First Punic War
The First Punic War was the first of three wars fought between Ancient Carthage and the Roman Republic, the two great powers of the Western Mediterranean. For 23 years, in the longest continuous conflict and greatest naval war of antiquity, the two powers struggled for supremacy on the Mediterranean island of Sicily and its surrounding waters, in North Africa; the war began in 264 BC with the Roman conquest of the Carthaginian-controlled city of Messina in Sicily, granting Rome a military foothold on the island. The Romans built up a navy to challenge Carthage, the greatest naval power in the Mediterranean, for control over the waters around Sicily. In naval battles and storms, 700 Roman and 500 Carthaginian quinqueremes were lost, along with hundreds of thousands of lives. Command of the sea was lost by both sides repeatedly. A Roman invasion of Carthaginian Africa was destroyed in battle at the Bagradas and the Roman consul Marcus Atilius Regulus was captured by the Carthaginians in 255. In 23 years, the Romans conquered Sicily and drove the Carthaginians to the west end of the island.
After both sides had been brought to a state of near exhaustion, the Romans mobilized their citizenry's private wealth and created a new fleet under consul Gaius Lutatius Catulus. The Carthaginian fleet was destroyed at the Aegates Islands in 241, forcing the cut-off Carthaginian troops on Sicily to give up. A peace treaty was signed in which Carthage was made to pay a heavy indemnity and Rome ejected Carthage from Sicily, annexing the island as a Roman province; the war was followed by a failed revolt against the Carthaginian Empire. The Romans exploited Carthage's weakness to seize the Carthaginian possessions of Sardinia and Corsica in violation of the peace treaty; the unresolved strategic competition between Rome and Carthage would lead to the eruption of the Second Punic War in 218 BC. The series of wars between Rome and Carthage took the name "Punic" from the Latin adjective for Carthaginian, Punicus; this refers to the Carthaginian heritage as Phoenician colonists. A Carthaginian name for the conflicts does not survive in any records.
Rome had emerged as the leading city-state in the Italian Peninsula, a wealthy, expansionist republic with a successful citizen army. Over the past one hundred years, Rome had come into conflict, defeated rivals on the Italian peninsula incorporated them into the Roman political world. First, the Latin League was forcibly dissolved during the Latin War the power of the Samnites was broken during the three prolonged Samnite wars, the Greek cities of Magna Graecia submitted to Roman power at the conclusion of the Pyrrhic War. By the beginning of the First Punic War, the Romans had secured the whole of the Italian peninsula, except Gallia Cisalpina in the Po Valley. Carthage was a republic that dominated the political and economic affairs of the western Mediterranean Sea on the North African coasts and islands, above all, due to its navy, it originated as a Phoenician colony near modern Tunis. Carthage had become a wealthy centre for trade networks extending from Gadir along the coasts of southern Iberia and North Africa, across the Balearic Islands, Corsica and the western half of Sicily, to the ports of the eastern Mediterranean, including Tyre, its mother city, on the shores of the Levant.
At the height of power, just before the First Punic War, Carthage was hostile to foreign ships in the western Mediterranean. North African peoples, such as the Berbers, in the area around Carthage were loosely associated with Carthage. In the midst of the First Punic War, some tribes rebelled against Carthage, opening a second front while the Carthaginians battled the Romans in Sicily. Greek colonists were a major presence in the western Mediterranean, following centuries of colonial settlement and conflicts with Rome over Magna Graecia and with Carthage over places such as Sicily; the rich, strategically influential, well-fortified Greek colony of Syracuse was politically independent of Rome and Carthage. Hostilities of the First Punic War began with developments involving the Romans and Greek colonists in Sicily and southern Italy. In 288 BC, the Mamertines, a group of Italian mercenaries hired by Agathocles of Syracuse, occupied the city of Messana in the north-eastern tip of Sicily, killing all the men and taking the women as their wives.
At the same time, a group of Roman troops made up of Campanian "citizens without the vote" revolted and seized control of Rhegium, lying across the Straits of Messina on the mainland of Italy. In 270 BC, the Romans regained control of Rhegium and punished the survivors of the revolt. In Sicily, the Mamertines ravaged the countryside and collided with the expanding regional empire of the independent city of Syracuse. Hiero II, tyrant of Syracuse, defeated the Mamertines near Mylae on the Longanus River. Following their defeat, the Mamertines appealed to both Carthage for assistance; the Carthaginians acted first, approached Hiero to take no further action and convinced the Mamertines to accept a Carthaginian garrison in Messana. Either unhappy with the prospect of a Carthaginian garrison or convinced that the recent alliance between Rome and Carthage against Pyrrhus reflected cordial relations between the two, the Mamertines, hoping for more reliable protection, petitioned Rome for an alliance.
However, the rivalry between Rome and Carthage had grown since the war with Pyrrhus and that alliance was no longer feasible. According to the historian Polybius, considerable debate took place in Rome on the questio
Hamilcar Barca or Barcas was a Carthaginian general and statesman, leader of the Barcid family, father of Hannibal and Mago. He was father-in-law to Hasdrubal the Fair. Hamilcar commanded the Carthaginian land forces in Sicily from 247 BC to 241 BC, during the latter stages of the First Punic War, he led a successful guerrilla war against the Romans in Sicily. Hamilcar retired to Carthage following the defeat of Carthage; when the Mercenary War burst out in 240 BC, Hamilcar was recalled to command and was instrumental in concluding that conflict successfully. Hamilcar commanded the Carthaginian expedition to Spain in 237 BC, for eight years expanded the territory of Carthage in Spain before dying in battle in 228 BC, he may have been responsible for creating the strategy which his son Hannibal implemented in the Second Punic War to bring the Roman Republic close to defeat. Hamilcar is the latinization of Hamílkas, the hellenized form of the common Semitic Phoenician-Carthaginian masculine given name ḤMLK or ḤMLQRT, meaning "Melqart is Gracious".
The cognomen or epithet BRQ means "thunderbolt" or "shining". It is cognate with the Arabic name Barq, Maltese word Berqa and the Hebrew name Barak and equivalent to the Greek Keraunos, borne by many commanders contemporary with Hamilcar and his son Hannibal. Little is known about the origins or history of the Barca family prior to the Punic Wars. Quoting Tony Bath, "The Barca family, which came from Cyrene, was a powerful one but not at that time among the first families of Carthage".. Tony Bath omits references. Lance Serge states. Hamilcar was a young man of 28 when he received the Sicilian command in 247 BC. By this time he had three daughters, his son Hannibal was born during the same year; the Carthaginians had gained command of the sea after their victory in the Battle of Drepanum in 249 BC, but they only held two cities in Sicily: Lilybaeum and Drepanum by the time Hamilcar took up command. 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" was in charge of operations in Africa since 248 BC and had conquered considerable territory by 241 BC. Carthage at this time was feeling the 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 was given a small army and the Carthaginian fleet was withdrawn so that, by 242 BC, Carthage had no ships to speak of in Sicily. The Carthaginian leadership thought Rome had been defeated and invested little manpower in Sicily. With a small force and no money to hire new troops, 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 demonstrates his skill as field commander, he employed combined arms tactics, like Alexander and Pyrrhus, 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.
The difference was that Fabius commanded a numerically superior army to his opponent, had no supply problems, had room to manoeuvre, while Hamilcar was static, had a far smaller army than the Romans and was dependent on seaborne supplies from Carthage. Hamilcar, upon taking command in the summer of 247 BC, punished the rebellious mercenaries by murdering some of them at night and drowning the rest at sea, dismissing many to different part of northern Africa. With a reduced army and fleet, Hamilcar commenced his operations. Romans had divided their forces, Consul L. Caelius Metellus was near Lilybaeum, while Numerius Fabius Buteo was besieging Drepanum at that time. Hamilcar fought an inconclusive battle at Drepanum, but there is cause to doubt this. Hamilcar next raided Locri in Bruttium and the area around Brindisi in 247 BC, on his return he seized a strong position on Mount Ercte, not only maintained himself against all attacks, but carried on with his seaborne raids ranging from Catana in Sicily to far as Cumae in central Italy.
He set about improving the spirit of the army, succeeded in creating a disciplined and versatile force. While Hamilcar won no large-scale battle or recaptured any cities lost to the Romans, he waged a relentless campaign against the enemy, caused a constant drain on Roman resources. However, if Hamilcar had hoped to recapture Panormus, he failed in his strategy. Roman forces led by the consuls Marcus Otacilius Crassus and Marcaus Fabius Licinus achieved little against Hamilcar in 246 BC, the consuls of 245 BC, Marcus Fabius Bueto and Atilius Bulbus, fared no better. In 244 BC, Hamilcar transferred his army at night by sea to a similar position on the slopes of Mt. Eryx, from which he was able to lend support to the besieged garrison in the neighbouring town of Drepanum. Hamilcar seized the town of Eryx, captured by the Romans in 249 BC, after destroying the Roman garrison, positioned his army between the Roman forces stationed at the summit and their camp at the base of the mountain. Hamilcar removed the population to Drepana.
Hamilcar continued his acti
Carthage was a Phoenician state that included, during the 7th–3rd centuries BC, its wider sphere of influence known as the Carthaginian Empire. The empire extended over much of the coast of Northwest Africa as well as encompassing substantial parts of coastal Iberia and the islands of the western Mediterranean Sea. Phoenicians founded Carthage in 814 BC. A dependency of the Phoenician state of Tyre, Carthage gained independence around 650 BC and established its political hegemony over other Phoenician settlements throughout the western Mediterranean, this lasting until the end of the 3rd century BC. At the height of the city's prominence, it served as a major hub of trade, with trading stations extending throughout the region. For much of its history, Carthage was on hostile terms with the Greeks in Sicily and with the Roman Republic; the city had to deal with hostile Berbers, the indigenous inhabitants of the area where Carthage was built. In 146 BC, after the third and final Punic War, Roman forces destroyed Carthage redesigned and occupied the site of the city.
Nearly all of the other Phoenician city-states and former Carthaginian dependencies subsequently fell into Roman hands. According to Roman sources, Phoenician colonists from modern-day Lebanon, led by Dido, founded Carthage circa 814 BC. Queen Elissa was an exiled princess of the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. At its peak, the metropolis she founded, came to be called the "shining city", ruling 300 other cities around the western Mediterranean Sea and leading the Phoenician world. Elissa's brother, Pygmalion of Tyre, had murdered the high priest. Elissa escaped the tyranny of her own country, founding the "new city" of Carthage and subsequently its dominions. Details of her life are sketchy and confusing, but the following can be deduced from various sources. According to Justin, Princess Elissa was the daughter of King Belus II of Tyre; when he died, the throne was jointly bequeathed to her brother and her. She married her uncle Acerbas known as Sychaeus, the High Priest of Melqart, a man with both authority and wealth comparable to the king.
This led to increased rivalry between the monarchy. Pygmalion was a tyrant, lover of both gold and intrigue, who desired the authority and fortune enjoyed by Acerbas. Pygmalion assassinated Acerbas in the temple and kept the misdeed concealed from his sister for a long time, deceiving her with lies about her husband's death. At the same time, the people of Tyre called for a single sovereign. In the Roman epic of Virgil, the Aeneid, Queen Dido, the Greek name for Elissa, is first introduced as a esteemed character. In just seven years, since their exodus from Tyre, the Carthaginians have rebuilt a successful kingdom under her rule, her subjects present her with a festival of praise. Her character is perceived by Virgil as more noble when she offers asylum to Aeneas and his men, who had escaped from Troy. A spirit in the form of the messenger god, sent by Jupiter, reminds Aeneas that his mission is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, but to sail to Italy to found Rome. Virgil ends his legend of Dido with the story that, when Aeneas tells Dido, her heart broken, she orders a pyre to be built where she falls upon Aeneas' sword.
As she lay dying, she predicted eternal strife between Aeneas' people and her own: "rise up from my bones, avenging spirit" she says, an invocation of Hannibal. Aeneas goes on to found the Roman Kingdom; the details of Virgil's story do not, form part of the original legend and are significant as an indication of Rome's attitude towards the city she had founded, exemplified by Cato the Elder's much-repeated utterance, "Carthago delenda est", "Carthage must be destroyed". The Phoenicians established numerous colonial cities along the coasts of the Mediterranean to provide safe harbors for their merchant fleets, to maintain a Phoenician monopoly on an area's natural resources, to conduct trade free of outside interference, they were motivated to found these cities by a desire to satisfy the demand for trade goods or to escape the necessity of paying tribute to the succession of empires that ruled Tyre and Byblos, by fear of complete Greek colonization of that part of the Mediterranean suitable for commerce.
The Phoenicians lacked the population or necessity to establish large self-sustaining cities abroad, most of their colonial cities had fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, but Carthage and a few others developed larger populations. Although Strabo's claim that the Tyrians founded three hundred colonies along the west African coast is exaggerated, colonies were established in Tunisia, Algeria, to a much lesser extent, on the arid coast of Libya; the Phoenicians were active in Cyprus, Corsica, the Balearic Islands and Sicily, as well as on the European mainland at present-day Genoa in Italy and Marseille in present-day France. The settlements at Crete and Sicily were in perpetual conflict with the Greeks, but the Phoenicians managed to control all of Sicily for a limited time; the entire area came under the leadership and protection of Carthage, which in turn dispatched its own colonists to found new cities or to reinforce those that declined with the loss of primacy of Tyre and Sidon. The first colonies were settled on the two paths to Iberia's mineral wealth — along the Northwest African coast and on Sicily and the Ba
Tunis is the capital and the largest city of Tunisia. The greater metropolitan area of Tunis referred to as Grand Tunis, has some 2,700,000 inhabitants. Situated on a large Mediterranean Sea gulf, behind the Lake of Tunis and the port of La Goulette, the city extends along the coastal plain and the hills that surround it. At its core lies its ancient medina, a World Heritage Site. East of the medina through the Sea Gate begins the modern city, or Ville Nouvelle, traversed by the grand Avenue Habib Bourguiba, where the colonial-era buildings provide a clear contrast to smaller, older structures. Further east by the sea lie the suburbs of Carthage, La Marsa, Sidi Bou Said; as the capital city of the country, Tunis is the focus of Tunisian political and administrative life. It has two cultural centres, as well as a municipal theatre, used by international theatre groups and a summer festival, the International Festival of Carthage, held in July. Tunis is the transcription of the Arabic name تونس which can be pronounced as "Tūnus", "Tūna or delata", or "Tūnis".
All three variations were mentioned by the Greek-Syrian geographer al-Rumi Yaqout in his Mu'jam al-Bûldan. Different explanations exist for the origin of the name Tunis; some scholars relate it to the Phoenician goddess Tanith, as many ancient cities were named after patron deities. Some scholars claim that it originated from Tynes, mentioned by Diodorus Siculus and Polybius in the course of descriptions of a location resembling present-day Al-Kasbah. Another possibility is that it was derived from the Berber verbal root ens which means "to lie down" or "to pass the night". Given the variations of the precise meaning over time and space, the term Tunis can mean "camp at night", "camp", or "stop". There are some mentions in ancient Roman sources of such names of nearby towns as Tuniza, Thunusuda and Thunisa; as all of these Berber villages were situated on Roman roads, they undoubtedly served as rest-stations or stops. The historical study of Carthage is problematic; because its culture and records were destroyed by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War few Carthaginian primary historical sources survive.
While there are a few ancient translations of Punic texts into Greek and Latin, as well as inscriptions on monuments and buildings discovered in Northwest Africa, the main sources are Greek and Roman historians, including Livy, Appian, Cornelius Nepos, Silius Italicus, Dio Cassius, Herodotus. These writers belonged to peoples in competition, in conflict, with Carthage. Greek cities contended with Carthage over Sicily, the Romans fought three wars against Carthage. Not their accounts of Carthage are hostile. Tunis was a Berber settlement; the existence of the town is attested by sources dating from the 4th century BC. Situated on a hill, Tunis served as an excellent point from which the comings and goings of naval and caravan traffic to and from Carthage could be observed. Tunis was one of the first towns in the region to fall under Carthaginian control, in the centuries that followed Tunis was mentioned in the military histories associated with Carthage. Thus, during Agathocles' expedition, which landed at Cape Bon in 310 BC, Tunis changed hands on various occasions.
During the Mercenary War, it is possible that Tunis served as a center for the native population of the area, that its population was composed of peasants and craftsmen. Compared to the ancient ruins of Carthage, the ruins of ancient Tunis are not as large. According to Strabo, it was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC during the Third Punic War. Both Tunis and Carthage were destroyed; the city is mentioned in the Tabula Peutingeriana as Thuni. In the system of Roman roads for the Roman province of Africa, Tunis had the title of mutatio. Tunis Romanized, was eventually Christianized and became the seat of a bishop. However, Tunis remained modestly sized compared to Carthage during this time; the modern city of Tunis was settled by Arab Muslim troops, around the 7th century AD. The medina of Tunis, the oldest section of the city, dates from this period, during which the region was conquered by the Umayyad emir Hasan ibn al-Nu'man al-Ghasani; the city had the natural advantage of coastal access, via the Mediterranean, to the major ports of southern Europe.
Early on, Tunis played a military role. From the beginning of the 8th century Tunis was the chef-lieu of the area: it became the Arabs' naval base in the western Mediterranean Sea, took on considerable military importance. Under the Aghlabids, the people of Tunis revolted numerous times, but the city benefited from economic improvements and became the second most important in the kingdom, it was the national capital, from the end of the reign of Ibrahim II in 902, until 909 when control over Ifriqiya was lost to the newly founded Fatimid Caliphate. Local opposition to the authorities began to intensify in September 94