THE FALL OF CARTHAGE
HANNIBAL AS SUFETE
AT the close of the Second Punic War the plight of Carthage was gloomy in the extreme. Her older citizens could look back and recollect with bitterness that in less than seventy years their city, from being mistress of the Western Mediterranean, had sunk to the level of some second-rate Hellenistic state. The islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica were lost for ever, the rich treasure-house and recruiting-ground of Spain was now in Roman hands, her fleet was crippled, and she had been ordered to pay what seemed a crushing indemnity: once the rival of Rome she was now to be an obsequious ally. True, her walls and her territory had been left intact, but even on her own territory she could not feel secure; with Masinissa, the spoilt child of Rome, on her western border, Masinissa, ever ready to increase his ‘ancestral’ domains at the expense of Carthage and against whose aggressions she could only appeal meekly to Rome, how could the fallen city have any real sense of security? But even though the greater part of her former territory had gone, her harbours and her mercantile marine still remained, and Rome had not apparently demanded the opening of the Punic ports to Italian ships: the Apulian and Campanian ware which had been imported to the Carthaginian possessions during the third century might increase in volume, but it was still carried in Carthaginian ships. Herein lay her best opportunities for revival, but as well it was her obvious policy to keep on friendly terms with the new kingdom of Numidia, to promote trade there and also with the natives of the interior, and to engage in a more intensive cultivation of the large estates in her own territory.
But the most pressing problem was the payment of the indemnity imposed upon the city, and the problem was mishandled from the start. Had the richer classes only been prepared to face the economic situation resolutely, to show some degree of selfsacrifice and apportion the burden equitably, all might have been well; but they were determined to shirk their responsibilities and pay the smallest possible contribution, while a heavy tax was to be imposed on the impoverished lower classes. And the usual corrupt practices continued; in the year 199 bc the yearly instalment from Carthage was paid over in such poor silver that the quaestors in Rome refused to accept it. It is natural enough that with the loss of the mines in Spain, Carthage should have had difficulty with silver (and it is noticeable that her silver coins of this period show a low percentage of the metal) but such methods were not likely to win favour or sympathy at Rome or enhance the reputation of Punica fides. Nor was the revenue properly collected or looked after, and much of it found its way into the hands or hoards of magistrates and high officials. It is not surprising that after three or four years of such misgovernment the populace should have grown restless and discontented, and in their desperation finally called upon the one man who by his own genius and by family tradition might oppose the oligarchs, Hannibal.
During the years immediately subsequent to the signature of peace, Hannibal had not taken any part in politics; for a time he had remained in command of an army (possibly safeguarding the frontiers against nomad attacks) and had employed his troops in the useful work of replanting olives and repairing the devastations and ravages caused by the Roman invasion. But in 200 bc he had been relieved of his command, possibly in consequence of intrigues between his opponents and Rome, and had retired into private life. But it would, have been strange indeed if no appeal had been made by the people to their most famous citizen, and in the year 196 Hannibal duly took office as Sufete.
The ruling oligarchs could expect no good from Hannibal’s election. But they must have felt themselves immune from danger; they controlled the Senate, and Hannibal’s tenure of office would not last beyond the year. And in the Court of the Hundred and Four Judges they had supporters who could bring to book even a Sufete who had proved intransigent. But their comfortable expectations were rudely shattered: Hannibal had seen what was necessary, knew precisely what he wanted, and how to achieve it; he showed the same insight and energy in opening and developing his political campaign, as he had on the field of battle. He was determined, by securing better payment of the indemnity, to leave Rome no ground for complaint, while at home he meant to weaken the power of the ruling classes and so make for a more equitable government. Over the question of the indemnity he soon came into conflict with one of the financial officials (Livy calls him a quaestor) and summoned him before his tribunal. The quaestor, who knew that he would pass next year into the Court of the Hundred and Four and was confident of their support and help, defied Hannibal, but was immediately put under arrest. He appealed for aid to his friends in the Senate; in a dispute such as this, where Sufete and Senate were at variance, an assembly of the people must be summoned, and at last Hannibal had got the opportunity he desired. Before the popular assembly he not only defended his own action, but carried the war into the enemy’s camp by inveighing bitterly against the power, wealth, and arrogance of the Hundred and Four. The people were free to express their feelings against their masters, and Hannibal’s attack was greeted with such acclamation that he immediately proposed and passed a law decreeing that henceforward the Hundred and Four Judges must be elected annually (presumably by the people) and that no Judge should hold office for two years running. It was a reform of tremendous importance; the supreme control over magistrates and officials was now vested in a popularly-elected body, whose personnel was bound to change yearly. At one stroke Hannibal had swept away the oligarchic control exercised by a court of life-members chosen by cliques; even though the old property-qualification for membership may have been still demanded, the people were now to some extent masters in their own house. There can be no doubt that the whole proceeding was no sudden impulse of the moment, but a carefully calculated plan on Hannibal’s part; the conflict with the quaestor was no accident, but deliberately provoked in order to give Hannibal a chance of addressing the people and promulgating his reform. It was a great achievement, but whether it lasted long, whether it even survived Hannibal’s withdrawal is unfortunately unknown.
Secure on this ground Hannibal could now go on to devise measures for the better collection and conservation of the city’s revenues; he made careful investigations into the sources of the national income and the amount needed for the proper running of the State, and by checking leakages and corruption he was able to announce to the people that there was sufficient money to pay the yearly indemnity to Rome without having recourse to any special taxation. Of his capable handling of the situation and of the rapid revival of Carthaginian commerce a proof can be seen in the fact that in 191 the city offered to pay the remaining indemnity outright. But though he had the mass of the people with him he had by now offended beyond repair not only the oligarchs, whose influence he had seriously crippled, but also the horde of corrupt officials, profiteers, and hangers-on, who had been living on the robbery of the State. To the Court of the Hundred and Four they could no longer look for help, but there was one quarter where their complaints might still gain a hearing, that was, in Rome itself. The anti-Barcid faction had their friends in Rome, and had previously been in correspondence with them (which may have resulted in Hannibal being relieved of his generalship in 200 bc) and now they took up their parable with redoubled vigour; but for some time their efforts were a failure, for Scipio Africanus used all the weight of his authority and prestige against hounding Hannibal down or interfering in the party politics of Carthage. But in the end he was overcome, for the dread of Hannibal was too strong, and finally in 195 bc three legati, Cn. Servilius, M. Claudius Marcellus, and Q.Terentius Culleo were dispatched to Africa.
Their real mission was to complain to the Carthaginian Senate that they had information that Hannibal was acting in concert with Antiochus and making preparations for a general war. But the anti-Barcid faction, knowing the strength of the hold which Hannibal exercised over the people, advised them to give out at first that they had come to adjust differences between the city and Masinissa, whose depredations on Carthaginian territory had already begun, and this announcement was believed. But Hannibal was not deceived, he guessed the real purpose of the delegation, and saw that in flight lay his only refuge. He made his plans with his usual care and skill; during the daytime he appeared as usual in the city, but as soon as night fell, he stole out accompanied by but two attendants, and by using relays of horses rode during that night and the following day 150 miles to a spot on the coast near Thapsus, where a ship was in readiness for him; setting sail he landed at Cercina, and so straight to Tyre and on to Antioch, as has already been narrated. At Carthage the next morning, when his absence was discovered, and while the crowd clamoured that he had been murdered by Roman treachery, the Roman delegation laid before the Senate formal charges of Hannibal’s plotting with Antiochus, and demanded his punishment. The Senate meekly replied that it would do whatever Rome thought right.
The commission could now return
satisfied to Rome; its object had been achieved; Rome had learnt the usefulness
of bullying tactics, and Carthage, by sacrificing her greatest citizen, had
demonstrated her complete submission. The only party who emerged with credit
from the sorry business was Hannibal himself: in his decision to withdraw from
the city that he could no longer help, where indeed his continued presence
might have involved her in further humiliation, there is something at once
noble and tragic; and the quiet dignity of his withdrawal and subsequent
behaviour contrasts strangely with the petulant bitterness of his great
antagonist Scipio when he retired to Liternum to execrate the ingratitude of
the Roman people. And while Hannibal was utterly without that deep sense of
injustice which so rankled with the Roman, he had also none of the political
levity which had impelled many a Greek to draw a supple living from the winning
side; he lived and died in a single-minded devotion to a city that all his
genius could not save.
The oligarchs could heave a sigh of relief over the removal of this inconvenient soldier, and could congratulate themselves that all might now go on as before. But by calling in Rome to rid them of a political opponent they had made a fatal error, and revealed the rottenness of their government by intrigue. And worse still, they had been confirmed in their power; there was no longer any hope of reform from within; it is not surprising if some malcontents began to look to another quarter for salvation, and wonder whether a friendly and protecting king of Numidia might not prove a present help in trouble. From now onwards Masinissa begins to play the preponderant role in African affairs.
During the fifty years that followed the close of the Second Punic War the rulers of Carthage could boast that they were scrupulously carrying out the obligations imposed upon them by the treaty of peace, and that their submissiveness to Rome never wavered. The greatest and most searching test of their deference had been given when they evinced their readiness to punish Hannibal, but throughout their conduct was correct to a degree. After 201 b.c. a Carthaginian officer raised an independent revolt in Northern Italy; he was promptly disavowed and exiled by the home government. In the wars against Philip, Antiochus, or Perseus Carthage furnished naval or military assistance as an ally of Rome, and was even zealous to offer more than the’treaty required, an offer which was always coldly refused: the Carthaginian envoy Banno could claim in 149 bc ‘We have fought with you against three kings’. In 200 bc, 191 bc, 171 bc and again a few years later Livy records large presents of corn sent to the support of the Roman armies. In fact, it can hardly be doubted that there was no shadow of truth in the allegations of treachery which Masinissa made against Carthage in 174 bc and through his son Gulussa in 171 bc. Charges of secret conspiracy with Perseus and the still vaguer statement that Carthage had decided to build a large fleet were inventions which the Numidian circulated at Rome when the question of his territorial acquisitions at the expense of Carthage was sub judice. For true to the terms of the treaty Carthage offered no armed resistance to Masinissa’s spoliation for nearly fifty years, patiently submitting her wrongs to Roman arbitration until finally, exasperated into an attempt to defend the last of the Punic empire, she provoked her destruction at the hands of Rome. Revenge, hatred and fear had so swayed the Roman Senate that they had deliberately allowed the balance of power between Carthage and Masinissa to be destroyed until the very weakness of Carthage endangered the peace of North Africa and pointed the way to the formation of a Roman province. The final destruction of Carthage had become partly a matter of cold policy and partly the last desire of unsated revenge. But before describing this final act of the drama we must watch the growth of the power of Numidia under its able monarch Masinissa.
Masinissa was thirty-seven years old at the close of the Hannibalic War. Tall and handsome, he was endowed with astonishing and enduring bodily vigour. At the age of ninety he still mounted unaided and rode bare-backed, and four years before this one of his wives presented to him his forty-fourth son. In addition to the physical qualities which exact the admiration of primitive peoples he was gifted with great powers of leadership and insatiable ambition. His Numidian blood gave him inherited mastery of all the arts of cunning and dissimulation which made him an incomparable diplomat. Lastly a youth spent at Carthage had enabled him to absorb and appreciate the benefits of her culture and his marriage with the daughter of Hasdrubal made permanent the lessons of education. He was pre-eminently fitted for the immense task to which he devoted the rest of his long life. For he set himself to make a united nation out of the nomad tribes of Numidia, to wean them from their barbaric predatory habits to a settled life of agriculture and to extend his kingdom until, as he hoped, it should stretch from Morocco to Egypt, embracing Carthage itself.
In the Second Punic War with Roman help Masinissa had conquered the Numidian empire of Syphax from Siga to Cirta, and in the years that followed most of the independent princedoms which surrounded this dominion were reduced to vassaldom. But the chief accessions of territory were at the expense of Carthage. To the peasants whom he could bring under his rule he offered more security and lighter taxation than his burdened and enfeebled rival, and his sway was commended by his dominating personality and a powerful standing army which numbered 50,000 when in 154 bc he engaged Carthage in war. But it is as the ‘agent of civilization’ that his true greatness lies. He established his sons like barons in newly-won areas of nomad tribes and in this way spread the improved knowledge of agriculture from the centres to the most backward parts of his kingdom. Strabo’s statement that Masinissa ‘made nomads into farmers and welded them into a State’ sums up a great achievement. With the rise of the Libyans a new and native civilization, based on a capital at Cirta and combining Libyan and Phoenician strains, had appeared in the Mediterranean world.
The treaty made by Scipio after Zama contained certain definite and certain indefinite territorial delimitations between the empire of Carthage and the kingdom of Masinissa. The first principle was that Carthage should confine herself strictly within the frontiers of her empire as it existed at the beginning of the Second Punic War. This frontier line was to a considerable extent marked by what were called the ‘Phoenician Bounds’ comparable to the Roman Imperial limites. It was an enclave extending from a point on the coast west of Carthage where the lands of the Massyli adjoined, southward in a semicircle across the Great Plains until it rejoined the coast east of Carthage perhaps near the north of the Little Syrtis. But, in addition to the land within these Bounds, the treaty recognized the Carthaginian colonies and trade-marts westward on the shores of the Mediterranean as far as Morocco and eastward theregionof the Syrtis, her richest province, known as the Emporia. Carthage was not to move outside these limits, whereas Masinissa might occupy within these same limits any territory which either during the Second Punic War he or his father at any time had occupied, or his ancestors had held previously. The clause, of course, was deliberately designed to provide a source of friction which would steadily weaken Carthage and strengthen the client protectorate of Masinissa. When it was made, Rome was not yet mistress of the Mediterranean and she saw her imperial interests best served by fostering rather than allaying dissension in Africa.
In the fifty years which followed the treaty Masinissa proceeded to filch from Carthage all her maritime colonies, the Emporia on the Syrtis and equally those westward from Carthage. In addition he occupied a considerable extent of territory in the interior within the ‘Phoenician Bounds.’ Carthage was forbidden by the treaty to wage even defensive war against her neighbour, and our evidence shows a succession of Roman boundary commissions sent to arbitrate after a fait accompli and always deciding in favour of the client king. The exact chronology of these commissions cannot be recovered with certainty, but their cumulative effect is plain. It is sufficient to follow the events which finally exhausted the patience of Carthage and precipitated an open breach with Masinissa.
In the years between 160 BC. and 155 bc a plundering expedition had been made by a Carthaginian officer Carthalo into the territory which Masinissa had usurped. Raid and counter-raid followed until a Roman commission was sent which returned leaving the dispute unsettled. Then Masinissa proceeded to occupy a district in the Great Plains between Souk el Arba and Souk el Kremis called Tusca. Commissioners headed by Cato visited Africa in 153 bc, and again retired after finding the Carthaginians unwilling to be entirely submissive to Roman dictation. All the old hatred of Roman for Semite seems to have been roused in Cato’s breast. He was now eighty-one years old, and on the voyage home this hatred crystallized into an old man’s idée fixe that Carthage must be destroyed. It was an unreasoning passion which only later clothed itself in arguments of imperial policy and advantage. Cato must have seen how Carthage was bleeding to death, and even if he hated to witness the prosperity which still flourished beneath the shadow of the city, he cannot have believed that Carthage could be a serious economic rival to Rome, still less a political menace to the power that had struck down Macedon and set bounds to the power of Syria. His hatred did not at once sway the Senate, and in the following year (152) Scipio Nasica at the head of another commission forced Masinissa to give up part of the land which he had occupied. But in Carthage itself the last fifty years had taught some men to hope for something from Masinissa and others to hope for nothing from Rome; but to trust to themselves at the last. In the winter of 151—o the leaders of those who wished to submit to Masinissa were driven into exile and took refuge with the king, who sent his sons, Micipsa and Gulussa, to demand their recall. The more democratic nationalist party refused to admit the envoys to the city and, as they returned, the general Hamilcar the Samnite attacked them and killed part of their retinue. War was declared, and Masinissa laid siege to a town called Oroscopa.
The Carthaginian army of 25,000 foot was entrusted to a Hasdrubal whom Polybius describes as ‘vain boastful and without experience in command’ though he was to show energy and determination later in the siege of Carthage. He advanced and was joined by two sons of the king, Agasis and Soubas, who brought the invaluable help of 6000 Numidian cavalry. Masinissa withdrew slowly into a broad plain flanked by steep rocky hills to force an engagement. Both armies had meanwhile been swelled by fresh levies until each numbered nearly 60,000 men. Scipio Aemilianus arrived from Spain on an embassy to procure elephants the day before the battle, and in later times recounted how like Zeus on Ida or Poseidon on Samothrace he had witnessed the struggle in the plain. The battle lasted till nightfall ending in a slight advantage to Masinissa. The Carthaginians, learning of Scipio’s presence, called upon him to effect a settlement, offering to renounce all claim to the country of the Emporia and to pay 1000 talents indemnity. But negotiations broke down when they refused to hand over the Numidians who had deserted to them. Scipio returned to Spain with his elephants and meanwhile Masinissa drew a line of entrenchments round the Punic army and so cut them off from all supplies. Pestilence broke out in their army and, reduced to desperate straits, unable either to bury or to burn the dead and having eaten all their horses and transport animals, they surrendered and promised to pay 5000 talents in fifty years. As the survivors marched out with a single garment apiece, Gulussa took his revenge and fell upon them with his cavalry. Only a very small remnant returned from this disastrous expedition.
As a result of his victory Masinissa was confirmed in the possession of a considerable additional amount of disputed territory. The later Roman province of Africa had the same boundaries marked out by the ‘fossa regia’ as the realm of Carthage at the commencement of the Third Punic War. The limits have been in part determined by the finding of boundary stones, and for the rest reconstructed from literary and epigraphic evidence, and Carthage is seen now reduced to domination of North-east Tunisia and a narrow strip of coast line on the gulfs of Hammamet and Gabes. The Great Plains were in the possession of Masinissa and where the frontier crossed the Medjerda it was little more than ninety miles from Carthage.
THE DECLARATION OF WAR
Carthage had broken the Zama treaty by engaging in war without Rome’s consent, and she had thus given an argument to her enemies in the Senate. On each occasion that Cato had spoken on a question he used his right to add one more sentiment to his sententia—ceterum censeo delendam esse Carthaginem. This simple formula he once illustrated by holding up before the patres a ripe fig, saying, ‘This was gathered at Carthage three days ago’. There is no evidence that this act was an appeal for the destruction of a commercial rival—it was the excitement of Roman cupidity and of revengeful envy at the fertility of North Africa. But besides these emotions there were reasons of State that had their force and plausibility. The balance of power in North Africa had broken down. Numidia threatened to absorb Carthage into a strong North African kingdom with an interest in the Mediterranean. A powerful Numidian ruling in Carthage might be a new Hannibal. The danger from Carthage was not that she was too strong, but that she had become too weak, and that her weakness might make Masinissa too strong. The last instalment of the war indemnity after Zama had been duly paid. This was an argument for the correctness of Carthage’s behaviour in the past, but it offered no inducement to preserve her in the future. Such subtle considerations of callous self-interest, perhaps only half-avowed, reinforced the more respectable plea of ancient enmity and recent disobedience, and carried the day against the party in the Senate, headed by Nasica, who strove to save Carthage, as Cato himself had once striven to shield Rhodes.
When the Romans heard of the outbreak of war between Masinissa and Carthage they mobilized four legions. The Carthaginians realized what this meant, and after the disaster strove to show their penitence and obtain pardon. Hasdrubal and Carthalo with others who had shared the responsibility of the war against Masinissa were condemned to death, but Hasdrubal escaped and later managed to collect a force of 20,000 men from the outer districts of the Carthaginian dominion. Envoys came from Rome and enquired why these men had not been condemned before instead of after the war, and, when asked how Carthage could obtain pardon, they replied deliberately in vague terms that the Carthaginians must give satisfaction to Rome and they knew well what this must be. Rome was purposely obscuring her real intentions until her preparations were complete and by diplomacy Carthage might have been persuaded to render herself defenceless. Repeated embassies from Carthage to Rome were put off with the same obscure answers. Then after the consuls for 149 bc had entered office Utica deserted Carthage and sent envoys to Rome, promising all the help she could give against her ancient rival. The news was expected at Rome, since Roman agents had been busy in Utica; the Senate met on the Capitol and declared war, entrusting the two consuls M. Manilius and L. Marcius Censorinus with the conduct of the operations. They crossed to Sicily and thence to the base thus secured. The armament numbered four legions with 4000 cavalry, and together with a horde of volunteers who scented easy booty and a profitable campaign, may have numbered 80,000 men, as Appian says. There were fifty quinqueremes and one hundred smaller warships. The fleet was commanded by Censorinus, a man of quiet philosophic tastes, and the army by the orator Manilius. Scipio Aemilianus, aged thirty-five, was one of the military tribunes.
Meanwhile the Carthaginians, deserted by Utica and weak after their recent disaster, saw their one hope in unconditional submission and they sent five deputies with plenary powers. Arrived at Rome, they learnt that war had been declared and that the consuls had set out for Africa. They were informed by a praetor in the Senate that taking account of their unconditional surrender it had been decided to grant them ‘freedom and the enjoyment of their laws; and moreover all their territory and the possession of their other property public and private.’ These terms were granted with the reservation that the Carthaginians should send to Rome 300 noble hostages and should obey such commands as the consuls should impose upon them. It was ominous that in these vague terms there was no mention of the city of Carthage, but the envoys could do no more than return and procure the sending of the hostages to the consuls who had now arrived at Utica. Having dispatched the hostages to Sicily these delivered their next commands, that Carthage should surrender all her arms and war engines. Even these orders were promptly complied with, though it was pointed out that the city would be left at the mercy of the exiled Hasdrubal and his 20,000 troops; 200,000 panoplies and about 2000 catapults were handed over. When this had been finished, the consuls told the Carthaginians to send a deputation of thirty of their most important citizens to hear the final injunctions of the Senate. This body was chosen and sent and at last the consuls informed them of the will of the Roman people which had till then been kept secret. The inhabitants of the city of Carthage must leave their city which would be destroyed and could settle where they liked so long as it was at least ten Roman miles from the sea. At last the Roman intentions were seen in all their nakedness. Carthage had been disarmed, now came her death sentence. Once the fortifications had been pulled down and the superb harbour had been rendered defenceless Carthaginian territory would cease to have any importance if occupied by Masinissa. The inhabitants of a vast city were ordered to live or die without trade and without protection.
One of the Carthaginian envoys, Banno, then rose to make a famous plea for mercy on behalf of his fatherland. But the Romans were obdurate and it was time for the envoys to return to announce the news at Carthage. Some of them, foreseeing the danger, took to flight and left the remainder to bring the ultimatum to Carthage. They entered the city through vast multitudes assembled to hear the tidings. Their gloomy countenances were witness to the character of their message. But refusing to speak they persisted until they came before the senate and there revealed Rome’s decree. The people crowded outside guessed their report from the cries of dismay which greeted it in the senate, and bursting into the building stoned to death the envoys and killed many others who had counselled submission to Rome.
The scene in the city was one of utter confusion as men were swayed by despair, hatred, fear or anger. The mothers of the hostages, like the Tragic Furies, maddened them with their taunts. Others took measures for the defence of the city; the gates were closed, the walls manned and slaves were given their freedom. Two new generals were elected of whom one was the banished Hasdrubal and the other a grandson of Masinissa. To gain time a truce of thirty days was demanded for an embassy to go to Rome, but the demand was refused. The whole city became a workshop and the population toiled feverishly day and night to forge new weapons of war, while the hair which made the best strings for catapults was freely offered by the noblest and the poorest of the women. Hasdrubal, meanwhile, master of the Carthaginian domains, was able to send provisions into the city and to ensure the loyalty of the Libyan subject tribes. But the cities on the coast, Hadrumetum, Leptis, Thapsus, Acholla and probably Usilla, with another city, inland in Bizerta, Theudalis, went over to the Romans. The consuls, however, made no haste to commence hostilities, believing that this opposition would soon collapse and that there could be no difficulty in entering a city which they thought had been disarmed. At the same time the attitude of Masinissa was none too friendly. He saw the hope of the completion of his life-work dashed from him, and when the consuls asked for assistance he put them off with promises of sending troops when they had need of them. Later, it is said, when he offered assistance it was declined—‘when we have need we will let you know.’ Besides, it was not easy to forget that a grandson of Masinissa was in command of the Carthaginian army. Finally at the beginning of summer the consuls advanced on the city from the Castra Cornelia.
THE SIEGE OF CARTHAGE
Carthage was immensely strong, both by the nature of its situation and by its elaborate defensive fortifications. Into the broad gulf of Tunes there projects eastward a promontary with a narrow neck and a head shaped like a double-axe. Two considerable hills, Tebel el Kravni and Sidi bu Said, with steep cliffs descending into the sea crown the head, providing impregnable defences on the north and east from Cape Kamart to Cape Carthago. The ancient city lay between the hills and spread southward using an outlying spur of the second hill as its citadel, the Byrsa. Still farther south, on the lower ground near the sea were the agora and the harbours, and outside the town wall the narrow spit of sandbank, on which now stands the fort of La Goulette, projected to form a bar across the inland lake of Tunes. The city could only be attacked from two directions, the main isthmus neck and the narrow sand bar, now called Kherredine. Excavation has revealed the remains of the colossal triple wall, forty-five feet high and thirty-three broad, which defended the city across the isthmus, and the siege proved how adequate this defence was. The walls protecting the market-place and the harbour were, no doubt, also very strong, but it was only with Scipio’s arrival as consul that the siege was pressed in this region to complete the blockade. For the problem of the Romans was complicated by the existence of the considerable army under Hasdrubal in the interior amongst the numerous Libyan tribes still loyal to Carthage, which for two years succeeded effectually in transmitting provisions into the city either through the Roman lines or by sea.
The consuls advanced to besiege Carthage, Censorinus, supported by the fleet, taking up a position close to the city on the lake of Tunes on the south, where the wall was weakest. Manilius camped on the north of the main isthmus to prevent Hasdrubal’s army from approaching the city and to cut off supplies. The first necessity was to collect timber for the siege machines. Censorinus found the area close under the walls deforested, and was forced to forage south of the lake of Tunes. Here a Carthaginian cavalry commander, Himilco Phameas, succeeded in surprising the Romans, killing 500 men. At last preparations were completed for a combined assault by both consuls. The first attack on the Byrsa and the strong western wall failed along the outer defences, but from the south a portion of the wall was broken down, leaving an opening into the city. But in the night the Carthaginians succeeded in throwing up a fresh barrier and the Roman storming-parties were beaten off on the following day. The assault had failed, and it was necessary to settle down to a blockade. In the ensuing summer Censorinus’ army suffered severely in the unhealthy marshes of the lake, so that he moved to the sea near El Kram. The fleet, too, was transferred to the east side of the La Goulette isthmus, where the defenders were able with a favourable wind to attack it with fireships, which did considerable damage. In the autumn Censorinus occupied the island of Aegimurus and then returned to Rome to hold the elections, operations from the south having been brought to a complete standstill. Manilius was left isolated, and the defenders made a night attack on his entrenchments, causing severe losses. The desperate position was only relieved by a brilliant counter-attack led by Scipio himself.
Manilius, in view of this reverse, fortified a stronger position on the coast at Sebka er-Riana for his army, and built a stockade to protect his ships. Himself he marched inland with 12,000 troops to attempt to attack the Carthaginian force in the interior. His march was ill-managed and the force narrowly escaped disaster at the hands of Phameas’ cavalry, owing its safety largely to the energy and foresight of Scipio. On its return there were fresh sallies of the defenders upon the lines and Scipio’s reputation for skill and bravery grew steadily. Finally, in the winter of 149-8 Manilius attempted another expedition into the interior which came to grips with Hasdrubal near Nepheris, but the Roman commander’s military incapacity risked an engagement on very unfavourable ground with a river at his back. Once again only the most signal bravery of Scipio in a rearguard action enabled most of the force to be extricated.
At this point Masinissa died. He had been bitterly disappointed to see the crowning of his life’s work prevented by Rome’s interference, and through this winter he had met Roman requests for assistance by vague promises. But he had learnt at least to respect and admire Scipio, and in his will he entrusted his sons to the Roman’s protection. Scipio headed the commission which was sent to set in order Numidia. The unity and centralization which Masinissa had spent a long life to achieve were now undone. The three legitimate sons, Micipsa, Gulussa and Mastanabal, divided the main portion of Numidia, while the numerous other sons received fiefs in the outlying parts. This partition of Numidia was strictly in accordance with the traditional policy of ‘divide ut imperes.’ But more important for the immediate success of the war was Scipio’s success in compelling Gulussa, the most warlike of Masinissa’s sons, who commanded the Numidian army, to bring a picked force to assist in the destruction of Carthage. Then, at the end of the winter, Scipio won a further success, while Manilius conducted once more an expedition inland near Nepheris. He persuaded Phameas, the commander of Hasdrubal’s cavalry force, to desert by the offer of a free pardon. But the expedition suffered the severest privations on its return march owing to the failure of proper organization for its commissariat by its commander.
The new consuls for 148 bc were Calpurnius Piso to command the land force, and L. Mancinus for the navy. They continued the ineffective strategy of their predecessors, attacking the small towns on the gulf of Carthage and in the interior in order to deprive the capital of its sources of supplies. After an attack on Clupea had failed, a neighbouring Libyan town, whose name the Greeks and Romans pronounced Neapolis, surrendered at discretion. Nevertheless, it was sacked with brutal thoroughness. Consequently, when Hippo Diarrhytus was besieged through the summer and autumn the defence was desperate and Piso had to abandon the siege. Meanwhile the blockade of Carthage made no advance, and part of Gulussa’s cavalry changed their allegiance once more to help Carthage. Indeed, the danger to Carthage seemed much greater from her own dissensions than from the Romans. For the commander of the city garrison was killed in the Carthaginian senate in a riot following upon an accusation of treachery. Masinissa’s sons were now holding back from sending any further help to the Romans, and the Carthaginians had been able to get into touch with the Mauri, as well as with the pretender Andriscus, who was winning victories against the Romans in Macedonia.
Thus the campaigning season of 148 b.c. wore on. Calpurnius Piso and Mancinus had been as completely unsuccessful as Censorinus and Manilius the year before. Dissatisfaction with the conduct of the war was rife at Rome and Cato voiced the general opinion that Scipio should be put in command.
At the elections Scipio was standing for the office of curule aedile, being still too young for the consulship. Nevertheless he was nominated and elected to the consulship in the Comitia. The consul presiding refused to return the illegal vote, but a way out of the deadlock was found, when a tribune proposed with the consent of the Senate a special bill legalizing Scipio’s candidature. Even then there was further opposition when his colleague in the consulate, C. Livius Drusus, demanded that the lot should decide which consul should go to Africa. Once again a tribune’s bill asserted the will of the people.
Scipio arrived in Africa to find Mancinus in a pretty pass. He had noticed that there was a weak spot in the walls of the suburb Megara close to the cliffs of the sea on the north. But his preparations for an attack with scaling ladders were noticed by the defenders, who sallied out of a gate against it. However, the attacking force of Mancinus managed to beat back the sally and 500 men forced an entrance through the gate. Next day they were surrounded on all sides by Carthaginians, who could roll down rocks upon them. Suddenly, as their fate seemed certain, a fleet was seen approaching the coast. It was Scipio coming in the nick of time. The ships could stand close in shore, and the Carthaginians lost heart and allowed Mancinus’ force to be taken off in the Roman galleys.
With Scipio’s appearance the siege of the city once more became the central objective, and the Carthaginians realized that the decisive moment of the struggle had arrived. Hasdrubal was recalled from the interior to a fortified post close to the walls near Maiga. Scipio spent some months in re-establishing discipline in the Roman army and then in the spring of 147 bc launched an attack on Megara. A gate was broken in and 4000 troops penetrated inside. Hasdrubal thought that nothing could now prevent the city being taken, and he hastened to leave his fort and enter the city by another gate. He was determined that resistance should be carried to the bitter end and deliberately had the Roman prisoners mutilated and murdered on the walls in front of the Roman army to prevent the citizens from daring to surrender. Meanwhile Scipio’s troops had to fight every inch of ground in the olive groves and vineyards of the suburb. Indeed it was an ideal place for defence and, finally, to avoid heavy losses for small gains Scipio ordered retreat.
But the effort had not been wasted. He was able to demolish the fort which Hasdrubal had abandoned, and the blockade of Carthage was drawn close. An elaborate line of earthworks was drawn right across from the gulf of Tunes to Sebka er-Riana which made it quite impossible for the small force of Libyans in the interior, who were still loyal to Carthage, to send any further supplies. Finally in the autumn Scipio built a mole across the gulf of Kherredine to stop the only remaining gap in the blockade, where with a favourable wind transports could sometimes slip through into the outer harbour. At first the defenders paid little heed, but, as the mole made steady headway, they contrived in secret a last enterprise. A fleet of fifty ships was built inside the inner harbour, unknown to the Romans, and when the harbour boom was opened and the fleet sailed out, the Romans were completely surprised. An immediate attack might have carried the Roman position, but the Carthaginians waited a day to make trial of the sailing qualities of their new vessels. Next day the Roman fleet joined battle. The struggle in the narrow space where manoeuvring was impossible continued fiercely through the day, until towards evening the Carthaginian ships gave ground. Many were driven on to Scipio’s mole and on the two days following were defended desperately by men swimming out with lighted torches to fire the defence works of the mole. But, in the end, the Carthaginian fleet was destroyed, and the last effort of the defenders was spent in vain. The mole was completed and strongly protected against attack. Carthage was entirely blockaded. Nothing could now prevent hunger and disease bringing about the fall of the city. Consequently, Scipio sent envoys through Gulussa to offer favourable conditions of surrender. But the envoys were prevented by Hasdrubal from even reaching the walls of the city by volleys of missiles (autumn 147).
Winter came on, and Scipio succeeded in rounding up by two flying columns a small force which was still at large in the interior near Nepheris. The Libyan tribes one and all submitted to Rome. With the approach of spring the endurance of the Carthaginians reached the breaking point. In order to narrow the line of defence Hasdrubal ordered the dockyards and magazines round the outer harbour to be burnt. Scipio at once attacked the citadel Byrsa, while Laelius assaulted the wall of the city where it adjoined the inner harbour. Laelius’ force overpowered the weakened defenders, and forced its way to the market-place. At last the defences had been pierced. For six days and nights the Romans fought their way from house to house and street to street towards the Byrsa. On the seventh, when the lower part of the town had been burnt, the citadel surrendered. The deserters from the Roman army perished in the flames of the temple of Esmun; Hasdrubal saved his own life, to be preserved as a proof of Roman clemency. The starving inhabitants poured out, fifty thousand, men, women and children, to be sold into slavery. For them the Romans knew no mercy, and if Scipio wept as he saw Carthage destroyed, it was not mercy that stirred in him, but a strange streak of fatalism as he prophesied that one day a like fate would overtake Rome. Buildings and walls were razed to the ground; the plough passed over the site, and salt was sown in the furrows made. A solemn curse was pronounced that neither house nor crops should ever rise again. By all its legal and religious forms the Senate thus declared the end of the great city, and satisfied alike its hatred of an old enemy and its fear of a new rival.
The few cities which had stood by Carthage were destroyed, whereas those that had deserted her, above all Utica, received freedom and a share in the land that had belonged to the Carthaginians. Allotments were also made to Phameas and his deserting cavalry; while the sons of Masinissa were granted the usufruct of certain lands. The remainder of the territory over which Carthage had ruled when the war began passed into the possession of the Roman people, and the whole, some 5000 square miles, was made a new Roman province, Africa, governed by a praetor stationed at Utica.
For seventeen days the fires of Carthage blazed, and then for long years the salt-sown ground and pitiful heaps of blackened stone alone remained where once had been a great city. But though the Senators by their simple fiat might raze the buildings to the ground they could not destroy the geographical advantages of its incomparable situation, and in a little over a hundred years a Roman was to set up again what his predecessors had overturned. But the day of Punic Carthage was over. Scarcely more than seven centuries had passed since some unnamed Tyrian settlers had landed to make their home there, and now at the end of her story it is natural to ask what effect the civilization of Carthage had produced in the realm over which it once ruled, and what was permanent and lasting in that civilization.
To the modern world the very name of Carthage stands, and has long stood, as a symbol for mercantilism, for a State in which money was the first pre-occupation, and art or letters the last. Yet, by some curious chance, Carthage can claim one of the most famous and tragic figures in legend and literature. Greek authors, musing on the history of a city that had been so formidable a foe to Greek and Roman alike, demanded for her origin something more impressive than the silent growth of a trading port: if Rome had been the creation of a band of splendid adventurers fleeing from an unjust ruler, Carthage too must have her saga. And so from the primitive native tradition of Elissa, refashioned by generations of later writers, there slowly grew up the romantic tale of Dido, Princess of Tyre, who had fledfrom the persecution of King Pygmalion, and with a few faithful followers reached Africa. Here, when she wished to buy land, the natives mockingly offered her as much as a cowhide could cover. To this she replied by cutting a cowhide into thin strips and so enclosed a space large enough to contain her new city; here she welcomed the wandering Trojan hero Aeneas, and here deserted by him stabbed herself to death on her pyre. As history the tale is worthless, a compost of legend, folklore, aetiological myth and cult practice, seasoned with the love interest so dear to the Hellenistic heart. In this form it might well have been the subject of an antiquarian chapter in Gellius, but it had the good fortune to be taken over by Virgil, and in his hands the passion and deathof Dido was moulded into one of the great stories of.the world, and Dido herself has become one of the imperishable names in literature.
But in one detail legend, perhaps unknowingly, hit the mark when it made the history of Carthage begin with a bargain. It was throughout its life a city of merchants and bargainers, and the policy that its rulers followed was that of a mercantile State, cautious and uninspired, demanding a clear return for effort made. Yet against this background of calculating mediocrity there stood out from time to time the figur'es of nobles or generals, Hamilcar or Mago or Himilco, who sought to lead Carthage along new paths of conquest or adventure, and so occasionally produced the appearance of an aggressive policy. It was the conflict between these great figures and the ruling oligarchy that generated certain institutions and bodies for which the city was celebrated, and which, by acting as a check upon individual ambitions or excessive power, gave to the constitution that stability which Aristotle so admired. They merit some discussion here, for they are quite distinct from the ordinary elements of Sufetes, Senate, and popular assembly; their forms are peculiar to Carthage itself, and typical of the balance, half-democratic, half-oligarchic, which she achieved in her highly organized and complex state.
The first of these institutions was the Court of the Hundred and Four Judges. Most states, in antiquity, had to grapple with the problem of the successful general or influential noble who might make himself monarch and so derail the constitution, and at Carthage the establishment of the Court was expressly designed to check and curtail the influence and ascendancy which the family of Mago had gained. Its members were chosen from men of senatorial rank and though nominally elected yearly actually held office for life. Its function was to demand an account from all public officers of their conduct during their term of office and to approve or punish; it was the Carthaginian form of the Athenian euthynai, though it had far more extensive power. But obviously any Court possessed of such far-reaching and quasi-censorial influence—Aristotle compares it with the Ephorate at Sparta,—however useful it may have been at the time of its establishment, was bound imperceptibly to enlarge its competence, and by the second century it had ended by becoming the most dreaded body in the whole State. There was no escape from its all-pervading influence, both magistrates and people were equally under its domination, and the arrogance with which the Judges exercised it made them the more hated; they were, in Livy’s strong phrase, ‘absolute masters of the city.’
True it was an elective body, but the mode of its election is instructive. These Judges were chosen not by popular vote, but selected by a mysterious set of magistracies termed by Aristotle (for we do not know the Punic equivalent) pentarchiai or Boards of Five. It is characteristic of the tantalizing scantiness of our knowledge about Carthage that little more is known about the Pentarchies than their name and the fact that they were important, but some other slight pieces of evidence serve to support the conjecture that these Boards of Five were special committees dealing with finance, army and navy, and other executive and administrative matters; and it is not impossible that these Boards themselves may have constituted the famous Small Senate of 30 members which assumed direction of affairs in times of crisis. Between them, the Hundred and Four Judges and the Pentarchies controlled everything in the city and controlled with complete impunity; a man, after holding office as a Pentarch, could by his own nomination pass into the Court of the Judges, and no one could accuse him or bring him to book. Thus in spite of the elaborate and imposing apparatus of Sufetes, Senate, and assembly of the people, in spite, too, of the freedom of speech allowed in that assembly, the city was really dominated by a small number of men who played into each other’s hands, and the result was a venality and corruption which shocked even Greek observers. Aristotle had noted that the highest offices could be bought, and two centuries later Polybius contrasted the open bribery and corruption prevalent in Carthage with the stricter morality which prevailed in Rome. In fact the typical political institutions of Carthage, the Pentarchies, the Small Senate of 30 members, and the Court of the Hundred and Four Judges, are the products which might be expected of a close mercantile oligarchy determined to preserve its rights jealously against possible claims of the lower orders or the efforts of powerful individuals to assert themselves; and the parallel often drawn with such cities as Venice is not unjust. The populace was bribed into acquiescence by the possibility of money-making in the surrounding cities, and so long as the government could pay its way all was well. It must be confessed that, contrasted with the achievements of Greece or Rome, the contribution of Carthage to political thought or theory was not great.
In the realm of commerce and economics Carthage had early created for herself a monopoly in the Western Mediterranean and was determined not to allow other states to tap the rich markets she had found; with the intruding Greeks she waged ceaseless war, and though she could not keep them wholly out of Sicily she was able to reserve Sardinia, Corsica and Spain to herself; even those states with whom she had entered into alliance were not permitted much freedom of commerce, as the early treaty with Rome in 509 bc shows. She was not, however, a great productive state and certainly not to be compared with Antioch or Alexandria: the industry of Carthage was comparatively small; pottery and lamps of small artistic merit, the making of rugs and tapestries and cushions, such luxury crafts as the working of precious stones, ivory, gold and silver, and some glass-making are among the industries that can be enumerated, but there was little original work, for the craftsmen were mostly content to copy Greek or Oriental models and never struck out for themselves. Some raw materials (such as hides or timber) were exported, and the export of slaves was a considerable source of revenue; the sending out of finished products, such as pottery, glass and textiles, added to her income; but she was a carrying rather than a productive state. It was from this commerce, from the merchants who brought amber or tin from the North or slaves and precious stones from the South, and from ’the minerals that she gained from Spain that she must have drawn most of her revenue: like many Hellenistic states of this period she lived on transit trade. She was, in fact, an entrepot state, importing for re-export, like the Low Countries in medieval times. Her merchants travelled far and wide, to Britain or to Africa, and have left monuments of their activity in Massilia or Spain, where they doubtless resided for trade; it is interesting to find a Carthaginian acting as guarantor for a loan, in the second century, at Alexandria itself. But Carthage also needed food for her large population, and for this reason agriculture always held a very important place in her economic life. Big estates were owned and farmed by noble or wealthy families, who through long experience of the conditions of soil and climate had developed Punic agriculture into a science with a technical literature of its own; in fact they had industrialized it, and cheap slave-labour working for large-scale production brought in a handsome profit. In its own country it was undoubtedly efficient, and after 146 bc the Roman Senate had the thirty-two books of Mago on Agriculture translated into Latin as a guide for intending settlers in Africa.
With such resources Carthage ranked amongst the wealthiest of ancient cities: Thucydides makes a Syracusan speak of her stores of silver and gold, and Polybius declares that at the time of her fall she was reputed the wealthiest city in the world. It has sometimes been taken as a proof of lack of inventive power that she never adopted coinage until late in her career. Silver coinage does not appear until the end of the fifth century, and even then only in Sicily, struck on Greek models, and for use on an island accustomed to Greek money. The first domestic coinage was one of gold and bronze in the fourth century, and silver money only began in Africa when the conquest of Spain poured the wealth of the mines there into the Carthaginian treasury. Yet such a state of things does not imply a backward civilization; Carthage did not need a coinage for her long trading voyages, where commerce with the natives would be carried on by barter, or in her own territory. It is interesting to find that for some time she experimented with a token coinage, consisting of weights wrapped in a covering of leather. But our authorities do not produce any evidence for anything like the developed banking and commercial systems that are found in such cities as Hellenistic Rhodes or Alexandria.
Of her art numerous examples have been found in the tombs and graves of her citizens and now lie displayed in the Museums of Tunis. But the verdict upon it cannot be favourable; it was assimilative and unoriginal, and instead of improving in the course of years it is noticeable that the technique steadily declines. In the early centuries a strong Egyptian influence can be observed, as for instance in scarabs and amulets and in some of the clay masks. Later comes the importation of Greek vases and Greek articles of luxury, which grows stronger from the fifth century onwards. By the third and second centuries the graves are full of Hellenistic wares, especially from Rhodes, or of their imitations by native artists and craftsmen, who even signed their names in Greek characters, not in Punic. A curious feature is the great quantity of clay masks, grotesque faces with wide grinning mouths: their purpose is unknown, it may have been apotropaic, but they can be scarcely regarded as a contribution to art. The little that is known of Punic building does not suggest that it was original, though under Roman rule a new style developed (the so-called Neo-Punic) that was not merely Roman but owed something to native art and motifs as well. But nothing so far found bears witness to any deep artistic impulse or feeling in the Carthaginian people, and it is not an exaggeration to say that the finer work was either imported from Greek centres or else made in Carthage by resident Greeks. It is obvious that the people had some admiration for Greek art and that the richer nobles imported it for their houses and tables, while the statues and spoils from many a Sicilian city stood in private houses or public places for all to see; but what might have been a real stimulus (as it was in Rome) was here ineffective, and at its best gave rise merely to unintelligent copying. Carthaginian artists were too intent on producing at a cheap rate what was necessary, and never troubled to enquire whether it might be beautiful as well.
In language and literature the story is different. Punic belonged to the North Semitic family of languages and has left some thousands of inscriptions and dedications which enable its structure and general characteristics to be analysed and determined with fair certainty. They are not, however, very informing from the social or historical side, consisting as they do mostly of epitaphs, or of dedicatory inscriptions, in which the dedicator thanks Tanit or Baal Hammon for granting his appeal and sending aid. The great com- memoratory inscriptions, which we know it was the custom to set up, have perished in the ruin that overtook the city, save for one strange exception, an account of an exploratory voyage made by the Admiral Hanno down the Western coast of Africa about the turn of the sixth century bc. The record of the voyage was inscribed in the temple of Melkart, and a Greek translation of it (possibly made at the instigation of Polybius) has been fortunately preserved: it is a plain straightforward account of places visited and things seen, and carries conviction by its directness and brevity. But the total number of all the inscriptions so far found is not large, and their content somewhat monotonous.
Apart from the inscriptions there remains a certain amount of evidence for the existence of books and writings in the Punic tongue. Books there must have been to fill the libraries, which after the fall of the city were so generously presented by the Senate to various African princes, but we have little information about their writers. According to St Augustine, ‘in Carthaginian books there were many things wisely handed down to memory’, but detail is lacking. There were apparently Carthaginian histories, such as the writings of a certain Hiempsal, or the libri Punici used by Juba, the erudite and voluminous author king of Mauretania, or the Punica Historia mentioned by Servius, but they are names and nothing more. Nowhere is there a trace or a suggestion of drama, or of poetry, or of philosophy. It is true that by a curious freak of circumstance a son of Carthage became head of the New Academy: this was Hasdrubal, who migrated to Greece and, changing his name to Clitomachus, became first the pupil and then the successor of Carneades, and wrote over 400 volumes, though he was honest enough to confess that he had never ascertained the real opinion of his master on any subject. But neither his treatises, which were in Greek and belong to the domain of Greek philosophy, nor those of Mago on Agriculture can be claimed as proving that Carthage possessed a sense of literature, or gave anything of value to the world in that sphere. On the other hand the language itself had struck its roots deeper, and endured (with the alterations and development natural in a living tongue) for a considerable period over the former domain of Carthage: inscriptions (sometimes bilingual) show that in towns sufetes only slowly gave way to duoArif and although Latin was apparently made the official language in the first century ad, there were plenty of people a hundred years after and even later to whom it was unfamiliar.
If we had a greater knowledge of Punic religion, if we knew more than the mere externals of name and cult, it might be possible to draw closer to the heart and character of this isolated people. For there can be no doubt that both people and nobles clung with a splendid and blind devotion to their national religion, that they fought desperately for their traditions and for the honour of the deities whom they regarded as protecting their city and its welfare. Such was the great goddess Tanit, the Lady of the Heavens, ‘the face of Baal,’ whose precinct was filled with offerings and dedications, and who long survived the overthrow of the city that had worshipped her; indeed, in Latin dress as Caelestis, she is not only found in many parts of Africa under the Roman Empire but actually won her way into Rome itself and had her adorers there. The chief deity of Carthage was a goddess, and as the daimon of the Carthaginians she heads the array of Punic gods and goddesses in the impressive oath which bound Hannibal and Philip together. After Tanit in importance came the gods Baal Hammon and Melkart (‘King of the city’), but there was a host of minor Ba‘als and other deities as well. To honour their gods and to win their help the citizens would not shrink from human sacrifice, and from the passing of children hrough the fire, though it would appear that in course of time the practice was mitigated: but in times of despair the rite would break out again, as it did in the final siege of the doomed city. If we are to believe Tertullian the rite still persisted in parts of Africa down to the first century of the Christian era, and the credit for its suppression must be given to the emperors of that time. It is certainly not a mere piece of Christian scandal; in the burial-ground at Salammbo the calcined bones of the victims have been discovered, most of them young children. And the tale of Hamilcar’s self-immolation at the battle of Himera, recounted by Herodotus, shows the same spirit of unquestioning obedience and sacrifice. Faith may have waned somewhat with the lapse of time; the cheapness of the later tombfurniture may be some indication of this, and it is said that in the last two centuries the rich were no longer willing to offer up their own children and procured other victims. But the gods remained, and the rites remained, untouched by any inroads of the Greek spirit of enquiry and doubt, unvisited by any searchings after a deeper spiritual content or a more exalted conception of the divine nature. The faith of their fathers persisted unaltered, and no prophets arose in Carthage.
It is unfortunate that throughout for our knowledge of things Carthaginian we have to rely upon the statements or views of men who not only had a tradition of national hostility towards Carthage, but who by race, language, and training were completely sundered and unsympathetic. It is rare that justice is done to the Jews by Greeks or Romans, and it is not surprising that Carthage should receive a like handling. Yet it cannot be denied that, even when due discount has been made for this bias, both Greek and Roman agree strikingly in their judgments. In Aristotle’s few pages and occasional references we are conscious of an implied censure of their love of wealth, and later writers are more explicit and more damaging in their characterization. Polybius notes how open bribery and corruption were, and declares nothing was regarded by them as disgraceful if it brought profit: Livy can attribute to Hannibal perfidia plus quam Punica, and Cicero can assure his hearers that all history proves the Phoenicians to be a lying race. But the most bitter picture is reserved for Plutarch : ‘how different’, he exclaims, ‘the nature of the Carthaginian people, harsh and gloomy, docile to its rulers, hard to its subjects, running to extremes of cowardice in fear and of savagery in anger : keeping stubbornly to its decisions, austere and unresponsive to amusement or the graces of life.’ It was precisely this dour outlook, this grimness of life (which manifested itself as efficiency in business and fanaticism in religion), that seemed to a Greek or a Roman harsh and repellent, a temper of mind which he was utterly unable to comprehend. And this spirit lived on for generations and worked still among the Punic population that remained settled in the Roman province of Africa or scattered in outlying regions. It appeared in many guises: in mocking or angry riots against governors; in bitter commercial rivalry, such as caused the cities of Leptis and Oea actually to go to war against each other; most of all in fervid religious conviction. Centuries later Africa was to be the home of one of the great heresies, Donatism, and such famous controversialists and champions of the Christian faith as Tertullian, Augustine, or Lactantius all sprang from soil that had once been Punic.
It may be felt perhaps that this verdict on Carthage is too unfavourable: our knowledge, such as it is, depends upon alien sources; if more were available, if Carthage could speak for herself, might we not judge more kindly? This may be: but the historian is bound to use what materials he finds. The only way in which he can know and appreciate a past civilization is by close and intimate association with the writings and monuments belonging to it which time has spared; where these do not exist and where there is not a suggestion that they ever did exist, he must reluctantly conclude that the creative spirit was lacking. It is hard to name anything which mankind can be said to owe to Carthage. Some slight improvements in shipbuilding, a new type of siegeartillery, some technical advances in agriculture, may possibly be placed to her credit: in thought, in art, in literature, in language we can find nothing, except that the word gorilla seems to have been brought first to civilization by the Carthaginian Admiral Hanno. The truth is that these colonial Semites lived as a race apart; cut off from their mother-country they proved unable to produce a living culture of their own. As a consequence Carthage remains in the background of history, a shadowy though formidable figure, never emerging into light save when she comes into conflict with some people of a more robust civilization than her own. To Greeks and Romans alike she was a barbarian State, whose language was uncouth, whose customs smacked of primitive savagery, whose religion was an excessive superstition. With all her power, her wealth, and her material prosperity, she left scarcely a trace behind, and with the fall of Carthage it looked as though the last champion of the Semitic-speaking peoples had gone. But a greater destiny, to make a greater mark on history, was reserved for another people of that stock, the Jews, who were struggling to maintain their national and religious character in the cosmopolitan kingdom of Seleucid Syria.