Punicus (known as Púnico in Portuguese and Spanish; died 153 BC) was a chieftain of the Lusitanians, a proto-Celtic tribe from western Hispania. He became their first military leader during the Lusitanian War, and also led their first major victories against Rome.[1][2]

Native name
Púnico, Punicus
Died153 BC
Years of service155-153 BC
Battles/warsLusitanian War


Punicus's origin was placed by some authors in Herminius Mons (Serra da Estrela), like his later countryman Viriathus, but this has been doubted by others.[1] Others place his origin in Braga, though it would make him one of the Bracari instead of a Lusitanian.[3] It is probable that he served at some point as a mercenary for Phoenician or Carthaginian territories in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, as Lusitanians and other Celtiberian tribes used to do.[1][2] He might have taken part in the war between Carthage and the Numidians led by Masinissa, an ally to Rome.[4]

In 155 BC, Punicus instigated a Lusitanian uprising and started sacking and pillaging through Roman territories. In order to crush the rebellion, Rome sent Praetor Calpurnius Piso and Proconsul Manius Manilius at the head of an army of 15,000 legionaries, but Punicus defeated them, inflicting losses of around 6000 men.[2][5] This victory enabled Punicus to ally himself with the neighboring Vettones; he marched south and sacked the Mediterranean Roman provinces, including Hispania Baetica and the territories of the Blastophoenicians, a people vassal to Rome.[2][6] His campaign also saw the death of Roman Quaestor Terentius Varro.[1] However, Punicus's leadership ended abruptly in 153 BC when he was killed by a slinger. He was replaced by his lieutenant Caesarus, who continued his campaign.[2]


The word Punicus comes from Punic, a Latin word for "Phoenician" borrowed from Ancient Greek phonikeos.[7] It has been suggested that Punicus received this name not from birth,[2] but as a title after gaining military experience around Carthaginian forces in Southern Hispania.[1][8] Alternatively, it is also possible that he was a Phoenician by blood,[9] a Lusitanian of Phoenician ancestry,[10] or merely a Hispanian whose name sounded like Punic to Roman chroniclers.[9]

An 18th-century chronicle gives Punicus the alternate name of "Appimanus".[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Luciano Pérez Vilatela (2000). Lusitania: historia y etnología (in Spanish). Real Academia de Historia. ISBN 978-84-895126-8-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Toni Ñaco del Hoyo, Fernando López Sánchez (2017). War, Warlords, and Interstate Relations in the Ancient Mediterranean. Brill. ISBN 978-90-043540-5-0.
  3. ^ a b Juan Bautista Verdussen (1730). Historia del reyno de Portugal (in Spanish). Biblioteca Estatal de Baviera.
  4. ^ Francisco Javier Lomas Salmonte (2005). Historia de Cádiz (in Spanish). Sílex. ISBN 978-84-773715-4-0.
  5. ^ Narciso Santos Yanguas (1982). Viriato, terror de Roma (in Spanish). Historia 16.
  6. ^ José María Blázquez Martínez (2006). Roma y la explotación económica de la Península Ibérica (in Spanish). Instituto Español de Antropología Aplicada.
  7. ^ Etymology of Punicus
  8. ^ Francisco Oliveira, José Luís Brandão (2015). História de Roma Antiga: vol. I: das origens à morte de César (in Portuguese). Coimbra University Press. ISBN 978-98-926095-9-1.
  9. ^ a b Toni Ñaco del Hoyo, Fernando López Sánchez (2011). Lucius Cornelius Bocchus escritor lusitano da Idade de Prata da Literatura Latina - Volumen 1 de Archaeologia hispanica. Real Academia de la Historia. ISBN 978-84-150693-6-2.
  10. ^ Javier Negrete (2018). La conquista romana de Hispania (in Spanish). La Esfera de los Libros. ISBN 978-84-916428-5-5.