Punic Wars

Rome vs. Carthage
The First Punic War
264-241 B.C.
Carthage at its height
Why Punic War?
Carthage had
been colonized
by the
whom the
Romans called
The First
Punic War was
fought for
control of
Sicily and the
Carthage had a powerful navy.
Rome did not.
After capturing a Carthaginian ship,
the Romans quickly built a strong
Navy. During sea battles, Roman
sailors shocked the Carthaginians
when they dropped gangways with
sharp metal points on one end, called
corvi, (crows or ravens) onto the
decks of the Carthaginian ships. These
bridges held the ships together while
the Romans boarded the enemy
vessels with their superior soldiers.
The Corvus
Hamilcar Barca was a famous
leader of the Carthaginian
Important battles of the First Punic War
Mylae---260 B.C. Gaius Duilius led the
roman navy to its first great victory.
Drepana---249 B.C. Publius Claudius
ignored the omen of the sacred chickens
and lost 93 of 123 ships.
Aegates Islands---241 B.C. Lutatius
Catulus was the victorious general at this
final battle of the first conflict.
Battle of Mylae
Marcus Atilius Regulus
Regulus, a famous Roman general,
defeated the Carthaginians at the battle of
Battle of Ecnomus
His conditions for surrender were
extremely severe and harsh. In
subsequent fighting, Regulus was
captured by Carthage. Later, he was
sent to Rome to negotiate a prisoner
exchange on the condition that if he
completed the mission unsuccessfully,
he would return to Carthage for
Regulus, a man of honor, leaves Rome and
returns to Carthage to be put to death.
Hamilcar Barca had three sons:
Hamilcar so hated the Romans that he made his nine
year old son Hannibal stand before the altar of Baal
and swear eternal hatred for the Romans.
Hamilcar was slain in battle in
Spain. Hannibal later gathered his
father’s loyal troops and set out
for Italy to begin another conflict
with the Romans.
Punic War
218-201 B.C.
The Carthaginians attacked and took over the Spanish city of
Saguntum. This was the pretext Rome used for a second
war against Carthage.
The fall of Saguntum
The Roman Senate sent Fabius to
Carthage to give the
Carthaginians a chance to avert a
full scale war.
“I carry here
peace and
war; choose,
men of
which ye
Q. Fabius Maximus
After conquering Saguntum
Hannibal outmaneuvered the
Romans at the Rhone River and
prepared to cross the Alps.
Hannibal’s army crossing the Rhone River.
In order to surprise the Romans,
Hannibal decided to attempt to cross the
Alps in the middle of winter. He took
with him 37 elephants, including his
favorite, Surus.
When the path was blocked by a
landslide, Hannibal ordered his
troops to set fires under the huge
boulders and poured wine on
them to make them split in half.
Fending off the
attacks of mountain
tribesmen, Hannibal
proclaimed to his
troops when they
reached a promontory
high in the Alps:
“Now you are crossing not only the walls of Italy, but those of Rome.”
Several crushing defeats were
administered by Hannibal’s
soldiers as they poured down into
Early Punic victories included a
skirmish at the Ticinus River
(Scipio, the Greater, saved his
father’s life in this battle) and a
full-scale battle at the Trebbia
The most shocking and unexpected
Roman defeat, however, was at
Lake Trasimene, where the
Roman army was pinned between
the lake and a mountain range.
The mist rising from the water
prevented the Romans from
realizing that they were heading
into an ambush.
Hannibal’s troops massacre the Roman legionnaires
217 B.C.
News of the Roman defeat at
Lake Trasimene and the death
of the consul Flaminius caused
panic in the Forum.
216 B.C.
A year later at Cannae Hannibal administered
one of the most crushing defeats ever suffered
by a Roman army. The consular generals were
Lucius Aemilius Paulus and Gaius Terentius
Varro. Paulus was killed during the fighting
and over 50,000 legionnaires were massacred.
For the next few years after
Cannae the Romans adopted
“Fabian tactics” in dealing with
the enemy. Q. Fabius Maximus,
the “shield of Rome” successfully
pursued his unique style of
guerrilla warfare.
Fabius was even awarded the
agnomen Cunctator, the delayer.
In 207 the Romans defeated Hasdrubal,
Hannibal’s brother, at the Battle of the
Metaurus River. Hasdrubal was
decapitated and his head was rolled into
the camp of Hannibal where it stopped at
Hannibal’s feet.
Hannibal stands stupefied when the bodiless head
of Hasdrubal is thrown into his camp.
Finally P. Cornelius Scipio convinced the
Senate to send a Roman force to Carthage
and besiege the city in an effort to force
Hannibal to return to rescue his
The siege of
On the plain of Zama, in 202 B.C., Scipio claimed
the final and decisive battle of the the conflict.
entering the
gates of
Hannibal was forced
to flee to the east to
escape death. He
survived there for
several years,
directing the navy of
King Perseus.
Cornered in Bithynia
in 183, Hannibal
poisoned himself.
Scipio was given
the agnomen
Africanus to
honor his great
victory over
The Third Punic War
149 B.C---146 B.C.
Carthage returned to prosperity at such an
alarming rate that many Romans feared the city
would once again challenge Rome.
Cato the Elder
threw figs on
the floor of the
Curia, saying
that they were
picked in
Carthage only
three days
Cato ended all
his speeches
with the same
Delenda est
Finally Rome marched on Carthage in 149
B.C. and within three years the city was
completely destroyed.
The winning Roman general was
Publius Cornelius Scipio
Aemilianus Africanus Minor
Pater Hannibalis
Hamilcar Barca
Carthago erat in
Ubi Hannibal erat puer
novem annorum, patri dixit,
“Pater, Pater, duc me tecum ad
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