Punic Wars

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Punic Wars

Punic Wars, three distinct conflicts between Carthage and Rome. When they began, Rome had nearly completed the conquest of Italy, while Carthage controlled NW Africa and the islands and the commerce of the W Mediterranean. When they ended, Carthage was ruined, and Rome was the greatest power W of China. The first war saw Rome fighting to break Carthage's growing hold on the chain of islands that enable it to control the W Mediterranean. The second war directly pitted the ambitions of the two commercial powers; the initial area of conflict was Sicily. The last war was the final, desperate attempt of Carthage to preserve Punic (Carthaginian) liberty.

First Punic War

The First Punic War, 264–241 BC, grew immediately out of a quarrel between the Sicilian cities of Messana (now Messina) and Syracuse. One faction of the Messanians called on Carthage for help and another faction called on Rome. The Strait of Messana, which separates the Italian Peninsula from Sicily, was of extreme strategic importance, and both powers responded. The Punic army arrived in Sicily first, arranged a peace between Messana and Syracuse, and established a garrison. Upon its arrival, the Roman army ejected the Carthaginians from the garrison, and thus the war began.

Roman legions occupied E Sicily, and the newly created Roman fleet, after victories at Mylae (260) and off Cape Ecnomus (256), landed a force in Africa. This excursion was a failure, and its commander, Regulus, was captured (255) by the Greek mercenary general Xanthippus. In Sicily the Romans took Palermo (254) but were effectively blocked farther west by the brilliant guerrilla warfare of Hamilcar Barca, and they failed to take Lilybaeum, the chief Punic base. The Romans equipped a new fleet that destroyed (241) the Punic fleet off the Aegates (now Aegadian Isles), and Carthage sued for peace. The terms were the payment of an indemnity and the cession of Punic Sicily to Rome. The chief events of the next 20 years were the Roman entry into Sardinia and Corsica—a gross breach of treaty—and the conquests in Spain by Hamilcar.

Second Punic War

When Hamilcar Barca's son Hannibal took (219) the Spanish city of Saguntum (present-day Sagunto), a Roman ally, Rome declared war. This Second Punic, or Hannibalic, War, 218–201 BC, was one of the titanic struggles of history. Rome owed its success to various factors: its stubborn will and splendid military organization; its superior economic resources; its generals, Fabius and, above all, Scipio; the failure of supply from Carthage to Hannibal's Italian army; and the mountainous character of central Italy, which rendered the Punic superiority in cavalry nearly useless. For the course of the war, see Hannibal and Scipio Africanus Major. At the war's close, Carthage surrendered to Rome its Spanish province and its war fleet.

Third Punic War

The Third Punic War, 149–146 BC, originated, like the others, in a deliberate Roman aggression, the result of agitation by Cato the Elder for the destruction of Carthage. Charging Carthage with a technical breach of treaty in resisting the encroachment of the Numidian king Masinissa (a Roman ally), Rome declared war and blockaded the city. Carthage never surrendered. The younger Scipio (Scipio Africanus Minor) conquered it, house by house, and sold the surviving inhabitants into slavery. The city was razed and its site plowed up.

Bibliography

The Latin accounts of the wars are biased, and there are no Punic ones; the best source is Polybius. See also Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. VIII (2d ed. 1989).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Punic Wars
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.