This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Roman-Carthaginian relations before Punic Wars

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Carthage ruins
Carthage ruins

There is much talk about the Punic Wars that took place between the Roman Republic and Carthage, also known as Kart Hadasht, or the city of Dido. In the years 264-146 BCE, there were three conflicts between these ancient powers which led to Rome defeating and absorbing its rival. Before that, however, both sides were not hostile to each other, and even on the contrary – they were in good relations.

The first treaty between Rome and Carthage was signed around 508 BCE On its basis, the Punics undertook not to invade Latin cities that were in the sphere of influence of the Republic. On the other hand, they ensured the Romans trade-in Sardinia and in the African possessions of the Hadashtas.

The next agreement between the Republic and the City of Dido took place in 348 BCE. It was a consequence of the events that were happening in Italy at that time. Then it was the former dictator of Syracuse, and then the ruler of the Italian Lokroi, Dionysus II, who sent his fleet to harass the coastal cities under the control of the Republic. This was in the year 349, so a year before the later friendship treaty. Carthaginians, who considered Dionysus a potential rival, decided to help the Romans, hence the friendship agreement was concluded. Apart from repeating the previous decisions, the Republic undertook not to establish new cities beyond the point called Mastia Tarseion, probably somewhere in Spain, which the Punics considered their sphere of influence. In addition, the Romans were forbidden to trade and found cities in Libya and Sardinia.

The third treatise of the Republic and the Qart Hadasht, also called the Phillinos treatise after the Greek historian, was written around 279 BCE Back then, both the Romans and the Carthaginians fought against the king of Epirus, Pyrrhus. On the basis of this treaty, the already growing republic undertook to leave the island of Sicily alone, which was mostly under the control of the Punics and assured that it would not establish new colonies in Spain. In addition, both sides pledged not to conclude a unilateral peace with Epirus and also forbid military action by both the Romans in Sicily and the Carthaginians in Italy.

Both powers remained on friendly terms until 272 BCE. It was then that during the siege of Taranto by the Republic, the Punic fleet was noticed. It was sent under the pretext of helping an ally from the Tiber, but the real intention was to prevent the city from being seized. However, the Romans saw the ruse and ordered the fleet to retreat.

After the complete conquest of the Apennine Peninsula, the Roman Republic was already a major power. Over time, they also became interested in Sicily, which was under Carthage’s sphere of influence. The war began when the king of Syracuse, Hieron II, attacked the city of Messana, located on the island. Campaign mercenaries, the Mamertines, then called for help both the Carthaginians and the Romans, who had long considered accepting the request. Ultimately, under the influence of the Roman people, who, at the urging of Appius Claudius Caudex, decided to intervene. Thus, the Romans broke the treaty made during the war with Pyrrhus, which soon led to the First Punic War as well as the hostility between the great powers.

Author: Kamil Piliszek (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)
  • J. Lazenby, Pierwsza wojna punicka, Oświęcim 2012
  • K. Kęciek, Dzieje Kartagińczyków, historia nie zawsze ortodoksyjna, Warszawa 2003

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

If you like the content that I collect on the website and that I share on social media channels I will be grateful for the support. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server.



Find out more!

Check your curiosity and learn something new about the ancient world of the Romans. By clicking on the link below, you will be redirected to a random entry.

Random curiosity

Random curiosity

Discover secrets of ancient Rome!

If you want to be up to date with newest articles on website and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter, which is sent each Saturday.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Subscribe to newsletter

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: