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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
VIII. THE GREAT AGE OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC, 264-31 B.C.
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COMMERCIAL EMPIRE OF CARTHAGE
By the middle of the third century B.C. the Carthaginians had formed an imposing commercial empire. Their African dominions included the strip of coast from Cyrene westward to the strait of Gibraltar. Their colonies covered the shores of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and southern Spain. The western half of the Mediterranean had become a Carthaginian lake.
Before the opening of the Punic wars Carthage had been much enlarged by emigrants from Tyre, after the capture of that city by Alexander. The Phoenician colonists kept their own language, customs, and beliefs and did not mingle with the native African peoples. Carthage in form was a republic, but the real power lay in the hands of one hundred men, selected from the great merchant families. It was a government by capitalists who cared very little for the welfare of the poor freemen and slaves over whom they ruled. The wealth of Carthage enabled her to raise huge armies of mercenary soldiers and to build warships which in size, number, and equipment surpassed those of any other Mediterranean state. Mistress of a wide realm, strong both by land and sea, Carthage was now to prove herself Rome's most dangerous foe.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy