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From the Beginning of the Punic Wars to the Conquest of Carthage and Greece (264-146 b.c.).

Ancient history, from the beginning of historical information to the downfall of the Western Roman Empire (? B.C. - 476 A.D.). Rome (? 753 b.c. - a.d. 476).
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We are now to have Rome in conflict with the great commercial and naval power already seen in these pages. The contest was to decide the mastery of the world as it then was, and it was fought out with determination, skill, and valour on both sides such as have rarely indeed been displayed in the history of the world. The Aryans were fairly pitted against the Semitic race, with results largely affecting the future of the world. Dealing only with the main events, and neglecting the petty occasion which brought into collision two powers sure to fight in the end, we find the Romans capturing Agrigentum, in Sicily, in 262, after defeating a Carthaginian force that advanced to its relief. A powerful fleet was absolutely needful to protect the coast of Italy, and the Romans, with their usual energy, created one that included vessels of five banks of oars. They also devised means of boarding by bridges let fall on the enemy's decks, bringing a close conflict in which they were certain to win.

After the loss of one squadron, the consul Duilius gained, in 260, Rome's first naval victory at Mylse, west of Messana, and another and greater naval defeat befell the Carthaginians in 256 at Ecnomus, on the south coast of Sicily. The Romans then invaded the Carthaginian territory in Africa, and were unsuccessful, also suffering great disasters to their fleets from storms. In Sicily the war, conducted for the Carthaginians at the end of the struggle by the great Hamilcar, surnamed Barca or Lightning, the father of Hannibal, was evenly balanced. Peace, which was nothing but a truce between antagonists of such character and resources, came in 241 b.c., after the Roman commander Lutatius Catulus had utterly defeated the Punic fleet off the Agates islands on the west coast of Sicily. Sicily thus became the first Roman province, saving the territory of Rome's faithful ally in the war, king Hiero of Syracuse.

During the cessation of warfare with Rome, the great African state was brought near to ruin by a general revolt of her mercenary troops. The war lasted for three years, and Rome basely took advantage of her rival's trouble to deprive her of the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. About this time the Romans were engaged in serious warfare with the Gauls of the north, who invaded Etruria in great force, and marched on Rome. After three years' hard fighting (225-222) Cisalpine Gaul was fairly conquered, and the colonial fortresses of Placentia, Cremona, and Mutina were founded. The republic had by this time, in war with the piratical Illyrians, acquired the command of the Adriatic Sea, and of parts of its eastern coast. The famous Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca was entrusted by his countrymen with the task of preparing revenge for the wrongs received from Rome. He saw that new territory and military resources were needful, and with the eye of genius he marked Spain as the scene for the creation of a fresh Carthaginian empire. In a series of ably conducted campaigns (237-229), ended by his death in action, he conquered that country in all the south and west, leaving the command to his son-in-law Hasdrubal. The murder of this man by a Spanish slave in 221 brought to the front one of the greatest men in the world's history, the immortal Hannibal, a hero of the highest rank as a general, a statesman and diplomatist of rare gifts, a man known to us only from his foes, and yet one whose pure and noble image no wrath and envy of those whom he so often crushed in battle has been able to mar.

Assuming the Spanish command in his 26th year (221 b.c.), this son of Hamilcar, sworn to undying hostility to Rome, soon provoked the second Punic war by the capture and destruction of Saguntum, about the middle of the east coast of Spain, a city in alliance with the great Italian republic. That power's declaration of war (218 b.c.) was quickly followed, on Hannibal's part, by one of the most daring military enterprises on record. In 218 he started for Italy, relying upon substantial aid from the lately conquered Cisalpine Gauls and the Italian cities, in case he should have initial, success over the Romans on their own territory. Crossing the Pyrenees with an army of 50,000 foot and 9,000 horse, he made his way through the south of Gaul, fighting the natives as he advanced, crossing the rapid Rhone, and then, with immense difficulties from the rough weather, the warlike tribes, and roadless, rugged ground, he traversed the Alps by the Little St. Bernard, and descended into Italy, after a five-months' march, with but 20,000 infantry and 6,000 horse remaining. The consular forces were driven off in a cavalry-battle at the Ticinus (Ticino), a northern affluent of the Padus (Po), and that river was crossed by the invader. In December, at the Trebbia, a southern tributary of the Padus, the Romans suffered a severe defeat, and the Cisalpine Gauls joined Hannibal with many thousands of good troops. The invader then crossed the Apennines (217 b.c.) into Etruria, and almost destroyed a large Roman army, with the loss of their leader, the consul Flaminius, and 30,000 men, at the battle of the Trasimene Lake, between Cortona and Perusia. By this time terror reigned in Rome, and the cautious and able Fabius Maximus (proverbial in the phrase "Fabian policy" used of delay) was appointed "Dictator." The conquering Carthaginian then crossed the Apennines into Picenum, rested his army, and established communications with his African base of operations by way of the Adriatic Sea. The Roman government, unwisely weary of Fabius strategical method in following and watching Hannibal, changed the commanders in 216, and placed the new consuls, AEmilius Paulus, a veteran general, and Terentius Varro, a very incompetent leader, at the head of an army of nearly 90,000 men, double the numbers of Hannibal's force. The issue came in the greatest defeat that ever befell the Roman arms. At Cannse, in Apulia, the great strategist and tactician almost annihilated his foemen. About 70,000 Romans fell, including Paulus the consul, and over 80 men of senatorial rank; and so many knights (equites) lay upon the field that a peck of their gold rings, signs of their rank, was sent as spoil of war to Carthage. The victor lost only 6,000 men. Capua, the Lucanians, the Samnites, and many towns of Lower Italy, joined the Carthaginian cause, and the position of Rome seemed to be desperate. We may say at once, since it is impossible to give many details, that for 14 years longer the Carthaginian leader maintained himself in the country, marching hither and thither, capturing and then again losing towns, never beaten in any great action, ravaging the land for the support of his men, but never able to subdue steadfast Rome. The Latin cities remained generally faithful to her; new armies were raised, and Marcellus, Fabius, and other generals showed prudence and skill. On the other hand, Hannibal received little support from home, where his efforts were thwarted by jealous rivals, while his want of siege-engines prevented him from attacking the city of Rome. The Romans, moreover, with the noble resolution that distinguished their character, were attacking the Carthaginian dominion in Spain, and winning much success under the command of the Scipios. At the same time, they were carrying on war in Sicily, where Marcellus, after a long siege, captured Syracuse, defeating a Carthaginian army of relief. The tide of success ebbed and flowed. In 212 the two Scipios were defeated and killed in Spain, and the Romans were driven beyond the Iberus (Ebro). In the following year Capua surrendered to the Romans, who took a terrible vengeance, beheading or selling the chief citizens as slaves, and depriving the place of municipal rights. In 210 Publius Cornelius Scipio, son and nephew of the brothers who had fallen in Spain, took the command there as proconsul, being 25 years of age, and soon made his mark by crossing the Ebro and taking the important city of Nova Carthago (New Carthage). Again, in 208, Hannibal's chief opponent in Italy, Marcellus, fell in a cavalry-skirmish. The Romans were becoming exhausted as to supplies both of money and men. Hundreds of thousands of hardy soldiers had perished, and the government would have had no resources but for the fact that many of the Italian cities returned to their allegiance after the fall of Capua, and enabled the central power to make a last effort of desperation.

The crisis came in 207 b.c., a turning-point in the history of the world, an event which decided that Europe was, in civilisation, to be Aryan and not Semitic, Roman and not Phoenician. For the details of this great decisive battle we must again refer to Creasy's delightful and instructive pages, where a thrilling account is given of the strategical movements which ended in the battle of the Metaurus, a little river in Umbria, and of the excitement in Rome when the two armies were known to be in presence of each other. The main facts are that Hasdrubal, Hannibal's brother, marched for Italy in 207, across the Pyrenees and the Alps, in the hope of effecting a junction in central Italy which should enable them to march, in irresistible force, on Rome, defeat all armies in the field, and compel a surrender of the capital by famine. The plan was a grand one, but it was frustrated by the skill and energy of the Roman consul Claudius Nero, and by the ill-fortune of the Carthaginians, which threw into Nero's hands the dispatch to Hannibal, who was in southern Italy, detailing the plan of operations.

A sudden march northwards of Nero, with some thousands of picked men, so strengthened his colleague Livius, who was facing Hasdrubal, that a complete victory was won; the Carthaginian leader was slain, and Hannibal knew his brother's fate, and the blighting of the last hope of success, only when the head of the conquered leader was flung into his camp. Scipio, in Spain, completed the expulsion of the Carthaginians by capturing Gades (Cadiz), and then returned to Rome, where his success was rewarded in 205 by election as one of the consuls. In the following year he carried the war into Africa, ravaged the land, defeated Carthaginian and Numidian armies, and compelled the recall of Hannibal. In 202 the great Carthaginian, with a much inferior force, was utterly defeated by Scipio at Zama, and the war ended in the following year. The terms of peace were hard for vanquished Carthage. Spain and all her Mediterranean islands were given up; a yearly sum of 200 talents (about 50,000 pounds) was to be paid for 50 years. All ships of war beyond ten were surrendered, the immediate consequence of this being that Scipio had 500 vessels towed out to sea and burnt. No war could be undertaken without the permission of Rome. Scipio, the conqueror of the greatest general of that, perhaps of any age, was henceforth known by the surname of "Africanus," or "the man of Africa." The Italian supporters of Hannibal were punished by large losses of territory, and by deprivation of municipal freedom. Many Roman colonies were founded in Lower Italy to secure the country, and Upper Italy, after long warfare, was thoroughly subdued, and the Gallic population "Latinised" in language and manners. Spain became a Roman province after 205, but there was almost constant warfare for many years before the warlike tribes were thoroughly reduced. Hannibal, yet unsubdued in spirit, sought to raise his country from the depth to which she had fallen, and effected valuable reforms in the government; but a Roman party caused his flight, in 195, to Antiochus of Syria, whom he roused against Rome without effect. Antiochus was utterly defeated in 190 b.c., and Roman strength in the East began. We have already, in the history of Greece, dealt with the wars against Macedon, and the end of her supremacy in Greek affairs. Hannibal, driven from court to court by dread of Rome on the part of the sovereigns, ended his life by poison in 183, when he was staying with Prusias, king of Bithynia, and learnt that he was about to be betrayed into the hands of the inveterate foes on whom he had inflicted such terrible blows. The chief results to Rome of her success in the second Punic war were predominance among all states on the Mediterranean, the virtual mastery of Spain, and the possession of naval power which gave her control of the great central sea of the civilised world.

Carthage, by means of her commerce, which the -Romans had left untouched, rapidly recovered a position of great wealth and importance. 20 years after the peace of 201, she sought to pay up in one sum the balance of the indemnity then spread over 30 years. This imprudent offer alarmed the Romans, and they were irritated by the reception at Carthage of envoys from the king of Macedon. The famous Marcus Porcius Cato ("the Elder," or "Cato the Censor," to distinguish him from his great-grandson, "Cato of Utica," in the days of Julius Caesar), a Roman of the old simple sturdy type, was -the inveterate foe of the African state, concluding every utterance of his opinion in the Senate, whatever the subject before the House might be, with the well-known words, "I think, moreover, that Carthage should be blotted out." The Carthaginians, on their part, were greatly harassed by the attacks of that unscrupulous old villain Masinissa, king of Numidia. They could not, under the treaty, make war against him without permission, and their complaints at Rome were little heeded. They were at last provoked into armed resistance to their neighbour, and this caused, in 149, a declaration of war from Rome, after the rejection of terms requiring the Carthaginians to abandon their city and to build another not less than ten miles from the sea. The unhappy people, with commercial ruin thus barbarously set before them, prepared for a death-struggle. Their few ships of war and most of their weapons had been already surrendered, before the last insolent demand, provoking universal indignation, was sprung upon them. All ranks and ages, both sexes, men, women, and children, worked day and night in strengthening fortifications and making arms. 100 shields, 300 swords, and 1,000 javelins to be hurled by catapults, were turned out every 24 hours from the workshops that arose in every quarter, even in the temples and their holy precincts. A new fleet was constructed in the inner harbour. The wall of the city, 18 miles in circuit, was 34 feet thick and 46 feet high, with four-storied towers of much greater altitude. On the land-side of the peninsula the fortifications were triple, with three walls and three ditches. A Roman force of 100,000 men made attacks which were often repulsed, and the besieged used fire with great effect against the siege-works and the enemy's fleet. The delay in the operations caused the dispatch to Africa of one of the new consuls, Publius Scipio, a son of AEmilius Paulus, the victor of Pydna in the third Macedonian war, and adopted into the family of the Scipios by the elder son of Hannibal's conqueror at Zama. The new commander, chosen to his high office, through the insistence of the citizens at the Comitia Tributa, before the legal age (he was only 37 instead of 43), proved himself worthy of his family connections. New vigour was thrown into the siege. A quarter of the city called the Megara was stormed, and then the Carthaginian army outside the walls, fancying that the city was taken, abandoned its camp and retired into Byrsa, the Upper City. The Punic commander, a Hasdrubal of no note except as a traitor and coward who surrendered himself before the end to save his own life, then put to death with tortures on the wall the whole of the Roman prisoners in his hands. The place was now almost closely invested, as Scipio, burning the outside abandoned camp, occupied the neck of the peninsula, and blocked up the harbour by a huge wall built across. The Carthaginians then dug a new channel out to the open sea, and, to the amazement of the Romans, sailed forth with 50 new ships of war. The great city seemed to be doomed to capture; for the ships which might, by a prompt attack, have destroyed the almost defenceless Roman fleet, and so enabled the place to be re-victualled, returned to harbour after a vain and joyous demonstration. An attack on the harbour-side of the city, in which the Roman battering-rams were used on the walls with much effect, was foiled through a daring sortie which drove off the foe and burned the works and engines. Scipio, in the winter of 147, when the siege had continued over two years, cut off the food-supplies by an attack on outside allies of Carthage, and the population were soon in a starving condition, the garrison alone being fed by Hasdrubal from the public stores. Early in 146 the war-harbour was taken by the Romans, who made their way into the neighbouring market-place, and then the Upper City was attacked by an advance along the three streets of six-storied houses leading thither. Incessant and desperate resistance could not prevent the storming of house after house, and the buildings, by Scipio's order, were fired, with the destruction of numbers of old people and children who had hidden themselves. For six days and nights, with relief-parties, the Romans fought on, and then terms of surrender were sought and granted. The wife of Hasdrubal slew her two children in sight of Scipio and his men, after cursing her husband, and flung their bodies into the flames of a burning temple, following their fall with her own leap to death. 50,000 men and women were taken, the remnant of ten times that number of citizens and soldiers who had dwelt in the splendid commercial city at the beginning of the siege. Thus fell, to rise no more, Carthage the city and Carthage the state after seven centuries of greatness. It was the year 146 b.c., which saw also, as related, the fall of Corinth. Carthage, or what was spared after a conflagration lasting 17 days, was razed to the ground. Augustus, the first emperor, erected a new city on the site, and this became the first city of Africa, important in ecclesiastical and in civil history, until its destruction by the Saracens seven centuries after the beginning of the Christian era. The territory of the ancient Carthage, which now disappears from history, became the Roman province of "Africa," nearly corresponding to the modern Tunis and Tripoli. The conqueror, Scipio, received the title of "Africanus Minor," or "the lesser man of Africa," in distinction from "Africanus Major," the victor of Zama.

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