In 146 BC the armies of Rome destroyed Carthage and emerged as the decisive victors of the Third Punic War. The Carthaginian population was sold and its territory became the Roman province of Africa. In the same year and on the other side of the Mediterranean Roman troops sacked Corinth, the final blow in the defeat of the Achaean conspiracy: thereafter Greece was effectively administered by Rome. Rome was now supreme in Italy, the Balkans, Greece, Macedonia, Sicily, and North Africa, and its power and influence were advancing in all directions. However, not all was well. The unchecked seizure of huge tracts of land in Italy and its farming by vast numbers of newly imported slaves allowed an elite of usually absentee landlords to amass enormous and conspicuous fortunes. Insecurity and resentment fed the gulf between rich and poor in Rome and erupted in a series of violent upheavals in the politics and institutions of the Republic. These were exacerbated by slave revolts and invasions from the east.
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Catherine Steel is Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Glasgow
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