Punic Wars > Third Punic War

Third Punic War

Punic Wars - Punic Wars Decoration

Third Punic War

  • Part of the Punic Wars
  • Date: 149 BC - 146 BC
  • Location: Hills outside Adis
  • Victor: Roman Republic
  • Results: The destruction of Carth, annexation of all Carthaginian territories, and collapse of Punic civilization. Rome gains control over the entire Mediterranean Sea.


Roman Republic


Military Forces

  • Unknown
  • 80,000 Infantry


  • 150,000 - 250,000 Killed
  • 50,000 Enslaved
  • Unknown


The Third Punic War, also known in Latin as Tertium Bellum Punicum was the final of the Punic Wars that lasted between 149 BC an 146 BC fought between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginians. Unlike the previous two wars which occurred all around the Mediterranean, the Third Punic War was mostly focused on North Africa, in the area of modern day Tunisia. Lasting only three years or so, this was also the shortest of the Punic Wars and saw the complete destruction of the Carthaginian and Punic civilization as a whole, as well as the incorporation and assimilation of North Africa and the rest of the Punic territories as Roman.

Following their victory during the Second Punic War, the city of Rome set about on series of campaigns of conquest during the Hellenistic Period that would cause them to dominate nearly all of the Mediterranean basin, save for the Carthaginian territories. During this time the Romans engaged in the Illyrian Wars with their neighbors to the north, as well as with the Greeks during the Macedonian Wars and the Roman-Seleucid War.

As well, following their assistance to the Romans during the Second Punic War, the peoples of Hispania were suppressed and Carthage was isolated from the rest of its former allies in Sicily and Sardinia. However, just as before there were many fears in Rome that Carthage would reemerge from the massive war reparations stronger than ever just as what happened before with Hannibal Barca. The fears of another Battle of Cannae resounded deep within the Roman psyche still.

Carthago Delenda Est

See Carthago Delenda Est

For example, a Roman politician named Cato the Elder would end most of his speeches with the Latin phrase "ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam" which meant "Furthermore, it is my opinion that Carthage must be destroyed". Even Cicero attributes this phrase to him in his dialogue De Senectute. However, Cicero was usually beaten in the public debates by another senator named Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum who wanted to go an alternative route regarding the Carthaginians.

The peace treaty at the end of the Second Punic War required that all border disputes involving Carthage be arbitrated by the Roman Senate and required Carthage to get explicit Roman approval before going to war. As a result, in the 50 intervening years between the Second and Third Punic War, Carthage had to take all border disputes with Rome's ally Numidia to the Roman Senate, where they were decided almost exclusively in Numidian favour.In 151 BC, the Carthaginian debt to Rome was fully repaid, meaning that, in Punic eyes, the treaty was now expired,[7][8] though not so according to the Romans, who instead viewed the treaty as a permanent declaration of Carthaginian subordination to Rome akin to the Roman treaties with its Italian allies. Moreover, the retirement of the indemnity removed one of the main incentives the Romans had to keep the peace with Carthage – there were no further payments that might be interrupted.The Romans had other reasons to conquer Carthage and her remaining territories.[8][9][10] By the middle of the 2nd century BC, the population of the city of Rome was about 400,000 and rising. Feeding the growing populace was becoming a major challenge. The farmlands surrounding Carthage represented the most productive, most accessible and perhaps the most easily obtainable agricultural lands not yet under Roman control.In 151 BC Numidia launched another border raid on Carthaginian soil, besieging the Punic town of Oroscopa, and Carthage launched a large military expedition (25,000 soldiers) to repel the Numidian invaders. As a result, Carthage suffered a military defeat and was charged with another fifty year debt to Numidia. Immediately thereafter, however, Rome showed displeasure with Carthage’s decision to wage war against its neighbour without Roman consent, and told Carthage that in order to avoid a war it had to “satisfy the Roman People.”

Third Punic War Battles

See Third Punic War Battles

In 149 BC, Rome declared war against Carthage. The Carthaginians made a series of attempts to appease Rome, and received a promise that if three hundred children of well-born Carthaginians were sent as hostages to Rome the Carthaginians would keep the rights to their land and self-government. Even after this was done the allied Punic city of Utica defected to Rome, and a Roman army of 80,000 men gathered there.[1] The consuls then demanded that Carthage hand over all weapons and armour. After those had been handed over, Rome additionally demanded that the Carthaginians move at least 16 kilometres inland, while the city was to be burned. When the Carthaginians learned of this, they abandoned negotiations and the city was immediately besieged, beginning the Third Punic War.After the main Roman expedition landed at Utica, consuls Manius Manilius and Lucius Marcius Censorius launched a two-pronged attack on Carthage, but were eventually repulsed by the army of the Carthaginian Generals Hasdrubal the Boeotarch and Himilco Phameas. Censorius lost more than 500 men when they were surprised by the Carthaginian cavalry while collecting timber around the Lake of Tunis.[11] A worse disaster fell upon the Romans when their fleet was set ablaze by fire ships which the Carthaginians released upwind.[12]Manilius was replaced by consul Calpurnius Piso Caesonius in 149 after a severe defeat of the Roman army at Nepheris, a Carthaginian stronghold south of the city. Scipio Aemilianus's intervention saved four cohorts trapped in a ravine.[13] Nepheris eventually fell to Scipio in the winter of 147-146.[14] In the autumn of 148, Piso was beaten back while attempting to storm the city of Aspis, near Cape Bon. Undeterred, he laid siege to the town of Hippagreta in the north, but his army was unable to defeat the Punics there before winter and had to retreat.[15] When news of these setbacks reached Rome, he was replaced as consul by Scipio Aemilianus.[16]The Carthaginians endured the siege, starting 149 BC to the spring of 146 BC, when Scipio Aemilianus successfully assaulted the city. Though the Punic citizens offered a strong resistance, they were gradually pushed back by the overwhelming Roman military force and destroyed.


mainly on the Siege of Carthage, which resulted in the complete destruction of the city, the annexation of all remaining Carthaginian territory by Rome, and the death or enslavement of the entire Carthaginian population. The Third Punic War ended Carthage's independent existence.Many Carthaginians died from starvation during the later part of the siege, while many others died in the final six days of fighting. When the war ended, the remaining 50,000 Carthaginians, a small part of the original pre-war population, were sold into slavery by the victors.[4] Carthage was systematically burned for 17 days; the city's walls and buildings were utterly destroyed. The remaining Carthaginian territories were annexed by Rome and reconstituted to become the Roman province of Africa.The notion that Roman forces then sowed the city with salt to ensure that nothing would grow there again is almost certainly a 19th-century invention.[17] Contemporary accounts show that the land surrounding Carthage was declared ager publicus and that it was shared between local farmers, and Roman and Italian ones. North Africa soon became a vital source of grain for the Romans. Roman Carthage was the main hub transporting these supplies to the capital.Numerous significant Punic cities, such as those in Mauretania, were taken over and rebuilt by the Romans. Examples of these rebuilt cities are Volubilis, Chellah and Mogador. Volubilis, for example, was an important Roman town situated near the westernmost border of Roman conquests. It was built on the site of the previous Punic settlement, but that settlement overlies an earlier neolithic habitation.[18] Utica, the Punic city which changed loyalties at the beginning of the siege, became the capital of the Roman province of Africa.[1]A century later, the site of Carthage was rebuilt as a Roman city by Julius Caesar, and would later become one of the main cities of Roman Africa by the time of the Empire.http://www.livius.org/sources/content/appian/appian-the-punic-wars/

Third Punic War

+ Third Punic War Links


Primary Sources

Scullard, pages 310 and 316

Dutton, Donald G. (2007). The Psychology of Genocide, Massacres, and Extreme Violence: Why "normal" People Come to Commit Atrocities. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 14. ISBN 9780275990008.

Friedman, Mark (2013). Genocide (Hot Topics). Raintree. p. 58. ISBN 9781406235081.

Scullard, Howard Hayes: A History of the Roman World, 753 to 146 BC. Routledge, 2002, page 316. ISBN 0-415-30504-7

Sidwell, Keith C.; Jones, Peter V. (1997). The world of Rome: an introduction to Roman culture. Cambridge University Press. p. 16. ISBN 0-521-38600-4.

At Senatui quae sint gerenda praescribo et quo modo, Carthagini male iam diu cogitanti bellum multo ante denuntio, de qua vereri non ante desinam, quam illam excissam esse cognovero. Cicero, Marcus Tullius: De senectute. English translation and comments by William Armistead Falconer. Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1923, page 26. ISBN 0-674-99170-2

"Third Punic War — To 151 B.C.". Third Punic War. Anonymous publisher via Wordpress.com. Retrieved 3 November 2013.

French, Peter (2010). War and Moral Dissonance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 302–303. ISBN 0521169038.

Appian. "History of Rome 66-70". Livius.org. Retrieved 3 November 2013.


Polybius. "The Histories". Fordham University. Retrieved 3 November 2013.

Appian, Punica 97-99

Appian, Punica 99

Appian, Punica 102-105

Appian, Punica 126-130

Appian, Punica 110

Appian, Punica 112

Ridley, R.T., "To Be Taken with a Pinch of Salt: The Destruction of Carthage," Classical Philology vol. 81, no. 2 (1986).

C. Michael Hogan, Volubilis, Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham (2007)

Secondary Sources

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