To What Extent Was Rome Responsible for the Punic Wars?

1064 words 5 pages
The responsibility for the Punic wars greatly shifts from one to the next as both Rome and Carthage were Superpowers in their own right and it was inevitable that there would be a collision and subsequent reaction from any action taken.

This exhausting conflict was, according to Caven, a ‘contest in three rounds’ in which the Romans fought first for control of Sicily, then for the leadership of the western Mediterranean and finally to determine the survival or extinction of Carthage.

By 270 Rome had conquered Italy and organised it into a confederation of Roman citizens and Latin and Italian allies. Polybius says that the Romans ‘Once having made themselves masters of Italy applied themselves to the conquest of countries further
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By 220 the city of Saguntum, a long way south of the Ebro River, had allied with Rome. When a tribe allied to Carthage started to raid Saguntum's territory, Hannibal sided with the allied tribe, and despite a direct warning from the Romans not to, he attacked Saguntum.

This blatant act of hostility towards Rome through the breaking of agreed lands in the Ebro River treaty places the responsibility of the 2nd Punic war firmly with Carthage and more specifically Hannibal.

By the time the Second Punic War had ended, Carthage was a mere shadow of its former power. However, Hannibal proved to be as good a chief magistrate as he was as a general, and soon Carthage recovered. However, Messinia, governor of Numidia and a strong ally of the Romans, was able to pick at Carthage until Carthage attacked Numidia in 150 BC, breaking the treaty that ended the Second War.

The underlying cause of the third Punic war was the determination of Rome to dispose of the threat once and for all, which it perceived from Carthage, against which it had already won two wars.

However, the official cause was violation of the peace treaty from the Second Punic War which made the Roman Senate, arbitrator of all border disputes involving Carthage, so that Carthage had to get approval from the Roman Senate before going to war. Rome then used its ally Numidia as proxy to harass Carthage, which eventually had to defend itself. This gave Rome a valid excuse to declare war and