The following is found at and/or adapted from http://www.mystical-sites.stevenredhead.com/Warriors/battles.html#punic
“The Punic Wars” is the collective name for
the wars between the people of Carthage and the Romans.
The Romans used the name Poeni for the people
of Carthage , a city state of in northern Africa outside
modern-day Tunis , Tunisia . Carthage was the chief city-state
and trading hub of the African territory controlled by
the Phoenicians. The main reason the conflict began was
the intense competition between Rome and Carthage , who
both wanted to be the supreme trading empire of the Mediterranean
Sea region. There were three separate, but related, wars
that arose from this competition. The first war started
in 264 BC, and the last war ended in 146 BC (a span of
nearly 100 years!).
FIRST PUNIC WAR (264-241 BC)
In the first half of the 3rd century BC, Carthage held
many territories, making it easy for them to control and
dominate the western Mediterranean Sea region. They even
controlled a portion of the island of Sicily , just southwest
of Italy , making them a rival of the Romans, who had gradually
conquered much of the Italian peninsula.
In 264 BC, King Hiero II of Syracuse (a city-state in
southeastern Sicily ) attempted to conquer the city-state
of Messana (now Messina ) on the northeastern tip of Sicily
. The residents of Messana asked the Romans and the Carthaginians
to defend them from the invading Syracusans.
Seeing this as an opportunity to expel Carthage from
Sicily , the Romans quickly answered the call for help
from the people of Messana. Seeing this as a threat its
control of Sicily , the city-state of Carthage declared
war on Rome . The promise of glory and plunder was of great
importance to the Romans, who responded to Carthage ’s
declaration of war with their own declaration of war against
This war was fought mainly at sea around the island of
Sicily . Carthage , being perhaps the greatest sea-trading
empire in the world at the time, was by far the stronger
of the two in sea battles. True to the Roman desire for
perfection, Rome met this challenge by starting a large-scale
construction program to build its first naval fleet.
After building their navy, the Romans defeated a Carthaginian
fleet off the Sicilian port of Mylae in 260 BC, but failed
to capture the island of Sicily . In 256 BC, a Roman army
under Roman general Marcus Atilius Regulus established
a base in North Africa , but the following year the Carthaginian
army under general Hamilcar Barca forced it to withdraw.
For the next 13 years the war was fought in the area of
Sicily . It ended with a major naval victory for the Romans
in 241 BC in the Aegates Islands . Carthage was forced
to give up its territory in Sicily to the Romans, who also
captured the Carthaginian islands of Sardinia and Corsica
in 237 BC.
SECOND PUNIC WAR (218-201 BC)
a children's story about the 2nd Punic War written by
Karissa A., Hope B., and Anna L.
a comic book about the 3rd Punic War by Mandi C. and Nick
Carthaginian bitterness over the loss of Sicily , Sardinia
, and Corsica strengthened its desire to regain power in
the Mediterranean . It also strengthened its hatred for
the Romans. Hamilcar Barca, the distinguished Carthaginian
general of the First Punic War, devoted the remainder of
his life to building up Carthaginian power in Spain to
make up for the loss of Sicily.
In 226 BC, an agreement with Rome set the northern border
of the Carthaginian conquest to the Ebro River (in northern
Iberia ). But the Romans themselves broke their agreement
and crossed the Ebro river, heading south in their effort
to take over the Iberian Peninsula . Hamilcar’s son
Hannibal inherited control of the Carthaginian army in
221 BC and began to conquer parts of Iberia (now modern-day
Spain ). Having the same fighting spirit his father once
had, Hannibal decided to face the Roman army at Saguntum
(now Sagunto, north of modern-day Valencia, Spain) in 219
BC. Saguntum was one of Rome ’s allies, so in 218
BC, the Romans again declared war on the Carthaginians.
In the spring of 218 BC Hannibal did something the Romans
never expected. He swiftly marched a large army including
several elephants through Iberia (now Spain ) and Gaul
(now France ) and across the Alps to attack the Romans
in Italy before they could complete their preparations
for war. He crossed the dangerous mountains, where many
of his soldiers and elephants died, and secured a firm
position in northern Italy . By 216 BC he had won two major
victories, at Lake Trasimeno and the town of Cannae , and
reached southern Italy .
In spite of his requests, Hannibal received insufficient
reinforcements and siege weapons from Carthage . So, he
worked hard to recruit locals to join his army. In 207
BC, Hannibal ’s brother Hasdrubal left Iberia with
an army to cross the Alps and join Hannibal in Italy .
Hasdrubal crossed the Alps , but in a battle at the Metaurus
River , in northern Italy , he was killed and his troops
Meanwhile, the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio
Africanus, known as Scipio Africanus the Elder, had totally
defeated the Carthaginians in Spain , and in 204 BC he
landed an army in North Africa (in modern-day Tunisia ).
The Carthaginians convinced Hannibal to return to Africa
in 203 BC to defend them against Roman general Scipio Africanus
and his very large army.
Leading an army of untrained recruits, Hannibal was decisively
defeated by Scipio at the Battle of Zama (in modern-day
Tunisia ) in 202 BC. This battle marked the end of Carthage
as a great power and the close of the Second Punic War.
The Carthaginians were forced to give up their land in
Iberia ( Spain ) and the islands of the Mediterranean still
in their possession. They were also forced to give up all
but 10 ships in their large navy and pay a large amount
of tribute money to Rome . These harsh terms of surrender
led to continued tensions between Carthage and Rome .
THIRD PUNIC WAR (149-146 BC)
In the 2nd century BC, however, Carthage managed once
again to return too much of its former glory. Their economy
prospered, their fleet increased. All of this really irritated
Rome because there seemed to be nothing that could force
Carthage to its knees. Also encouraging hatred between
Rome and Carthage were the speeches of Cato the Elder,
who demanded Delenda est Carthago (“ Carthage
must be destroyed”).
The Carthaginians broke their treaty with Rome by extending
their empire slightly beyond the treaty line established
after the Second Punic War. This gave the Romans all the
excuse they needed to begin the Third Punic War (149-146
Rome used its African ally, Masinissa, who ruled over
the empire of Numidia to the west of Carthage , as a catalyst
to begin the war. Masinissa deliberately provoked Carthage
; and in 149 BC, Carthage attacked Masinissa. Rome , claiming
to come to the aid of its ally Masinissa, declared war
on Carthage . The difference in military force was now
to Rome 's advantage, and few battles were fought to decide
who was the strongest.
At first a peace was agreed upon, but Rome increased
its demands, decreeing that the Carthaginians must totally
abandon their own city of Carthage . Rejecting Rome ’s
harsh demands, the Carthaginians returned to the fight.
The Romans, led by Scipio Aemilianus (known as Scipio the
Younger), captured the city of Carthage after a 3 year
siege. The Romans burned Carthage to the ground, sowed
salt in the fields to poison the farmland, and sold the
surviving inhabitants into slavery.
Punic Wars Outline (264-146 BC)
- First Punic War (264-241 BC)
- Second Punic War (218-201 BC)
- Fabius Maximus
- Scipio Africanus
- Third Punic War (149-146 BC)