"Remember, Roman, to guide the nations with authority. Let these be your arts:
impose the laws of peace, And spare the humbled and lay low the proud."
The First Punic War
(264-241 BC) Click to See MAP
moved into Messina
in northern Sicily the local Greek cities under Rome's protection cried out
to Rome for help. Rome sent an army to Sicily and the wars began. Carthage was
larger and wealthier than Rome yet Rome was superior in its manpower and its
loyal citizenry. The biggest threat to Rome was not in the land battles but in the
Sea battles because of Carthage's huge navy and her naval skills.
Rome's Naval Strategy
Rome, being very inferior and inexperienced in sea battles had to think
quickly. After finding an abandoned Carthaginian warship they built 100 duplicates in
60 days. They soon built over 200 warships and won huge victories at sea. They
also developed a strategy where they invented a large hook like drawbridge
called the Corvus
and would thrust it out and catch a hold of the enemy ship which would then
allow 120 soldiers to march onto the vessel. This tactic would turn their naval
battle into a land battle and it proved successful for Rome , who had won every
major sea battle of the first Punic War.
After winning many victories the Romans lost 200 of their ships and 100,000
men to very violent storms off Camarina in 255 BC. They soon regrouped and
defeated Carthage in 241 BC with a third fleet of warships. It took approximately 20
years for the Romans to drive the Carthaginians out of Sicily. This would mark
Rome's first overseas territory.
Not very long after the Romans took the islands of Sardinia and Corsica from
Carthage in order to have more control over the sea. After 23 years Carthage
sued for peace and a peace treaty was signed. The Carthaginians had to pay a large
sum of money known as an "indemnity" to Rome for the costs of the war.
The Romans soon dominated the Mediterranean Sea and built a merchant fleet.
All the trade and customs would be monitored by Rome and they patrolled the sea
continually against Pirates. (see Illyrian and Gallic Invasions