Skip to main content

Ancient Rome: Warfare

Learn all about the political, economic and social systems of Ancient Rome and how they have influenced our world today.

Image

Key Terms

Century - A division of the Roman army made up of 80 soldiers and led by a centurion. 

Cohort - A cohort was a division of the Roman army. It was made up of six centuries or 480 men. There were 10 cohorts in a Roman legion. 

Legion - The main unit of the Roman army. It generally had around 5400 soldiers and was divided up into groups of men called cohorts and centuries. 

Nelson, Ken. (2016). Ancient Rome for Kids: Glossary and Terms. Ducksters. 

The Punic Wars

The Punic Wars were fought between Rome and Carthage from 264 BC to 146 BC. Carthage was a large City located on the coast of North Africa. This sounds like a long way away at first, but Carthage was just a short sea voyage from Rome across the Mediterranean Sea. Both cities were major powers at the time and both were expanding their empires. As the empires grew, they began to clash and soon war had begun. There were three major parts of the Punic wars and they were fought over the course of more than 100 years,

First Punic War (264 - 241 BC): The First Punic War was fought largely over the island of Sicily. This meant a lot of the fighting was at sea where Carthage had the advantage of a much stronger navy than Rome. However, Rome quickly built up a large navy of over 100 ships. Rome also invented the corvus, a type of assault bridge that allowed Rome's superior soldiers to board enemy navy vessels. Rome soon dominated Carthage and won the war.


Second Punic War (218 - 201 BC): In the Second Punic War, Carthage had more success fighting against the Roman legions. The Carthage leader and general, Hannibal, made a daring crossing of the Alps to attack Rome and northern Italy. This crossing was made more famous because he also brought a large number of elephants with him. Hannibal was a brilliant general and won several battles against the Romans. However, despite fighting for 16 years, Hannibal wasn't able to conquer the city of Rome. When Rome counterattacked his homeland of Carthage, Hannibal was forced to retreat. The final battle in this war was the Battle of Zama where the Roman general Scipio Africanus defeated Hannibal.


Third Punic War (149 - 146 BC): In the Third Punic War Rome attacked the city of Carthage. After three years of laying siege to the city, the Roman army broke through the walls and burned it to the ground.

Nelson, Ken. (2016). History of Ancient Rome for Kids: Roman Wars and Battles. Ducksters.