy notes: "Castulo, a powerful and famous city of Spain, and in such close alliance with Carthage that Hannibal took a wife from there, seceded to Rome."

Serge Lancel in his "Hannibal", discusses this : "...It may be remembered that [Hannibal's] predecessor, Hasdrubal the Fair, had taken a Spanish woman as his second wife, soon after succeeding Hamilcar. In the same way, we learn from Livy (XXIV, 41, 7) that Hannibal married an Iberian woman from Castulo (a town on the Guadalquivir River), one of the most important cities at that time in upper Andalusia, near Linares. Very early on the town had aroused the interest of the Phoenicians of Gades because of its mineral resources, and its ancient wealth had found expression in some of the most beautiful works of orientalizing art.

Silius Italicus tells us a little more about the bride. She was called 'Imilce', probably not from a Greek name as the Latin poet thinks (Punica, 111, 97-105), but from a well and truly Punic name: it is quite legitimate to recognize in it the barely modified Semitic root mlk, the 'chief, the 'king' (Picard, 1967, p. 119). In contrast, it appears harder to follow Silius any further in his romantic elaborations.

Supposedly from this union a son was born, before the very walls of besieged Saguntum. Before leaving for Italy, Hannibal took the mother and still young child to Gades, where he put them on a vessel bound for Carthage, to protect them from the vicissitudes of war. (Hannibal's journey to Gades is recorded by Livy). And the poet shows us this Imilce, fixing her gaze on the shores of Spain until the ship's progress hides them from her sight. "

He later relates that Carthage's government decided to sacrifice Hannibal's son. Imilce, the Spanish soldier's wife, was naturally opposed to that terrible decision and obtained from the Council the suspension of the sacrifice to inform her husband; Hannibal refused to sacrifice his son and in exchange he swore to sacrifice a thousand enemies.

At Baeza (49 kilometres from Jaén) , in the plaza del Pópulo, the Los Leones fountain is said to have been brought from the Roman city of Cástulo. The female figure of the monument is said by some to be Imilce, the wife of Hannibal (although the head is probably not original).


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