Carthage and Ancient North Africa<-- Dido Building Carthage, Joseph Mallord William Turner (click image to enlarge)

Carthage was founded in North Africa at about the same time that Rome was founded in Italy.  For several hundred years they co-existed peacefully, but a clash was inevitable as their empires spread into territories both Rome and Carthage thought were essential for their wealth and security.  The Carthaginians had a better fleet and a better land army (and much better generals, mostly from the Barca family), but Rome had one resource that Carthage could not match – population.  With the benefit of 2000 years of hindsight, it's easy to see why Rome was the inevitable winner.  The class will, of course, cover the wars between the Mediterranean super-powers, but we will also look at the origins of Carthage and at Roman and early Christian North Africa as it developed after the fall of Carthage.  We'll see two movies:  a comedy and a Mussolini propaganda classic (surprisingly factual).  And yes, despite modern Tunisian disclaimers, the Carthaginians did burn babies.  No, the Romans probably did not salt the Carthaginian fields. You have to take the course to get the details.

Books for the Carthage/North Africa course:

Textbooks are not necessary for this course; ample handouts will be provided.  If you must have books, however, here are some suggestions.

The Fall of Carthage -- military historian Adrian Goldsworthy on the Punic Wars.

Carthage: A History -- Serge Lancel's rather dense and scholarly work (translated by Antonia Nevill) on the  archeological  evidence of  Carthaginian North Africa.

Rome in Africa -- After the fall of Carthage, Rome ruled North Africa and ruled it longer than had the Carthaginians.  Susan Raven's scholarly and comprehensive survey, long the standard history of Roman influence in Northern Africa is now in a new (3rd) edition.  It is an outstanding introduction to the Roman archaeological sites in Libya, Tunisia and throughout North Africa.  It is illustrated and well written, covering the geographic setting, rise of Carthage, personalities and individual trading centers.

Histories of Polybius (Loeb classics, six volumes including all that is extant of Polybius's 40 volume work, Greek and English texts on facing pages)  -- The horse's mouth:  Polybius wrote about the years 264–146 BC.  His Histories described the rise of Rome, the destruction of Carthage and the domination of Greece by Rome.  Polybius is the only real primary source for what we know of the Punic Wars and his Histories were the basis for Livy's account written one and one half centuries later.  Polybius participated in the planning and execution of the last stages of the Punic Wars and was present at the destruction of Carthage.  As the protege of Scipio Aemilianus (Scipio Africanus the Younger) he had access to all of Rome's public and private records of earlier events.  An English only text is available on the Internet here.

There is no Carthaginian account of the history of the city or the Punic Wars -- all that is available was written by outsiders and enemies.  Polybius was a Greek writing for a Greek audience whom he was trying to convince to cooperate with Rome.  Cum grano salis.

Aeneid -- Virgil's telling of the founding myth of Rome includes in its first four books the story of Aeneas's affair with Dido, the (we suppose mythical) queen of Carthage.  Aeneas is fleeing Troy and heading for Italy where divine messages have told him he will found a new kingdom.  After a stop-over at Drepanum in Sicily, he is blown off course to North Africa where he meets and beds Dido, who had recently founded Carthage (never mind that the timing is several centuries off -- the fall of Troy was way before the founding of Carthage.)  Dido falls in love.  Aeneas leaves her, pregnant and forlorn,  to pursue the foretold kingdom.   She commits suicide after praying to the gods that Carthage and Aeneas's new kingdom (the eventual Rome, although she, of course, didn't know that) will always be enemies.  And the rest was history -- 150 year old history already in Virgil's time.  Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid was written during the reign of Augustus as was Livy's History of Rome,  Ab Urbe Condita.  The section of Livy that covered the Punic wars was just a paraphrase of Polybius.  The Aeneid and Ab Urbe Condita are available on the internet -- just click on the names of the books at the beginning of this sentence.

Salammbo -- Gustave Flaubert's 1862 novel  set in Carthage during the  Mercenary War between the First and Second Punic Wars.  The most famous of Flaubert's works was Madame Bovary, but Salammbo was perhaps his most notorious.  It was decried as pornography in its day (as was Bovary), but the book is really rather tame by modern standards.  It's still in print, and the latest English language edition of which I am aware was in February of 2006.  The full text of this book is also available on the Internet here.