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Impact Of The Punic Wars On Rome History Essay

The Punic Wars had a number of important impacts to the Roman society and politics. By 164 BC, Rome was a very different country then before the Punic Wars that saw immediate and long term effects. Some changes that occurred included a shift in political influence and wealth to the senatorial class, peasant community dynamics were changing with many moving to the cities, while work and food became scarcer. The wealthy benefited, with their lifestyles becoming more luxurious through the Roman cultural exposure to Greek influence. From this stemmed a new social climate that emerged after the many years of warfare.

A result of the first Punic War and the Romans was the decisive naval victory against the Carthaginians at the Aegate Islands. This gave Rome full control of Sicily and Corsica. The end of the First Punic War saw the beginning of the Roman expansion beyond the Italian peninsula. Significantly, Syracuse was granted nominal independence as an ally and it was not incorporated into the Roman province of Sicily until the Second Punic War. Rome benefited greatly from the acquisition of Sicily. By controlling Sicily, the Romans could use its array of natural resources and minerals to gain profits. Sicily would become very important to Rome as a source of grain. The Romans introduced a new system in Sicily, where the people were made neither allies nor citizens, but instead subjects. Their land was generally confiscated and many inhabitants were forced to pay a heavy tribute, especially those who had thrown their support behind the Carthaginians in the First Punic War. The whole island with the exception of the independent Syracuse was governed by a praetor sent from Rome. By this arrangement Sicily became known as a province which became a term for any conquered territory outside mainland Italy. This system allowed Rome to obtain important grain from Sicily as well as profits from the tributes and natural resources they obtained.

The pressures that Rome faced during the Second Punic War resulted in significant changes to the Roman political system. The Senate gained increased prestige, greater wealth, and more influence in Roman government. Rule by Senate was consolidated due to the success with which they conducted the Second Punic War and the economic power they held through the control of huge estates many senators established after the war.

As a result of the Second Punic War, Rome gained control of all Carthaginian territory within Spain. With the gain of Spain and the Iberian Peninsula, Rome prospered greatly by being known as the region for its thriving export trade and rich resource base. From Spain Rome gained great quantities of silver, copper and iron besides agricultural products and fish. The Roman economy was stimulated by the increase in profits as a result of its new prosperous land.

After the Second Punic War, Rome established itself as the most powerful nation in the Mediterranean. Carthage was reduced to a mere client state of Rome and its navy was reduced to just ten ships and they were forbidden from raising an army without the permission of Rome. Local rivals took advantage of this and when Carthage raised an army to defend itself from these incursions, it was destroyed by Rome in the Third Punic War. Rome, on the other hand, had taken a key step towards her domination of the Mediterranean. Another impact to Rome was due to unfavorable conditions in Italy and Sicily and the loss of so many men from agricultural occupations, Rome experienced a period of inflation and the possibility of a grain famine. The Romans were able to find another source of grain, from Egypt, at three times the normal price.

One significant and lasting change to Rome as a result of the Punic Wars was an increase in the use of slaves. Before the Second Punic War slaves were employed on a relatively small scale. However, by the end of the second century, large numbers of slaves were pouring into Rome, either as prisoners of war or purchased abroad by the new wealthy class of Romans who now employed large staffs of domestic servants or invested as slaves as business ventures.

Rome not only survived the period during the Punic Wars, they conquered and prospered. This was due to the way in which Rome conducted its peace arrangements with its defeated states and the strength of its republican institutions. A famous line concerning Rome was that it would usually lose the first battle, but always win the last. In light of this idea, Rome manipulated its post war dominance in order to give as well as take. The system of alliances, treaties, protectorates and provinces forged the basis of a highly successful empire.


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