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An introduction to the rome and the first punic war with carthage

Carthage and Rome [264 bce—146 bce] Written By: See Article History Alternative Title: Carthaginian Wars Punic Wars, also called Carthaginian Wars, 264—146 bcea series of three wars between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian Punic empire, resulting in the destruction of Carthagethe enslavement of its population, and Roman hegemony over the western Mediterranean.

The origin of these conflicts is to be found in the position which Rome acquired, about 275 bce, as leader and protector of all Italy. The attendant new obligation to safeguard the peninsula against foreign interference made it necessary not to allow the neighbouring island of Sicily to fall into the hands of a strong and expansive power. Carthage, on the other hand, had long been anxious to conquer Sicily and so to complete the chain of island posts by which it controlled the western Mediterranean.

Roman expansion in Italy from 298 to 201 bc. First Punic War 264—241 bce The proximate cause of the first outbreak was a crisis in the city of Messana Messinacommanding the straits between Italy and Sicily.

Background and First Punic War (264-241 B.C.)

The Mamertinia band of Campanian mercenarieshad forcibly established themselves within the town and were being hard pressed in 264 by Hieron II of Syracuse. The Mamertini appealed to both Rome and Carthage, and the Carthaginians, arriving first, occupied Messana and effected a reconciliation with Hieron. The Roman commander, nevertheless, persisted in throwing troops into the city, and, by seizing the Carthaginian admiral during a parley, induced him to withdraw.

This aggression provoked war with Carthage and Syracuse. They besieged and captured the Carthaginian base at Agrigentum in 262 but made little impression upon the Carthaginian fortresses in the west of the island and upon the towns of the interior. In 260 the Romans built their first large fleet of standard battleships.

At Mylae Milazzooff the north Sicilian coast, their admiral Gaius Duilius defeated a Carthaginian squadron of superior maneuvering capacity by grappling and boarding. This left Rome free to land a force on Corsica 259 and expel the Carthaginians but did not suffice to loosen their grasp on Sicily. The Carthaginians, whose citizen levy was utterly disorganized, could neither keep the field against the invaders nor prevent their subjects from revolting. After one campaign they were ready to sue for peace, but the terms which the Roman commander Marcus Atilius Regulus offered were intolerably harsh.

Accordingly they equipped a new army in which, by the advice of a Greek captain of mercenaries named Xanthippus, cavalry and elephants formed the strongest arm. A Roman war galley with infantry on deck; in the Vatican Museums.

In 254 they captured the important fortress of Panormus Palermobut when Carthage threw reinforcements into the island the war again came to a standstill. This victory was followed by an investment of the chief Punic base at Lilybaeum Marsalatogether with Drepanum Trapaniby land and sea.

The besiegers met with a gallant resistance and in 249 were compelled to withdraw by the loss of their fleet in a surprise attack upon Drepanum, in which the admiral Publius Claudius Pulcher was repulsed with a loss of 93 ships.

At the same time, the Carthaginians, who felt no less severely the financial strain of the prolonged struggle, reduced their forces and made no attempt to deliver a counterattack. The only noteworthy feature of the ensuing campaigns is the skillful guerrilla war waged by a new Carthaginian commander, Hamilcar Barcafrom his strong positions on Mt. Ercte 247—244 and Mt. Eryx modern Erice 244—242 in western Sicily, by which he effectually screened Lilybaeum from any attempt on it by the Roman land army.

In 242 Rome resumed operations at sea. By a magnificent effort on the part of private citizens a fleet of 200 warships was equipped and sent out to renew the blockade of Lilybaeum.

The Carthaginians hastily collected a relief force, but in a battle fought off the Aegates Insulae Egadi Islandswest of Drepana, their fleet was caught at a disadvantage and mostly sunk or captured March 10, 241. This victory, by giving the Romans undisputed command of the sea, rendered certain the ultimate fall of the Punic strongholds in Sicily. The Carthaginians accordingly opened negotiations and consented to a peace by which they ceded Sicily and the Lipari Eolie Islands to Rome and paid an an introduction to the rome and the first punic war with carthage of 3,200 talents.

The interval between the First and Second Punic Wars 241—218 bce The loss of naval supremacy not only deprived the Carthaginians of their predominance in the western Mediterranean but exposed their overseas empire to disintegration under renewed attacks by Rome. The temper of the Roman people was soon made manifest during a conflict which broke out between the Carthaginians and their discontented mercenaries. A gross breach of the treaty was perpetrated when a Roman force was sent to occupy Sardiniawhose insurgent garrison had offered to surrender the island 238.

To the remonstrances of Carthage the Romans replied with a direct declaration of war, and only withheld their attack upon the formal cession of Sardinia and Corsica and the payment of a further indemnity. From this episode it became clear that Rome intended to use the victory to the utmost. To avoid complete humiliation Carthage had no resource but to humiliate its adversary.

The recent complications of foreign and internal strife had indeed so weakened Punic power that the prospect of renewing the war under favourable circumstances seemed remote enough. However, the scheme of preparing for a fresh conflict found a worthy champion in Hamilcar Barca. He sought to compensate for the loss of Sicily by acquiring a dominion in Spain where Carthage might gain new wealth and form a fresh base of operations against Rome.

Invested with an unrestricted foreign command, he spent the rest of his life in founding a Spanish empire 237—228. His work was continued by his son-in-law Hasdrubal and his son Hannibalwho was placed at the head of the army in 221. These conquests aroused the suspicions of Rome, which in a treaty with Hasdrubal confined the Carthaginians to the south of the Ebro.

In 219 Hannibal laid siege to Saguntum and carried the town in spite of a stubborn defense.

Punic Wars

It is a debatable point whether his an introduction to the rome and the first punic war with carthage contravened the new treaty. His defiant policy was too popular to be disavowed, however. HannibalHannibal, engraving by John Chapman, 1800. They decided to embark one army for Spain and another for Sicily and Africa. Before their preparations were complete, Hannibal began a series of operations by which he dictated the course of the war for the greater part of its duration.

He realized that so long as the Romans commanded the resources of an undivided Italian confederacy, no foreign attack could beat them down beyond recovery. Thus he conceived the plan of cutting off their supply of strength at the source by carrying the war into Italy and causing a disruption of the league. His chances of ever reaching Italy seemed small, for the sea was guarded by the Roman fleets and the land route was long and arduous. CarthageOverview of the rise and fall of Carthage, with a detailed discussion of Hannibal's victories against Rome, including the Battle of Cannae, and his later defeat at the Battle of Zama.

His force of 20,000 infantry and 6,000 horse s represented the pick of his African and Spanish levies. His further advance was disputed by some Roman troops, but the superiority of the Carthaginian cavalry and the spread of insurrection among the Gaulish inhabitants forced the defenders to fall back upon the Apennines. At the end of the year the Roman army was reinforced by the division from Sicily and led out to battle on the banks of the Trebbia.

Hannibal, by superior tactics, routed the significantly larger Roman force and thus made his position in north Italy secure.

A rash pursuit by the Roman field force under Gaius Flaminius led to its being entrapped on the shore of Lake Trasimene and destroyed with a loss of at least 15,000 men. This catastrophe left Rome completely uncovered, but Hannibal, having resolved not to attack the capital before he could collect a more overwhelming force, directed his march toward the south of Italy.

The Italians, however, were everywhere slow to join the Carthaginians, and a new Roman army under the dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus adopted a policy of strategic non-engagement. Peter Clayton The eventful campaign of 216 was begun with a deviation from the Fabian strategy and a new aggressive move on the part of Rome.

  • Salt is scattered in the furrows, and a curse is pronounced to ensure that neither houses nor crops ever rise here again;
  • But the conflict soon escalates into a straight clash between Rome and Carthage;
  • Before their preparations were complete, Hannibal began a series of operations by which he dictated the course of the war for the greater part of its duration;
  • In 203 Italy was finally cleared of Carthaginian troops;
  • Rome, in her turn, now has a devastating strategy, pioneered by Fabius.

An exceptionally strong field army, estimated at 85,000 men, was sent to crush the Carthaginians in open battle. On August 2, 216 bce, on a level plain near Cannae in Apulia, the Roman legions delivered their attack. The Romans, surrounded on all sides and so cramped that their superior numbers aggravated their plight, were practically annihilated.

An estimated one-fifth of Roman men of fighting age were killed, and the loss of citizens was perhaps greater than in any other defeat that befell the Republic. Cannae, Battle ofBattle of Cannae. The moral effect of the battle was no less momentous. The south Italian peoples at last found courage to secede from Rome, the leaders an introduction to the rome and the first punic war with carthage the movement being the people of Capuaat the time the second greatest town of Italy.

At first sight it seems strange that the Battle of Cannae did not decide the war. Although the great resources of Rome had been terribly reduced in respect to both men and money, they were not yet exhausted. In north and central Italy the insurrection spread but little and could be sufficiently guarded against with small detachments. In the south the Greek towns of the coast remained loyal, and the numerous Latin colonies continued to render important service by interrupting free communication between the rebels and detaining part of their forces.

In Rome itself the quarrels between the nobles and commons, which had previously unsettled Roman policy, gave way to a unanimity unparalleled in the annals of the Republic. The guidance of operations was henceforth left to the Senatewhich maintained a consistent policy until the conflict was brought to a successful end. The subsequent campaigns of the war in Italy assumed a new character. Though the Romans contrived at times to raise 200,000 men, they could spare only a moderate force for field operations.

Their generals, among whom the veterans Fabius and Marcus Claudius Marcellus frequently held the most important commands, rarely ventured to engage Hannibal in the open and contented themselves with observing him or skirmishing against his detachments.

Hannibal, whose recent accessions of strength were largely discounted by the necessity of assigning troops to protect his new allies or secure their wavering loyalty, was still too weak to undertake a vigorous offensive. In the ensuing years the war resolved itself into a multiplicity of minor engagements. In 216 and 215 the chief seat of war was Campania, where Hannibal, vainly attempting to establish himself on the coast, experienced a severe repulse at Nola.

In 214 the main Carthaginian force was transferred to Apulia in hopes of capturing Tarentum Taranto. Though Crotona and Locri on the southern coast had fallen into his hands, Hannibal still lacked a suitable harbour by which he might have secured his overseas communications. For two years he watched in vain for an opportunity to surprise the town, while the Romans narrowed down the sphere of revolt in Campania and defeated other Carthaginian commanders.

Finally in 212 the Romans found themselves strong enough to place Capua under blockade. They severely defeated a Carthaginian relief force and could not be permanently dislodged, even by Hannibal himself. In 211 Hannibal made a last effort to relieve his allies by a feint upon Rome itself, but the besiegers refused to be drawn away from their entrenchments, and eventually Capua was starved into surrender.

Its an introduction to the rome and the first punic war with carthage was a sign that no power could in the long run uphold a rival Italian coalition against Rome. After a year of desultory fighting, the Romans in 209 gained a further important success by recovering Tarentum. Though Hannibal still won isolated engagements, he was slowly being driven back into the extreme south of the peninsula.

In 207 the arrival of a fresh invading force produced a new crisis.

  • Flattered by the promises of Carthaginian emissaries, the young prince abruptly broke with the Romans, but before hostilities commenced he was assassinated;
  • Having arrived through the Alps in 218 BC, he does not finally depart until 203.

Hasdrubalwho in 208—207 had marched overland from Spain, appeared in northern Italy with a force scarcely inferior to the army which his brother had brought in 218. After levying contingents of Gauls and Ligurians, he marched down the east coast with the object of joining Hannibal in central Italy for a direct attack upon Rome itself. By this time the steady drain of men and money was telling so severely upon the confederacy that some of the most loyal allies protested their inability to render further help.

Yet by exerting a supreme effort the Romans raised their war establishment to the highest total yet attained and sent a strong field army against each Carthaginian leader.

Having discovered that Hannibal would not advance beyond Apulia until his brother had established communications with him, Nero slipped away with part of his troops and arrived in time to reinforce his colleague Marcus Livius Salinator, whose force had recently contacted Hasdrubal near Sena Gallica Senigallia. The combined Roman army frustrated an attempt of Hasdrubal to elude it and forced him to fight on the banks of the Metaurus Metauro. Hasdrubal himself fell, and the bulk of his army was destroyed.

The campaign of 207 decided the war in Italy.