Third Punic War

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Third Punic War lasted from 149 to 146 BC. BC and was the last conflict between the two powers Rome and Carthage . The fighting was mainly limited to the siege of Carthage and ended with the destruction of the city and the enslavement of its inhabitants by the Romans.

Prehistory and beginning of the war

After the Second Punic War was lost , around 190 BC A flourishing trade, intensive plantation economy and Hannibal's domestic political reforms brought about an unexpected economic recovery of the Carthaginian state in Rome . This went so far that Carthage was willing to repay all of its remaining reparations to the Romans at once. Rome refused, knowing full well that Carthage remained dependent on Rome. Carthage also conscientiously fulfilled its alliance obligation towards Rome and contributed six ships to the Roman fleet in the conflict against the Seleucids .

The Romans had given the Carthaginians in 201 BC. BC prohibited waging war against Rome without express permission. What made Carthage particularly troublesome was the constant threat posed by Numidia . If border disputes arose, Rome called on the scene, which always sided with Numidia. In view of Massinissa's expansionary policy of Numidia, the political class of Carthage finally split into a party that was decidedly hostile to Rome and into those willing to reach understanding who saw no chance of opposing the only remaining Mediterranean great power. At the same time there was a growing number of politicians in the Roman Senate who tried to bring about a war with Carthage; these seem to have encouraged the Numidians to attack the Punians.

After Massinissa's new raids on Carthaginian territory, Carthage finally struck back without Rome's permission to go to war. Between about 160 and 155 a certain Karthalo invaded an area that Massinissa had illegally occupied. For several years, raids on both sides followed, until the Romans sided with Massinissa as usual. Massinissa then occupied the so-called Great Plains and the area of Thugga .

At the insistence of the Carthaginians, a Roman commission under the leadership of Marcus Porcius Cato the Elder appeared in Africa . The Commission asked both parties to submit to their decision in advance. While Massinissa agreed, Carthage refused. So the commission returned to Rome without having achieved anything. This rebellion made Cato one of the most ardent proponents for the destruction of Carthage. He is said to have made the famous sentence: Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam ( Incidentally, I am of the opinion that Carthage must be destroyed ), which he is said to have uttered for years after each of his speeches, even if they had a different topic. Later Roman tradition claims that the Scipions , especially Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum , were against the destruction of Carthage, in order to keep the Roman people always on guard. This kind of debate gives an idea of ​​the great concern in Rome that the old enemy would regain strength, especially in 151 BC. The last installment of Carthage's war compensation would have been due.

The violation of the peace treaty of 201 BC BC by the Carthaginians as casus belli (reason for war) finally came 151/150 BC. The prelude was the banishment of the Numidier-friendly leaders from Carthage. They went to Masinissa, who sent two of his sons to Carthage to demand that the exiles be recalled. When these were rejected, a war broke out between Massinissa and Carthage, which was opposed by an army of 25,000 men under Hasdrubal . Initially, Massinissa was forced to retreat, but eventually he succeeded in surrounding the Carthaginian camp. The Carthaginians had to surrender. They promised to pay war indemnity but were ambushed after leaving the camp. Those responsible for the war against Massinissa were sentenced to death by the Carthaginians, but Hasdrubal escaped and began to raise troops around the city. Around this time Utica fell away from the Carthaginians and submitted to the Romans.

Even before the Carthaginian defeat, the Roman Senate decided in 150 BC. The annihilation of the Carthaginian Empire. Five Carthaginian emissaries appeared in Rome in order to submit to the Romans in all form. Instead, they learned that war had been declared and that the fleet and army were already on their way.

Course of war

Early 149 BC A Roman navy started moving towards Carthage. Carthage tried everything to prevent the conflict. At first, the Romans gave the impression that they were ready to negotiate and kept setting new conditions. The desperate Carthaginians initially responded to all of the demands of the Romans, they initially provided 300 noble hostages and then delivered all weapons. Thirdly, however, when the Romans demanded that the Carthaginians leave their own city, destroy it and settle at least 80 stadiums (about 15 km) from the sea, the inhabitants of Carthage, with the courage of desperation, decided to resist.

The fighting between Rome and Carthage began in 149 BC. In the first year the command on the Roman side was held by the consuls Manius Manilius (for the army) and Lucius Marcius Censorinus (for the fleet). The year 149 brought the Romans an unexpected number of defeats and losses. Complete enclosure of Carthage has not yet been achieved. In addition, the old ally of Rome, the Numid king Massinissa, died .

Siege of Carthage by Scipio

In 148 BC Then the Romans tried to cut off the besieged Carthaginians from their domestic allies and to subdue the latter gradually. Their commanders were now the consul Lucius Calpurnius Piso and (for the fleet) the legate Hostilius Mancinus . Significant progress was not achieved this year either.

Hasdrubal, who had caused the Roman declaration of war through his actions against Massinissa, was able to assert himself in the country and send supplies to Carthage. In the city, the command lay with another Hasdrubal, who was a grandson of Massinissa on his mother's side. One day he was ambushed and killed in the Senate building. Hasdrubal was now called from within the country. He ended his actions in the hinterland and withdrew into the walls of the city to await the decisive storm.

The war did not turn around until under the command of Scipio , who was responsible for the year 147 BC. Was elected consul and was now in command of Africa. Only now was Carthage consistently besieged: the city was sealed off from the inland by two walls, and its access to the sea was blocked with a dam. After the destruction of the last Carthaginian fleet of 50 ships, the port area of ​​Carthage was conquered and the city was finally cut off from all supplies. In a battle near the city of Nepheris , the Carthaginian army was destroyed by Scipio, and the city itself was besieged and taken. Thereupon the remaining allies of Carthage ran over to Rome, so that Carthage was now completely on its own.

Hasdrubal reacted to the Roman advances with the toughest measures. Prisoners were taken to the wall, tortured in front of their comrades, and then thrown into the depths. Carthaginians who objected to this were executed.

The Scipios command was established for 146 BC. And in the same year the storming of Carthage took place. After six days of tough street fighting, in which large parts of the city were destroyed, on February 5, 50,000 survivors of the formerly estimated 500,000 inhabitants surrendered to the Romans. Hasdrubal fought on with 900 Roman deserters in the vicinity of the Eschmun temple before surrendering to Scipio.

Scipio allowed his troops to sack the city. All Carthaginians who took up arms were sold into slavery . After its conquest, Rome let the city drag .

The Greek historian Polybios took part in the siege of Carthage as an advisor to Scipios and thus reported first hand about the events in his work.

The story from the late 19th century that salt was spread on Carthage's land to make the area sterile is not supported by ancient sources. In Appian, for example, there is no evidence of soil salination; However, the author writes of an old curse on the site of Carthage (App. 20, 136).


The Carthaginian area became the Roman province of Africa proconsularis and initially only played a subordinate role in the Roman Empire. On the initiative of Gaius Iulius Caesar was 46 BC. BC the re-establishment of Carthage as Colonia Iulia Concordia Carthago decided, but only started under Augustus . During the imperial era , Roman Carthage quickly became one of the most important cities on the Mediterranean again.

Sources on the Third Punic War

See also


Roman-Carthaginian Wars in general

  • Klaus Zimmermann : Carthage - the rise and fall of a great power . Theiss-Verlag, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-8062-2281-4 .
  • Klaus Zimmermann: Rome and Carthage . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-15496-7
  • Herbert Heftner : The Rise of Rome. From the Pyrrhic War to the fall of Carthage (280–146 BC). 2nd improved edition. Pustet, Regensburg 2005, ISBN 3-7917-1563-1 .
  • Nigel Bagnall: Rome and Carthage. The struggle for the Mediterranean . German revised edition by Michael Redies. Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-88680-489-5 , (English original edition, London 1990).
  • BH Warmington: Carthage. The rise and fall of a world power . Title of the original English edition: Carthago . Robert Hale Ltd., London 1960. Translation from English by Paul Baudisch. FA Brockhaus, Wiesbaden 1964

Third Roman-Carthaginian War

  • Heinz Bellen : Metus Gallicus - Metus Punicus. On the fear motive in the Roman Republic . Steiner-Verlag-Wiesbaden-GmbH, Stuttgart 1985, ISBN 3-515-04557-0 , ( Academy of Sciences and Literature, Mainz - Treatises of the humanities and social sciences class 1985, 3).
  • Matthias Gelzer : Nasica's opposition to the destruction of Carthage . In: Philologus 86, 1931, ISSN  0031-7985 , pp. 261-299.
  • Wilhelm Hoffmann : The Roman politics of the 2nd century and the end of Carthage . In: Historia 9, 1960, ISSN  0018-2311 , pp. 309-344, (also in: Richard Klein (Ed.): Das Staatssehen der Römer . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1966, ( Paths of Research 46), p. 178 -230).
  • Karl-Wilhelm Welwei : On the Metus Punicus in Rome around 150 BC. Chr. In: Hermes 117, 1989, pp. 314-320.

Web links