During the 200s and 100s B.C., Rome expanded overseas. First they conflicted with the sea power and trading center on the coast of northern Africa, Carthage. They fought over the Mediterranean Sea in the Punic Wars. In the first war, Rome conquered Sicily, and made it the first Roman province, and also conquered Sardinia and Corsica. In the second, the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, and his army won several battles after coming over the Alps into Italy. However, under Publius Cornelius Scipio's leadership, Rome eventually beat him in 202 B.C. In the third Punic War, Rome defeated Carthage entirely. Rome then had the coasts of Spain and Africa under their control.
Rome also began to expand in the east after the second Punic War. Originally this was to protect its allies along the east coast from pirates, but soon conflicts arose with Greece and Macedonia. In 338 B.C., Macedonia had conquered the Greeks.
Though Rome posed as the liberator of the Greeks, by the 140s B.C., it had control of Greece and Macedonia. Then, in 133 B.C., King Attalus III of Pergamum died and left his kingdom to Rome.
Many things help explain why Rome was able to expand overseas, but two are especially significant to the remarkable task. Rome built an alliance of cities in Italy. Those cities supplied them with enormous manpower. They also had extreme pride in their military and government power. This gave them confidence and superiority in the fairness of their cause.
While these great things were happening overseas, things at 'home' were not so great. Unemployment rose because plantation owners, who ran their plantations by working with slaves, destroyed small farm businesses. Wealthy Romans profited from taxes and slaves from conquered lands. Because of this, the gap between rich and poor widened. In 133 and...