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First and Second Punic Wars.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Kevin Wilkinson

First and Second Punic Wars First Punic War (264-241 BCE)  Carthage o Situated on the coast of North Africa, in modern Tunisia o Was a Phoenician colony that became the leading outpost o Effectively controlled the coast of North Africa, the island of Sardinia, the western part of Sicily and the southern coast of Spain o Carried the Phoenician tradition of naval expertise - had complete dominion over the western Mediterranean Sea  Through a navy and strategic harbors that they held o Not an agricultural society, influence did not penetrate inland  Not a large population of farmers to fill ranks in their armies o Land battles made Carthage forced to recruit mercenaries to fight for them - usually from Sicily and southern Italy o Different from Rome in terms of Carthage  Phoenicians were a Semitic people, with a Semitic language known as Punic  Worshipped gods and performed religious rituals which were completely foreign  Practiced child sacrifice, and burned babies alive  Capture of Messana and seige of Syracuse (264-261) o Messana separated the Italian peninsula and Sicily - was a shipping trade port o Carthage had taken over Messana, and locals appeared for Rome to step in o In 264, Rome entered Messana - voted in the Centuriate assembly for war with Carthage  Captured in 262, and justified that this was a defensive act o Rome motivated by money and/or sheer expansionism o After the couture, Romans moved south and briefly laid seige to Syracuse  One of the oldest and most powerful Greek colony  Syracuse had recently had an alliance with Carthage  Syracuse quickly surrendered and signed a treaty with Rome  Agreed to provide supplies for roman army in Sicily o Rome started a long process of trying to push Carthage west, ultimately off the island of Sicily o Rome had a superior land army, but Carthage had a superior navy  Rome builds a navy and the Corvus; stalemate (261-256) o Captured Carthaginian ships, wound them and then would fight on land or the ship o Would use a Corvus to crash into the deck of the Carthaginian ship and connect their ships to Carthage -- would fight on the ship  Corvus = plank with spike in the ends o While Rome tried to match carthage's navy, a stalemate lasted forms number of years  Rome invades North Africa; catastrophe (256-255) o Both consuls sent to North Africa to win the war o Naval victory off the coast of Sicily o Some land success, but not able to press home their advantage o As winter approached, two consuls decided to split forces  One would return home to Rome with the majority of the troops  Other consul remained behind with 40 ships and 20K men o In 255 the force that remained in North Africa under Regulus were mostly killed. Others were taken captives by Carthage. Only about 3000 of the survivors were rescued by roman reinforcements o Storm on the way back to Italy killed about 50K men  Stalemate, victory, and truce (255-241) o After losing a large part of their navy (146K), rather than giving up, Rome rebuilt more ships (255) o Regulus was commissioned by the Carthaginians to negotiate a prisoner exchange with Rome with the promise that he would return to Carthage after speaking with the senate  Regulus persuaded the senate to argue against it  Logic: Carthaginians would have a harder time finding troops without their prisoners  Returned to Carthage, knowing that he would be executed  New image of a honorable roman man that would put their lives at risk for the sake of Rome  Occurred during 250 BCE o Fighting around Sicily would continue until 242 until Rome won a series of decisive land and naval battles o In 241, Rome was able to rid Sicily of the Carthaginians o Rome then proposed a truth, and Carthage was required to pay a penalty The Interwar Period (241-218 BCE) o Both Rome and Carthage had spent a lot of money during the first Punic war, and they both had lost a lot of man power o Carthage was in worse shape - navy was decimated  Did not have resources to rebuild it not recover their naval superiority status  Could no longer afford to gather foreign troops  Could no longer afford to pay the mercenaries they were still employing o Carthage became involved in fighting the revolts against their mercenaries o Rome took advantaged by seizing Corsica and Sardinia o Carthage devised a new strategy  Decided to take a military expedition in the Iberian peninsula  Carthage committed Hamicar to lead a significant military expedition in Spain to gain natural resources (metal) and man power o From 237-218, Carthage had success in Spain up until Hannibal o Rome meanwhile was keeping a suspicious eye on Carthage o In 218, Rome decided to intervene after Hannibal captured a city (Saguntum) that was under Rome's protection  Declared this act was a violation of the truce and demanded that Carthage turn over Hannibal Second Punic War (218-202 BCE)  Han
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