The Punic Wars were a series of three wars fought between Rome and Carthage from 264 B.C to 146 B.C. were probably the largest wars that had ever taken place. The term Punic comes from the Latin word Punicus (or Poenicus), meaning "Carthaginian", with reference to the Carthaginians' Phoenician ancestry.
The main cause of the PunicWars was the conflict of interests between the existing Carthaginian Empire and the expanding Roman Republic. The Romans were initially interested in expansion via Sicily (which at that time was a cultural melting pot), part of which lay under Carthaginian control. The Punic Wars are divided in three parts.
The First Punic War:
The First Punic War (264–241 BC) was fought partly on land inSicily and Africa, but was largely a naval war. It began as a local conflict in Sicily between Hiero II of Syracuse, and the Mamertines of Messina.
The Mamertines enlisted the aid of the Carthaginian navy, and then subsequently betrayed them by entreating the Roman Senate for aid against Carthage. The Romans sent a garrison to secure Messina, so the outraged Carthaginians then lent aid to Syracuse.With the two powers now embroiled in the conflict, tensions quickly escalated into a full-scale war between Carthage and Rome for the control of Sicily. After a harsh defeat in 261 BC, the Carthaginian leadership resolved to avoid further direct land-based engagements with the powerful Roman legions, and concentrate on the sea where they believed Carthage's large navy had the advantage. Initiallythe Carthaginian navy prevailed. In 260 BC they defeated the fledgling Roman navy at the Battle of the Lipari Islands. Within two months the Romans had a fleet of over one hundred warships. Roman legionaries could then board and capture Carthaginian ships. This innovative Roman tactic reduced the Carthaginian navy's advantage in ship-to-ship engagements, and allowed Rome's superior infantry to bebrought to bear in naval conflicts. In 241 BC, Carthage signed a peace treaty under the terms of which they evacuated Sicily and paid Rome a large war indemnity. The long war was costly to both powers, but Carthage was more seriously destabilized. In 238 BC, Carthage was plunged into the Mercenary War, during which Rome seized Sardinia and Corsica. Rome was now the most powerful state in thewestern Mediterranean: its large navy able to prevent seaborne invasion of Italy, control important sea trade routes, and invade foreign shores.
Interval between the first and second Punic Wars:
According to Polybius there had been several trade agreements between Rome and Carthage, even a mutual alliance against king Pyrrhus of Epirus. When Rome and Carthage made peace in 241 BC.Eventually, Rome annexed Corsica and Sardinia by revisiting the terms of the treaty that ended the first Punic War. As Carthage was under siege and engaged in a difficult civil war, they begrudgingly accepted the loss of these islands and the subsequent Roman conditions for ongoing peace, which also increased the war indemnity levied against Carthage after the first Punic War. This eventually plungedrelations between the two powers to a new low point. After Carthage emerged victorious from the Mercenary War there were two opposing factions: the reformist party was led by Hamilcar Barca while the other, more conservative, faction was represented by Hanno the Great and the old Carthaginian aristocracy. Hamilcar had led the initial Carthaginian peace negotiations and was blamed for the clause thatallowed the Roman popular assembly to increase the war indemnity and annex Corsica and Sardinia, but his superlative generalship was instrumental in enabling Carthage to ultimately quell the mercenary uprising, ironically fought against many of the same mercenary troops he had trained. Hamilcar ultimately left Carthage for the Iberian peninsula where he captured rich silver mines and subdued...
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