First Punic War

The term Punic comes from the Latin word Punicus (or Poenicus), meaning “Carthaginian”, referring to the Carthaginians’ Phoenician ancestry.

One of the major causes of the Punic Wars was that the existing Carthaginian Empire and the expanding Roman Republic were at loggerheads with one another.

The Romans were initially interested in expansion via Sicily was known to be a cultural melting point.

It is interesting to know that Sicily was under the control of the Romans.

These wars were a series of three wars which occurred between Rome and Carthage from 264 BC to 146 BC and they were some of the largest wars that had ever taken place.

Facts about the First Punic War. (264-146BCE)

    • The first PUNIC WAR also known as Carthaginian war started 264 BC largely due to the victory over the Carthaginian city of Messina by the People of Rome. The location was between Mediterranean Sea, Sicily, North Africa, Italy and Sardinia. This gave Rome military gains over the island and they arranged a navy to battle with Carthage.
    • Rome built a fleet of 120ships in 60days to fight this war but the fleets were wrecked by storms off Pachynus and Palinurus during the First Punic War
    • High naval authority was ascribed to Carthage in the Mediterranean to be in charge over the waters around Sicily. At different times, the two sides were in control of the water with each side either winning or losing. Eventually, Sicily was taken captive by the Romans thereby forcing the people of Carthage to occupy the island at the west side.
    • Based on records, Rome had lost 700 ships (partly owing to bad weather). The total of death recorded remains unknown. Rome lost 50000 male citizens apart from auxiliary troops and other men who did not have citizenship status.
    • A new agreement hinged on a peaceful reign was signed with Carthage and they had to pay a heavy compensation and Rome sent out the people of Carthage from Sicily, the island then became a Roman Province. One important striking feature of the First Punic War was the fact that Carthage’s naval power was done away with for good. One of the ways Rome achieved this was to list out requirements for the people of Carthage. However, these requirements were difficult for the Carthagians to achieve as it greatly affected them economic wise. It was a tough decision for them as they had to look elsewhere for ways in which they could raise the money so as to pay the Romans
    • Hamilcar Barca was cut from Carthage and forced to surrender having no fleet. After 23 years, Rome emerged victorious by winning the first Punic war. After this happened, the Romans were declared as the dominant naval power of the Mediterranean.
    • The end of the First Punic War was significant for the beginning of Rome’s expansion beyond the Italian Peninsula. History tells us that Sicily has been described as being the very first Roman province (Sicilia) to be governed by a former praetor. Grain was abundant in Sicily and it served the people of Rome. Nominal independence status was granted to Syracuse as long as Hiero II was alive but this was among the laws of the Roman province of Sicily.

    Notable First Punic War Timeline;

    • Rome besieges and sacks Agrigento on Sicily in one of the first actions of the First Punic War (262 BCE)
    • The first naval victory against Carthage by the Romans off Mylae in the First Punic War (260BCE)
    • Rome was defeated in a naval battle by Carthage, at Drepanum during the First Punic War despite Antaros withdrawal of supports. (249 BCE)
    • The First Punic War ended with the Roman Naval victory instead of the Carthage off the Aegates island.


    • Question: When did the First Punic War start?
      Answer: 264 BCE
    • Question: How many ships did Rome build within 60 days?
      Answer: 120 ships
    • Question: Who was the former naval power at the Mediterranean
      Answer: Carthage
    • Question: How many years did it take Rome to win the First Punic War?
      Answer: 23years
    • Question: How many male citizens did Rome lose in the war
      Answer: 50,000 male citizens