Battle of Carthage (c. 149 BC)
The Battle of Carthage was the main engagement of the Third Punic War between the Punic city of Carthage in Africa and the Roman Republic. It was a siege operation, starting sometime in 149 or 148 BC, ending in spring 146 BC with the sack and complete destruction of the city of Carthage. After the Second Punic War, Carthage had grown wealthy because of its trade, because it no longer had to maintain a mercenary army, one of the stipulations of the peace signed with the Romans after the last war. Growing Carthaginian anger with the Romans, who refused to lend help when the Numidians began annexing Carthaginian land, led them to declare war. Hasdrubal the Boetharch was appointed general of the army. After a Roman army under Manius Manilius landed in Africa in 149 BC, Carthage surrendered, handed over its hostages and arms, arrested Hasdrubal; the Romans demanded the complete surrender of the city. When asked what they planned on doing to the city, the Roman general told the diplomats that the city would be destroyed and its inhabitants would be relocated 50 miles inland.
To the Romans, the city refused to surrender, the faction which advocated surrender was overruled by one vote in favor of defense. The Carthaginians defied the Romans, a situation which lasted two years. During this period, the 500,000 Carthaginians behind the wall transformed the city into a huge arsenal, they produced a daily supply of about 300 swords, 500 spears, 140 shields, over 1,000 projectiles for catapults. The Romans elected the young and popular Scipio Aemilianus as consul, after a special law was passed in order to lift the age restriction. Scipio restored discipline, defeated the Carthaginians at Nepheris and besieged the city constructing a mole to block the harbour. In the spring of 146 BC, Scipio and the Roman troops seized the Cothon wall of Carthage, they battled their way through the double city harbors, made possible by the fact that Hasdrubal had assumed that the Roman attack would come from another direction. When day broke, 4,000 fresh Roman troops led by Scipio attacked the Byrsa, the strongest part of the city.
Three streets lined with six story houses led to the Byrsa fortress and the Carthaginians and Romans fought each other from the rooftops of the buildings as well as in the streets. The Romans used captured buildings to capture other buildings. Scipio ordered the houses to be burned. Scipio captured the Byrsa and set fire to the buildings, which caused more destruction and deaths; the fighting continued for nights, until the Carthaginians surrendered. An estimated 50,000 surviving inhabitants were sold into slavery and the city was levelled; the land surrounding Carthage was declared ager publicus and shared between local farmers and Roman and Italian colonists. During the battle, 900 survivors, most of them Roman deserters, had found refuge in the temple of Eshmun, in the citadel of Byrsa, although it was burning, they tried to negotiate a surrender but Scipio Aemilianus declared that forgiveness was impossible either for Hasdrubal, the general who defended the city or the defectors. Hasdrubal left the Citadel to pray for mercy.
At that moment Hasdrubal's wife went out with her two children, insulted her husband, sacrificed her sons and jumped with them into a fire that the deserters had started. The deserters hurled themselves into the flames, upon, he recited a sentence from Homer's Iliad, a prophecy about the destruction of Troy, that could be applied to Carthage. Scipio declared. In the words of Polybius: Scipio, when he looked upon the city as it was utterly perishing and in the last throes of its complete destruction, is said to have shed tears and wept for his enemies. After being wrapped in thought for long, realizing that all cities and authorities must, like men, meet their doom. Polybius heard him and recalls it in his history. Since the 19th Century, various historians have claimed that the Romans ploughed over the city and sowed salt into the soil after destroying it but this is not supported by ancient sources. Certain scholars, including Professor of History Ben Kiernan, allege that the total destruction of Carthage by the Romans may have been history's first genocide.
Duncan B. Campbell, "Besieged: siege warfare in the ancient world", Osprey Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-84603-019-6, pages 113–114 Goldworthy, The Fall of Carthage London: Phoenix. ISBN 9780304366422
Appian of Alexandria was a Greek historian with Roman citizenship who flourished during the reigns of Emperors of Rome Trajan and Antoninus Pius. He was born c. 95 in Alexandria. After holding the chief offices in the province of Aegyptus, he went to Rome c. 120, where he practised as an advocate, pleading cases before the emperors. It was in 147 at the earliest that he was appointed to the office of procurator in Egypt, on the recommendation of his friend Marcus Cornelius Fronto, a well-known litterateur; because the position of procurator was open only to members of the equestrian order, his possession of this office tells us about Appian's family background. His principal surviving work was written in Greek in 24 books, before 165; this work more resembles a series of monographs than a connected history. It gives an account of various peoples and countries from the earliest times down to their incorporation into the Roman Empire, survives in complete books and considerable fragments; the work is valuable for the period of the civil wars.
The Civil Wars, five of the books in the corpus, concern the end of the Roman Republic and take a conflict-based view and approach history. Despite the apparent lack of sources for his works, his books 13–17 of the Roman History are the only comprehensive description of these nine momentous centuries of the Roman Empire. Little is known of the life of Appian of Alexandria, he wrote an autobiography, completely lost. Information about Appian is distilled from his own writings and a letter by his friend Cornelius Fronto. However, it is certain that Appian was born around the year AD 95 in Alexandria, the capital of Roman Egypt. Since his parents were Roman citizens capable of paying for their son's education, it can be inferred that Appian belonged to the wealthy upper classes, it is believed. In the introduction to his Roman History, he boasts "that he pleaded cases in Rome before the emperors." The emperors he claims to have addressed must have been either Hadrian or Marcus Aurelius and Antoninus Pius, for Appian remained in Egypt at least until the end of the reign of Trajan.
In the letter of Cornelius Fronto, it is revealed that a request on behalf of Appian to receive the rank of procurator occurred during the co-regency of Marcus Aurelius and his brother Lucius Verus between 147 and 161. Although Appian won this office, it is unclear whether it was an honorific title; the only other certain biographical datum is that Appian's Roman History appeared sometime before 162. This is one of the few primary historical sources for the period. Appian began writing his history around the middle of the second century AD. Only sections from half of the original 24 books survive today; the most important remnants of Appian's work are the five books on the Civil Wars—books 13–17 of the Roman History. These five books stand out because they are the only comprehensive, meticulous source available on an significant historical period, during which Roman politics were in turmoil because of factional strife. Notable is this work's ethnographic structure. Appian most used this structure to facilitate his readers' orientation through the sequence of events, which are united only by their relationship to Rome.
A literary example of this can be found from Appian's Civil Wars. It states, "And now civil discord broke out again worse than and increased enormously…so in the course of events in the Roman empire was partitioned…by these three men: Antony and the one, first called Octavius…shortly after this division they fell to quarrelling among themselves…Octavius…first deprived Lepidus of Africa…and afterward, as the result of the battle of Actium, took from Antony all the provinces lying between Syria and the Adriatic gulf." One might expect that a historical work covering nine centuries and countless different peoples would involve a multitude of testimonials from different periods. However, Appian's sources remain uncertain, as he only mentions the source of his information under special circumstances, he may have relied on one author for each book, whom he did not follow uncritically, since Appian used additional sources for precision and correction. At our present state of knowledge questions regarding Appian’s sources cannot be resolved.
Appiani Alexandrini Historia Publio Candido interprete Ac praeterea Anonymi Compendium historiae ab excessu Constantini usque ad Ioannem XXIII. World Digital Library. Retrieved 2014-02-28. Editio princeps, 1551 Schweighäuser, 1785 Bekker, 1852 Ludwig Mendelssohn, 1878–1905, Appiani Historia Romana, Bibliotheca Teubneriana Paul Goukowsky, 1997–, Appien. Histoire romaine, Collection Budé. Carsana, Chiara. Commento storico al libro II delle Guerre Civili di Appiano. Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2007. 309 pp.. English translationsW. B. 1578 – William Barker – used by Shakespeare J. D, 1679 Horace White, 1899. Books XIII–XVII, trans. John Carter, Harmondsworth, 1996 William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, Vol. 1, pp. 247–248 Works written by or about Appian at Wikisource Appian's Foreign Wars at Livius.org Appian's Civil Wars at La
Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus known as Scipio Aemilianus, or Scipio Africanus Minor, or Scipio Africanus the Younger, was an important politician and general of the Roman Republic, who served as consul twice, in 147 and 134 BC. He was the natural son of Aemilius Paullus, but was adopted into the Cornelii Scipiones—the most prominent family at the time—by a son of Scipio Africanus. In 147 BC, he besieged and destroyed Carthage. In 134 BC he took over the Numantine War, restored the discipline of the Roman army, defeated Numantia, he was a prominent patron of writers and philosophers, the most famous of whom was the Greek historian Polybius. Scipio Aemilianus was the second son of Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus, the commander of the Romans' victorious campaign in the Third Macedonian War, his first wife, Papiria Masonis. Scipio was adopted by his first cousin, Publius Cornelius Scipio, the eldest son of his aunt Aemilia Tertia and her husband Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the acclaimed commander who won the decisive battle of the Second Punic War against Hannibal.
This made Scipio Africanus the adoptive grandfather of Scipio Aemilianus. On adoption, he became Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, assuming the name of his adoptive father, but keeping Aemilianus as a fourth name to indicate his original nomen, his elder brother was adopted by a son or grandson of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, another prominent commander in the Second Punic War, whose name became Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus. Lucius Aemilius Paullus took his two older sons with him in his campaign in Greece. Plutarch wrote that Scipio was his favorite son because he "saw that he was by nature more prone to excellence than any of his brothers", he related that during mopping-up operations after the Battle of Pydna, Aemilius was worried because his younger son was missing. Plutarch wrote that "The whole army learned of the distress and anguish of their general, springing up from their suppers, ran about with torches, many to the tent of Aemilius, many in front of the ramparts, searching among the numerous dead bodies.
Dejection reigned in the camp, the plain was filled with the cries of men calling out the name of Scipio. For from the outset he had been admired by everybody, beyond any other one of his family, he had a nature adapted for leadership in war and public service. Well when it was late and he was despaired of, he came in from the pursuit with two or three comrades, covered with the blood of the enemies he had slain..." Scipio Aemilianus was seventeen at the time. In 152 BC, the consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus urged the Senate to conclude a peace with the Celtiberians; the Senate rejected this proposal, instead sent one of the consuls of 151 BC, Lucius Licinius Lucullus, to Hispania to continue the war. However, there was a crisis of recruitment due to rumors of incessant battles and heavy Roman losses. Additionally, Marcellus appeared to be afraid of continuing the war. Young men avoided enrollment as soldiers through unverifiable excuses. Men eligible to be legates or military tribunes did not volunteer.
Scipio Aemilianus was thought to have advised for the prosecution of the war. He asked the Senate to be sent to Hispania either as a military tribune or a legate, due to the urgency of the situation though it would have been safer to go to Macedon, where he had been invited to settle domestic disputes; the Senate was at first surprised. Scipio's decision made him popular, many of those, avoiding their duty, ashamed by Scipio's example, began to volunteer as legates or to enroll as soldiers. Scipio served under Lucullus. Velleius Paterculus wrote that Scipio was awarded a mural crown, a military decoration awarded to the soldier who first climbed the wall of a besieged city or fortress and placed the military standard on it. Florus wrote that "having been challenged by king to a single combat, carried off the spolia opima, the armor and arms stripped from the body of an opposing commander slain in single combat; these were regarded as the most honorable of all war trophies." Although the power of Carthage had been broken with her defeat in the Second Punic War, there was still lingering resentment in Rome.
Cato the Elder ended every speech with, "Carthage must be destroyed." In 150 BC an appeal was made to Scipio Aemilianus by the Carthaginians to act as a mediator between them and the Numidian prince Massinissa who, supported by the anti-Carthaginian faction in Rome, was incessantly encroaching on Carthaginian territory. In 149 BC Rome declared war, a force sent to Africa, Carthage's homeland. In the early stages of the war, the Romans suffered repeated defeats. Scipio Aemilianus distinguished himself repeatedly. In 147 BC he was elected consul, while still under the minimum age required by law to hold this office. Without the customary procedure of drawing lots, he was assigned to the African theater of war. After a year of desperate fighting and stubborn heroism on the part of the defenders, he took the city of Carthage, taking prisoner about 50,000 survivors. Complying with the mandate of the Senate, he ordered the city evacuated, burnt it, razed it to the ground and plowed it over, ending the Third Punic War.
On his return to Rome he received a Triumph, having established a personal claim to his adoptive agnomen of Africanus. In 134 BC Scipio was elected consul again because the citizens thought that he was the only man capable of defeating the Numantines in the
Battle of the Aegates
The Battle of the Aegates was fought off the Aegadian Islands, off the western coast of the island of Sicily on 10 March 241 BC. It was the final naval battle fought between the fleets of Carthage and the Roman Republic during the First Punic War; the better-trained Roman fleet defeated a hastily raised and ill-trained Punic fleet, a decisive Roman victory as Carthage sued for peace, resulting in the Peace of Lutatius leading to Carthage surrendering Sicily and some adjoining islands to Rome. The Carthaginians had gained command of the sea after their victory in the Battle of Drepanum and the Battle of Phintias in 249 BC, but they held only two cities in Sicily: Lilybaeum and Drepanum; the Carthaginian state was led by the landed aristocracy at the time, they preferred to expand across northern Africa instead of pursuing an aggressive policy in Sicily. Hanno "The Great" has been in charge of operations in Africa since 248 BC and had conquered considerable territory by 241 BC; the Carthaginian leadership thought Rome had been defeated and invested little manpower in Sicily.
Carthage at this time was feeling the logistical strain of the prolonged conflict. In addition to maintaining a fleet and soldiers in Sicily, they were fighting the Libyans and Numidians in northern Africa; as a result, Hamilcar Barca was given a small army when he took command in Sicily in 248 BC, the Carthaginian fleet was withdrawn so that, by 242 BC, Carthage had no ships to speak of in Sicily. Carthage was feeling the financial strain of the war, which had led Carthage to request a 2000 talent loan from Egypt, refused. Rome had rebuilt her fleets after losing up to 600 ships in a storm in 255 BC and another 150 ships in 253 BC; the Drepana defeat and loss of the fleet so demoralized the Romans that they waited seven years before building another fleet. The absence of Roman ships caused Carthage, thinking the Romans would not venture into the sea again, to decommission her navy, sparing the financially strained state the expense of building and repairing ships, plus training and provisioning the crews.
The years preceding the battle were quiet. Hostilities between Roman and Carthaginian forces stalled, becoming concentrated in small-scale land operations in Sicily. Hamilcar's strategic goal was to maintain a stalemate, as he had neither the resources to win the war nor the authority to peacefully settle it. Hamilcar was in command of a mercenary army composed of multiple nationalities and his ability to lead this force demonstrated his skill as a field commander, he employed combined arms tactics, as Alexander and Pyrrhus had done, his strategy was similar to the one employed by Quintus Fabius Maximus in the Second Punic War against Hannibal, the eldest son of Hamilcar Barca, in Italy during 217 BC. Hamilcar’s landing at Heirkte drew the Romans away to defend that port city and resupply point and gave Drepana some breathing room. Subsequent naval raids along the Sicilian and Italian coasts did not lead to a permanent result. Guerrilla warfare kept the Roman legions pinned down and preserved Carthage's toehold in Sicily, although Roman forces which had bypassed Hamilcar forced him to recapture Mount Eryx from Rome, so he could better defend Drepana.
While Hamilcar’s activities kept the Carthaginian flag flying in Sicily and after 20 years of war both states were financially and demographically exhausted.. Realizing they could not defeat Hamilcar on land, without a fleet, blockade Drepana and Lilybaeum, Rome decided to build a new fleet. With the state coffers exhausted, the Senate approached Rome's wealthy citizens; these Roman citizens showed their patriotism by financing the construction of one ship apiece. The result was a fleet of 200 quinqueremes, built and crewed without government expense; the Romans had copied the design of a Carthaginian ship when first they decided to build a fleet in 260 BC. The Romans modelled the new fleet on the ship commanded by Hannibal the Rhodian, who had evaded the Roman blockading ships at Lilybaeum until his fast and manoeuvrable ship was captured; the new Roman fleet was completed in 242 BC and entrusted to the consul Gaius Lutatius Catulus, assisted by the praetor Quintus Valerius Falto. Romans had learned from past misfortunes at sea and their light, manoeuvrable ships were now more resistant to adverse weather conditions, with the corvus having been abandoned.
Catulus and Falto to drilled the crews in manoeuvrers and exercises before leaving Italy, creating a fleet with crews at the peak of their fighting ability. After arriving in Sicily with 200 Quinqueremes and 700 transports, Lutatius seized the harbour of Drepana and the anchorages off Lilybaeum uncontested, as there were no Carthaginian ships to counter the Roman fleet. Lutatius built siege works around Drepana, he blockaded Lilybaeum and Drepana, to cut their access to Carthage. The intent was to cut Hamilcar Barca's communication lines with Carthage. For the rest of the year Catulus waited for the Carthaginian response; the fleet and its crew trained and drilled while the siege was conducted to remain in peak condition. The senate granted him a proconsulship for 241 BC; the Carthaginians were unprepared for Rome's actions. The garrisons of Lilybaeum and Hamilcar’s army at Eryx held fast, but without supplies from Carthage they could not hold out indefinitely. Now that Rome had seized the initiative with a battle ready fleet blockading Carthaginian holdings in Sicily, without warships the unescorted Carthaginian supply ships would fall prey to the Romans.
Battle of the Bagradas River (255 BC)
The Battle of the Bagradas River known as the Battle of Tunis, was a Carthaginian victory over Rome in the spring of 255 BC during the First Punic War. The superior cavalry of the Carthaginians and their allies permitted a pincer attack on the Roman infantrymen, provoking a rout and slaughter; the mercenary Spartan general Xanthippus was hired by the city of Carthage following heavy-handed negotiations by Rome. He made the Romans fight on open ground, which allowed him to maximise the effect of the excellent Carthaginian cavalry and elephants; the Roman army under Marcus Atilius Regulus was based at Tunis. Faced by the resurgent Carthaginian army, Regulus was keen to gain another victory rather than risk the chance that someone else would get the glory of eventual victory. Xanthippus deployed the Carthaginian phalanx in the centre, mercenary infantry on the right, a line of elephants in front of the infantry, the elite Carthaginian cavalry split between the two flanks; the Carthaginians had 12,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry, 100 war elephants.
The Romans had 500 cavalry. The Romans were formed in their normal formation, with the legionary infantry in the centre and the outnumbered cavalry on the flanks; the Carthaginians started the battle with an attack by the elephants. This tied up the main force of Roman infantry; the Roman cavalry, outnumbered eight to one, was defeated. Only on their left did the Romans have any success, when 2,000 troops allied troops, defeated the mercenaries facing them, chased them back past their camp. Meanwhile, in the centre the elephant attack had been withstood, but only a few isolated units of Roman infantry managed to get past them to attempt to attack the Carthaginian phalanx, those were defeated; the Carthaginian cavalry charged the shaken Romans from both sides, destroying what cohesion was left. Only the 2,000 troops successful earlier in the battle escaped to be rescued by the Roman fleet; the Romans lost 12,000 killed and 500 captured, while the Carthaginians lost only 800 mercenaries killed. Regulus was taken prisoner.
Some Roman writers claim that his eyelids were cut off and he was trampled to death by an enraged elephant. However Polybius does not mention it and Diodorus suggests he died from natural causes; the defeat, serious disasters in storms at sea, ended any chance that Rome would defeat Carthage in Africa, ensured that the rest of the war was fought in Sicily and at sea. Battle of the Bagradas River, other battles in antiquity Lazenby, John Francis; the First Punic War: A Military History. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2673-6. OCLC 34371250. Rankov, Boris. "A War of Phases: Strategies and Stalemates 264–241". In Hoyos, Dexter. A Companion to the Punic Wars. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-405-17600-2
Hasdrubal the Boetharch
Hasdrubal the Boetharch was a Carthaginian general during the Third Punic War. Little is known about him. "Boetharch" was a Carthaginian office, the exact function of, unclear but, not to be confused with the Greek boeotarch. Hasdrubal led the Carthaginian forces at the Siege of Carthage in 146 BC, their defeat by Scipio Aemilianus, proconsul of the Roman Republic, brought the war to a close. Hasdrubal's military skill was not to be doubted, as his army had been equipped, his work at defending Carthage cost the Romans a difficult campaign to suppress the defenders. His tactical skills, were dwarfed by his contemporaries Massinissa and Scipio. Hasdrubal had a wife and two sons, according to Polybius, threw themselves into a burning temple when they witnessed their army's defeat. Hasdrubal had surrendered himself to the Romans prior to his family's deaths, an act provoking their suicide, he was taken to Rome and displayed during Scipio's triumph, but allowed to live in peace in Italy. This may be the same general Hasdrubal, defeated near the town of Tunes by the Numidian king, just after war was declared.
Other Hasdrubals in Carthaginian history Havell, H. L. Republican Rome... BiblioBazaar, p. 321, ISBN 1-115-39574-2. Huss, Geschichte der Karthager, Munich: C. H. Beck. Mommsen, William Purdie Dickson, ed; the History of Rome, Vol. 3, New York: C. Scribner & Co, pp. 42–54. Book XXXVIII of Polybius's Histories, English trans. 7-8,20 Smith, William, ed. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, Vol. II, C. C. Little & J. Brown, pp. 359–360. Media related to Hasdrubal at Wikimedia Commons Polybius, Fragments of Book XXXVIII, 7 Livius.org: Hasdrubal William Smith, "Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, Volume 2", C. C. Little and J. Brown, 1849
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War referred to as The Hannibalic War and by the Romans the War Against Hannibal, was the second of three wars between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of Greek polities and Numidian and Iberian forces on both sides. It was one of the deadliest human conflicts of ancient times. Fought across the entire Western Mediterranean region for 17 years and regarded by ancient historians as the greatest war in history, it was waged with unparalleled resources and hatred, it saw hundreds of thousands killed, some of the most lethal battles in military history, the destruction of cities, massacres and enslavements of civilian populations and prisoners of war by both sides. The war began with the Carthaginian general Hannibal's conquest of the pro-Roman Iberian city of Saguntum in 219 BC, prompting a Roman declaration of war on Carthage in the spring of 218. Hannibal surprised the Romans by marching his army overland from Iberia to cross the Alps and invade Roman Italy, followed by his reinforcement by Gallic allies and crushing victories over Roman armies at Trebia in 218 and on the shores of Lake Trasimene in 217.
Moving to southern Italy in 216, Hannibal at Cannae annihilated the largest army the Romans had assembled. After the death or imprisonment of 130,000 Roman troops in two years, 40% of Rome's Italian allies defected to Carthage, giving her control over most of southern Italy. Macedon and Syracuse joined the Carthaginian side after Cannae and the conflict spread to Greece and Sicily. From 215–210 the Carthaginian army and navy launched repeated amphibious assaults to capture Roman Sicily and Sardinia but were repulsed. Against Hannibal's skill on the battlefield, the Romans adopted the Fabian strategy – the avoidance of battle against Hannibal and defeating his allies and the other Carthaginian generals instead. Roman armies recaptured all of the great cities that had joined Carthage and defeated a Carthaginian attempt to reinforce Hannibal at Metaurus in 207. Southern Italy was devastated by the combatants, with hundreds of thousands of civilians killed or enslaved. In Iberia, which served as a major source of silver and manpower for the Carthaginian army, a Roman expeditionary force under Publius Cornelius Scipio captured Carthago Nova, Carthage's capital city in Iberia, in 209.
Scipio's destruction of a Carthaginian army at Ilipa in 206 permanently ended Carthaginian rule in Iberia. He invaded Carthaginian Africa in 204, inflicting two severe defeats on Carthage and her allies at Utica and the Great Plains that compelled the Carthaginian senate to recall Hannibal's army from Italy; the final engagement between Scipio and Hannibal took place at Zama in Africa in 202 and resulted in Hannibal's defeat and the imposition of harsh peace conditions on Carthage, which ceased to be a great power and became a Roman client state until its final destruction by the Romans in 146 BC during the Third Punic War. The Second Punic War overthrew the established balance of power of the ancient world and Rome rose to become the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin for the next 600 years. Carthage's defeat in the First Punic War meant the loss of Carthaginian Sicily to Rome under the terms of the Roman-dictated 241 BC Treaty of Lutatius. Rome exploited Carthage's distraction during the Truceless War against rebellious mercenaries and Libyan subjects to break the peace treaty and annex Carthaginian Sardinia and Corsica to Rome in 238 BC.
Under the leadership of Hamilcar Barca and his family, Carthage defeated the rebels and began the Barcid conquest of Hispania from 237 BC onward. Control over Spain gave Carthage the silver mines, agricultural wealth, military facilities such as shipyards and territorial depth to stand up to future Roman demands with confidence; the Second Punic War was ignited by the dispute over the hegemony of Saguntum, a Hellenized Iberian coastal city with diplomatic contacts with Rome. After great tension within the city government, culminating in the assassination of the supporters of Carthage, Hannibal laid siege to the city of Saguntum in 219 BC; the city called for Roman aid. Following a prolonged siege of eight months and a bloody struggle, in which Hannibal himself was wounded, the Carthaginians took control of the city. Many of the Saguntians chose to commit suicide rather than face subjugation by the Carthaginians; the loss of Saguntum as a potential base of operations in Carthaginian Iberia was a serious setback to the main Roman strategic objective in Spain: the eviction of the Carthaginians from the peninsula.
The Roman Senate sent an embassy to the Carthaginian Senate that declared war on Carthage in early 218 BC over the attack on Rome's Saguntine ally. Before the war and Hasdrubal the Fair had made a treaty. Livy reports that it was agreed that the Iber should be the boundary between the two empires and that the liberty of the Saguntines should be preserved; the highest priority in Carthaginian strategy was to keep the war away from Carthage's agricultural heartland in Africa and protect the property of the wealthy Carthaginian landowners who controlled Carthaginian politics. Spanish mines and sources of manpower comprised the second pillar of the Carthaginian power base and their protection was essential to maintaining Carthage's status as an independent continental great power. Hannibal's invasion of Italy forced the Romans to abandon their intended invasion of Africa and de-prioritize the reinforcement of Roman armies in Spain. Most Roman troops during the war fought in Italy, which became the main theater of the war as a result of Hannibal's offensive.
Africa remained undisturbed by a Roman invasion army until 204 BC and the Roman military presence in Spain was confined to its northeastern corn