Battle of the Aegates

The Battle of the Aegates was a naval battle fought on 10 March 241 BC between the fleets of Carthage and Rome during the First Punic War. It took place among the Aegates Islands, off the western coast of the island of Sicily. The Carthaginians were commanded by Hanno, and the Romans were under the overall authority of Gaius Lutatius Catulus, but Quintus Valerius Falto commanded during the battle. It was the final and deciding battle of the 23-year-long First Punic War.

Battle of the Aegates
Part of the First Punic War
Date10 March 241 BC
Location37.97°N 12.20°E / 37.97; 12.20
Result Decisive Roman victory
Treaty of Lutatius
Roman Republic Carthage
Commanders and leaders
Gaius Lutatius Catulus
Quintus Valerius Falto
c. 200 quinqueremes c. 250 quinqueremes
Casualties and losses
30 quinqueremes sunk
50 quinqueremes damaged
50 quinqueremes sunk
70 quinqueremes captured
10,000 men captured
The Aegates Islands
Location of the battle, off the west coast of Sicily

The Roman army had been blockading the Carthaginians in their last strongholds on the west coast of Sicily for several years. Almost bankrupt, the Romans borrowed money to build a naval fleet, which they used to extend the blockade to the sea. The Carthaginians assembled a larger fleet which they intended to use to run supplies into Sicily. It would then embark much of the Carthaginian army stationed there as marines. It was intercepted by the Roman fleet and in a hard-fought battle, the better-trained Romans defeated the undermanned and ill-trained Carthaginian fleet, which was further handicapped by being laden with supplies and having not yet embarked its full complement of marines.

As a direct result, Carthage sued for peace and agreed to the Treaty of Lutatius, by which Carthage surrendered Sicily to Rome and paid substantial reparations. Henceforth Rome was the leading military power in the western Mediterranean, and increasingly the Mediterranean region as a whole.