The Punic Wars

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In the ancient Mediterranean world, Rome and Carthage were two of the most powerful societies. Carthage, a city-state founded in the 8th century by the Phoenecians, was located in the western Mediterranean, and had one of the best armies and navies in the ancient world. Originally part of Phoenecia, Carthage became independent after the defeat of the Phoenecians by the Assyrians in the 7th century B.C. Rome, on the other hand, according to popular myth, was founded by Romulus on the Italian peninsula in 753 B.C. Contrary to the Carthaginians, the Romans had “a talent for patient political reasonableness that was unique in the ancient world.” From 264-146 B.C., these two powers raged on in a series of wars, named “the Punic Wars” for the Latin word punicus, meaning “Phoenecian.” Even with the outcomes of the Punic Wars being what they were, their effects on Rome were both positive and negative, ultimately leading to the fall of the Roman Republic. In 264 B.C., Rome became involved in what later became the Punic Wars. The Greek Colony of Messina (sometimes known as Messana) requested help from Rome when King Hiero from Syracuse invaded. Though this first war just begun as a skirmish between Messina and other Carthaginians, once Rome had expelled Hiero it escalated into a full-blown battle, with Rome capturing Messina and adding it to its ever-expanding republic. From 262-261 B.C., Rome continued to press on through Sicily, capturing Agrigentum after a long siege. This battle of Agrigentum was a big turning point, as it was the first major military battle in these wars. Throughout this first Punic War, Rome realized what a disadvantage it was at by not having a suitable navy to match that of Carthage. As a result of this, in 260 B.C. the Roman senate made the big decision to build a fleet. At the end of the war in 241 B.C., Rome made Carthage sign a treaty promising that Carthage would give up Sicily and that it would pay for Rome’s war...
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