The Spark - Sicily

The importance Sicily

Map of the western Mediterranean at the time of the First Punic War in 264 BCE.

Map of the western Mediterranean at the time of the First Punic War in 264 BCE.

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  • Roman Power

  • Carthaginian Empire

  • Hannibal

  • Seleucid King Antiochus III the Great

  • Roman-Seleucid War (Treaty of Apamea)

  • Battle of Agrigentum

  • Crossing of the Alps

  • Battle of the Trebia

  • Third Punic War


The Punic Wars: Formation of Conflict

  • The Spark - Sicily

  • Rise of Empires

  • Technology During the Punic Wars

  • Animals in the Punic Wars

  • Formation - Second Punic War (PW2)

  • Cessation - End of Conflict

Why was Sicily Important?

Sicily is an island just off the Italian Peninsula, in the Meditteranean Sea. There are a number of other islands in the Meditteranean, which were all under the control of Carthage in 264 BCE. However, on Sicily there was an independent kingdom called Syracuse.

At this time, the Roman Republic had expanded to rule most of Italy, and wanted to protect this territory. They were comfortable [1] for territory on Sicily to be ruled by minor kings, but did not want the island to be controlled by a large foreign power that could pose a threat.

What happened in 264 BCE?

In 264 BCE, a conflict arose on Sicily when King Hieron II of Syracuse attacked the City of Messana (modern day Messina), on the side of the island closest to Italy, Roman territory.

The people of Messana sent messages to their neighbours asking for help against Syracuse’s invasion. The message was sent to both Rome and Carthage, but the Carthaginians arrived at Messana before the Romans.

The forces from Carthage took control of Messana, and King Hieron retreated. Once the Roman army arrived, they saw the Carthaginians occupying Messana. The Romans demanded that Carthage retreat, which the Carthaginians did. However, Carthage and Syracuse then became allies and declared war and launched an attack on Messana together.

The attack was unsuccessful, but the conflict continued. The following year, in 263 BCE, the Roman army moved into King Hieron of Syracuse’s territory, and he became their ally against Carthage. The conflict had begun to escalate.

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