Carthage Must Be Destroyed…

Modern Remains of Carthage

Few stories and great clashes are as deeply meaningful and powerful than the nearly century long conflict between Rome and Carthage; we call these conflicts the Punic Wars. Ultimately, Rome would emerge victorious – after great cost of life, land, and statesmen (at the famous Battle of Cannae in 216 BCE, Rome lost both its consuls and over 80,000 men in a single day at the hands of the infamous General Hannibal Barca).

When one studies the wars, looking at it from the beginning, the outcome was not set. In fact, I would have put my money on Carthage. So how did Rome turn the tide and emerge not only victorious, but dominating. In fact, in 146 BCE not only does Rome definitely defeat its mortal enemy (dismantling the city and killing or enslaving the survivors), but it is the same year that Rome defeats the Greeks in Corinth and absorbs that region into their expanding Empire. It was the beginning of the true might that was Rome.

This month’s Archaeology Magazine highlights several new finds off the Western Coast of Sicily, likely related to the Battle of Aegates Islands (a conflict during the first Punic War). They believe that the weapons and ships constructions that they have uncovered will provide greater insight into how Rome ultimately came to dominate the Mediterranean. To read more about this, see the article in Archaeology Magazine.

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3 thoughts on “Carthage Must Be Destroyed…

  1. Pawel

    Hi,
    Interesting article.
    I read that main advantage of Romans was there population number. Roman-controlled Italy could provide several hundred thousands of men capable of fight, whereas Rome enemies of that time (Carthage, Greek states, Macedonia, Seleucids …) were able to organize armies counting 10-50 thousands. Of course single roman army in the given battle also counted let’s say 50 thousands, but when they lost (like in Cannae even with great loses) they were able to send next army. Rome enemies couldn’t afford that and usually defeat in main battle was immediately followed by peace proposal.
    Certainly it wasn’t Rome’s only advantage but significant.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      Some great points Pawel. However, Rome doesn’t really acquire its large, readily available standing army and populace until just *after* the 2nd Punic War (the one with Hannibal and the elephants). In fact, at the time that Hannibal annihilated the Roman Army at Cannae, most Italians were not Roman citizens (part of the reason he was able to turn a lot of them against Rome). At that particular point in Roman History, the army was solely a ‘citizen based army’ – in fact, extending citizenship to Italians was largely out of a need for expanding the soldiery.

      Truly, the first and second Punic Wars (not so much the third) were really about two evenly based forces – it was anyone’s game.

      Believe it or not, Wikipedia has a great an concise summary on the evolution of the Roman Army!
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_army

      Thank you for your contribution!

      Reply

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