The punic wars and Carthage

Rome history

Eating out

Shopping

Sleeping

 Travel

Contact Us
Etruscans Ancient Rome Medieval Rome Renaissance Baroque Modern Rome

.

A brief account of the Punic wars and CarthageRoman History: | aeneas | Romulus, Remus & the origins of Rome | The ancient roman kings | Oath of the Horatii | The Kingdom and Seven Kings of Rome | The Roman Republic | The Conquest of Italy and the Punic Wars | The Republic in crisis | Julius Caesar and the end of the Republic | Queen Cleopatra of Egypt | Augustus and the Empire | The 12 Caesars | The Five Good Emperors | Other Emperors | Emperor Constantine and Christianisation | fall of the roman empire |

The Roman conquest of Italy, the Punic wars and Carthage

Rome's victorious streak and gradual control of Italy meant that it eventually came as far as the sea. Consequently they had to enter the international arena in order to find a new enemy.

Their first international enemy of Rome was King Pyrrhus (318-272BC) of Epirus in Greece . The Romans had reached as far south as the rich and cultured port city of Taranto, which at that time was a Greek colony. The Tarentines called King Pyrrhus for help and he, duly influenced by his belief in the greatness of his Macedonian ancestry, attempted invasion of Italy in 280BC. The term "Pyrrhic victory" comes from this period: King Pyrrhus won two battles against the Romans but these were so costly to him that he lost the war and was forced to retreat back to Greece in 275BC.

Pyrrhus was the first to use elephants in battle against the Romans. Having never seen such beasts the Romans actually thought them to be some sort of giant Ox.

Rome's next international enemy was far more powerful and harder to overcome but the Romans could hardly be satisfied or indeed feel safe without ensuring dominion of the seas around Italy. This meant direct conflict with the city of Carthage.

Carthage on the north coast of Africa was founded some 100 years before Rome and its power and wealth was heavily dependent on its command of trade across the Mediterranean.

The wealth and power of the two cities reached a point where their individual interests could no longer be defended by treaty and the following century witnessed three tiring and cruel wars also known as the "Punic wars".

Given the Roman expansion throughout the Italian mainland, the first of these wars was above all for the control of Sicily - an important mercantile and production centre of Cereals, Olive oil and Wine. The war was waged between the years 264 and 241BC and resulted in a clear victory for Rome. Although the war was resolved to Roman advantage it was only a first "round" from which both sides resulted essentially unscathed.

The second Punic war lasted seventeen years between 219 and 202BC and proved to be rather more devastating and decisive. The stake at play this time was control of the Western Mediterranean basin, which was essential to shipping and mercantile trade. Again the war was won by Rome.

Hannibal

Carthage and its general-in-chief Hannibal were humbled but not without a good deal of suffering for Rome: Hannibal surprised Rome by invading Italy from the north, crossing the Alps. He also surprised the Roman military machine by using Elephants. The feat of crossing Elephants through mountain passes alone is surprising but even more historic was his great talent for battle strategy. The battle at Cannae near Rome has been at the core of military training ever since. With considerably fewer men and resources than his enemy, Hannibal's amazing tactical ability together with his army, particularly his cavalry, humiliated the vastly superior numbers of the Romans on their home ground. Never again would Rome dare face Hannibal in a pitched battle. Years of mutual guerrilla attacks, burning of crops and provisions eventually forced Hannibal to retreat back to Carthage. It is said that the poverty of Southern Italy's soil today is the effect of erosion caused by those years of continuous destruction.

Rome at the head of its alliance of Italic peoples benefited from an almost unlimited supply of soldiers and managed to take the war across the sea to Carthage itself. The great general Scipio Africanus finally defeated Hannibal at Zama in the year 202.

Carthage and trade across the Mediterranean sea was thus subjected to Roman rule. The third and last Punic war saw the total destruction of Carthage in the year 146BC.

Google
 
Web www.mariamilani.com

|Back to the top | email us | about Mariamilani | Index of all Rome history pages | Apartments in Rome |

Roman History: | aeneas | Romulus, Remus & the origins of Rome | The ancient roman kings | Oath of the Horatii | The Kingdom and Seven Kings of Rome | The Roman Republic | The Conquest of Italy and the Punic Wars | The Republic in crisis | Julius Caesar and the end of the Republic | Queen Cleopatra of Egypt | Augustus and the Empire | The 12 Caesars | The Five Good Emperors | Other Emperors | Emperor Constantine and Christianisation | fall of the roman empire |

| roman empire | pax romana | Reasons for the collapse and fall of the roman empire | Contributions by Ancient Romans |

Please email us if you feel a correction is required to the Rome information provided. Please read the disclaimer

"The conquest of Italy, Punic wars and Carthage" was written by Giovanni Milani-Santarpia for www.mariamilani.com - Rome apartments