- AFRICA (46)
- Egypt (158)
- ASIA (51)
- China (58)
- India (111)
- Japan (20)
- Korea, North (5)
- Korea, Republic of (6)
- Palestine (1)
- Russia (85)
- Southeast Asia (32)
- Tibet (8)
- Canada (47)
- EUROPE (26)
- Europe .476-1000: Early Middle Ages (43)
- Europe .300-700: Migration period (10)
- Europe 1001-1299: High Middle Ages (66)
- Europe 1300-1453: Late Middle Ages (64)
- Europe 1300-1699: Renaissance (64)
- Europe 1454-1500: The New World (25)
- Europe 1501-1600: The Reformation (54)
- Europe 1601-1788: Enlightenment (73)
- Europe 1619-1648: Thirty Years' War (13)
- Europe 1789-1848: The Age of Revolutions (37)
- Europe 1849-1913: The Age of Liberalism (53)
- France (9)
- Germany (38)
- Poland (28)
- United Kingdom (181)
- Greco-Roman World (85)
- Byzantium (667 BC-1453 AC) (6)
- Carthage (10)
- Greece (3650 BC-146 BC) (74)
- Macedonia (800s BC-146 BC) (19)
- Rome (753 BC-1453 AC) (94)
- Troy (3000 -100 BC) (9)
- History of Science (283)
- LATIN AMERICA (84)
- MIDDLE EAST (41)
- Afghanistan (26)
- Israel (83)
- Mesopotamia (22)
- Persia / Iran (67)
- Saudi Arabia (8)
- OCEANIA (11)
- Prehistory (14)
- United States (335)
- American Revolution (20)
- Civil War (1861-1865) (108)
- Vietnam War (1959-1975) (11)
- World History (94)
- World post-war (1946-Today) (144)
- War on Terrorism (69)
- World War I (1914-1918) (55)
- World War II (1939-1945) (387)
- D-Day: June 6, 1944 (49)
- Operation Barbarossa (31)
- WWII Footage: Canada (18)
- WWII Footage: Germany (38)
- WWII Footage: UK
- WWII Footage: United States (26)
- World Wars: Interwar (1918-1939) (8)
Topics: Greco-Roman World - Carthage
Carthage, from the Phoenician meaning new town, refers both to an ancient city in present-day Tunisia, and a modern-day suburb of Tunis. The civilization that developed within the city's sphere of influence is referred to as Punic or Carthaginian. The city of Carthage is located on the eastern side of Lake Tunis across from the center of Tunis. According to Roman legend it was founded in 814 BC by Phoenician colonists under the leadership of Elissa (Queen Dido). It became a large and rich city and thus a major power in the Mediterranean. The resulting rivalry with Syracuse and Rome was accompanied by several wars with respective invasions of each other's homeland. Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War culminated in the Carthaginian victory at Cannae and led to a serious threat to the continuation of Roman rule over Italy, however Carthage emerged from the conflict at its historical weakest. After the Third Punic War, the city was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. However, the Romans refounded Carthage, which became one of the three most important cities of the Empire and the capital of the short-lived Vandal kingdom. It remained one of the most important Roman cities until the Muslim conquest when it was destroyed a second time in AD 698.
Queen Elissa, who in later accounts became known as Queen Dido, was a princess of Tyre who founded Carthage. At its peak, her metropolis came to be called the "shining city," ruling 300 other cities around the western Mediterranean and leading the Phoenician (or Punic) world.
Elissa's brother, King Pygmalion of Tyre, had murdered her husband, the high priest. Elissa escaped the tyranny of her own country and founded the "new city" of Carthage and subsequently its later dominions. Details of her life are sketchy and confusing, but the following can be deduced from various sources. According to Justin, Princess Elissa was the daughter of King Matten of Tyre (also known as Muttoial or Belus II). When he died, the throne was jointly bequeathed to her and her brother, Pygmalion. She married her uncle Acherbas (also known as Sychaeus) the High Priest of Melqart, a man with both authority and wealth comparable to the king. This furthered rivalry between religion and the monarchy. Pygmalion was a tyrant, lover of both gold and intrigue, who desired the authority and fortune enjoyed by Acherbas. Pygmalion assassinated Acherbas in the temple and kept the misdeed concealed from his sister for a long time, deceiving her with lies about her husband's death. At the same time, the people of Tyre called for a single sovereign, causing dissent within the royal family.
In the Roman epic of Virgil, the Aeneid, Queen Dido, the Greek name for Queen Elissa, is first introduced as an extremely respected character in his legend. In just seven years, since their exodus from Tyre, the Carthaginians have rebuilt a successful kingdom under her rule. Her subjects adore her and present her with a festival of praise. Her character is perceived by Virgil as even more noble when she offers asylum to Aeneas and his men, who have recently escaped from Troy. A spirit in the form of the messenger god, Mercury, sent by Jupiter, reminds Aeneas that his mission is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, Dido, but to sail to Italy to found Rome. Virgil ends his legend of Dido with the story that, when Aeneas tells Dido, her heart broken, she orders a pyre to be built where she falls upon Aeneas' sword. As she lay dying, she predicted eternal strife between Aeneas' people and her own: "rise up from my bones, avenging spirit" (4.625, trans. Fitzgerald) she says, an obvious invocation of Hannibal.
The Carthaginian Empire was one of the longest-lived and largest empires in the ancient Mediterranean. Reports relay several wars with Syracuse and finally, Rome, which eventually resulted in the defeat and destruction of Carthage in the third Punic war.
The fall of Carthage came at the end of the Third Punic War in 146 BC. In spite of the initial devastating Roman naval losses at the beginning of the series of conflicts and Rome's recovery from the brink of defeat after the terror of a 15-year occupation of much of Italy by Hannibal, the end of the series of wars resulted in the end of Carthaginian power and the complete destruction of the city by Scipio Aemilianus. The Romans pulled the Phoenician warships out into the harbor and burned them before the city, and went from house to house, capturing and enslaving the people. Fifty thousand Carthaginians were sold into slavery. The city was set ablaze, and in this way was razed with only ruins and rubble to field the aftermath. After the fall of Carthage, Rome annexed the majority of the Carthaginian colonies, including other North African locations such as Volubilis, Lixus, Chellah, and Mogador. Through a series of misunderstandings, a belief that the Carthaginian farmland was salted to ensure that no crops could be grown there developed in the modern period.
When Carthage fell, its nearby rival Utica, a Roman ally, was made capital of the region and replaced Carthage as the leading center of Punic trade and leadership. It had the advantageous position of being situated on the Lake of Tunis and the outlet of the Majardah River, Tunisia's only river that flowed all year long. However, grain cultivation in the Tunisian mountains caused large amounts of silt to erode into the river. This silt was accumulated in the harbor until it was made useless, and Rome was forced to rebuild Carthage.
By 122 BC, Gaius Gracchus founded a short-lived colonia, called Colonia Iunonia, after the Latin name for the punic goddess Tanit, Iuno caelestis. The purpose was to obtain arable lands for impoverished farmers. The Senate abolished the colony some time later, in order to undermine Gracchus' power. After this ill-fated attempt, a new city of Carthage was built on the same land, and by the 1st century it had grown to the second largest city in the western half of the Roman empire, with a peak population of 500,000. It was the center of the Roman province of Africa, which was a major breadbasket of the empire.
Carthage also became a center of early Christianity. In the first of a string of rather poorly reported Councils at Carthage a few years later, no fewer than seventy bishops attended. Tertullian later broke with the mainstream that was represented more and more by the bishop of Rome, but a more serious rift among Christians was the Donatist controversy, which Augustine of Hippo spent much time and parchment arguing against. In 397 at the Council at Carthage, the biblical canon for the western Church was confirmed.
The political fallout from the deep disaffection of African Christians is supposedly a crucial factor in the ease with which Carthage and the other centres were captured in the 5th century by Gaiseric, king of the Vandals, who defeated the Roman general Bonifacius and made the city his capital. Gaiseric was considered a heretic too, an Arian, and though Arians commonly despised Catholic Christians, a mere promise of toleration might have caused the city's population to accept him. After a failed attempt to recapture the city in the 5th century, the Byzantines finally subdued the Vandals in the 6th century.
During the emperor Maurice's reign, Carthage was made into an Exarchate, as was Ravenna in Italy. These two exarchates were the western bulwarks of Byzantium, all that remained of its power in the west. In the early 7th century, it was the Exarch of Carthage, Heraclius (of Armenian origin), who overthrew Emperor Phocas.