Punic Wars, Three major wars between Rome and Carthage resulting in the subjugation of Carthage and Rome’s acquisition of territories beyond the Italian Peninsula.1. First war (264-241 BC) was probably brought on by the desire for military aggrandizement by the Roman nobiles. Its immediate cause was a conflict between the Mamertini and forces from Syracuse, on Sicily. Both Carthage and Rome responded to the Mamertini request for aid, and soon after were at war with one another. The Romans built a great fleet, defeated the Carthaginians at the Battle of Mylae (260), and launched an ill-fated invasion of Africa in which the commander, Regulus, was captured (255) by Greek mercenaries. On Sicily, the Carthaginian commander Hamilcar Barca succeeded in thwarting the Romans’ attempt at decisive victory. However, the Roman fleet finally destroyed the Carthaginian fleet in the naval battle of Aegates (241) and thereby forced the Carthaginians to accept peace. Rome gained Carthaginian territories on Sicily. Not long after, Rome also annexed Sardinia and Corsica. 2. Second War (218-201 BC) between Rome and Carthage, sparked by the Carthaginians’ conquest of Saguntum, a Spanish city loosely associated with Rome. In the years after the first war, Carthage had greatly expanded its holdings in Spain. With the outbreak of war, the great Carthaginian general Hannibal led his forces on the now famous march from Spain, across the Alps, and into north Italy. He won notable victories at Ticinus (218), Trebia (218), Lake Trasimenus (217) and Cannae (216), but failed to take Rome itself. Although Hannibal gained control of much of southern Italy, Carthage failed to provide him needed support. Finally, the Roman invasion of North Africa by Scipio Africanus Major (204) forced Hannibal to return to Carthage. He was defeated at the Battle of Zama (202), and Carthage itself fell (201). Carthage had to give up its navy and its Spanish territories and never again seriously threatened Roman military superiority. 3. Third War (149-146 BC) between Rome and Carthage, resulting from Roman fears about a resurgent Carthage and efforts by the Roman, Cato the Elder, to bring about the complete destruction of Carthage. Rome finally declared war and soon after laid siege to Carthage. The Carthaginians refused to surrender, and the Romans, led by Scipio Africanus Minor, were forced to fight in the streets of the city to gain control of it. They then completely destroyed Carthage and organized Carthaginian domains into the Roman province of Africa.