The Punic WarsMichael HarrisProfessor Michael CurranHumanities 101November 13, 2010 The Punic Wars were three separate wars fought between Rome and Carthage. From the beginning of the first war until the end of the third war over a century had elapsed. These wars were the most important wars fought by the Roman??™s. Rome had been known as a superior land power but in order to have a chance of victory against Carthage, they had to master the art of maritime warfare. They were so successful in creating a naval force to stand up to the Carthaginian Navy that they became known as a maritime superpower. Rome was also transformed from an agrarian economy to a merchant based economy after the wars. These victories in war over Carthage created the foundation for the Roman Empire (Gascoigne, 2001, ongoing, para.
1). The first of the three Punic Wars was from (264-241 B.C.). Before the start of the war, Rome was not considered a major power in the Mediterranean although they had control over most of Italy??™s mainland. The Roman army was made up of citizens and they were paid for their service.
As Rome??™s population expanded, so did their military. Carthage on the other hand was a more established nation with a higher profile. Unlike Rome, Carthage??™s army was not entirely made up of its citizens. Most of the soldiers were mercenaries from Numidia and Libya in Africa and some were from Spain (Rickard, n.d., para. 2-5).
The beginning of the war started in Sicily over a land dispute between the Greek colonies and Carthaginian settlements. Rome did not become involved in the war until the Greek colony of Messina requested their help. The war quickly turned into conflict between Rome and Carthage. Rome was far superior at fighting on land but was still not in control of the war due to Carthage??™s massive maritime advantage. In the year (260 B.C.
) Rome made the decision to challenge Carthage on the sea. The Romans, with no naval expertise were able to capture a Carthaginian warship that had ran aground. The ship was a quinquereme, which was much larger and heavier than the standard Greek ships known as triremes. Within a two month time period, the Roman navy had one hundred quinqueremes and twenty triremes built as ordered by the Roman Senate.
The crews for these vessels had to undergo rapid training as well as the one hundred and twenty marines that were to be placed on each ship. Every ship was equipped with a drawbridge that would crash down on the enemy??™s ships to allow Roman troops to board the Carthaginian vessel and engage them in a style of warfare they were more familiar with, ground warfare. The Carthaginian??™s are shocked by the power of the Roman navy and after fifty ships are destroyed, the rest retreat in a panic. The Romans newfound sea power gives them the confidence to try and invade Carthage. In (256 B.C.
), the Roman navy with two hundred and fifty quinqueremes, thirty thousand marines and eighty or more transport ships set out for Africa. Before reaching Africa, they engage another Carthaginian fleet and once again emerge victorious. The Carthaginian??™s were not ready to give up. In (255 B.C.), using elephants and their cavalry, they decisively beat the Roman??™s army and only two thousand Romans were able to escape. Rome sends out another three hundred and fifty ships which emerged victorious against the Carthaginian navy but a storm on the way home smashed much of the fleet on the rocky Sicilian coast. With about one hundred thousand sailors and marines??™ dead from the storm, only 80 vessels were able to return home safely.
Rome decided to return to ground warfare after this massive loss of life and was able to successfully shut down supplies from reaching Carthaginian towns. Then after one last naval victory in (241 B.C.), Rome is victorious in the First Punic War (Gascoigne, 2001, ongoing, para. 5-13).
The first Punic War was now over and as part of the treaty; Carthage agreed to pay Rome thirty two hundred talents over a period of ten years which Carthage could easily afford (Rickard, n.d., para 18).
In the period between the two wars, Hamilcar Barca had seized much of Spain and Rome had conquered Corsica. Hamilcar wanted revenge against Rome for their loss of the First Punic War so bad that he had taught his son Hannibal to hate Rome. Twenty four years later, The Second Punic War had begun in (218 B.C.) and lasted until (201 B.C.).
The war began when Hannibal seized the Greek city of Saguntum. Rome did not respect the army of Hannibal and expected an easy battle defeating his army. Hannibal left behind twenty thousand soldiers and surprised the Romans by marching further north that they had expected. He crossed the Rhone River floating his elephants on rafts. Although he didn??™t have nearly the amount of men as Rome, he got support from disgruntled Italian tribes who were not happy with Rome. By the time he reached the Romans for the first battle, he had thirty thousand men. After the first few battles, Hannibal had proven himself to be an effective leader with victories in Trebia, Lake Trasimene and his greatest victory was the Battle of Cannae in (216 B.
C.). The next battle was the final battle of the Second Punic War. Although there was no winner in the battle, Hannibal sent for the twenty thousand troops he had left behind with his brother Hasdrubal after the Carthaginian Senate refused his request for more troops. Hasdrubal was killed while on his way to support his brother Hannibal, and as a result of his death, ten thousand Carthaginian??™s were killed at the Battle of Metauras in (207 B.C.) due to the lack of support.
This was the first Roman victory of the war. The Roman General Scipio moved into North Africa and the Carthaginian??™s sent Hannibal to counter the Roman??™s advances. Hannibal, who suffered a major loss of men, was unable to use his military brilliance and preferred tactics. To the contrary, Scipio used Hannibal??™s own tactics against him which were very effective and this lead to the end the second Punic War. Hannibal agreed in his surrender to give all his warships to Rome along with his elephants. He needed Rome??™s permission in the future to go to war and had to pay ten thousand talents to Rome.
These payments were spread out over fifty years. (Gill, n.d., para 1-9) The third and last war of the Punic wars was fought from (149-146 B.C.). Carthage had once again been revived after losing the Second Punic War.
The olive and wine trade was prosperous for the Carthaginian??™s and she was getting her wealth back. Rome knew that Carthage was desperate for revenge after losing two wars to them and decided it was time to destroy her once and for all. Carthage was being invaded by the Numidians of North Africa and while they were defending their homeland, Rome took this as defiance of their treaty not to wage war without their permission. The Romans marched through Carthage totally destroying everything in sight. To ensure that they would never be able to grow any crops ever again, they sowed salt into the fields and sold the remaining fifty thousand survivors into slavery. The Romans wanted to make sure that they would never again have rivals in the west (Gascoigne, 2001, ongoing, para.
35-36). ReferencesGascoigne, Bamber. From 2001, ongoing ???History of Punic Wars??? Heritage History. Retrieved November 03, 2010, from http://www.
heritagehistory.com/www/heritage.phpRmenu=OFF&Dir=wars&FileName=warspunic.phpGascoigne, Bamber. From 2001, ongoing ???Punic Wars??? History World.
Retrieved November 03, 2010, from http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asphistoryid=ac53Gill, N.S.. “Second Punic War – Rome Fought Carthage in the Second Punic War.
” Ancient / Classical History – Ancient Greece & Rome & Classics Research Guide. N.p.
, n.d. Web. 12 Nov.
2010. http://ancienthistory.about.comRickard, J., First Punic War, 264-241 BC, Retrieved November 03, 2010, from http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/wars_punic1.html