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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 (Tifinagh: ⵙⵢⴼⴰⴽⵙ Sifaks) 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 Sifax 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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378 news items

The Tunis Times
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 12:07:30 -0700

UPDATED, Tunis – Tunisian privately-owned airliner, Syphax Airlines, began the commercialization of its new direct line linking Tunis and Montreal. According to the statement, flights will be weekly, every Friday. The Airliner will use its newly ...


Wed, 16 Apr 2014 10:03:45 -0700

Dafür wird die tunesische Fluggesellschaft ihre Flotte vergrößern müssen. Derzeit besitzt Syphax Airlines eine Flotte von nur zwei Airbus A319-100 und einem Airbus A330-200. Mit ihnen fliegt die 2012 gestartete Fluglinie ab Sfax, Djerba, Monastir und ...

Economiste Maghrébin

Wed, 26 Mar 2014 04:35:10 -0700

La compagnie aérienne Syphax Airlines annonce le démarrage des ventes des billets pour le vol Tunis-Montréal (Canada) – Tunis. Comme annoncé auparavant, les vols commerciaux de la ligne commenceront le 25 avril 2014, soit un mois jour pour jour du ...

El Watan

El Watan
Tue, 01 Apr 2014 08:32:44 -0700

Le mausolée royal de Syphax, à quelques encablures de Béni-Saf, vient d'être l'objet d'un arrêté d'ouverture d'une instance de classement public à l'effet de lui attribuer le titre de monument historique protégé. Ses ruines sont localement désignées ...
Sun, 13 Apr 2014 03:30:00 -0700

“We need a more business-friendly environment in our government,” said Golden, whose campaign is backed by supporters including local developer Tracy Syphax and African-American Chamber of Commerce President John Harmon. Contact Jenna Pizzi ...
Tue, 01 Apr 2014 02:03:21 -0700

En effet, le tombeau du roi Syphax, situé dans la commune Emir-Abdelkader, où a été signé le traité de la Tafna, ainsi que la zaouïa de Sidi Yakoub, rattachée à la commune de Sidi Ouriache, dans la daïra d'Oulhaça, sont en instance d'être classés au ...
El Watan
Tue, 08 Apr 2014 02:02:42 -0700

Hier, une délégation d'archéologues de l'Office national de gestion des biens culturels (OGEBC) devait se déplacer à Témouchent pour délimiter le site du mausolée royal de Syphax, situé à quelques encablures de Béni-Saf. Cette action fait suite à l ...


Tue, 08 Apr 2014 03:07:30 -0700

Le PDG de la compagnie aérienne Syphax Airlines, Mohamed Frikha, a évoqué, mardi 8 avril 2014, le lancement de la nouvelle ligne Tunis-Montréal, le 25 avril 2014, et la nouvelle ligne Tunis-New York, ainsi que la participation de la Tunisie au Forum ...

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