Hamilcar Barca, Or Bareas a Carthaginian general, born shortly before the beginning of the first Punic war, fell in a battle in Spain, 229 B. C. The name Barca, which he had in common with many distinguished Carthaginians, is supposed to signify lightning. He first appears in history as commander of a Carthaginian army in the 18th year of the first Punic war, 247 B. C. The Romans then had the advantage. Sicily, the main scene of the war, was in their hands, with the exception of Drepanum and Lilybaeum, on the W. coast, which they were blockading from the land side. Hamilcar seized the commanding position of Mount Ercte (now Monte Pellegrino), near Pa-normus (Palermo), where he encamped, while the bay sheltered the Carthaginian fleet. From this stronghold he made successful incursions into the interior of the island as far as the E. coast, and upon the S. coast of Italy, vanquished several Roman detachments, and took Eryx near the N. W. angle of Sicily (244). Holding this still more favorable position, he continued his incursions over the island and the peninsula. It was only the great defeat of the Carthaginian fleet under Hanno by the newly formed Roman squadron under Lutatius Catu-lus, near the AEgates isles (241), which compelled him to give up the struggle.
He was then commissioned to conclude a peace, and with his army embarked at Lilybaeum and returned to Carthage. The scene of war was then transferred to Spain, whither Hamilcar was eager to proceed; but he was delayed by a mutiny of some mercenary troops, which soon threatened the existence of the state. After the defeat of Hanno by the mercenaries, Hamilcar took the field against them, and finally succeeded in crushing the rebellion, which had raged for more than three years. He now entered upon his Spanish campaign, taking with him his young son Hannibal, whom before starting (238) he made to swear eternal enmity to Rome. The details of this new campaign are little known, but it is certain that he had conquered a part of Spain when he was overtaken by death. His conquests were continued by his son-in-law Hasdrubal, and afterward by Hannibal. He left two other sons, Hasdrubal and Mago, who both partook in the wars of their brother.