Caravan: A small group tries to maintain civilization in a world of anarchy and shortages.

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Virgil ends his legend of Dido with the story that, when Aeneas farewells Dido, her heart broken, she orders a pyre to be built where she falls upon Aeneas' sword. As she lies dying, she predicts eternal strife between Aeneas' people and her own: "rise up from my bones, avenging spirit", [10] she says an invocation of Hannibal. Aeneas goes on to found the predecessor-state of the Roman Kingdom.

The details of Virgil's story do not, however, form part of the original legend and are significant mainly as an indication of Rome's attitude towards the city Dido had founded, an attitude exemplified by Cato the Elder 's much-repeated utterance, " Carthago delenda est ", "Carthage must be destroyed". The Phoenicians established numerous colonial cities along the coasts of the Mediterranean [12] to provide safe harbors for their merchant fleets, [13] to maintain a Phoenician monopoly on an area's natural resources, and to conduct trade free of outside interference. The Phoenicians lacked the population or necessity to establish large self-sustaining cities abroad, and most of their colonial cities had fewer than 1, inhabitants, but Carthage and a few others developed larger populations.

Although Strabo 's claim that the Tyrians founded three hundred colonies along the west African coast is clearly exaggerated, colonies arose in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Iberia , [17] and to a much lesser extent, on the arid coast of Libya. The entire area later came under the leadership and protection of Carthage, [20] which in turn dispatched its own colonists to found new cities [21] or to reinforce those that declined with the loss of primacy of Tyre and Sidon.

The power of this city waned following numerous sieges by Babylonia , [24] [25] and then its later voluntary submission to the Persian king Cambyses r. This changed with the rise of Carthage, since the Carthaginians appointed their own magistrates to rule the towns and Carthage retained much direct control over her colonies. In BC Carthage and Rome signed a treaty , [30] indicating a division of influence and commercial activities.

By the beginning of the 5th century BC, Carthage had become the commercial center of the West Mediterranean region, [32] a position it retained until overthrown by the Roman Republic. Carthaginians had conquered most of the old Phoenician colonies including Hadrumetum , Utica , Hippo Diarrhytus and Kerkouane , subjugated the Libyan tribes with the Numidian and Mauretanian kingdoms remaining more or less independent , and taken control of the entire Northwest African coast from modern Morocco to the borders of Egypt not including the Cyrenaica , which eventually became part of Hellenistic Egypt.

Important Carthaginian colonies also grew up on the Iberian Peninsula. Carthage's economic successes, and its dependence on shipping to conduct most of its trade, led to the development of a powerful Carthaginian navy. The island of Sicily, lying at Carthage's doorstep, became the arena on which this conflict played out. From their earliest days, both the Greeks and Phoenicians had been attracted to the large island, establishing a large number of colonies and trading posts along its coasts; [40] battles raged between these settlements for centuries.

By BC, Gelo , the tyrant leader of Greek Syracuse , backed in part by support from other Greek city-states , was attempting to unite the island under his rule. Traditional accounts, including those of Herodotus and Diodorus, give Hamilcar's army a strength of three hundred thousand men; though this is certainly exaggerated, it must nonetheless have been of formidable strength. En route to Sicily, however, Hamilcar suffered losses possibly severe due to poor weather. By BC Carthage had recovered after serious defeats.

It had conquered much of modern-day Tunisia , strengthening and founding new colonies in Northwest Africa ; Hanno the Navigator had made his journey down the West African coast, [46] [47] and Himilco the Navigator had explored the European Atlantic coast. He captured the smaller cities of Selinus modern Selinunte and Himera before returning triumphantly to Carthage with the spoils of war. But the primary enemy, Syracuse, remained untouched and, in BC, Hannibal Mago led a second Carthaginian expedition to claim the entire island.

This time, however, he met with fierce resistance and ill-fortune. During the siege of Agrigentum , the Carthaginian forces were ravaged by plague, Hannibal Mago himself succumbing to it.

In BC, Dionysius had regained his strength and broke the peace treaty, striking at the Carthaginian stronghold of Motya. Himilco responded decisively, leading an expedition which not only reclaimed Motya, but also captured Messina. The siege was close to a success throughout BC, but in BC plague again ravaged the Carthaginian forces, [53] and they collapsed.

The fighting in Sicily swung in favor of Carthage in BC.

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After winning a naval battle off the coast of Catania, Himilco laid siege to Syracuse with 50, Carthaginians, but yet another epidemic struck down thousands of them. Dionysius then launched a counterattack by land and sea, and the Syracusans surprised the enemy fleet while most of the crews were ashore, destroying all the Carthaginian ships.


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At the same time, Dionysius's ground forces stormed the besiegers' lines and routed the Carthaginians. Himilco and his chief officers abandoned their army and fled Sicily. Sicily by this time had become an obsession for Carthage. Over the next fifty years, Carthaginian and Greek forces engaged in a constant series of skirmishes. By BC, Carthage had been pushed entirely into the southwest corner of the island, and an uneasy peace reigned over the island. In BC, Agathocles , the tyrant administrating governor of Syracuse, seized the city of Messene present-day Messina.

In BC he invaded the last Carthaginian holdings on Sicily, breaking the terms of the current peace treaty, and laid siege to Akragas. Hamilcar , grandson of Hanno the Great , led the Carthaginian response and met with tremendous success. By BC, he controlled almost all of Sicily and had laid siege to Syracuse itself. In desperation, Agathocles secretly led an expedition of 14, men to the mainland, [56] hoping to save his rule by leading a counterstrike against Carthage itself.

In this, he was successful: Carthage was forced to recall Hamilcar and most of his army from Sicily to face the new and unexpected threat.

Although Agathocles's army was eventually defeated in BC, Agathocles himself escaped back to Sicily and was able to negotiate a peace which maintained Syracuse as a stronghold of Greek power in Sicily. Between and BC, Pyrrhus of Epirus waged two major campaigns in the western Mediterranean: one against the emerging power of the Roman Republic in southern Italy, the other against Carthage in Sicily.

Pyrrhus sent an advance guard to Tarentum under the command of Cineaus with 3, infantry. Pyrrhus marched the main army across the Greek peninsula and engaged in battles with the Thessalians and the Athenian army.

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After his early success on the march Pyrrhus entered Tarentum to rejoin with his advance guard. In the midst of Pyrrhus's Italian campaigns, he received envoys from the Sicilian cities of Agrigentum , Syracuse , and Leontini , asking for military aid to remove the Carthaginian dominance over that island. Initially, Pyrrhus's Sicilian campaign against Carthage was a success, pushing back the Carthaginian forces, and capturing the city-fortress of Eryx , even though he was not able to capture Lilybaeum.

Following these losses, Carthage sued for peace, but Pyrrhus refused unless Carthage was willing to renounce its claims on Sicily entirely.

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According to Plutarch , Pyrrhus set his sights on conquering Carthage itself, and to this end, began outfitting an expedition. However, his ruthless treatment of the Sicilian cities in his preparations for this expedition, and his execution of two Sicilian rulers whom he claimed were plotting against him led to such a rise in animosity towards the Greeks, that Pyrrhus withdrew from Sicily and returned to deal with events occurring in southern Italy. Pyrrhus's campaigns in Italy were inconclusive, and Pyrrhus eventually withdrew to Epirus.

For Carthage, this meant a return to the status quo. For Rome, however, the failure of Pyrrhus to defend the colonies of Magna Graecia meant that Rome absorbed them into its " sphere of influence ", bringing it closer to complete domination of the Italian peninsula. Rome's domination of Italy, and proof that Rome could pit its military strength successfully against major international powers, would pave the way to the future Rome-Carthage conflicts of the Punic Wars.

When Agathocles died in BC, a large company of Italian mercenaries who had previously been held in his service found themselves suddenly without employment. Rather than leave Sicily, they seized the city of Messana. Naming themselves Mamertines or "sons of Mars" , they became a law unto themselves, terrorizing the surrounding countryside. The Mamertines became a growing threat to Carthage and Syracuse alike. While the Roman Senate debated the best course of action, the Carthaginians eagerly agreed to send a garrison to Messana.

A Carthaginian garrison was admitted to the city, and a Carthaginian fleet sailed into the Messanan harbor. However, soon afterwards they began negotiating with Hiero.

Alarmed, the Mamertines sent another embassy to Rome asking them to expel the Carthaginians. Hiero's intervention had placed Carthage's military forces directly across the narrow channel of water that separated Sicily from Italy. Moreover, the presence of the Carthaginian fleet gave them effective control over this channel, the Strait of Messina , and demonstrated a clear and present danger to nearby Rome and her interests.

As a result, the Roman Assembly, although reluctant to ally with a band of mercenaries, sent an expeditionary force to return control of Messana to the Mamertines. The wars included a Carthaginian invasion led by Hannibal Barca , which nearly prevented the rise of the Roman Empire. In BC the Romans, under the command of Marcus Atilius Regulus , landed in Africa and, after suffering some initial defeats, the Carthaginian forces eventually repelled the Roman invasion.

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Shortly after the First Punic War, Carthage faced a major mercenary revolt which changed the internal political landscape of Carthage bringing the Barcid family to prominence , [68] and affected Carthage's international standing, as Rome used the events of the war to base a claim by which it seized Sardinia and Corsica.

The Second Punic War lasted from to BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean , with the participation of the Berbers on Carthage's side. Against his skill on the battlefield the Romans deployed the Fabian strategy. But because of the increasing unpopularity of this approach, the Romans resorted to a further major field battle. In consequence, many Roman allies went over to Carthage, prolonging the war in Italy for over a decade, during which more Roman armies were destroyed on the battlefield. Despite these setbacks, the Roman forces were more capable in siegecraft [73] than the Carthaginians and recaptured all the major cities that had joined the enemy, as well as defeating a Carthaginian attempt to reinforce Hannibal at the battle of the Metaurus.

In the meantime in Iberia, which served as the main source of manpower for the Carthaginian army, a second Roman expedition under Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major took New Carthage by assault [74] and ended Carthaginian rule over Iberia in the battle of Ilipa. The war was a much smaller engagement than the two previous Punic Wars and primarily consisted of a single main action, the Battle of Carthage , but resulted in the complete destruction of the city of Carthage, [77] the annexation of all remaining Carthaginian territory by Rome, [78] and the death or enslavement of thousands of Carthaginians.

The government of Carthage changed dramatically after the total rout of the Carthaginian forces at the battle of Himera on Sicily in BC. Carthage remained to a great extent an oligarchal republic , which relied on a system of checks and balances and ensured a form of public accountability. At the head of the Carthaginian state were now two annually elected, not hereditary, Suffets [83] thus rendered in Latin by Livy Greek and Roman authors more commonly referred to them as "kings".

In the historically attested period, the two Suffets were elected annually from among the most wealthy and influential families and ruled collegially, similarly to Roman consuls and equated with these by Livy. This practice might have descended from the plutocratic oligarchies that limited the Suffet's power in the first Phoenician cities. The aristocratic families were represented in a supreme council Roman sources speak of a Carthaginian " Senate ", and Greek ones of a "council of Elders " or a gerousia , which had a wide range of powers; however, it is not known whether the Suffets were elected by this council or by an assembly of the people.

Suffets appear to have exercised judicial and executive power, but not military, as generals were chosen by the administration. The final supervision of the Treasury and Foreign Affairs seems to have come under the Council of Elders. There was a body known as the Tribunal of the Hundred and Four , which Aristotle compared to the Spartan ephors.

These were judges who acted as a kind of higher constitutional court and oversaw the actions of generals, [85] who could sometimes be sentenced to crucifixion , as well as other officials. Panels of special commissioners, called pentarchies, were appointed from the Tribunal of One Hundred and Four: they appear to have dealt with a variety of affairs of state. Although the city's administration was firmly controlled by oligarchs, [87] democratic elements were to be found as well: Carthage had elected legislators, trade unions and town meetings in the form of a Popular Assembly.

Polybius , in his History book 6, also stated that at the time of the Punic Wars, the Carthaginian public held more sway over the government than the people of Rome held over theirs a development he regarded as evidence of decline. Eratosthenes , head of the Library of Alexandria , noted that the Greeks had been wrong to describe all non-Greeks as barbarians, since the Carthaginians as well as the Romans had a constitution. Carthage did not maintain a large, permanent, standing army. The core of its army was from its own territory in Northwest Africa ethnic Libyans and Numidians modern northern Algeria , as well as "Liby-Phoenicians"—i.

These troops were supported by mercenaries from different ethnic groups and geographic locations across the Mediterranean, who fought in their own national units.