During the early years of roman expansion what city was rome's only rival in the mediterranean world.

Rome's only remaining rival in the western Mediterranean was the Phoenician colony of Carthage.

Sources suggest that Carthage was the chief sea power, just as Rome was the chief land power. Carthaginian warships made the Mediterranean a closed sea.

The Carthaginians sank the trading vessels of any other city which dared to bid for a share of the rich commerce of this region. Such lordly and insolent behavior was intolerable to the equally haughty pride of Rome, and a conflict for Mediterranean supremacy (the Punic Wars) began in 264 BC. This continued with interruptions until Carthage was finally destroyed in 146 BC.

The courage and endurance of Rome were tested to the utmost in this long and disastrous series of wars. The war with Hannibal (the Second Punic War), one historian says, was "a trial such as no people has ever gone through before or since, and survived." The stern devotion to duty, which was the keynote of Roman character, triumphed in the end, however.

After the battle of Zama (202 BC) Carthage was reduced to the position of a vassal state. Fifty years later, in the Third Punic War, Rome again savagely attacked its defeated rival and razed the city.

Stretching from the Atlantic to the Tigris, the Roman empire contained perhaps about 65 million inhabitants. Learn more about the Romans by checking these surprising facts from Historyextra.com.

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