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The Punic Wars

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History 2173
Barbara Murison

Nov, 15, 2012 The Punic Wars The Roman Army in Action – 264-146 BC: -Important period and the final destruction of Carthage did happen by the end of the war and their culture was almost totally wiped out and the first and second wars were fought on a massive scale not seen until modern times -Rome rose from being a purely Italian power into a position of domination throughout the Mediterranean and they were well on their way to creating their huge empire but Roman imperialism predates these wars because by 264 BC they already absorbed the whole of the Italian peninsula but it did escalate as they fought with Carthage -From 275-201 BC is the most crucial era in their history Carthage: -Had been founded by the Phoenicians around 750 BC around the same time as the foundation of Rome and their ships had wandered the area since late Mycenaean period and they had prospered and founded many colonies -Carthage was the most important Phoenician bases and it had safe harbours and it was strongly fortified and around it there was rich farm land and there were many forests around and this helped them in building their ships -Phoenicia was first absorbed by the Assyrians then into the Babylonian Empire and later still into the Persian Empire and once this happened Carthage became the leader of the colonies and the nature of their imperial power was different from Rome’s power over their states and how they eased up on their allies and they ruled with an iron fist and one argument is that they were aiding in their own destruction because their harshness led to revolts -To police their empire and to enable them to trade it was vital that they made use of the forests to build their navy and we think it was manned by the poorest people and by the time of the first war it had been the leading naval power for so long their navy was out of date (hadn’t had a challenge for a while) -It couldn’t compete with Rome in terms of man power and the lack of citizen manpower ensured that their armies were largely recruited from foreign soldiers like the Libyan soldiers who had a good close formation infantry and they were equipped with spears, oval shields, helmets, and linen armour and their cavalry were armed with thrusting spears and were trained to use shock charges -The colonies from Africa had light cavalry as well as Spain (also had heavy cavalry in Spain) and there were many Gauls recruited and they were easy to recruit because they wanted to fight and the unifying force for each army was the commander and difficulty lay with unifying the diverse groups who spoke different languages -It was easy to raise a big army and the quality was quite good but it took time to unify them and train them together and this meant that the generals in charge didn’t want to risk anything huge because they would have to start all over again if they lost but Rome could have huge quantities of men at their disposal at all times and the loss of one army didn’t matter much and this was an advantage they held over the Carthaginians because they were able to take more risks (Hannibal not tentative though) st 1 Punic War – 264-241 BC: -Brought Rome into mainstream international affairs in the Mediterranean and it gave them its first overseas promise and marks the beginning of their empire in the territorial sense and up to this time Carthage and Rome had had reasonable relationships fought king Pyrrus together for a time but bickering soon started again -The immediate cause of the war came from Sicily which was occupied partly by Carthage at the city of Messana when they asked the Carthaginians for help against the king of Syracuse but some feared asking them in and were scared they would occupy them so some decided they would appeal to Rome as well and this was tempting for Rome but the senate was worried because they didn’t have a navy -The appeal was made to the people of Rome as well and they wanted war so the alliance was made and the war began against Carthage and it was the first time that they had campaigned outside of the Peninsula -Many reasons had contributed to Rome going to war and writings give us good sources and some Romans felt a commitment to help their Greek allies in the south and there was a fear of strong neighbours like Carthage moving in and they were quite paranoid that they were there (holding Sicily was an advantage and they didn’t like this) -Another reasons they went was because they wanted military glory in the aristocratic class and you could gain a great reputation this was and it was the only way to be taken seriously politically -Also the first war was advertised to the Romans as a profitable thing and this attracted the people because they could get slaves (sometimes too 25,000 slaves like at Acragas) and plunder cities Nov, 15, 2012 -Carthage had to get their fleet ready and the danger for the Romans was that the naval battles would not be delayed much because they had to build a fleet of war galleys -Quincarimes were slower than triremes but they were more stable and required less skilled oarsmen and the Romans were lucky because a Carthaginian ship was abandoned and they copied the design -The Romans invested in the Corvus (crow) which was a hinged apparatus which could be lowered and a grappling beak would hook onto the other ships and then you could cross and this was effective for a while -Won battle in 258 BC and the Carthaginians were unhappy and crucified generals who didn’t win -The Romans wanted to in 256 BC to invade Africa and put the war down quickly but they were taken prisoner and the tide turned against them and their ships were sunk regularly and eventually the Corvus caused their ships to blow over in bad weather because the ships were top heavy -After 255 Sicily’s shores were the sole area of operations and the Romans were making headway but there was a disaster in 249 BC Battle of Drepanum (P. Claudius Pulcher) – 249 BC -One of the elected consuls was Pulcher and he was blockading one of the remaining strong holds in Sicily of the Carthaginians and he was heavily defeated but he was incompetent and had a reputation as arrogant and there is a story that before this battle you had to do rituals with animals to see if battle would go well and he ignored bad signs and he killed sacred chickens when he didn’t get the results he wanted (this is blamed for his defeat) -Carthage had faster ships, better crews, and the Roman vessels were driven into the shallows and were grounded Hamilcar Barca: -He is the most famous Carthaginian general of the first war and many believe he was the greatest of either side through the whole war and he was sent to Sicily and his name meant “lighting moves” -The Carthaginian government was not totally behind their forces and a land owning faction had come to power and they were not interested in the trade they were doing so no decisive blow was dealt to Rome -In 243 Rome rebuilt their fleet but it was too expensive so most money came from wealthy citizens in the form of loans and if Rome won they would pay them back with no interest and 200 ships were made (again copied) -Rome won the naval battle and the terms they laid forth were light and Carthage had to leave the area, pay a debt, and give back captives and Rome now possessed Sicily and Carthage had failed to take advantage of their great fleet and they let it decline so their approach was less aggressive than Rome’s Interwar Years: -Carthage had a mercenary revolt so during the confusion Rome seized Corsica and Sardinia Illyrian Wars – 220’s: -Rome was involved in the Balkans to the north and they had minor wars in Illyria and in the first war they seized some of their islands and the second war arose because a leader who was a perceived ally escaped and he went to see Philip V of Macedon and poisoned him against the Romans -This began internal problems in Rome and small farmers were angry because all the campaigns they were being called for meant they were neglecting their crops and going into debt and the population was growing fast and people were hungry and Gaius Flaminius led the people and was assigned magistrate and tribune in 232 BC -He got a law passed that allowed the Roman farmers to go into the Gaul’s occupied territory and farm there but the Gauls were very upset about their territory being invaded and used and in 225 they revolted and came down from the north where they met and destroyed two consular armies -While Flaminius was consul in 220 a road was built connecting Rome to Placenta in the north and peace with the Gauls was achieved but it did not last long and Carthage had recovered largely because of Hamilcar Barca and he wanted to reclaim Spain and this was a success but he died and his son Hasdrubal formed New Carthage and this was a good base because there were lots of silver mines and this meant big money at their disposal -Their activity in Spain helped exercise the army and they were well practiced but Rome knew Massilia was threatened and in 226 BC a compact was made with that the Ebro R
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