Third Punic War

Third Punic War
Part of the Punic Wars
Catapulta by Edward Poynter.jpg
Catapulta by Edward Poynter. Roman siege engine in action during the siege of Carthage in the Third Punic War.
Date149–146 BC
(3 years)
Location
Result

Decisive Roman victory

  • Destruction of Carthage
Belligerents
Spqrstone.jpg Roman RepublicCarthage standard.svg Carthage
Commanders and leaders
Scipio Aemilianus
Manius Manilius
Lucius Marcius Censorius
Calpurnius Piso
Hasdrubal the Boeotarch
Himilco Phameas
Bythias
Diogenes
Strength
80,000 infantry[1]
4,000 cavalry[1]
30,000 soldiers[2]
Casualties and losses
150,000[3]–250,000[4] killed,
50,000 survivors enslaved[5]

The Third Punic War (Latin: Tertium Bellum Punicum) (149–146 BC) was the third and last of the Punic Wars fought between the former Phoenician colony of Carthage and the Roman Republic. The Punic Wars were named because of the Roman name for Carthaginians: Punici, or Poenici.[6]

This war was a much smaller engagement than the two previous Punic Wars and focused on Tunisia, mainly on the Siege of Carthage, which resulted in the complete destruction of the city, the annexation of all remaining Carthaginian territory by Rome, and the death or enslavement of the entire Carthaginian population. The Third Punic War ended Carthage's independent existence, though the Punic language continued to be spoken in northern Africa until the 5th century AD.[7]

Background

In the years between the Second and Third Punic War, Rome was engaged in the conquest of the Hellenistic empires and also of the Illyrian tribes to the east, and suppressing the Hispanian peoples in the west, although they had been essential to the Roman success in the Second Punic War. Carthage, stripped of allies and territory (Sicily, Sardinia, Hispania), was suffering under a large indemnity of 200 silver talents to be paid every year for 50 years.

According to Appian, the senator Cato the Elder usually finished his speeches on any subject in the Senate with the phrase ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam, which means "Moreover, I am of the opinion that Carthage ought to be destroyed". Cicero attributed a similar statement to Cato in his dialogue De Senectute.[8] He was opposed by the senator Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum, who favoured a different course that would not destroy Carthage, and who usually prevailed in the debates.

The peace treaty at the end of the Second Punic War required that all border disputes involving Carthage be arbitrated by the Roman Senate and required Carthage to get explicit Roman approval before going to war. As a result, in the 50 intervening years between the Second and Third Punic War, Carthage had to take all border disputes with Rome's ally Numidia to the Roman Senate, where they were decided almost exclusively in Numidian favour.

In 151 BC, the Carthaginian debt to Rome was fully repaid, meaning that, in Punic eyes, the treaty was now expired,[9][10] though not so according to the Romans, who instead viewed the treaty as a permanent declaration of Carthaginian subordination to Rome akin to the Roman treaties with its Italian allies. Moreover, the retirement of the indemnity removed one of the main incentives the Romans had to keep the peace with Carthage – there were no further payments that might be interrupted.

The Romans had other reasons to conquer Carthage and her remaining territories.[10][11][12] By the middle of the 2nd century BC, the population of the city of Rome was about 400,000 and rising. Feeding the growing populace was becoming a major challenge. The farmlands surrounding Carthage represented the most productive, most accessible and perhaps the most easily obtainable agricultural lands not yet under Roman control.[citation needed]