Xanthippus was a Greek (possibly Spartan) mercenary general hired by the Carthaginians to aid in their war against the Romans during the First Punic War. He trained Carthaginian soldiers and led them into the battle of Tunis, where Carthaginian forces routed the Roman expeditionary force and captured the Roman consul Marcus Atilius Regulus in 255 BC.

Xanthippus is credited with the Carthaginian formation, cavalry split between the two wings, mercenary infantry on their right, with a hastily raised phalanx of civilians in the centre and a line of elephants in front of the infantry, which defeated the Romans formed in their normal formation, with the outnumbered cavalry on the wings and legionary infantry in the centre. He also realised the mistakes the Carthaginians were making by avoiding open ground (because of the Romans' superior infantry) which restricted the Carthaginian cavalry and elephants (the strongest parts of their armies).


Ostrakon with the names Pericles and Xanthippus

Xanthippus was also:

  • the father of the Ancient Greek statesman Pericles, and was eponymous archon of Athens in 479 BC.
  • the senior son of Pericles and grandson of Xanthippus, who had political ambitions and slandered his own father for his relationship with Aspasia, being jealous of him. He died in 429 BC, hit by the epidemic.

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