Third Punic War

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Fall of the Carthaginian Empire. Rome gain full control of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Third Punic War (Latin: Tertium Bellum Punicum) (149 BC to 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.[1]

The war was a much smaller engagement than the two previous Punic Wars and primarily consisted of a single main action, the Battle of Carthage, but resulted in the complete destruction of the city of Carthage, 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.



In the years between the Second and Third Punic War, Rome was engaged in the conquest of the Hellenistic empires to the east (see Macedonian Wars, Illyrian Wars, and the Roman-Syrian War) and ruthlessly 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 huge indemnity of 200 silver talents to be paid every year for 50 years.

According to Appian the senator Cato usually finished his speeches on any subject in the Senate with the phrase ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam, which means "Furthermore, it is my opinion that Carthage must be destroyed", a position earlier cited by Cicero in his dialogue De Senectute.[2] He was opposed by the senator Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum, who favoured a different course, one that would not destroy Carthage, and who usually convinced the Senate.

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 fifty 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 favor.

In 151 BC, the Carthaginian debt to Rome was fully repaid, meaning that, in Punic eyes, the treaty was now expired[citation needed], 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.

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