History Essay on Roman-Carthaginian Conflict

Published: 2021-07-02
602 words
3 pages
6 min to read
Boston College
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As a senator in the Carthaginian senate just after the capture of Sagu by Hannibal, I would suggest that Carthage should go to war with Rome. The two city states had been on loggerheads for a long time, and this was the ideal opportunity to end the conflict once and for all. Prior to 260 BC, Carthage evolved from a tiny port-of-call to become the wealthiest and most powerful city within the Mediterranean region. It had accumulated a significant amount of riches through trade, tariffs, and tributes. The city also had a mercenary army and a powerful navy. Carthage signed a treaty with Rome, a smaller city, which prevented the Romans from carrying out trading activities in the western Mediterranean. Since Rome did not have a navy, Carthage could easily enforce the treaty. Any Romans found in Carthaginian waters had their ships confiscated and then drowned.

For as long as Rome maintained its small city of trade status on the Tiber River, it would always be inferior to Carthage. However, the island of Sicily would turn out to be the snapping point for the simmering Roman hatred of the Carthaginians. A part of Sicily was under Carthaginian control while another was governed by the Romans. Heiro II of Syracuse was preparing to fight with the Mamertines of Messina, the latter sought help from both Carthage and Rome. Since the Carthaginians had already agreed to offer assistance, they were not happy to hear that the Mamertines had also sought help from Rome. This spurred them to change sides and support Hiero II. The situation paved way for Carthage and Rome declaring war in one another over Sicilys control.

Rome did not have a navy, and were more used to participating in land battles. They could not match the Carthaginians expertise at sea, who were led by a Navy commander called Hamilcar Barca. The struck up and down the Italian coast without warning, cutting Roman supply lines and destroying their outposts. Carthage could probably have won the war had its government given Hamilcar better supplies and reinforcement. Rather, they choose to hoard their wealth while entrusting Hamilcar and the mercenaries under his command to handle the war. Although he managed to defeat the Romans in 249 BC at Drepana, he had to withdraw because of insufficient supplies and manpower. By then, the Romans has gained more experience in sea battles, and much better equipped. Hence, they were able to manage several decisive victories over Carthage, spurring the Carthaginians to sue for peace in 241 BC.

Carthage could blame itself for the loss due to their underestimation of the enemy. The city largely ignored the war, tasking the responsibility of fighting to Hamilcar and his men. In the meantime, Rome was training more soldiers while also constructing and equipping more warships. Despite not having a navy prior to the First Punic War, by 241 BC Rome had emerged as a master of the sea, meaning that Carthage was no longer a dominant force. Also, Carthages government has defaulted paying its mercenaries on several occasions, leading to some dissent. This situation triggered the Mercenary War of between 214 and 237 BC. While the Carthaginians were engaged in the conflict, the Romans were invading Carthages colonies of Corsica and Sardinia. Although the Carthaginians were not happy with this occupation, there was not much they could do about it. They instead directed their efforts to conquering Spain. In 226 BC, Rome and Carthage signed the Ebro Treaty. The Romans would control the Spanish territory located north of River Ebro while the Carthaginians would hold onto the places they had already conquered on the rivers south.

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