Ethnic Origin, Language and Literature of the Phoenicians
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Origin and Language


Literature and Thought
Literature of Phoenicia

Literature of the Colonies (Punic Literature)

Homer's Illiad and Odyssey

The Phoenicians Semitic speakers from the eastern Mediterranean -- neither Europeans nor Africans

Before going into the origin of the Phoenicians, two things musts be made clear. The Phoenicians do not have their origin in Europe or in Africa. They were neither European nor where they black Africans. Their origin is in the eastern Mediterranean, as recent DNA studies prove -- they belong to the ancient Mediterranean sub-starum. Some trace them back to as far away as India about 10,000 BC or suggest that they migrated to Phoenicia from elsewhere; however, none of these stories are proven or provable through archaeology, and genetics spoke the final word. Further, the Phoenician colonies which spread all over the coastline of the Mediterranean and even the Atlantic coasts were inhabited by Phoenician Semitic speaking immigrants. No one can claim that the Phoenicians of North Africa were black or the Phoenicians of Spain, Gibraltar, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta...etc. were European. Statues, bursts, and artwork of the Phoenicians are found all over this website and upon close observation one can clearly see how closely they resemble the inhabitants of the shores of present day Mediterranean. (Note the images of the young Phoenician man and woman below). There are some who use the Bible for genealogical reference and actually believe Biblical characters such as Noah, Shem, Ham...etc. really existed and thereafter the Semites came from Shem and the Hamites from Ham...etc. These claims are categorically rejected and have no basis in purely scientific genealogical studies of ethnic origins of races.

Ethnic Origin and Language

There speculations that the Phoenicians were the ancestors of the Celts who displaced the Picts. According to Irish records, they descend from a Scythian King named Phoeniusa Farsa...according to the Irish this kings' descendents eventually populated the country of Phoenicia and named the country in his honor...Phoeniusa son; other studies trace their origin to a very distant past in India 10,000 B.C. where they were closely associated with the Aryans. There is a controversial study by Rajeswar Gupta is published in full as originally translated from Bengali in 1902. It is based on the ancient Rig Veda and puts forth the following suggestions regarding the origin of the Phoenicians:

  1. A great war broke out in the remote old days (maybe 10,000 B.C.) between the Indian Aryans and the Phoenicians in which the latter were defeated and compelled to leave wholly or partially the land of the Aryans.
  2. The Phoenicians were the first of the civilized nations of the world. The civilization of Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece and other ancient countries owed its origin to the union of the civilization of the Aryans with that of the Phoenicians.
  3. The Phoenicians originally lived in some part of India, whence driven out they migrated gradually westwards. While still residing in the neighborhood of India they colonized and traded with Arabia and the countries bordering on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
  4. The Phoenicians had colonies in many countries from each of which they were driven away by the natives after severe struggles. In this way they were expelled from India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, or they mixed with the natives when they lost their supremacy in those countries.
  5. In ancient time the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea were connected together by a strait through which the Phoenician and Aryan trading ships entered the Mediterranean Sea and Indian goods were taken to Europe. As that passage gradually silted up the connection between India and Europe broke off.

It must be noted that historians and archaeologist do theorize about supposed various origins of the Phoenicians with little hard evidence and one is left with nothing more than mere hypotheses.

The Phoenician, as a people, even though they may come from Semitic origin or from India, did not survive the ages as an ethnically pure race. Invading Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonian, Hittites, Persians, Macedonians, Greeks, and Romans, in addition to many others, added genetic material and culture to the Phoenicians. They in turn through their trade and frequent contact with cultures and races of the Mediterranean world added new dimensions to their stock from lands as close as Cyprus or as far as Spain or even Britain.

A form of Aramaic was the language of the Phoenicians. It was a Semitic language of the Northern Central, or Northwestern, group that was originally spoken in Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, and neighboring towns and in other areas of the Mediterranean colonized by Phoenician people known as Aramaeans. It was most closely related to Hebrew, Syriac, and Moabite which were written in a script derived from the Phoenician alphabet. The earliest Phoenician inscription deciphered dates probably from the 11th century BC; the latest inscription from Phoenicia proper is from the 1st century BC, when the language was already being superseded by Aramaic proper.

To listen to a sample of what the Phoenician/Aramaic language sounds like, follow the links to the music files provided of the Good Friday Entombment Service of Jesus Christ. The files are in MP3 format. Click to play: Glory (majdlak.mp3) and Bearers of Fragrance (hamilatilteeb.mp3). They are part of the full service in Aramaic which was held in Maalula, Syria (a town which were Aramaic is still spoken today), 1994, for the first time in 300 years. The Melkite Greek Catholic Patriachal Office of the Cathechism holds the copyright and is indebted for providing this rare service.

In addition to being used in Phoenicia, the language spread to many of its colonies. In one, the North African city of Carthage, a later stage of the language, known as Pun which was influenced by the Barber, became the language of the Carthaginian empire. Phoencian survived in use as a vernacular in some of the smaller cities of North Africa at least until the time of St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo (5th century AD) and continued to be used by North African peasants until the 6th century AD.

Phoenician words are found in Greek and Latin classical literature as well as in Egyptian, Akkadian, and Hebrew writings. The language is written with a 22-character alphabet that does not indicate vowels.

The Byblos Syllabic texts is the earliest known example of mixing a Semitic language with modified Egyptian hieroglyphic characters. It appeared as an inscriptions (eighteenth century B.C.), from the city of Byblos on the Phoenician coast. This script is described as a "syllabary [that] is clearly inspired by the Egyptian hieroglyphic system, and in fact is the most important link known between the hieroglyphs and the Canaanite alphabet."

During the period of the Roman Empire the native Phoenician language died out and was replaced by Aramaic as the vernacular. Latin, the language of the soldiers and administrators, in turn fell before Greek, the language of letters of the eastern Mediterranean, by the 5th century AD.

Literature and Thought -- Suggestions

With respect to the extent and range of the Phoenician book literature, the little that can be gathered from the notices remaining to us in the Greek and Roman writers is the following. In Phoenicia Proper there were historical writers at least from the time of Hiram, the contemporary of David, who wrote the annals of their country in a curt dry form somewhat resembling that of Kings and Chronicles.[1] The names of the kings and the length of their reigns were carefully recorded, together with some of the more remarkable events belonging to each reign; but there was no attempt at the philosophy of history, nor at the graces of composition. In some places, especially at Sidon, philosophy and science were to a certain extent cultivated. Mochus, a Sidonian, wrote a work on the atomic theory at a very early date, though scarcely, as Posidonius maintained,[2] one anterior to the Trojan war. Later on, the Sidonian school specially affected astronomy and arithmetic, in which they made so much progress that the Greeks acknowledged themselves their debtors in those branches of knowledge. It is highly probable, though not exactly capable of proof, that the Tyrian navigators from a very remote period embodied in short works the observations which they made in their voyages, on the geography, hydrography, ethology, and natural history of the counties, which were visited by them. Hanno's "Periplus" may have been composed on a model of these earlier treatises, which at a later date furnished materials to Marinus for his great work on geography. It was, however, in the Phoenician colony of Carthage that authorship was taken up with most spirit and success. Hiempsal, Hanno, Mago, Hamilcar, and others, composed works, which the Romans valued highly, on the history, geography, and "origines" of Africa, and also upon practical agriculture. Mago and Hamilcar were regarded as the best authorities on the latter subject both by the Greeks and Romans, and were followed, among the Greeks by Mnaseas and Paxamus,[3,4] among the Romans by Varro and Columella. So highly was the work of Mago, which ran to twenty-eight books, esteemed, that, on the taking of Carthage, it was translated into Latin by order of the Roman Senate. After the fall of Carthage, Tyre and Sidon once more became seats of learning; but the Phoenician language was discarded, and Greek adopted in its place. The Tyrian, Sidonian, Byblian and Berytian authors, of whom we hear, bear Greek names. Philo of Byblus and Marinus of Tyre are the only two authors of this later period who held to Phoenician traditions, and, presumably, conveyed on to later ages Phoenician ideas and accumulations. If neither literature nor science gained much from the work of the former, that of the latter had considerable value, and, as the basis of the great work of Ptolemy, must ever hold an honourable place in the history of geographical progress.[5,6,7,8]


  1. See the fragments of Dius and Menander, who followed the Tyrian historians (Joseph. /Contr. Ap./ i. 18).
  2. Ap. Strab. xvii. 2, ß 22.
  3. Ibid.
  4. See Sallust, /Bell. Jugurth./ ß 17; Cic. /De Orat./ i. 58; Amm. Marc. xxii. 15; Solin. /Polyhist./ ß 34.
  5. Columella, xii. 4.
  6. Ibid. i. 1, ß 6.
  7. Plin. /H. N./ xviii. 3.
  8. As Antipater and Apollonius, Stoic philosophers of Tyre (Strab. l.s.c.), BoÎthus and Diodotus, Peripatetics, of Sidon (ibid.), Philo of Byblus, Hermippus of Berytus, and others.
Literature of Phoenicia

Phoenician inscriptions, both from the Phoenician coast and from other areas of the eastern Mediterranean are very limited in genre, and relatively few are more than a few lines long with very minor exceptions.

Uninscribed materials from excavated sites supplement the picture. However, criteria for identifying literary or religious materials have not always been carefully considered. It is often difficult to correlate with confidence written and unwritten materials.

Despite growing knowledge, the resulting picture is still very irregular. While there is an unparalleled variety of sources, covering a century and a half, from the large cosmopolitan city of Ugarit, other written materials give a much more limited picture. For many periods, areas, and topics there are no written remains. Descriptions are extremely limited and superficial. Generalizations about the eastern Mediterranean may well prove to have significant exceptions as some of these gaps are filled by new discoveries. However, some exceptions have surfaced as indicated below.

Ugaritic Narrative Poetry

More than 500 years before the Odyssey and the Iliad, before the biblical books of Genesis or Job, Canaanite Phoenician masters of the epic lived and wrote on the Mediterranean coast.

Following are minor excerpts from some of the Ugaritic Narrative Poetry translated into English and edited by Simon B. Parker.

From The Rapiuma, translated by Theodore J. Lewis

  • Behold your son, behold...
  • Your grandson, your shrine;
  • Behold ... your hand.
  • The small one will kiss your lips.
  • There, shoulder to shoulder.
  • Brothers, attendants of El...
  • There mortals .. the name of El,
  • ... heroes bless the name of El.
  • There the shades of Baal ...
  • Warriors of Baal
  • Warriors of Anat.
  • There armed forces encircle
  • The eternal royal princes
  • As when Anat hastens to the hunt
  • Sets to flight the birds of the heavens.
  • They slaughtered oxen; sheep as well;
  • They felled bulls, fatlings too,
  • Also rams and year old calves,
  • They butchered lambs ad even kids.
  • Olive oil -- like silver to travelers,
  • ... -- like gold to travelers.
  • ... a table set with fruit,
  • Laid with fruit fit for kings,
  • Day long they pour the wine,
  • ... must-wine, fit for rulers.
  • Wine, sweet and abundant,
  • Select wine...
  • The choice wine of Lebanon,
  • Must nurtured by El.
  • One day passes, then a second,
  • The shades eat, the drink;
  • A third day, then a fourth;
  • A fifth day, then a sixth;
  • The shades eat, they drink.
  • To the banquet house on the summit,
  • ... in the heart of Lebanon. From
  • The Epic of Kirta, translated by Edward L. Greenstein
  • "What too me is silver, or even yellow gold,
  • Together with its land and slaves forever mine?
  • A Triad of chariot horses
  • From the stables of a slave woman's son?
  • What is not in my house you must give me:
  • You must give me Lady Huraya,
  • The Fair One, your firstborn child!
  • Who is as fair as the goddess Anath,
  • Who is as comely as Astarte;
  • Whose eyes are lapis lazuli
  • Eyeballs, gleaming alabaster;
  • Whom El has given in my dream,
  • The Father of Man in my vision;
  • Who will bear a child for Kirta
  • A lad for the Servant of El."
Sanchuniathon, Phoenician writer

(fl. 14th/13th century BC?), ancient Phoenician writer. All information about him is derived from the works of Herennius Philo of Byblos (flourished AD 100). Excavations at Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) in Syria in 1929 revealed Phoenician documents supporting much of Sanchuniathon's information on Phoenician mythology and religious beliefs. According to Philo, Sanchuniathon derived the sacred lore from inscriptions on the Ammouneis (i.e., images or pillars of Baal Amon), which stood in Phoenician temples.

Charles Anthon* is said to have written "The history of Phoenicia by Sanconiatho, who was a contemporary with Solomon, would have been entirely lost to us, had it not been for the valuable fragments preserved by Eusebius."

"Sanchoniathon, a Phoenician author, who if the fragments of his works that have reached us be genuine, and if such a person ever existed, must be regarded as the most ancient writer of whom we have any knowledge after Moses. As to the period when be flourished, all is uncertain. He is the author of three principal works, which were written in Phoenician. They were translated into the Greek language by Herennius Philo, who lived in the second century A.D. It is from this translation which we obtain all the fragments of Sanchoniathon that have reached our times. Philo had divided his translation into nine books, of which Porphyry made use in his diatribe against the Christians. It is from the fourth book of this lost work that Eusebius took, for an end directly opposite to this, the passages which have come down to us. And thus we have those documents relating to the mythology and history of the Phoenicians from the fourth hand."

Sanchoniathon makes mention of a history which he once wrote upon the worship of the serpent. The title of this work, according to Eusebius, was Ethothion, or Ethothia. Another treatise upon the same subject was written by Pherecydes Tyrus, which was probably a copy of the former; for he is said to have composed it from some previous accounts of the Phœnicians. The title of his book was the Theology of Ophion, styled Ophioneus, and his worshippers were called Ophionidæ. Thoth and Athoth were certainly titles of the Deity in the Gentile world; and the book of Sanchoniathon might very possibly have been from hence named Ethothion, or more truly, Athothion. But, from the subject upon which it was written, as well as from the treatise of Pherecydes, we have reason to think that Athothion, or Ethothion, was a mistake for Ath-Ophion, a title which more immediately related to that worship of which the writer treated. Ath was a sacred title, as we have shewn, and we imagine that this dissertation did not barely relate to the serpentine Deity, but contained accounts of his votaries, the Ophitæ, the principal of which were the sons of Chus.

*Source: Anthon, Charles. Classical Dictionary, New York, NY:1888.

Philo of Byblos and Porphyry of Tyre

Phoenicia produced a number of important writers in Greek, most notably Philo of Byblos (64-141), and in the 3rd century Porphyry of Tyre. Porphyry played a key role in disseminating the Neoplatonic philosophy of his master Plotinus, which would influenced pagan and Christian thought in the later Roman Empire.

Literary (of mytho-literary) work

The great cycle of narratives about Baal from Ugarit in its present form is clearly a literary work rather than a myth, it is doubtlessly composed of religiously significant mythic material. While there are Greek and Latin sources such as De Dea Syra ("About the Syrian Goddess") from the 2nd century AD, attributed to Lucian of Samosata, and the section of Eusebius of Caesarea's Praeparatio evangelica ("Preparation for the Gospel"; 4th century AD) that cites extracts from a History of Phoenicia by Philo of Byblos (c. AD 100); Philo himself claimed to be translating the work of an early Phoenician priest, Sanchuniathon (referenced earlier). They are mostly works that deal with religious material and not literary per say. Further, there is not enough material that has survived the centuries of Phoenician history to the present for higher literary criticism. The most outstanding or major literary work is The Baal Cycle which is summarized herewith.

The Baal Cycle

Baal (Hadad) is regularly denominated "the son of Dagan," although Dagan (biblical Dagon) does not appear as an actor in the mythological texts. Baal also bears the titles "Rider of the Clouds," "Almighty," and "Lord of the Earth." He is the god of the thunderstorm, the most vigorous and aggressive of the gods, the one on whom mortals most immediately depend. Baal resides on Mount Zaphon, north of Ugarit, and is usually depicted holding a thunderbolt. He is the protagonist of a cycle of myths from Ugarit. These tell of a challenge from Yamm ("Sea"), to which Baal responds. Armed with magical weapons made by the craftsman god, Kothar, Baal manages to overcome Yamm. Another major episode is instigated by Baal's lack of a house. With the assistance of Asherah and Anath, Baal gets El's approval to build a house; Kothar accomplishes the construction; and Baal celebrates by inviting the gods to a feast. The other major story concerns Baal's relations with Mot ("Death"), whom he initially defies, but to whom he eventually succumbs. The attempt to find a god adequate to assume Baal's role fails. Anath disposes of Mot, and then El learns in a dream that Baal is again alive. Mot also reappears, and he and Baal fight until the sun goddess warns Mot of the consequences. There is apparently a final definition of their respective spheres of influence.

After Baal is swallowed up by Mot, his sister Anath, called "the Maiden," longs for him like a mother. She finds Baal and buries him. She then defeats Mot and disposes of his body as if it were grain, grinding him up and scattering him over land and sea. Elsewhere in the text Anath refers to her victories over various monstrous enemies in single combat, and she is depicted in scenes of bloody slaughter. She is the "villain" of the tale of Aqhat, also from Ugarit. In this story the gods grant the childless Danel a son, Aqhat, on whom Danel confers a bow made by the craftsman god, Kothar. Anath offers Aqhat riches and immortality in exchange for the bow, but Aqhat refuses her offers. After bullying El into letting her have her way with Aqhat, she proceeds, with the aid of her henchman Yutpan, to have Aqhat killed. Danel performs various rites to try to remove the consequent blight on the land, until he is informed of his son's murder. He then seeks his remains and buries him, curses the towns closest to the site of the murder, and mourns for seven years, after which he gives his blessing to his daughter's proposed mission to avenge Aqhat's death. She sets out and comes to the camp of Yutpan, where the two of them start drinking--at which point the preserved portion of the tale ends. Anath is often associated with Athtart (later Hebrew Ashtoreth, Greek Astarte). Both are renowned for their beauty, and both are closely associated with Baal.

Another group of gods play important subordinate roles in the myths. The sun goddess, Shapash, "Light of the Gods," helps Anath in her retrieval of the dead Baal and intervenes in the final conflict between Baal and Mot. The craftsman god, known as both Kothar ("Skilled") and Hasis ("Clever"), makes the weapons with which Baal disposes of Yamm and builds the palace for Baal. He is the source of Aqhat's bow, coveted by Anath. The Kathirat are goddesses of marriage and pregnancy, who appear before the conception of Aqhat and in a brief myth about the marriage of Yarikh ("Moon") and his Mesopotamian consort Nikkal. Shahar and Shalim are the gods of dawn and dusk, whose conception and birth are recounted in a liturgical myth.

While the great cycle of narratives about Baal from Ugarit in its present form is clearly a literary work rather than a myth, it is doubtlessly composed of religiously significant mythic material. It depicts the prevailing order of things as the result of struggles among the gods--successive bids for power in which Yamm and Mot are confined to their present bounds and Baal and Anath (associated with fertility and military prowess, respectively) prevail. Having descended into the underworld and survived Death, Baal embodies the assertiveness and continuity of life.

It is the official documents of religious practice--god lists, sacrificial lists, and temple rituals, as well as the inscribed monuments--that disclose most directly the gods favored by the authorities of the time. While virtually all the gods of the myths are Semitic in name, the gods of the cult are much more diverse.

Baal Cycle Text

Now Mighty Baal, son of Dagon, desired the kingship of the Gods. He contended with Prince Yam-Nahar, the Son of El. But Kindly El, Father Shunem, decided the case in favour of His son; He gave the kingship to Prince Yam. He gave the power to Judge Nahar.

Fearsome Yam came to rule the Gods with an iron fist. He caused Them to labor and toil under His reign. They cried unto Their mother, Asherah, Lady of the Sea. They convinced Her to confront Yam, to interceed in Their behalf.

Asherah went into the presence of Prince Yam. She came before Judge Nahar. She begged that He release His grip upon the Gods Her sons. But Mighty Yam declined Her request. She offered favours to the Tyrant. But Powerful Nahar softened not His heart. Finally, Kindly Asherah, who loves Her children, offered Herself to the God of the Sea. She offered Her own body to the Lord of Rivers.

Yam-Nahar agreed to this, and Asherah returned to the Source of the Two Rivers. She went home to the court of El. She came before the Divine Council, and spoke of Her plan to the Gods Her children.

Baal was infuriated by Her speech. He was angered at the Gods who would allow such a plot. He would not consent to surrendering Great Asherah to the Tyrant Yam-Nahar. He swore to the Gods that He would destroy Prince Yam. He would lay to rest the tyranny of Judge Nahar.

Notes on the Baal Cycle

"The Baal Cycle" (Illustrated version of the "Epic of Baal")

Baal, Ashtoreth, Dagon, Molech and Asherah are Canaanite gods who are frequently mentioned in the Holy Bible. Who did the Canaanites believe these gods to be? Why did Israelites make idols of Golden Calves? What was an “Asherah Pole”? What were the “pagan ways” that the prophets of the Lord warned the Israelites not to emulate? Knowing the answers to these questions can deepen one’s understanding of the Holy Bible. In 1929 important texts were discovered at Ras Shamra in Syria that told the story of the Canaanite gods. These Ugaritic texts, along with other ancient sources, help us to reconstruct the beliefs of the ancient Canaanites and widen our understanding of the Sacred Scriptures. This book is an illustrated version and extended edition of the story of the “Epic of Baal the God of Thunder.”

 "The Epic of Baal the God of Thunder"

Thousands of years ago there was a great conflict that has affected the lives of everyone living today. This conflict was between the worshipers of the Baal pantheon and the worshipers of Jehovah (Yahweh) in Canaan. In this region, the worshipers of Yahweh ultimately prevailed. This struggle is alluded to in several places in the Holy Bible. Now, due to archeological discoveries, we are able to reconstruct many of the beliefs of the pagan Canaanites. Knowing these stories helps us to understand the story of the Bible fully and in a way it enables us to read the Bible like the ancients. There is a great deal of confusion regarding and also false information about the Canaanite gods that are mentioned in several places in the Bible. Due to archeological discoveries we now know that Dagon was a god of grain and not a fish god. (The rabbis made this mistake because a Hebrew word for “fish” is “dag.”) Tammuz was a shepherd god and not a sun god. Baal was a god of thunder and of the rain. Asherah was a mother goddess and the Asherah pole was most likely a sacred tree or a symbol of a sacred tree and not a phallus symbol. These misunderstandings of Canaanite religion often cause people to be confused in their reading of the Bible and knowing the Canaanite myths can clarify some Bible stories.

Yam-Nahar was made aware of the words of Baal. He sent His two messengers to the court of El:

"Depart Lads!
Do not sit!
Then Ye shall surely set face
Toward the Convocation of the Assembly
In the midst of the mountain of Night.
At the feet of El do not fall,
Do not prostrate Yourselves before the Convocation of the Assembly,
But declare Your information!
And say to The Bull, My father, El,
Declare to the Convocation of the Assembly:
'The message of Yam, Your Lord,
Of Your master Judge River:
Give up, O Gods, Him whom You harbor,
Him whom the multitude harbor!
Give up Baal and His partisans,
Dagon's Son, so that I may inherit His gold!'"

The lads depart
They do not Sit.
Then They set face
Toward the Mountain of Night,
Toward the Convocation of the Assembly.
The Gods had not even sat down,
The Deities to dine,
When Baal stood up by El.

As soon as the Gods saw Them,
Saw the messengers of Yam
The emissaries of Judge Nahar,
The Gods lowered Their heads upon Their knees.
Yea, upon the thrones of Their lordships.

Baal rebukes Them:
"Why, O Gods, have Ye lowered
Your heads on top of Your knees,
Yea, upon the thrones of Your lordships?
Let a pair of Gods read the tablets of the messengers of Yam,
Of the emissaries of Judge Nahar!
O Gods, lift up Your heads
From the top of Your knees
Yea, from the thrones of Your lordships!
And I shall answer
The messengers of Yam
The emissaries of Judge Nahar!"
The Gods lift Their heads
From the top of Their knees
Yea, from the thrones of thier lordships.

After there arrive the messengers of Yam,
The emissaries of JudgeNahar.
At the feet of El They do not fall,
They do not prostrate Themselves before the Convocation of the Assembly.
Arise, for They declare Their information.
A fire, two fires!
He sees a burnished sword!
They say to The Bull, His father, El:
"The message of Yam, Your lord,
Of Your master, Judge Nahar:
'Give up, O Gods, Him whom Ye harbor,
Him whom the multitudes harbor!
Give up Baal and His partisans,
Dagon's Son, so that I may inherit His gold!'"

And The Bull, His father, El, replies:
"Baal is Thy slave, O Yam!
Baal is Thy slave O Yam!
Dagon's Son is Thy captive!
He will bring Thy tribute like the Gods.
Like the Deities, Thy gift!"

But Prince Baal was infuriated.
A knife He takes in the hand
A dagger in the right hand.
To smite the lads He flourishes it.
Anath siezes His right hand,
Astarte seizes His left hand:
"How canst Thou smite the messengers of Yam?
The emissaries of Judge Nahar?
They have merely brought the words of Yam-Nahar.
Word of Their Lord and Master."

But Prince Baal is infuriated. He spares the lives of the messengers; He sends Them back to Their master. He instructs Them to give His information: Baal will not bow to Prince Yam. He will not be the slave of Judge Nahar. He declares once more that He shall slay the Tyrant lord of the Gods.

"To the earth let Our mighty one fall!
Yea, to dust Our strong one!"
From His mouth the word had not yet gone forth,
Nor from His lips, His utterance.
And His voice was given forth
Like a mountain under the throne of Prince Yam.

And Kothar-u-Khasis declared:
"Did I not tell Thee, O Prince Baal,
Nor declare, O Rider of Clouds?
'Lo, Thine enemies, O Baal,
Lo, Thine enemies wilt Thou smite
Lo, Thou wilt van quish Thy foes.
Thou wilt take Thine eternal kingdom;
Thine everlasting sovereignty!'"

Kothar brings down two clubs
And proclaims Their Names.
"Thy Name, even Thine, is Yagrush!
Yagrush, expel Yam
Expel Yam from His throne
Nahar from the seat of His sovereignty!
Thou shalt swoop from the hands of Baal
Like an Eagle from His fingers!
Strike the shoulders of Prince Yam
Twixt the hands of Judge Nahar!"

The club swoops from the hands of Baal
Like an eagle from His fingers.
It strikes the shoulders of Prince Yam,
Twixt the hands of Judge Nahar.
Yam is strong;
He is not vanquished,
His joints do not fail,
Nor His frame collapse.

Kothar brings down a second club,
And proclaims His Name.
"Thy Name, even Thine, is Aymur!
Aymur, drive Yam,
Drive Yam from His throne!
Nahar from His seat of His sovereignty!
Thou shalt swoop from the hands of Baal
Like an Eagle from His fingers!
Strike the head of Prince Yam
Twixt the eyes of Judge Nahar!
Let Yam sink
And fall to the earth!"

And the club swoops from the hands of Baal
Like an eagle from His fingers.
It strikes the head of Prince Yam,
Twixt the eyes of Judge Nahar.

Yam sinks,
Falls to the earth.
His joints fail
His frame collapses.
Baal drags and poises Yam
Destroys Judge Nahar.

By Name, Astarte rebukes:
"Shmae, O Aliyan Baal,
Shame, O Rider of the Clouds!
For Prince Yam was Our captive
For Judge River was Our captive."

And there went out Baal,
Verily ashamed is Aliyan Baal
And Prince Yam is, indeed, dead.
So let Baal reign!

Baal was now King of the Gods. Lord of the Mountain of Saphon. But Baal had no palace like the other Gods. He speaks His word to Kothat-u-Khasis:

"There are the dwelling of El,
The shelter of His sons.
The dwelling of Lady Asherah of the Sea,
The dwelling of the renowned brides.
The dwelling of Pidray, girl of Light,
The shelter of Tallay, girl of rain,
The dwelling of Arsay, girl of Yaabdar.

Also, something else I'll tell Thee.
Go to!
Beseech Lady Asherah of the Sea,
Entreat the Creatress of Gods!"

The Skilled One goes up to the bellows.
In the hands of Khasis are the tongs.
He pours silver,
He casts gold.
He pours silver by thousands of shekels,
Gold He pours by myriads.
A glorious crown studded with silver,
Adorned with red gold.
A glorious throne,
A dais above a glorious footstool,
Which glisters in purity.
Glorious shoes of reception,
Thereover He brings them gold.
A glorious table that is full.
A glorious bowl, fine work of Kamares,
Set like the realm of Yam,
In which there are buffaloes by myriads.

Kothar-u-Kasis goes to the Lady Asherah of the Sea, Mother of the Seventy Gods. He offers these gifts unto Her.

He adorns Her with the covering of Her flesh.
She tears Her clothing.
On the second day
He adorns Her in the two rivers.
She sets a pot on the fire
A vessel on top of the coals.

She propitiates The Bull, God of Mercy,
Entreats the Creator of Creatures.
On lifting Her eyes
She sees.
Asherah sees Baal's going,
Yea the going of the Virgin Anath,
The tread of the Progenitress of Heroes.

After Aliyan Baal came,
And came the Virgin Anath,
They besought Lady Asherah of the Sea.
Yea entreated the Creatress of the Gods.
And Lady Asherah of the Sea replied:
"How can Ye beseech Lady Asherah of the Sea,
Yea entreat the Creatress of the Gods?
Have Ye besought The Bull, God of Mercy,
Or entreated the Creator of Creatures?

And the Virgin Anath replied:
"We do beseech Lady Asherah of the Sea.
We entreat the Creatress of Gods.
The Gods eat and drink,
And those that suck the breast quaff
With a keen knife
A slice of fatling.
They drink wine from a goblet,
From a cup of gold, the blood of vines."

Asherah of the Sea declares:
"Saddle an ass,
Hitch a donkey!
Put on a harness of silver,
Trappings of gold.
Prepare the harness of My jennies!

Qadish-u-Amrar hearkens.
He saddles an ass
Hitches a donkey.
Put on a harness of silver,
Trappings of gold.
Prepares the harness of Her jennies!
Qadish-u-Amrar embraces;
He sets Asherah on the back of the ass,
On the beautiful back of the donkey.
Qadish begins to light the way,
Even Amrar like a star.
Forward goes the Virgin Anath,
And Baal departs for the heights of Saphon.

Then She sets face toward El,
At the sources of the Two Rivers,
In the midst of the streams of the Two Deeps.
She enters the abode of El,
And comes into the domicile of the King, Father Shunem.
At the feet of El She bows and falls,
She prostrates Herself and honors Him.

As soon as El sees Her,
He cracks a smile and laughs.
His feet He sets on the footstool,
And twiddles His fingers.
He lifts His voice
And shouts:
"Why has Lady Asherah of the Sea come?
Why came the Creatress of Gods?
Art Thou hungry?
Then have a morsel!
Or art Thou thirsty?
Then have a drink!
Or drink!
Eat bread from the tables!
Drink wine from the goblets!
From a cup of gold, the blood of vines!
If the love of El moves Thee,
Yea the affection of The Bull arouses Thee!"

And Lady Asherah of the Sea replies:
"Thy word, El, is wise;
Thou art wise unto eternity;
Lucky life is Thy word.
Our king is Aliyan Baal,
Out judge, and none is above Him.
Let both of Us drain His chalice;
Both of Us drain His cup!"

Loudly Bull-El, Her father, shouts,
King El who brought Her into being;
There shout Asherah and Her sons,
The Goddess and the band of Her brood:
"Lo there is no house unto Baal like the Gods.
Not a court like the sons of Asherah:
The dwelling of El,
The shelter of His sons.
The dwelling of Lady Asherah of the Sea,
The dwelling of the renowned brides.
The dwelling of Pidray, girl of Light.
The shelter of Tallay, girl of rain.
The dwelling of Arsay, girl of Yaabdar."

And the God of Mercy replied:
"Am I to act as a lackey of Asherah?
Am I to act like the holder of a trowel?
If the handmaid of Asherah will make the bricks
A house shall be built for Baal like the Gods.
Yea a court like the sons of Asherah."

And Lady Asherah of the Sea replied:
"Thou art great, O El,
Thou are verily wise!
The gray of Thy beard hath verily instructed Thee!
Here are pectorals of gold for Thy breast.

Lo, also it is the time of His rain.
Baal sets the season,
And gives forth His voice from the clouds.
He flashes lightning to the earth.
As a house of cedars let Him complete it,
Or a house of bricks let Him erect it!
Let it be told to Aliyan Baal:
'The mountains will bring Thee much silver.
The hills, the choicest of gold;
The mines will bring Thee precious stones,
And build a house of silver and gold.
A house of lapis gems!'"

The Virgin Anath rejoices.
She jumps with the feet
And leaves the earth.
Then She sets face toward the Lord of Saphon's crest
By the thousand acres,
Yea the myriad hectares.
The Virgin Anath laughs.
She lifts Her voice
And shouts:
"Be informed, Baal!
Thy news I bring!
A house shall be built for Thee as for Thy brothers,
Even as a court as for Thy kin!
The mountains will bring Thee much silver.
The hills, the choicest of gold;
The mines will bring Thee precious stones,
And build a house of silver and gold.
A house of lapis gems!"

Aliyan Baal rejoices.
The mountains bring Him much silver,
The mines bring Him precious stones.

Kothar-u-Khasis is sent.
After Kothar-u-Khasis arrived,
He sets an ox in front of Him.
A fatling directly before Him.
A chair is placed,
And He is seated
At the right of Aliyan Baal,
Until They have eaten
And drunk.

And Aliyan Baal declares:
"Hurry, let a house be built.
Hurry, let a palace be erected!
Hurry, let a house be built.
Hurry, let a palace be erected
In the midst of the heights of Saphon!
A thousand acres the house is to comprise,
A myriad hectares, the palace!"

And Kothar-u-Khasis declares:
"Hear, O Aliyan Baal!
Percieve, O Rider of Clouds!
I shall surely put a window in the house,
A casement in the midst of the palace!"

And Aliyan Baal replies:
"Do not put a window in the house,
A casement in the midst of the palace!
Let not Pidray, girl of Light,
Nor Tallay, girl of rain,
Be seen by El's beloved Yam Nahar!"
The Lord reviles and spits.

And Kothar-u-Khasis replies:
"Thou wilt return, Baal, to My word."

Of ceders His house is to be built,
Of bricks is His palace to be erected.
He goes to Lebabob and it's trees,
To Syria and the choicest of it's cedars.
Lo, Lebanon and it's trees,
Syria and it's cedars.
Fire is set on the house,
Flame on the palace.
Behold a day and a second,
The fire eats into the house,
The flame into the palace.
A fifth, a sixth day,
The fire eats into the house,
The flame in the midst of the palace.
Behold, on the seventh day,
The fire departs from the house,
The flame from the palace.
Silver turns from blocks,
Gold is turned from bricks.

Aliyan Baal rejoices.
"My house have I built of silver.
My palace of gold have I made."

His house, Baal prepairs.
Hadad prepares the housewarming of His palace.
He slaughters great and small cattle
He fells oxen and ram-fatlings.
Yearling calves,
Little lambs and kids.
He called His brothers into His house.
His kinsmen into the midst of His palace.
He called the Seventy sons of Asherah.
He caused the shep Gods to drink wine.
He caused the ewe Goddesses to drink wine.
He cause the bull Gods to drink wine.
He caused the cow Goddesses to drink wine.
He caused the throne Gods to drink wine.
He caused the chair Goddesses to drink wine.
He caused the jar Gods to drink wine.
He caused the jug Goddesses to drink wine.
Until the Gods had eaten and drunk,
And the sucklings quaffed
With a keen knife
A slice of fatling.
They drink wine from a goblet,
From a cup of gold, the blood of vines.

Lord Baal went on to take possesion of many earthly cities. Sixty-six, Seventy-Seven towns He took. Eighty, Ninety was the total number of cities that fell to the posession of Mighty Hadad. Thus Baal returned to His home as Lord of all the World.

As Baal went into the midst of the house
Aliyan Baal declared:
"I would install, Kothar, son of the Sea,
Yea Kothar, son of the assembly!
Let a casement be opened in the house;
A window in the midst of the palace,
And let the clouds be opened with rain
On the opening of Kothar-u-Khasis."

Kothar-u-Khasis laughed.
He lifts His voice
And shouts:
"Did I not tell Thee, O Aliyan Baal,
That Thou wouldst return, Baal, to My word?
Let a casement be opened in the house,
A window in the midst of the palace!"

Baal opened the clouds with rain,
His holy voice He gives forth in the heavens.

The enemies of Baal seize the forests,
The foes of Hadad, the fringes of the mountain.
And Aliyan Baal declares:
"Enemies of Hadad, why do Ye invade?
Why do Ye invade the arsenal of Our defense?"
Weeping, Baal returns to His house:
"Whether king
Or commander
Be invested with sovereignty over the land,
Respects I shall not send to Mavet,
Nor greetings to El's beloved, the Hero!"

Mavet calls from His throat,
The Beloved meditates in His inwards:
"I alone am He who will rule over the Gods.
Yea command Gods and men.
Even dominate the multitudes of the earth."

Aloud Baal cries to His lads:
"Look, Gupan and Ugar, sons of Galmat,
Errand lads, sons of Zalmat
The lofty and distinguished!
Then surely set face
Toward the mountain of Tergezz,
Toward the mountain of Shermeg,
Toward the furrow of the thriving of the earth.
Lift the mountain on the hands,
The hill on top of the palms,
And go down into to nether-reaches of the earth
So that You will be counted amoung those who go down into the earth!
Then shall Ye set face
Toward His city, Hemry.
Lo, the throne on which He sits
In the midst of the land of His inheritance
And the guards of the defense of the Gods.
Do not draw near the God Mavet,
Lest He make You like a lamb in His mouth,
Like a kid in His jaws Ye be crushed!
The Torch of the Gods, Shapash, burns;
The heavens halt on account of El's darling, Mavet.
By the thousand acres,
Yea the myriad hectares
At the feet of Mavet bow and fall.
Prostrate Yourselves and honor Him!
And say to the God Mavet,
Declare to El's beloved, the Hero:

And Baal spoke His word to His lads. He sent His message to Mavet. The Lord Hadad refused to pay tribute to the Beloved of El. Mavet was enfuriated, and sent His word back to Baal. He declared that, because Baal had destroyed the Serpent Lotan, He would exact revenge by devouring Baal. The messengers of Baal informed Baal that Mavet would open His mouth wide.

"A lip to earth,
A lip to heaven,
And a tounge to the stars
So that Baal may enter His inwards,
Yea, descend into His mouth
As scorched is the olive,
The produce of the Earth,
And the fruit of the Trees."

Aliyan Baal fears Him,
The Rider of the Clouds dreads Him.
"Depart! Speak to the God Mavet.
Declare to El's Beloved, the Hero:
The message of Aliyan Baal,
The word of Aliy the Warrior:
'Hail, O God Mavet!
Thy slave am I,
Yea Thine forever.'"

The Gods depart and do not sit.
Then They set face toward the God Mavet.
Toward His city, Hemry.
Behold it is the throne of His sitting,
Yea the land of His inheritance!
They lift Their voices
And shout:
"The message of Aliyan Baal
The word of Aliy the Warrior!
"Hail, O God Mavet!
Thy slave am I,
Yea Thine forever!"

The God Mavet is glad. Baal will be delivered unto Him, and the fertility of the land will die with Him. Baal feasts His last meal, and Mavet commands Him:

"I shall put Him in the grave of the Gods of the earth.
And Thou, take Thy clouds,
Thy wind, Thy storm, Thy rains!
With Thee Thy seven lads,
Thine eight swine.
With Thee, Pidray, girl of Light,
With Thee, Tallay, girl of rain.
Then Thy face shalt Thou set toward the mountain of Kenkeny.
Lift the mountain on the hands,
The hill on top of the palms,
And go down to the nether reaches of the earth
So that Thou mayest be counted amoung those who do down into the earth,
And all may know that Thou art dead!"

Aliyan Baal hearkens.
He loves a heifer in Deber,
A young cow in the fields of Shechelmemet.
He lies with Her seventy-seven times,
Yea, eighty-eight times,
So that She conceives
And bears Moshe.

Baal was found dead there in the fields of Shechelmemet, in the land of Deber. The news reaches the ears of El, Father of Shunem:

Thereupon the God of Mercy
Goes down from the throne,
Sits on the footstool,
And from the footstool sits on the earth.
He pours the ashes of grief on His head,
The dust of wallowing on His pate.
For clothing, He is covered with a doubled cloak.
He roams the mountain in mourning,
Yea through the forest in grief.
He cuts cheek and chin,
He lacerates His forearms.
He plows His chest like a garden;
Like a vale He lacerates His back.
He lifts His voice
And shouts:
"Baal is dead!
Woe to the people of Dagon's son!
Woe to the multitudes of Athar-Baal!
I shall go down into the earth."

Also Anath goes
And treads every mountain to the midst of the Earth.
Every hill to the midst of the fields.
She comes to the goodness of the land of Deber,
The beauty of the fields of Shechelmemet.
She comes upon Baal prostrate on the earth.

For clothing She is covered with a doubled cloak.
The mountain in mournig She roams.
In grief, through the forest.
She cuts cheek and chin.
She lacerates Her forearms.
She plows lake a garden Her chest,
Like a vale She lacerates the back.
"Baal is dead!
Woe to the people of Dagon's son!
Woe to the multitudes of Athar-Baal!
Let us go down into the earth."

With Her goes down the Torch of the Gods, Shapash.
Until She is sated with weeping,
She drinks tears like wine.
Aloud She cries to the Torch of the Gods, Shapash:
"Load Aliyan Baal on to Me!"

The Torch of the Gods, Shapash, hearkens.
She lifts Aliyan Baal,
On the shoulders of Anath She places Him,
She raises Him into the heights of Saphon.
She weeps for Him and buries Him.
She puts Him in the grave of the Gods of the earth.

She sacrifices seventy buffaloes
As an offering for Aliyan Baal.
She sacrifices seventy oxen
As an offering for Aliyan Baal.
She sacrifices seventy head of small cattle
As an offering for Aliyan Baal.
She sacrifices seventy deer
As an offering for Aliyan Baal.
She sacrifices seventy wild goats
As an offering for Aliyan Baal.
She sacrifices seventy asses
As an offering for Aliyan Baal.

Then She sets face toward El
At the sources of the Two Rivers,
In the midst of the streams of the Two Deeps.
She enters the abode of El,
Goes into the domicile of the King, Father Shunem.
At the feet of El She bends and falls,
Prostrates Herself and honors Him.
She lifts Her voice
And shouts:
"Let Asherah and Her sons rejoice,
The Goddess and the band of Her brood!
For dead is Aliyan Baal,
For Perished is the Prince, Lord of Earth!"

Aloud cries El to Asherah of the Sea:
"Hear, O Lady Asherah of the Sea!
Give one of Thy sons that I may make Him king!"

And Lady Asherah of the Sea replies:
"Let Us make king one who knows how to govern!"

And the God of Mercy declares:
"One feeble of frame will not vie with Baal,
Nor wield a spear against Dagon's son."

When the parley is finished,
Lady Asherah of the Sea declares:
"Let Us make Ashtar the Terrible king!
Let Ashtar the Terrible reign!"

Thereupon Ashtar the Terrible
Goes into the heights of Saphon
That He may sit on the throne of Aliyan Baal.
His feet do not reach the footstool,
Nor does His head reach it's top.
And Ashtar the Terrible says:
"I cannot rule in the heights of Saphon!"
Ashtar the Terrible goes down,
Goes down from the throne of Aliyan Baal,
That He may rule over all the grand earth.

Anath goes now to face Mavet, the Darling of El, the Hero.

As with the heart of a cow toward her calf,
As with the heart of an ete toward her lamb,
So is the heart of Anath toward Baal.
She seizes Mavet, in ripping His garment.
She closes in on Him, in tearing His clothes.
She lifts Her voice
And shouts:
"Come, Mavet, yield My brother!"

And the God Mavet replies:
"What does Thou ask, O Virgin Anath?
I was going,
And roaming
Every mountain to the midst of the earth,
Every hill to the midst of the fields.
A soul was missing amoung men,
A soul of the multitudes of the earth.
I arrived at the goodness of the land of Debar,
The beauty of the fields of Shechelmemet.
I met Aliyan Baal;
I made Him like a lamb in My mouth.
Like a kid in My jaws was He crushed."

The Torch of the Gods, Shapash, glows,
The heavens stop on account of the God Mavet.
A day, two days pass.
From days to months.

The maiden Anath meets Him.
As with the heart of a cow toward her calf,
As with the heart of an ete toward her lamb,
So is the heart of Anath toward Baal.
She siezes the God Mavet.
With a sword She cleaves Him,
With a pitchfork She winnows Him,
With a fire She burns Him,
In the millstones She grinds Him,
In the fields She plants Him,
So that the birds do not eat His flesh,
Nor the fowl destroy His portion.
Flesh calls to flesh.

The Great El, Father Shunem, declares of the lost God Baal:

"For perished is the Prince, Lord of Earth.
And if Aliyan Baal is alive,
And if the Prince, Lord of Earth, exists,
In a dream of the God of Mercy,
In a vision of the Creator of Creatures,
Let the heavens rain oil,
The wadies run with honey,
That I may know that Aliyan Baal is alive,
That the Prince, Lord of Earth, exists."

In a dream of the God of Mercy,
In a vision of the Creator of Creatures,
The heavens rain oil,
The wadies run with honey,
The God of Mercy rejoices.
His feet He sets on the footstool.
He cracks a smile and laughs.
He lifts His voice
And shouts:
"Let Me sit and rest,
And let My soul repose in My breast.
For Aliyan Baal is alive,
For the Prince, Lord of Earth, exists."
Aloud shouts El to the Virgin Anath:
"Hear, O Virgin Anath,
Say to the Torch of the Gods, Shapash:
'Over the furrows of the fields, O Shapash,
Over the furrows of the fields let El set Thee.
As for the Lord of the Plowed Furrows,
Where is Aliyan Baal?
Where is the Prince, Lord of Earth?'"

The Virgin Anath departs.
Then She sets face toward the Torch of the Gods, Shapash.
She lifts Her voice
And shouts:
"The message of Bull-El, Thy father,
The word of the God of Mercy, Thy begetter:
'Over the furrows of the fields, O Shapash,
Over the furrows of the fields let El set Thee!
As for the Lord of the Furrows of His plowing,
Where is Aliyan Baal?
Where is the Prince, Lord of Earth?'"

And the Torch of the Gods, Shapash, replies:
"I shall seek Aliyan Baal!"

And the Virgin Anath answers:
"As for Me, tis not I, O Shapash!
As for Me, tis not I, but El summons Thee!
May the Gods guard Thee in Sheol!"

Shapash descends into the underworld. She enters the relm of Sheol. Upon Her return to the world above, She carries Great Baal with Her. Ball goes into the heights of Saphon. He confronts Mavet, the Hero.

Baal seizes the son of Asherah.
The great one He smites on the shoulder.
The tyrant He smites with a stick.
Mavet is vanquished,
Reaches earth.

Baal returns to the throne of His kingship,
Dagon's son to the seat of His sovereignty.
From days to months,
From months to years,
Lo in the seventh year.

And the God Mavet addresses Himself to Aliyan Baal.
He lifts His voice
And shouts:
"Because of Thee, O Baal, I have experienced humiliation.
Because of Thee, experienced scattering by the sword.
Because of Thee, experienced burning in the fire.
Because of Thee, experienced grinding in the millstones.
Because of Thee, experienced winnowing by the pitchfork.
Because of Thee, experienced being planted in the feilds.
Because of Thee, experienced being sown in the sea."

Thereupon Mavet threatens to destroy Baal in revenge. He threatens to take the kingship of Baal. Baal expels Him, drives Him out of the heights of Saphon. Mavet vows His revenge eupon Baal:

"And lo, as a brother of Yam Thou art made, Baal is given
As retribution for the destroyed sons of My mother!"

He returns to the Lord of the heights of Saphon,
He lifts His voice
And shouts:
"A brother of Yam Thou art made, O Baal!
As retribution for the destroyed sons of My mother!"

They shake each other like Gemar-beasts,
Mavet is strong, Baal is strong.
They gore each other like buffaloes,
Mavet is strong, Baal is strong.
They bite like serpents,
Mavet is strong, Baal is strong.
They kick like racing beasts,
Mavet is down, Ball is down.

Up comes Shapash.
She cries to Mavet:
"Hear, O God Mavet!
How canst Thou fight with Aliyan Baal?
How will Bull-El, Thy father, not hear Thee?
Will He not remove the supports of Thy throne?
Nor upset the seat of Thy kingship?
Nor break the scepter of Thy rule?"

The Got Mavet is afraid,
El's Beloved, the Hero, is frightened.
Mavet is roused from His prstration.

The God of Sterility submits to Baal. He conceeds the kingship to the Lord of Earth. Baal returns to the Heights of Saphon, but Anath does not go with Him. She turns Her anger to the enemies of Baal. To those who were fickle against Baal in His trials. The attacks mankind.

Like the fruit of seven daughters,
The scent of kids and anhb-animals,
Both gates of Anath's house.

And the lads chance upon the Lady of the Mountain.
And lo, Anath smites in the valley,
Fighting between the two cities.
She smites the people of the seashore,
Destroys mankind of the sunrise.
Under Her are heads like vultures.
Over Her are hands like locusts,
Like thorns, the hands of troops.
She piles up heads on Her back,
She ties up hands in Her bundle.
Knee-deep She plunges in the blood of soldiery,
Up to the neck in the gore of troops.
With a stick She drives out foes,
Against the flank She draws Her bow.

And lo, Anath reaches Her house,
Yea the Goddess enters Her palace,
But is not satisfied.
She had smitten in the valley,
Fought between the two cities.

She hurls chairs at the troops,
Hurling tables at the soldiers,
Footstools at the heroes.
Much She smites and looks,
Fights and views.
Anath gluts Her liver with laughter.
Her heart is filled with joy,
For Anath's hand is victory.
For knee-deep She plunges in the blood of soldiery,
Up to the neck in the gore of troops.

Until She is sated She smites in the house,
Fights between the two tables,
Shedding the blood of soldiery.

Pouring the oil of peace from a bowl,
The Virgin Anath washes Her hands,
The Progenitress of Heroes, Her fingers.
She washes Her hands in the blood of soldiery,
Her fingers in the gore of troops.

Arranging portions by the chairs,
Tables by the tables,
Footstools She arranges by the footstools.
She gathers water and washes
With dew of heaven,
Fat of earth,
Rain of the Rider of Clouds,
The dew that the heavens pour,
The rain that the stars pour.
The anhb-animals leap by the thousand acres,
The zuh-fish in the sea, by the myriads of hectares.

Literature of the Colonies (Punic Literature)
by Maurice Sznycer, Chargé de Recherches at the National Centre for Scientific Research (France)

"... there was a great deal of virtue and wisdom in the Punic books" St. Augustine

In a recent book on Carthage the English historian Warmington did not hesitate to affirm that there is no Punic literature. Indeed, at first sight, to talk of literature in connection with the few surviving Punic writings might seem like, tempting Providence. First of all we must establish our definition of the word "literature". The Oxford Dictionary gives a vague definition: "the writings of a country or period or of the world in general", but this was controverted long ago by Voltaire in his Dictionnaire Philosophique ("literature: this is one of those meaningless terms which are so common in all languages"). It is plain that the concept is still in the process of evolving, as it has done throughout the course of every culture, period, taste and fashion. For a long time, an aura of immense prestige surrounded the word, but this was already beginning to dissipate with the famous saying of Verlaine: "all the rest is literature and now it often signifies everything artificial and hollow in an overall pejorative sense.

Today above all the definition of literature is always under review, but nevertheless the criterion most frequently applied to a literary work is the information it conveys. Looking at the question from this point of view, if we accept, for example, the definition of American poet Ezra Pound: Literature is news that stays news", it can be stated without reservation that there is a considerable body of Punic literature. Indeed, several thousand inscriptions are known which, in spite of their comparative uniformity and aridity of style, constituted a priceless source of information, and their value as so much direct evidence is replaceable. These, it must be emphasized are no more than the vestigial re remains of all the literature which the Punic civilisation created during the thousand years of its blossoming.

The Extent of Punic Literature

Over and above the thousands of inscriptions from Carthage itself and the areas in contact with Punic culture which are the only known records actually written in the Punic language, we have a certain number of Punic texts transcribed into Greek or Latin script. The most important of these are the passages inserted in the Poenulus of Plautus and several versions of Punic texts translated into Greek and Latin, particularly the Periplus of Hanno, the Oath of Hannibal and a few fragments of Mago's treatise on agriculture.

The rest of Punic literature -- that is to say nearly all of it -- is lost, but I cannot accept that it is beyond recovery. The example of Ras Shamra Ugarit reminds us, that the miracle of a great discovery is never impossible. Who indeed would have dared to believe before 1929 (the date of the discovery) that the soil of Phoenicia, where, as regards Phoenician documents, only inscriptions had hitherto been found, less numerous indeed than those of Carthage, would suddenly reveal a whole library containing among other things great poems worthy of comparison with the Biblical texts or even with Homer?

When one is conscious of the value of the Cartahaginian civilisation and its flowering (in Numidia, Libya, Spain, Sicily and Sardinia, etc.), it is impossible to doubt the existence of a rich literature. This claim rests not only on deduction and comparison with other oriental Semitic civilisations, but also pre-eminently on a body of precise evidence. First of all, the little of it which survives -- comprising on the one hand the bulk of the somewhat repetitive Punic inscriptions and on the other the fragments of Greek Latin translations -- and still attests the existence of several different branches of Punic literature on subjects such as religion, history, law, politics and travels, etc. Moreover, the clues, which can be gleaned from the various ancient authorities, leave no doubt as to the extent and importance of this literature.

It is definitely known that Carthage established vast libraries. Most of these must have been lost during the destruction of the city by the Romans in 146 B.C. Not all, however, since the Elder Pliny tells us that "after the capture of Carthage the Senate presented the libraries of the town to the region's princes" (1). One always wonders, as does Stephen Gsell for example, whether these libraries had been established only at the time of the Punic wars, on the model of that of Alexandria, or whether, much earlier, the Carthaginians had copied the example of the Assyrian King Assurbanipal in the seventh century B.C. The relevant point is, however, that the formation of a library postulates the existence of a vast body of Punic literature which had been accumulating for centuries, some of it going back as far as the foundation of Carthage. Indeed, it is highly unlikely that the Tyrian colonists setting out to found Phoenician establishments on the distant shores of Western Mediterranean under the patronage of the gods of the mother city would not have brought with them their sacred books, their mythological tales and their epic poetry. We can form of which an idea from the Ugaritic texts from Ras Shamra, their rituals and laws. It moreover, equally unlikely that they would not rapidly elaborate on their own epics, narrating the fabulous feature of Queen Dido-Elissa, the legend, founder of Carthage. In the first place several ancient authors refer to Punic chronicles setting down the history the city's foundation. These facts, in conjunction with everything we can discover about Punic religion, thanks in large part to the inscriptions, confirm that there actually existed in Carthage a body of religious literature probably very extensive. They were forming, in other Phoenician cities, the most important part of all Punic literature. Moreover, in a work of Plutarch there is a reference to sacred writing kept in the temples and accessible only to priests and initiates, which were secretly buried at the time of the sack of Carthage. Although he was referring to an action attributed to an imaginary person, unlike Gsell, I do not believe that his evidence should be completely rejected. It is certainly an echo, even if somewhat distorted of an historical fact.

Alongside the rich and extensive religious literature we know that true historical literature existed at Carthage. The existence of Punic chronicles is mentioned not only by Pseudo-Aristotle (3) and the Greek historian Timacus of Tauromenion (third century B.C.), but also, in the fourth century A.D., by Servius Honoratus, the Latin scholiast on Vergil, speaking of "historia Poenorum" and of "Punica historia" (4). All this leads us to the conclusion that there were actual historiographers at Carthage whose task it was to record in writing the most notable events in the life and history of the city. Further, over the course of the centuries, they must have elaborated a whole series of chronicles and historical writings, probably in the form of annals. We know, moreover, that the Carthaginians were in the habit of recording their outstanding deeds in long commemorative inscriptions, usually placed in the temples. Livy tells us, too, that during the Punic War "Hannibal spent the summer near the Temple of Juno Lacinia. He had an altar erected with a long carved inscription detailling his exploits in Punic and Greek characters" (5). This inscription in the Temple of Hera Lacinia at Croton was painstakingly studied by Polybius (6). It contained in particular an account of the troops exchanged between Spain and Africa and of those left in Spain by Hasdrubal at the start of the war in 219 B.C. Another example of this custom is the Periplus of Hanno, which we shall discuss later. On his return from his expedition on the ocean, Hanno had his records carved "on plaques hung up in the Temple of Chronos".

The existence of historical and commemorative inscriptions is attested not only in territories under the direct control of Carthage; it was equally common in the whole Punic sphere of influence, particularly Numidia. In one of his speeches for the prosecution, Cicero describes a misfortune, which befell King Massinissa of Numidia in Malta. "Tradition has it that a fleet of Massinissa landed at this spot, that the King's prefect took from the temple some ivory tusks of unbelievable size, and carried them off to give to the king. At first the king was delighted with the gift, but later, when he found out where they came from, he sent trustworthy men in a quinquireme to put them back in the temple. That is why it is recorded there in Punic lettering that Massinissa accepted them in ignorance of their provenance" (7). This story is confirmed by a comment of Valerius Maximus in the first century A.D. in his Memorable Deeds and Sayings. It is known, moreover, that the Numidian kings made use of Punic geographies and histories. The Roman writers Solinus and Ammianus, who may both have drawn on the same source for their material, refer to Punic books (libri Punici) consulted Juba II of Numidia. Solinus says "The Nile rises in a mountain of lower Mauretania on the sea coast. This is stated, in the Punic books, and confirmed by King Juba, as we know. Ammianus says: "King Juba II, said that. according to the Punic books the source of the Nile is in a mountain in Mauretania overlooking the Ocean. Moreover, Sallust states that Hiempsal of Numidia wrote one or more works in Punic:" I will summarize briefly my information on the Punic books attributed to King Hiempsal (10).

When Hellenism began to influence Carthage and the Greeks settled there (in the fourth century B.C. there was still an important Greek colony there, according to Diodorus Siculus), a bilingual literature seems to have developed, with books in both Greek and Punic. We know of the existence of a History of the First Punic War by Philinus of Agrigentum, and the records of the campaigns of Hannibal compiled by his friends and teachers the Spartan Sosylus and Silenus, a fragment of which, the famous Hannibal's Dream, has been preserved in the works of Cicero and Livy. Hannibal himself, it is said, wrote several works in Greek and Punic. In his Lexicon Suidas mentions a certain Charon of Carthage who wrote a whole series of Lives of famous men and women as well as a history of the tyrants of Europe and Asia.

All that we know so far about the history of Carthage at home and abroad and everything we learn from the Punic inscriptions indicates the existence of a body of legal and political writings, doubtless very advanced. Statutes, codes, the decisions of the jurisprudents and some of the speeches made before the various assemblies must undoubtedly have been written down. It is unlikely, for instance, that the constitution of Carthage, which Aristotle held up as a model, was only known to him from hearsay. It is, moreover, reasonable to assume that Carthage too had actual didactic works of the type so common in the Semitic Orient, as well as a popular literature that would mostly be oral. However, parts of which must certainly have been taken down in writing in the form of collections of maxims, sayings, stories and proverbs after the manner of the Saying of Ahiqar. An original Punic proverb is preserved in a sermon of St. Augustine: "There is a well known Punic proverb which I will tell you in Latin because not all of you understand Punic. Here it is: 'if the plague asks you for a crown, give it two and may it go away' (11). St. Jerome too refers to the existence of what is known today as erotic poetry in Punic. He believed it to be pernicious and described it as "lewd" (Latin: procacia) (12).

One may wonder about the possibility of the existence of philosophical works in Punic, an idea that I do not for a moment exclude. Such works certainly would not be entirely Punic in inspiration, and were probably affected by Hellenic influence. But even if they only reflect various movements in Greek philosophy, they must, on being translated into Punic, have been influenced to some extent by Punic thought and religion. On this subject one can cite the example of the stelae of Ghorfa, where the Neo-Pythagorean themes are clearly Punicised. We know, moreover, that long before the fall of Carthage there were several schools of Greek philosophy in the city, notably the Pythagorean, or Neo-Pythagorean, as well as the Neo-Academician. An outstanding name among the latter school was Hasdrubal, who was born in Carthage in the second century B.C. and went to Athens, where he became a celebrated philosopher under the name of Clitomachus. Diogenes Laertius refers to him in his Lives of the Philosophers: "Clitomachus of Carthage was named Hasdrubal, and it was under his real name that he practiced at home. When he came to Athens at the age of forty he went to hear Carneades. The latter, seeing his great enthusiasm, made him a man of letters and educated him. His pupil worked so hard that he produced more than forty books. He took Carneades' place and annotated his best theories in his books. He contributed extensively to three different schools of thought -- the Academic, the Peripatetic and the Stoic" (13). It could also be added that it is only through Hasdrubal-Clitomachus that we know something of the philosophy of Carneades, whom he succeeded in 129 B.C. As a specialist on Diogenes Laertius remarks, "Hasdrubal seems to have added to the probabilism of Arcesilas a critical interpretation of certitude, and this makes him a forerunner of modem thought".

Punic Inscriptions

By far the largest part of the main body of known Punic inscriptions (several thousand, as we mentioned before) can be classed as religious literature. The longest and usually the most interesting of them are those dealing with the customary sacrifices in the Punic sanctuaries. These are the sacrificial tariffs promulgated by the magistrates in charge of the administration of the cult, who laid down the share due to the priests, according to the animal and the nature of the offering. Every sanctuary had its own particular tariff. Fragments of these lists have been found at Carthage, but the most complete text is that found at Marseilles in 1844 in the old port district (now in the Musée Borély), which originally came from Carthage. It read as follows:

  1. "Temple of Baal [tsaphon. Tariff of du] es which [the thirty men in charge of the du] es have fixed, in the time [of the magistracy of Khilletz] baal the Suffete, son of Bodtanit, son of Bod [eshmun and Khilletzbaal]
  2. the Suffete, son of Bodeshmun, son of Khilletzbaal and their col [leagues]."
  3. "For an ox, in expiatory sacrifice or in communion sacrifice or in holocaust: for the priests, ten (shekels) of silver each. And in expiatory sacrifice, they shall have, in addition to these dues, [a weight of 300 (shekels) of flesh
  4. and in communion sacrifice, the breast and the (right) thigh. The skin, the ribs (?), the feet and the rest of the flesh shall belong to the master of the sacrifice."
  5. "For an uncastrated calf not yet horned, or for a deer, in expiator: sacrifice or in communion sacrifice or in holocaust: for the priests, five (shekels) of silver [each. In expiatory sacrifice, they shall have,
  6. in] addition to these dues, a weight of 150 (shekels) of flesh and, in communion sacrifice, the breast, and the thigh The skin, the ribs (?), the feet and the rest of the flesh shall belong to the master of the sacrifice]."
  7. "For a ram or a he-goat, in expiatory sacrifice or in communion sacrifice or in holocaust: for the priests, one shekel two zar of silver each. In communion sacrifice, they shall have, [in addition to these dues, the breast]
  8. and the (right) thigh. The skin, the ribs (?), the feet and the rest of the flesh shall belong to the master of the sacrifice."
  9. "For a lamb or a kid or a fawn, in expiatory sacrifice or in communion sacrifice or in holocaust: for the priests, three-quarters (of a shekel) of silver and [two] zar [each. In communion sacrifice, they shall have, in addition]
  10. to these dues, the breast and the (right) thigh. The skin, the ribs (?), the feet and the rest of the flesh shall belong to the master [of the sacrifice]."
  11. "For a farmyard bird or a wild fowl, in holocaust or in exorcism sacrifice or in sacrifice for an augury: for the priests, three-quarters (of a shekel) of silver each. And the flesh shall belong to the master of the sacrifice]."
  12. "For an (other) bird or holy first fruits or for an offering of flour or an offering of oil: for the priests, ten ag[urot] of silver each..."
  13. "For each communion sacrifice which is offered before the god, the breast and the thigh shall belong to the priests. In communion sacrifice..."
  14. "For cake, for milk, for fat and for all sacrifices offered by a man in minkhat..."
  15. "For each sacrifice which is offered with cattle or with fowl, the pri[ests] shall have nothing."
  16. "Every guild MZRH, every clan and every thiasos of the divinity and all men who shall offer sacrifice..."
  17. "These men (shall pay) the dues on one sacrifice only, according to what has been fixed in the writing ..."
  18. "All dues which are not set out on this table shall be given according to the writing [made by the thirty men in charge of the dues, in the time of the magistracy of Khilletzbaal, son of Bodtani]t and
  19. and of Khilletzbaal, son of Bodeshmun, and their colleagues."
  20. "Every priest who shall collect dues other (?) than those fixed on this table, will be smitten with a fine..."
  21. "Every master of the sacrifice who shall not give [the money ? ac]cording to the dues..."

This Carthaginian sacrificial tariff is strikingly reminiscent, in its contents as well as its style, of the sacrificial rulings of the Israelites as they are detailed in the book of Leviticus.

The larger part of the religious texts comprises the innumerable votive inscriptions, mostly dedicated to the goddess Tanit or the god Baal Hammon, the chief deities of Carthage. These votive inscriptions are engraved on limestone stelae, often very ornate, which were apparently set up in various sanctuaries. The contents of the inscriptions are generally very much alike. They follow sacred formulae established once and for all, but fortunately an occasional sentence is found with some slight modification, innovation or addition. If these texts seem monotonous to the historian or to the unprejudiced observer, the same cannot be said of the epigraphist. Studied judiciously and minutely (which has not yet been done) they could without a doubt reveal a great deal of valuable information about religious, economic, social and even political life in Carthage. Here are some samples.

"To the lady Tanit, the Face of Baal, and to the lord Baal Hammon, dedicated by Milkyaton, son of Maharbaal, son of Milkyaton, son of Aderbaal the Suffete, son of Hannibal" (14).

"To the lady Tanit, the Face of Baal, and to the lord Baal Hammon, dedicated by Abdmelqart, son of Ashtartyaton, who is of the attendants of the temple of Melqart" (15).

"To the lady Tanit, the Face of Baal, and to the lord Baal Hammon, dedicated by Muttunbaal, wife of Abdmelqart, son of Baalhanno, son of Bodashtart. Because they have heard her voice may they bless her." (16)

"Has dedicated (this stele), Baalshillek, son of Akbar, for his son. May you hear his voice, may you bless him." (17)

'To the lady Tanit, the Face of Baal, and to the lord Baal Hammon, dedicated by Kanmi. servant (perhaps slave) of Eshmunamash, son of Baalyaton, for his flesh. May she bless him. And whosoever shall remove this stone against my will, or against the will of one acting in my name, may Tanit, the Face of Baal, condemn that man's spirit (soul)." (18)

These examples suffice to show, in a manner of speaking, the variations in the apparent uniformity of the votive stelae. It is this variety, very much greater in reality than is generally apparent, which gives these brief inscriptions their importance.

Another, much less numerous, category is composed of funerary inscriptions. I will confine myself to two examples.

"This is the tomb of Baalhanno, son of Bodashtart, son of Germelqart, son of Bodmelqart, the Mequim of the divinity." (19)

"This is the tomb of Arishat, daughter of Philosir, son of Abdosir, wife of Abdeshmun, son of Himilco." (20)

The most interesting of the Punic epitaphs and also, unfortunately, the most difficult to read and interpret, is without a doubt that of Milkpilles, which was erected in his memory by a faithful friend. It also comes into the category of Punic texts relating to wills. What follows is the translation proposed by Mr. J.-G. Février (21).

"Milkpilles, son of Bodmelqart, son of Milkpilles, son [...] Milkpilles, son of Melqartpilles, organizer of the sacred affairs, son [...] Milkherem. A stele in righteous aid I, Ashtzaph... in memory above the burial place of his remains, I have erected because he delighted in holy things... because, as a priest, he made holy offerings and served the gods with all his might during his lifetime, according to the writing and the plan; and I have written his name on high on the front (of the stele) for ever... in goodwill to him and for the greater glory of his remains. The chief of the clan, Sa[karbaal, son of] Yaroah. The temple of Isis. And I have engraved the inscription on [this] tablet." (22)

Commemorative inscriptions, although rare, are particularly interesting. All the known examples were, until the present, dedications of religious monuments. A short time ago, however, a new Punic inscription was found at Carthage, which was the first to commemorate a great public work, probably of the third century B.C. This inscription will be published by the young Tunisian scholar Mr. Mohamed Hassine Fantar. Rather than offer my own translation, which, in view of the difficulties of the Punic text, would require a detailed philological study for which this present article is unsuitable, I prefer to quote an English translation of the suggested version with notes and comments by Mr. André Dupont-Sommer (23).

"Opened and made this street in the direction of the square at the New Gate in the south (?) wa[II, the people of Carthage, in the year] of the Suffetes Shafat and Adonibaal, in the time of the magistracy of Adonibaal, son of Eshmunkhilletz, son of... [son of Bodinel]qart, son of Hanno and their colleagues. (Were) in charge of this work Abdmelqart [son of.... son of. ---(as) foreman (?)]; Bodmelqart son of Baalhanno, son of Bodmelqart (as) chief engineer of public highways; Yehawwielon brother [of Bodmelqart (as) quarrier (?)]. [Also contributing to the enterprise were all] the merchants, the porters, the packers (?) who dwell in the level ground of the city, the weighers of small coinage (?) and [those] who have no [money, neither gold [?] nor silver (?), and also] those who have (money), the goldsmiths, the potters (?) and the (staff of) the workshops with kilns, and the sandal-makers (?) (all) together. And [if anyone shall (erase) this inscription] our accountants shall punish that man with a fine of 1000 (shekels of) silver -- one thousand -- in addition to [X] minae [to pay for the inscription (?)]."

The Punic Passages in the "Poenulus" of Plautus

By far the most important of the Punic texts and glosses in Greek and Latin transcription are the passages in the Poenulus of Plautus. This unusual transcription poses a number of philological, epigraphic, literary and historical Problems. Even a brief summary would be impossible here, but 1 shall refer, if 1 may, to my own work on the subject (24). The main passage is a speech by the Carthaginian Hanno who has come to his native town in the hope of rediscovering his daughters, who were brought up from an early age in Carthage. The following is my own translation. "I invoke the gods and goddesses of this place: I pray them to bring my endeavour to a successful outcome and to bless my journey. May 1, by the protection and justice of the gods, take back my daughters and my nephew here. Long ago my host was Antimidas ; they tell me his course is run. As to his son, of whom I spoke, I have been told that Agorastocles is to be found here. I have brought with me as proof this tessera hospitalis. I have heard that (Agorastocles) lives hereabouts. I will keep watch and find out from the people who come out." This comparatively extensive text is without doubt "literary" in character. But in fact it is nothing more than a translation into Punic of a Greek or Latin text (we cannot exclude the possibility that Plautus borrowed this text as it was from a Greek model), and the importance of this translation from our point of view lies in its evidence for the characteristics of Punic language and literature.

The "Periplus" of Hanno

We shall now revert to the record of the voyage which the famous Carthaginian leader Hanno undertook, probably on the orders of the Senate, beyond the Pillars of Hercules -- that is to say, on the Ocean. The Punic text of the record of this journey was engraved in the Temple of Chronos (Baal Hammon) at Carthage. There is only one Greek version, dating perhaps to the third century B.C. As J. Carcopino has shown, this has been modified to suit Greek tastes. The Greek text is no doubt less complete than the Punic original, but certain philological oddities can be found in it which indicate, as I believe, that it is an actual translation of a Punic text. It runs as follows:

"Record of the voyage of King Hanno of Carthage round the lands of Libya which lie beyond the Pillars of Hercules. It has been engraved on tablets hung up in the Temple of Chronos.

"The Carthaginians decided that Hanno should go past the Pillars and found Carthaginian cities. He set sail with sixty pentekontas carrying thirty thousand men and women with provisions and other necessities. After passing the Pillars of Hercules and sailing for two days beyond them we founded the first city, which was named Thymiaterion. Around it was a large plain. Next we went on in a westerly direction and arrived at the Libyan promontory of Soloeis, which is covered with trees; having set up a shrine to Poseidon, we set sail again towards the rising sun for half a day, after which we arrived at a lagoon close to the sea covered with many tall reeds. Elephants and large numbers of other animals were feeding on them. Leaving this lagoon and sailing for another day, we founded the coastal cities named Carian Wall, Gytte, Acra, Melitta and Arambys.

"Leaving this place we arrived at the great river Lixos which comes from Libya. On the banks nomads, the Lixites, were feeding their flocks. We stayed for some time with these people and made friends with them. Upstream from them lived the unfriendly Ethiopians whose land is full of wild beasts and broken up by high mountains where they say the Lixos rises. They also say that about these mountains dwell the strange-looking Troglodytes. The Lixites claim that they can run faster than horses. Taking Lixite interpreters with us we sailed alongside the desert in a southerly direction for two days, then towards the rising sun for one more day. We then found at the far end of an inlet a little island five stades in circumference. We named it Cerne and left settlers there. judging by our journey we reckoned that it must be opposite Carthage, since we had to sail the same distance from Carthage to the Pillars of Hercules as from the Pillars of Hercules to Cerne. From there, sailing up a big river named the Chretes, we arrived at a lake in which there were three islands, all larger than Cerne. Leaving these islands, we sailed for one day and came to the end of the lake, which was overshadowed by high mountains full of savages dressed in animal skins that threw stones at us and thus prevented us from landing. From there we entered another river, which was big and wide, full of crocodiles and hippopotamuses. Then we retraced our journey back to Cerne.

"From there we sailed south along a coast entirely inhabited by Ethiopians, who fled at our approach. Their language was incomprehensible even to the Lixites, whom we had with us. On the last day we disembarked by some high mountains covered with trees with sweet-smelling multicoloured wood. We sailed round these mountains for two days and arrived in a huge bay on the other side of which was a plain; there we saw fires breaking out at intervals on all sides at night, both great and small. Having renewed our water supplies, we continued our voyage along the coast for five days, after which we arrived at a huge inlet, which the interpreters called the Horn of the West. There was a big island in this gulf and in the island was a lagoon with another island. Having disembarked there, we could see nothing but forest by day ; but at night many fires were seen and we heard the sound of flutes and the beating of drums and tambourines, which made a great noise. We were struck with terror and our soothsayers bade us leave the island.

"We left in haste and sailed along by a burning land full of perfumes. Streams of fire rose from it and plunged into the sea. The land was unapproachable because of the heat. Terror-stricken, we hastened away. During four days' sailing we saw at night that the land was covered with fire. In the middle was a high flame, higher than the others, which seemed to reach the stars. By day we realised that it was a very high mountain, named the Chariot of the Gods. Leaving this place, we sailed along the burning coast for three days and came to the gulf named the Horn of the South. At the end of it was an island like the first one, with a lake in which was another island full of savages. The greater parts of these were women. They had hairy bodies and the interpreters called them Gorillas. We pursued some of the males but we could not catch a single one because they were good climbers and they defended themselves fiercely. However, we managed to take three women. They bit and scratched their captors, whom they did not want to follow. We killed them and removed the skins to take back to Carthage. We sailed no further, being short of supplies." Considered solely from the literary viewpoint, this can only be regarded as a marvellous record of a journey, a true and highly readable adventure story. What strikes me particularly in this composition is the quality, I might even say the modernity, of the style.

Mago's Treatise on Agriculture

Although they were best known as traders and navigators, the Carthaginians were also, after a certain period at least, highly expert farmers. Various references and notes in Greek and Roman authors such as Diodorus Siculus, Polybius and Ennius state plainly that Carthaginian agriculture was in a prosperous condition. That the Carthaginians looked on the improvement of agriculture as a real science is proved by the existence at Carthage of several highly renowned works on agriculture. The best known of these was unquestionably that of Mago, which was known, appreciated and copied by the Greeks and Romans, as it was later by the Byzantines and the Arabs. This monumental work in twenty-eight books was the only one -- of all those saved from the fire which destroyed the libraries of Carthage in 146 B.C. -- to be appropriated by the Romans and accorded the distinguished honour of an official Latin translation. We are told by Pliny the Elder: "After the sack of Carthage, our Senate presented the libraries of the town to the African princes, with the sole exception of the twenty-eight books of Mago, which they decreed should be translated into Latin. However, Cato had already written his own work on the subject. The text was entrusted to scholars learned in the Punic language. The chief part was taken by D. Silanus, a man of high birth." (25) The treatise was also translated into Creek by Cassius Dionysius of Utica.

It goes without saying that nothing has survived of the original work of Mago in Punic ; and ever the Greek and Latin versions are lost. We have in all about forty quotations of varying length from Mago's work, scattered here and there in the work of various Roman authors, principally Varro, Columella, Pliny and others such as Gargilius Martialis. We know that Mago's work covered all branches of agriculture. It is not impossible that he consulted some Greek works on the subject, but his treatise is pre-eminently a native Punic product concerned with farming in North Africa. The surviving quotations mostly deal with cereal crops, vines, olive and other fruit trees, vegetables, the breeding of horses, mules and oxen, farmyard animals, bee-keeping, and the internal organisation of the farm. To give an idea of the style and literary construction of Mago's work (if, indeed, it is possible to discern them from Latin translation), I shall quote some typical passages.

In the section on cereals, for example, there is a recipe for grinding wheat and barley:

"Soak the wheat in plenty of water and then pound it with a pestle, dry it in the sun and put it back under the pestle. The procedure for barley is the same. For twenty setiers of barley you need two setiers of water" (26).

The Carthaginians made raisin wine that was very popular with the Romans, and we are fortunate enough to know Mago's instructions for making it:

"Pick some well-ripened early grapes ; discard any which are mildewed or damaged. Drive into the ground forked branches or stakes made of rods tied into bundles, at a distance of about four feet apart. Lay reeds across them and spread the grapes out in the sun on top. Cover them at night so that the dew will not moisten them. When they are dried, pick the grapes off the stems and put them in a jar or pitcher. Add some unfermented wine, the best you have, until the grapes are just covered. After six days, when the grapes have absorbed it all and are swollen, put them in a basket, put them through the press and collect the resulting liquid. Next press the marc, adding fresh unfermented wine made with other grapes which have been left in the sun for three days. Stir it well, and put it trough the press. Bottle at once in luted vessels the liquid produced by this second pressing, so that it will not turn sour. After twenty or thirty days when the fermentation is over, decant it into fresh vessels. Coat the lids with plaster and cover them with leather" (27).

Finally, here are Mago's instructions on how to select oxen.

"They must be young, stocky and sturdy of limb with long horns, darkish and healthy, a wide and wrinkled forehead, hairy ears and black eyes and chops, the nostrils well-opened and turned back, the neck long and muscular, the dewlap full and descending to the knees, the chest well-developed, broad shoulders, the belly big like that of a cow in calf, the flanks long, the loins broad, the back straight and flat or a little depressed in the middle, the buttocks rounded, the legs thick and straight, rather short than long, the knees straight, the hooves large, the tail long and hairy and the hair on the body thick and short, red c brown in colour and very soft to the touch." (28)

It must be admitted that this long description with its remarkably precise choice of words, has a flavour and beauty all its own. It is not difficult to understand why this admirable work of Mago was so famous for so long. Precision, brevity and sobriety as they are exemplified here were, in general, the dominant characteristics of Punic literature. These Phoenicians of the West, although at heart they were closely related to their eastern brothers, knew how to restrain their imagination better than the Orientals. The Carthaginians' imagination was always tempered by their alert intelligence and their outstanding common sense. However, their creative power, sensitivity and feeling, although often veiled, breaks out from time to time through the apparent aridity of style and thought, as we see from the Periplus of Hanno, the extracts from Mago, and even from some of the inscriptions.

In the fourth century A.D. when Punic was still spoken as a living language, St. Augustine had no reservation in stating in a letter addressed to the orator Maximus Madaurus that: "on the word of many scholars, there was a great deal of virtue and wisdom in the Punic books". This certainly appears to be true of Carthaginian literature when it is studied from the inside, and not just via the distorting mirror held up by their enemies and rivals, the Greeks and Romans.


  1. Pliny, Natural History. XVIII, 22.
  2. Plutarch, Do facie in orbe lunae, 27.
  3. 3) Pseudo-Aristotle, Do mirab, auscult, 134.
  4. Servius Honaratus, In Aeneid (Thilo-Hagen ed.), 1, 343.
  5. Titus-Livius, Roman History. XXVIII, 40, 16.
  6. Polybius, Ill, 33.
  7. Cicero, In Verrem, 11, 48.
  8. Solinus, Collection of Curiosities, XXXII, 2.
  9. Ammianus Marcellinus, XXII, 15, 8-9.
  10. Sallustus, Bellum Jugurtinum, XVII, 7.
  11. St. Augustine, Sermon, CLVII.
  12. St. Jerome, Epistles, 97.
  13. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, IV.
  14. Corpus Inscriptionum. Semiticarum (- C.I.S.), 1. 5655.
  15. C.I.S., 1, 264.
  16. C.I.S., 1. 1885.
  17. C.I.S., 1, 178.
  18. C.I.S., 1, 3785.
  19. C.I.S., 1. 5953.
  20. C.I.S., 1. 6991.
  21. J.G. Février In Bulletin Archéologique du Comité des Travaux Historiques, 1951-1052, pp. 74-80.
  22. C.I.S., 1, 6000.
  23. André Dupont-Sommer, "Une nouvelle inscription punique do Carthage " in Comptes Randus do l'Académie des Inscriptions, 1968 (session of March 29, 1908).
  24. Maurice Sznycer, Les passages puniques an transcription latine dons le "Poenulus" de Plauto, Parts (Klincksieck), 1967.
  25. Pliny, Natural History, XVIII, 22.
  26. Ibid., XVIII, go.
  27. Columellus, XII, 39. 1-2. 28) Ibid., VI, 1,3.

Chargé de Recherches at the French National Centre for Scientific Research and a specialist in the ancient civilisations of the Western Semitic peoples, Maurice SZNYCER is particularly interested in Phoenician, Punic and Aramaic inscriptions and in the religious history of these peoples. The study of the cuneiform texts from Ras Shamra-Ugarit constitutes another and no less important branch of his scientific activity. Among his publications, we should mention Les passages puniques dans le "Poenulus" de Plaute (The Punic Passages in the "Poenulus" of Plautus), published in Paris in 1967, and numerous articles and studies in French and foreign scientific journals. In collaboration with Mr. André Caquot, he is currently preparing a French translation, with notes and commentary, of the greet Ugaritic texts.

Homer's Illiad and Odyssey

Mention of Phoenicia, Phoenicians and Phoenician cities by Homer. (click Homer to view Greek and English text) that relates to this.

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