The Phoenicians or Punic (Phoenicians of the
Western Mediterranean) and Hannibal were probably Semitic --
neither white nor black
going into the long and controversial origin
of the Phoenicians, the Punic or Hannibal, two things musts be made
clear. They do not have their origin in Europe or in Africa.
They were neither European nor where
they black Africans. Their
origin is unknown & Semitic speakers, according to their language, though some references
trace them back to as far away as India about 10,000 BC, others
to Ireland and still others to the Celts. They are most probably closely related to the Hittites, if not equal and the same as the Hittites. Further, the Phoenician
colonies which spread all over the coastline of the Mediterranean
and even the Atlantic coasts were inhabited by Canaanite Phoenician
immigrants, and this is what they called themselves in the East and the West. No one can claim that the Phoenicians of North Africa
were sub-Saharan African (see linked letter of affirmation from a gentleman from The Congo) or the Phoenicians of Spain, Gibraltar, Sardinia, Sicily,
Malta...etc. were European -- Anglo-Saxons.
stated the above and to give black Africans
their due credit, it needs to be mentioned that major divisions
of Hannibal's armies were black Africans (along
other ethnic groups) and their contribution to his victories
cannot and should not be denied by anyone.
regarding these points will be ignored and the race of the Punic
is NOT open for discussion.
Goes to War with Rome
middle of the 3rd century to the middle of the 2nd century BC, Carthage was engaged in a series of wars with Rome. These wars, known as the
Punic Wars, ended in the complete defeat of Carthage by Rome. The most
prominent figure of the Punic war s was General Hannibal of Pheonician
Carhtage. During these wars, it is likely that the colonizing expeditions
of the Carthaginians were supported by many emigrants from the Phoenician
BC, North Africa--d. c. 183-181, Libyssa, Bithynia), Phoenician Carthaginian
general, one of the great military leaders of antiquity, who commanded
the Carthaginian forces against Rome in the Second Punic War (218-201
was the son of the great Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca. According
to Polybius and Livy, the main Latin sources for his life, Hannibal
was taken to Spain by his father and at an early age was made to swear
eternal hostility to Rome. From the death of his father in 229/228 until
his own death c. 183, Hannibal's life was one of constant struggle against
the Roman republic.
commands were given to him in the Carthaginian province of Spain by
Hasdrubal, son-in-law and successor of Hamilcar; and it is clear that
he emerged as a successful officer, for, on the assassination of Hasdrubal
in 221 BC, the army proclaimed him, at the age of 26, its commander
in chief, and the Carthaginian government quickly ratified his field
immediately turned himself to the consolidation of the Punic hold on
Spain. He married a Spanish princess, Imilce, then began to conquer
various Spanish tribes. He fought against the Olcades and captured their
capital, Althaea; quelled the Vaccaei in the northwest; and in 221,
making the seaport Cartagena (Carthage Nova, the capital of Carthaginian
Spain) his base, won a resounding victory over the Carpetani in the
region of the Tagus River.
BC Hannibal made an attack on Saguntum, an independent Iberian city
south of the Ebro River. In the treaty between Rome and Carthage subsequent
to the First Punic War (264-241), the Ebro had been set as the northern
limit of Carthaginian influence in the Iberian Peninsula.
was indeed south of the Ebro, but the Romans had "friendship"
(though perhaps not an actual treaty) with the city and regarded the
Carthaginian attack on it as an act of war. The siege of Saguntum lasted
eight months, and in it Hannibal was severely wounded. The Romans, who
had sent envoys to Carthage in protest (though they did not send an
army to help Saguntum), after its fall demanded the surrender of Hannibal.
Thus began the Second Punic War, declared by Rome and conducted, on
the Carthaginian side, almost entirely by Hannibal.
spent the winter of 219-218 at Cartagena in active preparations for
carrying the war into Italy. Leaving his brother Hasdrubal in command
of a considerable army for the defense of Spain and North Africa, he
crossed the Ebro in April or May of 218 and marched into the Pyrenees
(the Romans, shortly before they heard of this, decided on war). There
his army--which consisted, according to Polybius, of 90,000 infantry,
12,000 cavalry (Polybius' figures are probably exaggerated; a total
force of about 40,000 is more likely) and a number of elephants--met
with stiff resistance from the Pyrenean tribes. This opposition and
the desertion of some of his Spanish troops greatly diminished his numbers,
but he reached the Rhône River with but little resistance from
the tribes of southern Gaul. Meanwhile, the Roman general Publius Cornelius
Scipio transported his army, which had been detained in northern Italy
by a rebellion, by sea to Massilia (Marseille). As Scipio moved northward
along the right bank of the Rhône, he learned that Hannibal had
already crossed the river and was marching northward on the left bank.
Realizing that Hannibal probably planned to cross the Alps, Scipio returned
to northern Italy to await him.
has surrounded the details of Hannibal's movements after the crossing
of the Rhône. Polybius states that he crossed it while the river
was still in one stream at a distance of four days' march from the sea.
Fourques, opposite Arles, is thought to be a likely place, but he may
have made a crossing north of the confluence of the Isère and
the Rhône. Hannibal used coracles and boats locally commandeered;
for the elephants he made jetties out into the river and floated the
elephants from these on earth-covered rafts. Horses were embarked on
large boats or made to swim.
this operation hostile Gauls appeared on the opposite bank, and Hannibal
dispatched a force under Hanno to cross farther upstream and attack
them in the rear.
and receiving friendly Gallic leaders headed by the northern Italian
Boii, whose superior knowledge of the Alpine passes must have been of
the greatest value to Hannibal's plans, the Carthaginians crossed the
Durance River (or more probably an ancient branch of it that flowed
into the Rhône near Avignon) and passed into an area called "the
island," the identification of which is the key to Hannibal's subsequent
movements on land. According to Polybius, it was a fertile, densely
populated triangle bounded by hills, by the Rhône, and by a river
that is probably either the Aygues or the Isère. On the "island"
a civil war was being fought between two brothers (of what tribe it
is not clear). Brancus, the elder, in return for Hannibal's help, provided
supplies for the Carthaginian army, which, after marching about 750
miles in four months from Cartagena, was in sore need of them.
army approached the Alps either by the Col de Grimone or the Col de
Cabre, then through the basin of the Durance, or else by the Genèvre
or Mont Cenis passes into the upper Po Valley, descending into the territory
of the hostile Taurini, where Hannibal stormed their chief town (modern
of Hannibal's crossing of the Alps have been preserved. At first danger
came from the Allobroges, who attacked the rear of Hannibal's column.
(Along the middle stages of the route, other Celtic groups attacked
the baggage animals and rolled heavy stones down from the heights on
the enfilade below, thus causing both men and animals to panic and lose
their footings on the precipitous paths. Hannibal took countermeasures,
but these involved him in heavy losses in men.) On the third day he
captured a Gallic town and provided the army from its stores with rations
for two or three days. Harassed by the daytime attentions of the Gauls
from the heights and mistrusting the loyalty of his Gallic guides, Hannibal
bivouacked on a large bare rock to cover the passage by night of his
horses and pack animals in the gorge below. Snow was falling on the
summit of the pass, making the descent even more treacherous. Upon the
hardened ice of the previous year's fall, the soldiers and animals alike
slid and foundered in the fresh snow. A landslide blocked the narrow
track, and the army was held up for one day while it was cleared. Finally
on the 15th day, after a journey of five months from Cartagena, with
20,000 infantry, 6,000 cavalry, and only a few of the original 38 elephants,
Hannibal descended into Italy, having surmounted the difficulties of
climate and terrain, the guerrilla tactics of inaccessible tribes, and
the major difficulty of commanding a body of men diverse in race and
language under conditions to which they were ill fitted.
forces were now totally inadequate to match the army of Scipio, who
had rushed to the Po River to protect the recently founded Roman colonies
of Placentia (modern Piacenza) and Cremona. The first action between
the two armies took place on the plains west of the Ticino River, and
Hannibal's Numidian cavalry prevailed. Scipio was severely wounded,
and the Romans withdrew to Placentia. After manoeuvres failed to lead
to a second engagement, the combined armies of Sempronius Longus and
Scipio met Hannibal on the left bank of the Trebia River south of Placentia
and were soundly defeated (December 218). This victory brought both
Gauls and Ligurians to Hannibal's side, and his army was considerably
augmented by Celtic recruits. After a severe winter (in which he contracted
an eye infection), he was able to advance in the spring of 217 as far
as the Arno River. Although two Roman armies were now in the field against
him, he was able to outmanoeuvre that of Gaius Flaminius at Arretium
and reached Faesulae (modern Fiesole) and Perugia. By design, this move
forced Flaminius' army into open combat, and, as it passed between the
northern shore of Lake Trasimene and the opposite hills, Hannibal's
troops from their prepared positions all but annihilated it, killing
thousands and driving others to drown in the lake. Reinforcements of
about 4,000 cavalry under Gaius Centenius were intercepted before they
arrived and were also destroyed. The Carthaginian troops were too worn
to clinch their victories and march on Rome. Hannibal, furthermore,
nurtured the vain hope that the Italian allies of Rome would defect
and cause civil war.
spent the summer of 217 resting at Picenum, but later he ravaged Apulia
and Campania; meanwhile the delaying tactics of Quintus Fabius Maximus
Cunctator's army allowed only skirmishes between the two armies. Suddenly
in early summer of 216 Hannibal moved southward and seized the large
army supply depot at Cannae on the Aufidus River. There early in August
the Battle of Cannae (modern Monte di Canne) was fought. While the Gauls
and Iberian infantry of Hannibal's centre line yielded (without breaking)
before the drive of the numerically superior Roman infantry, the Libyan
infantry and cavalry of Hannibal's flanks stood fast, overlapped the
Roman line, and in a rear encircling movement turned to pursue the victorious
land victory brought the desired effect: many regions began to defect
from the Italic confederacy. But Hannibal did not march on Rome but
spent the winter of 216-215 in Capua. Gradually the Carthaginian fighting
strength weakened. The strategy suggested by Fabius was put into operation:
to defend the cities loyal to Rome; to try to recover, where opportunity
offered, those cities that had fallen to Hannibal; never to enter battle
when the enemy offered it but rather to keep the Carthaginians alert
in every theatre of war. Thus Hannibal, unable because of inferior numbers
to spread his forces to match the Romans and unable to employ this concentrated
strength in a decisive battle, passed from the offensive to a cautious
and not always successful defensive in Italy, inadequately supported
by the home government at Carthage and, because of the Roman command
of the sea, forced to obtain local provisions for protracted and ineffectual
except for the capture of Tarentum (modern Taranto), gained only minor
victories (215-213). Reinforcements from Carthage were few. In 213 Casilinum
and Arpi (captured by Hannibal in winter 216-215) were recovered by
the Romans, and in 211 Hannibal was obliged to march to relieve the
Roman siege of Capua. Despite Hannibal's quick march to within three
miles of the strongly fortified walls of Rome, Capua fell. In the same
year, in Sicily, Syracuse fell, and by 209 Tarentum, in south Italy,
had also been recaptured by the Romans.
in Spain and Africa
Roman successes in Spain dealt severe blows to Carthaginian power there.
In 208 Hasdrubal, detaching a force from the main Carthaginian army,
crossed the Alps (probably by his brother's route) to go to Hannibal's
aid. Hasdrubal's army was defeated, however, at Metaurus in northern
Italy (207) before the Carthaginian armies could effect a junction.
His last hope of making a recovery in central Italy thus dashed, Hannibal
concentrated his forces in Bruttium, where with the help of his remaining
allies he was able to resist Roman pressure for four more years.
however, struck at North Africa, breaking Carthage's principal ally,
the Massaesylian Numidians, and endangering Carthage. In order to go
to the help of his country, Hannibal abandoned Italy in 203. Although
a preliminary armistice had already been declared and the Carthaginian
armies had accepted Scipio's severe terms (winter 204-203), Hannibal
concentrated the remnants of the Carthaginian forces at Hadrumetum (modern
Sousse, Tunisia). Almost at the very moment when the ambassadors were
returning from Rome with the preliminary peace proposals, the Carthaginians
violated the armistice.
of the campaigns that followed differ greatly. Both Hannibal and Scipio,
in order to link up with their respective Numidian
allies (North African or people of Mediterranean
stock) , moved up the Bagradas River to the region of Zama Regia.
Hannibal was now deficient in cavalry; the mercenary troops of his front
line and the African infantry (sub-Saharan
or black African stock) of his second line together were routed,
and Scipio, seeing that Hannibal's third line, the veteran soldiers,
was still intact, reformed his front and brought up the Numidian cavalry
of Masinissa, his Numidian ally, in the Carthaginian rear. Hannibal
lost 20,000 men in defeat, but he himself escaped Masinissa's pursuit.
between Rome and Carthage that was concluded a year after the Battle
of Zama frustrated the entire object of Hannibal's life, but his hopes
of taking arms once more against Rome lived on. Although accused of
having misconducted the war, he was made a suffete (a civil magistrate)
in addition to retaining his military command, and as suffete he was
able to overthrow the power of the oligarchic governing faction at Carthage
and bring about certain administrative and constitutional changes. He
thus became unpopular with a certain faction of the Carthaginian nobility,
and according to Livy he was denounced to the Romans as inciting Antiochus
III of Syria to take up arms against the Romans. Hannibal fled to the
court of Antiochus at Ephesus (195), where he was welcome at first,
since Antiochus was preparing war with Rome. Soon, however, the presence
of Hannibal and the sound advice he gave concerning the conduct of the
war became a source of embarrassment, and he was sent to raise and command
a fleet for Antiochus in the Phoenician cities. Inexperienced as he
was in naval matters, he was defeated by the Roman fleet off Side, in
Pamphylia. Antiochus was defeated on land at Magnesia in 190, and one
of the terms demanded of him by the Romans was that Hannibal should
be surrendered. Again accounts of Hannibal's subsequent actions vary;
either he fled via Crete to the court of King Prusias of Bithynia, or
he joined the rebel forces in Armenia. Eventually he took refuge with
Prusias, who at this time was engaged in warfare with Rome's ally, King
Eumenes II of Pergamum. He served Prusias in this war, and, in one of
the victories he gained over Eumenes at sea, it is said that he threw
cauldrons of snakes into the enemy vessels.
the Romans by unknown means put themselves in a position to demand the
surrender of Hannibal. Unable this time to escape, Hannibal poisoned
himself in the Bithynian village of Libyssa. The year is uncertain but
was probably 183.
It is not
to be expected that his Roman biographers would treat Hannibal impartially,
but Polybius and Dio Cassius give the least biassed accounts. In spite
of the charges of Hannibal's cruelty put forth by the Roman authors,
he did enter into agreement with Fabius for the return of prisoners
and treated with respect the bodies of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus
(consul 215) and Lucius Aemilius Paulus (216), the fallen enemy generals.
Of avarice, the other charge commonly laid against him, no direct evidence
is found other than the practices necessary for a general to finance
a war: indeed, he spared Fabius' farm.
was said against him (e.g., cannibalism by Polybius) might be ascribed
to individual activities of his generals, but even this is uncertain.
His physical bravery is well attested, and his temperance and continence
were praised. His power of leadership is implied in the lack of rioting
and disharmony in that mixed body of men he commanded for so long, while
the care he took for his elephants and horses as well as his men gives
proof of a humane disposition. His treachery, that punica fides that
the Romans detested, could from another point of view pass for resourcefulness
in war and boldness in stratagem. Of his wit and subtlety of speech
many anecdotes remain. He spoke Greek and Latin fluently, but more personal
information is absent from his biographies. He is shown in the only
surviving portraits, the silver coins of Cartagena struck in 221, the
year of his election as general, with a youthful, beardless, and pleasant
face. ( W.Cu./Ed.)
BC), also called THIRD CARTHAGINIAN WAR, third of three wars between
the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian (Punic) Empire that resulted
in the final destruction of Carthage, the enslavement of its population,
and Roman hegemony over the western Mediterranean. The first and second
Punic wars (264-241 BC and 218-201 BC) had effectively deprived Carthage
of its political power. Nevertheless, its commercial enterprises expanded
rapidly in the 2nd century BC, exciting the envy of Rome's growing mercantile
community. When the Carthaginians in 150 resisted Masinissa's aggressions
by force of arms, thus formally breaking the treaty with Rome, a Roman
army was dispatched to Africa. Although the Carthaginians consented
to make reparation by giving hostages and surrendering their arms, they
were goaded into revolt by the further stipulation that they must emigrate
to some inland site, where commerce by sea would no longer be possible.
Carthage resisted the Roman siege for two years. In 147, however, the
command was given to Scipio Aemilianus, the adopted grandson of the
former conqueror of Carthage. Scipio made the blockade stringent by
walling off the isthmus on which the town lay and by cutting off its
sources of supplies from overseas. His main attack was delivered on
the harbour side, where he effected an entrance in the face of a determined
and ingenious resistance. House by house he captured the streets that
led up to the citadel.
Of a city
population that may have exceeded a quarter of a million, only 50,000
remained at the final surrender. The survivors were sold into slavery;
the city was razed, and the territory was made a Roman province under
the name of Africa.
BC the Roman Senate entrusted Gaius Gracchus and Marcus Fulvius Flaccus
with the foundation of a colony on the site of Carthage. Though the
venture was unsuccessful, Julius Caesar later sent a number of landless
citizens there, and in 29 BC Augustus centred the administration of
the Roman province of Africa at the site. Thereafter it became known
as Colonia Julia Carthago, and it soon grew prosperous enough to be
ranked with Alexandria and Antioch. Carthage became a favourite city
of the emperors, though none resided there. Of its history during the
later empire very little is known, but from the mid-3rd century the
city began to decline.
end of the 2nd century it had its own Christian bishop, and among its
luminaries were the Church Fathers Tertullian and St. Cyprian. Throughout
the 4th and 5th centuries Carthage was troubled by the Donatist and
In AD 439
the Vandal ruler Gaiseric entered almost unopposed and plundered the
city. Gelimer, the last Vandal king, was defeated at nearby Decimum
by a Byzantine army under Belisarius, who entered Carthage unopposed
(AD 533). Carthage, after its capture by the Arabs in 705, was totally
eclipsed by the new town of Tunis.
Roman Carthage was destroyed, much of its remains can be traced, including
the outline of many fortifications and an aqueduct. The former Byrsa
area was adorned with a large temple dedicated to Juno, Jupiter, and
Minerva, and near it stood a temple to Asclepius. Also on the Byrsa
site stood an open-air portico, from which the finest Roman sculptures
at Carthage have survived. Additional remains of the Roman town include
an odeum, another theatre constructed by Hadrian, an amphitheatre modeled
on the Roman Colosseum, numerous baths and temples, and a circus.
buildings within the city, with the exception of a few Vandal structures,
are all Byzantine. The largest basilica was rebuilt in the 6th century
on the site of an earlier one. Churches probably existed during the
3rd and 4th centuries, but of these no traces remain.
ancient Phoenician language survived in use as a vernacular in some
of the smaller cities of North Africa at least until the time of Phoenician St
Augustine, bishop of Hippo (5th century AD).