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The First Punic War – OverSimplified (Part 1)


– [OverSimplified] This video
was made possible by NordVPN. Click the link below and
get an exclusive deal with a huge discount and a
30 day money-back guarantee. Introducing our new, glorious,
breathtaking Bucket Plushy. Limited quantity, available now, along with some Punic War character pins. – [Character] Oh, wow! – [OverSimplified] Buy them,
or I'll marry your mother. It's your choice. – [Dad] Oh, Marcelus! You
sure have a lot of dignitas! Kiss me! Okay. (imitates kissing) – [Timulus] Hey dad? – [Dad] Hi son, just
reading the newspaper. What can I do for you? – [Timulus] Well, you know
how you always say Rome is the greatest civilization in the world? – [Dad] It bloody well is! – [Timulus] Well, I was just wondering, what makes us so great? How did we come to be? – [Dad] Wow.

My son! Boy, let me take you on a
journey to this side of the room. The story of Rome begins with
these beautiful baby boys going to town on some
she-wolf mommy milkers. – [Timulus] That's gross. – [Dad] You're gross! Sorry, son. You're not gross. I love you. They're called Romulus and
Remus and when they grew up, in 753 BC, they founded Rome But there was just one problem. They couldn't agree on which
of them should be the king.

– [Timulus] But they worked
it out peacefully, right? – [Dad] Oh, heavens no! Romulus caved Remus's
skull in with a shovel. Here's a picture. – [Timulus] Our first
king committed fratricide? – [Dad] I know, look at his face! – [Timulus] When's the
part where we become the greatest civilization, Dad? – [Dad] Well, you see, at
first Rome was full of men. – Oh yeah!
– I'm talking like a real sausage party. You know what I mean? – [Timulus] Yes, sir. – [Dad] So we invited some
neighboring cities over for a big feast and then
we literally kidnapped all of their women. Here's a picture. (laughs) Look at that
one. She's like, bah! (Dad laughs)
– This is messed up. – [Dad] You're messed up! Ugh, sorry, sorry. I'll
be a better father. I promise.

So then, finally, after
centuries of monarchy, those tyrannical kings started
getting a little too big for their britches, so
we overthrew the kings and established Rome as a republic. – [Timulus] Is that when
all the killing stopped? – [Dad] Oh, heavens no! That's when the killing surged, baby! We went wild and conquered
the Latin League, the Samnites, the Etruscans! Woo, what a rush! – [Timulus] Dad, Rome
seems pretty barbaric. – [Dad] You're barbaric! Oh, I forgot to tell you
about the time a prophet told Saturn his son would
one day overthrow him. So Saturn literally ate his own son, seconds after he was born. – [Timulus] I don't wanna see a picture. – [Dad] Here's a picture. – [Timulus] Dad! Look at that! – [Dad] Hmm? – [Timulus] That's messed up, man. Are we really this uncivilized? – [Dad] Hey, hey, if
we were so uncivilized, would we use communal
toilets where we all fart and poo together in
one big stinky, steamy, dirty toilet room? – [Timulus] Yeah, dad, we would! – [Dad] Clean your butt
with the sponge, Timulus! – [Timulus] But all
these guys just used it.

– [Roman] What's wrong with your son, bro? – [Timulus] I don't wanna
be Roman. This is so weird. – [Dad] You're weird! Sorry, you're not weird. I'm
sure you're probably fine. Huh? (Timulus screams) – [OverSimplified] The Roman
Republic, the nation that, since its foundation,
had been stabbing necks all the way down the Italian peninsula. But this isn't the famous Roman Empire that ruled the known world. Not yet, anyway. This is a relatively juvenile Rome, (Rome passes gas)
still just a regional power.

In 264 BC, the big daddy of
the Western Mediterranean was Carthage. Let's rewind a bit. Carthage was founded in 814
BC when some Phoenicians in Tyre had mega surplus of goods and
decided to export those goods across the Mediterranean. They became the dominant
trading power in the region and to support their
growing trade network, the Phoenicians established
a number of colonies, one of which was Carthage. Therefore, Carthage began its life as a Phoenician trade colony and the Carthaginians
were actually Phoenicians, or, if you're a Latin speaking
Roman, they were Punic, hence the name of the video. – Oh!
– Over the centuries, Carthage gradually expanded and became the region's base of power.

Just like Rome, Carthage was
a semi-democratic Republic with its own Senate and Judiciary. But there were also some
pretty hefty differences between the two. While Rome was big into
farming and stabbing people in the neck, the Carthaginians,
on the other hand, just like their Phoenician forefathers, had built their power through trade and navigating the waves. They went here and there,
selling ivory tusks, gold, and slaves. And as a result,
(Carthaginians cheer) they were rolling in it. Whenever they weren't busy swimming around in their copious hoards of
money, in their spare time, they also possibly enjoyed
sacrificing their children to Ba'al, the God of, let
me just check my notes, ah, yes, plant fertility. – [Farmer] Oh boy, these
figs aren't looking too hot. Maybe if I throw my son
into a burning pit of fire, they'll grow. – [Son] Have you tried watering them, Dad? – [Farmer] Hmm. No, we'll try that second. – [OverSimplified] As a
result of all their trading, Carthage had emerged as one of the Mediterranean superpowers. "But wait," they said.

"Rome? What the heck is that?" Well, I know it's a pretty
obscure little country that you've probably never heard of, but this spunky young nation was about to upset the entire
region's balance of power. Initially, the two sites enjoyed relatively friendly relations and it even signed a couple treaties. But it was a relationship
that was practically destined to turn sour. See, Rome had a thing where they liked to aggressively expand their boundaries, often viewing such expansion
as a defensive act. Kind of like when you
could kill your neighbor because you knew eventually
they would've tried to kill you first. Meanwhile, Carthage was
extremely protective of its wealthy trade network. So if you put a very
strategically important island between them, well, two
plus two equals war. Tensions rose and the two
sides began viewing each other with increasing disdain. The hardworking Romans
looked across the water at the money-hungry
Carthaginians and said, "Look at those dishonest crooks. Bet they've never done an honest
day's work in their lives!" And the Carthaginians
looked back and said, "Look at those simple-minded brutes.

Bet they've never sacrificed
a baby in their lives!" "Yeah!" While war between the two
superpowers seemed inevitable, the event that finally triggered
it was a little unexpected. The whole thing began
with a few simple mad lads on a wild night out. These mad lads are called the Mamertines. They were Italian mercenaries employed by the tyrant of Syracuse, here. But when he died, his successor said, "Sorry, fellas, we don't
need any big burly men with sharp sticks anymore. You can all go home." – [Mamertines] Aw. – [OverSimplified] The
Mamertines, as it turned out, didn't want to go home. So instead, they went to
the nearby town of Messana and said, "Hey man, we are
but poor little buff boys without a home.

May we come in?" – [Guard] Aw, poor fellas. Sure thing! Ah, ah, just so long as you promise not to massacre all of us. – [Mamertines] (laugh) We promise! – [OverSimplified] The Mamertines then massacred all of them. Well, not all of them, just the men. And they stole their homes and families. – [Mamertine] Ha, this is my house now! This is my Best Dad Ever mug now! And you guys are my new family! Son, wanna go play catch
with your old papa? – [Son] You're not my real dad! – [Mamertine] Ugh,
teenagers, am I right, dear? – [Woman] You're not my real husband. – [Mamertine] Ugh, I'm so
trapped in this marriage. – [Woman] Then get out! – [Mamertine] No. – [OverSimplified]
Messana was now controlled by the Mamertines and they began raiding up and down the Syracuse coastline. When the new ruler of Syracuse
saw this, he wasn't happy.

The Syracusans began fighting
back and in response, the Mamertines said, "Oh,
crap, they're fighting back? What do we do?" – [Mamertine] Quick, we'll
convince the Carthaginians to come and save us. Oh no! We're in trouble! And we need a big, strong empire to come and rub our bellies. – [Mamertine Leader] Why
are you saying it like that? – [Mamertine] If I was
a big, strong empire, I think I'd like to be seduced. (Carthaginians murmur) See, it's working! – [OverSimplified] The
Carthaginians had long dreamed of controlling all of Sicily. They had been fighting Syracuse
and their Greek influence on the island for centuries and now here was a great opportunity to get one over on them. So Carthage promptly answered
the Mamertines's cry for help and sent a force to garrison Messana. As it turned out, however,
some within the ranks of the Mamertines weren't too happy with the occupying Carthaginians and they sent out a second
cry for help to Rome. When it reached the Roman Senate, they were a little more hesitant. Going to help the Mamertines ran the risk of triggering an all-out war with Carthage and they had only just finished conquering the Italian peninsula, so they were kind of tired.

Plus the Mamertines were all
the way across the water. They had never made a
leap like that before. So you would assume that
to avoid any conflict with Carthage, the exhausted Romans would probably sit this one out, But you would assume wrong. Rome just couldn't resist
a good chance for war. Why? Well, there's something you
gotta understand about Rome. See, as a Republic, they were hell-bent on preventing any one man from
ever gaining too much power. And so rather than having one leader, Rome had two, called
Consuls, who shared power. These Consuls could also only
serve for one year at a time before new Consuls were elected. These measures, to limit
the powers of the Consuls, were noble, but had an
interesting side effect. The Consuls knew they had just one year to try and gain as much glory
and prestige as possible, something that was very
important in Roman society. And the best way of
gaining glory and prestige? Military victory, of course. The Roman political
system basically ended up encouraging these Consuls to
go out and be as aggressive as your Italian grandmother when you don't eat all the spaghett.

And so the glory-seeking
Consuls convinced the people to vote in favor of going to Messana. And in they went. Upon the arrival of the Romans, the Carthaginians in the
city, amongst the confusion, were forced to leave. Now in contrast to Roman aggression, the Carthaginian military had a slightly different philosophy. – [Teacher] All right, kids, listen up. If you wanna grow up to be
Carthaginian military leaders, there's a few things
you have to understand. If you fail to succeed on the battlefield, that's a crucifixion. Showing cowardice, that's a crucifixion. – [Warrior] Hello, sir. – [Teacher] Huh? What are you doing here? Aren't you meant to be in Messana? – [Warrior] Yeah, but
the Romans showed up. – [Teacher] So you just left? – [Warrior] Sure did. – [Teacher] Oh, you better
believe that's a crucifixion. (class cheers) – [OverSimplified] The
Roman Consuls were awarded for victory and therefore tended to be aggressive go-getters.

By contrast, the Carthaginian generals were brutally punished for failure and so they tended to be
more cautious and restrained. This dynamic is helpful
for understanding some of the crazy things that
happened during the Punic Wars. So the Romans have crossed over to Messana and now there was some red on the island. Hit that panic button. (crowd screams) This turn of events was unacceptable to both Carthage and Syracuse. So the traditional enemies teamed up to kick the Romans off their island. They surrounded the city and said, "Hey, you jerks, this isn't your island! Come out of there at once!" – [Romans] Okay, we're coming! – [Carthaginian] See, Phil. You just gotta speak with authority.

That's what being an
alpha male's all about. – [Romans] Hey man. – [Carthaginian] Oh, you
brought your weapons and armor? No, I didn't mean. Oh, crap. – [OverSimplified] Out
the Roman legions came to engage the Carthaginians in battle and they sent them packing. With the battle of Messana,
whether intended or not, by going to help the Mamertines, the two sides had just
slipped into an all-out war. With the initial Roman
victory, towns across Sicily, including Syracuse began
switching allegiance. Because being a winner is more fun. But the Carthaginians weren't about to just give up that easily.

In 262 BC, they began
building up their forces at Agrigentum. So the Romans, being
aggressive go-getters, aggressively go got them. The Romans immediately laid siege, hoping to starve out the
Carthaginian garrison. However, because this
was the first time Rome had been fighting outside
the Italian peninsula, across the water, they struggled
to supply their forces. And before long, the Romans were as starving as the Carthaginians
they were besieging. They had to forage for food,
leaving them open to ambush. And when Carthaginian
reinforcement arrived, creating a double siege,
things got really bad. Everybody starved each other for months until nobody could take it anymore and they all finally came out
for battle, which Rome won. – [War Counselor] Here's the report from the recent siege at Agrigentum, sir. – [Senate Member] We killed 30,000 while only suffering 7,000 losses? That's amazing! We're the best! – [War Counselor] Yes, sir.

Whoops, those are the wrong way around. – [Senate Member] What? We lost 30,000? We're the worst! But we won, right? – [War Counselor] Yes, sir. – [Senate Member] But we
also got our asses kicked? – [War Counselor] Yes, sir. – [Senate Member] So are
we the best or the worst? – [War Counselor] Yes, sir. (Senate murmurs) – [OverSimplified] The
Romans wanted Agrigentum because they were aggressive go-getters and they now began
eyeing up the possibility of conquering the entire island.

But they also suffered very heavy losses and it was clear they
couldn't sustain a campaign if they couldn't supply their troops. Here's the issue. Sicily was an island. Islands are surrounded by water. A strong navy would be
vital for supplying troops and winning the war. Here was Carthage's navy
and here was Rome's. (water splashes)
I think you can see the problem. Historians debate just how
much naval experience Rome had at this point. Presumably, they must have had something to defend their shoreline. But whatever it was, it
would've paled in comparison to the Carthaginian juggernaut. And so Rome had to figure
out exactly what to do about all this water. – [Roman General] Come on, men! We're not gonna let some pansy, candy-ass water get in the way of our glorious victory against Carthage! Charge! (Roman General sputters) Tell my kids I love them! – [Roman Leader] We're
gonna need a bigger boat. – [Roman Warrior] What's a boat? – [Roman Leader] I don't know. – [OverSimplified] If the
Romans wanted to win this war and obtain Sicily, there was
only one thing for them to do.

– [Roman General] I guess
we're just gonna have to go ahead and build ourselves
a war fleet, aren't we? – [Hank] From scratch? – [Roman General] From scratch. – [Hank] But we don't even know how, never mind how to fight with one. – [Roman General] Don't worry, Hank. We're up to the challenge. Come on, guys. We're Romans and Romans aren't
afraid of anything! (screams) – [OverSimplified] And so the
Romans worked long and hard, trying to figure out how
on earth you actually built the latest style of warship. In the end, they had a
bit of luck on their side. A Carthaginian quinquireme ended up accidentally grounding on Italian soil. The Romans found it and copied the design. While the new fleet was being built, the Romans trained rowers on
land and, would you believe it, the Romans put together
a full fighting fleet of 120 warships in just two
months, a staggering feat. Now, I know what you're thinking. "But OverSimplified, if the
Romans can build a war fleet from scratch in two months, then why does it take you
half a year to make a video?" Well, my valued subscriber,
I think you should shut up.

– [Carthaginian General] What the heck? How on earth did the Romans
learn how to build a war fleet? This shouldn't be happening! – [Carl] From what I hear, they copied the design from us, sir. – [Carthaginian General]
Well, how on earth did they get the blueprint, Carl? – [Carl] I don't know, sir. But I'll tell you what. If you're worried about
people stealing your data? – [Carthaginian General] No. – [Carl] And you wanna protect yourself from outside threats– – [Carthaginian General] Don't you dare! – [Carl] Then you, my friend– – [Carthaginian General]
If you mention NordVPN, I'll scream! – Should use NordVPN!
(Carthaginian General screams) – [OverSimplified] Do
you like corporations knowing everything about you
and then selling your data to advertisers who convince you
to buy things you don't need in an endless cycle over
and over until you die? Me neither! And that's why
I use NordVPN.

(laughs) NordVPN allows you to connect
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for better online deals in other territories and unlock content not available in your country, hey! NordVPN now comes with a
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with a huge discount. That's Nordvpn.com/oversimplified.

And as always, you'll be
supporting my channel. So thank you. Now, where were we? Oh yeah, the siege at
Agrigentum, supply issues, and building a war fleet. So now the Romans have
a navy and it's time to put it to the test. But how does one wage
ancient naval warfare? Easy!
(bell dings) All of the ships had giant
bronze rams on the front, so all you had to do was
out-maneuver the enemy and give them the jimmies. Easy as pie. And so the aggressive Romans set out for some good old fashioned jimmy-giving. The Consul Gnaeus Cornelius
Scipio set out for the town of Lipara, believing the
garrison there wanted to join the Romans. As he entered the harbor,
however, he found himself trapped by a Carthaginian fleet and,
in the following skirmish, he was completely outmatched. The Romans may have had a brand new fleet, but when it came to
engaging in actual combat, their inexperience showed. There was just something better about the Carthaginian ships. The Carthaginian rowers had nicer abs.

The entire Carthaginian
Empire had been built on expert seamanship. So when it came to water,
the Carthaginians were better and the Romans were wetter. In their initial skirmish, the
Romans were beaten so badly that the Consul, Scipio,
was given a nickname, Asina. And if you're wondering what
that means, just drop the -ina. (donkey hee-haws) So what were the Romans to do? How could they possibly stand up to this Carthaginian superpower? Well, there's something
you gotta understand about the Romans. Back when they found
that Carthaginian ship and copied its design, that
wasn't a one-off thing. Copying their enemies was as
Roman as punishing murderers by sewing them into a leather
pouch with a monkey, snake, and rooster and then
throwing them into a river, which is a thing they did. Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, copying their enemies. Many of the most famous Roman inventions were actually borrowed. Aqueducts, chariot racing, their gods. Even in warfare, the
Romans would get pierced by a Sabine javelin and
they'd be like, "Wow!" They'd get hacked to
bits by an Iberian sword and they'd be like, "Wow!" And they'd copy the
designs for themselves.

However, they wouldn't just copy it. They would advance it,
finding ways to adapt it as perfectly as possible. And in the case of naval
warfare, the Romans realized if they wanted to beat the
Carthaginians at their own game, they would have to adapt. The Romans excelled at
combat on land, not on water. "But what if," they
said, "We could somehow turn a sea battle into a land battle?" Sounds crazy, right? Well, they made a couple of tweaks to their warship and– – [Carthaginian General]
Look, here they come again! They must love getting their asses kicked! – [Carthaginian] Uh, sir,
almost that tall thing sticking out of their ships? – [Carthaginian General]
(laughs) They really are idiots! Look at that thing! That'll
make them blow over! I mean, look at…

(laughs) Bob, get your camera out! (laughs) Take a picture of it. I mean, how stupid can you be? Let's just add a big
wooden tower to our ship that'll weigh us down and
blow us over in the wind! I mean, what does that thing even do? (ship crunches) (men yell) – [OverSimplified] The Romans had built a big swinging spiked
gangway called the Corvus. So when the Carthaginian
ships approached to ram them, the Romans would just slam them. The Carthaginians tried
going around. No problem. The Corvus could swivel. Try going behind, the Romans
would huddle to the coastline. It was foolproof.
(Romans cheer) Those big sexy Carthaginian rowing muscles could flex all they want,
but they were no match for the Roman mind. So ladies, you see? What really matters is
what's on the inside. Please go out with me. And with that, the Romans,
who had only just recently began dabbling in the art of naval combat, thanks to their ingenious
Corvus, had just managed to outclass the Mediterranean
seafaring superpower.

The Carthaginians were stunned. And the general in charge of the defeated Carthaginian fleet? Well, you better believe
that's a crucifixion. (kids cheer) With their newfound control of the seas, the Romans could now more
easily blockade coastal cities and supply their legions on land. Surely the Romans were now free to unleash their aggression
all over the island. – [Roman General] Haha! Hey Carthaginians! What are you gonna do now that we're free to rampage across the island? – [Carthaginian General] We're
gonna go inside these walls and close this gate. – [Roman General] Oh, come on guys. Stop messing around. Come
out so we can kill you! – [Carthaginian General] No. – [Roman General] Oh, come on! – [Carthaginian General] No. – [Roman General] Oh no! – [OverSimplified] To counter
the new Romans supremacy, the Carthaginians decided to engage in a defensive war of attrition, forcing the Romans to engage
in siege after lengthy siege.

The war in Sicily became a
long, hard, back and forth slug. One by one, cities slowly fell
as the Romans gained ground. Occasionally, the Carthaginians countered and even pushed them back, only for the Romans to rebound again. And whenever a city did finally fall, the Romans could delight in slaughtering the entire population and selling any survivors into slavery, which was pretty standard
procedure at the time. In general, the campaign on
land was progressing much slower than the Romans had hoped. And quite frankly, they
were getting sick of it. So in 256 BC, they decided
that something had to change. – [Marcus] Hey everyone, my
name's Marcus Atilius Regulus and I'll be one of your
Consuls for this year. Look as I'm sure you all know, Sicily's being a bit of a drag.

Sure, I could go and spend
my entire year as Consul besieging one single city,
but they'll never make a naked statue of me for that. So here's the new plan. I'm gonna skip Sicily
entirely, take my army, and go right for the
heart of Carthage itself. I'll slaughter the men, enslave
all the women and children, and when I return, you'll all build 1,000 naked statues of me. (crowd cheers) – [Jim] Marcus, that
woman and children stuff. That seems pretty evil and barbaric.

– [Marcus] No, Jim, it's perfectly normal in the ancient world. Sometimes we even chop their pets in half. (crowd cheers) – [Carthaginian General] Okay
guys, looks like the Romans are coming straight for us this time. And what will they do when they get here? They'll kill us all. (crowd gasps) They'll massacre each
and every last one of us. They may even chop our pets in half. – [Rob] That's barbaric! – [Carthaginian General] No, Rob, it's actually pretty normal for the time. We'd do the same to them. – [Mary] Who will protect us? – [Carthaginian General]
Funny you should ask, Mary. That's kind of why I called this meeting. Who will protect us? Protect our families,
our homes, our children? You guys? Ha, don't make me laugh. Why, you're just a bunch
of stupid and weak farmers. Simple-minded buffoons, cowards, fools. Rob here thinks enslaving
women and children is barbaric. You're a snowflake, Rob. Yes, you are. The fact is if the Romans
manage to land on African soil, we're all gonna die a terrifying, hideous, unspeakably painful death.

– [Rob] Is that the end of that speech? – [Carthaginian General] Yes. (crowd screams) – [OverSimplified] The
Carthaginians had to stop the Romans from ever landing in Africa
because they believed that would be the end. So as the Romans were
building an invasion fleet the size of which the world
had never seen before, the Carthaginians were
preparing an even bigger one to stop them. And in 256 BC, as the Roman invasion fleet made its way south, the stage was set for a humongous battle
that saw 680 warships, around 300,000 men, fighting to decide the course of the war. To this day, the Battle of Cape Ecnomus remains possibly the largest
naval battle in human history, all the way back in ancient times. So the next time your granddad tells you about the time he sank a
Japanese aircraft carrier, kick him in the nuts. The Romans had a lot
riding on this battle. They weren't just sending their warships, but transports as well,
full of supplies and horses for their invasion of Africa. They therefore formed a
protective wedge-like formation to punch through the long,
thin Carthaginian line. The Carthaginian generals,
however, desperate to prevent the Romans
from reaching Africa, had a plan of their own.

As the Roman fleet approached,
the Carthaginian center feigned a retreat luring the Romans in so their outstretched
flanks could envelop them and get around the Roman
Corvus, a clever plan. But with such a huge battle and so many ships crowded together, the Carthaginians struggled
to maneuver as hoped and in the chaos, three
separate battles emerged across the huge battle space.

With the number of ships limiting
their ability to maneuver, the Carthaginians became sitting ducks and all the Romans had
to do was start swinging. The Roman center came out
on top and were then able to turn around and rescue
their pinned-down flanks. The battle of Cape Ecnomus
was a Roman victory. (epic music).

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