Though the foundation of the Roman Empire is considered by some to be in 27 BC with Octavian’s acceptance of the name Augustus, its origins were in fact in the late 3rd Century BC with Rome’s involvement in the Second Punic War. The nearly 20 year war pitched Rome against Carthage in what became a turning point in Roman history. Rome would undergo economic changes that led to the establishment of the practice of Roman aristocrats paying extra costs of the war in an exemption of military service. During the war, Rome’s armies were active farther abroad for greater lengths of time than previous wars. As a result, recruitment underwent changes relaxing previous laws and customs of who could be recruited and greater power and independence was given to generals in forming their own armies. Additionally, the most successful Roman general during the war, Scipio Africanus, achieved unprecedented individual power both in the field, including an indefinite term as general and nearly complete diplomatic freedom, and at home, such as breaking through the normal political requirements for multiple political positions. Lastly, Rome won large sums of land and money from the victory that formed the beginnings of a territorial empire and brought Rome into further contact with other kingdoms; creating nearly unavoidable conflict, and leading to even further expansion. These economic, military, and political precedents that occurred during the Second Punic War are all studied through the primary use of the ancient historian Livy, who is most qualified for the task.
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Arts and Humanities | European History | History
Schaefer, Timothy Edward, "The Second Punic War: The Turning Point of an Empire" (2015). Honors Theses. 59.