The Punic Wars

The Punic Wars were three wars fought in the first and second
centuries BC, between Rome and Carthage. Out of these three wars the
second war had the biggest effect of the future in Rome and Carthage. The
Carthaginians were lead by the great general Hannibal, one of the great
military leaders of antiquity (Notes).
The city of Cartage was founded hundreds of years before these wars
started by the people from Phoenia, which is why the word Punic, or
Phoenician, was used to described the people from Carthage. The
Phoenicians were renown merchants and sailors. They traded things all over
the Mediterranean and even ventured into the Atlantic Ocean. They patroled
the wakes sinking ships and driving away anyone else who tried to trade in
their territory. Most people think that because of this pirany, the wars
between Carthage and Rome started, but Historians say Romans were neither
merchants or sailors so this could not have started these wars. In fact,
Carthage helped Rome in two of their earlier wars.



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The fighting began because of trade in Sicily. It started out a little war,
until one side asked Carthage for help and the other said asked Rome. So in
264 BC Rome and Carthage went to war (Hooker, 2). For a long time the
war was just a statement because of the lack of experience of both the
Carthaginians fighting on land, and Rome fighting on water. The Romans
new that if they got out on the water, the Carthage soldiers would sink their
boats before they got a chance to fight. The Romans thought of a way to get
their soldiers on the enemy ships to have what they really wanted, a hand to
hand battle. They came up with something called a “corvus” (crow), . This
is a wooden bridge with a spike at the end of it. Located at the front of the
ship, the drop-bridge dropped on the enemy ship and the spike stuck in it.
This corvus was used to get the Romans from one ship to another so they
could fight Carthage hand to hand (Unstead, 83). But even with the corvus,
the Romans did not have an easy time defeating the Carthaginians, they still
were not good at fighting on water and could not use their superior fighting
tactics. The Romans lost several ships because of storms and others in the
battles at sea. The Carthaginians had a great general at this time by the name
of Hamilcar. The Romans consul led an attack on Carthage, and the

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Carthaginians took him prisoner, he eventually died, but he had still thrown
away the entire Roman army. After twenty years of war Carthage finally
admitted they had been defeated.
In 241 BC, the two countries made peace. Carthage gave up Sicily
and Rome took it over (Hooker, 3). Although peace had been made, neither
side really meant it. Carthage sent some troops to Spain and began to take
over cities and win over Spanish tribes, until they have given Carthage a new
empire to make up for the loss of Sicily. They named one of these cities new
Carthage. But on the other hand, Rome knew that Carthage was rebuilding
and decided that the Mediterranean was not big enough for the both of the.
Rome decided to take over Sardinia and Corsica, two islands in the
Mediterranean. Rome and Carthage both knew it was just a matter of time
before other wars started.
In 218 BC, the second Punic War begins. This war was led by he
great General Hannibal. Hannibal was the Carthaginian general known for
his march across the Alps. He was credited for his efforts in the second
Punic War, but played a big role in the conquest of south eastern Spain in the
220’s BC ( Knox, 1).


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Hannibal was the son of Hamilear Barea, and started following his
father on his campaigns at the age of nine. From age 18 until 25 he acted as
military leader under his brother-in-law Hasdruoelin connecting with the
extension and consultation of Carthaginian power in Spain. With Hasdrulals
death in 221 BC, Hannibal was elected new commander in chief. Under his
control the Carthaginians made large territorial advances. With the conquest
of Saquntum in 218 B.C., he closed with the Roman Army. Romans claimed
that this was the break of the treaty, and demanded Hannibal surrender to
them. With the refusal of Carthage the second Punic War started (Kjeilen,
1).
Planning out the second Punic War, Hannibal knew that the