Sicily becomes the First Roman Province.In the interval between the first and second Punic wars, both Rome and Carthage sought to strengthen and consolidate their power. They knew that the question of supremacy was not yet decided, and sooner or later another contest must come. Rome found herself in possession of a new territory outside of Italy, which must be organized. She had already three kinds of territory: (1) the Roman domain (ager Romanus), where all were, generally speaking, full citizens; (2) the Latin colonies, in which the people had a part of the rights of citizens; and (3) the Italian land, in which the people were not citizens, but were half independent, having their own governments, but bound to Rome as allies in war. In Sicily a new system was introduced. The people were made neither citizens nor allies, but subjects. The land was generally confiscated, and the inhabitants were obliged to pay a heavy tribute. The whole islandexcept Syracuse, which remained independentwas governed by a praetor sent from Rome. By this arrangement Sicily became a “province”which is another name for a conquered territory outside of Italy.
Annexation of Sardinia and Corsica.Besides Sicily, there were in the Mediterranean two other islands which seemed by nature to belong to Italy. These were Sardinia and Corsica. While Carthage was engaged in suppressing a revolt of her own soldiers, which is known as the “mercenary war” in Africa, Rome saw a favorable opportunity to get possession of Sardinia. Carthage protested against such an act; and Rome replied by demanding the cession of the island, and also the payment of a fine of 1200 talents (about $1,500,000). Carthage was obliged to submit to this unjust demand; but she determined to avenge herself in the future. As Sardinia came to her so easily, Rome proceeded to take Corsica also, and the two islands were erected into a second Roman province. Rome thus obtained possession of the three great islands of the western Mediterranean.
Suppression of the Illyrian Pirates.The attention of Rome was soon directed to the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. An appeal came from the Greek cities for protection against the pirates of the Adriatic. These pirates were the people of Illyricum, who made their living by plundering the ships and ravaging the coasts of their Greek neighbors. With a fleet of two hundred ships, Rome cleared the Adriatic Sea of these pirates. She then took the Greek cities under her protection; Rome thus obtained a foothold upon the eastern coast of the Adriatic, which brought her into friendly relations with Greece, and afterward into hostile relations with Macedonia.
Conquest of Cisalpine Gaul.As Rome began to be drawn into foreign wars, she became aware that her position at home could not be secure so long as the northern part of Italy remained unconquered. The Alps formed the natural boundary of Italy; and to this boundary she felt obliged to extend her power. She planted colonies upon the Gallic frontier, and in these towns made a large assignment of lands to her own citizens. The Gauls resented this as an encroachment upon their territory; they appealed to arms, invaded Etruria, and threatened Rome. The invaders were defeated and driven back, and the war was continued in the valley of the Po until the whole of Cisalpine Gaul was finally subdued. The conquered territory was secured by new colonies, and Rome was practically supreme to the Alps. Her people were made more devoted to her by the share which they received in the new land. Her dominions were now so well organized, and her authority so secure, that she felt prepared for another contest with Carthage.
SELECTIONS FOR READING
Pelham, Bk. III., Ch. 1, “Rome and Carthage” (1).2
Liddell, Ch. 28, “Events leading to the First Punic War” (1).
Arnold, Hist., Ch. 39, “Constitution and Power of Carthage” (2).
Mommsen, Vol. II., Bk. III., Ch. 1, “Carthage”; Ch. 2, “War concerning Sicily” (2).
Mommsen, abridged, Ch. 12, “Carthage”; Ch. 13, “First Punic War” (2).
Shuckburgh, Ch. 17, “Rome and Carthage” (1).
How and Leigh, Ch. 18, “First Punic War” (1).
THE ROMAN NAVY.Arnold, Hist., p. 428 (2); How and Leigh, pp. 141-143, 152 (1); Shuckburgh, pp. 237, 241 (1); Eschenburgh, p. 282 (8) ; Ramsay and Lanciani, pp. 453-458 (8); Guhl and Koner, pp. 253-264 (16); Harper’s Dict. Antiqq., “Navis” (8).
1 So called because the Latin word for Carthaginian is Punicus.
2 The figure in parenthesis refers to the number of the topic in the Appendix, where a fuller title of the book will be found.