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The First Punic War: Deconstruction and Reinterpretation. A Hypothesis

Hayes, Terence Morland; (2022) The First Punic War: Deconstruction and Reinterpretation. A Hypothesis. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The First Punic War (264 B.C. – 241 B.C.) was the first of three major conflicts between the republics of Rome and Carthage for the domination of the Mediterranean World. From this point on Rome looked beyond Italy and launched her own first overseas venture into Sicily. The key source of information concerning the war is the Greek historian Polybius whose account has been accepted by most scholars since its first translation into Latin in 1419. However, in this thesis I argue that there are some highly significant anomalies in his account which have not been satisfactorily explained by scholars and that by comparing Polybius’ account with variant other sources, a new hypothesis can be constructed that reveals a radically different narrative for the war. This approach indicates that the conflict was made up of at least two separate wars (264-248 and 242-241) that were divided by a peace period, and that in the first of these the Romans were defeated and forced to leave Sicily. Although the Romans were ultimately the victors, I reason that when they embarked on writing their first history, they were constrained by circumstances to obscure the defeat in order to demonstrate that Rome was unbeatable in war. This objective was skilfully accomplished, I contend, by Rome’s first historian, Fabius Pictor, who rearranged the events based on the ‘account’ of the war by his predecessor Philinus of Agrigentum. Fabius’ history quickly became accepted as the basis, particularly by Polybius, for all subsequent Roman histories. My thesis challenges the old nineteenth century triumphalist assumptions as to the inevitability of Rome’s rise to world power and strives to redress a major injustice perpetrated on the Carthaginians, and thus on their inheritors.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The First Punic War: Deconstruction and Reinterpretation. A Hypothesis
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10142277
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