Third Punic War: 5 Crucial Events That Lead to Carthage Destruction
Third Punic War: 5 Crucial Events That Lead to Carthage Destruction

Third Punic War: 5 Crucial Events That Lead to Carthage Destruction

Patrick Lynch - June 5, 2017

Third Punic War: 5 Crucial Events That Lead to Carthage Destruction
A Carthaginian surrenders. Ancient History Encyclopedia

5 – Total Destruction of Carthage 146 BC

Scipio knew that victory was within his grasp so, in early 146 BC, he launched an all-out attack with the goal of achieving total victory. In spring, he ordered an attack on Byrsa and Cothon harbor, and soon, the Romans broke through the Carthaginian defenses and made their way towards the city. They took the wall around Cothon and took its neighboring forum. Scipio brought in 4,000 more troops and spent the night in the Temple of Apollo. Once again, the ill-discipline of the army came to the fore as its men disobeyed orders by breaking the gold statue and plundering the loot.

Even with defeat a certainty, the Carthaginians refused to surrender so when the Romans finally entered the city; the result was six days of brutal fighting. The Carthaginians turned every house and building into a stronghold, and every inhabitant had a weapon. The Romans had to continually change soldiers to ensure they did not become exhausted although Scipio fought for most of the time with little sleep. Eventually, the Romans took control as the inhabitants fought themselves to exhaustion. All but 50,000 Carthaginians died, and they were sold into slavery.

However, the war was not quite over. 900 people, most of them Roman deserters, hid in the Temple of Eshmun in the citadel of Byrsa despite the fact it was on fire. Hasdrubal was among the men in the citadel, and although they tried to negotiate their surrender, Scipio said that Rome could not forgive them or Hasdrubal. Apparently, the Carthaginian commander’s wife emerged, insulted her husband and jumped into the flames with her two children. The rest of the deserters followed suit; an act that caused Scipio to weep. He lamented the fate of Carthage and said that the same thing might happen to Rome one day.

The city was razed although the notion that the Romans spread salt into the land to prevent growth is a myth. A curse was placed on anyone who attempted to enter the area, and North Africa became a province of Rome. Cities such as Utica that was loyal to Rome received privileges such as freedom from taxation. Scipio received a triumph in Rome and enjoyed further success in the Numantine War (143-133 BC). Carthage remained uninhabited until Caesar re-founded it almost 100 years later and Octavian encouraged further growth while he was emperor.

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