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How did the Second Punic War begin?

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Quick Answer

The Second Punic War between Carthage and Ancient Rome was sparked by the seizure of the city-state of Saguntum in 219 B.C. by the Carthaginian general, Hannibal. Saguntum, which was located on the Mediterranean coast of what is now modern-day Spain, was a Roman ally and protectorate, although the city's actual status and relationship to Rome was somewhat ambiguous. The taking of the city by Hannibal's forces and his crossing of the Ebro River into Roman-held territory were, however, viewed by Rome as acts of aggression and a violation of the peace treaty that ended the First Punic War.

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Full Answer

When Carthage refused Rome's demand to hand over Hannibal for punishment, the two rivals began to prepare for another war. The start of direct hostilities between the two nations began when Hannibal proceeded to advance on Rome by taking a dangerous route over the Alps in an attempt to invade the Italian peninsula.

Hannibal's goal was to regain the prestige and regional hegemony enjoyed by Carthage prior to the end of the First Punic War. The intent of his invasion was to force Rome into a new treaty based on terms that were more agreeable to Carthage.

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