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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY

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.

Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe
Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe


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Page 3

ORIGIN OF THE FIRST PUNIC WAR

The First Punic War was a contest for Sicily. The Carthaginians aimed to establish their rule over that island, which from its situation seems to belong almost as much to Africa as to Italy. But Rome, having become supreme in Italy, also cast envious eyes on Sicily. She believed, too, that the Carthaginians, if they should conquer Sicily, would sooner or later invade southern Italy. The fear for her possessions, as well as the desire to gain new ones, led Rome to fling down the gage of battle.

COURSE AND RESULTS OF THE WAR, 264-241 B.C.

The contest between the two rival states began in 264 B.C. and lasted nearly twenty-four years. The Romans overran Sicily and even made an unsuccessful invasion of Africa, but the main struggle was on the sea. Here at first the Romans were at a disadvantage, for they had no ships as large and powerful as those of the Carthaginians. With characteristic energy, however, they built several great war fleets and finally won a complete victory over the enemy. The treaty of peace provided that Carthage should abandon Sicily, return all prisoners without ransom, and pay a heavy indemnity.

THE INTERVAL OF PREPARATION, 241-218 B.C.

Carthage, though beaten, had not been humbled. She had lost Sicily and the commercial monopoly of the Mediterranean. But she was not ready to abandon all hope of recovering her former supremacy. The peace amounted to no more than an armed truce. Both parties were well aware that the real conflict was yet to come. The war, however, was delayed for nearly a quarter of a century. During this interval Rome strengthened her military position by seizing the islands of Sardinia and Corsica from Carthage and by conquering the Gauls in the Po valley. The Carthaginians, meanwhile, began to create a new empire in Spain, whose silver mines would supply fresh means for another contest and whose hardy tribes would furnish soldiers as good as the Roman legionaries.

 

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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY: Table of Contents

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Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy

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