Dido, the Queen of Carthage and her city
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Elissar, a princess of Tyre founded Carthage. Her metropolis rose
in its high-noon to be called a "shining city," ruling 300
other cities around the western Mediterranean and leading the Phoenician
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In the harbor of
ancient Tyre in Phoenicia, the fisherman
chant "Ela--eee--sa, Ela--eee--sa," as they haul
in their nets. They cannot say why; maybe it's for luck, or
maybe it's a lament for their princess who left her homeland never
Elissar or Elissa
(Elishat, in Phoenician) was a princess of Tyre. She was Jezebel's
grandniece — Princess Jezebel of Tyre was Queen of Israel. Her
brother, Pygmalion king of Tyre, murdered her husband, the high priest.
She escaped tyranny in her country and founded Carthage and thereafter
its Phoenician Punic dominions. Carthage became later a great center
of the western Mediterranean in its high-noon. One of its most famous
sons was Hannibal who defied Rome.1
Details of her life
are sketchy and confusing, however, following is what one can deduce
from various sources. According to Justin, Princess Elissar was the
daughter of King Matten or Muttoial of Tyre (Belus II of classical literature).
After his death, the throne was jointly bequeathed to her and her brother,
Pygmalian. She was married to her uncle Acherbas (Sychaeus of classical
literature), High Priest of Melqart and a man of authority and riches
like that of a king. Tyrannical Pygmalion, a lover of gold and intrigue,
was eager to be acquire the authority and fortune of Acherbas. He assassinated
him in the Temple and kept his evil deed a secret for a long time from
his sister. He cheated her with fictions about his death. Meanwhile,
the people of Tyre were pressing for a single sovereign that caused
dissensions within the royal family.
Legend has it that
the ghost of Acherbas appeared to Elissar in a dream and told her what
had happened to him. Further, he told her where she could find his treasure.
Further, he advised her to leave Tyre for fear of her life. Elissar
and her supporters seized the treasure of gold. However, because she
was threatened and frightened, Elissar decided to trick and flee her
Not to awaken
her brother's suspicions, she made it known that she wanted to
travel and send him offerings. Acherbas approved
thinking that Elissar would send him riches. He provided her
the night, Elissar had her treasures of gold hidden in the hold
of the ships and had bags filled with sands laid out onboard, also.
Once at sea she had the sand bags thrown overboard, calling that
an offering in memory of her murdered husband. The servants feared
that loss of the treasure would enrage the king against and they
would suffer his reprisal. Consequently, they decided to pay
allegiance to Elissar and accompany her on a
voyage. Elissar's supports, as well
as additional senators and priests of Melqart joined the group.
Consequently, they left
the country in secret, leaving behind their homeland
They traveled first
to the island of Cyprus to get supplies for a longer journey. There,
twenty virgins who were devoted to serve in the Temple of Ashtarte (Venus)
as vestal virgins, renounced their vows, and married in the Tyrinian
entourage that accompanied the princess. Thereafter, Elissar and her
company, "the vagrants" (a.k.a. Dido the ?wanderer?) faced
the open sea in search for a new place to settle.2
Very early in ancient
history, Phoenician sailors had visited the far corners of the Mediterranean
sea and established commercial relations with the local people.
Sidonian Phoenicians had established trading posts in the 16th century
B.C. at Utica which is relatively close to where Carthage was
later to be
established. Their main objective was commercial to compete with
their Tyrinian Phoenician
had a colony
at Utica. Archaeological evidence of the early settlements have
been found. The position of Utica towards Carthage was precisely
of Sidon towards Tyre. It was the more ancient city of the two, and
it preserved a certain kind of position without actual power. Carthage
and Utica competed, like Tyre and Sidon and they were at one time
always spoken of together.
Elissar and her
Tyrinian entourage, including her priests and temple maidens of Ashtarte,
crossed the length of the Mediterranean in several ships and settled
the shores of what's today modern Tunisia. Her expedition came and negotiated
with the local inhabitants on purchasing a piece of land. Sailing into
the Gulf of Tunis she spied a headland that would be the perfect spot
for a city and chose the very site called Cambe or Caccabe which was
an ancient Sidonian Phoenician trading post. However, some records indicate
that the goddess Tanit (Juno in Latin) indicated the spot were to found
the city. The natives there weren't too happy about the newcomers, but
Elissar was able to make a deal with their king Japon: she promised
him a fair amount of money and rent for many years for as much land
as she could mark out with a bull's skin.
The king thought
he was getting the better end of the deal, but he soon noticed that
the woman he was dealing with was smarter than he had expected. This
purchase contained some intrigue while the size of the land was thought
not to exceed a "Bull's Hide," it actually was a lot larger then ever
thought. The trick she and her expedition employed was that they cutup
a bull's hide into very thin which they sewed together into one long
string. Then they took the seashore as one edge for the piece of land
and laid the skin into a half-circle. Consequently, Elissar and her
company got a much bigger piece of land than the king had thought possible.
The Carthaginians continued to pay rent for the land until the 6th
century BC. That hilltop today is called the "Byrsa." Byrsa
means "ox hide." However, there is some confusion over the
word; some believe that it refers to the Phoenician word borsa which
means citadel or fortress.
King Japon was very
impressed by Elissar's great mathematical talents and asked her to marry
him. She refused, so he had a huge university built, hoping to find
another young lady with similar talents instead. On that "carved"
site, Elissar and her colonial entourage founded a new city ca. 814
BC.3 They called it 'Qart-Haddasht' (Carthage) which comes
from two Phoenician words that mean 'New Land." In memory of their
Tyrinian origin, the people of Carthage paid an annual tribute to the
temple of Melqart of Tyre in Phoenicia.
The city of Carthage
slowly gained its independence from Tyre though it was initially controlled
by its own magistrates carrying the title of suffetes It kept close
links with Tyre, the metropolis, until 332 BC.4
of Carthage, and thereafter, the territories around the western Mediterranean
were a very successful endeavor that gave rise to the powerful Phoenician
Punic dominions. A western Mediterranean Phoenicians become known as
Carthaginians. Later, Punic, a name used by the Romans to refer to western
Mediterranean Phoenicians, was applied to all Carthaginians and the
300 city states and lands they came to occupy.5
were very captivated with their queen and many believe that she was
thought to be a goddess who came to be known Tanit.
is reproduced as is (with a very minor change) by kind permission
of the original authors Mathematica Ludibunda http://mathematica.ludibunda.ch/,
a brilliant, very interesting and educational site in German and English.
I am indebted to Ms. Christa Ackermann for granting me her kind permission
to reproduce the graphics
and text below. The materiial is © copyrighted by Mathematica
Ludibunda and may not be reproduced without permission.
How did Elissar get the idea with the half-circle? Could there be
a way to get even more land with the same bull's skin?
To prove that Elissar did get the biggest piece of land possible, we'll look
the relationship of different shapes with the same perimeter to their areas.
To make it easier we'll first forget about the trick Elissar used with the seashore
and pretend we have to put the bull's hide all the way around the land.
To start off, let's make some different rectangles and find out how
big the area is. A rectangle where two sides are 4 and two sides
10 units long, like the one
on the right, will do fine for a start. You can easily calculate the area of
that square, which is 40.
Now, to see how the relations are when you change the shape of the rectangle,
we'll look at another rectangle where the sides also add up to 28. Let's try
this one where two sides are 3 and two 11 units long. When we calculate the
area we get 33. Oops, that's a smaller area than we had before.
Instead of checking
each rectangle individually, you can use the magic picture right. If you move
the mouse around, the shape of the rectangle will change. The sides however
always add up to 28. Can you find out which shape has the biggest area?
Right! It's the
square. The square with its four equilateral sides
and angles has the biggest area of all possible rectangles of a given
Now let's look at a different shape. For example the triangle. Since
it's not quite as easy to calculate the area for a triangle, you
can go right to the magic
picture. Move your mouse around the picture below to make different triangles.
Here again, the sides always add up to the same length, this time 24 units.
What is the relationship of the sides and angles in the triangle
with the biggest
Bingo! Again all
the sides and all the angles are the same size! Such a triangle is
regular or equilateral triangle. As you might
have noticed, you can get exactly one regular triangle if you have
a defined perimeter. Of course this is why: if you have a given perimeter
and all the sides have to be the same length, each side has to be the
length of the perimeter divided by three (in our example each side
has to be 22/3 or 7.33 units long). And since in every triangle all
the angles add up to 180° and all the sides have to have the same
angle, each angle has to be 60°.
But let's get back to business. We saw that of all the triangles
and rectangles, the versions where all the angles and sides are
the same, have the biggest area
for a given perimeter. This is not only true for rectangles and triangles,
but for any possible shape. We call these shapes equilateral polygons.
So, now that we know that the equilateral polygons are always going
to give the best result of any polygon, we can take a look at just
these and try to
out which polygon gives us the biggest area. Instead of calculating all that
stuff, you can again just play around with a magic picture. If you move the
mouse around below, the number of sides the polygon has will change. The
perimeter always stays 28 units. What relationship do you see between
the number of sides
and the area?
Right again! The more sides a polygon has, the bigger its area. I'm
sure you also noticed that the polygons with forty or more sides look
more like a circle than a polygon. So it probably doesn't surprise
you that the more sides an equilateral polygon has, the closer its
area will get to the one of a circle.
So now we have just
shown that the circle is the shape which has the biggest area for a
given perimeter. First we saw that for any shape with x number of sides,
the shape which has the biggest area is the one where all the sides
and all the angles are the same (and for a given perimeter there is
only one of these shapes). Then we found out that the more sides our
equilateral polygon has, the bigger the area will be and the closer
it will be to a circle which gives the biggest area. Therefore the shape
with the biggest area for a given circumference is the circle. That's
exactly what Elissar found out too.
But for Elissar, a circle was not good enough. She wanted a bigger piece
of land. So she decided to use the seashore as one side. Since
you already know that
without a seashore the circle is the best shape, you'll easily see that the
is the best shape if you have one given side. We won't prove that now. But
did Elissar get a much bigger area because she used the seashore? The answer
yes. By using the seashore as one of the sides, Elissar got exactly twice as
much land as she would have, had she just laid out a circle.
For us, it was easy to prove that Elissar found the best possible solution
to her problem. It was much harder for Elissar, however. Not only did
she have to do without magic pictures, but a lot less was known about
mathematics in the time she lived.
Apart from being female, Elissar had the best possible starting point
for a mathematical career. She was a royal daughter and therefore
had access to the best educators,
and she didn't have to work like women of the lower classes. She was from Phoenicia,
a nation of sailors and merchants. The Phoenicians had a lot of contact with
the Egyptians and Babylonians, the leading nations in the sciences of that
But even with this
starting point, Elissar couldn't have known half as much about mathematics
as we know today. The Phoenicians knew about the Pythagorean
theorem and were able to solve algebraic problems, especially since
Pythagoras was half Phoenician
and was trained in the centers of religion and learning of Phoenicia.
Also, other mathematicians and pillars of learning came from there also.
Their mathematical skills were limited; however, they had an understanding
of pi, as demonstrated in the building of Solomon's Temple.
. For example, you can clearly see this when you take into consideration
that a kind of zero was first used 200 years after Elissar. So she really
must have been a mathematical talent to find the best possible solution
for her problem.
Through the centuries, many versions of Elissar's story have been written.
Her story has been used to show women how to behave and how definitely
not to behave.
The oldest sources
indicate that the Elissar we call today the historical Elissar is
the right one. They show that her life account is accurate.
The story of the historical Elissar
was used in the middle ages to show that an honorable widow shouldn't
Almost a millennium after the death of the historical Elissar, the
to rewrite her story. Vergil's version was very successful and is
pretty well known today. Over centuries people learned Latin with Vergil's
books, and the Vergilian Elissar has even been adapted for an opera
and in dramas such as «Didone
Liberata» (Dido Liberated), a drama
in Italian by Dr.
Salvatore Conte of Didone
Liberata, L'autentica Didone di Virgilio website.
Like the historical Elissar, Vergil's Elissar fled from her brother
and founded Carthage after buying some land in Africa. As the gods
would have it, Aeneas,
hero who had fled from the burning Troy, stranded near Carthage not much
later. Elissar fell madly in love with the hero (here Amor played his part)
forgot to take care of her people. The gods, however, still had plans
for Aeneas to found Rome, so he had to leave. Elissar then killed herself
not only failed to rule over her people, but she hadn't even been able
to keep a
man there who could have taken over that job.
In our version,
Elissar is probably saved from her suicidal death for the first time.
Also, the king could show himself from his good side. Instead of being
jealous of Elissar's success, he turns history around and founds the
first university where women have free access to study. And this was
2700 years before women first were admitted to universities with equal
- Gay, David: "Geometry
by Discovery". University of Arizona, 1999.
A great book
which makes you discover geometry by yourself. It helps you acquire
techniques to solve a problem by simplifying it and then going
on step by step until you are at the original problem.
Date of Founding Carthage
Phoenician history, we depend on the reports of Greek and Roman authors
who were not
kindly disposed towards them. A grim struggle was waged for centuries
between the Greeks and Romans on the one hand, and the Phoenicians and
offshoot, the Carthaginians, on the other, in which the prize was nothing
less than the political and commercial control of the Mediterranean.
It began as early as the Orientalizing period of the eighth and early seventh
with the rivalry of Greek and Phoenician settlers in the West, and culminated
with Alexanders capture of Tyre in the fourth century, Romes
defeat of Carthage after the exhausting Punic wars of the third, and
destruction in the second. Carthage had been the focus of Phoenician
presence in the West for many hundred of years before it was leveled
to the ground
by the Romans in 146 BC. The Roman historian Appian gave a round figure
of seven centuries for Carthages existence, which would imply a
date for its founding about the middle of the ninth century. Timaeus,
the Greek chronographer,
gave the year 814 BC as the date of Carthages founding.6 Josephus dated Elissar's flight 155 years after the accession of Hiram,
of David and
Solomon, that is, in 826 BC. Another tradition, associated with the fourth-century
chronographer Philistos, placed Carthages founding a mans
life-length before the fall of Troy. Despite the fact that
of the Trojan War is unknown, scholars have assumed that he put the date
of the founding of Carthage in the thirteenth century.7
Appian, who followed Philistos in dating the founding of Carthage fifty
years before the capture of Troy8 knew
that the city had had a lifetime of not more than seven
hundred years.9 Thus
Appian dated the Trojan War to ca. 800 BC, and there is no reason to
think that Philistos
did not do likewise.
however, does not support a mid- or late-ninth century date for Carthages
founding. After many years of digging archaeologists have succeeded to
the most ancient of Carthages buildings. P. Cintas, excavating
a chapel dedicated to the goddess Tanit, found in the lowest levels a
structure with a foundation deposit of Greek orientalizing vases datable
to the last quarter of the eighth century. These are still the earliest
signs of human habitation at the site; although Cintas originally held
that there would be found remains of the earliest settlers of the end
of the ninth century, the years have not substantiated such expectation.10 Scholars
are now for the most part ready to admit that the ancient chronographers estimate
of the date of the citys founding was exaggerated.11 But
if Carthage was founded ca. 725 BC the Trojan War would, in the scheme
of Philistos and Appian, need to be placed in the first quarter of the
While Carthage was
taking root as a city state, Tyre, its mother city, was under threat
from the Assyrians. Its people migrated out in search of safety to various
Phoenician colonies including new established Carthage. The beginning
of the Carthaginian colony was the magnificent metropolis it evolved
into. The citizens were merchants and made most of their money from
the extraction of silver from mines in North Africa and southern Spain.
was in commerce but their experience from their original homeland
positioned them to make something of themselves. However, Carthaginian
ties to Tyre taxed and impoverished them from the relentless
that were dealt against Tyre.
The Greeks took
advantage of the situation and sent colonists into the Mediterranean,
completely surrounding Carthage. In response, Carthage rounded up refugees
from the fallen city of Tyre and other neighboring states to form a
strong and united front against the Greeks.
By the middle of
the 7th century BC Carthage had become the jewel of the Mediterranean.
It was keeping the Greeks at bay and it had
important battles that
placed it in an authoritative position. Carthage began to set up trading
posts that were soon turned into towns and cities to meet demand of
down the coast.
In the 6th century,
the city became unquestionably a considerable capital with a domain
divided into the three districts of Zeugitana (the environs of Carthage
and the peninsula of C. Bon), Byzacium (the shore of the Syrtes), and
the third comprising the emporia which stretch in the form of a crescent
to the center of the Great Syrtis as far as Cyrenaica. The first contest
against the Greeks arose from a boundary question between the settlements
of Carthage and those of the Greeks of Cyrene. The limits were eventually
fixed and marked by a monument known as the Altar of Philenae.
of Tyre by Nebuchadrezzar, in the first half of the 6th century,
enabled Carthage to take its place as mistress of the
Mediterranean. The Phoenician colonies founded by Tyre and Sidon in
Sicily and Spain, threatened by the Greeks, sought help from Carthage,
and from this period dates the Punic supremacy in the western Mediterranean.
The Greek colonization of Sicily was checked, while Carthage established
herself on all the Sicilian coast and the neighboring islands as
far as the Balearic Islands and the coast of Spain. The inevitable
conflict between Greece and Carthage broke out about 550 BC.
Carthaginians made an alliance with the Persians (who had previously
to conquer the Greeks, yet it proved disastrously ill planned
because it was a failure in 480 BC at Salamis and at Himera in Sicily.
Carthage suffered as a result of this defeat.
trade began to pick up and Carthage planned yet another attack on
the Greeks in 409 BC. The Greeks were vulnerable following
unsuccessful tries to conquer Sicily. The result was a hundred
years of war between the Greeks and the Carthaginians and at different
the destruction and annihilation of both powers seemed plausible.
In 332 BC Alexander
conquered all of Phoenicia and humiliated Tyre and so there was no longer
any hope of aid from Phoenicia. With Phoenicia, the main land too weak
to help and pre-occupied with invasions, the western Mediterranean colonies
looked to Carthage for aid and leadership. The defense of western Phoenician
colonies fell to Carthage by default. Consequently, Carthage began to
found her own ?colonies? to better protect the livelihood of all Carthaginians.
That causes more conflict with many people of the area especially the
Greeks and later the Romans.
The reign of the famous Eastern World leader, Alexander the Great,
between 334 and 323 BC, forced Carthage to change its political philosophy.
It could no longer remain a private and aggressive colony or it would
face the real possibility of economic ruin. So Carthage decided to
accept the Hellenistic empire, especially the monarchy in Egypt, in
order to have allies against Alexander.
the Hellenistic Age began with the death of Alexander the Great (323
BC) and ended with the conquest of Egypt by Rome
in 30 BC. Hellenism was a fusion
of Mediterranean religions, a cultural unity which was not broken until Muslim
imperialism many years later.
During the reign of Alexander, Carthage had remained a Western stronghold,
but this was soon to change with the threat imposed by Rome. Rome had traditionally
stayed out of the way as far as Carthage was concerned because Rome was historically
a farming colony, but in the second half of the fourth century and first
Rome had made several territorial conquests, and it pushed the limits by
entering into Sicily at a time when Carthage was gaining control
of the area. This invasion
launched the first of the Punic Wars (263-241 BC), which ended in victory
led Carthage out of the depths of disaster by recapturing the mineral
wealth of the west. Hamilcar created a military empire in Spain and
announced himself absolute ruler (228-219 BC) After Hamilcar's death,
Hasdrubal, his son in-law, and Hannibal,
his son, conquered the entire Spanish peninsula up to the Ebro River.
Rome opened her
eyes to the threat the great colony of Carthage poised. After a series
of drawn-out battles, the Roman general Scipio conquered Spain in
210-206 BC. The last 50 years of existence of the colony were long and arduous.
could have joined forces with Masinissa to become a united kingdom
but was instead destroyed by Rome. When Carthage finally fell in 146 BC during
third and final Punic War, the area was scorched to the ground and all habitation
in the former city was forbidden by the Romans because
they considered it a rival city. Many Carthaginians were sold into slavery.
The wife of the
ruler of the city, rather than surrender, threw herself in to the flames
of the Temple of Eshmun. She was probably a descendent of Elissar. However,
the ban imposed on living in the city was lifted and later on Carthage returned
to become an important one in
Carthage from its mother city, Tyre, was it marketing policies and diplomatic
system. It did not remain a city state like Tyre but spread its dominion
and authority on all Phoenician Punic colonies of the western Mediterranean.
The Carthaginians created their own space and system even though they
maintained good ties with their motherland until the Mediterranean became
the Pond Nostrum of the Romans.
was the city like?14
The city had two
artificial harbors built inside the city walls, connected by a canal.
The smaller one was a military harbor that held 220 warships. Further,
it had a walled fortress, the Byrsa, overlooked the harbors, and was
divided into four equal quarters with regular street plans. City walls
were massive 23 miles and almost impregnable (compared to 5 miles for
Rome). 3 miles of the walls along the isthmus were 40 feet high and
30 feet thick which were never breached. There were sacred area for
cult sacrifices, a necropolis, market places, council house, temples,
magnificent towers, city gates, a citadel, a theater, paved winding
streets, gardens, and houses with great buildings up to six stories
tall. It is said that when Aeneas visited Carthage, a harbor basin was
being dug, and the foundations for a theatre had been laid. In its high-noon,
the geographer Strabo calls it a "shining city," ruling 300 cities around
the western Mediterranean.15
of Carthage was about 700,000, an extraordinary number for cities in
the ancient world, of merchants (who were in control of the city), as
well as residents, explorers, landholding-agrarian faction and slaves.
In the 6th to 5th century BC it began to dominate
trade in western Mediterranean and brought great wealth. City defense
was secured by a powerful navy backed by a mercenary army.
In the early 5th century
BC, Carthaginian Hanno the Navigator sailed as far as the west coast
of Senegal, and with that voyage began the tradition of tall tales
about monsters and dangers west of Gibraltar.
The emigrants to
Carthage were civilized Tyrinians versed in culture, knowledge and law.
They elected magistrates and established the Oligarchic Constitution
with a governor who reported to the king of Tyre. They also elected
parliament. Aristotle wrote ca. 340 B.C. in his "On
the Constitution of Carthage" that it is to be held
up as a model.
Carthaginians are also considered to have an excellent form of
government, which differs from that of any other state in several
respects, though it is in some very like the Spartan. Indeed,
all three states---the Spartan, the Cretan, and the Carthaginian---nearly
resemble one another, and are very different from any others.
Many of the Carthaginian institutions are excellent. The superiority
of their constitution is proved by the fact that the common people
remain loyal to the constitution. The Carthaginians have never
had any rebellion worth speaking of, and have never been under
the rule of a tyrant. Among the points in which the Carthaginian
constitution resembles the Spartan are the following: The common
tables of the clubs answer to the Spartan phiditia, and their
magistracy of the Hundred-Four to the Ephors; but, whereas the
Ephors are any chance persons, the magistrates of the Carthaginians
are elected according to merit---this is an improvement. They
have also their kings and their Gerousia, or council of elders,
who correspond to the kings and elders of Sparta. Their kings,
unlike the Spartan, are not always of the same family, nor that
an ordinary one, but if there is some distinguished family they
are selected out of it and not appointed by seniority---this
is far better. Such officers have great power, and therefore,
if they are persons of little worth, do a great deal of harm,
and they have already done harm at Sparta.
of the defects or deviations from the perfect state, for which
the Carthaginian constitution would be censured, apply equally
to all the forms of government which we have mentioned. But of
the deflections from aristocracy and constitutional government,
some incline more to democracy and some to oligarchy. The kings
and elders, if unanimous, may determine whether they will or
will not bring a matter before the people, but when they are
not unanimous, the people decide on such matters as well. And
whatever the kings and elders bring before the people is not
only heard but also determined by them, and any one who likes
may oppose it; now this is not permitted in Sparta and Crete.
That the magistrates of five who have under them many important
matters should be co-opted, that they should choose the supreme
council of One Hundred, and should hold office longer than other
magistrates (for they are virtually rulers both before and after
they hold office)---these are oligarchical features; their being
without salary and not elected by lot, and any similar points,
such as the practice of having all suits tried by the magistrates,
and not some by one class of judges or jurors and some by another,
as at Sparta, are characteristic of aristocracy.
Carthaginian constitution deviates from aristocracy and inclines
to oligarchy, chiefly on a point where popular opinion is on
their side. For men in general think that magistrates should
be chosen not only for their merit, but for their wealth: a man,
they say, who is poor cannot rule well---he has not the leisure.
If, then, election of magistrates for their wealth be characteristic
of oligarchy, and election for merit of aristocracy, there will
be a third form under which the constitution of Carthage is comprehended;
for the Carthaginians choose their magistrates, and particularly
the highest of them---their kings and generals---with an eye
both to merit and to wealth. But we must acknowledge that, in
thus deviating from aristocracy, the legislator has committed
an error. Nothing is more absolutely necessary than to provide
that the highest class, not only when in office, but when out
of office, should have leisure and not disgrace themselves in
any way; and to this his attention should be first directed.
Even if you must have regard to wealth, in order to secure leisure,
yet it is surely a bad thing that the greatest offices, such
as those of kings and generals, should be bought. The law which
allows this abuse makes wealth of more account than virtue, and
the whole state becomes avaricious.
whenever the chiefs of the state deem anything honorable, the
other citizens are sure to follow their example; and, where virtue
has not the first place, their aristocracy cannot be firmly established.
Those who have been at the expense of purchasing their places
will be in the habit of repaying themselves; and it is absurd
to suppose that a poor and honest man will be wanting to make
gains, and that a lower stamp of man who has incurred a great
expense will not. Wherefore they should rule who are able to
rule best. And even if the legislator does not care to protect
the good from poverty, he should at any rate secure leisure for
them when in office. It would seem also to be a bad principle
that the same person should hold many offices, which is a favorite
practice among the Carthaginians, for one business is better
done by one man.
Church Synods anc Councils of Carthage,
Carthage enjoys prosperity and becomes a center of the Christian church
in the West
During the 3rd,
4th, and 5th centuries the city of Carthage served as the meeting-place
of a large number of church synods and councils to deal with ecclesiastic
In May 251 a
synod, assembled under the presidency of Cyprian to consider the
treatment of the lapsi (those who had fallen away from
the faith during persecution), excommunicated Felicissimus and five
other Novatian bishops (Rigorists), and declared that the lapsi
should be dealt with, not with indiscriminate severity, but according
to the degree of individual guilt. These decisions were confirmed
by a synod of Rome in the autumn of the same year. Other Carthaginian
synods concerning the lapsi were held in 252 and 254.17
in 255 and 256, held under Cyprian, pronounced against the validity
of heretical baptism, thus taking direct issue with Stephen, bishop
of Rome, who promptly repudiated them, and separated himself from
the Church in north Africa. A third synod, September 256, unanimously
reaffirmed the position of the other two. Stephens pretensions to
authority as bishop of bishops were sharply resented, and for some
time the relations of the Roman and Churches in north Africa were
schism occasioned a number of important synods. About 348 a synod
of Catholic bishops, who had met to record their gratitude for the
effective official repression of the Circumcelliones (Donatist
terrorists), declared against the rebaptism of any one who
had been baptized in the name of the Trinity, and adopted twelve
canons of clerical discipline.19
of Carthage held by imperial command in 411 with a view to terminating
the Donatist schism, while not strictly a synod, was nevertheless
one of the most important assemblies in the history of the church
in Africa, and, indeed of the whole Christian church.20
On the 1st of
May 418 a great synod, which assembled under the presidency of Aurelius,
bishop of Carthage, to take action concerning the errors of Caelestius,
a disciple of Peagius, denounced the Pelagian doctrines of human
nature, original sin; grace and perfectibility, and fully approved
the contrary views of Augustine. Prompted by the reinstatement by
the bishop of Rome of a deposed Carthaginian priest, the synod enacted
that whoever appeals to a court on the other side of the sea (meaning
Rome) may not again be received into communion by any one in the
church in Africa (canon 17).21
of appeals to Rome occasioned two synods, one in 419, the other
in 424. The latter addressed a letter to the, bishop of Rome, Celestine,
protesting against his claim to appellate jurisdiction, and urgently
requesting the immediate recall of his legate, and advising him
to send no more judges to Africa.22
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