The first Punic War - World History

The first Punic War - World History
Posted on 30-12-2022

The first Punic War ( 270 ) Rome and Carthage dispute Sicily.

Of all the Hellenistic world, Egypt was still the most prosperous region. in 270a new cultural project of Ptolemy II saw the light. The monarch had inherited his father's interest in Jewish culture, and financed a translation of the Bible into Greek. The biblical texts were written in Hebrew, although the language of the Jews had long been Aramaic. Both languages ​​were Semitic, so it was not difficult for the Jews to handle Hebrew as a dead language for religious use. That is why they never considered translating the Bible into Aramaic. Even the idea could have been seen as sacrilegious, since, obviously, Hebrew was the language that God spoke. However, to a Greek-speaking Jew, Hebrew was foreign to him, and so a generation of Jews unable to read the Bible was rising in Alexandria.Bible of the Seventy, because according to tradition there were seventy wise men, between Jews and Greeks, who translated it. The tradition also says that the seventy sages independently translated the entire text, and that in the end they verified that the versions were identical. Evidently this was said so that the Jews would interpret it as a miracle with which God himself sanctioned the translation.

Later, the Bible of the Seventy would be the only version of the Jewish sacred texts available to Christians, so the translation was very influential. It happened that, despite the miraculous agreement between the wise men, the translation was not very good. There was a translation error that particularly influenced later Judeo-Christian thought. In the book of Isaiah, there is a passage in which he warns King Ahaz that Israel and Syria were going to be destroyed by Assyria. The passage begins by saying: "A pregnant young woman will give birth to a son and she will call him Emmanuel." Later, this passage (despite the fact that it had nothing to do with it) was reinterpreted as an announcement of the arrival of the Messiah. The fact is that the seventy translated the Hebrew word "almah" (young) by "parthenos", which is the way in which the Greeks usually referred to a young woman, but which literally means "virgin". It may be thought that the translation was clearly inappropriate, speaking of a pregnant woman, but the idea of ​​pregnant virgins was familiar in antiquity. Many notable characters considered themselves descendants of the gods through women who had not "known a man." Alexander himself was reputed to be the son of Zeus, Romulus and Remus were the sons of the virgin Rhea Silvia and the god Mars, and there are many more cases. In this way, the translation of the seventy introduced a new element in the messianic prophecy: the Messiah had to be born of a virgin and, therefore, would be literally the son of God. This is more important than it may seem, since the Jews had recognized the Messiah in various historical figures, only to later realize that they had been mistaken. The more details known a priori about the Messiah, the easier it would be to rule out false pretenders. Now the bar had been set very high. This is more important than it may seem, since the Jews had recognized the Messiah in various historical figures, only to later realize that they had been wrong. The more details known a priori about the Messiah, the easier it would be to rule out false pretenders. Now the bar had been set very high. This is more important than it may seem, since the Jews had recognized the Messiah in various historical figures, only to later realize that they had been wrong. The more details known a priori about the Messiah, the easier it would be to rule out false pretenders. Now the bar had been set very high.

In 269 the Indian king Bindusara died and Asoka the Great ascended the throne,the third king of the Maurya dynasty, who ruled over almost all of India. Indeed, the relatively small kingdom of Magadha had expanded remarkably since Asoka's grandfather had come to the throne. Numerous inscriptions on columns and rocks are preserved where he explains the principles of his authority, based on non-violence and adherence to the Law. At this time, India experienced a remarkable artistic enrichment, mainly in sculpture and architecture. . In the period preceding the reign of Asoka, the Persian influence is visible, but then a style of its own appears. In China, Qin suffered a defeat against a coalition of the Zhao and Wei states.

In 267 Ptolemy II decided to put his son and heir, also called Ptolemy, at the head of the government of Canaan.

Rome was finishing putting the Italian peninsula in order. Once southern Italy was dominated, she turned to the Samnites, who had supported Pyrrhus. He did not need more than one campaign (sometimes called the Fourth Samnite War) to destroy all that was left of Samnite independence. He then turned against Etruria and in 265 the last independent Etruscan city was taken. Now only the northern Gauls and (nominally) some southern Greek cities escaped direct Roman rule. Each Italian city was subject to Rome by a treaty whose conditions were more or less harsh depending on the resistance that the city had offered to the conquest.

Since the creation of the Republic, Roman politics had undergone many changes. The original three tribes had grown to thirty-five. In addition to the division into curiae, a new division into centuries had been established. The people met in three types of assemblies called comitias: the tribute comitia, the curiado comitia and the centuriado comitia,where each unit (tribe, curia or century), counted as one vote regardless of the number of members it consisted of. This meant that the curiados elections dealt only with minor matters, while the centuriados elections were in charge of electing the most important magistrates, of voting on the laws and of issuing sentences on appeal against the death sentences issued by the magistrates against the citizens. . The reason was that wealthy citizens had more votes in centurial elections despite their numerical inferiority. These wealthy citizens, of both patrician and plebeian origin, constituted a new social class, the nobilitas, that, thanks to this ingenious electoral system, reserved the magistracies and deprived the poorest of all political power. The tribute elections had gained importance when the plebiscites, which at first were only valid for the common people, came to be considered laws with effect on all citizens. They also chose the tribunes of the common people (whose authority also extended to all citizens) and minor magistrates. The nobilitas also dominated the tribute elections, as they managed to give more value to the votes of the four urban tribes compared to the thirty-one rural ones. In any case, real power was exercised by the Senate, whose councils (senatus consultus)they had the force of law and were respected by all magistrates. He was in charge of the public treasury and religion. While it was apparently the people who ruled Rome through the magistrates, it was the Senate that exercised the real power. Rome was an oligarchy.

The Mamertines continued to wage war on both the Greeks and the Carthaginians in Sicily, so, exceptionally, the eternal enemies decided to unite to annihilate them definitively.

In 264 Nicomedes I of Bithynia opened his capital: he called it Nicomedia. It had been an ancient colony of Megara destroyed by Lisímaco and that he was in charge of rebuilding.

The united Greeks and Carthaginians cornered the Mamertines at Messana once more, but now they were willing to go all the way. The Mamertines were in serious trouble, but they thought that, since they were Italians, they could ask Italy, that is, Rome, for help. They did so, and Rome immediately accepted the defense of their cause. She sent to Sicily an army commanded by Apio Claudio Cáudex, (the oaf), a son of Claudio Caecus. Despite his nickname, Claudius had no difficulty in defeating Hiero II's army in 263. The king fully understood the situation and hastened to sign a separate peace with Rome. Only Carthage continued the war, which thus became theFirst Punic War, since the Romans called the Carthaginians Poeni (Phoenicians).

That year Phileterus, the governor of Pergamum, died and was succeeded by his nephew and adopted son, who was later remembered as King  Eumenes I of Pergamum, although, like his uncle, he never bore the royal title. Antiochus I tried to regain control of Pergamum, but Eumenes I defeated him in 262, so it is often considered that Eumenes I was the one who achieved the country's independence from the Seleucid Empire (under Philetaerus it was independent because Antiochus did not have time to deal with it).

That same year Rome won a great victory against Carthage at Agrigento, in southern Sicily. However, after hard fighting, Lilibeo seemed impregnable. The problem was that Carthage had the best fleet in the Mediterranean and Rome had only a few small ships. The Romans did not even know how to build ships of the size and performance of the Carthaginians. All the victories had been won on land, and facing Carthage at sea was folly. Roman ships were triremes,that is, they had three rows of oars on each side, while Carthage had quinqueremes (much larger ships, with five rows of oars). Rome was fortunate in that a Carthaginian quinquereme was wrecked and washed up on the southern coast of Italy. The Romans studied it and, with the help of the Greeks, managed to build a quinquereme.

Meanwhile Qin achieved a final victory against Zhao at Changping . The 450,000 soldiers who surrendered were buried alive.

In 261 Antiochus I died, and was succeeded by his son Antiochus II. The following year, in 260, the Second Syrian War against Egypt began. By then Rome already had a fleet of quinqueremes and was ready to face Carthage at sea. It is true that, in addition to the ships, Carthage had centuries of naval experience, which is not as easy to obtain as a fleet. But the Romans more or less anticipated it. A few Roman ships were easily captured by Carthaginian ships, but soon after the bulk of the fleet left the port, commanded by Gaius Duilius Nepos .(the nephew, to distinguish him from a namesake uncle). The Roman ships maneuvered to parallel the Carthaginians. In principle this was not a favorable position, the ideal (and difficult) was to get in a position to ram an enemy ship from the side, so the Carthaginians were not overly concerned, but Duilio had designed some sticks with articulated hooks at the tip. to drop on enemy ships and hold them like this to allow a boarding. So it happened, the Roman soldiers jumped on the enemy ships and fought a land battle on the decks of the ships. The stunned Carthaginians had nothing to do. Fourteen ships were sunk and thirty-one taken.

In 259 the son of Ptolemy II, governor of Canaan, rebelled against his father, but was killed by his own soldiers.

In 256 the monarch Cheu recognized the king of Qin as king of all China.

The Romans decided to imitate Agathocles and attack the own (and still defenseless) Carthage. The fleet departed under the command of the consul Marco Atilio Regulo (the prince) skirting Sicily. Off the coast of Ecnomo, he encountered a Carthaginian fleet and there an even greater naval battle was fought than the previous one, from which Rome emerged victorious again. From there he headed for Carthage, where Regulus disembarked his men and had only to appear before the walls of Carthage for the terrified Carthaginians to ask for peace. However, Regulus posed such harsh conditions that Carthage chose to fight. Coincidentally, a Spartan named Jántipo was in Carthage. Sparta's military greatness was long gone, but the Spartans continued to think as usual. Xántipo spoke eloquently to the Carthaginians, stating that they had not been defeated by the Romans, but by the incompetence of their generals. The Carthaginians gave him command, Jántipo managed to gather and train an army that had 4,000 horsemen and 100 elephants. In 255 he led these troops against the Romans who were besieging the city, somewhat weakened in number because part of the troops had been transferred to Sicily. The fact is that Regulus was taken prisoner and his army was defeated.

That same year the Second Syrian War ended, and with it Antiochus II recovered part of the territory that his father had lost to Ptolemy II.

When news of the Regulus disaster reached Rome, the senate sent the fleet to Africa. The fleet defeated the Carthaginian ships that tried to prevent its passage, but the cunning with which they had made up for their lack of naval experience to defeat the Carthaginians was not worth it against a greater enemy: experienced sailors knew how to recognize the signs of storms and they hurried to take shelter in the nearest port. The Romans lacked the necessary experience, so a storm caught them on the high seas, the fleet was destroyed and thousands of soldiers drowned. The Carthaginians, learning of this, sent reinforcements, and even elephants, to Sicily. But Rome built a new fleet in three months.

Mainland Greece showed signs of recovery from its long decline. For decades it had been under the yoke of Antigonus Gonatas of Macedonia. It was not a very oppressive yoke, since Macedonia did not have the strength of yesteryear either, but, for example, a few years before it had occupied Athens and forced it to tear down the Long Walls. The city-states had long been allied in two "leagues", the Aetolian League, which brought together several cities north of the Gulf of Corinth, and the Achaean League, which brought together as many from the Peloponnese. They were two local associations of little relevance, but in 251 a man named Aratohe put himself in charge of the Achaean league and set out to make an effective instrument of it.

The First Punic War continued in Sicily with neither side showing a clear advantage. Carthage saw fit to negotiate a compromise peace. He sent an embassy to Rome in which Regulus took part, who promised to return to Carthage if the embassy failed. At the hearing before the Senate, to the horror of the Carthaginians, Regulus said that prisoners like him, who had surrendered rather than die in battle, were not worth saving, and that the war must continue to the end. Regulus kept his word and returned to Carthage, where he (according to the Romans) he was tortured to death. The war continued.

In 250 Magas died, and with his death the independence of Cyrene ended, which became part of Egypt again.

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