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Punic Wars

A name given to the three wars fought between the Romans and the Carthaginians (Poeni).

The First Punic War (B.C. 264-241) began when the Romans allied themselves with the Mamertini (q.v.) of Messana, a people of Italian stock, who had appealed to Rome against the Syracusans under Hiero; and a little later against a Carthaginian force that had gained possession of the citadel of Messana. The Romans prevailed against Hiero, who made peace with them so that they could turn their whole attention to the Carthaginian armies. The principal events of this war are the siege and capture of Agrigentum by the Romans (B.C. 262), the defeat of the Roman naval force at Lipara (B.C. 260), the great naval victory of C. Duilius over the Carthaginians near Mylae (see Columna Rostrata; Duilius); the still greater success of the Romans off Ecnomus (B.C. 256); the Roman invasion of Africa by Regulus, and his defeat and capture (B.C. 255); the Roman victory of L. Metellus at Panormus in Sicily (B.C. 250); the Roman naval defeat at Drepanum (B.C. 249); the decisive Roman victory off the Aegetes Islands (B.C. 242) when Catulus defeated Hanno ; and the final treaty made by Hamilcar (B.C. 241) whereby the Romans secured Sicily and an indemnity of 3200 talents. See Carthago; Hamilcar; Regulus; Sicilia.

The Second Punic War (B.C. 218-201) began when Hannibal attacked the Spanish city of Saguntum, then in alliance with Rome (B.C. 219). The chief events were the invasion of Italy by Hannibal, the counter-invasion of Spain by Cn. Scipio, the Roman defeats on the Trebia and the Ticinus, near Lake Trasimenus (B.C. 217) and at Cannae (B.C. 216), the revolt of the Samnites, Apulians, Lucanians, and Bruttians to Hannibal, the war in Sicily ending in the capture of Syracuse by the Romans (B.C. 212), the war in Spain (Hasdrubal against the Scipios), the recovery of Tarentum by Fabius Maximus (B.C. 209), the defeat of Hasdrubal on the Metaurus by the Roman consul Nero, the expulsion of the Carthaginians from Spain by P. Scipio (B.C. 210-207) and his invasion of Africa, the recall of Hannibal to Carthage (B.C. 203), his final defeat by Scipio at Zama (B.C. 202), and the submission of Carthage (B.C. 201). See Fabius; Hannibal; Hasdrubal; Scipio.

The Third Punic War (B.C. 149-146) began with the demand of the Romans for the destruction of the city of Carthage, a measure long advocated by Cato the Elder. (See Cato.) Although the Carthaginians had already surrendered all their arms to Rome, they resolved to perish rather than submit to the annihilation of their ancient and beautiful city. They slew all the resident Italians, manufactured new arms and military equipments, collected great stores of provisions, and even the women are said to have cut off their hair for use as strings for the catapults. The first attacks of the Roman soldiery were repulsed with great slaughter, and only the genius of the younger Scipio, who was present as a military tribune, saved the attacking army from total destruction. In B.C. 147, Scipio, though under the legal age, was unanimously elected consul, and at once took command of the forces operating against Carthage. He landed in Africa in the same year, restored both discipline and confidence to the demoralized troops, and, though his fleet of fifty ships was destroyed in a three days' naval engagement, he succeeded in carrying the city by storm after a desperate and bloody resistance which lasted nearly a week. Carthage was razed to the ground, and its territory divided between Utica and the new Roman province of Africa. See Neumann, Geschichte Roms im Zeitalter der punischen Kriege (Breslau, 1883) and the articles Carthago; Scipio.

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