THE FATE OF CARTHAGE
 IN all the history of Rome there is no act of more
flagrant treachery and cruelty than that of her
dealings with the great rival city of Carthage. In the
whole history of the world there is nothing more base
and frightful than the utter destruction of that mighty
mart of commerce. The jealousy of Rome would not permit
a rival to exist. It was not enough to drive Hannibal
into exile; Carthage was recovering her trade and
regaining her strength; new Hannibals might be born;
the terror of the great invasion, the remembrance of
the defeat at Cannæ, still remained in Roman memories.
Cato the Censor, a famous old Roman, now eighty-four
years of age, and who had served in the wars against
Hannibal, hated Carthage with the hatred of a fanatic,
and declared that Rome would never be safe while this
rival was permitted to exist.
Rising from his seat in the senate, the stern old man
glowingly described the power and wealth of Carthage.
He held up some great figs, and said, "These figs grow
but three days' sail from Rome." There could be no
safety for Rome, he declared, while Carthage survived.
"Every speech which I shall make in this house," he
sternly declared. "shall finish with these words:
 'My opinion is that Carthage must be destroyed
(delenda est Carthago.)' "
These words sealed the fate of Carthage. Men of
moderate views spoke more mercifully, but Cato swayed
the senate, and from that day the doom of Carthage was
The Carthaginian territory was being assailed and
ravaged by Masinissa, the king of Numidia. Rome was
appealed to for aid, but delayed and temporized.
Carthage raised an army, which was defeated by
Masinissa, then over ninety years of age. The war went
on, and Carthage was reduced to such straits that
resistance became impossible, and in the end the city
and all its possessions were placed at the absolute
disposal of the senate of Rome, which, absolutely
without provocation, had declared war.
An army of eighty thousand foot and four thousand horse
was sent to Africa. Before the consuls commanding it
there appeared deputies from Carthage, stating what
acts of submission had already been made, and humbly
asking what more Rome could demand.
"Carthage is now under the protection of Rome,"
answered Censorinus, the consul, "and can no longer
have occasion to engage in war; she must therefore
deliver without reserve to Rome all her arms and
engines of war."
Hard as was this condition, the humiliated city
accepted it. We may have some conception of the
strength of the city when it is stated that the
military stores given up included two hundred thousand
stand of arms and two thousand catapults. It was
 a condition to which only despair could have yielded,
seemingly the last act of humiliation to which any city
But if Carthage thought that the end had been reached,
she was destined to be rudely awakened from her dream.
The consuls, thinking the city now to be wholly
helpless, dropped the mask they had worn, and made
known the senate's treacherous decree.
"The decision of the senate is this," said Censorinus,
coldly, to the unhappy envoys of Carthage: "so long as
you possess a fortified city near the sea, Rome can
never feel sure of your submission. The senate
therefore decrees that you must remove to some point
ten miles distant from the coast. Carthage must be
The trembling Carthaginians heard these fatal words in
stupefied amazement. On recovering their senses they
broke out into passionate exclamations against the
treachery of Rome, and declared that the freedom of
Carthage had been guaranteed.
"The guarantee refers to the people of Carthage, not to
her houses," answered the consul. "You have heard the
will of the senate; it must be obeyed, and quickly."
Carthage, meanwhile, waited in gloomy dread the return
of the commissioners. When they gave in the
council-chamber the ultimatum of Rome, a cry of horror
broke from the councillors. The crowd in the street, on
hearing this ominous sound, broke open the doors and
demanded what fatal news had been received.
 On being told, they burst into a paroxysm of fury. The
members of the government who had submitted to Rome
were obliged to fly for their lives. Every Italian
found in the city was killed. The party of the people
seized the government, and resolved to defend
themselves to the uttermost. An armistice of thirty
days was asked from the consuls, that a deputation
might be sent to Rome. This was refused. Despair gave
courage and strength. The making of new arms was
energetically begun. Temples and public buildings were
converted into workshops; men and women by thousands
worked night and day; every day there were produced one
hundred shields, three hundred swords, five hundred
pikes and javelins, and one thousand bolts for
catapults. The women even cut off their hair to be
twisted into strings for the catapults. Corn was
gathered in all haste from every quarter.
The consuls were astonished and disappointed. They had
not counted on such energy as this. They did not know
what it meant to drive a foe to desperation. They laid
siege to Carthage, but found it too strong for all
their efforts. They proceeded against the Carthaginian
army in the field, but gained no success. Summer and
winter passed, and Carthage still held out. Another
year (148 B.C.) went by, and Rome still lost ground.
Old Cato, the bitter foe of Carthage, had died, at the
age of eighty-five. Masinissa, the warlike Numidian,
had died at ninety-five. The hopes of the Carthaginians
grew. Those of Rome began to fall. The rich booty that
was looked for from the sack of
 Carthage was not to be handled so easily as had been
What Rome lacked was an able general. One was found in
Scipio, the adopted son of Publius Scipio, son of the
great Scipio Africanus. This young man had proved
himself the only able soldier in the war. The army
adored him. Though too young for the consulship, he was
elected to that high office, and in 147 B.C. sailed for
The new commander found the army disorganized, and
immediately restored strict discipline to its ranks.
The suburb of Megara, from which the people of the city
obtained their chief supply of fresh provisions, was
quickly taken. Want of food began to be felt. The
isthmus which connected the city with the mainland was
strongly occupied, and land-supplies were thus cut off.
The fleet blockaded the harbor, but, as vessels still
made their way in, Scipio determined to build an
embankment across the harbor's mouth.
This was a work of great labor, and slowly proceeded.
By the time it was done the Carthaginians had cut a new
channel from their harbor to the sea, and Scipio had
the mortification to see a newly-built fleet of fifty
ships sail out through this fresh passage. On the third
day a naval battle took place, in which the greater
part of the new fleet was destroyed.
Another winter came and went. It was not until the
spring of 146 B.C. that the Romans succeeded in forcing
their way into the city, and their legions bivouacked
in the Forum of Carthage.
 But Carthage was not yet taken. Its death-struggle was
to be a desperate one. The streets leading from the
Forum towards the Citadel were all strongly barricaded,
and the houses, six stories in height, occupied by
armed men. For three days a war of desperation was
waged in the streets. The Romans had to take the first
houses of each street by assault, and then force their
way forward by breaking from house to house. The cross
streets were passed on bridges of planks.
Thus they slowly advanced till the wall of Bosra—the
high ground of the Citadel—was reached. Behind them the
city was in flames. For six days and nights it burned,
destroying the wealth and works of years. When the fire
declined passages were cleared through the ruins for
the army to advance.
Scipio, who had scarcely slept night or day during the
assault, now lay down for a short repose, on an
eminence from which could be seen the Temple of
Esculapius, whose gilded roof glittered on the highest
point of the hill of Bosra. He was aroused to receive
an offer from the garrison to surrender if their lives
were spared. Scipio consented to spare all but Roman
deserters, and from the gates of the Citadel marched
out fifty thousand men as prisoners of war.
Hasdrubal, the Carthaginian commander, who had made so
brave a defence against Rome, retired with his family
and nine hundred deserters and others into the Temple
of Esculapius, as if to make a final desperate defence.
But his heart failed him at the last moment, and,
slipping out alone, he cast
him-  self at Scipio's feet, and begged his pardon and
mercy. His wife, who saw his dastardly act, reproached
him bitterly for cowardice, and threw herself and her
children into the flames which enveloped the Citadel.
Most of the deserters perished in the same flames.
"Assyria has fallen," said Scipio, as he looked with
eyes of prevision on the devouring flames. "Persia and
Macedonia have likewise fallen. Carthage is burning.
The day of Rome's fall may come next."
For five days the soldiers plundered the city, yet
enough of statues and other valuables remained to yield
the consul a magnificent triumph on his return to Rome.
Before doing so he celebrated the fall of Carthage with
grand games, in which the spoil of that great city was
shown the army. To Rome he sent the brief despatch,
"Carthage is taken. The army waits for further orders."
The orders sent were that the walls should be destroyed
and every house levelled to the ground. A curse was
pronounced by Scipio on any one who should seek to
build a town on the site. The curse did not prove
effective. Julius Cæsar afterwards projected a new
Carthage, and Augustus built it. It grew to be a noble
city, and in the third century A.D. became one of the
principal cities of the Roman empire and an important
seat of Western Christianity. It was finally destroyed
by the Arabs.
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