Ecnomus

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Ecnomus

 

the ancient Roman name for the promontory now called Poggio Sant’Angelo, which is located on the southern coast of Sicily at the mouth of the Himera Meridionalis (now Salso River), near modern Licata.

In 256 B.C., during the First Punic War (264–241 B.C.), a naval battle between the Roman and Carthaginian fleets took place near Ecnomus. The Roman fleet, comprising 330 ships under the command of the consul M. Atilius Regulus, was escorting transports of landing forces headed for North Africa. Two detachments of ships sailed ahead, and two formed a protective line behind the transports. Near Ecnomus the Roman fleet was met by the Carthaginians, whose fleet comprised 350 ships under the command of Hamilcar.

The advance Roman detachments attacked. Hoping to divert the advance Roman detachments, Hamilcar ordered his two central detachments to withdraw; the two flank detachments were ordered to sail toward the transports and destroy them. The advance Roman detachments, however, defeated the enemy’s central detachments, which were forced to flee; they then returned to aid the rear detachments, which had waged a stubborn battle with the Carthaginians’ flank detachments, and proceeded to rout the enemy. Of the Cathaginian ships, 30 were sunk and 64 captured. The Romans lost 24 ships. The victory at Ecnomus made it possible for the Romans to land safely in North Africa.