"Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem esse delendam." ("Furthermore, I consider it imperative that Carthage be destroyed.") (Cato the Elder)
At its peak, the wealthy Carthaginian Empire dominated the Mediterranean against the likes of Greece and Rome, with commercial enterprises and influence stretching from Spain to Turkey, and at several points in history it had a very real chance of replacing the fledgling Roman Empire or the failing Greek poleis (city-states) altogether as master of the Mediterranean.
Although Carthage by far preferred to exert economic pressure and influence before resorting to direct military power, (and even went so far as to rely primarily on mercenary armies paid with its vast wealth for much of its history,) it nonetheless produced a number of outstanding generals, from the likes of Hanno Magnus to, of course, the great bogeyman of Roman nightmares himself: Hannibal. Through clever use of force projection, both by maintaining a large and very active navy to dominate the seaborne routes along which most of their vast trading empire's lifeblood flowed and by paying allies with gold or recruiting mercenary armies to fight for them, Carthage was able to go from a minor Phoenician settlement to one of the most powerful trading empires of antiquity.
However, the Carthaginians' foreign policy had one fatal flaw; over the centuries, they had a knack for picking the worst enemies they could possibly enter into conflict with. The first serious clash of civilizations which Carthage was involved in was with Greece. Unfortunately for the Carthaginians, Carthage would not endure the next major confrontation.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors
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