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Between Carthage and Rome

Between Carthage and Rome

Between Carthage and Rome

The historical path that led Rome to assume the characteristics of a great power was significantly marked by relations with Carthage. At a time when Rome begins to face the western Mediterranean with greater political, economic and military ambitions, the Carthaginian power is at its peak and Rome's expansionist aims must necessarily come to terms with this reality.

The first treaty signed between Rome and Carthage in 509 BC, handed down to us by the Greek historian Polybius, is a first, eloquent “snapshot” of that historical journey.

This treaty established, with regard to Rome and its allies: 1) the ban from the North African coast directly controlled by Carthage (landing was allowed only in the event of a shipwreck, but with the obligation to leave within five days); 2) severe restrictions on access to the Sardinian coast and the possibility of exercising forms of trade in Sardinia only in the presence of Carthaginian officials; 3) the possibility of exercising trade in Sicily enjoying the same rights as the Carthaginians.

As far as Carthage is concerned, the treaty established: 1) commitment not to cause harm of any kind to the populations of Lazio “subject to the Romans” and to independent cities; 2) a ban on building fortresses in Lazio; 3) in the case of landing on the Lazio coast due to force majeure, the obligation to leave before night.

The subsequent treaty between Rome and Carthage partly modifies what was enshrined in the previous one, taking note of the new state of affairs in the relations between the two powers. In particular, it seems that we can read, in Carthage's decision to enforce even on Sardinian soil the same prohibitions that the previous treaty established for Rome in reference to the North African territories placed under its direct control, a certain concern for the increasingly numerous signs of an increase in Rome's power.

The outbreak of the first Punic War (264 BC) was preceded by the signing of two other treaties between Rome and Carthage, signed respectively in 306 BC and 279 BC. Even without going into the merits of the individual treaties, the progressive shortening of the chronological distance between one stipulation and the other appears to be interpretable as a clear sign that the state of relations between the two powers was becoming progressively more unstable.

In 238 BC, a few years after the end of the First Punic War (241 BC), Sardinia finally passed, with a real stroke of the hand, under the control of Rome.


20/9/2023 - 11:00


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