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For the Canadian mountain, see Mount Syphax. For the mythological figure, see Sufax. There is also a genus of fossil spiders Syphax (Thomisidae).
Sifaks El Madher.jpg

Syphax was a king of the ancient Numidian tribe Masaesyli of western Numidia during the last quarter of the 3rd century BC. His story is told in Livy's Ab Urbe Condita (written c. 27-25 BC).[1]


Tomb of Syphax in Batna (Algeria)

When in 218 BC, war broke out between Carthage and Rome, Syphax was initially sympathetic to the Romans. In 213 BC, he concluded an alliance with the Romans and they sent military advisers to help Syphax train his troops. He then attacked the eastern Numidians, the Massylians, ruled by King Gala; at that time allied to the Carthaginians. When Gala died in 206 BC, his sons Masinissa and Oezalces quarreled about the inheritance, and Syphax was able to conquer considerable parts of the eastern Numidian kingdom.

After the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio (Scipio Africanus) was victorious in the Battle of Ilipa (206 BC), he sent his friend Gaius Laelius to visit Syphax to ratify the treaty with Rome. Syphax however, refused to ratify any treaty except with Scipio, so Scipio sailed with two quinqueremes to meet with Syphax, taking a considerable risk in doing so. In fact he arrived at the Numidian harbor, at exactly the same time as Hasdrubal (who had fled from Spain) anchored there on his way back to Carthage. However, Scipio's ship managed to make harbor before Hasdrubal's seven triremes could make out to intercept them, and in a neutral harbor, Hasdrubal dared not act against the Romans. Syphax invited both to dinner, where both Syphax and Hasdrubal were taken in by Scipio's charm.[1]:p77

Meanwhile, Masinissa had concluded that Rome was winning the war against Carthage and therefore decided to switch sides. Having lost the alliance with Masinissa, Hasdrubal started to look for another ally, which he found in Syphax, sealing the alliance by offering his daughter Sophonisba in marriage, although until 206 BC she had been betrothed to Masinissa.

With the reversal of alliances it looked like Carthage and Syphax were in a strong position in Africa, certainly during the early stages of Scipio's campaign in North Africa, the joined forces of Syphax and Hasdrubal Gisco were able to force Scipio to abandon the siege of Utica. However, in the Battle of Bagbrades (203 BC), Scipio overcame Hasdrubal and Syphax and while the Roman general concentrated on Carthage, Laelius and Masinissa followed Syphax to Cirta.

During the pursuit, Syphax was threatened with desertion by his army when Laelius and Massinissa's army approached the Numidian battle line. In a brave attempt to rally his troops, Syphax rode alone, straight towards the Roman cavalry, but in this desperate attempt his badly wounded horse threw him off. Syphax was pounced upon immediately by Roman soldiers and taken to the ecstatic Massinissa.[1]:p405 Syphax's troops retreated to the capital city which later fell as Massinissa claimed his kingdom. Syphax was delivered to Scipio and was taken as a prisoner, dying in Tibur (modern Tivoli) in 203 or 202 BC.

In a twist of fate, Sophonisba then married Masinissa. However, Scipio, suspicious of Sophonisba, demanded that she be taken to Rome and appear in the triumphal parade. To spare her such humiliation, Masinissa sent her poison, with which she killed herself.

The Tunisian city Sfax is said to be named after King Syphax.


  1. ^ a b c Livy: Ab urbe condita, vol. VIII, bks. xxviii-xxx Loeb Classical Edn, pp.73-99, 173-225, 405-421 at openlibrary.org

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syphax — Please support Wikipedia.
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Washington Post
Wed, 27 May 2015 13:48:45 -0700

25, part of Arlington schools' REEP Program. Exams, Mondays at 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. Through June 15, Syphax Education Center, 2110 Syphax Blvd., Arlington. 703-228-4200. www.apsva.us . Exam free; course $285; people who live and work in Arlington, $200.


Tue, 26 May 2015 09:49:22 -0700

TRENTON — Juan Martinez, a longtime Trenton activist who worked tirelessly to better the city, died Tuesday of health complications. He was 55. "He wanted his community to bond and get better and heal and work together," his sister, Miriam Martinez ...

Business News

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Thu, 30 Apr 2015 01:40:03 -0700

Syphax Airlines a fêté, mercredi 29 avril 2015, son 3ème anniversaire. En effet, il y a trois ans jour pour jour, le 29 avril 2012, Syphax Airlines a réalisé son premier vol au départ de l'aéroport Sfax-Thyna vers Paris Charles-De-Gaule. Syphax fait un ...
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:18:45 -0700

Syphax Airlines (FS, Sfax) will resume its only transatlantic route - Tunis to Montréal Trudeau - later this summer. Launched as a weekly flight in April last year, the route was downgraded to a seasonal service in September with flights suspended from ...
Sat, 02 May 2015 02:00:10 -0700

Cette rencontre est annoncée comme une tentative de découvrir les mystères qui entourent l'histoire de la région et son patrimoine, à l'instar de Siga, royaume de Syphax, dominée par certaines ambiguïtés que les chercheurs et universitaires ainsi que ...

New York Times

New York Times
Sat, 02 May 2015 10:15:00 -0700

“We pick out the good ones,” said Delino Syphax, director of operations. There to help unload was the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, which began deploying to sites of disaster after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and now includes civil unrest in its ...

Lexington Herald Leader

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Far below the celebrities, in folding chairs beside an infield fence, Susan and Bob Syphax were experiencing their first Derby, too. Seven months ago, they moved from California to Pulaski County and decided this was the year. So they dressed in their ...


Tue, 27 Jan 2015 03:16:56 -0800

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