Picture of Rome's Punic Wars: Three Victories and Their Lessons (MP3 download)

Rome's Punic Wars: Three Victories and Their Lessons (MP3 download)

By John David Lewis


From 262 BC through 146 BC Rome fought three major wars with Carthage. These, the first world-scale wars in the west, ended in different kinds of victories: the first in an incomplete decision followed by a new attack; the second in a proper victory that lasted two generations; the third in the unjust and unnecessary destruction of Carthage. Rather than attempt to detail the complex military maneuvers during the wars, this course focuses on why the two powers fought - what cultural and political factors brought them to such horrific violence? These conflicts offer lessons as to how - and how not - to end wars, and to create the conditions for a rational peace.

This course will ground these conflicts in broader constitutional challenges to the rule of law in Rome, and the implications for cultural change in Rome. At their moment of greatest military achievement - the destruction of Carthage and Corinth in the same year - the Romans began to turn from the rule of law to unconstitutional government. The rise of the populists in the next generation was followed by the collapse of constitutional authority in the Senate, civil war across Italy, and military rule under generals. This course will consider the connections between culture and politics, and the need for a rational political philosophy at the base of a decent political order.

This course was recorded at the 2008 Objectivist Summer Conference in Newport Beach, CA.

(MP3 download; 4 hrs., 24 min., with Q & A, 196.68 MB)