The Punic Wars were a series of military conflicts (three wars in total) fought between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian Empire. They lasted from 264 BC to 146 BC and were fought primarily for dominance and control over the Western Mediterranean. Carthage was the existing military and political hegemony in the region, while the Roman Republic was the upstart usurping state. The third and final war between Carthage and Rome saw the total defeat of Carthage and the destruction of the city. The First and Second wars had already robed Carthage of most of their territorial possessions as well as their once great navy. It should be noted that during this period, Rome was also engaged in a series of wars with the Macedonian empire which controlled most of the eastern Mediterranean. Rome was victorious on this front and came to dominate the eastern Mediterranean as well.
This all ties into the transformation of the roman economy during the period because at the conclusion of the Punic Wars, the Roman Republic was the preeminent political and military power in the Mediterranean. The wars massively increased the territories and peoples controlled by Rome, which resulted in increased agricultural land and tax revenue. The wars also resulted in a large increase in the slave population of Rome, as the defeated peoples were taken in as spoils of war. The wars transformed the already martial Roman culture and economy to one that was almost totally based on constant war and territorial expansion.
In brief here are some of the effects of the Punic Wars on The Roman culture and economy:
- They increased the power and prestige of the Roman senate as they controlled the military and the purse strings, so victory over Carthage was a boon to their image.
- A massive increase in the use of slaves for agriculture and other labour intensive activities.
- A greater concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich and powerful.
- A shift to the production of wine and olives on the Italian peninsula, while the traditional grain produce was sourced from their newly acquired possessions.