Hui216 Italian Civilization Andrea Fedi

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Italian Civilization

Andrea Fedi

5.1 Rome vs. Carthage (270 BCE)

5.1 The 3 Punic wars

  1. One of the pivotal moments in the expansion of the Roman republic was the wars against the Carthaginians, wars which soon became part of Roman culture and folklore (see Vergil's poem, The Aeneid)

  2. Carthage was, long before Rome, the power to reckon with in the Western Mediterranean Sea

  3. Rome, in contrast, was lagging behind in the technology of naval warfare, so much so that according to Roman historians the Romans studied a captured Carthaginian ship to improve the characteristics of their warships

5.1 264-241 BCE: the First Punic War

  1. Rome and the Greek colonies of Eastern Sicily fought against Carthage

  2. Rome played the role of big brother, pretending to come to the rescue of Sicilian cities which were very important to the Romans, strategically (because of their central position in the Mediterranean), and economically (because of their thriving commerce and agriculture)

  3. At the end of this war Rome assumes control of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica

5.1 The next 2 Punic wars

  1. 218-201 Second Punic War

  2. Famous Carthaginian general Hannibal crosses the Alps

  3. Rome becomes the new ruler of Western Mediterranean

  4. 149-146 Third Punic War

  5. Destruction of Carthage, Africa annexed as a province

  6. War against the league of Greek cities

  7. Fearing that Carthaginians, whose powers were already fading, might come back to pose new threats, Romans fought another war and concluded it with the complete destruction of Carthage

  8. Some historians, even among the Romans, argued that this war was an easy political victory, and that it was initiated to enhance the reputation of Roman leaders

5.1 After the first Punic war (220 BCE)

5.1 Roman historian Livy on the 2nd Punic war (bk. 21)

  1. A number of things contributed to give this war its unique character:

  2. in the first place, it was fought between peoples unrivaled throughout previous history in material resources, and themselves at the peak of their prosperity and power;

  3. secondly, it was a struggle between old antagonists, each of whom had learned, in the first Punic War, to appreciate the military capabilities of the other;

  4. thirdly, the final issue hung so much in doubt that the eventual victors came nearer to destruction than their adversaries.

  5. Moreover, high passions were at work throughout, and mutual hatred was hardly less sharp a weapon than the sword... The intensity of the feeling is illustrated by an anecdote of Hannibal's boyhood...

5.2 Contemporary Italian songs on Hannibal

  1. A 1993 Italian rap song on Hannibal in Italian, and the English translation of its lyrics



  4. There's another Italian song about Hannibal, "Prova a pesare Annibale," by Giorgio Gaber (composed in 1970, reminiscent of a text written by Roman poet Juvenal)

  5. Niccolò Machiavelli mentioned Hannibal and Scipio in a key passage of the Prince (1512-15)

  6. (in English)

5.2 The rap on Hannibal

  1. The rap, which some may find inappropriate, is still worth of our attention

  2. It makes reference also to the passage of the American army through Italy and Europe in WWII, and to the children born during that period from interracial relationships

  3. The topic was somewhat popular in the Italian folklore of the postwar era. The most famous example inside the world of popular music is that of a 1944 Neapolitan song whose lyrics were written by Guido Nicolardi (music composed by E.A. Mario), "Tammurriata nera"

  4. you can find the text in Neapolitan here


  6. info about the song, in Italian, at the following link:


  8. The song became popular all over again during the 1970s, when it was reproposed by a group called Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare, under the direction of Roberto de Simone

5.3 The last 100 years of the Roman Republic

  1. The last years of the Roman Republic were characterized by internal fights and social tensions, violence and instability, a situation that is clearly reflected in Latin literature

  2. The following slides illustrate some of the facts that caused concern in Roman society

  3. Eventually, many Romans would be willing to accept the trade-off, which some may have believed to be just temporary, between the peace and stability guaranteed by the Emperors and the military, and democracy (no matter how limited)

5.3 The first Slave war -- Tiberius Gracchus

  1. 135-132 BCE: the first Slave war in Sicily

  2. Tens of thousand of slaves, employed in the area's large farms start a rebellion

  3. They want freedom for themselves, don't have other sociopolitical goals, such as the elimination of slavery

  4. The Roman army has to intervene and fight all-out military battles

  5. 134-133: Tiberius Gracchus, a member of the Roman elite, becomes the people's Tribune and proposes a reform to redistribute large portions of public land (until then leased mostly to the rich landowners), and to assign land more liberally to members of the lower class, giving them a chance to become independent farmers and small entrepreneurs

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