Battle of Carthage (149 BC)

The battle of Carthage was the main encounter of the third Punic war between the Punic city of Carthage in Africa and the Roman Republic . It was an operation based on a fence, beginning sometime between 149 and 148 BC . C., and that finished in the spring of 146 a. C. with the plunder and complete destruction of the city of Carthage.


After a Roman army under the command of the consul Manio Manilio landed in the north of Africa in 149 a. C., Carthage surrendered and surrendered hostages and arms. Nevertheless, the Romans demanded the total resignation to the city, and surprisingly the city refused, reason why the faction that previously was prone to the surrender turned against the consul.

The Carthaginians prepared the walls and challenged the Romans, a situation that lasted for two years. In this period, the 500,000 Carthaginians inside the wall transformed the city into a huge arsenal. There were around 300 swords, 500 spears and 140 escudos. They also produced more than 1,000 projectiles for daily catapults . 1

The Romans chose the young, but popular Scipio Emiliano as consul , enabling a special law to be admitted despite the age restriction. Scipio restored discipline, defeated the Carthaginians in Neferis , and besieged the city closely, plus the construction of a dam to block the port.

About the spring of the year 146 a. C., the Romans at last broke the city walls but did not find an effective way to take the city. Every building, house, and temple had become a fortress, and every Carthaginian had taken up arms. The Romans were forced to move slowly, capture the city house by house, street by street and fight every Carthaginian soldier guided by despair. Finally, after hours and hours of house-to-house fighting, the Carthaginians surrendered. It is estimated that 50,000 survivors were sold as slaves. Then the city was leveled. The land surrounding Carthage was finally declared ager publicus (public lands), and was shared with both local farmers and Roman settlers.


Before the end of the battle, a dramatic event took place: 900 survivors, most of them Roman deserters, had found refuge in the temple of Eshmun , in the citadel of Birsa , even though it was already burning. They negotiated their surrender, but Scipio Emiliano expressed that forgiveness was impossible either for Asdrúbal, the general who defended the city, or for deserters. Asdrubal came later to the citadel to surrender and pray for mercy (Romans had tortured as prisoners against the Roman army in February ). At that time Asdrúbal’s wife allegedly went out with her two sons, insulted her husband, sacrificed her children and jumped with them into the fire that the deserters had begun. 1 The deserters, with their bodies, also threw themselves into the flames, 1 provoking the cry of Scipio Emiliano. He recited a prayer from the Iliad of Homer , 3 a prophecy about the destruction of Troy , which could now be applied at the end of Cartago. Scipio declared that the fate of Carthage might one day be that of Rome . 4 5


  1. ↑ Jump to:a b c Apian of Alexandria , The Punic Wars , ” The Third Punic War
  2. Back to top↑ Apian, Punica pg. 118
  3. Back to top↑ Homer : Iliad ; Book 6
  4. Back to top↑ Polybius : Stories, Book XXXVIII, Excidium Carthaginis, 7-8 and 20-22. Loeb classical library, 1927, pg. 402-409 and 434-438.
  5. Back to top↑ Stories