There were three wars between Rome and Carthage, the Three Punic Wars. Each war had its own causes.

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The First Punic War broke out when the Romans landed in Messana (Messina, in eastern Sicily, on the strait which separates the island from the Italian mainland) to help the Mamertines, mercenaries who had seized this city and had been attacked by Syracuse, the most powerful of the Greek city-states in eastern and southern Sicily. The Carthaginians had four ports in western Sicily and had set up a garrison in Messana. It seems that the Romans were worried that if war broke out between Carthage and Syracuse and Carthage won, she would gain control of the east of the island, close to the mainland, which was Roman-controlled. The Romans besieged Syracuse and forced her to become an ally. This worried Carthage, which mobilised for war. The situation developed into a conflict over the control over Sicily.

The Second Punic War has been seen as Hannibal’s war. He was the ruler of the Carthaginian territories in southern Spain which had been conquered by and belonged to his family, the Barcas. He was said to have provoked the war by seizing the Spanish city of Sagunto, which was a Roman ally, to force Rome to intervene. His aim was to invade Italy and attack Rome. It was said that he wanted revenge for the First Punic War and for Rome having stolen Sardinia and Corsica from Carthage soon after this war.

Rome fought the Third Punic war because she wanted to destroy Carthage.

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