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The History Of Rome, Book III by Theodor Mommsen

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of 7-bit ASCII code, adopts the following orthographic conventions:

1) Except for Greek, all literally cited non-English words that do
not refer to texts cited as academic references, words that in the
source manuscript appear italicized, are rendered with a single
preceding, and a single following dash; thus, -xxxx-.

2) Greek words, first transliterated into Roman alphabetic
equivalents, are rendered with a preceding and a following double-
dash; thus, --xxxx--. Note that in some cases the root word itself
is a compound form such as xxx-xxxx, and is rendered as --xxx-xxx--

3) Simple unideographic references to vocalic sounds, single
letters, or alphabeic dipthongs; and prefixes, suffixes, and syllabic
references are represented by a single preceding dash; thus, -x,
or -xxx.

4) Ideographic references, referring to signs of representation rather
than to content, are represented as -"id:xxxx"-. "id:" stands for
"ideograph", and indicates that the reader should form a picture based
on the following "xxxx"; which may be a single symbol, a word, or an
attempt at a picture composed of ASCII characters. For example,
--"id:GAMMA gamma"-- indicates an uppercase Greek gamma-form followed
by the form in lowercase. Some such exotic parsing as this is
necessary to explain alphabetic development because a single symbol
may have been used for a number of sounds in a number of languages,
or even for a number of sounds in the same language at different
times. Thus, "-id:GAMMA gamma" might very well refer to a Phoenician
construct that in appearance resembles the form that eventually
stabilized as an uppercase Greek "gamma" juxtaposed to one of
lowercase. Also, a construct such as --"id:E" indicates a symbol
that with ASCII resembles most closely a Roman uppercase "E", but,
in fact, is actually drawn more crudely.

5) Dr. Mommsen has given his dates in terms of Roman usage, A.U.C.;
that is, from the founding of Rome, conventionally taken to be
753 B. C. The preparer of this document, has appended to the end
of each volume a table of conversion between the two systems.

The History Of Rome


Theodor Mommsen

Translated With The Sanction Of The Author


William Purdie Dickson, D.D., LL.D.
Professor Of Divinity In The University Of Glasgow

A New Edition Revised Throughout And Embodying Recent Additions


From The Union Of Italy To The Subjugation Of Carthage
And The Greek States


The War Between Rome And Carthage Concerning Sicily

The Extension Of Italy To Its Natural Boundaries

Hamilcar And Hannibal

The War Under Hannibal To The Battle Of Cannae

The War Under Hannibal From Cannae To Zama

The West From The Peace Of Hannibal To The Close Of The Third Period

The Eastern States And The Second Macedonian War

The War With Antiochus Of Asia

The Third Macedonian War

The Government And The Governed

The Management Of Land And Of Capital

Faith And Manners

Literature And Art


From The Union Of Italy To The Subjugation Of Carthage And The Greek

Arduum res gestas scribere.


Chapter I


The Phoenicians

The Semitic stock occupied a place amidst, and yet aloof from, the
nations of the ancient classical world. The true centre of the
former lay in the east, that of the latter in the region of the
Mediterranean; and, however wars and migrations may have altered the
line of demarcation and thrown the races across each other, a deep
sense of diversity has always severed, and still severs, the Indo-
Germanic peoples from the Syrian, Israelite, and Arabic nations.
This diversity was no less marked in the case of that Semitic people
which spread more than any other in the direction of the west--the
Phoenicians. Their native seat was the narrow border of coast bounded
by Asia Minor, the highlands of Syria, and Egypt, and called Canaan,
that is, the "plain." This was the only name which the nation itself
made use of; even in Christian times the African farmer called himself
a Canaanite. But Canaan received from the Hellenes the name of
Phoenike, the "land of purple," or "land of the red men," and the
Italians also were accustomed to call the Canaanites Punians, as we
are accustomed still to speak of them as the Phoenician or Punic race.

Their Commerce

The land was well adapted for agriculture; but its excellent harbours
and the abundant supply of timber and of metals favoured above all
things the growth of commerce; and it was there perhaps, where the
opulent eastern continent abuts on the wide-spreading Mediterranean
so rich in harbours and islands, that commerce first dawned in all
its greatness upon man. The Phoenicians directed all the resources of
courage, acuteness, and enthusiasm to the full development of commerce
and its attendant arts of navigation, manufacturing, and colonization,
and thus connected the east and the west. At an incredibly early
period we find them in Cyprus and Egypt, in Greece and Sicily, in
Africa and Spain, and even on the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.
The field of their commerce reached from Sierra Leone and Cornwall
in the west, eastward to the coast of Malabar. Through their hands
passed the gold and pearls of the East, the purple of Tyre, slaves,
ivory, lions' and panthers' skins from the interior of Africa,
frankincense from Arabia, the linen of Egypt, the pottery and fine
wines of Greece, the copper of Cyprus, the silver of Spain, tin from
England, and iron from Elba. The Phoenician mariners brought to
every nation whatever it could need or was likely to purchase; and
they roamed everywhere, yet always returned to the narrow home to
which their affections clung.

Their Intellectual Endowments

The Phoenicians are entitled to be commemorated in history by the
side of the Hellenic and Latin nations; but their case affords a
fresh proof, and perhaps the strongest proof of all, that the
development of national energies in antiquity was of a one-sided
character. Those noble and enduring creations in the field of
intellect, which owe their origin to the Aramaean race, do not belong
primarily to the Phoenicians. While faith and knowledge in a certain
sense were the especial property of the Aramaean nations and first
reached the Indo-Germans from the east, neither the Phoenician
religion nor Phoenician science and art ever, so far as we can
see, held an independent rank among those of the Aramaean family.
The religious conceptions of the Phoenicians were rude and uncouth,
and it seemed as if their worship was meant to foster rather than to
restrain lust and cruelty. No trace is discernible, at least in times
of clear historical light, of any special influence exercised by their
religion over other nations. As little do we find any Phoenician
architecture or plastic art at all comparable even to those of Italy,
to say nothing of the lands where art was native. The most ancient
seat of scientific observation and of its application to practical
purposes was Babylon, or at any rate the region of the Euphrates. It
was there probably that men first followed the course of the stars; it
was there that they first distinguished and expressed in writing the
sounds of language; it was there that they began to reflect on time
and space and on the powers at work in nature: the earliest traces
of astronomy and chronology, of the alphabet, and of weights and
measures, point to that region. The Phoenicians doubtless availed
themselves of the artistic and highly developed manufactures of
Babylon for their industry, of the observation of the stars for
their navigation, of the writing of sounds and the adjustment of
measures for their commerce, and distributed many an important germ
of civilization along with their wares; but it cannot be demonstrated
that the alphabet or any other of those ingenious products of the
human mind belonged peculiarly to them, and such religious and
scientific ideas as they were the means of conveying to the Hellenes
were scattered by them more after the fashion of a bird dropping
grains than of the husbandman sowing his seed. The power which
the Hellenes and even the Italians possessed, of civilizing and
assimilating to themselves the nations susceptible of culture with
whom they came into contact, was wholly wanting in the Phoenicians.
In the field of Roman conquest the Iberian and the Celtic languages
have disappeared before the Romanic tongue; the Berbers of Africa
speak at the present day the same language as they spoke in the times
of the Hannos and the Barcides.

Their Political Qualities

Above all, the Phoenicians, like the rest of the Aramaean nations as
compared with the Indo-Germans, lacked the instinct of political life
--the noble idea of self-governing freedom. During the most
flourishing times of Sidon and Tyre the land of the Phoenicians was
a perpetual apple of contention between the powers that ruled on the
Euphrates and on the Nile, and was subject sometimes to the Assyrians,
sometimes to the Egyptians. With half its power Hellenic cities
would have made themselves independent; but the prudent men of Sidon
calculated that the closing of the caravan-routes to the east or of
the ports of Egypt would cost them more than the heaviest tribute, and
so they punctually paid their taxes, as it might happen, to Nineveh or
to Memphis, and even, if they could not avoid it, helped with their
ships to fight the battles of the kings. And, as at home the
Phoenicians patiently bore the oppression of their masters, so also
abroad they were by no means inclined to exchange the peaceful career
of commerce for a policy of conquest. Their settlements were
factories. It was of more moment in their view to deal in buying and
selling with the natives than to acquire extensive territories in
distant lands, and to carry out there the slow and difficult work of
colonization. They avoided war even with their rivals; they allowed
themselves to be supplanted in Egypt, Greece, Italy, and the east of
Sicily almost without resistance; and in the great naval battles,
which were fought in early times for the supremacy of the western
Mediterranean, at Alalia (217) and at Cumae (280), it was the
Etruscans, and not the Phoenicians, that bore the brunt of the
struggle with the Greeks. If rivalry could not be avoided, they
compromised the matter as best they could; no attempt was ever made
by the Phoenicians to conquer Caere or Massilia. Still less, of
course, were the Phoenicians disposed to enter on aggressive war.
On the only occasion in earlier times when they took the field on the
offensive--in the great Sicilian expedition of the African Phoenicians
which ended in their defeat at Himera by Gelo of Syracuse (274)--it
was simply as dutiful subjects of the great-king and in order to avoid
taking part in the campaign against the Hellenes of the east, that
they entered the lists against the Hellenes of the west; just as their
Syrian kinsmen were in fact obliged in that same year to share the
defeat of the Persians at Salamis(1).

This was not the result of cowardice; navigation in unknown waters
and with armed vessels requires brave hearts, and that such were to be
found among the Phoenicians, they often showed. Still less was it
the result of any lack of tenacity and idiosyncrasy of national
feeling; on the contrary the Aramaeans defended their nationality with
the weapons of intellect as well as with their blood against all the
allurements of Greek civilization and all the coercive measures of
eastern and western despots, and that with an obstinacy which no Indo-
Germanic people has ever equalled, and which to us who are Occidentals
seems to be sometimes more, sometimes less, than human. It was the
result of that want of political instinct, which amidst all their
lively sense of the ties of race, and amidst all their faithful
attachment to the city of their fathers, formed the most essential
feature in the character of the Phoenicians. Liberty had no charms
for them, and they lusted not after dominion; "quietly they lived,"
says the Book of Judges, "after the manner of the Sidonians, careless
and secure, and in possession of riches."


Of all the Phoenician settlements none attained a more rapid and
secure prosperity than those which were established by the Tyrians and
Sidonians on the south coast of Spain and the north coast of Africa--
regions that lay beyond the reach of the arm of the great-king and the
dangerous rivalry of the mariners of Greece, and in which the natives
held the same relation to the strangers as the Indians in America held
to the Europeans. Among the numerous and flourishing Phoenician
cities along these shores, the most prominent by far was the "new
town," Karthada or, as the Occidentals called it, Karchedon or
Carthago. Although not the earliest settlement of the Phoenicians
in this region, and originally perhaps a dependency of the adjoining
Utica, the oldest of the Phoenician towns in Libya, it soon
outstripped its neighbours and even the motherland through the
incomparable advantages of its situation and the energetic activity
of its inhabitants. It was situated not far from the (former) mouth
of the Bagradas (Mejerda), which flows through the richest corn
district of northern Africa, and was placed on a fertile rising
ground, still occupied with country houses and covered with groves
of olive and orange trees, falling off in a gentle slope towards the
plain, and terminating towards the sea in a sea-girt promontory.
Lying in the heart of the great North-African roadstead, the Gulf of
Tunis, at the very spot where that beautiful basin affords the best
anchorage for vessels of larger size, and where drinkable spring water
is got close by the shore, the place proved singularly favourable for
agriculture and commerce and for the exchange of their respective
commodities--so favourable, that not only was the Tyrian settlement
in that quarter the first of Phoenician mercantile cities, but even
in the Roman period Carthage was no sooner restored than it became the
third city in the empire, and even now, under circumstances far from
favourable and on a site far less judiciously chosen, there exists and
flourishes in that quarter a city of a hundred thousand inhabitants.
The prosperity, agricultural, mercantile, and industrial, of a city
so situated and so peopled, needs no explanation; but the question
requires an answer--in what way did this settlement come to attain
a development of political power, such as no other Phoenician
city possessed?

Carthage Heads The Western Phoenicians In Opposition To The Hellenes

That the Phoenician stock did not even in Carthage renounce its policy
of passiveness, there is no lack of evidence to prove. Carthage paid,
even down to the times of its prosperity, a ground-rent for the space
occupied by the city to the native Berbers, the tribe of the Maxyes or
Maxitani; and although the sea and the desert sufficiently protected
the city from any assault of the eastern powers, Carthage appears to
have recognized--although but nominally--the supremacy of the great-
king, and to have paid tribute to him occasionally, in order to secure
its commercial communications with Tyre and the East.

But with all their disposition to be submissive and cringing,
circumstances occurred which compelled these Phoenicians to adopt a
more energetic policy. The stream of Hellenic migration was pouring
ceaselessly towards the west: it had already dislodged the Phoenicians
from Greece proper and Italy, and it was preparing to supplant them
also in Sicily, in Spain, and even in Libya itself. The Phoenicians
had to make a stand somewhere, if they were not willing to be totally
crushed. In this case, where they had to deal with Greek traders and
not with the great-king, submission did not suffice to secure the
continuance of their commerce and industry on its former footing,
liable merely to tax and tribute. Massilia and Cyrene were already
founded; the whole east of Sicily was already in the hands of the
Greeks; it was full time for the Phoenicians to think of serious
resistance. The Carthaginians undertook the task; after long and
obstinate wars they set a limit to the advance of the Cyrenaeans,
and Hellenism was unable to establish itself to the west of the desert
of Tripolis. With Carthaginian aid, moreover, the Phoenician settlers
on the western point of Sicily defended themselves against the Greeks,
and readily and gladly submitted to the protection of the powerful
cognate city.(2) These important successes, which occurred in the
second century of Rome, and which saved for the Phoenicians the south-
western portion of the Mediterranean, served of themselves to give to
the city which had achieved them the hegemony of the nation, and to
alter at the same time its political position. Carthage was no longer
a mere mercantile city: it aimed at the dominion of Libya and of a
part of the Mediterranean, because it could not avoid doing so.
It is probable that the custom of employing mercenaries contributed
materially to these successes. That custom came into vogue in Greece
somewhere about the middle of the fourth century of Rome, but among
the Orientals and the Carians more especially it was far older, and it
was perhaps the Phoenicians themselves that began it By the system
of foreign recruiting war was converted into a vast pecuniary
speculation, which was quite in keeping with the character and
habits of the Phoenicians.

The Carthaginian Dominion In Africa

It was probably the reflex influence of these successes abroad,
that first led the Carthaginians to change the character of their
occupation in Africa from a tenure of hire and sufferance to one of
proprietorship and conquest. It appears to have been only about the
year 300 of Rome that the Carthaginian merchants got rid of the rent
for the soil, which they had hitherto been obliged to pay to the
natives. This change enabled them to prosecute a husbandry of their
own on a great scale. From the outset the Phoenicians had been
desirous to employ their capital as landlords as well as traders,
and to practise agriculture on a large scale by means of slaves or
hired labourers; a large portion of the Jews in this way served the
merchant-princes of Tyre for daily wages. Now the Carthaginians
could without restriction extract the produce of the rich Libyan soil
by a system akin to that of the modern planters; slaves in chains
cultivated the land--we find single citizens possessing as many as
twenty thousand of them. Nor was this all. The agricultural villages
of the surrounding region--agriculture appears to have been introduced
among the Libyans at a very early period, probably anterior to the
Phoenician settlement, and presumably from Egypt--were subdued by
force of arms, and the free Libyan farmers were transformed into
fellahs, who paid to their lords a fourth part of the produce of the
soil as tribute, and were subjected to a regular system of recruiting
for the formation of a home Carthaginian army. Hostilities were
constantly occurring with the roving pastoral tribes (--nomades--)
on the borders; but a chain of fortified posts secured the territory
enclosed by them, and the Nomades were slowly driven back into the
deserts and mountains, or were compelled to recognize Carthaginian
supremacy, to pay tribute, and to furnish contingents. About the
period of the first Punic war their great town Theveste (Tebessa, at
the sources of the Mejerda) was conquered by the Carthaginians. These
formed the "towns and tribes (--ethne--) of subjects," which appear in
the Carthaginian state-treaties; the former being the non-free Libyan
villages, the latter the subject Nomades.


To this fell to be added the sovereignty of Carthage over the other
Phoenicians in Africa, or the so-called Liby-phoenicians. These
included, on the one hand, the smaller settlements sent forth from
Carthage along the whole northern and part of the north-western coast
of Africa--which cannot have been unimportant, for on the Atlantic
seaboard alone there were settled at one time 30,000 such colonists
--and, on the other hand, the old Phoenician settlements especially
numerous along the coast of the present province of Constantine
and Beylik of Tunis, such as Hippo afterwards called Regius (Bona),
Hadrumetum (Susa), Little Leptis (to the south of Susa)--the second
city of the Phoenicians in Africa--Thapsus (in the same quarter), and
Great Leptis (Lebda to the west of Tripoli). In what way all these
cities came to be subject to Carthage--whether voluntarily, for their
protection perhaps from the attacks of the Cyrenaeans and Numidians,
or by constraint--can no longer be ascertained; but it is certain that
they are designated as subjects of the Carthaginians even in official
documents, that they had to pull down their walls, and that they had
to pay tribute and furnish contingents to Carthage. They were
not liable however either to recruiting or to the land-tax, but
contributed a definite amount of men and money, Little Leptis for
instance paying the enormous sum annually of 365 talents (90,000
pounds); moreover they lived on a footing of equality in law with
the Carthaginians, and could marry with them on equal terms.(3)
Utica alone escaped a similar fate and had its walls and independence
preserved to it, less perhaps from its own power than from the pious
feeling of the Carthaginians towards their ancient protectors;
in fact, the Phoenicians cherished for such relations a remarkable
feeling of reverence presenting a thorough contrast to the
indifference of the Greeks. Even in intercourse with foreigners it is
always "Carthage and Utica" that stipulate and promise in conjunction;
which, of course, did not preclude the far more important "new town"
from practically asserting its hegemony also over Utica. Thus the
Tyrian factory was converted into the capital of a mighty North
-African empire, which extended from the desert of Tripoli to the
Atlantic Ocean, contenting itself in its western portion (Morocco and
Algiers) with the occupation, and that to some extent superficial, of
a belt along the coast, but in the richer eastern portion (the present
districts of Constantine and Tunis) stretching its sway over the
interior also and constantly pushing its frontier farther to the
south. The Carthaginians were, as an ancient author significantly
expresses it, converted from Tyrians into Libyans. Phoenician
civilization prevailed in Libya just as Greek civilization prevailed
in Asia Minor and Syria after the campaigns of Alexander, although
not with the same intensity. Phoenician was spoken and written at
the courts of the Nomad sheiks, and the more civilized native tribes
adopted for their language the Phoenician alphabet;(4) to Phoenicise
them completely suited neither the genius of the nation nor
the policy of Carthage.

The epoch, at which this transformation of Carthage into the capital
of Libya took place, admits the less of being determined, because
the change doubtless took place gradually. The author just mentioned
names Hanno as the reformer of the nation. If the Hanno is meant who
lived at the time of the first war with Rome, he can only be regarded
as having completed the new system, the carrying out of which
presumably occupied the fourth and fifth centuries of Rome.

The flourishing of Carthage was accompanied by a parallel decline
in the great cities of the Phoenician mother-country, in Sidon and
especially in Tyre, the prosperity of which was destroyed partly by
internal commotions, partly by the pressure of external calamities,
particularly of its sieges by Salmanassar in the first, Nebuchodrossor
in the second, and Alexander in the fifth century of Rome. The noble
families and the old firms of Tyre emigrated for the most part to
the secure and flourishing daughter-city, and carried thither their
intelligence, their capital, and their traditions. At the time when
the Phoenicians came into contact with Rome, Carthage was as decidedly
the first of Canaanite cities as Rome was the first of the
Latin communities.

Naval Power Of Carthage

But the empire of Libya was only half of the power of Carthage; its
maritime and colonial dominion had acquired, during the same period,
a not less powerful development.


In Spain the chief station of the Phoenicians was the primitive Tyrian
settlement at Gades (Cadiz). Besides this they possessed to the west
and east of it a chain of factories, and in the interior the region of
the silver mines; so that they held nearly the modern Andalusia and
Granada, or at least the coasts of these provinces. They made no
effort to acquire the interior from the warlike native nations; they
were content with the possession of the mines and of the stations for
traffic and for shell and other fisheries; and they had difficulty in
maintaining their ground even in these against the adjoining tribes.
It is probable that these possessions were not properly Carthaginian
but Tyrian, and Gades was not reckoned among the cities tributary to
Carthage; but practically, like all the western Phoenicians, it was
under Carthaginian hegemony, as is shown by the aid sent by Carthage
to the Gaditani against the natives, and by the institution of
Carthaginian trading settlements to the westward of Gades. Ebusus and
the Baleares, again, were occupied by the Carthaginians themselves at
an early period, partly for the fisheries, partly as advanced posts
against the Massiliots, with whom furious conflicts were waged
from these stations.


In like manner the Carthaginians already at the end of the second
century of Rome established themselves in Sardinia, which was
utilized by them precisely in the same way as Libya. While the
natives withdrew into the mountainous interior of the island to
escape from bondage as agricultural serfs, just as the Numidians in
Africa withdrew to the borders of the desert, Phoenician colonies
were conducted to Caralis (Cagliari) and other important points, and
the fertile districts along the coast were turned to account by the
introduction of Libyan cultivators.


Lastly in Sicily the straits of Messana and the larger eastern half of
the island had fallen at an early period into the hands of the Greeks;
but the Phoenicians, with the help of the Carthaginians, retained the
smaller adjacent islands, the Aegates, Melita, Gaulos, Cossyra--the
settlement in Malta especially was rich and flourishing--and they kept
the west and north-west coast of Sicily, whence they maintained
communication with Africa by means of Motya and afterwards of
Lilybaeum and with Sardinia by means of Panormus and Soluntum.
The interior of the island remained in the possession of the natives,
the Elymi, Sicani, and Siceli. After the further advance of the
Greeks was checked, a state of comparative peace had prevailed in
the island, which even the campaign undertaken by the Carthaginians
at the instigation of the Persians against their Greek neighbours on
the island (274) did not permanently interrupt, and which continued
on the whole to subsist till the Attic expedition to Sicily (339-341).
The two competing nations made up their minds to tolerate each other,
and confined themselves in the main each to its own field.

Maritime Supremacy
Rivalry With Syracuse

All these settlements and possessions were important enough in
themselves; but they were of still greater moment, inasmuch as they
became the pillars of the Carthaginian maritime supremacy. By their
possession of the south of Spain, of the Baleares, of Sardinia, of
western Sicily and Melita, and by their prevention of Hellenic
colonies on the east coast of Spain, in Corsica, and in the region of
the Syrtes, the masters of the north coast of Africa rendered their
sea a closed one, and monopolized the western straits. In the
Tyrrhene and Gallic seas alone the Phoenicians were obliged to
admit the rivalry of other nations. This state of things might
perhaps be endured, so long as the Etruscans and the Greeks served
to counterbalance each other in these waters; with the former, as the
less dangerous rivals, Carthage even entered into an alliance against
the Greeks. But when, on the fall of the Etruscan power--a fall
which, as is usually the case in such forced alliances, Carthage had
hardly exerted all her power to avert--and after the miscarriage of
the great projects of Alcibiades, Syracuse stood forth as indisputably
the first Greek naval power, not only did the rulers of Syracuse
naturally begin to aspire to dominion over Sicily and lower Italy
and at the same time over the Tyrrhene and Adriatic seas, but the
Carthaginians also were compelled to adopt a more energetic policy.
The immediate result of the long and obstinate conflicts between
them and their equally powerful and infamous antagonist, Dionysius
of Syracuse (348-389), was the annihilation or weakening of the
intervening Sicilian states--a result which both parties had an
interest in accomplishing--and the division of the island between
the Syracusans and Carthaginians. The most flourishing cities in
the island--Selinus, Himera, Agrigentum, Gela, and Messana--were
utterly destroyed by the Carthaginians in the course of these unhappy
conflicts: and Dionysius was not displeased to see Hellenism destroyed
or suppressed there, so that, leaning for support on foreign
mercenaries enlisted from Italy, Gaul and Spain, he might rule in
greater security over provinces which lay desolate or which were
occupied by military colonies. The peace, which was concluded after
the victory of the Carthaginian general Mago at Kronion (371), and
which subjected to the Carthaginians the Greek cities of Thermae (the
ancient Himera), Segesta, Heraclea Minoa, Selinus, and a part of the
territory of Agrigentum as far as the Halycus, was regarded by the two
powers contending for the possession of the island as only a temporary
accommodation; on both sides the rivals were ever renewing their
attempts to dispossess each other. Four several times--in 360 in the
time of Dionysius the elder; in 410 in that of Timoleon; in 445 in
that of Agathocles; in 476 in that of Pyrrhus--the Carthaginians were
masters of all Sicily excepting Syracuse, and were baffled by its
solid walls; almost as often the Syracusans, under able leaders, such
as were the elder Dionysius, Agathocles, and Pyrrhus, seemed equally
on the eve of dislodging the Africans from the island. But more and
more the balance inclined to the side of the Carthaginians, who were,
as a rule, the aggressors, and who, although they did not follow out
their object with Roman steadfastness, yet conducted their attack with
far greater method and energy than the Greek city, rent and worn out
by factions, conducted its defence. The Phoenicians might with reason
expect that a pestilence or a foreign -condottiere- would not always
snatch the prey from their hands; and for the time being, at least at
sea, the struggle was already decided:(5) the attempt of Pyrrhus to
re-establish the Syracusan fleet was the last. After the failure of
that attempt, the Carthaginian fleet commanded without a rival the
whole western Mediterranean; and their endeavours to occupy Syracuse,
Rhegium, and Tarentum, showed the extent of their power and the
objects at which they aimed. Hand in hand with these attempts went
the endeavour to monopolize more and more the maritime commerce of
this region, at the expense alike of foreigners and of their own
subjects; and it was not the wont of the Carthaginians to recoil from
any violence that might help forward their purpose. A contemporary
of the Punic wars, Eratosthenes, the father of geography (479-560),
affirms that every foreign mariner sailing towards Sardinia or towards
the Straits of Gades, who fell into the hands of the Carthaginians,
was thrown by them into the sea; and with this statement the fact
completely accords, that Carthage by the treaty of 406 (6) declared
the Spanish, Sardinian, and Libyan ports open to Roman trading
vessels, whereas by that of 448,(7) it totally closed them, with
the exception of the port of Carthage itself, against the same.

Constitution Of Carthage

Aristotle, who died about fifty years before the commencement of the
first Punic war, describes the constitution of Carthage as having
changed from a monarchy to an aristocracy, or to a democracy inclining
towards oligarchy, for he designates it by both names. The conduct
of affairs was immediately vested in the hands of the Council of
Ancients, which, like the Spartan gerusia, consisted of the two kings
nominated annually by the citizens, and of twenty-eight gerusiasts,
who were also, as it appears, chosen annually by the citizens. It was
this council which mainly transacted the business of the state-making,
for instance, the preliminary arrangements for war, appointing levies
and enlistments, nominating the general, and associating with him a
number of gerusiasts from whom the sub-commanders were regularly
taken; and to it despatches were addressed. It is doubtful whether by
the side of this small council there existed a larger one; at any rate
it was not of much importance. As little does any special influence
seem to have belonged to the kings; they acted chiefly as supreme
judges, and they were frequently so named (shofetes, -praetores-).
The power of the general was greater. Isocrates, the senior
contemporary of Aristotle, says that the Carthaginians had an
oligarchical government at home, but a monarchical government in
the field; and thus the office of the Carthaginian general may be
correctly described by Roman writers as a dictatorship, although the
gerusiasts attached to him must have practically at least restricted
his power and, after he had laid down his office, a regular official
reckoning--unknown among the Romans--awaited him. There existed no
fixed term of office for the general, and for this very reason he was
doubtless different from the annual king, from whom Aristotle also
expressly distinguishes him. The combination however of several
offices in one person was not unusual among the Carthaginians, and it
is not therefore surprising that often the same person appears as at
once general and shofete.


But the gerusia and the magistrates were subordinate to the
corporation of the Hundred and Four (in round numbers the Hundred),
or the Judges, the main bulwark of the Carthaginian oligarchy.
It had no place in the original constitution of Carthage, but, like
the Spartan ephorate, it originated in an aristocratic opposition to
the monarchical elements of that constitution. As public offices were
purchasable and the number of members forming the supreme board was
small, a single Carthaginian family, eminent above all others in
wealth and military renown, the clan of Mago,(8) threatened to unite
in its own hands the management of the state in peace and war and the
administration of justice. This led, nearly about the time of the
decemvirs, to an alteration of the constitution and to the appointment
of this new board. We know that the holding of the quaestorship gave
a title to admission into the body of judges, but that the candidate
had nevertheless to be elected by certain self-electing Boards of Five
(Pentarchies); and that the judges, although presumably by law chosen
from year to year, practically remained in office for a longer
period or indeed for life, for which reason they are usually called
"senators" by the Greeks and Romans. Obscure as are the details, we
recognize clearly the nature of the body as an oligarchical board
constituted by aristocratic cooptation; an isolated but characteristic
indication of which is found in the fact that there were in Carthage
special baths for the judges over and above the common baths for the
citizens. They were primarily intended to act as political jurymen,
who summoned the generals in particular, but beyond doubt the shofetes
and gerusiasts also when circumstances required, to a reckoning on
resigning office, and inflicted even capital punishment at pleasure,
often with the most reckless cruelty. Of course in this as in every
instance, where administrative functionaries are subjected to the
control of another body, the real centre of power passed over from
the controlled to the controlling authority; and it is easy to
understand on the one hand how the latter came to interfere in all
matters of administration--the gerusia for instance submitted
important despatches first to the judges, and then to the people
--and on the other hand how fear of the control at home, which
regularly meted out its award according to success, hampered the
Carthaginian statesman and general in council and action.


The body of citizens in Carthage, though not expressly restricted, as
in Sparta, to the attitude of passive bystanders in the business of
the state, appears to have had but a very slight amount of practical
influence on it In the elections to the gerusia a system of open
corruption was the rule; in the nomination of a general the people
were consulted, but only after the nomination had really been made by
proposal on the part of the gerusia; and other questions only went to
the people when the gerusia thought fit or could not otherwise agree.
Assemblies of the people with judicial functions were unknown in
Carthage. The powerlessness of the citizens probably in the main
resulted from their political organization; the Carthaginian mess-
associations, which are mentioned in this connection and compared
with the Spartan Pheiditia, were probably guilds under oligarchical
management. Mention is made even of a distinction between "burgesses
of the city" and "manual labourers," which leads us to infer that the
latter held a very inferior position, perhaps beyond the pale of law.

Character Of The Government

On a comprehensive view of its several elements, the Carthaginian
constitution appears to have been a government of capitalists, such as
might naturally arise in a burgess-community which had no middle class
of moderate means but consisted on the one hand of an urban rabble
without property and living from hand to mouth, and on the other hand
of great merchants, planters, and genteel overseers. The system of
repairing the fortunes of decayed grandees at the expense of the
subjects, by despatching them as tax-assessors and taskwork-overseers
to the dependent communities--that infallible token of a rotten urban
oligarchy--was not wanting in Carthage; Aristotle describes it as the
main cause of the tried durability of the Carthaginian constitution.
Up to his time no revolution worth mentioning had taken place in
Carthage either from above or from below. The multitude remained
without leaders in consequence of the material advantages which the
governing oligarchy was able to offer to all ambitious or necessitous
men of rank, and was satisfied with the crumbs, which in the form of
electoral corruption or otherwise fell to it from the table of the
rich. A democratic opposition indeed could not fail with such a
government to emerge; but at the time of the first Punic war it was
still quite powerless. At a later period, partly under the influence
of the defeats which were sustained, its political influence appears
on the increase, and that far more rapidly than the influence of the
similar party at the same period in Rome; the popular assemblies began
to give the ultimate decision in political questions, and broke down
the omnipotence of the Carthaginian oligarchy. After the termination
of the Hannibalic war it was even enacted, on the proposal of
Hannibal, that no member of the council of a Hundred could hold office
for two consecutive years; and thereby a complete democracy was
introduced, which certainly was under existing circumstances the only
means of saving Carthage, if there was still time to do so. This
opposition was swayed by a strong patriotic and reforming enthusiasm;
but the fact cannot withal be overlooked, that it rested on a corrupt
and rotten basis. The body of citizens in Carthage, which is compared
by well-informed Greeks to the people of Alexandria, was so disorderly
that to that extent it had well deserved to be powerless; and it might
well be asked, what good could arise from revolutions, where, as in
Carthage, the boys helped to make them.

Capital And Its Power In Carthage

From a financial point of view, Carthage held in every respect
the first place among the states of antiquity. At the time of the
Peloponnesian war this Phoenician city was, according to the testimony
of the first of Greek historians, financially superior to all
the Greek states, and its revenues were compared to those of the
great-king; Polybius calls it the wealthiest city in the world.
The intelligent character of the Carthaginian husbandry--which, as was
the case subsequently in Rome, generals and statesmen did not disdain
scientifically to practise and to teach--is attested by the agronomic
treatise of the Carthaginian Mago, which was universally regarded by
the later Greek and Roman farmers as the fundamental code of rational
husbandry, and was not only translated into Greek, but was edited also
in Latin by command of the Roman senate and officially recommended
to the Italian landholders. A characteristic feature was the close
connection between this Phoenician management of land and that of
capital: it was quoted as a leading maxim of Phoenician husbandry that
one should never acquire more land than he could thoroughly manage.
The rich resources of the country in horses, oxen, sheep, and goats,
in which Libya by reason of its Nomad economy perhaps excelled at that
time, as Polybius testifies, all other lands of the earth, were of
great advantage to the Carthaginians. As these were the instructors
of the Romans in the art of profitably working the soil, they were so
likewise in the art of turning to good account their subjects; by
virtue of which Carthage reaped indirectly the rents of the "best
part of Europe," and of the rich--and in some portions, such as in
Byzacitis and on the lesser Syrtis, surpassingly productive--region
of northern Africa. Commerce, which was always regarded in Carthage
as an honourable pursuit, and the shipping and manufactures which
commerce rendered flourishing, brought even in the natural course of
things golden harvests annually to the settlers there; and we have
already indicated how skilfully, by an extensive and evergrowing
system of monopoly, not only all the foreign but also all the inland
commerce of the western Mediterranean, and the whole carrying trade
between the west and east, were more and more concentrated in that
single harbour.

Science and art in Carthage, as afterwards in Rome, seem to have been
mainly dependent on Hellenic influences, but they do not appear to
have been neglected. There was a respectable Phoenician literature;
and on the conquest of the city there were found rich treasures of
art--not created, it is true, in Carthage, but carried off from
Sicilian temples--and considerable libraries. But even intellect
there was in the service of capital; the prominent features of its
literature were chiefly agronomic and geographical treatises, such
as the work of Mago already mentioned and the account by the admiral
Hanno of his voyage along the west coast of Africa, which was
originally deposited publicly in one of the Carthaginian temples, and
which is still extant in a translation. Even the general diffusion of
certain attainments, and particularly of the knowledge of foreign
languages,(9) as to which the Carthage of this epoch probably stood
almost on a level with Rome under the empire, forms an evidence of the
thoroughly practical turn given to Hellenic culture in Carthage. It
is absolutely impossible to form a conception of the mass of capital
accumulated in this London of antiquity, but some notion at least may
be gained of the sources of public revenue from the fact, that, in
spite of the costly system on which Carthage organized its wars and
in spite of the careless and faithless administration of the state
property, the contributions of its subjects and the customs-revenue
completely covered the expenditure, so that no direct taxes were
levied from the citizens; and further, that even after the second
Punic war, when the power of the state was already broken, the current
expenses and the payment to Rome of a yearly instalment of 48,000
pounds could be met, without levying any tax, merely by a somewhat
stricter management of the finances, and fourteen years after the
peace the state proffered immediate payment of the thirty-six
remaining instalments. But it was not merely the sum total of its
revenues that evinced the superiority of the financial administration
at Carthage. The economical principles of a later and more advanced
epoch are found by us in Carthage alone of all the more considerable
states of antiquity. Mention is made of foreign state-loans, and in
the monetary system we find along with gold and silver mention of a
token-money having no intrinsic value--a species of currency not used
elsewhere in antiquity. In fact, if government had resolved itself
into mere mercantile speculation, never would any state have solved
the problem more brilliantly than Carthage.

Comparison Between Carthage And Rome
In Their Economy

Let us now compare the respective resources of Carthage and Rome.
Both were agricultural and mercantile cities, and nothing more; art
and science had substantially the same altogether subordinate and
altogether practical position in both, except that in this respect
Carthage had made greater progress than Rome. But in Carthage the
moneyed interest preponderated over the landed, in Rome at this
time the landed still preponderated over the moneyed; and, while
the agriculturists of Carthage were universally large landlords
and slave-holders, in the Rome of this period the great mass of the
burgesses still tilled their fields in person. The majority of the
population in Rome held property, and was therefore conservative; the
majority in Carthage held no property, and was therefore accessible
to the gold of the rich as well as to the cry of the democrats for
reform. In Carthage there already prevailed all that opulence which
marks powerful commercial cities, while the manners and police of Rome
still maintained at least externally the severity and frugality of
the olden times. When the ambassadors of Carthage returned from Rome,
they told their colleagues that the relations of intimacy among the
Roman senators surpassed all conception; that a single set of silver
plate sufficed for the whole senate, and had reappeared in every house
to which the envoys had been invited. The sneer is a significant
token of the difference in the economic conditions on either side.

In Their Constitution

In both the constitution was aristocratic; the judges governed in
Carthage, as did the senate in Rome, and both on the same system of
police-control. The strict state of dependence in which the governing
board at Carthage held the individual magistrate, and the injunction
to the citizens absolutely to refrain from learning the Greek language
and to converse with a Greek only through the medium of the public
interpreter, originated in the same spirit as the system of government
at Rome; but in comparison with the cruel harshness and the absolute
precision, bordering on silliness, of this Carthaginian state-
tutelage, the Roman system of fining and censure appears mild and
reasonable. The Roman senate, which opened its doors to eminent
capacity and in the best sense represented the nation, was able
also to trust it, and had no need to fear the magistrates.
The Carthaginian senate, on the other hand, was based on a jealous
control of administration by the government, and represented
exclusively the leading families; its essence was mistrust of all
above and below it, and therefore it could neither be confident that
the people would follow whither it led, nor free from the dread of
usurpations on the part of the magistrates. Hence the steady course
of Roman policy, which never receded a step in times of misfortune,
and never threw away the favours of fortune by negligence or
indifference; whereas the Carthaginians desisted from the struggle
when a last effort might perhaps have saved all, and, weary or
forgetful of their great national duties, allowed the half-completed
building to fall to pieces, only to begin it in a few years anew.
Hence the capable magistrate in Rome was ordinarily on a good
understanding with his government; in Carthage he was frequently
at decided feud with his masters at home, and was forced to resist
them by unconstitutional means and to make common cause with the
opposing party of reform.

In The Treatment Of Their Subject

Both Carthage and Rome ruled over communities of lineage kindred with
their own, and over numerous others of alien race. But Rome had
received into her citizenship one district after another, and had
rendered it even legally accessible to the Latin communities; Carthage
from the first maintained her exclusiveness, and did not permit the
dependent districts even to cherish a hope of being some day placed
upon an equal footing. Rome granted to the communities of kindred
lineage a share in the fruits of victory, especially in the acquired
domains; and sought, by conferring material advantages on the rich and
noble, to gain over at least a party to her own interest in the other
subject states. Carthage not only retained for herself the produce
of her victories, but even deprived the most privileged cities of
their freedom of trade. Rome, as a rule, did not wholly take away
independence even from the subject communities, and imposed a fixed
tribute on none; Carthage despatched her overseers everywhere, and
loaded even the old-Phoenician cities with a heavy tribute, while her
subject tribes were practically treated as state-slaves. In this way
there was not in the compass of the Carthagino-African state a single
community, with the exception of Utica, that would not have been
politically and materially benefited by the fall of Carthage; in the
Romano-Italic there was not one that had not much more to lose than
to gain in rebelling against a government, which was careful to avoid
injuring material interests, and which never at least by extreme
measures challenged political opposition to conflict. If Carthaginian
statesmen believed that they had attached to the interests of Carthage
her Phoenician subjects by their greater dread of a Libyan revolt
and all the landholders by means of token-money, they transferred
mercantile calculation to a sphere to which it did not apply.
Experience proved that the Roman symmachy, notwithstanding its
seemingly looser bond of connection, kept together against Pyrrhus
like a wall of rock, whereas the Carthaginian fell to pieces like a
gossamer web as soon as a hostile army set foot on African soil. It
was so on the landing of Agathocles and of Regulus, and likewise in
the mercenary war; the spirit that prevailed in Africa is illustrated
by the fact, that the Libyan women voluntarily contributed their
ornaments to the mercenaries for their war against Carthage. In
Sicily alone the Carthaginians appear to have exercised a milder rule,
and to have attained on that account better results. They granted to
their subjects in that quarter comparative freedom in foreign trade,
and allowed them to conduct their internal commerce, probably from the
outset and exclusively, with a metallic currency; far greater freedom
of movement generally was allowed to them than was permitted to the
Sardinians and Libyans. Had Syracuse fallen into Carthaginian hands,
their policy would doubtless soon have changed. But that result did
not take place; and so, owing to the well-calculated mildness of the
Carthaginian government and the unhappy distractions of the Sicilian
Greeks, there actually existed in Sicily a party really friendly to
the Phoenicians; for example, even after the island had passed to the
Romans, Philinus of Agrigentum wrote the history of the great war in
a thoroughly Phoenician spirit. Nevertheless on the whole the
Sicilians must, both as subjects and as Hellenes, have been at
least as averse to their Phoenician masters as the Samnites
and Tarentines were to the Romans.

In Finance

In a financial point of view the state revenues of Carthage doubtless
far surpassed those of Rome; but this advantage was partly neutralized
by the facts, that the sources of the Carthaginian revenue--tribute
and customs--dried up far sooner (and just when they were most needed)
than those of Rome, and that the Carthaginian mode of conducting war
was far more costly than the Roman.

In Their Military System

The military resources of the Romans and Carthaginians were very
different, yet in many respects not unequally balanced. The citizens
of Carthage still at the conquest of the city amounted to 700,000,
including women and children,(10) and were probably at least as
numerous at the close of the fifth century; in that century they were
able in case of need to set on foot a burgess-army of 40,000 hoplites.
At the very beginning of the fifth century, Rome had in similar
circumstances sent to the field a burgess-army equally strong;(11)
after the great extensions of the burgess-domain in the course of that
century the number of full burgesses capable of bearing arms must at
least have doubled. But far more than in the number of men capable of
bearing arms, Rome excelled in the effective condition of the burgess-
soldier. Anxious as the Carthaginian government was to induce its
citizens to take part in military service, it could neither furnish
the artisan and the manufacturer with the bodily vigour of the
husbandman, nor overcome the native aversion of the Phoenicians to
warfare. In the fifth century there still fought in the Sicilian
armies a "sacred band" of 2500 Carthaginians as a guard for the
general; in the sixth not a single Carthaginian, officers excepted,
was to be met with in the Carthaginian armies, e. g. in that of Spain.
The Roman farmers, again, took their places not only in the muster-
roll, but also in the field of battle. It was the same with the
cognate races of both communities; while the Latins rendered to
the Romans no less service than their own burgess-troops, the Liby-
phoenicians were as little adapted for war as the Carthaginians, and,
as may easily be supposed, still less desirous of it, and so they too
disappeared from the armies; the towns bound to furnish contingents
presumably redeemed their obligation by a payment of money. In the
Spanish army just mentioned, composed of some 15,000 men, only a
single troop of cavalry of 450 men consisted, and that but partly, of
Liby-phoenicians. The flower of the Carthaginian armies was formed by
the Libyan subjects, whose recruits were capable of being trained
under able officers into good infantry, and whose light cavalry was
unsurpassed in its kind. To these were added the forces of the more
or less dependent tribes of Libya and Spain and the famous slingers of
the Baleares, who seem to have held an intermediate position between
allied contingents and mercenary troops; and finally, in case of need,
the hired soldiery enlisted abroad. So far as numbers were concerned,
such an army might without difficulty be raised almost to any desired
strength; and in the ability of its officers, in acquaintance with
arms, and in courage it might be capable of coping with that of Rome.
Not only, however, did a dangerously long interval elapse, in the
event of mercenaries being required, ere they could be got ready,
while the Roman militia was able at any moment to take the field, but
--which was the main matter--there was nothing to keep together the
armies of Carthage but military honour and personal advantage, while
the Romans were united by all the ties that bound them to their common
fatherland. The Carthaginian officer of the ordinary type estimated
his mercenaries, and even the Libyan farmers, very much as men
in modern warfare estimate cannon-balls; hence such disgraceful
proceedings as the betrayal of the Libyan troops by their general
Himilco in 358, which was followed by a dangerous insurrection of the
Libyans, and hence that proverbial cry of "Punic faith," which did the
Carthaginians no small injury. Carthage experienced in full measure
all the evils which armies of fellahs and mercenaries could bring upon
a state, and more than once she found her paid serfs more dangerous
than her foes.

The Carthaginian government could not fail to perceive the defects
of this military system, and they certainly sought to remedy them by
every available means. They insisted on maintaining full chests
and full magazines, that they might at any time be able to equip
mercenaries. They bestowed great care on those elements which among
the ancients represented the modern artillery--the construction of
machines, in which we find the Carthaginians regularly superior to
the Siceliots, and the use of elephants, after these had superseded in
warfare the earlier war-chariots: in the casemates of Carthage there
were stalls for 300 elephants. They could not venture to fortify the
dependent cities, and were obliged to submit to the occupation of the
towns and villages as well as of the open country by any hostile army
that landed in Africa--a thorough contrast to the state of Italy,
where most of the subject towns had retained their walls, and a
chain of Roman fortresses commanded the whole peninsula. But on the
fortification of the capital they expended all the resources of money
and of art, and on several occasions nothing but the strength of its
walls saved the state; whereas Rome held a political and military
position so secure that it never underwent a formal siege.
Lastly, the main bulwark of the state was their war-marine, on which
they lavished the utmost care. In the building as well as in the
management of vessels the Carthaginians excelled the Greeks; it was at
Carthage that ships were first built of more than three banks of oars,
and the Carthaginian war-vessels, at this period mostly quinqueremes,
were ordinarily better sailors than the Greek; the rowers, all of them
public slaves, who never stirred from the galleys, were excellently
trained, and the captains were expert and fearless. In this respect
Carthage was decidedly superior to the Romans, who, with the few ships
of their Greek allies and still fewer of their own, were unable even
to show themselves in the open sea against the fleet which at that
time without a rival ruled the western Mediterranean.

If, in conclusion, we sum up the results of this comparison of
the resources of the two great powers, the judgment expressed by a
sagacious and impartial Greek is perhaps borne out, that Carthage and
Rome were, when the struggle between them began, on the whole equally
matched. But we cannot omit to add that, while Carthage had put forth
all the efforts of which intellect and wealth were capable to provide
herself with artificial means of attack and defence, she was unable in
any satisfactory way to make up for the fundamental wants of a land
army of her own and of a symmachy resting on a self-supporting basis.
That Rome could only be seriously attacked in Italy, and Carthage only
in Libya, no one could fail to see; as little could any one fail to
perceive that Carthage could not in the long run escape from such
an attack. Fleets were not yet in those times of the infancy of
navigation a permanent heirloom of nations, but could be fitted out
wherever there were trees, iron, and water. It was clear, and had
been several times tested in Africa itself, that even powerful
maritime states were not able to prevent enemies weaker by sea from
landing. When Agathocles had shown the way thither, a Roman general
could follow the same course; and while in Italy the entrance of an
invading army simply began the war, the same event in Libya put an
end to it by converting it into a siege, in which, unless special
accidents should intervene, even the most obstinate and heroic courage
must finally succumb.

Notes For Chapter I

1. II. IV. Victories Of Salamis And Himera, And Their Effects

2. I. X. Phoenicians And Italians In Opposition To The Hellenes

3. The most precise description of this important class occurs in
the Carthaginian treaty (Polyb. vii. 9), where in contrast to the
Uticenses on the one hand, and to the Libyan subjects on the other,
they are called --ol Karchedonion uparchoi osoi tois autois nomois
chrontai--. Elsewhere they are spoken of as cities allied
(--summachides poleis--, Diod. xx. 10) or tributary (Liv. xxxiv. 62;
Justin, xxii. 7, 3). Their -conubium- with the Carthaginians is
mentioned by Diodorus, xx. 55; the -commercium- is implied in the
"like laws." That the old Phoenician colonies were included among
the Liby-phoenicians, is shown by the designation of Hippo as a
Liby-phoenician city (Liv. xxv. 40); on the other hand as to the
settlements founded from Carthage, for instance, it is said in the
Periplus of Hanno: "the Carthaginians resolved that Hanno should sail
beyond the Pillars of Hercules and found cities of Liby-phoenicians."
In substance the word "Liby-phoenicians" was used by the Carthaginians
not as a national designation, but as a category of state-law. This
view is quite consistent with the fact that grammatically the name
denotes Phoenicians mingled with Libyans (Liv. xxi. 22, an addition to
the text of Polybius); in reality, at least in the institution of very
exposed colonies, Libyans were frequently associated with Phoenicians
(Diod. xiii. 79; Cic. pro Scauro, 42). The analogy in name and legal
position between the Latins of Rome and the Liby-phoenicians
of Carthage is unmistakable.

4. The Libyan or Numidian alphabet, by which we mean that which was
and is employed by the Berbers in writing their non-Semitic language
--one of the innumerable alphabets derived from the primitive Aramaean
one--certainly appears to be more closely related in several of its
forms to the latter than is the Phoenician alphabet; but it by no
means follows from this, that the Libyans derived their writing not
from Phoenicians but from earlier immigrants, any more than the
partially older forms of the Italian alphabets prohibit us from
deriving these from the Greek. We must rather assume that the Libyan
alphabet has been derived from the Phoenician at a period of the
latter earlier than the time at which the records of the Phoenician
language that have reached us were written.

5. II. VII. Decline Of The Roman Naval Power

6. II. VII. Decline Of The Roman Naval Power

7. II. VII. The Roman Fleet

8. II. IV. Etrusco-Carthaginian Maritime Supremacy

9. The steward on a country estate, although a slave, ought, according
to the precept of the Carthaginian agronome Mago (ap. Varro, R. R. i.
17), to be able to read, and ought to possess some culture. In the
prologue of the "Poenulus" of Plautus, it is said of the hero of
the title:-

-Et is omnes linguas scit; sed dissimulat sciens
Se scire; Poenus plane est; quid verbit opus't-?

10. Doubts have been expressed as to the correctness of this number,
and the highest possible number of inhabitants, taking into account
the available space, has been reckoned at 250,000. Apart from the
uncertainty of such calculations, especially as to a commercial city
with houses of six stories, we must remember that the numbering is
doubtless to be understood in a political, not in an urban, sense,
just like the numbers in the Roman census, and that thus all
Carthaginians would be included in it, whether dwelling in the city
or its neighbourhood, or resident in its subject territory or in other
lands. There would, of course, be a large number of such absentees in
the case of Carthage; indeed it is expressly stated that in Gades, for
the same reason, the burgess-roll always showed a far higher number
than that of the citizens who had their fixed residence there.

11. II. VII. System Of Government, note

Chapter II

The War Between Rome And Carthage Concerning Sicily

State Of Sicily

For upwards of a century the feud between the Carthaginians and
the rulers of Syracuse had devastated the fair island of Sicily.
On both sides the contest was carried on with the weapons of political
proselytism, for, while Carthage kept up communications with the
aristocratic-republican opposition in Syracuse, the Syracusan dynasts
maintained relations with the national party in the Greek cities that
had become tributary to Carthage. On both sides armies of mercenaries
were employed to fight their battles--by Timoleon and Agathocles, as
well as by the Phoenician generals. And as like means were employed
on both sides, so the conflict had been waged on both with a disregard
of honour and a perfidy unexampled in the history of the west. The
Syracusans were the weaker party. In the peace of 440 Carthage had
still limited her claims to the third of the island to the west of
Heraclea Minoa and Himera, and had expressly recognized the hegemony
of the Syracusans over all the cities to the eastward. The expulsion
of Pyrrhus from Sicily and Italy (479) left by far the larger half of
the island, and especially the important Agrigentum, in the hands of
Carthage; the Syracusans retained nothing but Tauromenium and the
south-east of the island.

Campanian Mercenaries

In the second great city on the east coast, Messana, a band of foreign
soldiers had established themselves and held the city, independent
alike of Syracusans and Carthaginians. These new rulers of Messana
were Campanian mercenaries. The dissolute habits that had become
prevalent among the Sabellians settled in and around Capua,(1) had
made Campania in the fourth and fifth centuries--what Aetolia, Crete,
and Laconia were afterwards--the universal recruiting field for
princes and cities in search of mercenaries. The semi-culture that
had been called into existence there by the Campanian Greeks, the
barbaric luxury of life in Capua and the other Campanian cities,
the political impotence to which the hegemony of Rome condemned them,
while yet its rule was not so stern as wholly to withdraw from them
the right of self-disposal--all tended to drive the youth of Campania
in troops to the standards of the recruiting officers. As a matter of
course, this wanton and unscrupulous selling of themselves here, as
everywhere, brought in its train estrangement from their native land,
habits of violence and military disorder, and indifference to the
breach of their allegiance. These Campanians could see no reason why
a band of mercenaries should not seize on their own behalf any city
entrusted to their guardianship, provided only they were in a position
to hold it--the Samnites had established their dominion in Capua
itself, and the Lucanians in a succession of Greek cities, after
a fashion not much more honourable.


Nowhere was the state of political relations more inviting for such
enterprises than in Sicily. Already the Campanian captains who came
to Sicily during the Peloponnesian war had insinuated themselves in
this way into Entella and Aetna. Somewhere about the year 470 a
Campanian band, which had previously served under Agathocles and after
his death (465) took up the trade of freebooters on their own account,
established themselves in Messana, the second city of Greek Sicily,
and the chief seat of the anti-Syracusan party in that portion of
the island which was still in the power of the Greeks. The citizens
were slain or expelled, their wives and children and houses were
distributed among the soldiers, and the new masters of the city, the
Mamertines or "men of Mars," as they called themselves, soon became
the third power in the island, the north-eastern portion of which they
reduced to subjection in the times of confusion that succeeded the
death of Agathocles. The Carthaginians were no unwilling spectators
of these events, which established in the immediate vicinity of the
Syracusans a new and powerful adversary instead of a cognate and
ordinarily allied or dependent city. With Carthaginian aid the
Mamertines maintained themselves against Pyrrhus, and the untimely
departure of the king restored to them all their power.

Hiero Of Syracuse
War Between The Syracusans And The Mammertines

It is not becoming in the historian either to excuse the perfidious
crime by which the Mamertines seized their power, or to forget that
the God of history does not necessarily punish the sins of the fathers
to the fourth generation. He who feels it his vocation to judge the
sins of others may condemn the human agents; for Sicily it might be a
blessing that a warlike power, and one belonging to the island, thus
began to be formed in it--a power which was already able to bring
eight thousand men into the field, and which was gradually putting
itself in a position to take up at the proper time and on its own
resources that struggle against the foreigners, to the maintenance
of which the Hellenes, becoming more and more unaccustomed to arms
notwithstanding their perpetual wars, were no longer equal.

In the first instance, however, things took another turn. A young
Syracusan officer, who by his descent from the family of Gelo and
his intimate relations of kindred with king Pyrrhus as well as by the
distinction with which he had fought in the campaigns of the latter,
had attracted the notice of his fellow-citizens as well as of the
Syracusan soldiery--Hiero, son of Hierocles--was called by military
election to command the army, which was at variance with the citizens
(479-480). By his prudent administration, the nobility of his
character, and the moderation of his views, he rapidly gained the
hearts of the citizens of Syracuse--who had been accustomed to the
most scandalous lawlessness in their despots--and of the Sicilian
Greeks in general. He rid himself--in a perfidious manner, it is
true--of the insubordinate army of mercenaries, revived the citizen-
militia, and endeavoured, at first with the title of general,
afterwards with that of king, to re-establish the deeply sunken
Hellenic power by means of his civic troops and of fresh and more
manageable recruits. With the Carthaginians, who in concert with the
Greeks had driven king Pyrrhus from the island, there was at that time
peace. The immediate foes of the Syracusans were the Mamertines.
They were the kinsmen of those hated mercenaries whom the Syracusans
had recently extirpated; they had murdered their own Greek hosts;
they had curtailed the Syracusan territory; they had oppressed and
plundered a number of smaller Greek towns. In league with the Romans
who just about this time were sending their legions against the
Campanians in Rhegium, the allies, kinsmen, and confederates in crime
of the Mamertines,(2) Hiero turned his arms against Messana. By a
great victory, after which Hiero was proclaimed king of the Siceliots
(484), he succeeded in shutting up the Mamertines within their city,
and after the siege had lasted some years, they found themselves
reduced to extremity and unable to hold the city longer against Hiero
on their own resources. It is evident that a surrender on stipulated
conditions was impossible, and that the axe of the executioner, which
had fallen upon the Campanians of Rhegium at Rome, as certainly
awaited those of Messana at Syracuse. Their only means of safety lay
in delivering up the city either to the Carthaginians or to the
Romans, both of whom could not but be so strongly set upon acquiring
that important place as to overlook all other scruples. Whether it
would be more advantageous to surrender it to the masters of Africa
or to the masters of Italy, was doubtful; after long hesitation the
majority of the Campanian burgesses at length resolved to offer
the possession of their sea-commanding fortress to the Romans.

The Mammertines Received Into The Italian Confederacy

It was a moment of the deepest significance in the history of the
world, when the envoys of the Mamertines appeared in the Roman senate.
No one indeed could then anticipate all that was to depend on the
crossing of that narrow arm of the sea; but that the decision, however
it should go, would involve consequences far other and more important
than had attached to any decree hitherto passed by the senate, must
have been manifest to every one of the deliberating fathers of the
city. Strictly upright men might indeed ask how it was possible to
deliberate at all, and how any one could even think of suggesting
that the Romans should not only break their alliance with Hiero, but
should, just after the Campanians of Rhegium had been punished by them
with righteous severity, admit the no less guilty Sicilian accomplices
to the alliance and friendship of the state, and thereby rescue them
from the punishment which they deserved. Such an outrage on propriety
would not only afford their adversaries matter for declamation,
but must seriously offend all men of moral feeling. But even the
statesman, with whom political morality was no mere phrase, might ask
in reply, how Roman burgesses, who had broken their military oath and
treacherously murdered the allies of Rome, could be placed on a level
with foreigners who had committed an outrage on foreigners, where
no one had constituted the Romans judges of the one or avengers of
the other? Had the question been only whether the Syracusans or
Mamertines should rule in Messana, Rome might certainly have
acquiesced in the rule of either. Rome was striving for the
possession of Italy, as Carthage for that of Sicily; the designs of
the two powers scarcely then went further. But that very circumstance
formed a reason why each desired to have and retain on its frontier an
intermediate power--the Carthaginians for instance reckoning in this
way on Tarentum, the Romans on Syracuse and Messana--and why, if that
course was impossible, each preferred to see these adjacent places
given over to itself rather than to the other great power.
As Carthage had made an attempt in Italy, when Rhegium and Tarentum
were about to be occupied by the Romans, to acquire these cities for
itself, and had only been prevented from doing so by accident, so in
Sicily an opportunity now offered itself for Rome to bring the city of
Messana into its symmachy; should the Romans reject it, it was not to
be expected that the city would remain independent or would become
Syracusan; they would themselves throw it into the arms of the
Phoenicians. Were they justified in allowing an opportunity to
escape, such as certainly would never recur, of making themselves
masters of the natural tete de pont between Italy and Sicily, and of
securing it by means of a brave garrison on which they could, for good
reasons, rely? Were they justified in abandoning Messana, and thereby
surrendering the command of the last free passage between the eastern
and western seas, and sacrificing the commercial liberty of Italy?
It is true that other objections might be urged to the occupation of
Messana besides mere scruples of feeling and of honourable policy.
That it could not but lead to a war with Carthage, was the least of
these; serious as was such a war, Rome might not fear it. But there
was the more important objection that by crossing the sea the Romans
would depart from the purely Italian and purely continental policy
which they had hitherto pursued; they would abandon the system by
which their ancestors had founded the greatness of Rome, to enter upon
another system the results of which no one could foretell. It was one
of those moments when calculation ceases, and when faith in men's own
and in their country's destiny alone gives them courage to grasp the
hand which beckons to them out of the darkness of the future, and
to follow it no one knows whither. Long and seriously the senate
deliberated on the proposal of the consuls to lead the legions to the
help of the Mamertines; it came to no decisive resolution. But the
burgesses, to whom the matter was referred, were animated by a lively
sense of the greatness of the power which their own energy had
established. The conquest of Italy encouraged the Romans, as that of
Greece encouraged the Macedonians and that of Silesia the Prussians,
to enter upon a new political career. A formal pretext for supporting
the Mamertines was found in the protectorate which Rome claimed the
right to exercise over all Italians. The transmarine Italians were
received into the Italian confederacy;(3) and on the proposal of
the consuls the citizens resolved to send them aid (489).

Variance Between Rome And Carthage
Carthaginians In Messana
Messana Seized By The Romans
War Between The Romans And The Carthaginians And The Syracusans

Much depended on the way in which the two Sicilian powers, immediately
affected by this intervention of the Romans in the affairs of the
island, and both hitherto nominally in alliance with Rome, would
regard her interference. Hiero had sufficient reason to treat the
summons, by which the Romans required him to desist from hostilities
against their new confederates in Messana, precisely in the same way
as the Samnites and Lucanians in similar circumstances had received
the occupation of Capua and Thurii, and to answer the Romans by a
declaration of war. If, however, he remained unsupported, such a war
would be folly; and it might be expected from his prudent and moderate
policy that he would acquiesce in what was inevitable, if Carthage
should be disposed for peace. This seemed not impossible. A Roman
embassy was now (489) sent to Carthage, seven years after the attempt
of the Phoenician fleet to gain possession of Tarentum, to demand
explanations as to these incidents.(4) Grievances not unfounded, but
half-forgotten, once more emerged--it seemed not superfluous amidst
other warlike preparations to replenish the diplomatic armoury
with reasons for war, and for the coming manifesto to reserve to
themselves, as was the custom of the Romans, the character of the
party aggrieved. This much at least might with entire justice be
affirmed, that the respective enterprises on Tarentum and Messana
stood upon exactly the same footing in point of design and of pretext,
and that it was simply the accident of success that made the
difference. Carthage avoided an open rupture. The ambassadors
carried back to Rome the disavowal of the Carthaginian admiral who
had made the attempt on Tarentum, along with the requisite false
oaths: the counter-complaints, which of course were not wanting on
the part of Carthage, were studiously moderate, and abstained from
characterizing the meditated invasion of Sicily as a ground for war.
Such, however, it was; for Carthage regarded the affairs of Sicily
--just as Rome regarded those of Italy--as internal matters in which
an independent power could allow no interference, and was determined
to act accordingly. But Phoenician policy followed a gentler course
than that of threatening open war. When the preparations of Rome for
sending help to the Mamertines were at length so far advanced that the
fleet formed of the war-vessels of Naples, Tarentum, Velia, and Locri,
and the vanguard of the Roman land army under the military tribune
Gaius Claudius, had appeared at Rhegium (in the spring of 490),
unexpected news arrived from Messana that the Carthaginians, having
come to an understanding with the anti-Roman party there, had as a
neutral power arranged a peace between Hiero and the Mamertines; that
the siege had in consequence been raised; and that a Carthaginian
fleet lay in the harbour of Messana, and a Carthaginian garrison in
the citadel, both under the command of admiral Hanno. The Mamertine
citizens, now controlled by Carthaginian influence, informed the Roman
commanders, with due thanks to the federal help so speedily accorded
to them, that they were glad that they no longer needed it.
The adroit and daring officer who commanded the Roman vanguard
nevertheless set sail with his troops. But the Carthaginians warned
the Roman vessels to retire, and even made some of them prizes; these,
however, the Carthaginian admiral, remembering his strict orders to
give no pretext for the outbreak of hostilities, sent back to his good
friends on the other side of the straits. It almost seemed as if the
Romans had compromised themselves as uselessly before Messana, as the
Carthaginians before Tarentum. But Claudius did not allow himself
to be deterred, and on a second attempt he succeeded in landing.
Scarcely had he arrived when he called a meeting of the citizens; and,
at his wish, the Carthaginian admiral also appeared at the meeting,
still imagining that he should be able to avoid an open breach. But
the Romans seized his person in the assembly itself; and Hanno and the
Phoenician garrison in the citadel, weak and destitute of a leader,
were pusillanimous enough, the former to give to his troops the
command to withdraw, the latter to comply with the orders of their
captive general and to evacuate the city along with him. Thus the
tete de pont of the island fell into the hands of the Romans. The
Carthaginian authorities, justly indignant at the folly and weakness
of their general, caused him to be executed, and declared war against
the Romans. Above all it was their aim to recover the lost place. A
strong Carthaginian fleet, led by Hanno, son of Hannibal, appeared off
Messana; while the fleet blockaded the straits, the Carthaginian army
landing from it began the siege on the north side. Hiero, who had
only waited for the Carthaginian attack to begin the war with Rome,
again brought up his army, which he had hardly withdrawn, against
Messana, and undertook the attack on the south side of the city.

Peace With Hiero

But meanwhile the Roman consul Appius Claudius Caudex had appeared at
Rhegium with the main body of his army, and succeeded in crossing on
a dark night in spite of the Carthaginian fleet. Audacity and fortune
were on the side of the Romans; the allies, not prepared for an attack
by the whole Roman army and consequently not united, were beaten in
detail by the Roman legions issuing from the city; and thus the siege
was raised. The Roman army kept the field during the summer, and
even made an attempt on Syracuse; but, when that had failed and the
siege of Echetla (on the confines of the territories of Syracuse and
Carthage) had to be abandoned with loss, the Roman army returned to
Messana, and thence, leaving a strong garrison behind them, to Italy.
The results obtained in this first campaign of the Romans out of Italy
may not quite have corresponded to the expectations at home, for the
consul had no triumph; nevertheless, the energy which the Romans
displayed in Sicily could not fail to make a great impression on the
Sicilian Greeks. In the following year both consuls and an army twice
as large entered the island unopposed. One of them, Marcus Valerius
Maximus, afterwards called from this campaign the "hero of Messana"
(-Messalla-), achieved a brilliant victory over the allied
Carthaginians and Syracusans. After this battle the Phoenician army
no longer ventured to keep the field against the Romans; Alaesa,
Centuripa, and the smaller Greek towns generally fell to the victors,
and Hiero himself abandoned the Carthaginian side and made peace and
alliance with the Romans (491). He pursued a judicious policy in
joining the Romans as soon as it appeared that their interference in
Sicily was in earnest, and while there was still time to purchase
peace without cessions and sacrifices. The intermediate states in
Sicily, Syracuse and Messana, which were unable to follow out a policy
of their own and had only the choice between Roman and Carthaginian
hegemony, could not but at any rate prefer the former; because the
Romans had very probably not as yet formed the design of conquering
the island for themselves, but sought merely to prevent its being
acquired by Carthage, and at all events Rome might be expected to
substitute a more tolerable treatment and a due protection of
commercial freedom for the tyrannizing and monopolizing system that
Carthage pursued. Henceforth Hiero continued to be the most
important, the steadiest, and the most esteemed ally of the Romans
in the island.

Capture Of Agrigentum

The Romans had thus gained their immediate object. By their double
alliance with Messana and Syracuse, and the firm hold which they had
on the whole east coast, they secured the means of landing on the
island and of maintaining--which hitherto had been a very difficult
matter--their armies there; and the war, which had previously been
doubtful and hazardous, lost in a great measure its character of risk.
Accordingly, no greater exertions were made for it than for the wars
in Samnium and Etruria; the two legions which were sent over to the
island for the next year (492) sufficed, in concert with the Sicilian
Greeks, to drive the Carthaginians everywhere into their fortresses.
The commander-in-chief of the Carthaginians, Hannibal son of Gisgo,
threw himself with the flower of his troops into Agrigentum, to defend
to the last that most important of the Carthaginian inland cities.
Unable to storm a city so strong, the Romans blockaded it with
entrenched lines and a double camp; the besieged, who numbered 50,000
soon suffered from want of provisions. To raise the siege the
Carthaginian admiral Hanno landed at Heraclea, and cut off in turn the
supplies from the Roman besieging force. On both sides the distress
was great. At length a battle was resolved on, to put an end to the
state of embarrassment and uncertainty. In this battle the Numidian
cavalry showed itself just as superior to the Roman horse as the Roman
infantry was superior to the Phoenician foot; the infantry decided
the victory, but the losses even of the Romans were very considerable.
The result of the successful struggle was somewhat marred by the
circumstance that, after the battle, during the confusion and fatigue
of the conquerors, the beleaguered army succeeded in escaping from
the city and in reaching the fleet. The victory was nevertheless of
importance; Agrigentum fell into the hands of the Romans, and thus the
whole island was in their power, with the exception of the maritime
fortresses, in which the Carthaginian general Hamilcar, Hanno's
successor in command, entrenched himself to the teeth, and was not to
be driven out either by force or by famine. The war was thenceforth
continued only by sallies of the Carthaginians from the Sicilian
fortresses and their descents on the Italian coasts.

Beginning Of The Maritime War
The Romans Build A Fleet

In fact, the Romans now for the first time felt the real difficulties
of the war. If, as we are told, the Carthaginian diplomatists before
the outbreak of hostilities warned the Romans not to push the matter
to a breach, because against their will no Roman could even wash his
hands in the sea, the threat was well founded. The Carthaginian fleet
ruled the sea without a rival, and not only kept the coast towns of
Sicily in due obedience and provided them with all necessaries,
but also threatened a descent upon Italy, for which reason it was
necessary in 492 to retain a consular army there. No invasion on a
large scale occurred; but smaller Carthaginian detachments landed on
the Italian coasts and levied contributions on the allies of Rome,
and what was worst of all, completely paralyzed the commerce of Rome
and her allies. The continuance of such a course for even a short
time would suffice entirely to ruin Caere, Ostia, Neapolis, Tarentum,
and Syracuse, while the Carthaginians easily consoled themselves for
the loss of the tribute of Sicily with the contributions which they
levied and the rich prizes of their privateering. The Romans now
learned, what Dionysius, Agathocles, and Pyrrhus had learned before,
that it was as difficult to conquer the Carthaginians as it was easy
to beat them in the field. They saw that everything depended on
procuring a fleet, and resolved to form one of twenty triremes and
a hundred quinqueremes. The execution, however, of this energetic
resolution was not easy. The representation originating in the
schools of the rhetoricians, which would have us believe that the
Romans then for the first time dipped their oars in water, is no doubt
a childish tale; the mercantile marine of Italy must at this time have
been very extensive, and there was no want even of Italian vessels of
war. But these were war-barks and triremes, such as had been in use
in earlier times; quinqueremes, which under the more modern system of
naval warfare that had originated chiefly in Cartilage were almost
exclusively employed in the line, had not yet been built in Italy.
The measure adopted by the Romans was therefore much as if a maritime
state of the present day were to pass at once from the building of
frigates and cutters to the building of ships of the line; and, just
as in such a case now a foreign ship of the line would, if possible,
be adopted as a pattern, the Romans referred their master shipbuilders
to a stranded Carthaginian -penteres- as a model No doubt the Romans,
had they wished, might have sooner attained their object with the aid
of the Syracusans and Massiliots; but their statesmen had too much
sagacity to desire to defend Italy by means of a fleet not Italian.
The Italian allies, however, were largely drawn upon both for the
naval officers, who must have been for the most part taken from the
Italian mercantile marine, and for the sailors, whose name (-socii
navales-) shows that for a time they were exclusively furnished by
the allies; along with these, slaves provided by the state and
the wealthier families were afterwards employed, and ere long also
the poorer class of burgesses. Under such circumstances, and when we
take into account, as is but fair, on the one hand the comparatively
low state of shipbuilding at that time, and on the other hand the
energy of the Romans, there is nothing incredible in the statement
that the Romans solved within a year the problem--which baffled
Napoleon--of converting a continental into a maritime power, and
actually launched their fleet of 120 sail in the spring of 494.
It is true, that it was by no means a match for the Carthaginian fleet
in numbers and efficiency at sea; and these were points of the greater
importance, as the naval tactics of the period consisted mainly in
manoeuvring. In the maritime warfare of that period hoplites and
archers no doubt fought from the deck, and projectile machines were
also plied from it; but the ordinary and really decisive mode of
action consisted in running foul of the enemy's vessels, for which
purpose the prows were furnished with heavy iron beaks: the vessels
engaged were in the habit of sailing round each other till one or the
other succeeded in giving the thrust, which usually proved decisive.
Accordingly the crew of an ordinary Greek trireme, consisting of about
200 men, contained only about 10 soldiers, but on the other hand 170
rowers, from 50 to 60 on each deck; that of a quinquereme numbered
about 300 rowers, and soldiers in proportion.

The happy idea occurred to the Romans that they might make up for
what their vessels, with their unpractised officers and crews,
necessarily lacked in ability of manoeuvring, by again assigning a
more considerable part in naval warfare to the soldiers. They
stationed at the prow of each vessel a flying bridge, which could be
lowered in front or on either side; it was furnished on both sides
with parapets, and had space for two men in front. When the enemy's
vessel was sailing up to strike the Roman one, or was lying alongside
of it after the thrust had been evaded, the bridge on deck was
suddenly lowered and fastened to its opponent by means of a grappling-
iron: this not only prevented the running down, but enabled the Roman
marines to pass along the bridge to the enemy's deck and to carry it
by assault as in a conflict on land. No distinct body of marines
was formed, but land troops were employed, when required, for this
maritime service. In one instance as many as 120 legionaries fought
in each ship on occasion of a great naval battle; in that case however
the Roman fleet had at the same time a landing-army on board.

In this way the Romans created a fleet which was a match for the
Carthaginians. Those err, who represent this building of a Roman
fleet as a fairy tale, and besides they miss their aim; the feat must
be understood in order to be admired. The construction of a fleet by
the Romans was in very truth a noble national work--a work through
which, by their clear perception of what was needful and possible, by
ingenuity in invention, and by energy in resolution and in execution,
they rescued their country from a position which was worse than at
first it seemed.

Naval Victory At Mylae

The outset, nevertheless, was not favourable to the Romans. The Roman
admiral, the consul Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio, who had sailed for
Messana with the first seventeen vessels ready for sea (494), fancied,
when on the voyage, that he should be able to capture Lipara by a
coup de main. But a division of the Carthaginian fleet stationed at
Panormus blockaded the harbour of the island where the Roman vessels
rode at anchor, and captured the whole squadron along with the consul
without a struggle. This, however, did not deter the main fleet from
likewise sailing, as soon as its preparations were completed, for
Messana. On its voyage along the Italian coast it fell in with a
Carthaginian reconnoitring squadron of less strength, on which it
had the good fortune to inflict a loss more than counterbalancing
the first loss of the Romans; and thus successful and victorious it
entered the port of Messana, where the second consul Gaius Duilius
took the command in room of his captured colleague. At the promontory
of Mylae, to the north-west of Messana, the Carthaginian fleet, that
advanced from Panormus under the command of Hannibal, encountered the
Roman, which here underwent its first trial on a great scale. The
Carthaginians, seeing in the ill-sailing and unwieldy vessels of the
Romans an easy prey, fell upon them in irregular order; but the newly
invented boarding-bridges proved their thorough efficiency. The Roman
vessels hooked and stormed those of the enemy as they came up one
by one; they could not be approached either in front or on the sides
without the dangerous bridge descending on the enemy's deck. When the
battle was over, about fifty Carthaginian vessels, almost the half of
the fleet, were sunk or captured by the Romans; among the latter was
the ship of the admiral Hannibal, formerly belonging to king Pyrrhus.
The gain was great; still greater the moral effect of the victory.
Rome had suddenly become a naval power, and held in her hand the
means of energetically terminating a war which threatened to be
endlessly prolonged and to involve the commerce of Italy in ruin.

The War On The Coasts Of Sicily And Sardinia

Two plans were open to the Romans. They might attack Carthage on the
Italian islands and deprive her of the coast fortresses of Sicily and
Sardinia one after another--a scheme which was perhaps practicable
through well-combined operations by land and sea; and, in the event of
its being accomplished, peace might either be concluded with Carthage
on the basis of the cession of these islands, or, should such terms
not be accepted or prove unsatisfactory, the second stage of the war
might be transferred to Africa. Or they might neglect the islands and
throw themselves at once with all their strength on Africa, not, in
the adventurous style of Agathocles, burning their vessels behind them
and staking all on the victory of a desperate band, but covering with
a strong fleet the communications between the African invading army
and Italy; and in that case a peace on moderate terms might be
expected from the consternation of the enemy after the first
successes, or, if the Romans chose, they might by pushing matters
to an extremity compel the enemy to entire surrender.

They chose, in the first instance, the former plan of operations.
In the year after the battle of Mylae (495) the consul Lucius Scipio
captured the port of Aleria in Corsica--we still possess the tombstone
of the general, which makes mention of this deed--and made Corsica a
naval station against Sardinia. An attempt to establish a footing in
Ulbia on the northern coast of that island failed, because the fleet
wanted troops for landing. In the succeeding year (496) it was
repeated with better success, and the open villages along the coast
were plundered; but no permanent establishment of the Romans took
place. Nor was greater progress made in Sicily. Hamilcar conducted
the war with energy and adroitness, not only by force of arms on sea
and land, but also by political proselytism. Of the numerous small
country towns some every year fell away from the Romans, and had to
be laboriously wrested afresh from the Phoenician grasp; while in
the coast fortresses the Carthaginians maintained themselves without
challenge, particularly in their headquarters of Panormus and in their
new stronghold of Drepana, to which, on account of its easier defence
by sea, Hamilcar had transferred the inhabitants of Eryx. A second
great naval engagement off the promontory of Tyndaris (497), in which
both parties claimed the victory, made no change in the position of
affairs. In this way no progress was made, whether in consequence
of the division and rapid change of the chief command of the Roman
troops, which rendered the concentrated management of a series of
operations on a small scale exceedingly difficult, or from the general
strategical relations of the case, which certainly, as the science
of war then stood, were unfavourable to the attacking party in
general,(5) and particularly so to the Romans, who were still on
the mere threshold of scientific warfare. Meanwhile, although the
pillaging of the Italian coasts had ceased, the commerce of Italy
suffered not much less than it had done before the fleet was built.

Attack On Africa
Naval Victory Of Ecnomus

Weary of a course of operations without results, and impatient to put
an end to the war, the senate resolved to change its system, and to
assail Carthage in Africa. In the spring of 498 a fleet of 330 ships
of the line set sail for the coast of Libya: at the mouth of the river
Himera on the south coast of Sicily it embarked the army for landing,
consisting of four legions, under the charge of the two consuls Marcus
Atilius Regulus and Lucius Manlius Volso, both experienced generals.
The Carthaginian admiral suffered the embarkation of the enemy's
troops to take place; but on continuing their voyage towards Africa
the Romans found the Punic fleet drawn up in order of battle off
Ecnomus to protect its native land from invasion. Seldom have greater
numbers fought at sea than were engaged in the battle that now ensued.
The Roman fleet: of 330 sail contained at least 100,000 men in its
crews, besides the landing army of about 40,000; the Carthaginian of
350 vessels was manned by at least an equal number; so that well-nigh
three hundred thousand men were brought into action on this day to
decide the contest between the two mighty civic communities.
The Phoenicians were placed in a single widely-extended line, with
their left wing resting on the Sicilian coast. The Romans arranged
themselves in a triangle, with the ships of the two consuls as
admirals at the apex, the first and second squadrons drawn out in
oblique line to the right and left, and a third squadron, having the
vessels built for the transport of the cavalry in tow, forming the
line which closed the triangle. They thus bore down in close order on
the enemy. A fourth squadron placed in reserve followed more slowly.
The wedge-shaped attack broke without difficulty the Carthaginian
line, for its centre, which was first assailed, intentionally gave
way, and the battle resolved itself into three separate engagements.
While the admirals with the two squadrons drawn up on the wings
pursued the Carthaginian centre and were closely engaged with it, the
left wing of the Carthaginians drawn up along the coast wheeled round
upon the third Roman squadron, which was prevented by the vessels
which it had in tow from following the two others, and by a vehement
onset in superior force drove it against the shore; at the same time
the Roman reserve was turned on the open sea, and assailed from
behind, by the right wing of the Carthaginians. The first of these
three engagements was soon at an end; the ships of the Carthaginian
centre, manifestly much weaker than the two Roman squadrons with which
they were engaged, took to flight. Meanwhile the two other divisions
of the Romans had a hard struggle with the superior enemy; but in
close fighting the dreaded boarding-bridges stood them in good stead,
and by this means they succeeded in holding out till the two admirals
with their vessels could come up. By their arrival the Roman reserve
was relieved, and the Carthaginian vessels of the right wing retired
before the superior force. And now, when this conflict had been
decided in favour of the Romans, all the Roman vessels that still
could keep the sea fell on the rear of the Carthaginian left wing,
which was obstinately following up its advantage, so that it was
surrounded and almost all the vessels composing it were taken. The
losses otherwise were nearly equal. Of the Roman fleet 24 sail were
sunk; of the Carthaginian 30 were sunk, and 64 were taken.

Landing Of Regulus In Africa

Notwithstanding its considerable loss, the Carthaginian fleet did not
give up the protection of Africa, and with that view returned to the
gulf of Carthage, where it expected the descent to take place and
purposed to give battle a second time. But the Romans landed, not on
the western side of the peninsula which helps to form the gulf, but on
the eastern side, where the bay of Clupea presented a spacious harbour
affording protection in almost all winds, and the town, situated close
by the sea on a shield-shaped eminence rising out of the plain,
supplied an excellent defence for the harbour. They disembarked the
troops without hindrance from the enemy, and established themselves
on the hill; in a short time an entrenched naval camp was constructed,
and the land army was at liberty to commence operations. The Roman
troops ranged over the country and levied contributions: they were
able to send as many as 20,000 slaves to Rome. Through the rarest
good fortune the bold scheme had succeeded at the first stroke, and
with but slight sacrifices: the end seemed attained. The feeling of
confidence that in this respect animated the Romans is evinced by the
resolution of the senate to recall to Italy the greater portion of the
fleet and half of the army; Marcus Regulus alone remained in Africa
with 40 ships, 15,000 infantry, and 500 cavalry. Their confidence,
however, was seemingly not overstrained. The Carthaginian army, which
was disheartened, did not venture forth into the plain, but waited to
sustain discomfiture in the wooded defiles, in which it could make no
use of its two best arms, the cavalry and the elephants. The towns
surrendered -en masse-; the Numidians rose in insurrection, and
overran the country far and wide. Regulus might hope to begin the
next campaign with the siege of the capital, and with that view he
pitched his camp for the winter in its immediate vicinity at Tunes.

Vain Negotiations For Peace

The spirit of the Carthaginians was broken: they sued for peace.
But the conditions which the consul proposed--not merely the cession
of Sicily and Sardinia, but the conclusion of an alliance on unequal
terms with Rome, which would have bound the Carthaginians to renounce
a war-marine of their own and to furnish vessels for the Roman wars
--conditions which would have placed Carthage on a level with Neapolis
and Tarentum, could not be accepted, so long as a Carthaginian army
kept the field and a Carthaginian fleet kept the sea, and the capital
stood unshaken.

Preparations Of Carthage

The mighty enthusiasm, which is wont to blaze up nobly among Oriental
nations, even the most abased, on the approach of extreme peril--the
energy of dire necessity--impelled the Carthaginians to exertions,
such as were by no means expected from a nation of shopkeepers.
Hamilcar, who had carried on the guerilla war against the Romans in
Sicily with so much success, appeared in Libya with the flower of
the Sicilian troops, which furnished an admirable nucleus for the
newly-levied force. The connections and gold of the Carthaginians,
moreover, brought to them excellent Numidian horsemen in troops,
and also numerous Greek mercenaries; amongst whom was the celebrated
captain Xanthippus of Sparta, whose talent for organization and
strategical skill were of great service to his new masters.(6) While
the Carthaginians were thus making their preparations in the course of
the winter, the Roman general remained inactive at Tunes. Whether it
was that he did not anticipate the storm which was gathering over his
head, or that a sense of military honour prohibited him from doing
what his position demanded--instead of renouncing a siege which he was
not in a condition even to attempt, and shutting himself up in the
stronghold of Clupea, he remained with a handful of men before the
walls of the hostile capital, neglecting even to secure his line of
retreat to the naval camp, and neglecting to provide himself with
--what above all he wanted, and what might have been so easily
obtained through negotiation with the revolted Numidian tribes
--a good light cavalry. He thus wantonly brought himself and
his army into a plight similar to that which formerly befell
Agathocles in his desperate adventurous expedition.

Defeat Of Regulus

When spring came (499), the state of affairs had so changed, that now
the Carthaginians were the first to take the field and to offer battle
to the Romans. It was natural that they should do so, for everything
depended on their getting quit of the army of Regulus, before
reinforcements could arrive from Italy. The same reason should have
led the Romans to desire delay; but, relying on their invincibleness
in the open field, they at once accepted battle notwithstanding their
inferiority of strength--for, although the numbers of the infantry on
both sides were nearly the same, their 4000 cavalry and 100 elephants
gave to the Carthaginians a decided superiority--and notwithstanding
the unfavourable nature of the ground, the Carthaginians having taken
up their position in a broad plain presumably not far from Tunes.
Xanthippus, who on this day commanded the Carthaginians, first threw
his cavalry on that of the enemy, which was stationed, as usual, on
the two flanks of the line of battle; the few squadrons of the Romans
were scattered like dust in a moment before the masses of the enemy's
horse, and the Roman infantry found itself outflanked by them and
surrounded. The legions, unshaken by their apparent danger, advanced
to attack the enemy's line; and, although the row of elephants placed
as a protection in front of it checked the right wing and centre of
the Romans, the left wing at any rate, marching past the elephants,
engaged the mercenary infantry on the right of the enemy, and
overthrew them completely. But this very success broke up the Roman
ranks. The main body indeed, assailed by the elephants in front and
by the cavalry on the flanks and in the rear, formed square, and
defended itself with heroic courage, but the close masses were at
length broken and swept away. The victorious left wing encountered
the still fresh Carthaginian centre, where the Libyan infantry
prepared a similar fate for it. From the nature of the ground and the
superior numbers of the enemy's cavalry, all the combatants in these
masses were cut down or taken prisoners; only two thousand men,
chiefly, in all probability, the light troops and horsemen who were
dispersed at the commencement, gained--while the Roman legions stood
to be slaughtered--a start sufficient to enable them with difficulty
to reach Clupea. Among the few prisoners was the consul himself, who
afterwards died in Carthage; his family, under the idea that he had
not been treated by the Carthaginians according to the usages of war,
wreaked a most revolting vengeance on two noble Carthaginian captives,
till even the slaves were moved to pity, and on their information the
tribunes put a stop to the shameful outrage.(7)

Evacuation Of Africa

When the terrible news reached Rome, the first care of the Romans was
naturally directed to the saving of the force shut up in Clupea. A
Roman fleet of 350 sail immediately started, and after a noble victory
at the Hermaean promontory, in which the Carthaginians lost 114 ships,
it reached Clupea just in time to deliver from their hard-pressed
position the remains of the defeated army which were there entrenched.
Had it been despatched before the catastrophe occurred, it might have
converted the defeat into a victory that would probably have put an
end to the Punic wars. But so completely had the Romans now lost
their judgment, that after a successful conflict before Clupea they
embarked all their troops and sailed home, voluntarily evacuating
that important and easily defended position which secured to
them facilities for landing in Africa, and abandoning their
numerous African allies without protection to the vengeance of the
Carthaginians. The Carthaginians did not neglect the opportunity of
filling their empty treasury, and of making their subjects clearly
understand the consequences of unfaithfulness. An extraordinary
contribution of 1000 talents of silver (244,000 pounds) and 20,000
oxen was levied, and the sheiks in all the communities that had
revolted were crucified; it is said that there were three thousand of
them, and that this revolting atrocity on the part of the Carthaginian
authorities really laid the foundation of the revolution which broke
forth in Africa some years later. Lastly, as if to fill up the
measure of misfortune to the Romans even as their measure of success
had been filled before, on the homeward voyage of the fleet three-
fourths of the Roman vessels perished with their crews in a violent
storm; only eighty reached their port (July 499). The captains had
foretold the impending mischief, but the extemporised Roman admirals
had nevertheless given orders to sail.

Recommencement Of The War In Sicily

After successes so immense the Carthaginians were able to resume their
offensive operations, which had long been in abeyance. Hasdrubal son
of Hanno landed at Lilybaeum with a strong force, which was enabled,
particularly by its enormous number of elephants--amounting to 140
--to keep the field against the Romans: the last battle had shown
that it was possible to make up for the want of good infantry to some
extent by elephants and cavalry. The Romans also resumed the war in
Sicily; the annihilation of their invading army had, as the voluntary
evacuation of Clupea shows, at once restored ascendency in the senate
to the party which was opposed to the war in Africa and was content
with the gradual subjugation of the islands. But for this purpose
too there was need of a fleet; and, since that which had conquered at
Mylae, at Ecnomus, and at the Hermaean promontory was destroyed, they
built a new one. Keels were at once laid down for 220 new vessels
of war--they had never hitherto undertaken the building of so many
simultaneously--and in the incredibly short space of three months
they were all ready for sea. In the spring of 500 the Roman fleet,
numbering 300 vessels mostly new, appeared on the north coast of
Sicily; Panormus, the most important town in Carthaginian Sicily,
was acquired through a successful attack from the seaboard, and the
smaller places there, Soluntum, Cephaloedium, and Tyndaris, likewise
fell into the hands of the Romans, so that along the whole north coast
of the island Thermae alone was retained by the Carthaginians.
Panormus became thenceforth one of the chief stations of the Romans
in Sicily. The war by land, nevertheless, made no progress; the two
armies stood face to face before Lilybaeum, but the Roman commanders,
who knew not how to encounter the mass of elephants, made no attempt
to compel a pitched battle.

In the ensuing year (501) the consuls, instead of pursuing sure
advantages in Sicily, preferred to make an expedition to Africa, for
the purpose not of landing but of plundering the coast towns. They
accomplished their object without opposition; but, after having first
run aground in the troublesome, and to their pilots unknown, waters of
the Lesser Syrtis, whence they with difficulty got clear again, the
fleet encountered a storm between Sicily and Italy, which cost more
than 150 ships. On this occasion also the pilots, notwithstanding
their representations and entreaties to be allowed to take the course
along the coast, were obliged by command of the consuls to steer
straight from Panormus across the open sea to Ostia.

Suspension Of The Maritime War
Roman Victory At Panormus

Despondency now seized the fathers of the city; they resolved to
reduce their war-fleet to sixty sail, and to confine the war by sea
to the defence of the coasts, and to the convoy of transports.
Fortunately, just at this time, the languishing war in Sicily took a
more favourable turn. In the year 502, Thermae, the last point which
the Carthaginians held on the north coast, and the important island of
Lipara, had fallen into the hands of the Romans, and in the following
year (summer of 503) the consul Lucius Caecilius Metellus achieved
a brilliant victory over the army of elephants under the walls of
Panormus. These animals, which had been imprudently brought forward,
were wounded by the light troops of the Romans stationed in the moat
of the town; some of them fell into the moat, and others fell back
on their own troops, who crowded in wild disorder along with the
elephants towards the beach, that they might be picked up by the
Phoenician ships. One hundred and twenty elephants were captured, and
the Carthaginian army, whose strength depended on these animals, was
obliged once more to shut itself up in its fortresses. Eryx soon fell
into the hands of the Romans (505), and the Carthaginians retained
nothing in the island but Drepana and Lilybaeum. Carthage a second
time offered peace; but the victory of Metellus and the exhaustion
of the enemy gave to the more energetic party the upper hand
in the senate.

Siege Of Lilybaeum

Peace was declined, and it was resolved to prosecute in earnest the
siege of the two Sicilian cities and for this purpose to send to sea
once more a fleet of 200 sail. The siege of Lilybaeum, the first
great and regular siege undertaken by Rome, and one of the most
obstinate known in history, was opened by the Romans with an important
success: they succeeded in introducing their fleet into the harbour
of the city, and in blockading it on the side facing the sea.
The besiegers, however, were not able to close the sea completely.
In spite of their sunken vessels and their palisades, and in spite of
the most careful vigilance, dexterous mariners, accurately acquainted
with the shallows and channels, maintained with swift-sailing vessels
a regular communication between the besieged in the city and the
Carthaginian fleet in the harbour of Drepana. In fact after some
time a Carthaginian squadron of 50 sail succeeded in running into
the harbour, in throwing a large quantity of provisions and a
reinforcement of 10,000 men into the city, and in returning
unmolested. The besieging land army was not much more fortunate.
They began with a regular attack; machines were erected, and in a
short time the batteries had demolished six of the towers flanking
the walls, so that the breach soon appeared to be practicable. But
the able Carthaginian commander Himilco parried this assault by giving
orders for the erection of a second wall behind the breach. An
attempt of the Romans to enter into an understanding with the garrison
was likewise frustrated in proper time. And, after a first sally
made for the purpose of burning the Roman set of machines had
been repulsed, the Carthaginians succeeded during a stormy night
in effecting their object. Upon this the Romans abandoned their
preparations for an assault, and contented themselves with blockading
the walls by land and water. The prospect of success in this way was
indeed very remote, so long as they were unable wholly to preclude the
entrance of the enemy's vessels; and the army of the besiegers was in
a condition not much better than that of the besieged in the city,
because their supplies were frequently cut off by the numerous and
bold light cavalry of the Carthaginians, and their ranks began to be
thinned by the diseases indigenous to that unwholesome region. The
capture of Lilybaeum, however, was of sufficient importance to induce
a patient perseverance in the laborious task, which promised to be
crowned in time with the desired success.

Defeat Of The Roman Fleet Before Drepana
Annililation Of The Roman Transport Fleet

But the new consul Publius Claudius considered the task of maintaining

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