Ancient Rome by Hal Marcovitz

By Hal Marcovitz

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At the time the war broke out, Rome did not have a navy, but after capturing a Carthaginian ship, the Romans copied it and were able to construct a navy of several hundred ships, which they used effectively against the Carthaginians. The war dragged on until 241 BC, when Carthage finally relented and agreed to give up all claims to Sicily. The Carthaginians also agreed to pay a massive penalty to Rome and cease trading in waters controlled by the Roman navy. When the First Punic War ended, a Carthaginian child named Hannibal was 7 years old.

Many of the Roman soldiers managed to escape the massacre and flee back to Rome, where they took refuge on the Capitoline, which was well fortified. Below the Capitoline fortifications, the Gauls poured into the city, looting and burning everything in sight. They remained in Rome for seven months, attempting many times to dislodge the remaining soldiers from the Capitoline but failing each time. Finally, the Romans sued for peace. The price demanded by Brennus was high—1,000 pounds (454kg) of gold—but the Romans felt they had no choice and agreed to the Gallic leader’s demands.

Back in Rome 52 the slave-owning aristocrats were horrified by the uprising and found themselves living in fear, wondering whether their household slaves would rise against them and join the revolt. They demanded the Roman Senate take action and put down the uprising. The Senate responded by sending Roman legions to halt the advance of the slave army, but the soldiers met with mixed results, winning some confrontations with the slaves but losing many as well. Legions were hastily recalled from Spain to help swell the ranks of the Roman army.

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