Why did Carthage lose the Punic Wars?

Oct 2015
239
Chicago
-despite being more technologically advanced than Rome
- and having Hannibal (no roman general could match him)

if Carthage never called back Hannibal? would he of won?
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,787
rome had much greater resources, manpower, better organisation, discipline and determination.

battle going to the strong is hardly inexplicable.
 
Oct 2015
239
Chicago
for example i have seen this post on Quora that says the Roman army was not as skilled as it's led to believe

https://www.quora.com/Ancient-Warfare-Why-were-Roman-armies-so-formidable


Since this is Quora, I expect you'll find reams & reams written about the glory of the Roman state, their legendary discipline, their tactical acumen & strategic foresight, the strength of their legions & the learning of their generals, the might of their arms & their dedication to idea of Rome, Mother of Civilization, and all that Nazi-sounding crap...

All that is nonsense.


Though I must admit that it is pretty entertaining at least...

Training, discipline & all that ridiculous propaganda had little to do with Roman success at all. For most part of history, Roman armies were, for all practical purposes, masses of underfed scared kids holding Spanish swords, following Gaulish military doctrine, lead by a young thin rich brat (whose father had probably bought the office for him) with his head stuffed with Greek drivel written centuries ago by poets who hadn't seen a battlefield in their lives...

Tactic can be copied. Metallurgy can be done by slaves. Books can be bought. Offices can be sold. Logistical systems & Engineers are only a question of enough money. Where the Romans really stood out with respect to their enemies was their population.

They zerg-rushed their enemies. All the time. Any account that doesn't have them zerg-rushing their enemies is, in 90% of all cases, a lie.

The Roman state enjoyed a lot of advantages compared to their foes. The Greeks had barely any agricultural land to speak of. The Phoenicians were over-stretched. The Iberians & Gauls didn't have much access to proper Greek technology & even if they did, there were no big cleared river valleys in their lands. Illyria was filled with piratical raiders, the Britons were savages, the Ptolemies were incestuous idiots. The Seleucids & other successor states would fall fast- & the Volkerwanderung was still centuries away...


Observe how much potential agricultural land the Romans possessed in contrast to the Greeks & the Carthaginians- their primary rivals...

The Romans- with their easy climate, fertile soil, & capital position on the Tiber Valley- had the ability to simply flood their enemies' lands with legion after legion of semi-trained, patriotic citizen levies. They did this to their Latin kin until they owned Italy. Then they did this to the Greeks in Neopolitania (then called Magna Grecia). Then they did it to the Gauls in the Po Valley. At this point, they owned the biggest bread-baskets in all Mediterranean Europe- a position challenged only by the riches of the ill-managed Nile Valley & the war-torn East.

Hannibal annihilated a Roman army of 100,000 at Cannae. The Romans raised three in response. Epirus tore apart everything the Romans sent their way- and yet had to retreat. Rome poured legion after legion into the forests of Gaul until they conquered the untamed wilderness through sheer persistence. The first Punic War had Roman fleets being destroyed on multiple occasions; the Phoenicians ran out of bodies- but the Romans ruled the Mediterranean when the dust settled. The Romans- while in the middle of Civil Wars far more vicious than what Europe had seen- or would ever see- could mount expeditions against World powers & crush them.

More than anything else, it was the Roman world's sheer appetite for death- their enemies' & especially their own- that won them their Empire. Again & again they won against their enemies- only because they raised two corpses for each their rivals raised- & outbid twice over every time. The Roman civilization didn't succeed because they had the best generals or the best skills or the best steel. They won because the ordinary Roman soldier had the courage to fight wars as inexorable & brutal as a hammer blow to the face...and die while doing so.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,787
A lot of emotional language.

i said the they had greater numbers, discipline, determination which mostly covers what that quoted post saying in a more objective sense.

Roman armies ere more organised, their equipment, their way of fighting was standardised, their military camps, (which was instituted because they were such poor scouts). roman armies generally performed well, yes numbers helped but they won their share of even contests.

Rome suffered seemingly endless military diastsers but they always bounced back, the romans would grit their teeth, organise more troops and be back. you might when battles or a war against Rome,but it was pretty relentless. they had the political will , determination and discipline to send out yet another army. it's not just the numbers.

Roman commanders could be poor some very bad but they had quite a few good ones.

organisation, romans dug proper latrines, had well laid out camps, their opponents did not. they had harsh punishments for sleeping on watch, the Romans had a very organised military system. Carthage mostly had ad hoc mercenary forces.
 
Oct 2015
239
Chicago
A lot of emotional language.

i said the they had greater numbers, discipline, determination which mostly covers what that quoted post saying in a more objective sense.

Roman armies ere more organised, their equipment, their way of fighting was standardised, their military camps, (which was instituted because they were such poor scouts). roman armies generally performed well, yes numbers helped but they won their share of even contests.

Rome suffered seemingly endless military diastsers but they always bounced back, the romans would grit their teeth, organise more troops and be back. you might when battles or a war against Rome,but it was pretty relentless. they had the political will , determination and discipline to send out yet another army. it's not just the numbers.

Roman commanders could be poor some very bad but they had quite a few good ones.

organisation, romans dug proper latrines, had well laid out camps, their opponents did not. they had harsh punishments for sleeping on watch, the Romans had a very organised military system. Carthage mostly had ad hoc mercenary forces.
I think that guy was trying to claim that Rome was really just a bunch of unorganized guys that won because they had the will to fight...
 

Lee-Sensei

Ad Honorem
Aug 2012
2,132
for example i have seen this post on Quora that says the Roman army was not as skilled as it's led to believe

https://www.quora.com/Ancient-Warfare-Why-were-Roman-armies-so-formidable


Since this is Quora, I expect you'll find reams & reams written about the glory of the Roman state, their legendary discipline, their tactical acumen & strategic foresight, the strength of their legions & the learning of their generals, the might of their arms & their dedication to idea of Rome, Mother of Civilization, and all that Nazi-sounding crap...

All that is nonsense.

Though I must admit that it is pretty entertaining at least...

Training, discipline & all that ridiculous propaganda had little to do with Roman success at all. For most part of history, Roman armies were, for all practical purposes, masses of underfed scared kids holding Spanish swords, following Gaulish military doctrine, lead by a young thin rich brat (whose father had probably bought the office for him) with his head stuffed with Greek drivel written centuries ago by poets who hadn't seen a battlefield in their lives...

Tactic can be copied. Metallurgy can be done by slaves. Books can be bought. Offices can be sold. Logistical systems & Engineers are only a question of enough money. Where the Romans really stood out with respect to their enemies was their population.

They zerg-rushed their enemies. All the time. Any account that doesn't have them zerg-rushing their enemies is, in 90% of all cases, a lie.

The Roman state enjoyed a lot of advantages compared to their foes. The Greeks had barely any agricultural land to speak of. The Phoenicians were over-stretched. The Iberians & Gauls didn't have much access to proper Greek technology & even if they did, there were no big cleared river valleys in their lands. Illyria was filled with piratical raiders, the Britons were savages, the Ptolemies were incestuous idiots. The Seleucids & other successor states would fall fast- & the Volkerwanderung was still centuries away...

Observe how much potential agricultural land the Romans possessed in contrast to the Greeks & the Carthaginians- their primary rivals...

The Romans- with their easy climate, fertile soil, & capital position on the Tiber Valley- had the ability to simply flood their enemies' lands with legion after legion of semi-trained, patriotic citizen levies. They did this to their Latin kin until they owned Italy. Then they did this to the Greeks in Neopolitania (then called Magna Grecia). Then they did it to the Gauls in the Po Valley. At this point, they owned the biggest bread-baskets in all Mediterranean Europe- a position challenged only by the riches of the ill-managed Nile Valley & the war-torn East.

Hannibal annihilated a Roman army of 100,000 at Cannae. The Romans raised three in response. Epirus tore apart everything the Romans sent their way- and yet had to retreat. Rome poured legion after legion into the forests of Gaul until they conquered the untamed wilderness through sheer persistence. The first Punic War had Roman fleets being destroyed on multiple occasions; the Phoenicians ran out of bodies- but the Romans ruled the Mediterranean when the dust settled. The Romans- while in the middle of Civil Wars far more vicious than what Europe had seen- or would ever see- could mount expeditions against World powers & crush them.

More than anything else, it was the Roman world's sheer appetite for death- their enemies' & especially their own- that won them their Empire. Again & again they won against their enemies- only because they raised two corpses for each their rivals raised- & outbid twice over every time. The Roman civilization didn't succeed because they had the best generals or the best skills or the best steel. They won because the ordinary Roman soldier had the courage to fight wars as inexorable & brutal as a hammer blow to the face...and die while doing so.
This is nonsense.

1) Rome's soldiers in a lot of respects were superior. Carthage relied on mercenaries or troops from conquered territory. Rome on the other hand, relied on Italian troops fighting out of loyalty to Rome and to their native lands against an Invasion of alien people and their principal enemy.

2) Are you implying that Rome's generals were all incompetent rich boys with no qualifications? They received military educations and often served as junior officers when they're young. For example, Scipio the African first served at Ticinus as a junior officer under his father. He even managed to save his life.

3) Gee. So everyone that ays the Romans were capable of tactical thinking is a liar. They just rushed in like savages. Because you say so, right?

4) The Romans only conwuered Gaul because of superior numbers? I'm ssorry, but Caesar conquered Gaul and it was a slaughter.

5) A lot of nonsensical generalizations have been made. Did Rome have bad general? Yes. They also had fantastic generals. Hannibal won at Carrhae, but he lost to Scipio and the Roman strategy for defeating the Carthaginians was brilliant. Phyrrus won Heraclea, but he lost Beneventum.
 
Last edited:

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,398
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Romans evolved their military tactics [for example it was just a defeat against Carthage at Cannes in 216 BCE to persuade them to have a better cavalry on the sides of the heavy infantry].

A part this, I would say that what Carthage missed was a rich inland as background. In this the mismatch with Rome was evident. Carthage to win the Punic wars in the long term had to conquer Egypt first [but they didn't expand their domains in that direction] just to have that rich background to sustain so long and expensive wars, then to fight against Rome. They had some good territories in modern Spain, but not a so stable and wide conquest to compete with Central Italy.
 
Oct 2015
239
Chicago
This is nonsense.

1) Rome's soldiers in a lot of respects were superior. Carthage relied on mercenaries or troops from conquered territory. Rome on the other hand, relied on Italian troops fighting out of loyalty to Rome and to their native lands against an Invasion of alien people and their principal enemy.

2) Are you implying that Rome's generals were all incompetent rich boys with no qualifications? They received military educations and often served as junior officers when they're young. For example, Scipio the African first served at Ticinus as a junior officer under his father. He even managed to save his life.

3) Gee. So everyone that ays the Romans were capable of tactical thinking is a liar. They just rushed in like savages. Because you say so, right?

4) The Romans only conwuered Gaul because of superior numbers? I'm ssorry, but Caesar conquered Gaul and it was a slaughter.

5) A lot of nonsensical generalizations have been made. Did Rome have bad general? Yes. They also had fantastic generals. Hannibal won at Carrhae, but he lost to Scipio and the Roman strategy for defeating the Carthaginians was brilliant. Phyrrus won Heraclea, but he lost Beneventum.
I think this guy was arguing alot on emotion

but i think he was trying to make the general argument that rome didn't have this supreme dedicated disciplined fighting force as were liked to believe, thats his arugment at least
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,027
Australia
The Roman system allows for the right commander to be produced at just the right time.