The most probable chronology places towards the year 860 BC the foundation of Carthage, It was then that Dido, the daughter of Belus, fleeing the tyranny of Pygmalion, her brother, king of Tire, who had just killed her husband to seize his riches, landed in Africa. Tradition has consecrated the singular stratagem employed by this princess to obtain the hospitality of the natives. Asked for a small portion of the earth, which could be the skin of an ox, and for the price of such a feeble service, she offered considerable summons. This skin, cut into very thin strips, ended up circumscribing a very large space, on which soon arose an imposing fortress, Byrsa, which commanded the surroundings, as well as an immense harbor. Iarbas, chief of the Maxyes and Getules, who had made this concession, struck by the beauty of Dido, seduced by his wealth as well, wished to marry him, but this proud princess disdained the Barbarian’s hand and gave herself up to escape her obsessions.
After this catastrophe, the story remains silent for three centuries. The literature of Carthage, as we know, has perished entirely, and we know the Carthaginians only by the stories of their enemies. During the destruction of this city (146 BC), there were found books containing its annals; but, in their national pride, the Romans, little concerned with foreign origins, abandoned these chronicles Micipsa, king of the Numidians. By succession, they reached Hempsal II, who reigned over Numidia 105 years BC, eight years later, Sallust, sent as governor to Africa, had them explained and drew some documents for the description of this country which precedes his War of Jugurtha. But this work has remained very incomplete, and the indifference of the author deprived us of a great deal of historical information which would be for us a great price. All that we know of the first epochs of the Phoenician colony is that, situated on a favorable site, and protected by the fortress of Byrsa, Carthage grows rapidly, and that his government, monarchical at first, was transformed into a republic without being able to determine in a precise way the time and the causes of this change. Thanks to the wisdom of the founders, this change in their political organization did not stop for a moment the course of their success. In fact, Aristotle remarks that up to his time, that is to say, during a space of five hundred years, there had been in that republic neither revolution nor tyrant.
The government of Carthage was divided between the suffetes, supreme magistrates whom the people elected each year, and the senate, chosen from the bosom of a numerous and powerful aristocracy. Subsequently, probably to repress the attempts of tyranny, the formidable tribunal of the Hundreds, specially charged with supervising the military operations, was added. The authority of the senate of Carthage was as extensive as that of the Roman senate. It was in his bosom that all affairs of state were treated, it was he who gave an audience to the ambassadors, who sent orders to the generals, who decided on peace and war. When the voices were unanimous on a question, it was irrevocably resolved, a single dissenting voice sent it to the assembly of the people. For a long time the authority of the senate had all the preponderance, but the people, as at Rome, successively raised its pretensions and finally seized most of the power. The Magon, the Hannon, These representatives of the commercial genius and the foreign policy of Carthage, were the men of the aristocracy, the Hamilcar, the Hannibal, these illustrious warriors who long swayed the fortune of Rome, were the expression of the party popular.
We know that commerce was the principal basis of the power of Carthage, public officers, generals, magistrates, engaged in trading. “They went everywhere,” said Rollin, to buy as cheaply as possible the surplus of each nation, to convert it, to the others, into a necessity which they sold to them dearly. They drew from Egypt flax, paper, wheat, sails and cables for ships, Red Sea shores, groceries, incense, perfumes, gold, pearls, and stones precious, from Tire and Phenicia, purple and scarlet, rich stuff, sumptuous furniture, tapestries, and all works of elaborate work; they gave in exchange iron, tin, lead, and copper, which they drew from Numidia, Mauritania, and Spain. They were also going to look for amber in the Baltic, and gold powder on the coasts of Guinea. To ensure this immense trade and to shelter its fleets, Carthage was obliged to become military and conquering power, one knows all that she displayed of perseverance, courage, and skill to realize its projects, so we will do here only indicate this movement. The domination of Carthage spread rapidly over the whole coast of West Africa, from the little Sirte (Gulf of Cabes) to beyond the columns of Hercules. It then took Europe by reverse, and all the southern coasts of Spain, as far as the Pyrenees, were subjected by its arms, its commerce, or its policy: Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearic Islands suffered the same fate. As long as it had to tame only warring but isolated tribes, or at most grouped in federations easy to dissolve, or in small kingdoms hostile to each other, everything yielded to the genius of Carthage. Her success became less easy when, at the two extremities of her empire, clashing against a materially equal civilization, morally superior to her own, she met Greek colonies on the beaches of Great Sirte and those of Gaul.
Here begins a magnificent drama: the two most powerful republics whose history has preserved the memory will fight together, no longer for the possession of Sicily, but for that of the Mediterranean, which must give the conqueror the empire of the world! Carthage, the trading republic, has large fleets and numberless sailors; Rome, the agricultural republic, has not a single ship, and yet it will prevail by the energy of her will and the indefatigable obstinacy of her efforts.
We know under what pretext these two states came to blows. The inhabitants of a city of Sicily had divided into two parties, some called the Romans to their aid, the others the Carthaginians. Already, at that time, almost entire Italy obeyed the republic: Sabines, Volscians, Samnites, were its tributaries, and Pyrrhus had fled shamefully before his triumphant eagles. Rome, however, was still hesitating. The senate first refused the assistance requested, but the people consulted granted you, and the war was decided. Some miserable ships borrowed from their allies carried the Roman legions to Sicily. Such was the beginning of the First Punic War.
Less famous than the second, because the names of Hannibal and Scipio do not appear there, this war was long and just as cruel. The Romans were trained to this heroic patience that made them invincible. Fighting against a people of navigators and merchants, who covered the sea with their fleets, they felt the necessity of creating a navy to repel the ravages their enemies exercised on the coasts of Italy. Without engineers and workers for the construction of ships, their genius and perseverance supplemented everything. A galley taken on the enemy, in a port of Sicily, served them as a model. We worked at night, we worked during the day to hasten the constructions; the citizens of all classes and all conditions imposed the hardest sacrifices to achieve this result, and in a few months, a fleet of one hundred and twenty galleys was put to sea. However, the first fights of these improvised sailors were not happy. Often their skillful adversaries, more often the storms against which they had not yet learned to fight, destroyed these hastily built ships with so much difficulty. But the Roman energy increased by these defeats, and the Carthaginians, beaten on land in Sicily and Sardinia, were also on the sea, their empire and their element. The Romans soon pursued their enemies to Africa.
Of all the expeditions of the first Punic war, that of Regulus is the most famous. The moral and warlike virtues of this illustrious Roman, his first successes, facilitated by the dislike of the African populations against their superb dominatrix, his faults, his defeat, his captivity, his heroic death especially, have immortalized this period of history. his country: the reader is well aware that two Carthaginian prisoners, delivered to the widow of Regulus, perished in dreadful torments. These barbarous vengeances, these reprisals no less cruel, gave the war a character of the atrocity which it had not yet clothed. It was no longer an ordinary struggle between two peoples, but a real duel between two adversaries determined to conquer or to die; finally, the courage of the Romans prevailed, and Carthage was reduced to asking for peace. To yield a first time was to place oneself in the necessity of yielding a second, a third until it was utterly ruined, it is indeed what happened. According to the terms of the treaty which put an end to the first Punic war, Carthage evacuated Sicily, paid all the prisoners without ransom, and paid the expenses of the war. She granted everything and received nothing her humiliation was complete, the pride of the Romans satisfied and their superiority recognized.
This shameful treaty had just been signed when an internal war broke out around the walls of Carthage and threatened to devour it. As this event highlights some of the political institutions of the Phoenician Republic, we are going to devote some developments to it. The armies of Carthage were composed of auxiliaries, part of Mercenaries. Instead of depopulating her cities for soldiers, she bought them outside, men were for this opulent republic only a commodity. It took in every country the most renowned troops: Numidia furnished it with a brave cavalry, impetuous, indefatigable, the Balearic Islands gave him the most skillful slingers in the world, Spain, an invincible infantry, Gaul, warriors at any test, Greece, engineers, and strategists consumed. Without weakening its population by levies of men, or interrupting its commerce, Carthage thus put in the field many armies, composed of the best soldiers of Europe and Africa. This organization, apparently advantageous, was for her an incessant cause of trouble and even hastened her ruin. No moral bond united these Mercenaries between them: victorious and well paid, they served with zeal, but at the slightest setback, they revolted, abandoned their flags, often even passed to the enemy. One of the most beautiful titles of the glory of the great Hannibal is to have remained for sixteen years in Italy with an army composed of twenty different peoples, without any revolt having taken place, without any serious rivalry having dissolved this assemblage of heterogeneous elements.
After the unfortunate Sicilian expedition, the Mercenaries, embittered by their defeats, and especially by the delay in payment of their pay. had revolted, had massacred their chiefs, and had replaced them with subordinate officers, on the other hand, the maritime towns, the agricultural populations of the interior, overwhelmed with taxes, wished to take advantage of this insurrection to shake off a yoke which they bore with impatience, and the tribes even the most distant, those which made to graze their flocks on the two slopes of the Atlas, excited by the hope of plunder, flocked to the ranks of the insurgents. The murders and the fire preceded this ferocious multitude, and Carthage was soon surrounded by a circle of iron and fire.
Reduced to the enclosure of its walls, without troops, without vessels, the African metropolis seemed near its ruin, never was his position more critical. But the excess of danger revived the courage of the Carthaginians. Two famous generals remained to them, Hannon and Hamilcar. Trained both in the school of adversity in this long struggle which had set Europe and Africa on fire, they employed, in order to save their country, in turn, frankness and cunning, arms, and politics, leaders of two opposing parties, they reconciled themselves, sacrificing generously to the interest of all their particular interests. Their good intelligence ensured success and put an end to the war. Disorganized, then defeated in two great battles, the Mercenaries were dispersed and destroyed, the rebellious cities either surrendered or were stormed, the whole of Africa came under the yoke, and Carthage breathed But terrible cruelties had been committed from and, on the other hand, thousands of men had perished in the torture.
Extinguished in Africa after a struggle that lasted three years (240-237 BC), the war of the Mercenaries rekindled in Sardinia, where it was even more fatal to the Carthaginians because it put them in conflict with the Romans. Everywhere Rome rose up before Carthage to prevent her from repairing her losses: in Africa, she had provided arms and food to the rebels, in Sardinia, she intervened between the inhabitants and the Mercenaries and seized the island. Pushed to the limit, Carthage made preparations to resume it, but Rome threatened to break the treaty. Not daring to renew the war against a power that had conquered him and forced him to accept harsh conditions in the days of his highest prosperity, Carthage bought the continuation of peace by renouncing his claims to Sardinia and paying the Romans twelve hundred talents of money.
This disastrous peace could not last. Trade, that is to say, the very existence of the Carthaginians was attacked in its base by the loss of their colonies, the empire of the Mediterranean no longer belonged to them, the enemy fleets had completely seized it, the strongholds of Sicily and Sardinia had received a Roman garrison, and the coasts of Italy were in a formidable state of defense. Every way by sea was thus closed to them. On earth, Spain alone was open to them, they sent an army there, which they gave to Hamilcar.
It was to change all the policy which had made the greatness of Carthage, to seek in the continental conquests for compensation for maritime disasters, this revolution, moreover, was accomplished with rare skill. Already famous for the wars sustained in Sicily against the Romans, by that of Africa against the Mercenaries and the tribes of Numidia, Hamilcar was at once a skillful captain and a great politician. His army made rapid progress. The people conquered by the force of arms were won by the clemency and justice of the conqueror, and the Carthaginian domination was established in the best part of the Peninsula, on a firm and solid bases. A severe discipline, a good and wise administration attracted to the Carthaginian general the esteem and confidence of the Iberians.
Hamilcar having been killed in a battle, his son-in-law Hasdrubal succeeded him and imitated his example in war as well as in politics. This general founded the colony of Cartagena on the southern coast of Spain, extended his conquests in the distance, and carried his victorious arms to the banks of the Ebro, which a treaty with the Romans forbade him to cross. Murdered by a Gaul whom he had insulted, he handed over, as an inheritance, the command of the army to the son of Hamilcar, barely twenty-two years old. At the sight of this young man, the whole army burst into transports of joy and enthusiasm, she thought to see Hamilcar himself again. However, it was better still, it was Hannibal.
Hamilcar and Hasdrubal left to their successor a sober, patient, disciplined army, which the habit of victory had rendered almost invincible, a base of operation supported by solid conquests, a wise policy, which had rallied all peoples to them, they finally left him a great project to realize, the greatest that could ignite the soul of a young hero: the conquest of Rome!
Master of Spain from Cadiz to the Ebro, conqueror, beyond this river, of the famous Sagunto, Rome’s ally, who, on falling, rekindled the war between Europe and Africa, after twenty-four years of faltering peace, Hannibal leaves Cartagena, and goes to Italy at the head of a hundred thousand infantry, twelve thousand horsemen and forty elephants. We know the results of this gigantic company. The obstacles, foreseen in advance by his genius, multiplied before him, without being able to stop him. The peoples who dwelt between the Ebro and the Pyrenees tried to oppose his passage; they were vanquished and subjugated. After consolidating the power of Carthage in these countries, Hannibal refined his army and descended into Gaul with forty elephants, nine thousand horses, and fifty thousand footmen, all old companions in arms of Hamilcar and Hasdrubal. The Gallic populations, which this conquering march through their territory has raised, are intimidated by its power, or deceived by its ruses, the enemy generals, hastening by sea and by land to dispute his passage, but whom he only wishes to fight in Italy are deftly avoided, finally, despite the rapidity of the Rhone and the height of the Alps, the Roman territory is invaded.
Hannibal’s stay in Italy is no less surprising than the audacious march that brought him there. Decimated by the passage of the Alps, his army is reduced to forty thousand combatants, yet he is not afraid to attack home in the center of his power and advances from victory to victory to his gates. Entered Italy at the age of twenty-six, he remains there until forty. Neither the redoubled efforts of the Romans, nor the faults of his lieutenants beaten in Spain and in Gaul, nor the obstinacy of his country to refuse him almost all help, can not make him let go of his prey. To succeed, it was necessary to stop attacking him in the face, he had to transport the battlefield where he was not.
Recalled in Africa by the misfortunes of his country, Hannibal embarked, desperation in his heart. It is said that at this supreme moment, turning his eyes towards Italy, which he left watered with blood and still full of the terror of his name, he expressed regret at not having put the siege before Rome after the battle from Cannes, and not to have found dead in its burning walls. Doubtless, too, he remembered with bitterness the oath he had taken at the age of nine, at the foot of the altars and in the hands of his father, to hate the Romans and to fight them all the way. life!
HANNIBAL, The battle of zama
Landed in Africa with what remained of his old bands, Hannibal found his homeland on the inclination of ruin, invested on all sides by the Romans and the Numidians. He granted only a few days rest to his troops and advanced to Zama, a town inland, five days march south of Carthage. The senate and the people, seeing in them their last hope, put an end to their long divisions and receive him as a liberator, leaving him master to ask for peace and to conclude it. Thus, by a late justice, the fate of his country is put back in his hands, The faults of his fellow-citizens had rendered all hope of salvation almost impossible.
Such was the situation in Carthage when Hannibal set foot on African soil an inconstant people, a weak senate, an exhausting treasure, an army accustomed to flight and defeat, and some veterans who could only die with glory. In vain hatred and pride burned in their hearts, these sentiments would be extinguished at the first setback and give way to absolute discouragement. Hannibal felt it well, and being the only one capable of making war, he was the only one who desired peace. To obtain it, he asked for an interview with the Roman general, but the conditions imposed on him by Scipio being too severe, he preferred to rely on the chances of a battle, and the two generals left to prepare for it.
In this famous Battle of Zama, neither the Carthaginian hero nor his veterans remained below their fame. From the first shock, his cavalry, little seasoned and much smaller than that of the Romans, was broken and fled, leaving the center discovered and weakened by the disorder it carried. The old Hannibal infantry presented the pique to the fugitives and forced them to flow by the flanks, it thus restores the combat, and held the victory alone in suspense until, loaded in flank and tail by the Roman cavalry, it remained only for him to die. The elephants, on their side, draw good countenance, these intrepid animals, excited by the features and javelins thrown at them from all sides, rushed forward at the height of the fray and carried off soldiers with their trunks, but their courage was useless. The Romans did not allow themselves to be frightened by their masses; they avoided them with skill and stopped only when the success of the day was assured. Twenty thousand Carthaginians remained on the field of battle, twenty thousand were made prisoners, the Romans lost only two thousand men. (203 years BC).
After this disaster, Hannibal had retired to Hadrumetus followed by only a few horsemen; but the anxiety of his fellow-citizens did not leave him long in this retreat. Mandated by the senate and the people, he obeyed these orders and returned to Carthage after twenty-five years of absence. From all sides, people crowded around him to question him, to know what was to be feared, what was to be hoped for. In the presence of this profound depression of his country, Hannibal did not hesitate to declare that all was lost, and proposed, as a sad but indispensable necessity, to submit to the conditions of the conqueror. After violent debates, the whole senate surrendered in his opinion (Hannibal became suffocate of Carthage, but soon, pursued by the hatred of his fellow citizens, he retired to Antiochus, king of Syria, then to Bithynia, whom he armed against the Romans, but at last fearing to be betrayed by this prince to his enemies, he poisoned himself (183 BC).
The conditions of the treaty were such as might be expected of the genius of Rome, it was the putting into practice of this famous word, woe to the vanquished! The Carthaginians were obliged to return the prisoners of war and the defectors, to abandon to the Romans all their long vessels, with the exception of ten galleys, and their numerous elephants. They were forbidden to undertake any war without the permission of the Roman people, they returned to his ally Massinissa all the lands and towns which had belonged to him or his ancestors, they supplied the army with food for three months and paid for it until Rome had received the reply to the articles of the treaty, which was sent there to receive the sanction of the senate. Finally, they pledged to pay ten thousand talents in the space of fifty years, and as a guarantee of their fidelity, they delivered a hundred hostages chosen from among the young men of the first families. All were accepted by the vanquished, and soon the Roman army prepared to return to Italy. But before leaving she burned the ships that had been delivered to him, in the number of about five hundred. The flames of this gloomy fire, which was visible from Carthage, were like the prelude to those which, fifty years later, were to devour it itself.
Thus ended the Second Punic War, the year 551 of Rome, 201 years before Christ. It had lasted seventeen years.
Colonies of Carthage
Between this second war and the third, half a century elapses during which the fallen queen of Africa struggles in the pain of a long agony. In fact, the cruel foresight of Rome has laid in the last treaty of peace the seeds of a war which it can bring about at will; she placed at the gates of Carthage a family of ambitious and powerful Numidian kings, and, by exciting them against her victim, forbade her to wage war without her permission.
This is the place to present the situation of the colonies founded by Carthage on the African coast, and to expose the relations that the Phoenician Republic had established with the natives of the interior. As it increased its power, Carthage founded cities, established ports and fortresses which formed, on all the advantageous points of the coast, an uninterrupted chain of commercial stations, from the Syrtes to the Straits of Gibraltar. Ubbo (Bone), Igilgiles (Jijel), Saldae (Candle), and later Julia Caesarea (Cherchell), were of this number; others even add Iomnium, the Algiers of our day (some geographers give the name of Icosium to Algiers, and trace its foundation to the voyages of Hercules. The Greek name given to this city consecrated, they say, the number of heroes accompanying Hercules in this expedition, twenty, and we will return later to this origin, as well as to those of the principal cities of Algeria.) and Scylax, in his Journey of the Mediterranean, says that all the counters and Colonial settlements, numbering three hundred, sown on the coast of Africa from Sirte, a neighbor of the Hesperides to the pillars of Hercules, belonged to the Carthaginians.
These colonies were formed in some way peacefully, by occupation, so to speak, and not by invasion. Faithful to its origin, Carthage first presented itself to the natives less to conquer than to traffic; employing her first efforts to form counters, stations, ladders, she seemed rather desirous of placing her products and of collecting new ones, than of establishing her domination of the country. So we see it spread rapidly along the coast, without its territory increasing much in width; it does not penetrate into the land before and does not cut deeply into the already occupied soil. She never dispossessed the natives only in a small radius around her ramparts and those of her colonies, as much as was necessary to ensure the subsistence of the colonial population beyond, she imposed on her subjects only tributes for which she even gave them equivalents. On the other hand, is applied to control the Libyan tribes, less by force than by its astute policy, fomenting their internal quarrels, keeping them one by the other, and completed his work by drawing to his service the elite of these populations by the lure of pay and loot.
At certain times of the year, the senators of Carthage went to the chiefs of the tribes of the interior, in order to engage them by all sorts of seductions and promises, sometimes even by alliances with the first families of the country. republic, to supply recruits to their army. The Carthaginians also included the Libyan tribes as one of the principal elements in the emigrant colonies which their policies constantly poured over all the points where their fleets could penetrate. The relation which Antiquity has preserved to us from Hannibal’s Journey, and which Carthage had placed in the temple of Kronos, furnishes a curious example of the manner in which the republic proceeded in its colonial establishments. The Carthaginian chief charged with the express mission of sowing colonies on the Atlantic coast departs with sixty vessels containing thirty thousand men, who are distributed by him in six towns of five thousand inhabitants each. These colonists were, for the most part, Libby-Phoenicians, that is to say, Africans already shaped to the Phoenician civilization.
Although commerce and industry ranked first in Carthage’s political preoccupations, it did not neglect agriculture. She tried more than once to wrest her native subjects from their native barbarism, by giving them notions of culture; and all around its enclosure, in a space of seventy-five leagues long and sixty broad (in the districts of Zeugitane and Byzantium), it organized agricultural colonies, half-parts of natives and Phoenicians, destined to train farmers and agronomists for its distant settlements.
As far as trade was concerned, Carthage drew a no less advantageous advantage from the natives besides the elements of colonization which they supplied to the maritime posts, as a colonial population, they were, without any doubt, for the commerce with the interior of the country. Africa, its best intermediaries. Of some mystery that the Carthaginians have always sought to cover their commercial operations, whatever care they have taken, at all times, to steal from the Romans and other contemporary peoples their geographical knowledge, it is now proved that they maintained considerable commerce with Central Africa, of which the principal articles were powdered or grain gold, dates, and especially black slaves, fomenting their internal quarrels, keeping them one by the other, and completed his work by attracting to his service the elite of these populations by the bait of pay and loot. It was among them that the rowers of their formidable navy were recruited. For their traffic with the interior, the Carthaginians had already opened the same commercial routes which still today are traversed by the caravans. Magon undertook three journeys through the desert; the Nasamons, a people of the Syretic region, pushed their excursions to the banks of the Niger, and the Garamantes (inhabitants of Fezzan) went as far as Ethiopia to hunt for slaves. Sicily, Spain, Gaul, the coasts of Brittany, were familiar to them, and Hannon carried his reconnaissance on the coast of Africa to Cape Formosa.
The colonial establishments which Carthage founded on the African coast, the very towns which were on its own territory, enjoyed great freedom and were governed in general by Councils, whose organization recalled those of the mother-country. By a sort of recognition, in conformity with their interests, the Carthaginian colonies thus preserved the fundamental laws of the metropolis; but their dependence was always voluntary, and they submitted only to the laws which had obtained the sanction of their magistrates. According to this statement, we can see how weak were the ties which united the Libyan tribes and Carthage, how easy it was for a clever enemy to turn these dubious allies against their suzerain. That’s what the Romans did.
Destruction of Carthage
We said that among the Libyan tribes, those of the Massilians and Massaesylians were the most numerous and the most formidable. The first was centered on their strength, or for capital, Zama, situated five days from Carthage. At the time of the Second Punic War, Galla, Massinissa’s father, commanded them. The Massaesylians, who occupied the western part, had for capital Siga, the city now ruined, located not far from Oran, Syphax was at their head.
After the capture of Sagunto by the Carthaginians, Scipio, who commanded the Roman troops in Spain, established secret relations with Syphax, in order to oppose Carthage an enemy placed on its borders; he even sent him one of his lieutenants, Q. Statorius, to form a corps of young Numidians, destined to fight in the manner of the Romans. Syphax, seeing himself supported by a powerful ally, attacked Galla and drove him out of his states; he was already preparing to put the siege before Carthage, when the senate offered him the hand of the beautiful Sophonisbe, daughter of Asdrubal, betrothed to the young Massinissa. Syphax accepted this offer with eagerness, and for the price of such high favor, he abandoned the cause of the Romans. At the news of this bloody outrage, Massinissa, who was then in Spain. throws himself into the party of the Romans, and goes to Africa to avenge his insult. But during the young Numidian’s absence, most of his father’s estates had been invaded by the enemy, and as Galla had died in the middle of the struggle, his uncles had seized the rest. Without resources, without an army, Massinissa nevertheless undertakes to reconquer the inheritance of his fathers. He obtained some troops from Bocchus, king of Mauritania, and with the aid of these auxiliaries he drove out the usurpers; but his impetuous courage came in vain against Syphax’s seasoned phalanxes: beaten in several encounters, his allies abandoned him, and he had no other resource than to await the arrival of Scipio. From that moment, he made common cause with the Romans, fought under their flags, and succeeded, with their assistance, to make himself master of Cirta (Constantine), where he found Sophonisbe, his fiancée, become the wife of old Syphax.
Incapable of resisting the charms of the beautiful Carthaginian, the Numidian king married her to remove her from the slavery of the Romans, to whom she belonged by right of conquest; but Scipio disapproved of this union, and Massinissa was obliged to sacrifice his love to his allies. Shortly after, Sophonisbe died poisoned. Scipio, to console his friend, filled him with distinctions, and gave him, in the presence of the army, the title of the king with a crown of gold. These honors, combined with the hope of seeing himself soon master of Numidia, made this ambitious prince forget the loss of his wife, he became the faithful ally of the Romans, and invariably attached himself to the fortune of Scipio. At Zama’s day, it was he who overthrew the left-wing of the Carthaginian army; although wounded, he pursued Hannibal himself, in the hope of crowning his exploits by the capture of this great captain. Finally, before leaving Africa, Scipio restored Massinissa to her hereditary states, adding, with the authorization of the senate, all that had belonged to Syphax in Numidia.
Master of the whole country from Mauritania to Cyrene and become the most powerful prince of Africa, Massinissa took advantage of the leisure of a long peace to introduce civilization in his vast kingdom and to teach the wandering Numidians to make the most of the fertility of their territory. Sixty years of energetic and enlightened administration completely changed the face of the country: hitherto uncultivated campaigns were covered with rich harvests; the cities received new constructions; everywhere the population increased. But it was not enough for this ambitious prince; he desired more. His troops made frequent incursions into the territory of Carthage; himself, though ninety years old, put himself at the head of a powerful army to seize this city. (159 BC) Several victories signaled his progress, and no doubt he would have realized his plans of conquest if he had not feared to displease his allies; for he had known for a long time that the Romans had reserved this prey for themselves. The Carthaginians wished to complain to Rome of the hostilities of Massinissa; their complaints were received with disdain: the vanquished no longer remained the resource of arms. But Rome found it ill that Carthage repulsed strength by force; she accused him of violating the treaties and declared war against him. This was the last. Evidently the easy triumphs of Massinissa had decided the Romans to finish with Carthage.
This unjust aggression, this odious abuse of force, almost found its punishment in its very excess. Indignation, despair, are communicated gradually and spread in all Punic cities with the speed of lightning. The citizens of Carthage, men, women, old men, children, swear to bury themselves under the ruins of their country rather than abandon it. All the materials found in arsenals, in private dwellings, are transformed into arms, vessels, and war machines, the public squares, the temples of the gods become workshops. Hemp was wanting to make ropes, the women cut their hair and offered it for this pious use. Unheard-of ardor animated every heart, exalted all minds; Carthage wanted at least to die worthy of her!
The consuls, however, who thought they had nothing to fear from an unarmed population, advanced slowly to take possession of their conquest; their predictions were disappointed where they expected to find only submissive slaves and slaughtered; they met with surprise exasperated and armed citizens. Forced to make the siege of a city where they thought they had entered without resistance, they are astonished, they are troubled, they commit fault on fault. Their multiplied attacks failed. Ramped by success, the besieged made frequent outings, often happy, always terrible and deadly, they repelled the Roman cohorts, filled the ditches, exterminated the foragers, and burned the machines of war. A year passed thus in useless efforts, and the consuls had to go out of charge in the midst of shame and confusion.
The following year the Roman arms were no happier. The siege, continued with the same obstinacy, was sustained with the same vigor; the new consuls, beaten in several meetings, made no progress, and the desperate courage of the Carthaginians still triumphed over the number and power of their enemies. But this was the last respite that fortune granted to these unfortunates, the destruction of their city was imminent. The feats and efforts of Scipio Emilian are known, but it is also known how obstinate resistance was opposed to him until the last moment. The city was taken, but only after two great battles, one on land and the other on sea, and after the last fight which lasted six days and six nights, from street to street, from house to house. In a word, Carthage did not succumb until after a siege of three years, and under the genius of a great man!
On the orders of the senate, Scipio Emilian reduced Carthage to ashes; for several days the flames devoured its temples, its stores, its arsenals, and horrible imprecations were pronounced against anyone attempting to bring it out of ruins. The seven hundred thousand inhabitants who formed the population of the African metropolis were dispersed; Rome was enriched by her spoils, and her territory was divided between the conquerors and their allies. Thus ended this proud republic, whose power extended for nearly six centuries over North Africa and all known seas!