For the Weekend: Putting on the Ritz

Arthur Eckstein: Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome: "Thus Rome went to war for a city that no longer existed, and Carthage went to war for a political figure whom many Punic aristocrats distrusted. But beneath this apparently irrational conduct on both sides lay deep issues of pride, honor, and security. The Romans wanted their will obeyed, as had happened in 238/237—and the Carthaginians were adamant in refusing to obey another state’s will, in good part because of previous incidents with Rome, probably mixed now with new confidence from their Spanish conquests and resources (Polyb. 3.14.9–10: explicit). We must, of course, leave room for badly judged, vacillating, and even incoherent human decision making in the course of the crisis of 220–218. The purpose of the new Punic empire in Spain was to enhance the military and financial capability of Carthage and thus change the balance of power—but this need not have led to war with Rome. If Hannibal had agreed to leave Saguntum alone—and it was a small place—the Punic conquest of Spain might have continued unimpeded in other directions for years, with the balance of power continuing to shift, and Rome ever less able to impose her will. That was Polybius’s impression...

#noted #2019-10-19