Punic Wars

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Empire of Carthage through the Punic Wars

The Punic Wars were three wars fought between Rome and Carthage between 264 and 146 BC,[1] and were probably the largest wars in the ancient world.[2] They are known as the Punic Wars because the Latin term for Carthaginian was Punici (older Poenici, from their Phoenician ancestry).

The main cause of the Punic Wars was the clash of interests between the existing empire of Carthage and the expanding Roman Republic. Carthage lost the three wars.

  • First Punic War 264 to 241 BC. Hannibal's father Hamilcar Barca was the Carthaginian general.
  • Second Punic War 218 to 201 BC. Hannibal was the Carthaginian general. Hannibal crossed the Alps with war elephants in order to attack Rome on land, because they had put their fortifications on the coast, expecting a naval attack. Carthage lost when Romans invaded Africa.
  • Third Punic War 149 to 146 BC. Carthage lost again and completely destroyed.

Context[change | change source]

Carthage was a trading nation founded by Phoenicians. It was the dominant sea power in the western Mediterranean. It was a maritime empire, in contrast to the land-based Roman empire. The Romans decided they needed Sicily, which was then in Carthaginian hands. The consequence was a series of wars which lasted over a hundred years, and ended in the utter destruction of Carthage.

References[change | change source]

  1. Chris Scarre, "The Wars with Carthage," The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome (London: Penguin Books, 1995), 24-25.
  2. Goldsworthy, The Punic Wars, p. 13

Other websites[change | change source]