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The Punic Wars - Rome and Carthage

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The Punic Wars were a series of 3 wars lasting from 264 BCE- 146 BCE between Rome and Carthage. Carthage began as a Phoenician trading colony in the late ninth century BCE and grew into a large center of trade for both the east and the west. The word Punic is derived from the Latin word Punicus meaning Phoenician. Carthage was a city-state located on the Northern coast of Africa and controlled the majority of trade in the Mediterranean Sea, whereas Rome controlled most of the trade over land.

The 1st Punic War lasted from 264 BCE- 241 BCE and was fought over the small island of Sicily as well as control of the Mediterranean Sea and its surrounding lands. In 263 BCE, Hiero II (a tyrant from Syracuse), was forced to make peace with Rome, thus dividing Sicily in half, the Eastern part controlled by Rome and the Western part controlled by Carthage. After two more years of tense campaigning and planning, the Romans realized that they couldn't completely defeat the Carthaginians without forming a formidable navy. Whereas the Carthaginians had an impressive navy (due to the fact that most of their trade was over water), the Romans had an impressive army (due to the fact that they did most of their trading over land). As luck would have it, a Carthaginian ship washed ashore Italy's coast and was used as a model for the Roman navy. Although the Carthaginian navy implemented a spear on the front of their ships from the Greek's trireme, the Romans created a boarding bridge called a corvus, which consisted of a board with a spike in the bottom of it that would be dropped on the enemy boats so the Roman soldiers could then board the boats and fight hand-to-hand as they were accustomed to. In 260 BCE, the Romans proved themselves to not only be equal to, but superior to the Carthaginians in the naval battle of Mylae, where the Roman fleet of approximately 100 ships led by the consul Gaius Duilius encountered a fleet of over 130 ships commanded by Hannibal. The Carthaginians attacked with a confidence, only to find that they were no match for the swarms of Roman soldiers who soon boarded their vessels. The first 30 Carthaginian ships were taken along with their crews, leaving the others to quickly flee. The Romans, delighted with their victory, gained the confidence to take on the Carthaginians at sea, which ultimately decided the outcome of the 1st Punic War. In 241 BCE, the Romans defeated the Carthaginians near Aegates, in yet another naval battle and forced Carthage into a peace treaty which required them to give up their hold on the island of Sicily and pay reparations to Rome that amassed to 3,200 talents of silver in the course of 10 years.

The 2nd Punic War was fought from 218 BCE- 201 BCE and is considered by historians to be the most important of the three Punic Wars. Hannibal Barca (a military leader and government official), who was born in 247 BCE, was the son of Hamiclar and was taught from a young age to hate Rome. In 219 BCE, Hannibal attacked the Spanish city of Saguntum, upsetting Rome who claimed them as their ally. Ignoring the Roman protests, Hannibal laid siege to the city for eight months and claimed the city and refused the demands from Rome that he surrender. Rome declared war in 218 BCE, thus beginning the 2nd Punic War. After hearing that, Hannibal immediately prepared his troops for an invasion of Italy, and left his older brother Hasdrubal in charge of

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