Course: Introduction to Roman History Instructor: Michel Cottier
5. The First Punic War and its consequences
Cf. CHAPTER VII.
SOURCES TO READ:
a. Nos. 163 on pp. 125-6 = Cicero, An Essay about Duties 1.42; 2.25, and 170 on pp. 134-5 = CIL 10.874 and 875 (p.
134-5), compare these two texts (Roman attitudes towards profit).
b. Nos. 173-174 on pp. 136-7 = FIRA 3, p. 393 and 481 (on moneylending); although these two inscriptions date to
the imperial period they reflect a situation which was already present in Republican time, see No. 176 on p. 139 =
Plutarch, The Life of Marcus Cato 21.1, 3, 5-7 (Cato's financial activities).
c. Nos. 178-182 on pp. 141-4 = ROL 4, pp. 274-278 / Livy, A History of Rome 23.48.4-6, 10-12; 23.49.1-3 / Livy, A
History of Rome 25.3.9-13 / P.Lond. 904, ll. 18-38 / New Testament, Luke 2.1-5 (on state contracts and 'publicani'
[sg. 'publicanus' / 'private contractors, tax farmers']).
PLACE NAMES AND OTHER GEOGRAPHICAL DETAILS TO BE ABLE TO LOCALIZE ON A MAP (use the
one on p. 89 = IMAGE 1):
Agrigentum, Rhegium and Messana (Greek cities) - Lilybaeum and Drepana (Carthaginian cities); islands of Melita
(modern Malta), Sardinia and Corsica; Gades and New Carthage (Carthaginian cities); Ebro river (Spain); Ariminum
(city of northern Italy).
DATES TO REMEMBER:
264-241: First Punic War
241-238: The 'Truceless War' of Carthage against her revolted mercenaries. The Romans added Sardinia and Corsica
to their dominion (in 238 and 236 respectively).
225-220: Gallic Wars and conquest of northern Italy.
229-228 and 220-219 BC: Illyrian Wars.
POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND:
- Polybius of Megalopolis: c. 200-c. 118 BC.
- Carthage (a colony of Tyre): a maritime power controlling the western part of the Mediterranean Sea.
Unlike the Romans the Carthaginians did not try to integrate the people they had conquered but instead turned them
into tribute-paying subjects => revolts among their subjects would always be a major problem.
- Sardinia and Spain = the richest mining resources of the western Mediterranean basin (lead, zinc, copper, tin, iron
- Large-scale use of slave labor on agricultural estates and plantations: a Carthaginian technique, later adopted by the
- Carthaginian government: roughly similar to the Roman one where a powerful oligarchy of wealthy commercial and
landowning families dominated the political life.
- Carthaginian army was composed of: a) a navy manned by citizens; b) an infantry composed of conscripted subjects
and hired mercenaries => can't count on the loyalty of the latter; and c) a cavalry provided by Carthaginian allies =>
same problem as with b).
- Causes of the First Punic War:
1. Roman control and alliance with the Greek cities of southern Italy meant that, as a patron, she had an interest in
their commercial ventures as well, i.e. to preserve the monopoly of trade over the eastern part of Sicily (at least). 2. Pyrrhus had proved that Sicily could be used as a base to invade Italy. The Carthaginians might do the same.
3. Desire for military glory among ambitious aristocrats - desire for booty among the citizens.
4. Sicily could offer its wheat to supply the growing population of Rome.
Principal events of the War: