Hello everyone, and welcome to my last BOR AAR. This time we are strangling Rome in its cradle with Carthage.
The 1st Punic war, a war of unprecedented scale and brutality. Maybe. I don't know if it really was, but that sounds exciting, doesn't it? It was really long anyway - over 20 years! And there's war elephants! So keep on reading!
How did it start?
(Be wary, this is the story how I understand it and it may or may not actually be correct.)
Some mercenaries – the Mamertines - decided that having a city is a lot better than not having a city, so they seized Messana on Sicily, killing all male citizens and keeping the women for themselves. Yep, that's how they rolled, the Mamertines. Anyway, as these wannabe rulers often are, they turned out to be a huge pain in the ass for everyone around them. Hiero II of Syracuse thus moved against the Mamertines, defeated them in the field and besieged Messana. Obviously, Hiero now wanted to occupy Messana. So the Mamertines then appealed to Carthage. The Carthaginians, happy to help anyone against Syracuse – even them – garrisoned Messana to prevent the Syracuseans from taking over.
Problem: the Carthaginians thought that now they were in Messana, they could just as well stay. The Mamertines didn't like that and called for the only other power around to help them. Yes, you guessed it: the Senate and People of Rome.
The Roman Senate was largely against a war with Carthage as they knew it was a powerful enemy but the consul Appius Claudius convinced everyone that Carthage had to be defeated some time, might as well get it over with right now!
So, the Romans crossed the strait, forced the Carthaginian garrison to surrender and that's how the war got started. The Carthaginians thus allied with the Syracuseans - a classic "enemy of my enemy" situation. Historically, the Romans defeated them in the first battle and so lifted the siege of Messana. Next, the legions moved against the Syracuseans who – without help from the Carthaginians – had not much of a chance against the Romans and quickly surrendered to rather light terms: the Romans were just happy they found someone who could supply them on Sicily! But if it will go down the same route here is not certain!