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The preceding sketch of that important system of foreign nations,— Phenicians, Assyrians, and Egyptians,—who occupied the south-eastern portion of the inhabited world of an early Greek, brings them down nearly to the time at which they were all absorbed into the mighty Persian Empire. In tracing the series of events which intervened between 700 BC, and 530 BC, we observe a material increase of power both in the Chaldaeans and Egyptians, and an immense extension of Grecian maritime activity and commerce,—but we at the same time notice the decline of Tyre and Sidon, both in power and traffic. The arms of Nebuchadnezzar reduced the Phenician cities to the same state of dependence as that which the Ionian cities underwent half a century later from Croesus and Cyrus, while the ships of Miletus, Phocaea, and Samos gradually spread over all those waters of the Levant which had once been exclusively Phenician. In the year 704 BC, the Samians did not yet possess a single trireme,down to the year 630 BC not a single Greek vessel had yet visited Libya; but when we reach 550 bC we find the Ionic ships predominant in the Jagan, and those of Corinth end Corcyra in force to the west of Peloponnesus,—we see the flourishing cities of Cyrene and Barka already rooted in Libya, and the port of Naucratis a busy emporium of Grecian commerce with Egypt. The trade by land, which is all that Egypt had enjoyed prior to Psammetichus, and which was exclusively conducted by Phenicians, is exchanged for a trade by sea, of which the Phoenicians have only a share, and seemingly a smaller share than the Greeks ; and the conquest by Amasis of the island of Cyprus, half-filled with Phenician settlements and once the tributary dependence of Tyre, affords one mark of the comparative decline of that great city. In her commerce with the Red sea and the Persian gulf she still remained without a competitor, the schemes of the Egyptian king Nekos having proved abortive; slid even in the time of Herodotus, the spices and frankincense of Arabia were still brought and distributed only by the Phenician merchant. But on the whole, both her political and industrial development are now cramped by impediments, and kept down by rivals, not before in operation; and the part which she will be found to play in the Mediterranean, throughout the whole course of this history, is one subordinate and of reduced importance.

The course of Grecian history is not directly affected by these countries, yet their effect upon the Greek mind was very considerable, and the opening of the Nile by Psammetichus constitutes an epoch la Hellenic thought. It supplied their observation with a large, and diversified field of present reality, while it was at the same time one great source of those mysticizing tendencies which corrupted so many of their speculative minds. But to Phenicia and Assyria, the Greeks owe two acquisitions well deserving special mention, the alphabet, and the first standard and scale of weight, as well as coined money. Of neither of these acquisitions can we trace the precise date. That the Greek alphabet is derived from the Phenician, the analogy of the two proves beyond dispute, though we know not how or where the inimitable present was handed over, of which no traces are to be found in the Homeric poems. The Latin alphabet, which is nearly identical with the most ancient Doric variety of the Greek, was derived from the same source,—also the Etruscan alphabet, though—if O. Muller is correct in his conjecture—only at second-hand, through the intervention of the Greek. If we cannot make out at what time the Phenicians made this valuable communication to the Greeks, much less can we determine when or how they acquired it themselves,— whether it be of Semitic invention, or derived from improvement upon the phonetic hieroglyphics of the Egyptians.

Besides the letters of the alphabet, the scale of weight and that of coined money passed from Phenicia and Assyria into Greece. It has been shown by Boeckh, in his “Metrologie,” that the Aeginaean scale,—with its divisions, talent, mna, and obolus,—is identical with the Babylonian and Phenician: and that the word mna, which forms the central point of the scale, is of Chaldean origin. On this I have already touched in a former chapter, while relating the history of Phedon of Argos, by whom what is called the Aeginaean scale was first promulgated.

In tracing, therefore, the effect upon the Greek mind of early intercourse with the various Asiatic nations, we find that, as the Greeks made up their musical scale, so important an element of their early mental culture, in part by borrowing from Lydians and Phrygians,—so also their monetary and statical system, their alphabetical writing, and their duodecimal division of the day, measured by the gnomon and the shadow, were all derived from Assyrians and Phenicians. The early industry and commerce of these countries was thus in many ways available to Grecian advance, and would probably have become more so, if the great and rapid rise of the more barbarous Persians had not reduced them all to servitude. The Phenicians, though unkind rivals, were at the same time examples and stimulants to Greek maritime aspiration; and the Phenician worship of that goddess whom the Greeks knew under the name of Aphrodite, became communicated to the latter in Cyprus, in Kythera, in Sicily,—perhaps also in Corinth.

The sixth century BC, though a period of decline for Tyre and Sidon, was a period of growth for their African colony Carthage, which appears during this century in considerable traffic with the Tyrrhenian towns on the southern coast of Italy, and as thrusting out the Phocaean settlers from Alalia in Corsica. The wars of the Carthaginians with the Grecian colonies in Sicily, so far as they are known to us, commence shortly after 500 bc, and continue at intervals, with fluctuating success, for two centuries and a half.

The foundation of Carthage by the Tyrians is placed at different dates, the lowest of which, however, is 819 BC: other authorities place it in 878 BC, and we have no means of deciding between them. I have already remarked that it is by no means the oldest of the Tyrian colonies; but though Utica and Gades may have been more ancient than Carthage, the latter greatly outstripped them in wealth and power, and acquired a sort of federal preeminence over all the Phenician colonies on the coast of Africa. In those later times when the dominion of the Carthaginians had reached its maximum, it comprised the towns of Utica, Hippo, Adrumetum, and Leptis,—all original Phenician foundations, and enjoying probably, even as dependents of Car­thage, a certain qualified autonomy,—besides a great number of smaller towns planted by themselves, and inhabited by a mixed population called Liby-Phenicians. Three hundred such towns,—a dependent territory covering half the space between the lesser and the greater Syrtis, and. in many parts remarkably fertile,—a city said to contain seven hundred thousand inhabitants, active, wealthy, and seemingly homogeneous,—and foreign dependencies in Sicily, Sardinia, the Balearic isles, and Spain,—all this aggregate of power, under one political management, was sufficient to render the contest of Carthage even with Rome for some time doubtful.

But by what steps the Carthaginians raised themselves to such a pitch of greatness we have no information, and we are even left to guess how much of it had already been acquired in the sixth century BC. As in the case of so many other cities, we have a foundation-legend, decorating the moment of birth, and then nothing farther. The Tyrian princess Dido or Elisa, daughter of Belus, sister of Pygmalion Ling of Tyre, and wife of the wealthy Sichaeus priest of Herakles in that city,—is said to have been left a widow in consequence of the murder of Sichaeus by Pygmalion, who seized the treasures belonging to his victim. But Dido found means to disappoint him of his booty, possessed herself of the gold which had tempted Pygmalion, and secretly emigrated, carrying with her the sacred insignia of Herakles: a considerable body of Tyrians followed her. She settled at Carthage on a small hilly peninsula joined by a narrow tongue of land to the continent, purchasing from the natives as much land as could be surrounded by an ox’s hide, which she caused to be cut into the thinnest strip, and thus made it sufficient for the site of her first citadel, Byrsa, which afterwards grew up into the great, city of Carthage. As soon as her new settlement had ac­quired footing, she was solicited in marriage by several princes of the native tribes, especially by the Gaetulian Jarbas, who threatened war if he were refused. Thus pressed by the clamors of her own people, who desired to come into alliance with the natives, yet irrevocably determined to maintain exclusive fidelity to her first husband, she escaped the conflict by putting an end to her life. She pretended to acquiesce m the proposition of a second marriage, requiring only delay sufficient to offer an expiatory sacrifice to the manes of Sichaeus: a vast funeral pile was erected, and many victims slain upon it, in the midst of which Dido pierced her own bosom with a sword, and perished in the flames. Such is the legend to which Virgil has given a new color by interweaving the adventures of Aeneas, and thus connecting the foundation legends of Carthage and Rome, careless of his deviation from the received mythical chronology. Dido was worshipped as a goddess at Carthage until the destruction of the city: and it has been imagined with some probability that she is identical with Astarte, the divine patroness under whose auspices the colony was originally established, as Gades and Tarsus were founded under those of Herakles, — the tale of the funeral pile and self-burning appearing in the religious ceremonies of other Cilician and Syrian towns. Phenician religion and worship was diffused along with the Phenician colonies throughout the larger portion of the Mediterranean.

The Phocaeans of Ionia, who amidst their adventurous voyages westward established the colony of Massalia, (as early as 600 bc) were only enabled to accomplish this by a naval victory over the Carthaginians,—the earliest example of Greek and Carthaginian collision which has been preserved to us. The Carthaginians were jealous of commercial rivalry, and their traffic with the Tuscans and Latins in Italy, as well as their lucrative mine-working in Spain, dates from a period when Greek commerce in those regions was hardly known. In Greek authors, the denomination Phenicians is often used to designate the Carthaginians, aa well as the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, so that we cannot always distinguish which of the two is meant; but it is remarkable that the distant establishment of Gades, and the numerous settlements planted for commercial purposes along the western coast of Africa, and without the strait of Gibraltar, arc expressly ascribed to the Tyrians. Many of the other Phenician establishments on the southern coast of Spain seemed to have owed their origin to Carthage rather than to Tyre. But the relations between the two, so far as we know them, were constantly amicable, and Carthage, even at the period of her highest glory, sent Theori with a tribute of religious recognition to the Tyrian Herakles: the visit of these envoys coincided with the siege of the town by Alexander the Great. On that critical occasion, the wives and children of the Tyrians were sent to find shelter at Carthage: two centuries before, when the Persian empire was in its age of growth and expansion, the Tyrians had refused to aid Cambyses with their fleet in his plans for conquering Carthage, and thus probably pro« served their colony from subjugation.