The inevitable decline of the Phoenicians during the siege of Carthage in 146 BC marked a crucial time in world history. Knowing Carthage’s superior power in times of war, you would wonder how ancient Rome deliberately pursued the unprecedented battle against the Carthaginians.

However, many historians contended that Rome planned the fall of Carthage out of fear and insecurity because of the accomplishments of this classical city.

It’s believed that Queen Alyssa or Dido, an astute and ingenious woman, established this Phoenician capital and immensely developed it into an affluent city by the sea. You can tell that with fortitude, Carthage evolved into a promising, opulent, and formidable city through the unequivocal leadership of Queen Dido. You are a witness to her enduring legacy, which caused fear of other kings, including kings of Rome, who considered her as their greatest adversary for ages.

Strategically located on the eastern side of Lake Tunis, Carthage has become a leading city and the capital of the Carthaginian civilization in Tunis or modern-day Tunisia. It was a principal host to traders in the ancient Mediterranean. As a trading hub, people looked up to Carthage as a beacon of economic growth and a wealthy ally in the classical world. It was not just a Phoenician colony; it successfully emerged into an eminent city in terms of economic, cultural, and military capabilities.

What Happened in the Battle of Carthage?

From the early conception of the city, the Phoenicians carefully chose the best location for their maritime and military activities. They focused on the fortified walls of Carthage because of its triangle-shaped area hidden in truncated hills anchored into Lake Tunis.

You can utilize all standards, but it’s the perfect location for an emerging city in the past. The site was secured and geographically fit for military defense. Because it is a peninsula, its southern portion was connected to the mainland, making it an ideal refuge in case a naval battle sparked in its front end.

Given this strategic scenario, what initiated the battle of Carthage? To answer, you must unveil the economic power of this city-state. Much of the wealth of this city was produced from its silver mine expeditions in North Africa and the southern part of Spain in approximately 800 BC. You wouldn’t believe how they exploited the northern region of Africa, which gave them tons of opportunities to accumulate wealth.

Their perennial wars with the Roman army started in the middle of the third century BC, which were called Punic Wars. They fought ferociously until the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC happened, and they knew that Rome was not willing to surrender. It was a bottleneck fight between two insistent forces.

With the Romans’ inimitable wrath, the sack of Carthage left nothing alive in the city. You would be disheartened when you hear the truth behind the burning of Carthage. It was a relentless act emanating from rage against innocent civilians, regardless of their age and gender. It eventually led to the expansion of Roman power in the Mediterranean region.

Reminiscing the Punic Wars

Composed of a series of three vicious wars involving the Roman Empire and the Carthaginian Empire from 264 BC to 146 BC, the Punic or Carthaginian Wars resulted in the downfall of Carthage, murder of its people, slavery of men and women, and finally, the expansion of the Roman campaign in the Mediterranean region. These started from the ambitious dream of Carthage to assault Sicily and to maneuver the chain of islands under its command.

– First Punic War (264–241 BC)

The First Punic War began due to the advancement of Carthaginian soldiers in the islands of Corsica and Sicily. The Carthaginians wanted to control both islands, but the Romans attacked Messana, which forced the Carthaginians to withdraw. It lasted for 23 years and created much havoc on the lives of civilians and the military. As you know, in every war, civilians suffer more due to the conflict of ideologies and political views, and it was true in the First Punic War.

An armada of 200 warships sealed the Romans‘ undisputed control of the ocean paths and guaranteed the breakdown of the Punic stronghold in Sicily. You know that most of the wars were centered in Sicily, and the Romans also staged an invasion of African regions.

The Battle of Carthage showed how the Carthaginians heavily relied on their mercenary armies, whereas Rome deployed their trained soldiers. The Carthaginian military was one of the fiercest and the largest military forces in the past, such that Rome was terrified with its capability. The Carthaginian soldiers performed with variable accomplishment ashore and, at times, were winning over the Romans.

Despite their success with their army, the mercenary troops would never be a match for the Roman soldiers, who caused the Carthaginian front liners to disperse. The Carthaginian army officers made the mistake of pulling their elephants behind where they could not charge.

This chaos proved to be an advantage for the Romans, who strengthened themselves when they saw the great confusion of their adversary. Rome destroys Carthage without much military effort because of this military fault. Despite their victory in the cavalry, after one year, Carthage gave up, surrendering Sicily and the Lipari Islands to Rome.

– Second Punic War (218–216 BC)

The First Punic War was a major setback for the Carthaginians. Hence, they decisively started the battle again in 218 BC with General Hannibal, a fierce Carthaginian military leader who spearheaded his campaign in Italy and brought triumph for his country.

He invaded Lake Trasimene and Cannae. You should be reminded that it was just the beginning. Many things happened during the entire period of the Second Punic War.

The second war between Rome and Carthage lasted for 17 chaotic years. You know that these empires were the two strongholds of power in the third century. Their power struggle was rooted, and nobody wanted to accept defeat. The Carthaginians empowered themselves by conscripting mercenary armies to war.

General Hannibal defeated the Roman adversary with his campaigns in Sicily, Sardinia, and Greece. He captured the city of Saguntum, a pro-Roman city, which led the Romans to declare war against Carthage officially in 218 BC.

Hannibal championed a huge army and led the battle with agility and fierceness. There were approximately 10,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry in his armada. A great army size was needed to win the war, so he conscripted even the less experienced soldiers to build an infantry of 50,000 men, 9,000 cavalry, and 21 elephants. Nonetheless, they didn’t have the necessary skills to fight with courage.

They faced a great challenge in traveling from Spain to the mountainous areas of Pyreness and Alps and finally into Italy. Hannibal didn’t have a large fleet, so he decided to march over land. There was a considerably long distance from Spain to Italy, and this hampered the soldiers of Hannibal.

Food and supplies were the main issues, which caused death to his army. When they finally met the Romans, they only had 20,000 infantry, 6,000 cavalry, and 12 elephants compared to the Romans, who bravely waited for them with 250,000 foot soldiers and 23,000 horses.

By merely looking at the statistics, you could tell that they would have a tough time fighting with the Romans. Finally, the Second Punic War ended with the Romans winning again. It was a great disappointment for General Hannibal who lost 25,000 men before and after the fight. However, his spirit remained strong, such that he fought small battles in other regions after that.

The aftermath of the Second Punic War led to the surrender of Carthage to Rome, which demanded stricter terms than the first war. Due to this fall, Carthaginians were not allowed to attack other regions with military action without the approval of the Roman Empire. The Carthaginian warships, elephants, and fleet were seized by the Roman Empire. They could trade but in a limited scope.

– Third Punic War (149–146 BC)

The Third Punic War or the Carthaginian War was the third major war that divided Rome and Carthage. You have probably known that it resulted in the total destruction of Carthage, the enslavement of its people, and Roman hegemony in the western Mediterranean.

The siege lasted for three years until the Carthaginians finally succumbed to the Romans. You should know that the burning of Carthage didn’t leave even a single stone untouched by fire. The entire city was unmercifully destroyed.

This third war had paved the way for the recognition of Rome as the greatest military power in the world. The hostility suffered by Carthage had provided an enormous military power to Romans despite the presence of formidable Carthaginian leaders, including Barca and his sons, Hasdrubal and Hannibal.

The Roman soldiers, led by Scipio the Younger, invaded the city of Carthage mercilessly in 146 BC, which reduced Africa to another small province of Italy.

You would be wondering about the fate of the defeated soldiers. Many of them were farmers, and the others didn’t have work at all. Even the victorious Roman soldiers would end up celebrating their victory without a permanent job as a source of their income. Many would try their luck in the city but still couldn’t earn a living for their families.

Carthage gradually started to build its economy. The siege of Carthage was over, and the Romans didn’t even have compassion for the widows and orphans. They killed the men and took women as their slaves together with the children. The city was left with ashes as the ruthless Roman soldiers ensured that the city fell into ashes.

That was the end of the Carthaginian Empire. The glory that the people used to enjoy vanished similar to the ash of their bones. The sacking of Carthage was beyond your imagination. Who would have thought of a fatal end of a once affluent empire?

Conclusion

You have just discovered the legacy of Carthage, an ancient empire and one of the most important trading centers in antiquity. Established by Queen Alyssa or Dido, the city took pride in its strategic location in the eastern region of Lake Tunis.

Through the clever and determined leadership of Queen Dido, Carthage thrived into an affluent city, which made other kingdoms envious. The Roman destruction of Carthage illuminated the anger and envy of ancient Rome to a city that only tried to protect its sovereignty. A great many people suffered from the nonsense battles, which could have been settled earlier with mutual understanding.

Despite having well-trained and relentless leaders, including Barca and his sons, Hasdrubal and Hannibal, Carthage had shown to be of no match with the Roman military power. They had lost many lives. The decline of Carthage was evidence that nothing is permanent in this world and that any power could rise and fall.

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