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  • Writer's pictureEd & Phil

S03 E04 Carthage Part 2 transcript

Catch up with the accompanying Carthage part 2 episode.


Last time on CTDEA…

Carthage in jeopardy.

Mercenaries on the rampage.

Who can save them now?

What's that you say?

Small forces, lighting raids?

There's only one man to call.

Flash Hamilcar!

Flash went to work. During one battle, he feigned a retreat. The rebels followed him into a trap as their forces were surrounded by cavalry and slaughtered.

"Flash Hamilcar… faker of the runaway."

On another occasion, Flash was totally surrounded himself but used his smooth talking to get the Numidian cavalry to switch sides.

Flash: Still worshipping God? Last I heard he'd started worshipping me! Ha ha ha.

In fact Hamilcar offered anyone who switched sides a place in his army. The response by the rebels was to execute their Carthaginian captives in a particularity nasty way. They're hands were cut off, they were castrated and their legs were broken. They were then thrown into a pit and buried alive.

Why so brutal? The rebel leaders anticipated that the Carthaginians would retaliate by doing much the same to thei r captives - which they did - this sending out the message that your enemy would offer you no mercy, so there was no point trying to surrender and switch sides.

But despite Flash Hamilcar's antics, things were not going well for Carthage. They had 3 problems:

  1. An essential shipment of supplies had been lost in a storm.

  2. Sardinia was in full revolt.

  3. Carthages allies, Utica and Hippocrate, had defected to the rebels!


What a bunch of Uticing Hippocrates!

Meanwhile, Hanno and Hamilcar couldn't even agree on a winning strategy!

Who was going to help Carthage now?




And Rome.


Double what?

Syracuse agreed to send Carthage essential supplies. Now Carthage was out of the Sicilian picture, and Rome was the new boss, Syracuse started to miss old Carthage...who really hadn't been all that bad after all.


Sounds like that 120 year long war was really just their way of saying. Hey, I care. I've just got a funny way of showing it.

But why did Rome want to help?

If you're aware of how Carthage's story ends, you might be under the impression that Rome was all about the destruction of Carthage, but not so. In fact, Rome had plenty of opportunities to inflict further damage on Carthage without taking them.

For example, the city of Utica offered itself to Rome, which would have put Roman territory right next to Carthage. Rome refused.

Rome banned any trade with the rebel forces but encouraged trade with Carthage to keep it supplied and stocked.

They even allowed Carthage to recruit fresh soldiers from southern Italy as well as releasing thousands of POWs from Sicily to go home and fight.


But I always thought that Rome were basically bastards. Here they come across as….not bastards.


That's because you've been brainwashed by a liberal, western civilisation hating educating system.





The reason that Rome helped Carthage was that it was good for Rome.

We think of Rome as this relentless war machine. But even relentless war machines need to take a break. Yes, it had won the race for Sicily but Sicily was in a mess, Rome knew it would need time to recover and rebuild. And what was paying for that recovery was trade with Carthage. The Carthaginians were the economic grease of the western Mediterranean.

Besides, Rome was building an empire. It couldn't go round arming and encouraging rebellions against legitimate powers. It was 3rd century BC Rome. Not 18th century France.

So thanks to the interference of Rome, things were improving for Carthage while the rebels a

were being starved of supplies.

And, by this time, Hamilcar "Flash" Barca had been given sole command of Carthaginian forces thanks to a popular vote. Despite some of his legitimately shoddy treatment of enemy soldiers.


From now on, all captured rebels should be trampled to death by elephants.


But surely, on the eve of victory, now's the time to offer amnesty and divide the rebel cause.


Yeah? Well, I'm the people's choice and people's choice says squishing people with elephants looks awesome. All right?

Hamilcar Barca then followed this up with his coup de grace. He trapped a large part (probably 40,000) of the rebel army in a valley called The Saw. Conditions were so bad that the rebels were resorting to cannibalism.


I know that conditions are tough, troops. But we're standing against the vile Carthage and I thank you for your continued support and your not resorting to cannibalism. And I see you've prepared me a relaxing bath in this bubbling cooking pot complete with herbs and spices. Mmm aromatherapy. And what's this, the gift of an onion. Sorry, you want me to put it where?

Hamilcar said he'd receive 10 envoys, so the leaders of the rebellion came out to meet him. He then said if they gave him 10 hostages of his choice, all the rest of the rebels could go free.

The leaders hurriedly agreed to these terms. And this is when Hamilcar played his trump card. He chose the 10 envoys, who were the leaders of the rebellion, thus decapitating the rebellion.


Genius, Flash. At a stroke you've ended the rebellion with the least killing possible.


Yes, and then he had the 40,000 rebel soldiers cut to pieces.


That wily old... genocidal maniac.

So anyway, Hamilcar Barca had the final rebel stronghold of Tunis surrounded. He brought out the rebel leadership and crucified them in front of the walls.


Ok. Completely brutal, unpleasantness all round, but he's done it. Rebellion over, right?

Umm, no. One of the other key generals…


Let me guess. Some guy named Hannibal?

Yes. This not so famous Hannibal got so complacent that he failed to notice a rebel force attack him from the rear. He was then taken prisoner and (along with other important Carthaginians) he was crucified in retaliation.


He had one not let that specific sequence of events unfold.

But anyway, there was a final battle, the rebels were crushed and there were lashings of crucifixions all round.

Rebellion over.



Except for the rebellion in Sardinia which resulted in all the Carthaginians on the island being massacred. The rebels went to the Romans for help but the Romans refused. But then the Romans went and annexed Sardinia anyway despite a 240 BC treaty with Carthage specifically saying they wouldn't.

But why did Rome annex Sardinia after specifically saying they wouldn’t?

Well, the decision to annexe came from the Roman popular assembly which was particularly hawkish.

"The Sun says we must invade Iraq to protect ourselves from Saddam's nuclear goldfish."

Exactly. and Rome also felt they had to act. It was one thing to help Carthage when they were down, but now the old foe looked like they were getting their strength back, Hamilcar Barca was preparing an invasion force and Rome didn't want to deal with a newly powerful Carthage in their backyard. And as for the treaty? Well, what treaty?

As usual, the Carthaginian elite wanted a general to crucify but Flash Hamicar was too damn popular.

In fact he was so popular, he was set up with the kind of powers that generals would generally get in military colonies.

Hamilcar's family, the Barcids, rose to prominence in this new postcolonial Carthage thanks to support from the popular assembly, the military and certain factions of the wealthy elite.

We say postcolonial, but all that looked to change. Carthage was broke and had huge indemnities to pay off. Its coinage in this period was bronze. It needed silver, gold and troops. If it was going to protect what it had and stand up to Rome it would have to find both those things in an area very familiar to the Phoenician world, southern Spain. So Hamilcar set off with his army in 237 BC.

Hamilcar had another reason to go to Spain. If he went there and got mining he could pay off the indemnity, pay his troops and avoid censure from the Council of Elders, who he had loaded with his own supporters to be on the safe side.

So Hamilcar went about fighting some Celtic tribes and allying with others until he had control of Spanish silver mines, then bought in thousands of slaves to do the actual work. Classic.

At this time, Spain was like the new world for those further East in the Mediterranean, so the natives would have to be dealt with if the mineral wealth of the land could be plundered efficiently. Spoilers: The same thing happens in South America at the hands of the Spanish a millennium and a half later.

Hamilcar was getting so rich and powerful that when a mutiny broke out back in North Africa, he just sent his son-in-law Hasdrubal to put it down. That's flash!

And when Hamilcar died in the 220s in battle, presumably back flipping over his enemy before decapitating them and then being decapitated himself, Hasdrubal was appointed by the army as his successor - even though this was supposed to be the job of the council of elders. Things had changed!

Hasdrubal married a local king's daughter, took the title Strategos Autokrater and even built a new city in South East Spain called New Carthage. And just to top things off, he had himself a magnificent Palace built there.

Meanwhile, the Romans were getting concerned with the Carthaginian northern and eastward expansion in Spain. So they sent some emissaries who pretty much said, "you're not going to be crossing any rivers near us are you?"

And Hasdrubal said "we'll see" and in unrelated news, he was murdered in his Palace by a disgruntled slave in 221 BC. But if I were a slave, I'd probably be almost permanently disgruntled.

When he died, the army acclaimed his son Hannibal, the popular assembly in Carthage agreed and the council of elders just left really passive aggressive post-it notes around the kitchen because no one had asked them.

Once in power, Hannibal Barca then went campaigning in north west Spain, pulling off some stunning victories. And this was a sign of things to come.

Hannibal advanced until he reached the city of Saguntum, a Roman ally. The city sent panicky message of help back to Rome as Hannibal tightened his grip.

Roman ambassadors came to protest to Hannibal at New Carthage, to which Hannibal wasn't exactly diplomatic.


I think I told him to bugger off, didn't I?

Hannibal was feeling confident. he ran half of Spain which was crammed with silvermines and he had a personal fighting force of roughly 70,000 battle-hardened troops including war elephants to boot.

And because of his family's involvement in the Punic War against Rome, he felt a personal grudge towards Rome.

Long story short. He took Saguntum.

Back in Carthage, Hanno angrily declared:

"It is against Carthage that Hannibal is now bringing up his towers, it is Carthage whose walls he is shaking with his battering rams. The ruins of Saguntum will fall on our heads, and the war which has begun with Saguntum will have to be carried on with Rome."

The reaction to his speech was silence as even his opponents didn't think they had the power to remove Hannibal.

Roman historian Cassius Dio pointed out that Carthage had never appointed Hannibal so they couldn't easily remove him, but that meant they weren't all that enthusiastic about his exploits. He said:

"They wished rather not to appear to be leaving him in the lurch than to co-operate effectively in any enterprise."

The Romans finally went to Carthage and, after the Carthaginians cleverly dodged many Roman charges, the Roman ambassador asked Cathage to choose peace or war.

in classic evasive style, the Carthaginians said which do you choose?

The Romans said war.

The Carthaginians said right, so why bother asking?

So the Second Punic War kicks off.

The Romans, as usual, didn't want to paint themselves as the aggressors though, typically, they were pretty sure they were going to win anyway.

The Roman plan was simple. Half their force would take on Hannibal in Spain and the other half would invade Africa. What they didn't expect was for Hannibal to march across hostile Gaul, climb the Alps as winter set in and then somehow emerge on the other side complete with troops, cavalry and war elephants. But that's what Hannibal did.

Astonishing achievement.

I bet the first Romans to see this massive army emerging from the Alps were like…

“WTF man!”

“MInd blown!”

“That’s lit bro!”


I don't know how you get a war elephant through a narrow alpine pass but I bet it involves gallons of olive oil.

And although it was a classic Flash Hamilcar move, it was also costly. Hannibal entered the Alps with 50,000 troops and emerged on the other side with half that number, but he achieved total surprise and was soon reinforced with Gaulish troops very eager to stick it to Rome.

“Ah can’t wait to see the magnificent sites of Rome and then say… bof. Zey’re ok! Nussing special.”

Was Hannibal's crazy plan to take his troops through the Alps some stroke of insane, out of the box military genius?

Well partly. But the other reason he had to do this was because Rome now controlled the waves and Hannibal had no choice but to go overland.

The difference between Hannibal's army and what Carthage had put into the field for years was that the core of Hannibal's army were loyal, battle hardened veterans.

Hannibal was also gathering support from Greeks, Gauls and the Phoenician diaspora who were afraid of Roman domination. he consciously took on the role of Melqart and Heracles in quasi-divine form.

Big headed much? Well, at the time, conquering generals often presented themselves as divine. But Rome had claimed to be the successors of Heracles, which justified their conquests. Hannibal was now taking that title and Rome was being recast as a tyrant. PR is important.

Now on Rome's home turf, Rome and Carthage clashed but Carthage came out on top in two battles thanks to their superior Numidian cavalry.

And in a further bid to separate Rome from Italy, Roman prisoners of War were treated harshly but Italian prisoners of War were released and allowed to go home, possibly with a party bag of Carthaginian merch. Hannibal's overriding tactic was to peel-off Rome's allies and leave them isolated.

Over the winter of 218 to 217 BC, Rome was able to mobilise another 100,000 fighting men to face the Carthaginians. Not that that made a difference. The Roman forces were crushed at Lake Trasimene in the summer of 217 BC.

The problem with the Romans is that they had become used to winning open battle and were the masters of one-on-one infantry fights. But things were changing. Rather than now sending a force to meet the Carthaginians in open battle, a new Roman force shadowed the Carthaginians and prepared to wait them out.

And this was a clever tactic that even Hannibal grudgingly respected. In fact at one point the Carthaginians were surrounded in a valley. They were only able to get out when, by night, torches were attached to 2,000 cattle to misdirect Roman forces, allowing Carthaginians to slip out of Roman lines.

But Rome demanded a victory. So 80,000 troops were sent against the Carthaginian army at Cannae.

The Roman army was led by two consuls. One wanted to play safe and starve out the Carthaginians. The other wanted an open battle with the Carthaginians. Which is exactly what Hannibal wanted. Not being able to agree between them on who should be in charge of the war effort, the Roman consuls took it in turns each day to lead the army.

So Hannibal lined up his troops for battle one morning and waited to see what the Romans would do. When the Romans failed to meet the Carthaginians, Hannibal concluded that the more cautious consul was in charge that day. So, he had his men return to camp, got an early night and then lineup for battle of the next morning. And of course on that day the more aggressive console was in charge and so Hannibal got his battle.

The Battle of Cannae.

Newcastle’s favourite battle.

Having seen Hannibal's previous battle formations, the Romans assumed that Hannibal would put his strongest troops in the centre. So they put their heavy infantry in a tight formation packed into the centre. But Hannibal changed things up. Instead, he put his weakest troops in the centre, which included his Gaulish allies, and instead put his strongest heavy African troops on the flanks in a crescent formation facing the Romans.

When the two sides met, the weak Carthaginian centre quickly broke and retreated. Sensing victory, the Romans rushed after them without noticing that the strong African troops on the flank had maintained their position.

Suddenly the Roman centre found themselves surrounded on three sides. They were then hit in the rear by the carthaginian cavalry. The Romans were cut to pieces. they were so tightly packed in that it was said that the Roman soldiers couldn't even raise the sword arms.

FX: Heat in battle. Screaming, yelling.


This is really annoying. I’ve got a really itchy nose...

70,000 Roman soldiers were killed. 10,000 were captured. This included the cream of Roman society including 80 men of senatorial rank and 29 senior commanders.


I don’t like how the very rich and super lucky are described as “the cream.” I think we should abolish cream and everyone can have the same kind of dairy product...presumably some kind of poor quality UHT you have to queue for.

Rome looked to be finished. it seemed like all Hannibal needed to do was to march on Rome itself and the war would be over.

Maharbal, the leader of the Numidian cavalry, demanded that the next target should be Rome. Hannibal refused which lead to Maharbal supposedly saying:1

"You know how to win victory, Hannibal, but you do not know how to use it."


Oooh snap etc.

In hindsight, it's easy to get frustrated with Hannibal for not marching on Rome and finishing the war. But there were very good reasons why Hannibal didn't do this.

  1. Rome was heavily fortified with 400 km of walls.

  2. Hannibal's army were exhausted. There may have been enough of them to beat Rome repeatedly in battle, but maintaining a large and long siege was a different matter.

A lot of historians have said that Hannibal had no intention of destroying Rome. Apparently he wanted Rome to remain a central Italian power and for Carthage to merely take back Sicily and Sardinia. So his tactic was merely to remove Rome's Italian allies until Rome realised that they were totally isolated and weak and so come to peace.

But Hannibal’s biggest flaw was probably his misunderstanding of Rome. He didn't understand that Rome wasn't about surrender and compromise. It was about being a stubborn bastard that would never ever throw in the towel. The Romans weren't quite like other people.

But Hannibal wasn't to know that and he had every reason to feel confident. Things seem to be going well. Syracuse went into revolt against Rome and Macedon requested an alliance with Carthage.

Straight after the victory at Cannae, Capua, a Roman ally, switched sides to Carthage and gave Hannibal a triumph when he entered the city. Hannibal told them they would be the new capital of all Italy. This was probably a mistake. The problem is that this pissed off nearby cities who didn't want to cast off domination from Rome only to be dominated by capua.

And while Hannibal was having all the success in Italy, this doesn't mean that the war was peachy everywhere else. Meanwhile in Spain, the Carthaginian army were being defeated in battle by the Romans. And in Sicily, Rome defeated a Carthaginian army to somehow gain back control of the island.

But where was Rome getting its armies? By dropping almost all qualifications over who could serve. Bye bye citizen soldiers of a certain age, hello slaves, criminals and toddlers.

Hannibal was having a frustrating time. Every time he flipped an Italian ally to his side or got control of an Italian city, Roman troops would nip in after to undo his good work. So, 7 years into the Italian campaign Hannibal finally marched on Rome.

Upon receiving the news, the Roman citizens panicked. It was said that people were so upset that women started to sweep the floors of the temple with their hair. And then other women had to come in to brush up the stray hairs with their own hair.

But they needn't have worried. Hannibal didn't intend to take Rome, only to demonstrate to the Italian allies that Rome wasn't coming to help them. But this didn't work.

Shortly after, Rome retook capua. And another blow to Carthage came with the young Roman General Scipio, who had taken notes out of Hannibal's playBook and had grown up fighting in battles against him, so knew how he worked. And while Hannibal was going round saying he was the new Heracles, Scipio claimed to be descended from Jupiter. According to the historian Polybius, when Scipio was a baby, a snake crawled on him without harming him and dogs never barked at him.


I mean, as far as superpowers go, it's pretty low tier stuff.


That’s Spiderman.


Was he beaten by a radioactive spider and developed super powers?


No, but a snake once crawled on him and didn’t even bite him.


Scipio took his army to New Carthage in Spain and, using a diversionary attack on one side of the city, had men wade through a shallow lagoon during low tide with ladders to climb up and take the city walls from the other direction. And of course he claimed that the Roman God Neptune had appeared to him in a dream and told him how to take the city.

This won Scipio the loyal following of his men who thought he was the real deal. Scipio also spared New Carthage, winning lots of new recruits and gaining lots of money. Not least from some local Spanish tribes who were fed up of Carthage's presence.

In fact, some Spanish tribes even proclaimed Scipio as king before he politely pointed out that Romans didn't take too kindly to kings and while they were allowed to think it, they just couldn't say it.

Scipio then defeated a major army under the Carthaginian general Mago using basically the same tactics as Hannibal had used at Cannae.


Apparently BC means before copyright.

So by 206 BC the Carthaginians AKA the Barcids were finished in Spain.

Retreating from Spain, Hasdrubal tried to link up with Hannibal back in Italy but was cut off by a Roman force before having his head cut off and thrown into Hannibal's camp - which some negative nellies might see as an obstacle to Hasdrubal’s further military career.

Hannibal increasingly found himself hemmed in and unable to act. This was fortunate for Rome. Some historians have suggested that if Hannibal and Hasdrubal had managed to link up, Hannibal would finally have had an army large enough to take the Roman capital.

Staying on the front foot, Scipio invaded North Africa in 204BC, and he managed to do so much damage that the Carthaginian Council summoned Hannibal back to defend the homeland.

Hannibal did not take this well. In fact he blamed the Council for not supplying him with enough men and troops to get the job done in Italy and he felt they had starved out his father in the First Punic War.

The Carthaginians had resorted to tricky tactics by now. They signed a peace treaty with Scipio but had only done this to buy time so that Hannibal could return. This annoyed Scipio so much that he went on the rampage throughout the countryside to draw Hannibal into a battle.

And in 202, the two sides lined up for the Battle of Zama. So, it's down to this. Two of the greatest generals of all time. Hannibal outnumbered Scipio 2 to 1 but he still asked for a new peace treaty. Scipio refused.

Why would Hannibal be nervous? Well, Scipio was the young, long-haired rockstar who was on a roll, whereas Hannibal had been fighting a long, grueling war with increasingly little to show for his efforts. But perhaps key, Rome had made an alliance with the Numidians and secured the services of their battle winning cavalry. And worse still, Rome had learned how to deal with the Carthaginian war elephants. So once the battle was underway and the elephants charged, the Romans just changed formation, creating wide channels for the elephants to run down.


General, I think I’ve discovered a way to neutralise Carthage’s war elephants. We stay out of their way.



The actual battle was a closely matched infantry fight which was only won by the Romans once their cavalry returned from beating off the Carthaginian cavalry.

Carthage sued for peace which Scipio accepted with the following terms:

  1. Carthage couldn't fight wars outside of Africa and it would need permission from Rome to fight within Africa.

  2. Carthage had to pay a huge war indemnity over the next 50 years.

  3. All war elephants were to be handed over to Rome.

  4. Carthage could only keep 10 warships.

Scipio also got the cool name Africanus, having conquered Africa. Well, some of it.

Worried about what had happened to the army last time, Hannibal put his soldiers to work planting olive groves.

And having ultimately failed on the battlefield, Hannibal turned his hands to politics. And despite the loss at Zama, Hannibal remained very popular.

Going into politics on a populist ticket, Hannibal railed against corruption and campaigned for the Tribune of One Hundred and Four to be regularly elected, thus circumventing the Carthaginian Council. Like a Roman populist, Hannibal used the Popular Assembly to pass building programmes to get people employed and to improve Carthage.

The reaction of the Council of Elders was predictably hostile. So much so that they reported to Rome that Hannibal was conspiring with King Antiochus of the Seleucid Empire to invade Italy and North Africa. True or not, this turned into quite the self-fulfilling prophecy - when Rome sent agents to Carthage only for Hannibal to flee to… King Antiochus of the Seleucid Empire to discuss the invasion of Italy and North Africa.

As it happens Antiochus did go to war with Rome, but wasn't all that interested in taking war advice from Hannibal "the bottler" Barca only giving him the commission of Chief Chair Straightener.

Poor Hannibal.

He spent the rest of his life sleeping on the couches of various kings in the east. He went to the King of Bithynia and, amongst other things, advised him that he could win naval battles if his sailors threw pots of snakes at enemy ships and the King of Bithinya said:

"Really excellent suggestions Hannibal. I'll tell you what. Why don't I put your CV on file and that way if anything does come up we can give you a call."

Hannibal was finally tracked down by some Roman agents but took some poison, killing himself in 183 BC before he could be caught.

Scipio Africanus and his supporters actually objected to the hunting of Hannibal and thought he should have been allowed to live out his days - but most were glad to see the back of the threat that was Hannibal Barca - Rome's worst nightmare.

Similarly in Rome, Scipio Africanus fell foul of the Roman elite, was prosecuted for corruption in his wars against Antiochus and died a broken man, not long after Hannibal. Two military heroes were considered too great a threat to their respective countries.


So you see, Phil, in war there are no real winners.


Except for the side that doesn't lose.


How very true.

So was this the end of Carthage?

No. in fact, without having to fund wars or colonies anymore, Carthage experienced an economic recovery and 10 years after the end of the war, Carthage had already paid off it's 50 year debt to Rome!

North Africa had survived largely unscathed, agricultural output had gone up and New Carthage could freely trade with Rome.

Carthage was able to build an amazing new circular port harbour complex built from sandstone. Meanwhile Rome had been fighting several wars and was exhausted. And while the Romans needed Carthaginian imports, the Roman Senate was still hostile and suspicious of Carthage despite not seeing them as a military threat.

In 162 BC, King Masinissa, Rome's Numidian ally in North Africa, went on the offensive overrunning Carthaginian lands. Carthage appealed to Rome, but were told that they not only had to accept Massinissa's control but also to pay him reparations.

The Numidians made the case that since the Carthaginians had only been granted as much land as they could cover with a oxens hide, they had no real claim to any of it. And when Massinissa tried the same trick again, Rome accepted it.x`

And while Carthage had its defenders in Rome it also had powerful opponents. When the Roman statesman Marcus Porcius Cato arrived in Carthage he was furious to find the city rich, teeming with fighting men and ready to build a new fleet, or so he claimed. Returning to Rome, he lobbied hard for a new invasion - ending every speech with an ominous new catchphrase - Carthage must be destroyed.

Nice to see Carthage destroyed, to see Carthage destroyed - nice.

Unfortunately catchphrases catch on, which is why they're called catchphrases, and this was a time when Rome was at its most hostile and expansionist.

In its early days, Rome had gone to great lengths to paint itself as only fighting justified wars. But increasingly, with no serious opponents to stop it, Rome had become the steamroller of the Mediterranean world.

At one point, Cato climbed onto the speaker's rostrum and opened his toga to reveal a juicy fat fig.


How disgusting.

Explaining that it had been picked in Carthage 3 days earlier, Cato demonstrated that Carthage was a renewed threat in close proximity to Rome. Thousands of years later, Antonius Porkypius Blair pulled a similar stunt with Saddam's imaginary nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile in Carthage, a new faction grew that had popular support. It claimed that the Romans weren't protecting them and Carthage should cast out the Numidians themselves.

Unfortunately for Carthage this wasn't to end well. Not only were they defeated in battle by the Numidians and lost another chunk of land, but they had also violated the peace treaty. Rome now had a clear reason to invade. In truth, Carthage wasn't a military threat but it had become a great economic prize. Who doesn't love juicy figs?

How disgusting (richie)

When Carthaginians came to Rome to plead their case in 150 BC, they found that the Roman army had already set sail. Cato prepared a dossier of 6 supposed incidents where Carthage and broken treaties, contrasting it to how morally upstanding and wonderful Rome was.

Blair: weapons of mass destruction.

But Rome still offered Carthage some kind of peace deal. As well as basically completely disarming Carthage, which it did, its terms were basically unacceptable. As long as Carthaginians moved 16 km inland and the city of Carthage was completely destroyed, the Romans would not go to war with the Carthaginians. Great deal!

And when the carthaginians protested, Rome pretty much said, “look, it's for your own good. If you can't see the sea, you won't want an empire.” And while I paraphrase, that was pretty much the message.

Carthage, who by now had given up much of their weaponry, went about rearming themselves and preparing for war.


Ok. Now you can do the A-Team reference.

A-Team music


The 700,000 strong citizenry of Carthage created workshops to fashion hundreds of weapons per day to arm their men, ships were being built from whatever was available and women even donated their hair for catapult string.

And Carthage was still an incredible city. with huge walls, 20,000 infantry, 300 elephants and 4,000 cavalry, Carthage was far from beaten.

And the siege didn't go well for Rome. Meanwhile Hasdrubal (one who hadn’t had his head cut off) was on the rampage in North Africa with his army disrupting Roman efforts.

The Romans weren't happy with the war effort and sent General Scipio Amelianus to North Africa. As the adoptive grandson of Scipio Africanus, the family name alone made Hasdrubal nervous enough that he gathered his forces and took them inside the city of Carthage. This allowed Scipio to now totally blockade Carthage.

Inside the city, Hasdrubal became a brutal dictator. He used food shortage to ensure compliance, rewarding his supporters with lavish banquets while letting his enemies starve. He also tortured Roman captives to death on the walls of Carthage so the population knew that the Romans would offer them no mercy.

It's weird how the fear of autocrats ruling Carthage had made the Carthaginian council so punishing of its generals. And yet, the only time someone became an autocrat was right at the very end.

Not that it really matters. In 146, scipio ordered the final assault on the city. As fires broke out in the city, it was said that Scipio wept. He said:

"The day shall come in which our sacred Troy and Priam, and the people over whom spear-bearing Priam rules, shall perish all."

And his companion said, “do you mean Rome?”

And he said “yes. I would have thought that would have been obvious.”

But Scipio can't have been that bothered since the Romans took Carthage Street by Street, looting, pillaging and burning until the Carthaginians were killed or enslaved, their art and wealth shipped back to Rome and their names rubbed out.

As his last gesture, Scipio performed the ceremony of evocatio, the exhorting of the gods of Carthage to abandon the city and make their new home in Rome.

Why? This way the deeply religious Romans could not be accused of sacrilege, since they could claim that Carthage was a city empty of gods before it was finally destroyed. And even then, its temples were left standing. It’s a good idea to hedge your bets.

What was Carthage's legacy?

Carthage was a nightmare that lived with Rome for a long time. Not only were the tales of Hannibal popular for Roman mothers to scare children with, but the destruction of Carthage was a long and traumatic subject for the Roman psyche.

Romans were obsessed with their own mortality and their own sense of what Rome should be. It was felt that without the existence of an opponent in Carthage, Rome would slip into decadence and despotism.

It is said that the land of Carthage had been salted so that a new settlement could not flourish, but even 100 years later it was still being hotly debated about building a new Roman settlement, with some arguing that a new Carthage might emerge that would go on to destroy Rome.

Methinks that the lady doth protest too much.

But attitudes changed. And salt can be removed.


The tip is to dab a little red wine on it. Lifts it out a treat.

When Julius Caesar was campaigning in North Africa, he had a dream of weeping soldiers, which was interpreted both as weeping Carthaginians or weeping Roman soldiers who needed land. Either way he decided that a new city of Carthage should be rebuilt but Caesar was murdered before the project could get underway.

Instead it was left to Augustus who showed Roman clemency and peacefulness by bulldozing what was left of Carthage and then planning a new city on top of it. Roman clemency everybody.

While Cartage might have been rubbed from the map, Carthage's culture lived on. North African elites, now loyal to Rome, still celebrated their Punic heritage. Punic survived as the written and spoken language in that area of North Africa until the fourth century AD. Chief magistrates continued to be called sufettes until the second century AD.

And the gods of Carthage continued to be worshipped. Top citizens of Carthage made their way through the cities of the Mediterranean and became powerful and influential in other countries and the Roman Empire. In fact, Rome even had an emperor of Carthaginian stock.

Septimus Severus marched 1000 km from the Danube to Rome via the Alps to become emperor of Rome in imitation of Hannibal. Just a coincidence? He even reburied the remains of Hannibal in a white mausoleum to underline the connection.

And Emperor Constantine the Great had a nephew called Flanius Hannibalianus, after the great Hannibal.

And Flanius’ fave pyjamas? Elephant ones. Possibly.

And Carthage’s legacy is still evident. There are major cities that still exist that were founded by Carthage including Lisbon, Cartagena, Marsala, Malaga and Tangier.

In more modern times, there were 10 cities named after Carthage, 9 of which are in the United States.


Yes and in the US, there are 5 cities named after Hannibal.


From the A-Team?


No, the other one.

Take a car take a car, take a car carthage (ABBA)

If you're all alone

And you feel estranged from Rome

My triremes are free

Take a chance on me

Gonna think I'm heaven sent

I'll land in Sicily

I'll bring war elephants

For the usual fee

Take a chance on me

That's all I ask of you, smaller Mediterranean powers.

Take a chance on me

We can dine on dog meat (oh)

Worshipping some idols (yeah)

As long as we're together (long as we're together)

Grow some vines in Africa (oh)

Do some agriculture (yeah)

Get to know you better (get to know you better)

Let me tell you now

Hannibal is strong enough

To last when things are rough, it's tactics

You say that I lose too much

But our trade recovers such, that we can't let Rome

Conquer the globe.

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