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Causes and Effects of the Punic Wars

The Punic Wars were an integral part of the chain of events that brought the Roman Empire to a place of dominance in the Western Mediterranean and reduced Carthage(which prior to the Wars enjoyed a leading position(to little more than rubble. It must be acknowledged, however, that the Romans were a warring people to begin with, as were the Carthaginians. It was virtually inevitable that these two rising powers would eventually clash, since both had powerful military forces and both were located in the Mediterranean. Professor Sir Michael Howard stated in his David Davies Memorial Institute Lecture, "Weapons and Peace," in January 1983: "The causes of war are as diverse as those of human conflict itself, but one factor common to almost all wars has been on the one side, or both, a cultural predisposition for war" (Bagnall 7). Sir Howard pointed out that this predisposition has been "often overlooked" but that in such warring cultures, "the settling of contentious issues by armed conflict is regarded as natural, inevitable and right" (Bagnall 7).

In the Punic Wars, "two largely incompatible civilisations confronted one another in a rivalry that quickly became a to-the-death fight for supremacy" (Bagnall 7). These three wars, which lasted for more than 100 years altogether, were fought between the Indo-Germanic race comprised of Greeks and Romans in Rome, and the Semitic race comprised of Jews and Arabs in Carthage; "one side had a genius of order and legislation, the other the spirit of commercial adventure and a love of gold, blood and pleasure" (Bagnall 7). These cultural differences played a significant part in the outbreak of the wars between the Romans and the Carthaginians.

Carthage was a nation that subsisted through trade, and it was "seeking to extend its commercial connections, its sphere of influence and its empire," ambitions that predisposed it to war (Bagnall 20). It had an excellent navy ...

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