Subjugating the south of the Apennine Peninsula. The Roman Republic extended its borders to the Strait of Messina, which separated it from the island of Sicily. The existing Greek colonies here by the IV-III centuries BC turned into flourishing cities, which caused the envy of warlike neighbors, and above all Rome.
By the third century BC, Syracuse was particularly strong, subjugating most of the island to its influence. Messina was also famous, located on the shore of the strait that separates Sicily from the Apennine Peninsula. The Greek cities have long been in hostile relations with the powerful Carthage. The Carthaginians firmly established themselves in the western part of the island, strongly fortified the cities of Lilybaeum, Drepana, Panormus, turning them into strongholds of their domination and expansion in the fight against the Greeks.
Having seized the Apennine Peninsula, Rome began to interfere in Sicilian affairs, which hurt the interests of Carthage first of all. As one of the most powerful states in the Western Mediterranean, Carthage viewed Sicily as a zone of influence, gradually pushing back the weakening Greek cities.
Until 264 BC, Rome and Carthage were in peaceful relations. Trade and navigation were regulated by special treaties, of which, according to Polybius, there were three. The third treaty of 280 BC concerned not only trade relations between Rome and Carthage, but also political relations. As long as Rome was occupied with the conquest of the Apennine Peninsula, and Carthage with the conquest of North Africa, their interests did not clash. However, after the Roman invasion of Southern Italy, the situation changed. The Roman Republic developed into a strong state, claiming to dominate not only the Apennine Peninsula, but also the neighboring territories, primarily the large islands of the Mediterranean, in particular the rich Sicily. These claims inevitably led to a clash with Carthage, which was concerned about the strengthening and expansion of Rome. The battle between the two powers over the division of spheres of influence became inevitable.
Aggressive actions were initiated by the Carthaginians. In 272 BC, during the siege of Tarentum by Roman troops, a Carthaginian military squadron entered the harbor in defiance of the treaty between Rome and Carthage and attempted to take possession of the city. However, this attempt was not successful. The Tarentum nobles chose to give the city to the Romans. The Carthaginians were forced to apologize, but there was no trace of friendly relations between Rome and Carthage. The parties began to prepare for an open clash.
Soon the occasion presented itself for the opening of hostilities. The Romans accepted Messana’s offer of assistance in the local war of Messana and Syracuse.
Crossing into Sicily, the Romans forced the Syracusans and the Carthaginians who helped them to lift the siege of Messana, in an open battle they defeated the Carthaginian army on land, and then soon the army of Syracuse. Their affairs went so well that within a year they approached the walls of Syracuse and forced the tyrant Hiero to conclude a peace treaty, under which he became an “ally” of Rome, paid a monetary contribution and pledged to supply the Roman troops with food.
The peace with Hiero and the capture of Messana strengthened the position of the Romans in Sicily: They could now land their troops on the island without hindrance, and the difficult issue of providing the troops with supplies was resolved.
In 262 BC, the Romans marched on the city of Acraganthus, which had been turned into a strong fortress by the Carthaginians. After a six-month siege, Akragant fell, and the Carthaginian forces were pushed back to the western corner of the island, where the heavily fortified Carthaginian naval bases were located: Panormus, Lilybaeum, and Drepana. Well protected by land, they had strong garrisons and were plentifully supplied by sea with everything they needed.
The Carthaginian fleet, which dominated the sea, landing troops in the most defenseless places of Sicily and the Apennine Peninsula, caused significant damage to the Romans.
For the successful conduct of the war, Rome needed a strong fleet capable of resisting the Carthaginian one. Rome, having mobilized all the resources of the Italian allies, primarily the Greek cities of Southern Italy, already in 260 BC had a fleet of 120 warships. Ready to engage the Carthaginian squadrons, the ships arrived in Sicily.
The Carthaginians, renowned navigators, with their fast ships, despised the Roman fleet with what they thought were ill-trained crews and clumsy vessels. In the first encounter of a small Roman squadron with Carthaginian ships, the Carthaginians easily won (the clash at the Lipari Islands in 260 BC). After this, the Carthaginian commander willingly gave a decisive battle at Milah. In this battle, the famous Carthaginian fleet was defeated. Great help to the Romans was provided by the grappling hooks and bridges invented by their shipbuilders, which were thrown over to the enemy ship: the ships grappled, legionaries ran over the bridges and captured the enemy ship.
Building on the success of the land and sea forces, the Romans decided to attack the enemy on his own territory, i.e. to transfer the war to Africa. They equipped a huge fleet of 330 warships. The Carthaginians made an attempt to prevent the Romans from crossing into Africa. The new Carthaginian fleet of 350 ships met the Roman fleet at Cape Ecnomus (256 BC), near the southern coast of Sicily. However, the Romans defeated the Carthaginians and opened their way to Africa.
The Roman army landed near Carthage, subdued numerous small towns and settlements, and laid siege to Carthage itself. The Romans were so confident of success that they withdrew most of the fleet and half of the army from Africa. The Carthaginians asked for peace, but the Roman consul Atilius Regulus offered difficult terms. The Carthaginians rejected them and decided to defend themselves to the last strength. New mercenary units were recruited, citizens and dependent Africans were mobilized, and an experienced professional Spartan commander, Xanthippus, was invited to command the army. During the winter, he managed to turn a motley army into a trained army, and by the beginning of the spring campaign, he boldly led it against the Romans. Xanthippus, after defeating the Romans, captured the Consul Regulus. To complete this terrible defeat, the Roman fleet, which was rushing to the rescue of the army, was lost in a storm.
The Romans, who had come so close to victory in 256 BC, were now further from it than they had been at the beginning of the war. Having lost the strategic initiative, they had to equip both new troops and a new fleet.
The fighting was again transferred to Sicily, and the second stage of the war began (255-242 BC). It is characterized by a certain balance of the belligerents: success accompanied either Rome or Carthage. For example, in 254 BC, the Romans captured one of the main fortresses of the Carthaginians, Panormus, but the following year a violent storm destroyed the Roman fleet. The treasury was empty, and it was difficult to equip new ships.
Military operations on land centered around Lilybaeum, which was besieged by the Romans. The siege was prolonged, as the Romans could not prevent the supply of the city from the sea. The attempt of the Roman fleet to defeat the Carthaginian fleet at the battle of Drepana failed, and the fleet equipped in the following year, 248 BC, was again caught in a storm and lost. The Carthaginian ships now plied the sea without hindrance. Since that time, the situation of the ground forces has also improved somewhat. Appointed to Sicily, the Carthaginian commander-in-chief, Hamilcar Barca, skilfully conducted military operations, alarmed the Romans in many battles, undertook bold raids on ships to the Apennine Peninsula and ravaged the coast.
Both sides were war-weary. The Romans ‘ position was somewhat better: they had most of Sicily in their hands, and their army was blocking the last Carthaginian strongholds —Lilybaeum and Drepana. However, without a fleet, this advantageous strategic position could not be used to the end, and there was no money in the Roman treasury for the construction of ships. Then the Romans turned to the last resort: the wealthiest citizens were subjected to an extraordinary tax in such an amount that they could equip 200 warships with the funds they received.
The new Roman fleet went to Sicily and in a fierce battle at the Aegatic Islands in 241 BC completely defeated the Carthaginian squadron. The Romans could now block the land-besieged Lilybaeum and Drepana from the sea. The fall of these strongholds was a matter of time.
Carthage asked for peace, which was concluded in 241 BC. e. Its conditions were difficult: the Carthaginians had to completely clear Sicily, pay an indemnity of 3,200 talents of silver (about 84 tons of silver), and hand over all Roman prisoners without ransom.
Taking advantage of the difficult situation of Carthage, weakened by war, as well as the uprising of mercenaries and local dependent population in 241-238 BC, the Romans freely seized the islands of Sardinia and Corsica belonging to Carthage and organized the first Roman provinces there. Rome became the strongest state in the Western Mediterranean.
Having achieved political equality and partly the right to participate in public life, the Roman plebs began to play a prominent role in the state. The importance of people’s assemblies — tributary comitia-has increased. In some cases, especially in critical situations, they determined the policy of the Roman state, while the aristocratic senate listens to the voice of the comitii. In 264 BC, when the most important question was decided — whether to declare war on Carthage or not, the comitii had the last word.
In 242 BC, when there was no money in the Roman treasury and the war was at a standstill, a new fleet was built by the efforts of Roman citizenship, which snatched the final victory from Carthage, and Lutatius Catulus, who was not born and associated with democratic elements, was elected consul. The Senate, which reflected the interests of the nobility, the large landowners who had land in Italy, was reserved for overseas conquests, the people’s Assembly was more aggressive and insisted on a more active foreign policy, since the Roman plebs wanted to improve their affairs by conquering new lands. When the terms of the peace treaty with the defeated Carthage were being worked out, the People’s Assembly sent a special commission to the place of hostilities — to Sicily, and this commission demanded that the Carthaginians ‘ additional obligations be included in the treaty.
Especially many benefits promised the acquisition of new overseas territories, the destruction of the trade monopoly of Carthage to the emerging class of Roman horsemen-medium-sized landowners, merchants, businessmen and usurers. They were also supported by a part of the Roman nobility connected with trade, which also hoped to enrich itself through the spoils of war. In other words, aggressive politics found more supporters than opponents. Their efforts brought to an end the difficult 2nd war with Carthage.
The increased political importance of the plebs in the people’s assemblies led to the democratization of the state system.
Gaius Flaminius Nepos was at the head of the plebs ‘ movement in Rome from 232 to 217 BC. Relying on the support of the reformed comitii, he passed in 232 BC, despite the resistance of the Senate, an important law for small farmers on the division of the northern part of Picenum (the so-called Gallic field) into small plots and gave them to the poor plebeians, which gained great popularity among the Roman plebs. Despite the opposition of the Senate, which hated the popular figure, Gaius Flaminius was elected to the highest public offices: consul (in 223 and 217 AD).; the election of a single person to a consulship twice in Rome was exceptionally rare) and a censor (220 BC), which indicates the political power of the popular assembly.
Under the influence of Flaminius, in 218 BC, the tribune of the people, Claudius, proposed a law prohibiting senators from owning merchant ships, and therefore from engaging in legal trade: senators had to engage in agriculture, and trade, usury, and various financial transactions passed into the hands of the equestrian class. By enacting this law, Flaminius dealt a sensitive blow to the Roman nobility, while gaining the support of wealthy horsemen.
Relying on the horsemen and the plebs, Flaminius develops great activity. He took the initiative to organize aggressive campaigns in Northern Italy, inhabited by militant Celtic tribes. The capture of this area was dictated by many considerations: the annexation of the most fertile valley of the Po would reduce the land hunger of the Roman peasantry, without violating the existing land ownership of the nobility. On the other hand, the numerous Celtic tribes in Northern Italy, within a few marches of Rome, were a constant threat to the Roman Republic. The Romans could not begin a decisive battle with Carthage without securing a strong rear.
Northern Italy, or, as the Romans called it, Cisalpine Gaul (from Lat. cis — “before”, on this side), i.e. Gaul on this side of the Alps, in contrast to Gaul Transalpine, i.e. Gaul located on the other side of the Alps (modern. France, Switzerland, Belgium, etc.), in the third century BC was inhabited by Celtic tribes. Beyond the Po River, in its upper reaches, lived the Lai and the Lebenii, and closer to the sea, the largest tribe of Insubras and Cenomani were established. South of the Po River, from its source towards the sea, the powerful Boii, the Lingon and Senon tribes settled. The Cisalpine Gauls were closely associated with the Transalpine Gauls, who took part in the conquests of Rome.
So, in 238 BC, the Boii invited the Transalpine Gezates and began a campaign against the Romans, who were greatly weakened by the Punic War. Fortunately for Rome, just before the campaign, the Gauls of Cisalpine and Transalpine quarreled and an internecine war broke out between them. The attack on Rome did not take place.
In 232 BC, the Gauls, dissatisfied with the fact that the Romans had brought the colonies to the “Gallic field”, re-united and, crossing the Apennines, found themselves in close proximity to Rome. However, in the bloody battle of Telamon, the Celtic army was surrounded and completely defeated.
Building on this success, the Roman army easily occupied the entire territory of Gaul, up to the Po River. In 223 BC, the Romans crossed the Po and invaded the territory of the powerful Insubrians. In the Battle of Placentia, the Insubrians were defeated, and in 222 BC their main center, the city of Mediolan, was taken by assault. Milan).
In 220 BC, the Romans brought the well-paved Flaminia Road to the conquered area, which provided an uninterrupted connection between Northern Italy and Rome and a quick transfer of troops. In 218 BC, the Romans brought their colonies to Placentia and Cremona, which later turned into flourishing cities that became the center of Roman domination and influence in this area.
Carthage was weakened by defeat in the 1st Punic War, but not broken. He retained his possessions in Africa, and continued to increase his wealth from intensive trade. The Carthaginians quickly paid the indemnity and began to prepare hard for war with Rome. At the head of the military party, eager for revenge, was the hero of the 1st Punic War, the general and subtle diplomat Hamilcar Barca. There was another group in Carthage that was jealous of the power of Barca and advocated peaceful relations with Rome. But its importance in the political life of Carthage was small.
Hamilcar developed an unexpected, at first glance utopian, strategic plan for preparing for war. He understood that the Romans wanted to impose war on Carthage on its own territory, landing troops in Africa, following the example of Regulus, and thereby putting Carthage in a very difficult position, since in Africa, except for Carthage and Utica, there were no fortified cities and all of it could become easy prey for the enemy. Only an offensive war, a war on enemy territory, could bring success. And it was necessary to choose the most vulnerable point for Rome on the territory of Italy. Such an area was Cisalpine Gaul. It was here that the Carthaginians could count on the support of the powerful Gauls, constant opponents of Rome since the end of the fifth century and waging fierce wars with it in 230-220 BC.
Hamilcar intended to attack Rome by land from Iberia. The Iberian Peninsula was known to the Phoenicians and Carthaginians for its fertility, abundance of minerals, especially silver. Here lived numerous warlike tribes of Iberians, Celtiberians and Celts, from which it was possible to recruit brave mercenaries.
Therefore, in order to prepare for a decisive war with Rome, it was necessary to firmly settle in Iberia and, having established strong bases there, begin a campaign against Rome.
Hamilcar Barca went to Iberia in 237 BC. e. He had to face fierce resistance from the freedom-loving Iberians. With the help of force and diplomacy, Hamilcar and his successors managed to capture most of the peninsula south of the Ebro River, train and harden a large mercenary army, replenish the treasury, and establish a strong base-the heavily fortified city of New Carthage. Cartagena). Hamilcar, who died during the war with the Iberians, was replaced by his son-in-law Hasdrubal.
Rome closely watched the events in Iberia and in 226 BC, in an effort to put a limit to Carthaginian expansion further north of Iberia, forced Hasdrubal to conclude a treaty by which he obliged the Carthaginians not to cross north of the Ebro River. Following this, the Romans, who had begun a dangerous war with the Gauls, relaxed their attention to Iberian affairs, and the Carthaginians were given greater freedom of action. Soon Hasdrubal also died in the fight against the Iberians. The Carthaginian army declared its leader the eldest of the sons of Hamilcar Barca — Hannibal (247-183 BC).
The new Carthaginian commander-in-chief, Hannibal, believed that the Romans, weakened by the recent war with the Celts, would not be able to raise a strong army, and therefore decided to launch military operations. In 219 BC, he besieged and took the heavily fortified city of Saguntum on the eastern coast of Iberia, which was an ally of Rome, which was the reason for the war. In the following year, 218 BC, Hannibal led his army into Italy, thus beginning the implementation of his father’s plans.
After learning of Hannibal’s campaign, the Romans did not take decisive action to prevent his movement. The Roman army was disunited.
Hannibal passed through Northern Iberia unhindered and began to advance through Southern Gaul to the river Rodan (Rhone), approaching the Alps. With the numerous tribes through whose territory he passed, Hannibal either concluded peace treaties or fought. The Romans were not able to stop the movement of the Carthaginian army, even when crossing the wide river Rodan.
When the Romans reached the crossing, the Carthaginian army was already three days ‘ march away, heading for the Alpine passes into Italy. Only now did the Romans understand the danger of Hannibal’s plans. An urgent decision was made to join the two Roman armies and defend the northern regions with all their might. The Carthaginians managed to impose their own plan of warfare, which predetermined their advantage during its first period. In the autumn of 218 BC, the Carthaginian army, which had made an unprecedented transition in history from Spain to Italy, descended from the Alps into the fertile Po Valley. The goal of the campaign was achieved, but at a high price. If at the beginning of the campaign Hannibal had about 80 thousand infantry, 10 thousand cavalry and 37 elephants, then in Italy he brought only 20 thousand infantry, 6 thousand cavalry and a few elephants.
The Consul Publius Scipio made an attempt to detain Hannibal. Without waiting for the approach of another consul with the greater part of the army, he gave battle to Hannibal at the river Ticinus (modern. Ticino) and was defeated. The Roman army retreated to the city of Placentia, where it joined the fresh troops that were approaching. Hannibal managed to force the battle this time as well. Catching the combined Roman army by surprise as it crossed the Trebia River, he defeated it in a fierce battle (Battle of the Trebia, winter 218 BC). Most of Cisalpine Gaul rebelled against Rome, and Hannibal became master of Northern Italy. During the winter of 218/217 BC, he created a new army from the Celts: over 60 thousand infantry and 4 thousand cavalry joined the Carthaginian army, which now numbered as many soldiers as it was at the beginning of the campaign in Spain. Hannibal decided to invade the territory of Central Italy and, raising the Italians conquered by Rome to revolt, isolate and defeat Rome. The Romans elected Gaius Flaminius, popular among the people, who was famous for his victories over the Celts, as consul.
In the spring of 217 BC, Roman legions led by Flaminius took up a fortified position in the mountain passes of the Apennine Mountains, hoping to detain Hannibal. However, Hannibal, having passed through the Apennines and through the swamps of the valley of the river Arnus (Arno), bypassed the positions of Flaminius, went to the rear of the Roman army. He threatened the city of Rome itself. Flaminius rushed after the Carthaginians, trying to cover the capital. Using the haste of Flaminius, Hannibal set up an ambush on the road along the shore of Lake Trasimene, along which the military columns were moving. The Romans were surrounded and defeated. Flaminius himself died (spring 217). B.C.).
In view of the extreme danger, the Romans elected a dictator-the old, experienced and cautious Fabius Maximus-and took measures to defend the city. But Hannibal did not march on Rome. He chose another route: he went to the coast of the Adriatic Sea and went to the rich Apulia, where he rested his army.
The Roman dictator Fabius, avoiding a decisive battle, followed the Carthaginian army at its heels, exhausting it in small skirmishes. Hannibal wanted a decisive battle, he needed a victory to persuade the Roman allies to fall away from Rome. Hannibal deliberately released the captured Italians without ransom, did not ruin their regions, trying in every possible way to show that he was not fighting against the Italians, but against Rome. From Apulia he advanced slowly to Samnium, and from Samnium to Campania, winning over the Italians. But Hannibal’s attempts had so far failed: the Roman-Italian alliance stood the test. Fabius prudently avoided a decisive battle. Moreover, he managed to lock the Carthaginian army in one of the Campanian gorges, near Casilina, and only the military cunning and exceptional generalship of Hannibal helped the Carthaginians to escape from the encirclement.
The situation of Hannibal gradually deteriorated: his forces were melting, the population was hostile, the Roman army began to control the situation. However, the cautious tactics of Fabius and the ruin of small farmers began to cause complaints in Rome. The democratic circles of the popular assembly demanded decisive action, and in 216 BC the experienced military commander Lucius Aemilius Paulus and the popular supporter of decisive action Gaius Terentius Varro were elected consuls. At the head of the combined army, numbering 80 thousand infantry and 6-7 thousand cavalry, the consuls in the summer of 216 BC. near the town of Cannae met with the Carthaginian army of Hannibal. Hannibal had almost half as many forces: 40 thousand infantry and 14 thousand cavalry. Despite the objections of Aemilius Paulus, Terentius Varro, relying on the numerical superiority of the forces, deployed troops for the battle, regardless of the fact that the wide plain allowed his opponent to use the advantage in cavalry. Hannibal moved the center towards the enemy, where he placed the weaker parts of the Celts, and on the flanks he placed selected troops, lined up in deep columns. When the Romans struck at the advanced center of the enemy and began to press it, they gradually drew into the bag between the Carthaginian flanks. The encirclement was completed by a strong Carthaginian cavalry, which drove back the enemy’s horsemen and fell from the rear on the legionary infantry. Once surrounded, the legions tried to resist, forming a circle, but they crowded and interfered with each other. Soon, the battle turned into a beating. Most of the Romans were slaughtered or captured. The Battle of Cannes is considered a classic example of the art of war for the complete encirclement and destruction of a large enemy by a smaller army.
The moral and political significance of Hannibal’s victory was very great. “The victory,” Plutarch wrote, ” dramatically changed the position of Hannibal… now he became the master of almost all of Italy. Most of the most important tribes voluntarily submitted to him, Capua — the first city in Italy after Rome-opened its gates to him.”
A subtle diplomat, Hannibal, using the victory, tried to create an anti-Roman coalition. In 215 BC, he concluded a treaty with the Macedonian king Philip V, who pledged to invade Italy. Hannibal won over the Syracusan state and some of the Greek cities in Sicily. Rome was surrounded by enemies.
In the face of such a formidable danger, the Roman government took vigorous measures. The internal strife between the Democratic Party and the Senate has stopped. Supporters of decisive military action, having suffered a number of defeats, lost political authority, and the influence of the Senate increased dramatically. With promises and threats, Rome managed to maintain the loyalty of a larger number of Latin and Italian allies. New troops were assembled. Even slaves bought by the state had to be included in their composition. The invasion of the Macedonian king was prevented by diplomatic means. The Romans supported the Aetolian Alliance against Macedonia and forced Philip V to fight in Greece. The new legions were led by the experienced Fabius Maximus and the determined Claudius Marcellus.
Since 215, a new stage of the war has begun, which can generally be defined as a stage of relative equilibrium. The Romans abandoned the idea of achieving victory in a decisive battle and bet on a long war, designed to exhaust the enemy’s forces. They divided their army into several units that had to act independently, one of them was to block Hannibal in Italy, preventing his further success, the other was sent to Sicily (having captured Sicily, G Annibal could establish close ties with distant Carthage, which would bring him out of isolation, because the Romans so valued Sicily). The third army was operating in Iberia and was pinning down the Carthaginian forces led by Hannibal’s brother, Hasdrubal. Gradually, Hannibal’s communications with his main bases were cut off, and his Italian army was cut off and doomed to destruction. His mercenary troops, not prepared for a long war, could not maintain morale for a long time. The Romans succeeded in bringing the Italian allies to submission, for whom the Carthaginian rule was no less difficult than the Roman one. In addition, the Senate began to pursue a more lenient policy towards even fallen allies. The Romans managed to win several minor skirmishes in Italy, and in 211 BC besieged and took the largest city of Sicily, Syracuse.
Having captured Sicily, the Romans cut off Hannibal from Carthage, blocked all connections of the enemy capital with its victorious commander.
In turn, Hannibal dealt Rome a few more sensitive blows. In 214 BC, at the Battle of Apulia, he defeated an army under Fulvius, defeated Marcellus at the Battle of Canusia (212 BC), took the important port of Tarentum in the same year, and continued to ravage Southern Italy.
The struggle in Iberia went on with varying success. The Romans in 214-212 BC managed to push the Carthaginians into the coastal cities, but in the battle on the Ebro River, the Roman troops were completely defeated, and all of Southern Iberia again passed to the Carthaginians.
The final turning point in favor of the Romans came only from 211 BC. e. It was associated with the capture of the rich and populous Capua that went over to the side of Hannibal in 216 BC.e. Capua was Hannibal’s base of operations. The loss of Capua left the Carthaginians facing disaster. To help the besieged city and force the Roman troops to lift the siege, Hannibal decided on a desperate step: he led his army to the city of Rome. Panic broke out among the Roman population. The words “Hannibal ante portas” have become proverbial. But Hannibal could not storm the heavily fortified city, and this, apparently, was not part of his plans. The Romans continued to besiege Capua and soon took the city. Hannibal’s demonstrative campaign against Rome ended in complete failure (211 BC).
In 210 BC, a new Roman army was sent to Spain, led by a young and talented general, Publius Cornelius Scipio, son of the consul of 218, Publius Cornelius Scipio. Scipio in 209 BC. e. a bold raid captured the main support base of the Carthaginian troops in Spain-New Carthage. After this defeat, Hasdrubal decided not to continue the fight for Spain, but to move to Italy to join the army of Hannibal.
The cautious Fabius, who diverted the main forces of Hannibal, by a bold maneuver and with the help of treason, captured the important coastal city of Tarentum (209 BC).
Hannibal’s military and political position in Italy continued to deteriorate. Although in 208 BC he managed to surround and destroy the Roman consuls who went on a reconnaissance — the famous Claudius Marcellus and Quinctius Crispinus, but this private success could not change the general course of military events. Sicily and Iberia were lost to the Carthaginians. The Italian allies, who had fallen away from Rome, again began to come over to his side. Hannibal’s mercenary army was melting away. Hasdrubal, moving from Iberia with a strong and much-needed reinforcement, was stopped at the Metaurus River and defeated (207 BC). Hannibal was firmly blockaded in southern Italy.
Publius Cornelius Scipio, who had returned from Spain, suggested that the Senate move the war to Africa, rightly believing that an invasion of Carthage would force Hannibal to quickly clear Italy and go to the defense of his native city.
In 204 BC, Scipio led an expeditionary force to land in Africa. As he expected, the Carthaginian rulers urgently recalled Hannibal from Italy, who left it undefeated in any major battle. Scipio defeated the Carthaginian army at the Battle of the Great Plains in 203 BC, and in the following year, 202 BC, he met the hitherto invincible Hannibal at the Battle of Zama. The Romans were greatly aided by the alliance of the Numidian king Masinis, who provided them with his excellent cavalry. Hannibal’s attempt to upset the Roman ranks with an elephant attack was unsuccessful. The Carthaginian infantry, fiercely resisting, held their ground for a long time, but the Numidian cavalry outflanked the Carthaginian battle lines and struck them in the rear.
Thus, in the battle of Zama, the situation of the battle of Cannae was repeated, only this time the Carthaginian army was defeated. Hannibal himself fled to Carthage and offered the city council to make peace on any terms.
Carthage had no money, no army, and further fighting could lead to the complete destruction of even the city itself. Therefore, the Carthaginian rulers capitulated (201 BC).
The Romans dictated difficult terms of peace. Carthage was deprived of all overseas possessions, the entire military fleet (500 ships), its territory was limited to a small urban district in Africa. Carthage lost the right to have a navy, could not fight wars without Rome’s permission, and had to pay a contribution of 10,000 talents for fifty years.
The Second Punic War is probably the heaviest, most dangerous war that Rome has waged in its entire history. Never did he stand so close to the possibility of destroying his statehood as during this terrible war. The ultimate victory of Rome was achieved by the utmost exertion of all the forces of society and the state.The NNO deteriorated: its forces were melting, the population was hostile, and the Roman army was beginning to control the situation. However, the cautious tactics of Fabius and the ruin of small farmers began to cause complaints in Rome. The democratic circles of the popular assembly demanded decisive action, and in 216 BC the experienced military commander Lucius Aemilius Paulus and the popular supporter of decisive action Gaius Terentius Varro were elected consuls. At the head of the combined army, numbering 80 thousand infantry and 6-7 thousand cavalry, the consuls in the summer of 216 BC near the town of Cannae met with the Carthaginian army of Hannibal. Hannibal had almost half as many forces: 40 thousand infantry and 14 thousand cavalry. Despite the objections of Aemilius Paulus, Terentius Varro, relying on the numerical superiority of the forces, deployed troops for the battle, regardless of the fact that the wide plain allowed his opponent to use the advantage in cavalry. Hannibal moved the center towards the enemy, where he placed the weaker parts of the Celts, and on the flanks he placed selected troops, lined up in deep columns. When the Romans struck at the advanced center of the enemy and began to press it, they gradually drew into the bag between the Carthaginian flanks. The encirclement was completed by a strong Carthaginian cavalry, which drove back the enemy’s horsemen and fell from the rear on the legionary infantry. Once surrounded, the legions tried to resist, forming a circle, but they crowded and interfered with each other. Soon, the battle turned into a beating. Most of the Romans were slaughtered or captured. The Battle of Cannes is considered a classic example of the art of war for the complete encirclement and destruction of a large enemy by a smaller army.
Analyzing the ratio of all the factors that determine the course of this terrible war, it is impossible not to be amazed how, with the overwhelming objective advantage of Rome over Carthage, the war turned out to be extremely difficult for Rome. This particular severity was determined by the fact that in addition to objective factors, especially at first, a subjective factor worked, namely, the military genius, will, skill and courage of one man — Hannibal, who made an oath in childhood to be an eternal and implacable enemy of Rome and fulfilled it until his last breath.
The 2nd Punic War proved to be a test of the strength and strength of the Roman-Italian Alliance. During the 17-year war, some of Rome’s allies defected to Hannibal, and many hesitated. After the war, Rome severely punished the fallen allies: confiscated their lands, deprived their cities of city rights, forbade their residents to carry weapons, etc. In general, Roman policy towards the allies became more brutal. The war devastated Italy, many farmers died in the battles, their plots lay uncultivated. From the punished Italians, from 1/3 to 2/3 of their land was taken away. This led to a sharp increase in the state land fund. The defeat of the rich Carthage, the seizure of overseas territories, and the enslavement of their inhabitants contributed to the spread of slave-owning relations in Italy.
The victory in the Hannibal War was also of great international importance. Having become the master of the Western Mediterranean, Rome became the strongest state of the Mediterranean world of that era. Soon the Romans turned their aggressive gaze to the east, where the Hellenistic monarchs, Alexander’s successors, exhausted themselves in continuous wars. Adroitly exploiting long-standing contradictions, Rome maintained the political discord between the Hellenistic states. The Roman Senate rightly believed that an alliance of Hellenistic rulers would be very dangerous for the Roman plans of conquest. Blinded by mutual hatred, Alexander’s successors underestimated the power of the new state, on the contrary, they tried to use it for their own selfish purposes, not realizing that by doing so they were approaching their inevitable death.
After the Hannibal War, Rome acquired many new territories outside of the Apennine Peninsula:
The Numidian kingdom and the Greek city of Massilia sought alliance and protection. Rome’s possessions now covered the entire Western Mediterranean. The Roman government was faced with the task of organizing the management of the occupied territories.
Among the Roman ruling class, a struggle broke out in this regard: one group of senators, led by the victor of Hannibal, Scipio, proposed to form dependent states in the conquered territories, led by local rulers; another, led first by Fabius Maximus, and from the beginning of the second century BC by Marcus Porcius Cato, insisted on the organization of the so-called provincial government. Provinces — the “estates of the Roman people” – were created in the territories captured by Rome outside of Italy. Local government was limited, and for the leadership of the province, governors were sent from Rome, most often magistrates after the end of their term of government: consuls, praetors, quaestors. The rulers of the provinces were called proconsuls, propraetors, and proquestors. They recruited troops of warriors and had the highest authority (impenum), as well as the right to wage war, make peace, and condemn the inhabitants of the province to death.
The first overseas possessions of Rome — Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica-were granted the status of provinces in 227 BC. In 197 BC, two new provinces were formed from the captured Iberian territories:
Taxes were imposed on the provincial inhabitants: either a tenth of the income, as in Sicily, or a fixed sum of money, as, for example, in Spain. At the expense of the provinces, the Roman troops stationed there, officials, governors and their assistants were maintained. A significant part of the land was taken away from the inhabitants and became the property of the Roman state. The provinces were regarded as the lucrative estates of the Romans, and were at the complete and weakly controlled disposal of the provincial governors, who, together with their administration and visiting merchants, mercilessly plundered and ravaged the defenseless population of the provinces. The usual practice of that time was to enrich officials and businessmen who went to the provinces to improve their shattered fortunes.
When organizing the provinces, the Romans were guided by the principle of “divide and rule”: some of the provincial cities and communities received freedom from taxes and were called free cities, they valued these privileges and served as a faithful support to the Romans. Most of the population was deprived of these advantages and was subjected to merciless exploitation. The provincial population hated Roman rule and revolted at the slightest opportunity.
By the beginning of the second century BC, Rome had become a firm foothold in the entire Western Mediterranean, and within its borders there were no serious forces that could resist Roman rule.
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