marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
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Carthage Must Be Destroyed

Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization by Richard Miles

A history of Carthage. Insofar as it can be reconstructed.

Not only were there no Carthaginian histories to survive, there is the interesting history of the Greek and Roman histories, where the best source may be reconstructed from the quotations taken from another work, which also did not survive, but drew heavily on the original source. . . .

There is also some archaeological evidence. Carthaginian inscriptions give brief accounts, and other information can be pieced together. (The optimistic claim of early archaeologists that the claims of sacrificing children were false -- was too optimistic. Considerably more evidence for it has turned up, include inscriptions that carefully state that the child offered was actually the offspring of the person sacrificing the child.)

This gets discussed across its history, covering its wars, its colonies, its government insofar as it can be discerned, its religion, and its interactions with Rome, and with other forces allied with one or the other or shifting between. The period of the Punic Wars gets covered most thoroughly, of course, because of the most records -- including the peaces between, with the Mercenaries War.

It covers the campaigns, the battles with discussion enough of strategy to show how they were won, and the side effects.

Everything from the details such as the Carthaginians first coined money to pay off mercenaries in Sicily, to the intense efforts of both sides in the Punic War to claim religious sanction and the other side's impiety. Hercules was of particular importance, and the road he took driving Geryon's cattle was fraught with significance. A general whose first act on appointment was to try to counteract the frantic, superstitious practice of unauthorized sacrifices and divination by consulting the Sibylline books. I found the treatment of Roman/Greek/Carthaginian syncretism particularly interesting because of my interests in the area; it's very well done.
Tags: history reviews: classical
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