Treaties between Rome and Carthage

The treaties between Rome and Carthage are the four treaties between the two states that were signed between 509 BC and 279 BC. The treaties influenced the course of history in the Mediterranean, and are important for understanding the relationship between the two most important cities of the region during that era. They reveal changes in how Rome perceived itself and how Carthage perceived Rome, and the differences between the perception of the cities and their actual characteristics.

As city-states that became empires, Rome and Carthage eventually found it necessary to formalise their reciprocal interests and zones of influence. For centuries, the two operated side by side, even as allies. Their economic interests and methods of expansion were different: Rome did not look to the sea, engaged first in defending itself against the neighbouring Samnites, Etruscans, Gauls, and Greeks, and then in conquering them; Carthage, lacking a real civic army and repelled in Sicily by the Greeks, appeared indecisive regarding its expansion strategy: while the aristocratic party was inclined to extend the power of the city into surrounding lands, the commercial party was more interested in exploiting trade routes and markets. By stipulating and observing four main treaties, the relationship between Rome and Carthage was one of tolerance for centuries. Carthage and Rome also concluded two treaties to end the First and Second Punic War in 241 BC and 201 BC, by which time the relationship between the powers had changed considerably.