Third Punic War - Rome and Carthage - The Punic Wars answers questions
Upgrade /Log in
Options /Log out
Early Europe
Central Asia
Islamic Empire
Native Americans
S./Central America
American History

The Third Punic War

After the Second Punic War, in 202 BC, Italy was a wreck. Hannibal's army had been marching up and down Italy wrecking things for more than ten years. All of the men had been away fighting in the war, and a lot of them had been killed, and others had decided to stay in Spain or in Africa. Not everyone wanted to go back to farming. Many men who did come back to their farms found that their farms had been ruined, or had been sold to rich men and women because they had not paid their taxes.
One result was that a lot of poor men moved to Rome. Most of them could not find jobs in Rome, but just stayed there causing trouble and trying to get the Senate to give them food for free.
Another result was that the rich people bought a lot of slaves to farm all the new land they had taken from the poor.

These two things together made it seem like a very good idea to attack Greece and West Asia at this point. Greece had helped the Carthaginians in the Second Punic War, which gave the Romans an excuse for attacking them. Fighting in Greece would give some of the poor men in Rome jobs as soldiers, and get them out of Rome. And if the Romans won, they could get lots of prisoners of war and sell them as slaves. In short, this would solve the victorious army problem.

The Romans therefore began fighting in Greece, and soon moved on to West Asia. They won everywhere they went.

Meanwhile, friends of the Romans in Africa had been hassling Carthage, which was not allowed to fight back. The Carthaginians asked Rome to help, but Rome refused. Finally, in 146 BC, although it was hopeless, the Carthaginians decided they had to fight back anyway. When the Romans heard about this they were very angry. One of the older Senators, Cato, who was old enough to remember the Second Punic War, insisted that "Carthage must be destroyed." (in Latin, Carthago delendum est). The Romans marched on Carthage, wrecked the city, and forced all the people to move away. (You may have heard a story that the Romans plowed the city under with salt so no-one could live there, but this is a story that was only told recently, and not by the Romans or the Carthaginians).

In the same year, 146 BC, the Romans also finished taking over Greece, and destroyed the city of Corinth.

The Civil Wars in Rome

Bibliography and further reading about the Third Punic War:

The Ancient Roman World, by Ronald Mellor (2004). Straight political history, For teens.

Classical Rome, by John Clare (1993). For kids, the whole political history from beginning to end.

The Romans: From Village to Empire, by Mary Boatwright, Daniel Gargola, and Richard Talbert (2004). Okay, it's a little dry, but it is up to date and has all the facts you could want.

Carthage, by Peter Huby (2003). A novel about the destruction of Carthage. Probably too violent for kids.

More about Carthage and North Africa
Hellenistic Greece
The Civil Wars in Rome
Roman history
Ancient Rome home

Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

Help support! (formerly "History for Kids") is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

'Tis the season: read all about the history of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas. Who invented Christmas trees? Who were the Maccabees? When was Jesus really born? How did people celebrate Hanukkah in the Middle Ages? Plus, some great gift ideas.