Rome vs. Carthage: The Punic Wars

The Punic Wars were a series of three wars that Rome fought with the city of Carthage in North Africa between 264 B.C. and 149 B.C. Carthage was originally a colony of the ancient civilization of the Phoenicians. Defeating the Carthaginians meant that Rome was well on its way toward creating a vast Mediterranean empire.

Hannibal crosses the Alps with a force of elephants during the Second Punic War
The First Punic War
Roman Commander: Marcus Atilius Regulus
Carthaginian Commander: General Hamilcar
Why did the War Start? Romans and Carthaginians fought for control of the strategic island of Sicily
What Were the Results of the War? Rome wins in 241 B.C.E. and takes possession of Sicily

The Second Punic War
Roman Commander: Scipio Africanus
Carthaginian Commander: Hannibal
Why did the War Start? Carthage attacked a Roman town in Spain called Saguntum
What Were the Results of the War? Rome completely defeated Carthage taking all of its territory, ships, and money

The Third Punic War
Roman Commander: Scipio Aemilianus
Carthaginian Commander: Hasdrubal
Why did the War Start? In 149 B.C.E. the Carthaginians rebel against the Romans
What Were the Results of the War? Rome puts down the Carthaginian rebellion and destroys Carthage, selling the people into slavery and pouring salt into the farmland

Over this period of time, the Romans begin to conquer vast amounts of land across the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, civil war and other trouble was brewing at home in the city of Rome...

What were five reasons that the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean went well?
1. Romans are highly motivated because they are fighting for love of the REPUBLIC
2. Rome makes conquered countries into new allies
3. Rome’s army is the most powerful in the world (highly professional and paid)
4. Romans valued military success and that leads to powerful political roles (like Julius Caesar)
5. The wealth of conquered lands flows into Rome

What were five major domestic problems of the Romans during that time?
1. Food shortage because Carthaginians destroyed farmland during Punic Wars
2. Farmers are forced off their land and their jobs are taken by slaves
3. Farmers move into the cities but even THERE slaves take their jobs
4. In the city of Rome, there is MASSIVE unemployment, overcrowding and all the ingredients for trouble
5. Civil unrest (slave rebellion, farmers rise up) leads to political unrest, brings dictatorship like Julius Caesar

Territory during the First Punic War
Check out these (goofy) video clips about the Punic Wars as an an overview of the basic facts about the events of the wars and their outcomes.

For a more graphic novel type narration focusing on the Carthaginian general Hannibal, check out this video from the History Channel called "Hannibal the Annihilator." Keep in mind, it's a mix of history and entertainment.

For a good look at the glory of Carthage before the Romans destroyed the city, check out the Engineering an Empire episode about the Phoenician colony that almost conquered Rome:


  1. This helped me so much for a World History project, thank you for summing up paragraphs of information into 5 statements.


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