The Punic Wars vs Carthage

The Roman empire was one of the most powerful and expansive empires in history. They achieved this through many wars to secure new territory and protect their empire. Some of the most defining wars in Ancient Rome’s history are The Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage.

Carthage was another powerful empire located in Northern Africa just across the Mediterranean sea. The Punic Wars were fought between 264 BCE and 146 BCE.

The First Punic War was fought from 264-241 BCE. Rome and Carthage were vying for control of the Mediterranean Sea. When Rome interfered in a dispute on the Carthaginian-controlled island of Sicily, war broke out between the two powers. Carthage had a powerful navy, but Rome was able to build a navy of over 1000 ships to meet their might. At this time Rome invented an assault bridge called a corvus, allowing them to board enemy ships. The Roman fleet was able to win their first victory at sea at the Battle of Ecnomus and was awarded control of both Sicily and Corsica.

The Second Punic War was fought between 218-201 BCE. Carthage resented Rome and sought revenge. They took control of the city of Saguntum, who appealed to the Romans for help. This placed Carthage’s border up against Rome and allowed Hannibal to invade from the North. The brilliant Carthaginian general Hannibal invaded Italy by crossing the Alps with a massive army with elephants, and scored a great victory at Lake Trasmiene and Cannae before his eventual defeat at the hands of Rome’s Scipio Africanus in 202 BC. The war gave Rome control of the Western Mediterranean.

Third and last of the Punic Wars was fought in 149-146 BCE. Cato the Elder and other hawkish members of the Roman Senate convinced their colleagues that Carthage was a threat to Rome’s supremacy in the region after Carthage broke a treaty with Rome by going to war with Numidia. The Romans sent an army to North Africa. Carthage withstood the Roman siege for two years before the Romans, led by Scipio the Younger, captured and destroyed the city of Carthage in 146 BC. This turned Africa into yet another province of the mighty Roman Empire.