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The Punic Wars

A report on the history and causes on the three Punic Wars.
by

Daniel Enseleit

on 13 November 2010

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Transcript of The Punic Wars

The Punic Wars The Punic Wars were a series of three wars fought between Rome and the Phoenician city of Carthage. Rome Before the Wars Rome before the first Punic war was not considered a world power, though it had conquered all of the Italian Peninsula. It had a different kind of relationship with the people it conquered. Rome made them allies, and they supplied Rome with soldiers, and in return, became citizens of Rome and could hold political office, citizens of Rome who could vote, or Latin citizenship, and/or shared all of the riches Rome got on their conquests. As citizenship came in different forms, more soldiers that were full time became available. Carthage Before the Wars Carthage before the war had expanded into southern Spain, across the coast of North Africa, and started to settle Sicily. Carthage was considered a strong world power. Carthage was led by Hamilcar Barca. Many people in the Carthaginian army were referred to as mercenaries, though that is not entirely correct. Commanders in the Carthaginian army served for many years, unlike Rome, whose commanders only served for one year. This allowed Carthage better trained soldiers who were used to the same kind of command.But sometimes command was very difficult because they had soldiers from Carthage, Numidia, Spain, Africa, and Libya. These mixed people had different languages and made it hard to communicate. They had a powerful navy, but not that strong of an infantry, or land soldiers. Carthage and Rome could have avoided the Punic Wars, all three, if it had not been for their greed of Sicily. Sicily Before the Wars At the time of the First Punic War, the Mamertines inhabited Sicily. The Mamertines, a group of Italian mercenaries, appealed to Carthage and Rome at the same time. The Mamertines were a savage group that occupied the city Messina in Northern Sicily, and killed all of the men and took the women as their wives and children as their children. Rome didn’t want Carthage to take Sicily, so they created an alliance with the Mamertines. In 264 B.C., for the first time ever, Rome sent troops out of the Italian Peninsula. Before they could create an alliance though, Hiero II of Syracuse came in and took over the Mamertines. Rome’s support of the defeated Mamertines precipitated the first Punic War. Hiero reconsidered his position and thought it best to make an alliance with Rome rather than Carthage. The First Punic War Rome and Carthage had a truce that was working out fine between them until Carthage started settling on Sicily and made Rome nervous about Carthage becoming too powerful. On Sicily, Carthage planned to move to Agrigentum and use it as a base, but Rome was faster. Rome moved to Agrigentum but were ambushed and nearly defeated by the small amount of reinforcements that Carthage had managed to get into Sicily. After five months of siege on Agrigentum, Rome captured it. Now, Rome had captured all of inland Sicily. Then, in 254 B.C., Rome captured Panormus, one of Carthage’s most powerful allies. Three years later, when Rome had lost half its army, Carthage laid siege on Panormus, starting one of the last battles of the First Punic War. The result of the battle was that Rome emerged victorious, and Carthage was defeated. Rome could not capture the outer part of Sicily because of Carthage's powerful navy.The first Roman fleet of ships was said to have been copied off one captured Carthaginian ship, though it was the sailors that made the Carthaginian navy great. The Romans made an add-on to the ships, though. On each of their one hundred twenty ships, they had installed the Crow, a kind of bridge that came down off of a Roman ship. It had spikes on the bottom of it that latched onto the enemy ship and to anchor it in place so that Roman soldiers could walk across it onto the enemies’ ships. This installation on a ship made it possible for Rome to defeat Carthage’s powerful navy and take all of Sicily. The result of the first Punic war was the defeat of Carthage. Carthage still remained powerful, but it had to pay 3,200 talents per year, which was a lot back then. Carthage was also never allowed to come back to Sicily. The Second Punic War In the Second Punic War, fought from 218 B.C. to 202 B.C., Hannibal, who was Hamilcar Barca’s son, took over after Hamilcar died. Hannibal moved his army into Spain with 60,000 men, 6,000 horses, and 37 elephants. After Hannibal took Saguntum, one of Rome’s allies, Rome declared war on Carthage again, starting the Second Punic War. Rome had already started sending troops toward Spain and Carthage, but Hannibal had different plans. He took his entire army through the Pyrenees Mountains. It was a long and hard journey through the mountains, though. Hannibal’s army was constantly attacked by mountain tribes and lost many men and horses to starvation and dehydration. By the time they reached the Alps, only half of the army remained. Part of the reason his army won as many battles as he did when he fought the Romans was the elephants he had. The Romans greatly feared these “aliens” that had come and fled when they saw them. Hannibal set his eyes on Italy and went on to invade it. At the same time, Rome got a new general named Scipio. Scipio moved into Africa to attack Carthage. Just before he beat Carthage, though, Hannibal returned. Scipio fought Hannibal in Zama, a place near Carthage, and killed Hannibal in the battle. Rome stripped Carthage of all its power and took all of its riches. Carthage was never again a formidable opponent of Rome. Scipio was then called Africanus for his victory. The Third Punic War This is what the Punic Wars might have looked like. It was fought from 264 B.C. to 241 B.C. The Third Punic War, from 149 B.C. to 146 B.C., was started when Carthage attacked Numidia, one of Rome’s strong allies, though it was still extremely weak. When Rome came down to Carthage (which took a while) to put down the rebellion, Carthage almost immediately surrendered after several days of fighting. They decided that their losses were too great and then said that they surrendered. But, Cato the Elder believed that the city should be annihilated as punishment for the rebellion. Many other people believed the same thing. So, they sent Scipio Aemilianus, who was Scipio Africanus’s grandson, to destroy the city. When Scipio was there, he said these words: “Tear down the buildings! Salt the fields! No one will ever live here again! Nothing will ever grow here again!” There was pandemonium in the city as the Romans destroyed it. Carthage did not stand a chance. Scipio and his men leveled (destroyed) the city and took all of the survivors as slaves. This is a photograph of a Roman coin during the Punic Wars. A painting of what Hannibal's army might have been like on their trek through the mountains. This is another artist's rendition of what the Punic Wars might have looked like. Punic Wars Bibliography "Punic Wars - Crystalinks." Crystalinks Metaphysical and Science Website. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2010. <http://www.crystalinks.com/punicwars
"First Punic War, 264-241 BC." Military History Encyclopedia on the Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2010. <http://www.historyofwar.org/articles
Alva, J. Jorge Klor De, Beverly J. Armento, Jacqueline M. Cordova, Gary B. Nash, Franklin Ng, Christopher L. Salter, Louise E. Wilson, and Karen K. Wixson. "Chapter Thirteen." A Message of Ancient Days (Houghton Mifflin Social Studies). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001. 330-400. Print.
"Second Punic War: 218-202 BC." Then Again. . .. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2010. <http://www.thenagain.info/webchron
"third punic war." KET Distance Learning Overview - HOMEPAGE - Welcome!. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2010. <http://www.dl.ket.org/latin2/historia
A map of Hannibal's empire compared to Great Falls, Montana.Hannibal took an army about the size of the population of Great Falls.
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