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Carthage () was a settlement in what is now known as modern
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa , image_map2 = , capital = Tunis , largest_city = capital , ...
that later became a
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including cities such as ...
and then an empire. Founded by the
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, ancient thalassocracy, thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-st ...
ns in the ninth century BC,
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of Ancient Carthage, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in ...
reached its height in the fourth century BC as one of the largest metropolises in the world
George Modelski George Modelski was Professor Emeritus of political science in the University of Washington. Modelski was a professor there from 1967 to 1995. Before working at the University of Washington, Modelski was a senior research fellow at the Institut ...
, ''World Cities: –3000 to 2000'', Washington DC: FAROS 2000, 2003. . Figures in main tables are preferentially cited. Part of former estimates can be read at Evolutionary World Politics Homepage Archived 2008-12-28 at the
Wayback Machine The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web founded by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, California. Created in 1996 and launched to the public in 2001, it allows the user to go "back in time" and see ...
and the centre of the Carthaginian Empire, a major power in the ancient world that dominated the western
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
. Following the
Punic Wars The Punic Wars were a series of wars between 264 and 146BC fought between Roman Republic, Rome and Ancient Carthage, Carthage. Three conflicts between these states took place on both land and sea across the western Mediterranean region and i ...
, Carthage was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, who later rebuilt the city lavishly. Carthage was settled around 814 BC by colonists from Tyre, a leading Phoenician city-state located in present-day
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located between Syria to Lebanon–Syria border, the north and east and Israel to Blue ...
. In the seventh century BC, following
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, ancient thalassocracy, thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-st ...
's conquest by the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
, Carthage became independent, gradually expanding its economic and political
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state over other states. In Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing ...
across the
western Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
. By 300 BC, through its vast patchwork of
colonies In modern parlance, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administration of the original country of the colonizers, the ''metropole, metropolit ...
,
vassals A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, chief, ...
, and
satellite state A satellite state or dependent state is a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state (polity), state, nation, or other polity, political entity. It may be a sovereign state or make up one part of a larger state. Fo ...
s, Carthage controlled the largest territory in the region, including the coast of
northwest Africa The Maghreb (; ar, الْمَغْرِب, al-Maghrib, lit=the west), also known as the Arab Maghreb ( ar, المغرب العربي) and Northwest Africa, is the western part of North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region ...
, southern
Iberia The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
(Spain, Portugal, and
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the King" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = , image_map2 = Gibra ...
) and the
islands An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, skerries, cays or keys. An isla ...
of
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...
,
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna, label=Italian language, Italian, Corsican language, Corsican and Tabarchino ; sc, Sardigna , sdc, Sardhigna; french: Sardaigne; sdn, Saldigna; ca, Sardenya, label=Algherese dialect, Algherese and Catalan languag ...
,
Corsica Corsica ( , Upper , Southern ; it, Corsica; ; french: Corse ; lij, Còrsega; sc, Còssiga) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the Regions of France, 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and ...
,
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ), is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea. It consists of an archipelago, between Italy and Libya, and is often considered a part of Southern Europe. It lies ...
, and the Balearic archipelago. Among the ancient world's largest and richest cities, Carthage's strategic location provided access to abundant fertile land and major maritime trade routes. Its extensive
mercantile Trade involves the transfer of goods and services from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system or network that allows trade as a market (economics), market. An early form of trade, barter, s ...
network reached as far as
west Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes Anat ...
,
west Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations geoscheme for Africa#Western Africa, United Nations defines Western Africa as the 16 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, ...
and
northern Europe The northern region of Europe has several definitions. A restrictive definition may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54th parallel north, 54°N, or may be based on other g ...
, providing an array of
commodities In economics, a commodity is an economic goods, good, usually a resource, that has full or substantial fungibility: that is, the Market (economics), market treats instances of the good as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who Production ...
from all over the
ancient world Ancient history is a time period from the beginning of writing and recorded human history Human history, also called world history, is the narrative of humanity's past. It is understood and studied through anthropology, archaeolog ...
, in addition to lucrative
export An export in international trade is a good produced in one country that is sold into another country or a service provided in one country for a national or resident of another country. The seller of such goods or the service provider is a ...
s of
agricultural Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating Plant, plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of Domestication, domesticated species created food ...
products and
manufactured goods Manufacturing is the creation or production of goods In economics, goods are items that satisfy human wants and provide utility, for example, to a consumer making a purchase of a satisfying Product (business), product. A common distincti ...
. This commercial empire was secured by one of the largest and most powerful navies in the
ancient Mediterranean The history of the Mediterranean region and of the cultures and people of the Mediterranean Basin is important for understanding the origin and development of the Mesopotamian, Ancient Egypt, Egyptian, Canaanites, Canaanite, Phoenician, History of ...
, and an army composed heavily of foreign
mercenaries A mercenary, sometimes Pseudonym, also known as a soldier of fortune or hired gun, is a private individual, particularly a soldier, that joins a military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a memb ...
and
auxiliaries Auxiliaries are combat support, support personnel that assist the military or police but are organised differently from regular army, regular forces. Auxiliary may be military volunteers undertaking support functions or performing certain duties ...
, particularly
Iberians The Iberians ( la, Hibērī, from el, Ἴβηρες, ''Iberes'') were an ancient people settled in the eastern and southern coasts of the Iberian peninsula, at least from the 6th century BC. They are described in Ancient Greece, Greek and anci ...
,
Balearics The Balearic Islands ( es, Islas Baleares ; or ca, Illes Balears ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster, or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containi ...
,
Gauls The Gauls ( la, Galli; grc, Γαλάται, ''Galátai'') were a group of Celts, Celtic peoples of mainland Europe in the Iron Age Europe, Iron Age and the Roman Gaul, Roman period (roughly 5th century BC to 5th century AD). Their homeland was k ...
,
Britons British people or Britons, also known colloquially as Brits, are the citizens of the United Kingdom, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies.: British nationality ...
,
Sicilians Sicilians or the Sicilian people are a Romance languages, Romance speaking ethnic group, people who are indigenous peoples, indigenous to the island of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the largest and most populous ...
,
Italians , flag = , flag_caption = Flag of Italy, The national flag of Italy , population = , regions = Italy 55,551,000 , region1 = Brazil , pop1 = 25–33 million , ref1 = , ...
,
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group and nation indigenous to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, namely Greece, Greek Cypriots, Cyprus, Greeks in Albania, Albania, Greeks in Italy, ...
,
Numidians The Numidians were the Berbers, Berber population of Numidia (Algeria and in smaller parts of Tunisia and Morocco). The Numidians were one of the earliest Berber tribes to trade with Carthage, Carthaginian settlers. As Carthage grew, the relation ...
and Libyans. As the dominant power of the western Mediterranean, Carthage inevitably came into conflict with many neighbours and rivals, from the indigenous
Berbers , image = File:Berber_flag.svg , caption = The Berber flag, Berber ethnic flag , population = 36 million , region1 = Morocco , pop1 = 14 million to 18 million , region2 = Algeria , p ...
of
North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in t ...
to the nascent
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization when it was run through res publica, public Representation (politics), representation of the Roman peo ...
. Following centuries of conflict with the Sicilian Greeks, its growing competition with Rome culminated in the
Punic Wars The Punic Wars were a series of wars between 264 and 146BC fought between Roman Republic, Rome and Ancient Carthage, Carthage. Three conflicts between these states took place on both land and sea across the western Mediterranean region and i ...
(
264 __NOTOC__ Year 264 (Roman numerals, CCLXIV) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Gallienus and Saturninus (or, less frequentl ...
146 BC), which saw some of the largest and most sophisticated battles in antiquity. Carthage narrowly avoided destruction after the Second Punic War, and was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC after the third and final Punic War. The Romans later founded a new city in its place. All remnants of Carthaginian civilization came under Roman rule by the first century AD, and Rome subsequently became the dominant Mediterranean power, paving the way for its rise as a major empire. In spite of the cosmopolitan character of its empire, Carthage's culture and identity remained rooted in its Phoenician-Canaanite heritage, albeit a localised variety known as
Punic The Punic people, or western Phoenicians, were a Semitic people, Semitic people in the Western Mediterranean who migrated from Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre, Phoenicia to North Africa during the Iron Age, Early Iron Age. In modern scholarship, the term '' ...
. Like other Phoenician people, its society was urban, commercial, and oriented towards seafaring and trade; this is reflected in part by its more famous innovations, including serial production, uncolored
glass Glass is a non-Crystallinity, crystalline, often transparency and translucency, transparent, amorphous solid that has widespread practical, technological, and decorative use in, for example, window panes, tableware, and optics. Glass is most ...
, the threshing board, and the '' cothon'' harbor. Carthaginians were renowned for their commercial prowess, ambitious explorations, and unique system of
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government ...
, which combined elements of
democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
,
oligarchy Oligarchy (; ) is a conceptual form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may or may not be distinguished by one or several characteristics, such as nobility Nobility is a social class foun ...
, and
republicanism Republicanism is a political ideology centered on citizenship in a state (polity), state organized as a republic. Historically, it emphasises the idea of self-rule and ranges from the rule of a representative minority or oligarchy to popular ...
, including modern examples of
checks and balances Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflic ...
. Despite having been one of the most influential civilizations of antiquity, Carthage is mostly remembered for its long and bitter conflict with Rome, which threatened the rise of the Roman Republic and almost changed the course of
Western civilization image:Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour.jpg, Leonardo da Vinci's ''Vitruvian Man''. Based on the correlations of ideal Body proportions, human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise '' ...
. Due to the destruction of virtually all Carthaginian texts after the Third Punic War, much of what is known about its civilization comes from Roman and Greek sources, many of whom wrote during or after the Punic Wars, and to varying degrees were shaped by the hostilities. Popular and scholarly attitudes towards Carthage historically reflected the prevailing Greco-Roman view, though archaeological research since the late 19th century has helped shed more light and nuance on Carthaginian civilization.


Etymology

The name ''Carthage'' is the Early Modern
anglicisation Anglicisation is a form of cultural assimilation whereby something non-English becomes assimilated into, influenced by or dominated by Culture of England, Englishness or Culture of the United Kingdom, Britishness. It can be socio-cultural, wher ...
of
Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from the 14th to the 16th century. It is a period of transition during which: * the French language became clearly distinguished from t ...
, from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
and (cf.
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
() and Etruscan ''*Carθaza'') from the
Punic The Punic people, or western Phoenicians, were a Semitic people, Semitic people in the Western Mediterranean who migrated from Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre, Phoenicia to North Africa during the Iron Age, Early Iron Age. In modern scholarship, the term '' ...
( xpu, 𐤒𐤓𐤕𐤟𐤇𐤃𐤔𐤕, lit=New City). ''Punic'', which is sometimes used synonymously with Carthaginian, derives from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
and , based on the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
word (), (), an
exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, ''native'' name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, language or dialect, meaning that it is used inside that particular place, grou ...
used to describe the Canaanite port towns with which the Greeks traded. Latin later borrowed the Greek term a second time as , . Both Punic and Phoenician were used by the Romans and Greeks to refer to Phoenicians across the Mediterranean; modern scholars use the term Punic exclusively for Phoenicians in the western Mediterranean, such as the Carthaginians. Specific Punic groups are often referred to with hyphenated terms, like "Siculo-Punic" for Phoenicians in Sicily or "Sardo-Punic" for those in Sardinia. Ancient Greek authors sometimes referred to the mixed Punic inhabitants of North Africa ('Libya') as 'Liby-Phoenicians'. It is unclear what term, if any, the Carthaginians used to refer to themselves. The Phoenician homeland in the Levant was natively known as () and its people as the (). Ancient Egyptian accounts suggest the people from the region identified as ''Kenaani'' or ''Kinaani'', equivalent to
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, c ...
ite. A passage from
Augustine Augustine of Hippo ( , ; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berbers, Berber origin and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia (Roman pr ...
has often been interpreted as indicating that the Punic-speakers in North Africa called themselves ''Chanani'' (Canaanites), but it has recently been argued that this is a misreading. Numismatic evidence from Sicily shows that some western Phoenicians made use of the term ''Phoinix.''


Sources

Compared to contemporaneous civilizations such as Rome and Greece, far less is known about Carthage, as most indigenous records were lost in the wholesale destruction of the city after the Third Punic War. Sources of knowledge are limited to ancient translations of
Punic The Punic people, or western Phoenicians, were a Semitic people, Semitic people in the Western Mediterranean who migrated from Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre, Phoenicia to North Africa during the Iron Age, Early Iron Age. In modern scholarship, the term '' ...
texts into Greek and Latin, Punic inscriptions on monuments and buildings, and archaeological findings of Carthage's material culture. The majority of available primary sources about Carthage were written by
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
and
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
historians, most notably
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
,
Polybius Polybius (; grc-gre, Πολύβιος, ; ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period. He is noted for his work , which covered the period of 264–146 BC and the Punic Wars in detail. Polybius is important for his analysis of the mixed ...
,
Appian Appian of Alexandria (; grc-gre, Ἀππιανὸς Ἀλεξανδρεύς ''Appianòs Alexandreús''; la, Appianus Alexandrinus; ) was a Ancient Greeks, Greek historian with Ancient Rome, Roman citizenship who flourished during the reigns of ...
,
Cornelius Nepos Cornelius Nepos (; c. 110 BC – c. 25 BC) was a Roman Empire, Roman biographer. He was born at Hostilia, a village in Cisalpine Gaul not far from Verona. Biography Nepos's Cisalpine birth is attested by Ausonius, and Pliny the Elder calls ...
,
Silius Italicus Tiberius Catius Asconius Silius Italicus (, c. 26 – c. 101 AD) was a Roman senator, orator and Epic poetry, epic poet of the Silver Age of Latin literature. His only surviving work is the 17-book ''Punica (poem), Punica'', an epic poem about th ...
,
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; – after AD 119) was a Greek people, Greek Middle Platonism, Middle Platonist philosopher, historian, Biography, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo (D ...
,
Dio Cassius Lucius Cassius Dio (), also known as Dio Cassius ( ), was a Roman historian and senator of maternal Greek origin. He published 80 volumes of the History of ancient Rome, history on ancient Rome, beginning with the arrival of Aeneas in Italy. The ...
, and
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, , }; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...
. These authors came from cultures that were nearly always in competition with Carthage; the Greeks with respect to
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...
, and the Romans over dominance of the western Mediterranean. Inevitably, foreign accounts of Carthage usually reflect significant bias, especially those written during or after the Punic Wars, when the ''interpretatio Romana'' perpetuated a "malicious and distorted view". Excavations of ancient Carthaginian sites since the late 19th century has brought to light more material evidence that either contradict or confirm aspects of the traditional picture of Carthage; however, many of these findings remain ambiguous.


History


Foundation legends

The specific date, circumstances, and motivations concerning Carthage's founding are unknown. All surviving accounts of the city's origins come from Latin and Greek literature, which are generally legendary in nature but may have some basis in fact. The standard foundation myth across all sources is that the city was founded by colonists from the ancient Phoenician city-state of Tyre, led by its exiled princess
Dido Dido ( ; , ), also known as Elissa ( , ), was the legendary founder and first queen of the Phoenician city-state of Ancient Carthage, Carthage (located in modern Tunisia), in 814 BC. In most accounts, she was the queen of the Phoenician city ...
(also known as Queen Elissa or Alissar). Dido's brother, Pygmalion (Phoenician: Pummayaton) had murdered her husband, the high priest of the city, and taken power as a tyrant. Dido and her allies escaped his reign and established Carthage, which became a prosperous city under her rule as queen. The Roman historian Justin, writing in the second century AD, provides an account of the city's founding based on the earlier work of
Trogus Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus also anglicized Anglicisation is the process by which a place or person becomes influenced by Culture of England, English culture or Culture of the United Kingdom, British culture, or a process of cultural and/or ling ...
. Princess Dido is the daughter of King Belus II of Tyre, who upon his death bequeaths the throne jointly to her and her brother Pygmalion. After cheating his sister out of her share of political power, Pygmalion murders her husband Acerbas (Phoenician: Zakarbaal), also known as Sychaeus, the High Priest of
Melqart Melqart (also Melkarth or Melicarthus) was the tutelary god of the Phoenician city-state of Tyre and a major deity in the Phoenician and Punic pantheons. Often titled the "Lord of Tyre" ('' Ba‘al Ṣūr''), he was also known as the Son o ...
, whose wealth and power he covets. Before her tyrannical brother can take her late husband's wealth, Dido immediately flees with her followers to establish a new city abroad. Upon landing in North Africa, she is greeted by the local Berber chieftain, Iarbas (also called Hiarbas) who promises to cede as much land as could be covered by a single ox hide. With her characteristic cleverness, Dido cuts the hide into very thin strips and lays them end to end until they encircle the entire hill of Byrsa. While digging to set the foundation of their new settlement, the Tyrians discover the head of an ox, an omen that the city would be wealthy "but laborious and always enslaved". In response they move the site of the city elsewhere, where the head of a horse is found, which in Phoenician culture is a symbol of courage and conquest. The horse foretells where Dido's new city will rise, becoming the emblem of Carthage, derived from the Phoenician ''Qart-Hadasht'', meaning "New City". The city's wealth and prosperity attracts both Phoenicians from nearby Utica and the indigenous Libyans, whose king Iarbas now seeks Dido's hand in marriage. Threatened with war should she refuse, and also loyal to the memory of her deceased husband, the queen orders a funeral pyre to be built, where she commits suicide by stabbing herself with a sword. She is thereafter worshiped as a goddess by the people of Carthage, who are described as brave in battle but prone to the "cruel religious ceremony" of human sacrifice, even of children, whenever they seek divine relief from troubles of any kind. Virgil's epic poem the ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is or ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area ...
''—written over a century after the Third Punic War—tells the mythical story of the
Trojan Trojan or Trojans may refer to: * Of or from the ancient city of Troy * Trojan language, the language of the historical Trojans Arts and entertainment Music * ''Les Troyens'' ('The Trojans'), an opera by Berlioz, premiered part 1863, part 1890 ...
hero
Aeneas In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (, ; from ) was a Trojan hero, the son of the Trojan prince Anchises and the Greek goddess Aphrodite (equivalent to the Roman Venus (mythology), Venus). His father was a first cousin of King Priam of Troy (both ...
and his journey towards founding Rome, inextricably tying together the founding myths, and ultimate fates, of both Rome and Carthage. Its introduction begins by mentioning "an ancient city" that many readers likely assumed was Rome or Troy,Ben Kiernan, ''The First Genocide: Carthage, 146 BC,'' DIOGENES 203: 27-39, , p. 34. but goes on to describe it as a place "held by colonists from Tyre, opposite Italy . .. a city of great wealth and ruthless in the pursuit of war. Its name was Carthage, and Juno is said to have loved it more than any other place ... But she had heard that there was rising from the blood of Troy a race of men who in days to come would overthrow this Tyrian citadel ... ndsack the land of Libya." Virgil describes Queen Elissa—for whom he uses the ancient Greek name, Dido, meaning "beloved"—as an esteemed, clever, but ultimately tragic character. As in other legends, the impetus for her escape is her tyrannical brother Pygmalion, whose secret murder of her husband is revealed to her in a dream. Cleverly exploiting her brother's greed, Dido tricks Pygmalion into supporting her journey to find and bring back riches for him. Through this ruse she sets sail with gold and allies secretly in search of a new home. As in Justin's account, upon landing in North Africa, Dido is greeted by Iarbas, and after he offers as much land as could be covered by a single ox hide, she cuts the hide into very thin strips and encircles all of
Byrsa Byrsa was a walled citadel above the Phoenician harbour in ancient Carthage, Tunisia, as well as the name of the hill it rested on. Legend In Virgil's account of Dido (Queen of Carthage), Dido's founding of Carthage, when Dido and her party were ...
. While digging to set the foundation of their new settlement, the Tyrians discover the head of a horse, which in Phoenician culture is a symbol of courage and conquest. The horse foretells where Dido's new city will rise, becoming the emblem of the "New City" Carthage. In just seven years since their exodus from Tyre, the Carthaginians build a successful kingdom under Dido's rule. She is adored by her subjects and presented with a festival of praise. Virgil portrays her character as even more noble when she offers asylum to
Aeneas In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (, ; from ) was a Trojan hero, the son of the Trojan prince Anchises and the Greek goddess Aphrodite (equivalent to the Roman Venus (mythology), Venus). His father was a first cousin of King Priam of Troy (both ...
and his men, who had recently escaped from
Troy Troy ( el, Τροία and Latin: Troia, Hittite language, Hittite: 𒋫𒊒𒄿𒊭 ''Truwiša'') or Ilion ( el, Ίλιον and Latin: Ilium, Hittite language, Hittite: 𒃾𒇻𒊭 ''Wiluša'') was an ancient city located at Hisarlik in prese ...
. The two fall in love during a hunting expedition, and Dido comes to believe they will marry. Jupiter sends a spirit in the form of the messenger god, Mercury, to remind Aeneas that his mission is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love Dido, but to sail to Italy to found Rome. The Trojan departs, leaving Dido so heartbroken that she commits suicide by stabbing herself upon a funeral
pyre A pyre ( grc, πυρά; ''pyrá'', from , ''pyr'', "fire"), also known as a funeral pyre, is a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite or execution. As a form of cremation, a body is placed upon or under the ...
with his sword. As she lies dying, she predicts eternal strife between Aeneas' people and her own, proclaiming "rise up from my bones, avenging spirit" in an invocation of
Hannibal Hannibal (; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋, ''Ḥannibaʿl''; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Punic people, Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Ancient Carthage, Carthage in their battle against the Roman ...
. Aeneas sees the smoke from the pyre as he sails away, and though he does not know the fate of Dido, he identifies it as a bad omen. Ultimately, his descendants go on to found the
Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom (also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome) was the earliest period of Ancient Rome, Roman history when the city and its territory were ruled by kings. According to oral accounts, the Roman Kin ...
, the predecessor of the Roman Empire. Like Justin, Virgil's story essentially conveys Rome's attitude towards Carthage, as exemplified by
Cato the Elder Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, senator A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Legislative chamber, chamber of a ...
's famous utterance, "''
Carthago delenda est ("Furthermore, I consider that Carthage Carthage was the capital city of Ancient Carthage, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , m ...
''"—"Carthage must be destroyed". In essence, Rome and Carthage were fated for conflict: Aeneas chose Rome over Dido, eliciting her dying curse upon his Roman descendants, and thus providing a mythical, fatalistic backdrop for a century of bitter conflict between Rome and Carthage. These stories typify the Roman attitude towards Carthage: a level of grudging respect and acknowledgement of their bravery, prosperity, and even their city's seniority to Rome, along with derision of their cruelty, deviousness, and decadence, as exemplified by their practice of human sacrifice.


Settlement as Tyrian colony (c. 814 BC)

To facilitate their commercial ventures, the Phoenicians established numerous colonies and trading posts along the coasts of the Mediterranean. Organized in fiercely independent city-states, the Phoenicians lacked the numbers or even the desire to expand overseas; most colonies had fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, and only a few, including Carthage, would grow larger. Motives for colonization were usually practical, such as seeking safe harbors for their merchant fleets, maintaining a monopoly on an area's natural resources, satisfying the demand for trade goods, and finding areas where they could trade freely without outside interference. Over time many Phoenicians also sought to escape their
tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem river drain the surrounding drainage b ...
obligations to foreign powers that had subjugated the Phoenician homeland. Another motivating factor was competition with the Greeks, who became a nascent maritime power and began establishing colonies across the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The first Phoenician colonies in the western Mediterranean grew up on the two paths to Iberia's mineral wealth: along the northwest African coast and on
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...
,
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna, label=Italian language, Italian, Corsican language, Corsican and Tabarchino ; sc, Sardigna , sdc, Sardhigna; french: Sardaigne; sdn, Saldigna; ca, Sardenya, label=Algherese dialect, Algherese and Catalan languag ...
, and the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( es, Islas Baleares ; or ca, Illes Balears ) are an archipelago in the Balearic Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The archipelago is an Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community and a P ...
. As the largest and wealthiest city-state among the Phoenicians, Tyre led the way in settling or controlling coastal areas.
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus) was a term employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or deformed. The father of Pompey was called "Pompeius Strabo". A native of Sicily so clear-sighted that he could see ...
claims that the Tyrians alone founded three hundred colonies on the west African coast; though clearly an exaggeration, many colonies did arise in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria,
Iberia The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
, and to a much lesser extent, on the arid coast of Libya. They were usually established as trading stations at intervals of about 30 to 50 kilometres along the African coast. By the time they gained a foothold in Africa, the Phoenicians were already present in
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country located south of the Anatolian Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Its continental position is disputed; while it is geo ...
,
Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, ...
,
Corsica Corsica ( , Upper , Southern ; it, Corsica; ; french: Corse ; lij, Còrsega; sc, Còssiga) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the Regions of France, 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and ...
, the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, and Sicily, as well as on the European mainland, in what are today
Genoa Genoa ( ; it, Genova ; lij, Zêna ). is the capital of the Regions of Italy, Italian region of Liguria and the List of cities in Italy, sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived within the city's administrative limits. As of t ...
and
Marseille Marseille ( , , ; also spelled in English as Marseilles; oc, Marselha ) is the Prefectures in France, prefecture of the France, French Departments of France, department of Bouches-du-Rhône and capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Regio ...
s. Foreshadowing the later Sicilian Wars, settlements in Crete and Sicily continually clashed with the Greeks, and Phoenician control over all of Sicily was brief. Nearly all these areas would come under the leadership and protection of Carthage, which eventually founded cities of its own, especially after the decline of Tyre and
Sidon Sidon ( ; he, צִידוֹן, ''Ṣīḏōn'') known locally as Sayda or Saida ( ar, صيدا ''Ṣaydā''), is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate, Lebanon, South Governorate, of which it is the capital, ...
. The site of Carthage was likely chosen by the Tyrians for several reasons. It was located in the central shore of the Gulf of Tunis, which gave it access to the Mediterranean sea while shielding it from the region's infamously violent storms. It was also close to the strategically vital Strait of Sicily, a key bottleneck for maritime trade between the east and west. The terrain proved as invaluable as the geography. The city was built on a hilly, triangular peninsula backed by the Lake of Tunis, which provided abundant supplies of fish and a place for safe harbor. The peninsula was connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, which combined with the rough surrounding terrain, made the city easily defensible; a citadel was built on Byrsa, a low hill overlooking the sea. Finally, Carthage would be conduit of two major trade routes: one between the Tyrian colony of Cadiz in southern Spain, which supplied raw materials for manufacturing in Tyre, and the other between North Africa and the northern Mediterranean, namely Sicily, Italy, and Greece.


Independence, expansion and hegemony (c. 650–264 BC)

In contrast to most Phoenician colonies, Carthage grew larger and more quickly thanks to its combination of favorable climate, arable land, and lucrative trade routes. Within just one century of its founding, its population rose to 30,000. Meanwhile, its mother city, which for centuries was the preeminent economic and political center of Phoenician civilization, saw its status begin to wane in the seventh century BC, following a succession of sieges by the
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorites, Amorite-ruled ...
ns. By this time, its Carthaginian colony had become immensely wealthy from its strategic location and extensive trade network. Unlike many other Phoenician city-states and dependencies, Carthage grew prosperous not only from maritime commerce but from its proximity to fertile agricultural land and rich mineral deposits. As the main hub for trade between Africa and the rest of the ancient world, it also provided a myriad of rare and luxurious goods, including terracotta figurines and masks, jewelry, delicately carved ivories, ostrich eggs, and a variety of foods and wine. Carthage's growing economic prominence coincided with a nascent national identity. Although Carthaginians remained staunchly Phoenician in their customs and faith, by at least the seventh century BC, they had developed a distinct Punic culture infused with local influences. Certain deities became more prominent in the Carthaginian pantheon than in Phoenicia; into the fifth century BC, the Carthaginians were worshiping Greek deities such as Demeter. Carthage may have also retained religious practices that had long fallen out of favor in Tyre, such as child sacrifice. Similarly, it spoke its own Punic dialect of Phoenician, which also reflected contributions by neighboring peoples. These trends most likely precipitated the colony's emergence as an independent polity. Though the specific date and circumstances are unknown, Carthage most likely became independent around 650 BC, when it embarked on its own colonization efforts across the western Mediterranean. It nonetheless maintained amicable cultural, political, and commercial ties with its founding city and the Phoenician homeland; it continued to receive migrants from Tyre, and for a time continued the practice of sending annual tribute to Tyre's temple of Melqart, albeit at irregular intervals. By the sixth century BC, Tyre's power declined further still after its voluntary submission to the Persian king Cambyses ( BC), which resulted in the incorporation of the Phoenician homeland into the Persian empire. Lacking sufficient naval strength, Cambyses sought Tyrian assistance for his planned conquest of Carthage, which may indicate that the former Tyrian colony had become wealthy enough to warrant a long and difficult expedition. Herodotus claims that the Tyrians refused to cooperate due to their affinity for Carthage, causing the Persian king to abort his campaign. Though it escaped reprisal, Tyre's status as Phoenicia's leading city was significantly circumscribed; its rival, Sidon, subsequently garnered more support from the Persians. However, it too remained subjugated, leading the way for Carthage to fill the vacuum as the leading Phoenician political power.


Formation and characteristics of the empire

Although the Carthaginians retained the traditional Phoenician affinity for maritime trade and commerce, they were distinguished by their imperial and military ambitions: whereas the Phoenician city-states rarely engaged in territorial conquest, Carthage became an expansionist power, driven by its desire to access new sources of wealth and trade. It is unknown what factors influenced the citizens of Carthage, unlike those of other Phoenician colonies, to create an economic and political hegemony; the nearby city of Utica was far older and enjoyed the same geographical and political advantages, but never embarked on hegemonic conquest, instead coming under Carthaginian influence. One theory is that
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babi ...
ian and
Persia Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
n domination of the Phoenician homeland produced refugees that swelled Carthage's population and transferred the culture, wealth, and traditions of Tyre to Carthage. The threat to the Phoenician trade monopoly—by Etruscan and Greek competition in the west, and through foreign subjugation of its homeland in the east—also created the conditions for Carthage to consolidate its power and further its commercial interests. Another contributing factor may have been domestic politics: while little is known of Carthage's government and leadership prior to the third century BC, the reign of Mago I ( 550–530), and the political dominance of the Magonid family in subsequent decades, precipitated Carthage's rise as a dominant power. Justin states that Mago, who was also general of the army, was the first Carthaginian leader to " etin order the military system", which may have entailed the introduction of new military strategies and technologies. He is also credited with initiating, or at least expanding, the practice of recruiting subject peoples and mercenaries, as Carthage's population was too small to secure and defend its scattered colonies. Libyans,
Iberians The Iberians ( la, Hibērī, from el, Ἴβηρες, ''Iberes'') were an ancient people settled in the eastern and southern coasts of the Iberian peninsula, at least from the 6th century BC. They are described in Ancient Greece, Greek and anci ...
,
Sardinians The Sardinians, or Sards ( sc, Sardos or ; Italian language, Italian and Sassarese language, Sassarese: ''Sardi''; Gallurese dialect, Gallurese: ''Saldi''), are a Romance language-speaking ethnic group native to Sardinia, from which the western ...
, and
Corsicans The Corsicans (Corsican language, Corsican, Italian language, Italian and Ligurian (Romance language), Ligurian: ''Corsi''; French language, French: ''Corses'') are a Romance peoples, Romance ethnic group. They are native to Corsica, a Mediterra ...
were soon enlisted for the Magonid expansionist campaigns across the region. By the beginning of the fourth century BC, the Carthaginians had become the "superior power" of the
western Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
, and would remain so for roughly the next three centuries. Carthage took control of all nearby Phoenician colonies, including
Hadrumetum Hadrumetum, also known by #Names, many variant spellings and names, was a Phoenician Phoenician colonies, colony that pre-dated Carthage. It subsequently became one of the most important cities in Roman Africa before Vandal Kingdom, Vandal and Uma ...
, Utica, Hippo Diarrhytus and Kerkouane; subjugated many neighboring Libyan tribes, and occupied coastal North Africa from
Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to A ...
to western Libya. It held Sardinia,
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ), is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea. It consists of an archipelago, between Italy and Libya, and is often considered a part of Southern Europe. It lies ...
, the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( es, Islas Baleares ; or ca, Illes Balears ) are an archipelago in the Balearic Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The archipelago is an Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community and a P ...
, and the western half of Sicily, where coastal fortresses such as
Motya Motya was an ancient and powerful city on San Pantaleo Island off the west coast of Sicily, in the Stagnone Lagoon between Drepanum (modern Trapani) and Lilybaeum (modern Marsala). It is within the present-day comune, commune of Marsala, Ital ...
and
Lilybaeum Marsala (, local ; la, Lilybaeum) is an Italian town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily. Marsala is the most populated town in its province and the fifth in Sicily. The town is famous for the docking of Giuse ...
secured their possessions. The
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
, which was rich in precious metals, saw some of the largest and most important Carthaginian settlements outside North Africa, though the degree of political influence before the conquest by Hamilcar_Barca_.html" ;"title="Hamilcar_Barca.html" ;"title="Hamilcar Barca">Hamilcar Barca ">Hamilcar_Barca.html" ;"title="Hamilcar Barca">Hamilcar Barca (237–228 BC) is disputed. Carthage's growing wealth and power, along with the foreign subjugation of the Phoenician homeland, led to its supplanting of Sidon as the supreme Phoenician city state. Carthage's empire was largely informal and multifaceted, consisting of varying levels of control exercised in equally variable ways. It established new colonies, repopulated and reinforced older ones, formed defensive pacts with other Phoenician city states, and acquired territories directly by conquest. While some Phoenician colonies willingly submitted to Carthage, paying tribute and giving up their foreign policy, others in
Iberia The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
and
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna, label=Italian language, Italian, Corsican language, Corsican and Tabarchino ; sc, Sardigna , sdc, Sardhigna; french: Sardaigne; sdn, Saldigna; ca, Sardenya, label=Algherese dialect, Algherese and Catalan languag ...
resisted Carthaginian efforts. Whereas other Phoenician cities never exercised actual control of the colonies, the Carthaginians appointed magistrates to directly control their own (a policy that would lead to a number of Iberian towns siding with the Romans during the
Punic Wars The Punic Wars were a series of wars between 264 and 146BC fought between Roman Republic, Rome and Ancient Carthage, Carthage. Three conflicts between these states took place on both land and sea across the western Mediterranean region and i ...
). In many other instances, Carthage's hegemony was established through treaties, alliances, tributary obligations, and other such arrangements. It had elements of the
Delian League The Delian League, founded in 478 BC, was an association of Polis, Greek city-states, numbering between 150 and 330, under the leadership of Classical Athens, Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire a ...
led by Athens (allies shared funding and manpower for defense), the Spartan Kingdom (subject peoples serving as serfs for the Punic elite and state) and, to a lesser extent, the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization when it was run through res publica, public Representation (politics), representation of the Roman peo ...
(allies contributing manpower and tribute for Rome's war machine). In 509 BC, Carthage and
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg ...
signed the first of several
treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually made by and between sovereign state A sovereign state or sovereign country, is a polity, political entity represented by one centr ...
demarcating their respective influence and commercial activities. This is the first textual source demonstrating Carthaginian control over Sicily and Sardinia. The treaty also conveys the extent to which Carthage was, at the very least, on equal terms with Rome, whose influence was limited to parts of central and southern Italy. Carthaginian dominance of the sea reflected not only its Phoenician heritage, but an approach to empire-building that differed greatly from Rome. Carthage emphasized maritime trade over territorial expansion, and accordingly focused its settlements and influence on coastal areas while investing more on its navy. For similar reasons, its ambitions were more commercial than imperial, which is why its empire took the form of a
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state over other states. In Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing ...
based on treaties and political arrangements more than conquest. By contrast, the Romans focused on expanding and consolidating their control over the rest of mainland Italy, and would aim to extend its control well beyond its homeland. These differences would prove key in the conduct and trajectory of the later Punic Wars. By the third century BC, Carthage was the center of a sprawling network of colonies and client states. It controlled more territory than the Roman Republic, and became one of the largest and most prosperous cities in the Mediterranean, with a quarter of a million inhabitants. Carthage did not focus on growing and conquering land, instead, it was found that Carthage was focused on growing trade and protecting trade routes. The trades through Libya were territories and Carthage paid Libyans for access to this land in Cape Bon for agricultural purposes until about 550 BC. In around 508 BC Carthage and Rome signed a treaty to keep their commercial planes separate from each other. Carthage focused on growing their population by taking in Phoenicians colonies and soon began controlling Libyan, African, and Roman colonies. Many Phoenician cities also had to pay or support the Carthaginian troops. Punic troops would defend cities and these cities had few rights.


Conflict with the Greeks (580–265 BC)

Unlike the existential conflict of the later Punic Wars with Rome, the conflict between Carthage and the Greeks centered on economic concerns, as each side sought to advance their own commercial interests and influence by controlling key trade routes. For centuries, the Phoenician and Greek city-states had embarked on maritime trade and colonization across the Mediterranean. While the Phoenicians were initially dominant, Greek competition increasingly undermined their monopoly. Both sides had begun establishing colonies, trading posts, and commercial relations in the western Mediterranean roughly contemporaneously, between the ninth and eighth centuries. Phoenician and Greek settlements, the increased presence of both peoples led to mounting tensions and ultimately open conflict, especially in Sicily.


First Sicilian War (480 BC)

Carthage's economic successes, buoyed by its vast maritime trade network, led to the development of a powerful navy to protect and secure vital shipping lanes. Its hegemony brought it into increasing conflict with the
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group and nation indigenous to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, namely Greece, Greek Cypriots, Cyprus, Greeks in Albania, Albania, Greeks in Italy, ...
of
Syracuse Syracuse may refer to: Places Italy *Syracuse, Sicily Syracuse ( ; it, Siracusa ; scn, Sarausa ), ; grc-att, wikt:Συράκουσαι, Συράκουσαι, Syrákousai, ; grc-dor, wikt:Συράκοσαι, Συράκοσαι, Syrā́ ...
, who also sought control of the central Mediterranean. Founded in the mid seventh century BC, Syracuse had risen to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful Greek city states, and the preeminent Greek polity in the region. The island of Sicily, lying at Carthage's doorstep, became the main arena on which this conflict played out. From their earliest days, both the Greeks and Phoenicians had been attracted to the large, centrally-located island, each establishing a large number of colonies and trading posts along its coasts; battles raged between these settlements for centuries, with neither side ever having total, long-term control over the island. In 480 BC, Gelo, the
tyrant A tyrant (), in the modern English language, English usage of the word, is an autocracy, absolute ruler who is unrestrained by law, or one who has usurper, usurped a legitimate ruler's sovereignty. Often portrayed as cruel, tyrants may defen ...
of
Syracuse Syracuse may refer to: Places Italy *Syracuse, Sicily Syracuse ( ; it, Siracusa ; scn, Sarausa ), ; grc-att, wikt:Συράκουσαι, Συράκουσαι, Syrákousai, ; grc-dor, wikt:Συράκοσαι, Συράκοσαι, Syrā́ ...
, attempted to unite the island under his rule with the backing of other Greek
city-states A city-state is an independent sovereignty, sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including ci ...
. Threatened by the potential power of a united Sicily, Carthage intervened militarily, led by King
Hamilcar __NOTOC__ Hamilcar ( xpu, 𐤇𐤌𐤋𐤊 , ,. or , , "Melqart is Gracious"; grc-gre, Ἁμίλκας, ''Hamílkas'';) was a common Carthaginian Empire, Carthaginian masculine name, masculine given name. The name was particularly common among the ...
of the Magonid dynasty. Traditional accounts, including by
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, , }; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...
and Diodorus, number Hamilcar's army at around 300,000; though likely exaggerated, it was likely of formidable strength. While sailing to Sicily, Hamilcar suffered losses due to poor weather. Landing at Panormus (modern-day
Palermo Palermo ( , ; scn, Palermu , locally also or ) is a city in southern Italy, the capital (political), capital of both the autonomous area, autonomous region of Sicily and the Metropolitan City of Palermo, the city's surrounding metropolitan ...
), he spent three days reorganizing his forces and repairing his battered fleet. The Carthaginians marched along the coast to Himera, making camp before engaging in battle against the forces of Syracuse and its ally
Agrigentum Agrigento (; scn, Girgenti or ; grc, Ἀκράγας, translit=Akrágas; la, Agrigentum or ; ar, كركنت, Kirkant, or ''Jirjant'') is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy and capital of the province of Agrigento. It was one of ...
. The Greeks won a decisive victory, inflicting heavy losses on the Carthaginians, including their leader Hamilcar, who was either killed during the battle or committed suicide in shame. As a result, the Carthaginian nobility sued for peace. The conflict proved to be a major turning point for Carthage. Though it would retain some presence in Sicily, most of the island would remain in Greek (and later Roman) hands. The Carthaginians would never again expand their territory or sphere of influence on the island to any meaningful degree, instead turning their attention to securing or increasing their hold in North Africa and Iberia. The death of King Hamilcar and the disastrous conduct of the war also prompted political reforms that established an oligarchic republic. Carthage would henceforth constrain its rulers through assemblies of both nobles and the common people.


Second Sicilian War (410–404 BC)

By 410 BC, Carthage had recovered from its serious defeats in Sicily. It had conquered much of modern-day
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa , image_map2 = , capital = Tunis , largest_city = capital , ...
and founded new colonies across northern Africa. It also extended its reach well beyond the Mediterranean;
Hanno the Navigator Hanno the Navigator (sometimes "Hannon"; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤀 , ; ) was a Ancient Carthage, Carthaginian explorer of the fifth century BC, best known for his naval exploration of the western coast of Africa. The only source of his voyage is a '' ...
journeyed down the West African coast, and Himilco the Navigator had explored the European Atlantic coast. Expeditions were also led into
Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to A ...
and
Senegal Senegal,; Wolof language, Wolof: ''Senegaal''; Pulaar language, Pulaar: 𞤅𞤫𞤲𞤫𞤺𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭 (Senegaali); Arabic language, Arabic: السنغال ''As-Sinighal'') officially the Republic of Senegal,; Wolof language, Wolof: ''R ...
, as well as the
Atlantic The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximately 20% of Earth's surface and about 29% of its water surface area. It is known to separate the " Old World" of Africa, Europe ...
. The same year, the Iberian colonies seceded, cutting off Carthage from a major source of
silver Silver is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ag (from the Latin ', derived from the Proto-Indo-European wikt:Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/h₂erǵ-, ''h₂erǵ'': "shiny" or "white") and atomic number 47. A soft, whi ...
and
copper Copper is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductility, ductile metal with very high thermal conductivity, thermal and electrical conductivity. A fre ...
. The loss of such strategically important mineral wealth, combined with the desire to exercise firmer control over shipping routes, led
Hannibal Mago __NOTOC__ Hannibal Mago ( xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋 , ) was a grandson of Hamilcar I of Carthage, Hamilcar Mago. He predates the more famous Carthaginian general Hannibal by about 200 years. Career He was shofet (judge) of Ancient Carthage, Cartha ...
, grandson of Hamilcar, to make preparations to reclaim Sicily. In 409 BC, Hannibal Mago set out for Sicily with his force. He captured the smaller cities of Selinus (modern
Selinunte Selinunte (; grc, Σελῑνοῦς, Selīnoûs ; la, Selīnūs , ; scn, Silinunti ) was a rich and extensive Ancient Greece, ancient Greek city on the south-western coast of Sicily in Italy. It was situated between the valleys of the Co ...
) and
Himera Himera (Greek language, Greek: ), was a large and important ancient Greece, ancient Greek city, situated on the north coast of Sicily at the mouth of the river of the same name (the modern Imera Settentrionale), between Panormus (modern Palermo) ...
—where the Carthaginians had been dealt a humiliating defeat seventy years prior—before returning triumphantly to Carthage with the spoils of war. But the primary enemy, Syracuse, remained untouched and in 405 BC, Hannibal Mago led a second Carthaginian expedition to claim the rest of the island. This time, however, he met with fiercer resistance as well as misfortune. During the
siege A siege is a military blockade of a city, or fortress, with the intent of conquering by attrition warfare, attrition, or a well-prepared assault. This derives from la, sedere, lit=to sit. Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity con ...
of
Agrigentum Agrigento (; scn, Girgenti or ; grc, Ἀκράγας, translit=Akrágas; la, Agrigentum or ; ar, كركنت, Kirkant, or ''Jirjant'') is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy and capital of the province of Agrigento. It was one of ...
, Carthaginian forces were ravaged by plague, which claimed Hannibal Mago himself. His successor, Himilco, managed to extend the campaign, capturing the city of
Gela Gela (Sicilian and ; grc, Γέλα) is a city and (municipality) in the Autonomous Region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational ad ...
and repeatedly defeating the army of Dionysius of Syracuse. But he, too, was struck with plague and forced to sue for peace before returning to Carthage. By 398 BC, Dionysius had regained his strength and broke the peace treaty, striking at the Carthaginian stronghold of
Motya Motya was an ancient and powerful city on San Pantaleo Island off the west coast of Sicily, in the Stagnone Lagoon between Drepanum (modern Trapani) and Lilybaeum (modern Marsala). It is within the present-day comune, commune of Marsala, Ital ...
in western Sicily. Himilco responded decisively, leading an expedition that not only reclaimed Motya, but also captured
Messene Messene (Greek language, Greek: Μεσσήνη 𐀕𐀼𐀙 ''Messini''), officially Ancient Messene, is a local community within the regional unit (''perifereiaki enotita'') of Messenia in the region (''perifereia'') of Peloponnese (region), ...
(present-day Messina). Within a year, the Carthaginians were besieging Syracuse itself, and came close to victory until the plague once again ravaged and reduced their forces. The fighting in Sicily swung in favor of Carthage less than a decade later in 387 BC. After winning a naval battle off the coast of Catania, Himilco laid siege to Syracuse with 50,000 Carthaginians, but yet another epidemic struck down thousands of them. With the enemy assault stalled and weakened, Dionysius then launched a surprise counterattack by land and sea, destroying all the Carthaginian ships while its crews were ashore. At the same time, his ground forces stormed the besiegers' lines and routed them. Himilco and his chief officers abandoned their army and fled Sicily. Once again, the Carthaginians were forced to press for peace. Returning to Carthage in disgrace, Himilco was met with contempt and committed suicide by starving himself. Notwithstanding consistently poor luck and costly reversals, Sicily remained an obsession for Carthage. Over the next fifty years, an uneasy peace reigned, as Carthaginian and Greek forces engaged in constant skirmishes. By 340 BC, Carthage had been pushed entirely into the southwest corner of the island.


Third Sicilian War

In 315 BC, Carthage found itself on the defensive in Sicily, as
Agathocles Agathocles (Greek language, Greek: ) is a Greek name, the most famous of which is Agathocles of Syracuse, the tyrant of Syracuse. The name is derived from , ''agathos'', i.e. "good" and , ''kleos'', i.e. "glory". Other personalities named Agathocle ...
of Syracuse broke the terms of the peace treaty and sought to dominate the entire island. Within four years, he seized
Messene Messene (Greek language, Greek: Μεσσήνη 𐀕𐀼𐀙 ''Messini''), officially Ancient Messene, is a local community within the regional unit (''perifereiaki enotita'') of Messenia in the region (''perifereia'') of Peloponnese (region), ...
, laid siege to Agrigentum, and invaded the last Carthaginian holdings on the island. Hamilcar, grandson of Hanno the Great, led the Carthaginian response with great success. Because of Carthage's power over the trade routes, Carthage had a rich and strong navy that was able to lead. Within a year of their arrival, the Carthaginians controlled almost all of Sicily and were besieging Syracuse. In desperation, Agathocles secretly led an expedition of 14,000 men to attack Carthage, forcing Hamilcar and most of his army to return home. Although Agathocles' forces were eventually defeated in 307 BC, he managed to escape back to Sicily and negotiate peace, thus maintaining the status quo and Syracuse as a stronghold of Greek power in Sicily.


Pyrrhic War (280–275 BC)

Carthage was once again drawn into a war in Sicily, this time by
Pyrrhus of Epirus Pyrrhus (; grc-gre, Πύρρος ; 319/318–272 BC) was a Greeks, Greek king and wikt:statesman, statesman of the Hellenistic period.Plutarch. ''Parallel Lives'',Pyrrhus... He was king of the List of ancient Greek tribes#Epirus, Greek tribe o ...
, who challenged both Roman and Carthaginian supremacy over the Mediterranean. The Greek city of Tarentum, in
southern Italy Southern Italy ( it, Sud Italia or ) also known as ''Meridione'' or ''Mezzogiorno'' (), is a macroregion of the Italian Republic consisting of its southern half. The term ''Mezzogiorno'' today refers to regions that are associated with the pe ...
, had come into conflict with an expansionist Rome, and sought the aid of Pyrrhus.. Seeing an opportunity to forge a new empire, Pyrrhus sent an advance guard of 3,000
infantry Infantry is a military specialization which engages in ground combat on foot. Infantry generally consists of light infantry, mountain infantry, motorized infantry & mechanized infantry, airborne infantry, air assault infantry, and marine i ...
to Tarentum, under the command of his adviser Cineaus. Meanwhile, he marched the main army across the Greek peninsula and won several victories over the Thessalians and Athenians. After securing the Greek mainland, Pyrrhus rejoined his advance guard in Tarentum to conquer southern Italy, winning a decisive but costly victory at Asculum. According to Justin, the Carthaginians worried that Pyrrhus might get involved in Sicily; Polybius confirms that existence of a mutual defense pact between Carthage and Rome, ratified shortly after the battle of Asculum. These concerns proved prescient: during the Italian campaign, Pyrrhus received envoys from the Sicilian Greek cities of
Agrigentum Agrigento (; scn, Girgenti or ; grc, Ἀκράγας, translit=Akrágas; la, Agrigentum or ; ar, كركنت, Kirkant, or ''Jirjant'') is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy and capital of the province of Agrigento. It was one of ...
, Leontini, and Syracuse, which offered to submit to his rule if he aided their efforts to eject the Carthaginians from Sicily. Having lost too many men in his conquest of Asculum, Pyrrhus determined that a war with Rome could not be sustained, making Sicily a more enticing prospect. He thus responded to the plea with reinforcements consisting of 20,000-30,000
infantry Infantry is a military specialization which engages in ground combat on foot. Infantry generally consists of light infantry, mountain infantry, motorized infantry & mechanized infantry, airborne infantry, air assault infantry, and marine i ...
, 1,500-3,000
cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were the most mobile of the combat arms, operating as light cavalr ...
, and 20 war elephants supported by some 200 ships. The ensuing Sicilian campaign lasted three years, during which the Carthaginians suffered several losses and reversals. Pyrrhus overcame the Carthaginian garrison at Heraclea Minoa and seized Azones, which prompted cities nominally allied to Carthage, such as
Selinus Selinunte (; grc, Σελῑνοῦς, Selīnoûs ; la, Selīnūs , ; scn, Silinunti ) was a rich and extensive Ancient Greece, ancient Greek city on the south-western coast of Sicily in Italy. It was situated between the valleys of the Co ...
, Halicyae, and
Segesta Segesta ( grc-gre, Ἔγεστα, ''Egesta'', or , ''Ségesta'', or , ''Aígesta''; scn, Siggésta) was one of the major cities of the Elymians, one of the three indigenous peoples of Sicily. The other major cities of the Elymians were Eryx (S ...
, to join his side. The Carthaginian stronghold of Eryx, which had strong natural defenses and a large garrison, held out for a long period of time, but was eventually taken. Iaetia surrendered without a fight, while Panormus, which had the best harbour in Sicily, succumbed to a siege. The Carthaginians were pushed back to the westernmost portion of the island, holding only
Lilybaeum Marsala (, local ; la, Lilybaeum) is an Italian town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily. Marsala is the most populated town in its province and the fifth in Sicily. The town is famous for the docking of Giuse ...
, which was put under siege. Following these losses, Carthage sued for peace, offering large sums of money and even ships, but Pyrrhus refused unless Carthage renounced its claims to Sicily entirely. The siege of Lilybaeum continued, with the Carthaginians successfully holding out due to the size of their forces, their large quantities of siege weapons, and the rocky terrain. As Pyrrhus' losses were mounting, he set out to build more powerful war engines; however, after two more months of dogged resistance, he abandoned the siege.
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; – after AD 119) was a Greek people, Greek Middle Platonism, Middle Platonist philosopher, historian, Biography, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo (D ...
claimed that the ambitious king of Epirus now had his sights on Carthage itself, and began outfitting an expedition. In preparation for his invasion, he treated the Sicilian Greeks more ruthlessly, even executing two of their rulers on false charges of treason. The subsequent animosity among the Greeks of Sicily drove some to join forces with the Carthaginians, who "took up the war vigorously" upon noticing Pyrrhus' dwindling support. Cassius Dio claimed that Carthage had harboured the exiled Syracusans, and "harassed yrrhusso severely that he abandoned not only Syracuse but Sicily as well". A renewed Roman offensive also forced him to focus his attention on southern Italy. According to both Plutarch and Appian, while Pyrrhus' army was being transported by ship to mainland Italy, the Carthaginian navy inflicted a devastating blow in the
Battle of the Strait of Messina The Battle of the Strait of Messina was fought in 276 BC when a Ancient Carthage, Carthaginian fleet attacked the Sicily, Sicilian fleet of Pyrrhus of Epirus, who was crossing the strait to Italy. Pyrrhus had left Italy for Sicily on the Autumn ...
, sinking or disabling 98 out of 110 ships. Carthage sent additional forces to Sicily, and following Pyrrhus' departure, managed to regain control of their domains on the island. Pyrrhus' campaigns in Italy ultimately proved inconclusive, and he eventually withdrew to Epirus. For the Carthaginians, the war meant a return to the ''status quo'', as they once again held the western and central regions of Sicily. For the Romans, however, much of ''
Magna Graecia Magna Graecia (, ; , , grc, Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, ', it, Magna Grecia) was the name given by the Roman people, Romans to the coastal areas of Southern Italy in the present-day Regions of Italy, Italian regions of Calabria, Apulia, Basilicat ...
'' gradually fell under their
sphere of influence In the field of international relations, a sphere of influence (SOI) is a spatial region or concept division over which a state or organization has a level of cultural, economic, military or political exclusivity. While there may be a formal al ...
, bringing them closer to complete domination of the Italian peninsula. Rome's success against Pyrrhus solidified its status as a rising power, which paved the way for conflict with Carthage. In what is likely an
apocrypha Apocrypha are works, usually written, of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin. The word ''apocryphal'' (ἀπόκρυφος) was first applied to writings which were kept secret because they were the vehicles of esoteric knowledge considered ...
l account, Pyrrhus, upon departing from Sicily, told his companions, "What a wrestling ground we are leaving, my friends, for the Carthaginians and the Romans".


Punic Wars (264–146 BC)


First Punic War (264–241 BC)

When Agathocles of Syracuse died in 288 BC, a large company of Italian mercenaries previously in his service found themselves suddenly unemployed. Naming themselves Mamertines ("Sons of Mars"), they seized the city of Messana and became a law unto themselves, terrorizing the surrounding countryside. The Mamertines became a growing threat to Carthage and Syracuse alike. In 265 BC, Hiero II of Syracuse, former general of Pyrrhus, took action against them. Faced with a vastly superior force, the Mamertines divided into two factions, one advocating surrender to Carthage, the other preferring to seek aid from Rome. While the
Roman Senate The Roman Senate ( la, Senātus Rōmānus) was a governing and advisory assembly in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the Rome, city of Rome (traditionally found ...
debated the best course of action, the Carthaginians eagerly agreed to send a garrison to Messana. Carthaginian forces were admitted to the city, and a Carthaginian fleet sailed into the Messanan harbor. However, soon afterwards they began negotiating with Hiero. Alarmed, the Mamertines sent another embassy to Rome asking them to expel the Carthaginians. Hiero's intervention placed Carthage's military forces directly across the
Strait of Messina The Strait of Messina ( it, Stretto di Messina, Sicilian language, Sicilian: Strittu di Missina) is a narrow strait between the eastern tip of Sicily (Punta del Faro) and the western tip of Calabria (Punta Pezzo) in Southern Italy. It connects ...
, the narrow channel of water that separated Sicily from Italy. Moreover, the presence of the Carthaginian fleet gave them effective control over this strategically important bottleneck and demonstrated a clear and present danger to nearby Rome and her interests. As a result, the Roman Assembly, although reluctant to ally with a band of mercenaries, sent an expeditionary force to return control of Messana to the Mamertines. The subsequent Roman attack on Carthaginian forces at Messana triggered the first of the Punic Wars. Over the course of the next century, these three major conflicts between Rome and Carthage would determine the course of Western civilization. The wars included a dramatic Carthaginian invasion led by
Hannibal Hannibal (; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋, ''Ḥannibaʿl''; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Punic people, Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Ancient Carthage, Carthage in their battle against the Roman ...
, which nearly brought an end to Rome. During the First Punic Wars, the Romans under the command of Marcus Atilius Regulus managed to land in Africa, though were ultimately repelled by the Carthaginians. Notwithstanding the decisive defense of its homeland, as well as some initial naval victories, Carthage suffered a succession of losses that forced it to sue for peace. Shortly thereafter, Carthage also faced a major mercenary revolt that dramatically changed its internal political landscape, bringing the influential Barcid family to prominence. The war also impacted Carthage's international standing, as Rome used the events of the war to back its claim over Sardinia and
Corsica Corsica ( , Upper , Southern ; it, Corsica; ; french: Corse ; lij, Còrsega; sc, Còssiga) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the Regions of France, 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and ...
, which it promptly seized.


Mercenary War (241–238 BC)

The Mercenary War, also known as the Truceless War, was a mutiny by troops that were employed by Carthage at the end of the First Punic War (264–241 BC), supported by uprisings of African settlements revolting against Carthaginian control. It lasted from 241 to late 238 or early 237 BC and ended with Carthage suppressing both the mutiny and the revolt.


Second Punic War (218–201 BC)

Lingering mutual animosity and renewed tensions along their borderlands led to the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), which involved factions from across the western and eastern
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
. The war is marked by Hannibal's surprising overland journey to Rome, particularly his costly and strategically bold crossing of the Alps. His entrance into northern Italy was followed by his reinforcement by Gaulish allies and crushing victories over Roman armies in the
Battle of the Trebia The Battle of the Trebia (or Trebbia) was the first major battle of the Second Punic War, fought between the Carthaginian Empire, Carthaginian forces of Hannibal and a Roman Republic, Roman army under Tiberius Sempronius Longus (consul 218 B ...
and the giant ambush at Trasimene. Against his skill on the battlefield the Romans employed the
Fabian strategy The Fabian strategy is a military strategy where pitched battles and frontal assaults are avoided in favor of wearing down an opponent through a attrition warfare, war of attrition and indirection. While avoiding decisive battles, the side employ ...
, which resorted to skirmishes in lieu of direct engagement, with the aim of delaying and gradually weakening his forces. While effective, this approach was politically unpopular, as it ran contrary to traditional military strategy. The Romans thus resorted to another major field battle at Cannae, but despite their superior numbers, suffered a crushing defeat, suffering, it is said, 60,000 casualties.Consequently, many Roman allies went over to Carthage, prolonging the war in Italy for over a decade, during which more Roman armies were nearly consistently destroyed on the battlefield. Despite these setbacks, the Romans had the manpower to absorb such losses and replenish their ranks. Along with their superior capability in siegecraft, they were able to recapture all the major cities that had joined the enemy, as well as defeat a Carthaginian attempt to reinforce Hannibal at the Battle of the Metaurus. Meanwhile, in Iberia, which served as the main source of manpower for the Carthaginian army, a second Roman expedition under
Scipio Africanus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (, , ; 236/235–183 BC) was a Roman general and statesman, most notable as one of the main architects of Rome's victory against Ancient Carthage, Carthage in the Second Punic War. Often regarded as one of the ...
took New Carthage and ended Carthaginian rule over the peninsula in the
Battle of Ilipa The Battle of Ilipa () was an engagement considered by many as Scipio Africanus’s most brilliant victory in his military career during the Second Punic War in 206 BC. It may have taken place on a plain east of Alcalá del Río, Seville, Spa ...
. The final showdown was the
Battle of Zama The Battle of Zama was fought in 202 BC near Zama (Tunisia), Zama, now in Tunisia, and marked the end of the Second Punic War. A Roman Republic, Roman army led by Scipio Africanus, Publius Cornelius Scipio, with crucial support from Numidia ...
, which took place in the Carthaginian heartland of Tunisia. After trouncing Carthaginian forces at the battles of Utica and the
Great Plains The Great Plains (french: Grandes Plaines), sometimes simply "the Plains", is a broad expanse of plain, flatland in North America. It is located west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains, much of it covered in prairie, step ...
, Scipio Africanus forced Hannibal to abandon his increasingly stalled campaign in Italy. Despite the latter's superior numbers and innovative tactics, the Carthaginians suffered a crushing and decisive defeat. After years of costly fighting that brought them to the verge of destruction, the Romans imposed harsh and retributive peace conditions on Carthage. In addition to a large financial indemnity, the Carthaginians were stripped of their once-proud navy and reduced only to their North African territory. In effect, Carthage became a Roman client state.


Third Punic War (149–146 BC)

The third and final Punic War began in 149 BC, largely due to the efforts of hawkish Roman senators, led by
Cato the Elder Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, senator A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Legislative chamber, chamber of a ...
, to finish Carthage off once and for all. Cato was known for finishing nearly every speech in the Senate, regardless of the subject, with the phrase '' ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam''—"Moreover, I am of the opinion that Carthage ought to be destroyed". In particular, the growing Roman Republic sought the famously rich agricultural lands of Carthage and its African territories, which had been known to the Romans following their invasion in the previous Punic War. Carthage's border war with Rome's ally
Numidia Numidia (Berber languages, Berber: ''Inumiden''; 202–40 BC) was the ancient kingdom of the Numidians located in northwest Africa, initially comprising the territory that now makes up modern-day Algeria, but later expanding across what is tod ...
, though initiated by the latter, nonetheless provided the pretext for Rome to declare war. The Third Punic War was a much smaller and shorter engagement than its predecessors, primarily consisting of a single main action, the Battle of Carthage. However, despite their significantly reduced size, military, and wealth, the Carthaginians managed to mount a surprisingly strong initial defense. The Roman invasion was soon stalled by defeats at Lake Tunis, Nepheris, and Hippagreta; even the diminished Carthaginian navy managed to inflict severe losses on a Roman fleet through the use of fire ships. Carthage itself managed to resist the Roman siege for three years, until
Scipio Aemilianus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Aemilianus (185–129 BC), known as Scipio Aemilianus or Scipio Africanus the Younger, was a Roman general and statesman noted for his military exploits in the Third Punic War against Ancient Carthage, Cartha ...
—the adopted grandson of Scipio Africanus—was appointed consul and took command of the assault. Notwithstanding its impressive resistance, Carthage's defeat was ultimately a foregone conclusion, given the far larger size and strength of the Roman Republic. Though it was the smallest of the Punic Wars, the third war was to be the most decisive: the complete destruction of the city of Carthage, the annexation of all remaining Carthaginian territory by Rome, and the death or enslavement of tens of thousands of Carthaginians. The war ended Carthage's independent existence, and consequently eliminated the last Phoenician political power.


Aftermath

Following Carthage's destruction, Rome established
Africa Proconsularis Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
, its first province in Africa, which roughly corresponded to Carthaginian territory. Utica, which had allied itself with Rome during the final war, was granted tax privileges and made the regional capital, subsequently becoming the leading center of Punic trade and culture. In 122 BC,
Gaius Gracchus Gaius Sempronius Gracchus ( – 121 BC) was a reformist Ancient Roman, Roman politician in the 2nd century BC. He is most famous for his tribunate for the years 123 and 122 BC, in which he proposed a wide set of laws, including law ...
, a populist Roman senator, founded the short-lived
colony In modern parlance, a colony is a territory A territory is an area of land, sea, or space, particularly belonging or connected to a country, person, or animal. In international relations, international politics, a territory is usuall ...
of '' Colonia Iunonia'', after the Latin name for the Punic goddess
Tanit Tanit (Punic language, Punic: 𐤕𐤍𐤕 ''Tīnīt'') was a Punics, Punic goddess. She was the chief deity of Ancient Carthage, Carthage alongside her consort Baal Hammon, Baal-Hamon. Tanit is also called Tinnit. The name appears to have origin ...
, ''Iuno Caelestis''. Located near the site of Carthage, its purpose was to provide arable land for impoverished farmers, but it was soon abolished by the Roman Senate to undermine Gracchus' power. Nearly a century after the fall of Carthage, a new "
Roman Carthage After the destruction of Punic Carthage in 146 BC, a new city of Carthage (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spo ...
" was built on the same site by
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; ; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey in Caes ...
between 49 and 44 BC. It soon became the center of the
province of Africa Africa Proconsularis was a Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and l ...
, which was a major breadbasket of the Roman Empire and one of its wealthiest provinces. By the first century, ''Carthago'' had grown to be the second-largest city in the western
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
, with a peak population of 500,000. Punic language, identity, and culture persisted in Rome for several centuries. Two Roman emperors in the third century,
Septimius Severus Lucius Septimius Severus (; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211) was Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He was born in Leptis Magna (present-day Al-Khums, Libya) in the Roman province of Africa (Roman province), Africa. As a young man he advanced thro ...
and his son and successor
Caracalla Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (born Lucius Septimius Bassianus, 4 April 188 – 8 April 217), better known by his nickname "Caracalla" () was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. He was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Emperor Se ...
, were of Punic descent. In the fourth century,
Augustine of Hippo Augustine of Hippo ( , ; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berbers, Berber origin and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia (Roman pr ...
, himself of Berber heritage, noted that Punic was still spoken in the region by people who identified as ''Kn'nm,'' or "Chanani", as the Carthaginians had called themselves. Settlements across North Africa, Sardinia, and Sicily continued to speak and write Punic, as evidenced by inscriptions on temples, tombs, public monuments, and artwork dating well after the Roman conquest. Punic names were still used until at least the fourth century, even by prominent denizens of Roman Africa, and some local officials in formerly Punic territories used the title. Some Punic ideas and innovations survived Roman conquest and even became mainstream in Roman culture. Mago's manual on farming and estate management was among the few Carthaginian texts to be spared from destruction, and was even translated into Greek and Latin by order of the Senate. Latin
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language is in contrast with a "standard language". It refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, n ...
had several references to Punic culture, including ''mala Punica'' ("Punic Apples") for pomegranates; ''pavimentum Punicum'' to describe the use of patterned terracotta pieces in mosaics; and ''plostellum Punicum'' for the threshing board, which had been introduced to the Romans by Carthage''.'' Reflecting the enduring hostility towards Carthage, the phrase ''Pūnica fidēs,'' or "Punic faith", was commonly used to describe acts of dishonesty, perfidy, and treachery.


Government and politics


Power and organization

Before the fourth century, Carthage was most likely a monarchy, although modern scholars debate whether Greek writers mislabeled political leaders as "kings" based on a misunderstanding or ignorance of the city's constitutional arrangements.Richard Miles, ''Carthage Must be Destroyed'', Penguin, p. 67. Traditionally, most Phoenician kings did not exercise absolute power, but consulted with a body of advisors called the ''Adirim'' ("mighty ones"), which was likely composed of the wealthiest members of society, namely merchants.Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', pp. 20-22. Carthage seems to have been ruled by a similar body known as the ''Blm,'' made up of nobles responsible for all important matters of state, including religion, administration, and the military. This cabal included a hierarchy topped by the dominant family, usually the wealthiest members of the merchant class, which had some sort of executive power. Records indicate that different families held power at different times, suggesting a non-hereditary system of government dependent on the support or approval of the consultative body. Carthage's political system changed dramatically after 480 BC, with the death of King Hamilcar I following his disastrous foray into the First Sicilian War. The subsequent political upheaval led to a gradual weakening of the monarchy; by at least 308 BC, Carthage was an
oligarchic Oligarchy (; ) is a conceptual form of power structure in which Power (social and political), power rests with a small number of people. These people may or may not be distinguished by one or several characteristics, such as nobility, fame, weal ...
republic A republic () is a "sovereign state, state in which Power (social and political), power rests with the people or their Representative democracy, representatives; specifically a state without a monarchy" and also a "government, or system of gov ...
, characterized by an intricate system of
checks and balances Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflic ...
, a complex administrative system,
civil society Civil society can be understood as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government and business, and including the family and the private sphere. Hulme and Edwards suggested that it was now seen as "the magic bullet." By the end of th ...
, and a fairly high degree of public accountability and participation. The most detailed information about the Carthaginian government after this point comes from the Greek philosopher
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
, whose fourth-century BC treatise, ''
Politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of res ...
,'' discusses Carthage as its only non-Greek example. At the head of the Carthaginian state were two ''sufetes,'' or "judges", who held judicial and executive power.Thus rendered in Latin by
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
(30.7.5), attested in Punic inscriptions as SPΘM , meaning "judges" and obviously related to the
Biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
ruler-title "
Judge A judge is a person who wiktionary:preside, presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a Judicial panel, panel of judges. A judge hears all the witnesses and any other Evidence (law), evidence presented by the barristers or s ...
").
Punic The Punic people, or western Phoenicians, were a Semitic people, Semitic people in the Western Mediterranean who migrated from Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre, Phoenicia to North Africa during the Iron Age, Early Iron Age. In modern scholarship, the term '' ...
: 𐤔‏𐤐𐤈, ''šūfeṭ''; Phoenician: ''PΘ ''
While sometimes referred to as "kings", by at least the late fifth century BC, the sufetes were non-hereditary officials elected annually from among the wealthiest and most influential families; it is unknown how elections took place or who was eligible to serve. Livy likens the sufetes to
Roman consul A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic ( to 27 BC), and ancient Romans considered the consulship the second-highest level of the ''cursus honorum'' (an ascending sequence of public offices to which politic ...
s, in that they ruled through collegiality and handled various routine matters of state, such as convening and presiding over the ''Adirim'' (supreme council), submitting business to the popular assembly, and adjudicating trials. Modern scholarly consensus agrees with Livy's description of sufetes, though some have argued the sufetes held an executive office closer to that of modern presidents in parliamentary republics, in that they did not hold absolute power and exercised largely ceremonial functions. This practice may have originated from
plutocratic A plutocracy () or plutarchy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income. The first known use of the term in English dates from 1631. Unlike most political systems, plutocracy is not rooted in any established ...
arrangements that limited the suffetes' power in earlier Phoenician cities; for example, by the sixth century BC, Tyre was a "republic headed by elective magistrates",Bondi, S.F. (2001), "Political and Administrative Organization," in Moscati, S. (ed.), ''The Phoenicians''. London: I.B. Tauris. with two suffetes chosen from among the most powerful noble families for short terms.Stephen Stockwell, "Before Athens: Early Popular Government in Phoenician and Greek City States", ''Geopolitics, History, and International Relations'' 2 (2010): 128. Unique among rulers in antiquity, the suffetes had no power over the military: From at least the sixth century BC, generals (''rb mhnt'' or ''rab mahanet'') became separate political officials, either appointed by the administration or elected by citizens. In contrast to Rome and Greece, military and political power were separate, and it was rare for an individual to simultaneously serve as general and suffete. Generals did not serve fixed terms, but instead served for the duration of a war. However, a family that dominated the suffetes could install relatives or allies to the generalship, as occurred with the Barcid dynasty.Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', p. 33. Most political power rested in a "council of elders", variably called the "supreme council" or ''Adirim'', which classical writers likened to the Roman
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
or Spartan ''
Gerousia The Gerousia (γερουσία) was the council of elders in ancient Sparta. Sometimes called Spartan senate in the literature, it was made up of the two List of kings of Sparta, Spartan kings, plus 28 men over the age of sixty, known as geronte ...
''. The Adirim perhaps numbered thirty members and had a broad range of powers, such as administering the treasury and conducting foreign affairs. During the Second Punic War it reportedly exercised some military power. Like the sufetes, council members were elected from the wealthiest elements of Carthaginian society. Important matters of state required unanimous agreement of the sufetes and of council members. According to Aristotle, Carthage's "highest constitutional authority" was a judicial tribunal known as the One Hundred and Four (𐤌𐤀𐤕 or ''miat''). Although he compares this body to the ''
ephors The ephors were a board of five magistrates in ancient Sparta. They had an extensive range of judicial, religious, legislative, and military powers, and could shape Sparta's home and foreign affairs. The word "''ephors''" (Ancient Greek ''ép ...
'' of Sparta'','' a council of elders that held considerable political power, its primary function was overseeing the actions of generals and other officials to ensure they served the best interests of the republic. The One Hundred and Four had the power to impose fines and even crucifixion as punishment. It also formed panels of special commissioners, called ''pentarchies'', to deal with various political matters. Numerous junior officials and special commissioners had responsibilities over different aspects of government, such as public works, tax collection, and the administration of the state treasury. Although oligarchs exercised firm control over Carthage, the government included some democratic elements, including trade unions, town meetings, and a popular assembly. Unlike in the Greek states of
Sparta Sparta (Doric Greek: Σπάρτα, ''Spártā''; Attic Greek: wikt:Σπάρτη, Σπάρτη, ''Spártē'') was a prominent city-state in Laconia, in ancient Greece. In antiquity, the city-state was known as Lacedaemon (, ), while the nam ...
and
Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, ...
, if the suffetes and the supreme council could not come to an agreement, an assembly of the people had the deciding vote. It is unclear whether this assembly was an ''ad hoc'' or formal institution, but Aristotle claims that "the voice of the people was predominant in the deliberations" and that "the people themselves solved problems". He and Herodotus portray the Carthaginian government as more meritocratic than some Hellenistic counterparts, with "great men" like Hamilcar being elected to "royal office" based on "outstanding achievements" and "special merit". Aristotle also praises Carthage's political system for its "balanced" elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. His Athenian contemporary,
Isocrates Isocrates (; grc, Ἰσοκράτης ; 436–338 BC) was an ancient Greek rhetorician, one of the ten Attic orators. Among the most influential Greek rhetoricians of his time, Isocrates made many contributions to rhetoric and education thr ...
, elevates Carthage's political system as the best in antiquity, equaled only by that of Sparta.Dexter Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', Routledge, pp. 32-41.
It is noteworthy that Aristotle ascribes to Carthage a position among the Greek states, because the Greeks firmly believed that they alone had the ability to found 'poleis', whereas the barbarians used to live in tribal societies ('ethne'). It is therefore remarkable that Aristotle maintained that the Carthaginians were the only non-Greek people who had created a 'polis'. Like Crete and Sparta, Aristotle considers Carthage as an outstanding example of an ideal society.Pedro Barceló, THE PERCEPTION OF CARTHAGE IN CLASSICAL GREEK HISTORIOGRAPHY, ''Acta Classica'', Vol. 37 (1994), pp. 1-14, Classical Association of South Africa, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24594338, p. 8.
Confirming Aristotle's claims,
Polybius Polybius (; grc-gre, Πολύβιος, ; ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period. He is noted for his work , which covered the period of 264–146 BC and the Punic Wars in detail. Polybius is important for his analysis of the mixed ...
states that during the Punic Wars, the Carthaginian public held more sway over the government than the Romans did over theirs. However, he regards this development as a fatal flaw, since it led the Carthaginians to bicker and debate while the Romans, through the more oligarchic Senate, acted more quickly and decisively. This may have been due to the influence and populism of the Barcid faction, which, from the end of the First Punic War until the conclusion of the Second Punic War, dominated Carthage's government and military. Carthage reportedly had a constitution of some form. Aristotle compare's Carthage's constitution favorably to its well-regarded Spartan counterpart, describing it as sophisticated, functional, and fulfilling "all needs of moderation and justice".
Eratosthenes Eratosthenes of Cyrene (; grc-gre, wikt:Ἐρατοσθένης, Ἐρατοσθένης ;  – ) was a Greek polymath: a Greek mathematics, mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theory, music theorist. He was a man of lear ...
( 276 BC –  194 BC), a Greek polymath and head of the
Library of Alexandria The Great Library of Alexandria in Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, ٱلْإِسْكَنْدَرِيَّةُ ; grc-gre, Αλεξάνδρεια, Alexándria) is the second largest city in Egypt, and the largest city on the Mediterranean ...
, praises the Carthaginians as among the few barbarians to be refined and "admirably" governed. Some scholars suggest the Greeks generally held Carthage's institutions in high regard, regarding the Carthaginians as close to equal. Carthage's republican system appears to have extended to the rest of its empire, though to what extent and in what form remains unknown. The term ''sufet'' was used for officials throughout Carthaginian colonies and territories; inscriptions from Punic era
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna, label=Italian language, Italian, Corsican language, Corsican and Tabarchino ; sc, Sardigna , sdc, Sardhigna; french: Sardaigne; sdn, Saldigna; ca, Sardenya, label=Algherese dialect, Algherese and Catalan languag ...
are dated with four names: the sufetes of the island as well as those of Carthage. This suggests some degree of political coordination between local and colonial Carthaginians, perhaps through a regional hierarchy of sufetes. Traders of Carthage were secretive in ways to keep trade routes from the Greeks. Most conflicts from Carthage lasted from 600 BC to 500 BC with Greece and its trade routes. Greek goods were no match to Carthage goods and their goal was to export to African harbors while keeping
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
goods out. The people of Carthage spoke Punic, which had its own alphabet and would later continue through trade routes and grow into Africa. Carthage was also highly influenced by Egyptian culture. Amulets and seals coming from those of Egyptian religion were found about Carthage as well as the use of scarabs. These scarabs, in Egyptian culture, were for funerals and to expose them to the afterlife. Finding these and many pictures carved into clay, stone and other specimens was a big connection between Egypt's ties to Carthage.


Citizenship

Like the republics of the Latin and Hellenistic worlds, Carthage may have had a notion of
citizenship Citizenship is a "relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection". Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and ...
, distinguishing those in society who could participate in the political process and who had certain rights, privileges, and duties. However, it remains uncertain whether such a distinction existed, much less the specific criteria. For example, while the Popular Assembly is described as giving a political voice to the common people, there is no mention of any restrictions based on citizenship. Carthaginian society consisted of many classes, including slaves, peasants, aristocrats, merchants, and various professionals. Its empire consisted of an often-nebulous network of Punic colonies, subject peoples, client states, and allied tribes and kingdoms; it is unknown whether individuals from these different realms and nationalities formed any particular social or political class in relation to the Carthaginian government. Roman accounts suggest that Carthaginian citizens, especially those allowed to run for high office, had to prove their descent from the city's founders. This would indicate that Phoenicians were privileged over other ethnic groups, while those whose lineage traced back to the city's founding were privileged over fellow Phoenicians descended from later waves of settlers. However, it would also mean that someone of partial "foreign" ancestry could still be a citizen; indeed, Hamilcar, who served as a sufete in 480 BC, was half Greek. Greek writers claimed that ancestry, as well as wealth and merit, were avenues to citizenship and political power. As Carthage was a mercantile society, this would imply that both citizenship and membership in the aristocracy were relatively accessible by ancient standards. Aristotle mentions Carthaginian "associations" similar to the ''hetairiai'' of many Greek cities, which were roughly analogous to political parties or interest groups. These were most likely the ''mizrehim'' referenced in Carthaginian inscriptions, of which little is known or attested, but which appeared to have been numerous in number and subject, from devotional cults to professional guilds. It is unknown whether such an association was required of citizens, as in some Greek states such as Sparta. Aristotle also describes a Carthaginian equivalent to the ''
syssitia The syssitia ( grc, συσσίτια ''syssítia'', plural of ''syssítion'') were, in ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dar ...
,'' communal meals that were the mark of citizenship and social class in Greek societies.''Politics'' VII. 9 It is again unclear whether Carthaginians attributed any political significance to their equivalent practice. Carthage's military provides a glimpse into the criteria of citizenship. Greek accounts describe a " Sacred Band of Carthage" that fought in Sicily in the mid-fourth century BC, using the Hellenistic term for professional citizen-soldiers selected on the basis of merit and ability. Roman writings about the Punic Wars describe the core of the military, including its commanders and officers, as being made up of "Liby-Phoenicians", a broad label that included ethnic Phoenicians, those of mixed Punic-North African descent, and Libyans who had integrated into Phoenician culture. During the Second Punic War, Hannibal promised his foreign troops Carthaginian citizenship as a reward for victory. At least two of his foreign officers, both Greeks from Syracuse, were citizens of Carthage.


Survival under Roman rule

Aspects of Carthage's political system persisted well into the Roman period, albeit to varying degrees and often in
Romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of text from a different writing system to the Latin script, Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing writ ...
form. Throughout the major settlements of
Roman Sardinia The Province of Sardinia and Corsica ( la, Provincia Sardinia et Corsica) was an ancient Roman province including the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. Pre-Roman times The Nuragic civilization flourished in Sardinia from 1800 to 500 BC. The a ...
, inscriptions mention ''sufetes'', perhaps indicating that Punic descendants used the office or its name to resist both cultural and political assimilation with their Latin conquerors. As late as the mid-second century AD, two ''sufetes'' wielded power in Bithia, a Sardinian city in the Roman province of Sardinia and Corsica. The Romans seemed to have actively tolerated, if not adopted, Carthaginian offices and institutions. Official state terminology of the late Roman Republic and subsequent Empire re-purposed the word ''sufet'' to refer to Roman-style local magistrates serving in
Africa Proconsularis Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
, which included Carthage and its core territories. Sufetes are attested to have governed over forty post-Carthaginian towns and cities, including Althiburos, Calama, Capsa,
Cirta Cirta, also known by #Names, various other names in classical antiquity, antiquity, was the ancient Berbers, Berber and Roman Empire, Roman settlement which later became Constantine, Algeria, Constantine, Algeria. Cirta was the capital city of ...
, Gadiaufala, Gales, Limisa, Mactar, and Thugga. Though many were former Carthaginian settlements, some had little to no Carthaginian influence;
Volubilis Volubilis (; ar, وليلي, walīlī; ber, ⵡⵍⵉⵍⵉ, wlili) is a partly excavated Berber-Roman city in Morocco situated near the city of Meknes, and may have been the capital of the Mauretania, kingdom of Mauretania, at least from the ...
, in modern-day
Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to A ...
, had been part of the Kingdom of Mauretania, which became a Roman client state after the fall of Carthage. The use of sufetes persisted well into the late-second century AD. ''Sufetes'' were prevalent even in interior regions of Roman Africa which Carthage had never settled. This suggests that, unlike the Punic community of Roman Sardinia, Punic settlers and refugees endeared themselves to Roman authorities by adopting a readily intelligible government. Three ''sufetes'' serving simultaneously appear in first-century AD records at Althiburos, Mactar, and Thugga, reflecting a choice to adopt Punic nomenclature for Romanized institutions without the actual, traditionally balanced magistracy. In those cases, a third, non-annual position of tribal or communal chieftain marked an inflection point in the assimilation of external African groups into the Roman political fold. ''Sufes,'' the Latin approximation of the term ''sufet'', appears in at least six works of Latin literature. Erroneous references to Carthaginian "kings" with the Latin term ''rex'' betray the translations of Roman authors from Greek sources, who equated the ''sufet'' with the more monarchical ''
basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, ) is a Greek term and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. In the English-speaking world it is perhaps most widely understood to mean "monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New Col ...
'' ( el, βασιλεύς). Starting in the late second or early first century BC, after the destruction of Carthage, "autonomous" coinage with Punic inscriptions was minted in
Leptis Magna Leptis or Lepcis Magna, also known by #Names, other names in classical antiquity, antiquity, was a prominent city of the Carthaginian Empire and Roman Libya at the mouth of the Wadi Lebda in the Mediterranean. Originally a 7th-centuryBC Phoenici ...
. Leptis Magna had free city status, was governed by two ''sufetes,'' and had public officials with titles such as ''mhzm'', ''ʽaddir ʽararim'', and ''nēquim ēlīm''.


Military

The military of Carthage was one of the largest in the ancient world. Although Carthage's navy was always its main military force, the army acquired a key role in extending Carthaginian power over the native peoples of
northern Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in t ...
and the southern
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
from the sixth to third centuries BC.


Army

Since at least the reign of Mago I in the early sixth century BC, Carthage regularly utilized its military to advance its commercial and strategic interests.Dexter Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', Routledge, p. 153. According to Polybius, Carthage relied heavily, though not exclusively, on foreign mercenaries, especially in overseas warfare.Polybius, Book 6, 52
On the ''Perseus'' project
/ref> Modern historians regard this as an oversimplification, as many foreign troops were actually auxiliaries from allied or
client state A client state, in international relations, is a State (polity), state that is economically, politically, and/or militarily subordinate to another more powerful state (called the "controlling state"). A client state may variously be described as ...
s, provided through formal agreements, tributary obligations, or military pacts. The Carthaginians maintained close relations, sometimes through political marriages, with the rulers of various tribes and kingdoms, most notably the
Numidians The Numidians were the Berbers, Berber population of Numidia (Algeria and in smaller parts of Tunisia and Morocco). The Numidians were one of the earliest Berber tribes to trade with Carthage, Carthaginian settlers. As Carthage grew, the relation ...
(based in modern northern
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religi ...
). These leaders would in turn provide their respective contingent of forces, sometimes even leading them in Carthaginian campaigns. In any event, Carthage leveraged its vast wealth and hegemony to help fill the ranks of its military. Contrary to popular belief, especially among the more martial Greeks and Romans, Carthage did utilize citizen soldiers—i.e., ethnic Punics/Phoenicians—particularly during the Sicilian Wars. Moreover, like their Greco-Roman contemporaries, the Carthaginians respected "military valour", with Aristotle reporting the practice of citizens wearing armbands to signify their combat experience. Greek observers also described the "Sacred Band of Carthage", a Hellenistic term for professional citizen soldiers who fought in Sicily in the mid fourth century BC.Head, Duncan "Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars 359 BC to 146 BC" (1982), p. 140. However, after this force was destroyed by
Agathocles Agathocles (Greek language, Greek: ) is a Greek name, the most famous of which is Agathocles of Syracuse, the tyrant of Syracuse. The name is derived from , ''agathos'', i.e. "good" and , ''kleos'', i.e. "glory". Other personalities named Agathocle ...
in 310 BC, foreign mercenaries and auxiliaries formed a more significant part of the army. This indicates that the Carthaginians had a capacity to adapt their military as circumstances required; when larger or more specialized forces were needed, such as during the Punic Wars, they would employ mercenaries or auxiliaries accordingly. Carthaginian citizens would be enlisted in large numbers only by necessity, such as for the pivotal Battle of Zama in the Second Punic War, or in the final siege of the city in the Third Punic War. The core of the Carthaginian army was always from its own territory in
Northwest Africa The Maghreb (; ar, الْمَغْرِب, al-Maghrib, lit=the west), also known as the Arab Maghreb ( ar, المغرب العربي) and Northwest Africa, is the western part of North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region ...
, namely ethnic Libyans, Numidians, and "Liby-Phoenicians", a broad label that included ethnic Phoenicians, those of mixed Punic-North African descent, and Libyans who had integrated into Phoenician culture.Gregory Daly, ''Cannae: The Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War,'
p. 90
These troops were supported by mercenaries from different ethnic groups and geographic locations across the Mediterranean, who fought in their own national units. For instance,
Celts The Celts (, see Names of the Celts#Pronunciation, pronunciation for different usages) or Celtic peoples () are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: Celtic a collection of Indo-Europea ...
,
Balearics The Balearic Islands ( es, Islas Baleares ; or ca, Illes Balears ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster, or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containi ...
, and
Iberians The Iberians ( la, Hibērī, from el, Ἴβηρες, ''Iberes'') were an ancient people settled in the eastern and southern coasts of the Iberian peninsula, at least from the 6th century BC. They are described in Ancient Greece, Greek and anci ...
were recruited in significant numbers to fight in Sicily. Greek mercenaries, who were highly valued for their skill, were hired for the Sicilian campaigns. Carthage employed Iberian troops long before the Punic Wars; Herodotus and Alcibiades both describe the fighting capabilities of the Iberians among the western Mediterranean mercenaries. Later, after the Barcids conquered large portions of
Iberia The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
(modern Spain and Portugal),
Iberians The Iberians ( la, Hibērī, from el, Ἴβηρες, ''Iberes'') were an ancient people settled in the eastern and southern coasts of the Iberian peninsula, at least from the 6th century BC. They are described in Ancient Greece, Greek and anci ...
came to form an even greater part of the Carthaginian forces, albeit based more on their loyalty to the Barcid faction than to Carthage itself. The Carthaginians also fielded slingers, soldiers armed with straps of cloth used to toss small stones at high speeds; for this they often recruited Balearic Islanders, who were reputed for their accuracy. The uniquely diverse makeup of Carthage's army, particularly during the Second Punic War, was noteworthy to the Romans;
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
characterized Hannibal's army as a "hotch-potch of the riff-raff of all nationalities". He also observed that the Carthaginians, at least under Hannibal, never forced any uniformity upon their disparate forces, which nonetheless had such a high degree of unity that they "never quarreled amongst themselves nor mutinied", even during difficult circumstances.Livy, ''The War with Hannibal: The History of Rome from its Foundation''
Books 21-30
Punic officers at all levels maintained some degree of unity and coordination among these otherwise disparate forces. They also dealt with the challenge of ensuring military commands were properly communicated and translated to their respective foreign troops. Carthage used the diversity of its forces to its own advantage, capitalizing on the particular strengths or capabilities of each nationality. Celts and Iberians were often utilized as shock troops, North Africans as cavalry, and
Campanians {{Short description, Ancient Italic tribe The Campanians (also Campani) were an ancient Italic peoples, Italic tribe, part of the Osci nation, speaking an Oscan language. Descending from the Apennines, the proto-Osci settled in the areas of pres ...
from southern Italy as heavy infantry. Moreover, these units would typically be deployed to nonnative lands, which ensured they had no affinity for their opponents and could surprise them with unfamiliar tactics. For example, Hannibal used Iberians and Gauls (from what is today France) for campaigns in Italy and Africa. Carthage seems to have fielded a formidable cavalry force, especially in its Northwest African homeland; a significant part of it was composed of light
Numidian cavalry Numidian cavalry was a type of light cavalry developed by the Numidians. After they were used by Hannibal during the Second Punic War, they were described by the Roman historian Livy as "by far the best horsemen in Africa (Roman province), Africa. ...
, who were considered "by far the best horsemen in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
". Their speed and agility proved pivotal to several Carthaginian victories, most notably the
Battle of Trebia The Battle of the Trebia (or Trebbia) was the first major battle of the Second Punic War, fought between the Carthaginian Empire, Carthaginian forces of Hannibal and a Roman Republic, Roman army under Tiberius Sempronius Longus (consul 218 B ...
, the first major action in the Second Punic War. The reputation and effectiveness of Numidian cavalry was such that the Romans utilized a contingent of their own in the decisive
Battle of Zama The Battle of Zama was fought in 202 BC near Zama (Tunisia), Zama, now in Tunisia, and marked the end of the Second Punic War. A Roman Republic, Roman army led by Scipio Africanus, Publius Cornelius Scipio, with crucial support from Numidia ...
, where they reportedly "turned the scales" in Rome's favor.Sidnell, Philip. ''Warhorse: Cavalry in the Ancient World'', p. 194. Polybius suggests that cavalry remained the force in which Carthaginian citizens were most represented following the shift to mostly foreign troops after the third century BC. Owing to Hannibal's campaigns in the Second Punic War, Carthage is perhaps best remembered for its use of the now extinct North African elephant, which was specially trained for warfare and, among other uses, was commonly utilized for frontal assaults or as anticavalry protection. An army could field up to several hundred of these animals, but on most reported occasions fewer than a hundred were deployed. The riders of these elephants were armed with a spike and hammer to kill the elephants, in case they charged toward their own army. During the sixth century BC, Carthaginian generals became a distinct political office known in Punic as ''rb mhnt,'' or ''rab mahanet.'' Unlike in other ancient societies. Carthage maintained a separation of military and political power, with generals either appointed by the administration or elected by citizens. Generals did not serve fixed terms but were usually selected based on the length or scale of a war.Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', p. 34 Initially, the generalship was apparently occupied by two separate but equal offices, such as an army commander and an admiral; by the mid third century, military campaigns were usually carried out by a supreme commander and a deputy. During the Second Punic War, Hannibal appears to have exercised total control over all military affairs, and had up to seven subordinate generals divided along different theaters of war.


Navy

Carthage's navy usually operated in support of its land campaigns, which remained key to its expansion and defense. The Carthaginians maintained the ancient Phoenicians' reputation as skilled mariners, navigators, and shipbuilders.
Polybius Polybius (; grc-gre, Πολύβιος, ; ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period. He is noted for his work , which covered the period of 264–146 BC and the Punic Wars in detail. Polybius is important for his analysis of the mixed ...
wrote that the Carthaginians were "more exercised in maritime affairs than any other people". Its navy was one of the largest and most powerful in the Mediterranean, using serial production to maintain high numbers at moderate cost. During the Second Punic War, at which point Carthage had lost most of its Mediterranean islands, it still managed to field some 300 to 350 warships. The sailors and
marines Marines, or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate in littoral zones in support of naval operations. Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included helping maintain discipline and order aboard the ship (refle ...
of the Carthaginian navy were predominantly recruited from the Punic citizenry, unlike the multiethnic allied and
mercenary A mercenary, sometimes Pseudonym, also known as a soldier of fortune or hired gun, is a private individual, particularly a soldier, that joins a military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a memb ...
troops of the Carthaginian army. The navy offered a stable profession and financial security for its sailors, which helped contribute to the city's political stability, since the unemployed, debt-ridden poor in other cities were frequently inclined to support revolutionary leaders in the hope of improving their own lot. The reputation of Carthaginian sailors implies that the training of oarsmen and coxswains occurred in peacetime, giving the navy a cutting edge. In addition to its military functions, the Carthaginian navy was key to the empire's commercial dominance, helping secure trade routes, protect harbors, and even enforce trade monopolies against competitors. Carthaginian fleets also served an exploratory function, most likely for the purpose of finding new trade routes or markets. Evidence exists of at least one expedition, that of
Hanno the Navigator Hanno the Navigator (sometimes "Hannon"; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤀 , ; ) was a Ancient Carthage, Carthaginian explorer of the fifth century BC, best known for his naval exploration of the western coast of Africa. The only source of his voyage is a '' ...
, possibly sailing along the West African coast to regions south of the
Tropic of Cancer The Tropic of Cancer, which is also referred to as the Northern Tropic, is the most northerly circle of latitude on Earth at which the Sun can be subsolar point, directly overhead. This occurs on the June solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere i ...
. In addition to the use of serial production, Carthage developed complex infrastructure to support and maintain its sizable fleet. Cicero described the city as "surrounded by harbours", while accounts from Appian and Strabo describe a large and sophisticated harbor known as the Cothon (
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
: κώθων, lit. "drinking vessel"). Based on similar structures used for centuries across the Phoenician world, the Cothon was a key factor in Carthaginian naval supremacy; its prevalence throughout the empire is unknown, but both Utica and Motya had comparable harbors. According to both ancient descriptions and modern archaeological findings, the Cothon was divided into a rectangular merchant harbor followed by an inner protected harbor reserved for military vessels. The inner harbor was circular and surrounded by an outer ring of structures partitioned into docking bays, along with an island structure at its centre that also housed naval ships. Each individual docking bay featured a raised
slipway A slipway, also known as boat ramp or launch or boat deployer, is a Inclined plane, ramp on the shore by which ships or boats can be moved to and from the water. They are used for building and repairing ships and boats, and for launching and r ...
, allowing ships to be dry-docked for maintenance and repair. Above the raised docking bays was a second level consisting of warehouses where oars and rigging were kept along with supplies such as wood and canvas. The island structure had a raised "cabin" where the admiral in command could observe the whole harbor along with the surrounding sea. Altogether the inner docking complex could house up to 220 ships. The entire harbor was protected by an outer wall, while the main entrance could be closed off with iron chains. The Romans, who had little experience in naval warfare prior to the First Punic War, managed to defeat Carthage in part by reverse engineering captured Carthaginian ships, aided by the recruitment of experienced
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
sailors from conquered cities, the unorthodox
corvus ''Corvus'' is a widely distributed genus of medium-sized to large birds in the family Corvidae. It includes species commonly known as crows, ravens and Rook (bird), rooks. The species commonly encountered in Europe are the carrion crow, the hoo ...
device, and their superior numbers in marines and rowers. Polybius describes a tactical innovation of the Carthaginians during the Third Punic War, consisting of augmenting their few triremes with small vessels that carried hooks (to attack the oars) and fire (to attack the hulls). With this new combination, they were able to stand their ground against the numerically superior Romans for a whole day. The Romans also utilized the Cothon in their rebuilding of the city, which helped support the region's commercial and strategic development.


The One Hundred and Four

Carthage was unique in antiquity for separating political and military offices, and for having the former exercise control over the latter.Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', pp. 35-36. In addition to being appointed or elected by the state, generals were subject to reviews of their performance. The government was infamous for its severe attitude towards defeated commanders; in some instances, the penalty for failure was execution, usually by crucifixion. Before the fourth or fifth century BC, generals were probably judged by the supreme council and/or sufetes, until a special tribunal was created specifically this function: what Aristotle calls the One Hundred and Four. Described by Justin as being established during the republican reforms led by the Magonids, this body was responsible for scrutinizing and punishing generals following every military campaign. Its harshness was such that some modern scholars describe it as the "nemesis of generals". Although the One Hundred and Four was intended to ensure that military leaders better served the interests of Carthage, its draconian approach may also have led to generals being overly cautious for fear of reprisal. However, despite its notorious reputation, punishments are rarely recorded; although an admiral named Hanno was crucified for his disastrous defeat in the First Punic War, other commanders, including Hannibal, escaped such a fate. This has led some historians to speculate that the tribunal's decisions may have been influenced by familial or factional politics, given that many high-ranking military officers or their relatives and allies held political office.


Language

Carthaginians spoke a variety of Phoenician called
Punic The Punic people, or western Phoenicians, were a Semitic people, Semitic people in the Western Mediterranean who migrated from Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre, Phoenicia to North Africa during the Iron Age, Early Iron Age. In modern scholarship, the term '' ...
, a
Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of Western Asia, West Asia, the Horn of Africa, and latterly North Africa, Malta, West Afric ...
originating in their ancestral homeland of
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, ancient thalassocracy, thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-st ...
(present-day
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located between Syria to Lebanon–Syria border, the north and east and Israel to Blue ...
). Like its parent language, Punic was written from right to left, consisted of 22 consonants without vowels, and is known mostly through inscriptions. During classical antiquity, Punic was spoken throughout Carthage's territories and spheres of influence in the western Mediterranean, namely
northwest Africa The Maghreb (; ar, الْمَغْرِب, al-Maghrib, lit=the west), also known as the Arab Maghreb ( ar, المغرب العربي) and Northwest Africa, is the western part of North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region ...
and several Mediterranean islands. Although the Carthaginians maintained ties and cultural affinity with their Phoenician homeland, their Punic dialect gradually became influenced by various
Berber languages The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages or Tamazight,, ber, label=Tuareg Tifinagh, ⵜⵎⵣⵗⵜ, ) are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They comprise a group of closely related languages spoken by Berbers, Berbe ...
spoken in and around Carthage by the
ancient Libya The Latin name ''Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, ...
ns. Following the fall of Carthage, a "Neo-Punic" dialect emerged that diverged from Punic in terms of spelling conventions and the use of non-Semitic names, mostly of Libyco-Berber origin. This dialect most likely spread through dominant merchants and trade stops throughout the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the e ...
. It is also thought that Punic would later impact the
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letter (alphabet), letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language in this way; in a syllabary, each character ...
that many languages use today, such as most Asian languages other than India. The dialect came from frequently used
hieroglyphs A hieroglyph (Ancient Greek, Greek for "sacred carvings") was a Character (symbol), character of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, ancient Egyptian writing system. logogram, Logographic scripts that are pictographic in form in a way reminiscent of ancien ...
used in
Egyptian language The Egyptian language or Ancient Egyptian ( ) is a dead Afro-Asiatic language that was spoken in ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization foll ...
. Written languages would be used for slaves and workers in Egypt and other regions to communicate with one another in previous decades and later years to come. Notwithstanding the destruction of Carthage and assimilation of its people into the Roman Republic, Punic appears to have persisted for centuries in the former Carthaginian homeland. This is best attested by
Augustine of Hippo Augustine of Hippo ( , ; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berbers, Berber origin and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia (Roman pr ...
, himself of Berber descent, who spoke and understood Punic and served as the "primary source on the survival of atePunic". He claims the language was still spoken in his region of North Africa in the fifth century, and that there were still people who self-identified as ''chanani'' (
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, c ...
ite: ''Carthaginian''). Contemporaneous funerary texts found in Christian
catacombs Catacombs are man-made subterranean passageways for religious practice. Any chamber used as a burial place is a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc ...
in
Sirte Sirte (; ar, سِرْت, ), also spelled Sirt, Surt, Sert or Syrte, is a city in Libya. It is located south of the Gulf of Sirte, between Tripoli, Libya, Tripoli and Benghazi. It is famously known for its battles, Demographics of Libya, eth ...
,
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya bo ...
bear inscriptions in
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
, and Punic, suggesting a fusion of the cultures under Roman rule. There is evidence that Punic was still spoken and written by commoners in Sardinia at least 400 years after the Roman conquest. In addition to Augustine of Hippo, Punic was known by some literate North Africans until the second or third centuries (albeit written in Roman and Greek script) and remained spoken among peasants at least until the end of the fourth century.


Economy

Carthage's commerce extended by sea throughout the Mediterranean and perhaps as far as the
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Canarias, ), also known informally as the Canaries, are a Spanish autonomous community and archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster, or collecti ...
, and by land across the
Sahara , photo = Sahara real color.jpg , photo_caption = The Sahara taken by Apollo 17 astronauts, 1972 , map = , map_image = , location = , country = , country1 = , ...
desert. According to Aristotle, the Carthaginians had commercial treaties with various trading partners to regulate their exports and imports. Their merchant ships, which surpassed in number even those of the original Phoenician city-states, visited every major port of the Mediterranean, as well as Britain and the Atlantic coast of Africa. These ships were able to carry over 100 tons of goods. Archaeological discoveries show evidence of all kinds of exchanges, from the vast quantities of tin needed for bronze-based civilizations, to all manner of textiles, ceramics, and fine metalwork. Even between the punishing Punic wars, Carthaginian merchants remained at every port in the Mediterranean, trading in harbours with warehouses or from ships beached on the coast. The empire of Carthage depended heavily on its trade with
Tartessos Tartessos ( es, Tarteso) is, as defined by archaeological discoveries, a historical civilization settled in the region of Southern Spain characterized by its mixture of local Paleohispanic (disambiguation), Paleohispanic and Phoenicia, Phoenici ...
and other cities of the Iberian Peninsula, from which it obtained vast quantities of
silver Silver is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ag (from the Latin ', derived from the Proto-Indo-European wikt:Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/h₂erǵ-, ''h₂erǵ'': "shiny" or "white") and atomic number 47. A soft, whi ...
,
lead Lead is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Pb (from the Latin ) and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metals, heavy metal that is density, denser than most common materials. Lead is Mohs scale of mineral hardness#Intermediate ...
,
copper Copper is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductility, ductile metal with very high thermal conductivity, thermal and electrical conductivity. A fre ...
and – most importantly –
tin Tin is a chemical element with the Chemical symbol, symbol Sn (from la, :la:Stannum, stannum) and atomic number 50. Tin is a silvery-coloured metal. Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force and a bar of tin can be bent by hand wit ...
ore, which was essential to manufacture the
bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals (including aluminium, manganese, nickel, or zinc) and sometimes non-metals, such as phosphorus, or metalloids such ...
objects that were highly prized in antiquity. Carthaginian trade relations with the Iberians, and the naval might that enforced Carthage's monopoly on this trade and the Atlantic tin trade, made it the sole significant broker of tin and maker of bronze in its day. Maintaining this monopoly was one of the major sources of power and prosperity for Carthage; Carthaginian merchants strove to keep the location of the tin mines secret. In addition to its exclusive role as the main distributor of tin, Carthage's central location in the Mediterranean and control of the waters between Sicily and Tunisia allowed it to control the eastern peoples' supply of tin. Carthage was also the Mediterranean's largest producer of silver, mined in Iberia and on the Northwest African coast; after the tin monopoly, this was one of its most profitable trades. One mine in Iberia provided
Hannibal Hannibal (; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋, ''Ḥannibaʿl''; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Punic people, Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Ancient Carthage, Carthage in their battle against the Roman ...
with 300 Roman pounds (3.75 talents) of silver a day. Carthage's economy began as an extension of that of its parent city, Tyre. Its massive merchant fleet traversed the trade routes mapped out by Tyre, and Carthage inherited from Tyre the trade in the extremely valuable dye
Tyrian purple Tyrian purple ( grc, πορφύρα ''porphúra''; la, purpura), also known as Phoenician red, Phoenician purple, royal purple, imperial purple, or imperial dye, is a reddish-purple natural dye. The name Tyrian refers to Tyre, Lebanon. It is ...
. No evidence of purple dye manufacture has been found at Carthage, but mounds of shells of the
murex ''Murex'' is a genus of medium to large sized predatory tropical sea snails. These are carnivore, carnivorous marine (ocean), marine gastropod molluscs in the family Muricidae, commonly called "murexes" or "rock snails".Houart, R.; Gofas, S. (2 ...
marine snails, from which it derived, have been found in excavations of the Punic town of Kerkouane, at Dar Essafi on
Cap Bon Cape Bon ("Good Cape") is a peninsula in far northeastern Tunisia, also known as Ras at-Taib ( ar, الرأس الطيب), Sharīk Peninsula, or Watan el Kibli; Cape Bon is also the name of the northernmost point on the peninsula, also known as Ra ...
. Similar mounds of murex have also been found at
Djerba Djerba (; ar, جربة, Jirba, ; it, Meninge, Girba), also transliteration, transliterated as Jerba or Jarbah, is a Tunisian island and the largest island of North Africa at , in the Gulf of Gabès, off the coast of Tunisia. It had a popula ...
on the Gulf of Gabès in Tunisia. Strabo mentions the purple dye-works of Djerba as well as those of the ancient city of Zouchis. The purple dye became one of the most highly valued commodities in the ancient Mediterranean, being worth fifteen to twenty times its weight in gold. In Roman society, where adult males wore the
toga The toga (, ), a distinctive garment of ancient Rome, was a roughly semicircular cloth, between in length, draped over the shoulders and around the body. It was usually woven from white wool, and was worn over a tunic. In Roman historiography, ...
as a national garment, the use of the ''toga praetexta'', decorated with a stripe of Tyrian purple about two to three inches in width along its border, was reserved for magistrates and high priests. Broad purple stripes (''latus clavus'') were reserved for the togas of the senatorial class, while the equestrian class had the right to wear narrow stripes (''angustus clavus''). In addition to its extensive trade network, Carthage had a diversified and advanced manufacturing sector. It produced finely embroidered silks, dyed
textiles Textile is an Hyponymy and hypernymy, umbrella term that includes various Fiber, fiber-based materials, including fibers, yarns, Staple (textiles)#Filament fiber, filaments, Thread (yarn), threads, different #Fabric, fabric types, etc. At f ...
of cotton, linen, and wool, artistic and functional pottery,
faience Faience or faïence (; ) is the general English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England. It ...
,
incense Incense is aromatic biotic material that releases fragrant smoke when burnt. The term is used for either the material or the aroma. Incense is used for aesthetic reasons, religious worship, aromatherapy, meditation, and ceremony. It may also be ...
, and perfumes. Its artisans worked expertly with ivory, glassware, and wood, as well as with
alabaster Alabaster is a mineral or rock that is soft, often used for carving, and is processed for plaster powder. Archaeologists and the stone processing industry use the word differently from geologists. The former use it in a wider sense that includes ...
, bronze, brass, lead, gold, silver, and precious stones to create a wide array of goods, including mirrors, furniture and cabinetry, beds, bedding, and pillows, jewelry, arms, implements, and household items. It traded in salted Atlantic fish and fish sauce (
garum Garum is a fermented fish sauce that was used as a condiment A condiment is a preparation that is added to food, typically after cooking, to impart a specific flavor, to enhance the flavor, or to complement the dish. A table condiment or ...
), and brokered the manufactured, agricultural, and natural products of almost every Mediterranean people. Punic
amphora An amphora (; grc, , }; English ) is a type of container with a pointed bottom and characteristic shape and size which fit tightly (and therefore safely) against each other in storage rooms and packages, tied together with rope and delivered ...
e containing salt fish were exported from Carthaginian territory at the
Pillars of Hercules The Pillars of Hercules ( la, Columnae Herculis, grc, Ἡράκλειαι Στῆλαι, , ar, أعمدة هرقل, Aʿmidat Hiraql, es, Columnas de Hércules) was the phrase that was applied in Classical antiquity, Antiquity to the promo ...
(Spain and Morocco) to Corinth, Greece, showing the long-distance trade in the fifth century BC. Bronze
engraving Engraving is the practice of incising a design onto a hard, usually flat surface by cutting grooves into it with a Burin (engraving), burin. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or Glass engraving, glass ...
and stone-carving are described as having reached their zenith in the fourth and third centuries. While primarily a maritime power, Carthage also sent caravans into the interior of Africa and
Persia Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
. It traded its manufactured and agricultural goods to the coastal and interior peoples of Africa for salt, gold, timber, ivory, ebony, apes, peacocks, skins, and hides. Its merchants invented the practice of sale by auction and used it to trade with the African tribes. In other ports, they tried to establish permanent warehouses or sell their goods in open-air markets. They obtained amber from Scandinavia, and from the Iberians, Gauls, and Celts received amber, tin, silver, and furs. Sardinia and Corsica produced gold and silver for Carthage, and Phoenician settlements on
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ), is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea. It consists of an archipelago, between Italy and Libya, and is often considered a part of Southern Europe. It lies ...
and the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( es, Islas Baleares ; or ca, Illes Balears ) are an archipelago in the Balearic Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The archipelago is an Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community and a P ...
produced commodities that would be sent back to Carthage for large-scale distribution. The city supplied poorer civilizations with simple products such as pottery, metallic objects, and ornamentations, often displacing local manufacturing, but brought its best works to wealthier ones such as the Greeks and Etruscans. Carthage traded in almost every commodity wanted by the ancient world, including spices from Arabia, Africa and India, as well as slaves (the empire of Carthage temporarily held a portion of Europe and sent conquered barbarian warriors into North African slavery). Herodotus wrote an account around 430 BC of Carthaginian trade on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. The Punic explorer and sufete of Carthage,
Hanno the Navigator Hanno the Navigator (sometimes "Hannon"; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤀 , ; ) was a Ancient Carthage, Carthaginian explorer of the fifth century BC, best known for his naval exploration of the western coast of Africa. The only source of his voyage is a '' ...
, led an expedition to recolonise the Atlantic coast of Morocco that may have ventured as far down the coast of Africa as
Senegal Senegal,; Wolof language, Wolof: ''Senegaal''; Pulaar language, Pulaar: 𞤅𞤫𞤲𞤫𞤺𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭 (Senegaali); Arabic language, Arabic: السنغال ''As-Sinighal'') officially the Republic of Senegal,; Wolof language, Wolof: ''R ...
and perhaps even beyond. The Greek version of the Periplus of Hanno describes his voyage. Although it is not known just how far his fleet sailed on the African coastline, this short report, dating probably from the fifth or sixth century BC, identifies distinguishing geographic features such as a coastal volcano and an encounter with hairy hominids. The Etruscan language is imperfectly deciphered, but bilingual inscriptions found in archaeological excavations at the sites of Etruscan cities indicate the Phoenicians had trading relations with the Etruscans for centuries. In 1964, a shrine to Astarte, a popular Phoenician deity, was discovered in Italy containing three gold tablets with inscriptions in Etruscan and Phoenician, giving tangible proof of the Phoenician presence in the Italian peninsula at the end of the sixth century BC, long before the rise of Rome. These inscriptions imply a political and commercial alliance between Carthage and the Etruscan city state of
Caere : Caere (also Caisra and Cisra) is the Latin name given by the Ancient Rome, Romans to one of the larger cities of southern Etruria, the modern Cerveteri, approximately 50–60 kilometres north-northwest of Rome. To the Etruscans it was known ...
, which would corroborate Aristotle's statement that the Etruscans and Carthaginians were so close as to form almost one people. The Etruscans were at times both commercial partners and military allies. An excavation of Carthage in 1977 found many artifacts and structural ruins,Lawrence E. Stager
Excavations at Carthage
p. 35.
including urns, beads, and amulets among the bedrock below the ruins. Excavators uncovered engraved limestones placed below the surface of the earth, along with urns that held the charred remains of infants and sometimes animals. The excavation team also found evidence of how boats and goods were moved through the city's channels of water: the Carthaginians built quay walls that served as foundations for ship sheds used to
drydock A dry dock (sometimes drydock or dry-dock) is a narrow basin or vessel that can be flooded to allow a load to be floated in, then drained to allow that load to come to rest on a dry platform. Dry docks are used for the construction, maintenance, ...
and maintain their ships. The city's inhabitants also excavated several tons of sand beneath the water to form a deeper basin for their ships, a method that would have been exceptionally difficult in ancient times. This is especially important to the history and design of Carthage because of its importance on the trade routes.


Agriculture

Carthage's North African
hinterland Hinterland is a German word meaning "the land behind" (a city, a port, or similar). Its use in English was first documented by the geographer George Chisholm (geographer), George Chisholm in his ''Handbook of Commercial Geography'' (1888). Origin ...
was famed in antiquity for its fertile soil and ability to support abundant livestock and crops.
Diodorus Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily ( grc-gre, wikt:Διόδωρος, Διόδωρος ;  1st century BC), was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek historian. He is known for writing the monumental universal history ''Bibliotheca historica' ...
shares an eyewitness account from the fourth century BC describing lush gardens, verdant plantations, large and luxurious estates, and a complex network of canals and irrigation channels. Roman envoys visiting in the mid-second century BC, including
Cato the Censor Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, Roman Senate, senator, and Roman historiography, historian known for his conservatism and opposition to Hellenizati ...
—known for his fondness for agriculture as much as for his low regard of foreign cultures—described the Carthaginian countryside as thriving with both human and animal life. Polybius, writing of his visit during the same period, claims that a greater number and variety of livestock were raised in Carthage than anywhere else in the known world.Dexter Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', Routledge, pp. 65-67. Initially, the Carthaginians, like their Phoenician founders, did not heavily engage in agriculture. Like nearly all Phoenician cities and colonies, Carthage was primarily settled along the coast; evidence of settlement in the interior dates only to the late fourth century BC, several centuries after its founding. As they settled further inland, the Carthaginians eventually made the most of the region's rich soil, developing what may have been one of the most prosperous and diversified agricultural sectors of its time. They practised highly advanced and productive agriculture, using iron
plough A plough or plow (Differences between American and British spellings, US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in modern farms are draw ...
s,
irrigation Irrigation (also referred to as watering) is the practice of applying controlled amounts of water to land to help grow Crop, crops, Landscape plant, landscape plants, and Lawn, lawns. Irrigation has been a key aspect of agriculture for over 5,00 ...
,
crop rotation Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crops in the same area across a sequence of growing seasons. It reduces reliance on one set of nutrients, pest and weed pressure, and the probability of developing resistant ...
, threshing machines, hand-driven rotary mills, and horse mills, the latter two being invented by the Carthaginians in the sixth and fourth centuries BC, respectively. Carthaginians were adept at refining and reinventing their agricultural techniques, even in the face of adversity. After the Second Punic War, Hannibal promoted agriculture to help restore Carthage's economy and pay the costly war indemnity to Rome (10,000 talents or 800,000 Roman pounds of silver), which proved successful.Pliny 33,51 Strabo reports that even in the years leading up to the Third Punic War, the otherwise devastated and impoverished Carthage had made its lands flourish once more. A strong indication of agriculture's importance to Carthage can be inferred from the fact that, of the few Carthaginian writers known to modern historians, two—the retired generals Hamilcar and Mago—concerned themselves with agriculture and agronomy. The latter wrote what was essentially an encyclopedia on farming and estate management that totaled twenty-eight books; its advice was so well regarded that, following the destruction of the city, it was one of the few, if not only, Carthaginian texts spared, with the Roman Senate decreeing its translation into Latin. Subsequently, though the original work is lost, fragments and references by Roman and Greek writers remain. Circumstantial evidence suggests that Carthage developed
viticulture Viticulture (from the Latin word for ''vine'') or winegrowing (wine growing) is the cultivation and harvesting of grapes. It is a branch of the science of horticulture. While the native territory of ''Vitis vinifera'', the common grape vine, ran ...
and wine production before the fourth century BC, and exported its wines widely, as indicated by distinctive cigar-shaped Carthaginian amphorae found at archaeological sites across the western Mediterranean, although the contents of these vessels have not been conclusively analysed. Carthage also shipped large quantities of raisin wine, known in Latin as ''
passum Passum was a raisin wine (wine from semi-dried grapes) apparently developed in ancient Carthage (in now modern Tunisia) and transmitted from there to Italy, where it was popular in the Roman Empire. The earliest surviving instruction constitutes th ...
,'' which was popular in antiquity, including among the Romans. Fruits such as figs, pears, and pomegranates—which the Romans called "Punic Apples"—as well as nuts, grain, grapes, dates, and olives were grown in the extensive hinterland; olive oil was processed and exported all over the Mediterranean. Carthage also raised fine horses, the ancestors of today's Barb horses, which are considered the most influential racing breed after the
Arabian The Arabian Peninsula, (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") or Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. ...
.Jane Waldron Grutz, "The Barb"
, ''Saudi Aramco World'', January–February 2007, Retrieved 23 February 2011


Religion

The Carthaginians worshiped numerous gods and goddesses, each presiding over a particular theme or aspect of nature.Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', p. 94. They practiced the
Phoenician religion The Canaanite religion was the group of ancient Semitic religions practiced by the Canaanites living in the ancient Levant from at least the early Bronze Age through the first centuries AD. Canaanite religion was polytheism, polytheistic and, in ...
, a polytheist belief system derived from ancient Semitic religions of the
Levant The Levant () is an approximation, approximate historical geography, historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology an ...
. Although most major deities were brought from the Phoenician homeland, Carthage gradually developed unique customs, divinities, and styles of worship that became central to its identity. Presiding over the Carthaginian pantheon was the supreme divine couple, Baal Ḥammon and
Tanit Tanit (Punic language, Punic: 𐤕𐤍𐤕 ''Tīnīt'') was a Punics, Punic goddess. She was the chief deity of Ancient Carthage, Carthage alongside her consort Baal Hammon, Baal-Hamon. Tanit is also called Tinnit. The name appears to have origin ...
. Baal Hammon had been the most prominent aspect of the chief Phoenician god
Baal Baal (), or Baal,; phn, , baʿl; hbo, , baʿal, ). ( ''baʿal'') was a title and honorific meaning "owner", " lord" in the Northwest Semitic languages spoken in the Levant during antiquity. From its use among people, it came to be applie ...
, but after Carthage's independence became the city's patron god and chief deity; he was also responsible for the fertility of crops. His consort Tanit, known as the "Face of Baal", was the goddess of war, a virginal
mother goddess A mother goddess is a goddess who represents a personified deification of motherhood, fertility goddess, fertility, Creation myth, creation, natural disasters, destruction, or the earth goddess who embodies the bounty of the earth or nature. W ...
and nurse, and a symbol of fertility. Although a minor figure in Phoenicia, she was venerated as a patroness and protector of Carthage, and was also known by the title ''rabat'', the female form of ''rab'' (chief);Richard Miles, ''Carthage Must be Destroyed'', Penguin, p. 68. while usually coupled with Baal, she was always mentioned first.Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', p. 95. The symbol of Tanit, a stylized female form with outstretched arms, appears frequently in tombs, mosaics, religious stelae, and various household items like figurines and pottery vessels. The ubiquity of her symbol, and the fact that she is the only Carthaginian deity with an icon, strongly suggests she was Carthage's paramount deity, at least in later centuries. In the Third Punic War, the Romans identified her as Carthage's protector. Other Carthaginian deities attested in Punic inscriptions were
Eshmun Eshmun (or Eshmoun, less accurately Esmun or Esmoun; phn, 𐤀𐤔𐤌𐤍 '; akk, 𒅀𒋢𒈬𒉡 ''Yasumunu'') was a Phoenician god of healing and the tutelary god of Sidon. History This god was known at least from the Iron Age The ...
, the god of health and healing; Resheph, associated with plague, war, or thunder; Kusor, god of knowledge; and Hawot, goddess of death.
Astarte Astarte (; , ) is the Greek language, Hellenized form of the Religions of the ancient Near East, Ancient Near Eastern goddess Ashtart or Athtart (Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic), a deity closely related to Ishtar (East Semitic l ...
, a goddess connected with
fertility Fertility is the capability to produce offspring In biology, offspring are the young creation of living organisms, produced either by a Asexual reproduction, single organism or, in the case of sexual reproduction, two organisms. Collective ...
,
sexuality Human sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves Human sexual activity, sexually. This involves biological, psychological, Physical intimacy, physical, erotic, Emotional intimacy, emotional, social, or Spirituality, spiritua ...
, and
war War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or paramilitary groups such as Mercenary, mercenaries, Insurgency, insurgents, and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violenc ...
, seems to have been popular in early times, but became increasingly identified through Tanit. Similarly,
Melqart Melqart (also Melkarth or Melicarthus) was the tutelary god of the Phoenician city-state of Tyre and a major deity in the Phoenician and Punic pantheons. Often titled the "Lord of Tyre" ('' Ba‘al Ṣūr''), he was also known as the Son o ...
, the patron deity of Tyre, was less prominent in Carthage, though he remained fairly popular. His cult was especially prominent in
Punic The Punic people, or western Phoenicians, were a Semitic people, Semitic people in the Western Mediterranean who migrated from Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre, Phoenicia to North Africa during the Iron Age, Early Iron Age. In modern scholarship, the term '' ...
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...
, of which he was a protector, and which was subsequently known during Carthaginian rule as "Cape Melqart".
Punic The Punic people, or western Phoenicians, were a Semitic people, Semitic people in the Western Mediterranean who migrated from Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre, Phoenicia to North Africa during the Iron Age, Early Iron Age. In modern scholarship, the term '' ...
: 𐤓‬𐤔 𐤌𐤋‬𐤒𐤓‬𐤕, ''rš mlqrt''.
As in Tyre, Melqart was subject to an important religious rite of death and rebirth, undertaken either daily or annually by a specialised priest known as an "awakener of the god".Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', p. 99. Contrary to the frequent charge of impiety by Greek and Roman authors, religion was central to both political and social life in Carthage; the city had as many sacred places as Athens and Rome.Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', p. 96. Surviving Punic texts indicate a very well-organized priesthood class, who were drawn mostly from the elite class and distinguished from most of the population by being clean shaven. As in the Levant, temples were among the wealthiest and most powerful institutions in Carthage and were deeply integrated into public and political life. Religious rituals served as a source of political unity and legitimacy, and were typically performed in public or in relation to state functions. Temples were also important to the economy, as they supported a large number of specialised personnel to ensure rituals were performed properly.Miles, ''Carthage Must Be Destroyed'', p. 68. Priests and acolytes performed different functions for a variety of prices and purposes; the costs of various offerings, or ''molk,'' were listed in great detail and sometimes bundled into different price categories. Supplicants were even accorded a measure of consumer protection, with temples giving notice that priests would be fined for abusing the pricing structure of offerings. The Carthaginians had a high degree of religious
syncretism Syncretism () is the practice of combining different beliefs and various school of thought, schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merging or religious assimilation, assimilation of several originally discrete traditions, especially in t ...
, incorporating deities and practices from the many cultures they interacted with, including Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Italy; conversely, many of its cults and practices spread across the Mediterranean via trade and colonisation. Carthage also had communities of
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""The ...
, Greeks, Romans, and Libyans. The Egyptian god Bes was popular for warding off evil spirits, and is featured prominently in Punic mausoleums.
Isis Isis (; ''Ēse''; ; Meroitic language, Meroitic: ''Wos'' 'a''or ''Wusa''; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤀𐤎, romanized: ʾs) was a major ancient Egyptian deities, goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughou ...
, the ancient Egyptian goddess whose cult spread across the Mediterranean, had a temple in Carthage; a well preserved sarcophagus depicts one of her priestesses in Hellenistic style. The Greek goddesses
Demeter In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, mythology, Demeter (; Attic Greek, Attic: ''Dēmḗtēr'' ; Doric Greek, Doric: ''Dāmā́tēr'') is the Twelve Olympians, Olympian goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over crops, ...
and Kore became prominent in the late fourth century, following the war with Syracuse, and were worshiped into the second century AD. Their cults attracted priests and priestesses from high ranking Carthaginian families, and the Carthaginians placed enough importance on their veneration to enlist Greek residents to ensure their rituals were conducted properly. Melqart was increasingly identified with his Greek counterpart Heracles, and from at least the sixth century BC he was revered by both Greeks and Carthaginians; an inscription in Malta honors him in both Greek and Punic. Melqart became popular enough to serve as a unifying figure among Carthage's disparate allies in the wars against Rome. His awakening rite may have persisted in Numidia as late as the second century AD. In their treaty with Macedon in 215 BC, Carthaginian officials and generals swore an oath to both the Greek and Carthaginian gods. Cippi and
stelae A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek language, Greek , ''stēlē''. The Greek plural is written , ''stēlai'', but this is only rarely encountered in English. or occasionally stela (plural ''stelas'' or ...
of limestone are characteristic monuments of Punic art and religion, found throughout the western Phoenician world in unbroken continuity, both historically and geographically. Most of them were set up over urns containing cremated human remains, placed within open-air sanctuaries. Such sanctuaries constitute some of the best preserved and striking relics of Punic civilization. Little is known about Carthaginian rituals or theology.Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', pp. 99-100. Aside from Melqart's awakening rite, Punic inscriptions found in Carthage attest to a ''mayumas'' festival probably involving the ritual portage of water; the word itself is arguably a Semitic
calque In linguistics, a calque () or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal translation, literal word-for-word or root-for-root translation. When used as a verb, "to calque" means to borrow a word or phrase from ...
on the Greek hydrophoria (''ὑδροφόρια''). Each text ends with the words, "for the Lady, for Tanit Face-of-Baal, and for the Lord, for Baal of the Amanus, that which so-and-so vowed". Excavations of tombs reveal utensils for food and drink, as well as paintings depicting what appears to be a person's soul approaching a walled city. These findings strongly suggest a belief in life after death.


Human sacrifice

Carthage was accused by both contemporary historians and its adversaries of
child sacrifice Child sacrifice is the ritualistic killing of children in order to please or appease a deity, supernatural beings, or sacred social order, tribal, group or national loyalties in order to achieve a desired result. As such, it is a form of human ...
;
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; – after AD 119) was a Greek people, Greek Middle Platonism, Middle Platonist philosopher, historian, Biography, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo (D ...
,
Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christianity, early Christian author from Roman Carthage, Carthage in the Africa (Roman province), Roman province of Africa. He was th ...
,
Orosius Paulus Orosius (; born 375/385 – 420 AD), less often Paul Orosius in English, was a Roman priest, historian and theologian, and a student of Augustine of Hippo. It is possible that he was born in '' Bracara Augusta'' (now Braga, Portug ...
,
Philo Philo of Alexandria (; grc, Φίλων, Phílōn; he, יְדִידְיָה, Yəḏīḏyāh (Jedediah); ), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Judaism, Hellenistic Jewish Jewish philosophy, philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in the ...
, and
Diodorus Siculus Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily ( grc-gre, wikt:Διόδωρος, Διόδωρος ;  1st century BC), was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek historian. He is known for writing the monumental universal history ''Bibliotheca historica' ...
all allege the practice, although
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, , }; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...
and
Polybius Polybius (; grc-gre, Πολύβιος, ; ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period. He is noted for his work , which covered the period of 264–146 BC and the Punic Wars in detail. Polybius is important for his analysis of the mixed ...
do not. Sceptics contend that if Carthage's critics were aware of such a practice, however limited, they would have been horrified by it and exaggerated its extent due to their polemical treatment of the Carthaginians. According to Charles Picard, Greek and Roman critics objected not to the killing of children but to its religious context: in both ancient Greece and Rome, inconvenient newborns were commonly killed by exposure to the elements. The
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
Hebrew: ''Tān ...
mentions child sacrifice practiced by the
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, c ...
ites, ancestors of the Carthaginians, while Greek sources allege that the Phoenicians sacrificed the sons of princes during times of "grave peril".Miles, ''Carthage Must be Destroyed'', p. 69. However, archaeological evidence of human sacrifice in the Levant remains sparse. Accounts of child sacrifice in Carthage date the practice to the city's founding in about 814 BC. Sacrificing children was apparently distasteful even to Carthaginians, and according to Plutarch they began to seek alternatives to offering up their own children, such as buying children from poor families or raising servant children instead. However, Carthage's priests reportedly demanded youth in times of crisis such as war, drought, or famine. Contrary to Plutarch, Diodorus implies that noble children were preferred; extreme crisis warranted special ceremonies where up to 200 children of the most affluent and powerful families were slain and tossed into the burning pyre. Modern
archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the scientific study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts, sites, and cultural landscapes ...
in formerly Punic areas has discovered a number of large cemeteries for children and infants, representing a civic and religious institution for worship and sacrifice; these sites are called the ''
tophet In the Hebrew Bible, Tophet or Topheth ( hbo, תֹּפֶת, Tōp̄eṯ; grc-gre, Ταφέθ, taphéth; la, Topheth) is a location in Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical an ...
'' by archaeologists, as their Punic name is unknown. These cemeteries may have been used as graves for
stillborn Stillbirth is typically defined as fetus, fetal death at or after 20 or 28 weeks of pregnancy, depending on the source. It results in a baby born without vital signs, signs of life. A stillbirth can result in the feeling of guilt (emotion), guil ...
infants or children who died very early. Excavations have been interpreted by many scholars as confirming Plutarch's reports of Carthaginian child sacrifice. An estimated 20,000 urns were deposited between 400 and 200 BC in the tophet discovered in the Salammbô neighbourhood of present-day Carthage, with the practice continuing until the second century. The majority of urns in this site, as well as in similar sites in Motya and Tharros, contained the charred bones of infants or fetuses; in rarer instances, the remains of children between the ages of two and four have been found.Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', p. 102. The bones of animals, particularly lambs, are also common, especially in earlier deposits. There is a clear correlation between the frequency of cremation and the well-being of the city: during crises, cremations appear more frequent, albeit for unclear reasons. One explanation is that the Carthaginians sacrificed children in return for divine intervention. However, such crises would naturally lead to increased child mortality, and consequently, more child burials via cremation. Sceptics maintain that the bodies of children found in Carthaginian and Phoenician cemeteries were merely the cremated remains of children who died naturally. Sergio Ribichini has argued that the tophet was "a child necropolis designed to receive the remains of infants who had died prematurely of sickness or other natural causes, and who for this reason were 'offered' to specific deities and buried in a place different from the one reserved for the ordinary dead". Forensic evidence further suggests that most of the infants had died prior to cremation. However, a 2014 study argued that archaeological evidence confirms that the Carthaginians practiced human sacrifice. Dexter Hoyos argues that it is impossible to determine a "definitive answer" to the question of child sacrifice. He notes that infant and child mortality were high in ancient times—with perhaps a third of Roman infants dying of natural causes in the first three centuries AD—which not only would explain the frequency of child burials, but would make the regular, large-scale sacrificing of children an existential threat to "communal survival".Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', p. 105. Hoyos also notes contradictions between the various historical descriptions of the practice, many of which have not been backed by modern archaeology.


Society and culture

As with most other aspects of Carthaginian civilization, little is known about its culture and society beyond what can be inferred from foreign accounts and archaeological findings. As a Phoenician people, the Carthaginians had an affinity for trade, seafaring, and exploration; most foreign accounts about their society focus on their commercial and maritime prowess. Unlike the Phoenicians, however, the Carthaginians also became known for their military expertise and sophisticated republican government; their approach to warfare and politics feature heavily in foreign accounts.Dexter Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', Routledge, pp. 58-61. During the peak of its wealth and power in the fourth and third centuries BC, Carthage was among the largest metropolises in antiquity; its free male population alone may have numbered roughly 200,000 in 241 BC, excluding resident foreigners.
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus) was a term employed by the Romans for anyone whose eyes were distorted or deformed. The father of Pompey was called "Pompeius Strabo". A native of Sicily so clear-sighted that he could see ...
estimates a total population of 700,000, a figure that was possibly drawn from Polybius; it is unclear if this number includes all residents or just free citizens. Contemporary scholarship places the peak of its population at 500,000 by 300 BC, which would make Carthage the largest city in the world at the time. Descriptions about Carthage's commercial vessels, markets, and trading techniques are disproportionately more common and detailed. The Carthaginians were equal parts renowned and infamous for their wealth and mercantile skills, which garnered respect and admiration as well as derision; Cicero claimed that Carthage's love of trade and money led to its downfall, and many Greek and Roman writers regularly described Carthaginians as perfidious, greedy, and treacherous. In the early fifth century BC, the Syracusan leader Hermocrates reportedly described Carthage as the richest city in the world; centuries later, even in its weakened state following the First Punic War, the "universal view" was that Carthage was "the richest city in world". The most well-known Carthaginian in the Greco-Roman world, aside from military and political leaders, was probably the fictional Hanno of the Roman comedy '' Poenulus'' ("The Little Carthaginian" or "Our Carthaginian Friend"), who is portrayed as a garish, crafty, and wealthy merchant. While a simplistic stereotype, the Carthaginians do appear to have had a rich material culture; excavations of Carthage and its hinterland have discovered goods from all over the Mediterranean and even sub-Saharan Africa. Polybius claims that the city's rich countryside supported all the "individual lifestyle needs" of its people. Foreign visitors, including otherwise hostile figures like
Cato the Censor Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, Roman Senate, senator, and Roman historiography, historian known for his conservatism and opposition to Hellenizati ...
and
Agathocles Agathocles (Greek language, Greek: ) is a Greek name, the most famous of which is Agathocles of Syracuse, the tyrant of Syracuse. The name is derived from , ''agathos'', i.e. "good" and , ''kleos'', i.e. "glory". Other personalities named Agathocle ...
of Syracuse, consistently described the Carthaginian countryside as prosperous and verdant, with large private estates "beautified for their enjoyment".Dexter Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', Routledge, p. 63.
Diodorus Siculus Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily ( grc-gre, wikt:Διόδωρος, Διόδωρος ;  1st century BC), was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek historian. He is known for writing the monumental universal history ''Bibliotheca historica' ...
provides a glimpse of Carthaginian lifestyle in his description of agricultural land near the city ''circa'' 310 BC:
It was divided into market gardens and orchards of all sorts of fruit trees, with many streams of water flowing in channels irrigating every part. There were country homes everywhere, lavishly built and covered with stucco. ... Part of the land was planted with vines, part with olives and other productive trees. Beyond these, cattle and sheep were pastured on the plains, and there were meadows with grazing horses.
Indeed, the Carthaginians became as distinguished for their agricultural expertise as for their maritime commerce. They appeared to have placed considerable social and cultural value on farming, gardening, and livestock. Surviving fragments of Mago's work concern the planting and management of olive trees (e.g.,
grafting Grafting or graftage is a horticultural technique whereby tissues of plants are joined so as to continue their growth together. The upper part of the combined plant is called the scion () while the lower part is called the rootstock. The suc ...
), fruit trees (
pomegranate The pomegranate (''Punica granatum'') is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub in the family Lythraceae, subfamily Punicoideae, that grows between tall. The pomegranate was originally described throughout the Mediterranean Basin, Mediterranean re ...
,
almond The almond (''Prunus amygdalus'', Synonym (taxonomy)#Botany, syn. ''Prunus dulcis'') is a species of tree native to Iran and surrounding countries, including the Levant. The almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of th ...
, fig,
date palm ''Phoenix dactylifera'', commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit called dates. The species is widely cultivated across northern Africa, the Middle Eas ...
),
viniculture Viticulture (from the Latin word for ''vine'') or winegrowing (wine growing) is the cultivation and harvesting of grapes. It is a branch of the science of horticulture. While the native territory of ''Vitis vinifera'', the common grape vine, ran ...
,
bee Bees are winged insects closely related to wasp A wasp is any insect of the narrow-waisted suborder Apocrita of the order Hymenoptera which is neither a bee nor an ant; this excludes the broad-waisted sawflies (Symphyta), which lo ...
s,
cattle Cattle (''Bos taurus'') are large, domestication, domesticated, Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved, herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae and the most widespread species of the genus ''Bos''. Adult females are referr ...
,
sheep Sheep or domestic sheep (''Ovis aries'') are domesticated, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Although the term ''sheep'' can apply to other species in the genus ''Ovis'', in everyday usage it almost always refers to domesticated sh ...
,
poultry Poultry () are domestication, domesticated birds kept by humans for their egg (food) , eggs, their meat or their feathers. These birds are most typically members of the Superorder (biology), superorder Fowl, Galloanserae (fowl), especially the ...
, and the art of wine-making (namely a type of
sherry Sherry ( es, jerez ) is a fortified wine made from white grapes that are grown near the city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain. Sherry is produced in a variety of styles made primarily from the Palomino (grape), Palomino grape, rangin ...
). Following the Second Punic War and the loss of several lucrative overseas territories, the Carthaginians embraced agriculture to restore the economy and pay the costly war indemnity to Rome, which ultimately proved successful; this most likely heightened the importance of agriculture in Carthaginian society.


Class and social stratification

Ancient accounts, coupled with archaeological findings, suggest that Carthage had a complex, urbanized society similar to the Hellenistic ''
polis ''Polis'' (, ; grc-gre, :wikt:πόλις, πόλις, ), plural ''poleis'' (, , ), literally means "city" in Greek. In Ancient Greece, it originally referred to an administrative and religious city center, as distinct from the rest of the cit ...
'' or Latin ''civitas''; it was characterized by strong civic engagement, an active civil society, and class stratification. Inscriptions on Punic tombs and gravestones describe a wide variety of professions, including artisans, dock workers, farmers, cooks, potters, and others, indicating a complex, diversified economy that most likely supported a variety of lifestyles. Carthage had a sizable and centrally located ''
agora The agora (; grc, ἀγορά, romanized: ', meaning "market" in Modern Greek) was a central public space in ancient Ancient Greece, Greek polis, city-states. It is the best representation of a city-state's response to accommodate the social a ...
'', which served as a hub of business, politics, and social life. The ''agora'' likely included public squares and plazas where the people might gather for festivals or assemble for political functions; it is possible that the district was where government institutions operated, and where various affairs of state, such as trials, were conducted in public. Excavations have revealed numerous
artisan An artisan (from french: artisan, it, artigiano) is a skilled worker, skilled craft worker who makes or creates material objects partly or entirely by handicraft, hand. These objects may be wikt:functional, functional or strictly beauty, ...
workshops, including three metal working sites,
pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with clay and other ceramic materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard and durable form. Major types include earthenware, stoneware and porc ...
kiln A kiln is a thermally insulated chamber, a type of oven, that produces temperatures sufficient to complete some process, such as hardening, drying, or chemical changes. Kilns have been used for millennia to turn objects made from clay int ...
s, and a fuller's shop for preparing woolen cloth. Mago's writings about Punic farm management provide a glimpse into Carthaginian social dynamics. Small estate owners appeared to have been the chief producers, and were counselled by Mago to treat well and fairly their managers, farm workers, overseers, and even slaves. Some ancient historians suggest that rural land ownership provided a new power base among the city's nobility, which was traditionally dominated by merchants. A 20th century historian opined that urban merchants owned rural farmland as an alternative source of profit, or even to escape the summer heat. Mago provides some indication about the attitudes towards agriculture and land ownership:
The man who acquires an estate must sell his house, lest he prefer to live in the town rather than in the country. Anyone who prefers to live in a town has no need of an estate in the country. One who has bought land should sell his town house, so that he will have no desire to worship the household gods of the city rather than those of the country; the man who takes greater delight in his city residence will have no need of a country estate.
Hired workers were likely local Berbers, some of whom became sharecroppers; slaves were often prisoners of war. In lands outside direct Punic control, independent Berbers cultivated grain and raised horses; within the lands immediately surrounding Carthage, there were ethnic divisions that overlapped with semi-
feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, cultural and political customs that flourished in Middle Ages, medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a wa ...
distinctions between lord and peasant, or master and serf. The inherent instability of the countryside drew the attention of potential invaders, although Carthage was generally able to manage and contain these social difficulties. According to Aristotle, the Carthaginians had associations akin to the Greek '' hetairiai'', which were organizations roughly analogous to political parties or interest groups. Punic inscriptions reference ''mizrehim,'' which appeared to have been numerous in number and subject, ranging from devotional cults to professional guilds. Aristotle also describes a Carthaginian practice comparable to the ''
syssitia The syssitia ( grc, συσσίτια ''syssítia'', plural of ''syssítion'') were, in ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dar ...
,'' communal meals that promoted kinship and reinforced social and political status. However, their specific purpose in Carthaginian society is unknown.


Literature

Aside from some ancient translations of
Punic The Punic people, or western Phoenicians, were a Semitic people, Semitic people in the Western Mediterranean who migrated from Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre, Phoenicia to North Africa during the Iron Age, Early Iron Age. In modern scholarship, the term '' ...
texts into Greek and Latin, as well as inscriptions on monuments and buildings discovered in Northwest Africa, not much remains of Carthaginian literature. When Carthage was sacked in 146 BC, its libraries and texts were either systematically destroyed or, according to Pliny the Elder, given to the "minor kings of Africa".Dexter Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', Routledge, pp. 105-106. The only noteworthy Punic writing to survive is Mago's voluminous treatise on agriculture, which was preserved and translated by order of the Roman Senate; however, there remains only some excerpts and references in Latin and Greek. The late-Roman historian Ammianus claims that
Juba II Juba II or Juba of Mauretania (Latin: ''Gaius Iulius Iuba''; grc, Ἰóβας, Ἰóβα or ;Roller, Duane W. (2003) ''The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene'' "Routledge (UK)". pp. 1–3. . c. 48 BC – AD 23) was the son of Juba I and Patron ...
of Numidia read ''Punici lbri,'' or "punic books", which may have been Carthaginian in origin. Ammianus also makes reference to Punic books existing even during his lifetime in the fourth century AD, which suggests that some works survived, or at least that Punic remained a literary language. Other Roman and Greek authors reference the existence of Carthaginian literature, most notably Hannibal's writings about his military campaigns. The Roman comedy '' Poenulus,'' which was apparently written and performed shortly after the Second Punic War, had as its central protagonist a wealthy and elderly Carthaginian merchant named Hanno. Several of Hanno's lines are in Punic, representing the only lengthy examples of the language in Greco-Roman literature, possibly indicating a level of popular knowledge about Carthaginian culture. Cleitomachus, a prolific philosopher who headed the Academy of Athens in the early second century BC, was born Hasdrubal in Carthage. He studied
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
under the Skeptic
Carneades Carneades (; el, Καρνεάδης, ''Karneadēs'', "of Carnea"; 214/3–129/8 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher and perhaps the most prominent head of the Academic skepticism, Skeptical Academy in ancient Greece. He was born in Cyrene, Liby ...
and authored over 400 works, most of which are lost. He was highly regarded by Cicero, who based parts of his ''
De Natura Deorum ''De Natura Deorum'' (''On the Nature of the Gods'') is a philosophical dialogue by Ancient Rome, Roman Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic philosopher Cicero written in 45 BC. It is laid out in three books that discuss the theology, theologica ...
'', '' De Divinatione'' and '' De Fato'' on a work of Cleitomachus he calls ''De Sustinendis Offensionibus'' (On the Withholding of Assent); Cleitomachus dedicates many of his writings to prominent Romans such as the poet
Gaius Lucilius Gaius Lucilius (180, 168 or 148 BC – 103 BC) was the earliest Ancient Rome, Roman satire, satirist, of whose writings only fragments remain. A Roman citizen of the Equestrian (Roman), equestrian class, he was born at Sessa Aurunca, Sue ...
and the consul Lucius Marcius Censorinus, suggesting his work was known and appreciated in Rome. Although he spent most of his life in Athens, Cleitomachus maintained an affinity for his home city; upon its destruction in 146 BC, he wrote a treatise addressed to his countrymen that proposed consolation through philosophy.


Legacy

Carthage is best remembered for its conflicts with the Roman Republic, which was almost defeated in the Second Punic War, an event that likely would have changed the course of human history, given Rome's subsequent central role in Christianity, European history, and Western civilization. At the height of its power before the First Punic War, Greek and Roman observers often wrote admiringly about Carthage's wealth, prosperity, and sophisticated republican government. But during the Punic Wars and the years following Carthage's destruction, accounts of its civilization generally reflected biases and even propaganda shaped by these conflicts.Dexter Hoyos, ''The Carthaginians'', Routledge, pp. 220-221. Aside from some grudging respect for the military brilliance of Hannibal, or for its economic and naval prowess, Carthage was often portrayed as the political, cultural, and military foil to Rome, a place where "cruelty, treachery, and irreligion" reigned. The dominant influence of Greco-Roman perspectives in Western history left in place this slanted depiction of Carthage for centuries. At least since the 20th century, a more critical and comprehensive account of historical records, backed by archaeological findings across the Mediterranean, reveal Carthaginian civilization to be far more complex, nuanced, and progressive than previously believed. Its vast and lucrative commercial network touched almost every corner of the ancient world, from the British Isles to western and central Africa and possibly beyond. Like their Phoenician ancestors—whose identity and culture they rigorously maintained—its people were enterprising and pragmatic, demonstrating a remarkable capacity to adapt and innovate as circumstances changed, even during the existential threat of the Punic Wars. While little remains of its literature and art, circumstantial evidence suggests that Carthage was a multicultural and sophisticated civilization that formed enduring links with peoples across the ancient world, incorporating their ideas, cultures, and societies into its own cosmopolitan framework.


Portrayal in fiction

Carthage features in
Gustave Flaubert Gustave Flaubert ( , , ; 12 December 1821 – 8 May 1880) was a French novelist. Highly influential, he has been considered the leading exponent of literary realism in his country. According to the literary theorist Kornelije Kvas, "in Flauber ...
's historical novel '' Salammbô'' (1862). Set around the time of the
Mercenary War The Mercenary War, also known as the Truceless War, was a mutiny by troops that were employed by Ancient Carthage, Carthage at the end of the First Punic War (264241 BC), supported by uprisings of African settlements revolting against C ...
, it includes a dramatic description of child sacrifice, and the boy Hannibal narrowly avoiding being sacrificed. Giovanni Pastrone's epic
silent film A silent film is a film with no synchronized Sound recording and reproduction, recorded sound (or more generally, no audible dialogue). Though silent films convey narrative and emotion visually, various plot elements (such as a setting or era) ...
''
Cabiria ''Cabiria'' is a 1914 Italian Epic film, epic silent film, directed by Giovanni Pastrone and shot in Turin. The film is set in ancient Sicily, Carthage, and Cirta during the period of the Second Punic War (218–202 BC). It follows a melodrama ...
'' is narrowly based on Flaubert's novel. ''The Young Carthaginian'' (1887) by G. A. Henty is a boys' adventure novel told from the perspective of Malchus, a fictional teenage lieutenant of Hannibal during the Second Punic War. In " The Dead Past," a science fiction short story by
Isaac Asimov Isaac Asimov ( ; 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. During his lifetime, Asimov was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers, along with Robert A. Heinlein and ...
, a main character is a historian of antiquity trying to disprove the allegation that the Carthaginians carried out child sacrifice. ''The Purple Quest'' by Frank G. Slaughter is a fictionalised account of the founding of Carthage. ''Die Sterwende Stad'' ("The Dying City") is a novel written in
Afrikaans Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language that evolved in the Dutch Cape Colony from the Dutch vernacular of Holland proper (i.e., the Hollandic dialect) used by Dutch, French, and German settlers and their slaves. Afrikaans gradually b ...
by Antonie P. Roux and published in 1956. It is a fictional account of life in Carthage and includes the defeat of Hannibal by Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama. For several years it was prescribed reading for South African year 11 and 12 high school students studying the Afrikaans language.


Alternate history

" Delenda Est," a short story in
Poul Anderson Poul William Anderson (November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) was an American fantasy and science fiction author who was active from the 1940s until the 21st century. Anderson wrote also historical novels. His awards include seven Hugo Awards and ...
's Time Patrol series, is an
alternate history Alternate history (also alternative history, althist, AH) is a genre of speculative fiction of stories in which one or more historical events occur and are resolved differently than in real life. As conjecture based upon historical fact, alterna ...
where Hannibal won the Second Punic War, and Carthage exists in the 20th century. A duology by John Maddox Roberts, comprising '' Hannibal's Children'' (2002) and '' The Seven Hills'' (2005), is set in an alternate history where Hannibal defeated Rome in the Second Punic War, and Carthage is still a major Mediterranean power in 100 BC. Mary Gentle used an alternate history version of Carthage as a setting in her novels '' Ash: A Secret History'' and '' Ilario, A Story of the First History''. In these books, Carthage is dominated by Germanic tribes, which conquered Carthage and set up a huge empire that repelled the Muslim conquest. In these novels, titles such as "lord-amir" and "scientist-magus" indicate a fusion of European and Northwest African cultures, and
Arian Christianity Arianism ( grc-x-koine, Ἀρειανισμός, ) is a Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius Arius (; grc-koi, Ἄρειος, ; 250 or 256 – 336) was a Cyrenaica, Cyrenaic presbyter, asceticism, ascetic, and priest best ...
is the state religion. Stephen Baxter also features Carthage in his alternate history Northland trilogy, where Carthage prevails over and subjugates Rome.Stephen Baxter, ''Iron Winter'' (Gollancz, 2012), esp. p334.


See also

*
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of Ancient Carthage, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in ...
* Carthaginian coinage * Carthaginian Iberia *
History of Carthage The city of Carthage was founded in the 9th century BC on the coast of Northwest Africa, in what is now Tunisia, as one of a number of Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean created to facilitate trade from the city of Tyre, Lebano ...
*
History of Tunisia The present day Republic of Tunisia, ''al-Jumhuriyyah at-Tunisiyyah'', is situated in Northern Africa. Geographically situated between Libya to the east, Algeria to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. Tunis is the capital and the l ...
*
Roman Carthage After the destruction of Punic Carthage in 146 BC, a new city of Carthage (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spo ...
*
Ancient Rome In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 ...
*
Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * McCarter, P. Kyle. "The Early Diffusion of the Alphabet", The Biblical Archaeologist 37, No. 3 (Sep., 1974): 54–68. page 62. doi:10.2307/3210965. JSTOR 3210965.


External links


Carthage - World History Encyclopedia
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