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.
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.
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 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