For more than a century the two greatest powers of the Western Mediterranean Sea, Rome and Carthage competed for supremacy. Three brutal wars were fought between the two powers, the 1st Punic War (246-241 BCE), the 2nd Punic War (218-201 BCE) and the final, 3rd Punic War (149-146 BCE).
In the 1st Punic War (Punic came from Punicus, the Latin word for Phoenicians as the Carthaginians were called by the Romans.) was a victory for Rome who won her first overseas province, Sicily, the beginning of the Roman Empire. In the 2nd Punic War, Rome overcame several massive defeats at the hands of the Great Carthaginian General Hannibal and again defeated the Carthaginians.
During the uneasy peace after the 2nd Punic War many Romans felt the only lasting solution to the the dangers of Carthage was the total destruction of the city. The great Roman senator, Cato the Elder, expressed this deep hatred through his famous comment "Carthago delenda est," ("Carthage must be Destroyed") that he added to the end of every speech he made in the Senate. The death of Carthage came in the 3rd Punic War, where 80% of her population died, the rest were sold into slavery, the city was burned to the ground, the soil plowed with salt and the land cursed (the Romans really hated Carthage). With her greatest rival destroyed, Rome was now the sole major power in the West and well on the road to becoming one of the greatest Empires in World History.