The Death of Carthage

This web-site is about my historical novel The Death Of Carthage, and also about historical novels I intend to create in the future. My aim in writing these novels and in creating this website and blog is to promote interest in ancient history and an awareness of how events that occurred millennia ago have affected the way we live today.

The Death of Carthage is composed of three stories, each with a different narrator.  The first book,

Carthage must be Destroyed, tells the story of the second Punic war through the eyes of a Roman Cavalryman, Lucius Tullius Varro. Lucius  is seventeen years old in 218 B.C. When the second Punic war, between Rome and Carthage begins. He is the third son of a Roman equite and his station in life dictates that he join the Roman army as a cavalryman. He trains on the Campus  Martius and becomes proficient in the use of the gladius and the javelin. His father has arranged an early marriage for him with the daughter of a stable owner, and, consequently, he becomes adept in horsemanship as well. His skills draw the attention of the Consul’s son, Publius Cornelius Scipio, and young Scipio recommends Lucius for his father’s cavalry.  Lucius serves during the entire second Punic war, first under the elder Publius Cornelius Scipio and, after his death, under his son Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus.  Lucius has a strong sense of duty, but at the same time he is very ambivalent about what he has to do. He feels that he is a victim of circumstance, and that if he had any choice in the matter he would not have pursued a career as a soldier. In his private life he is kind and generous to a fault. “In the sixteen years that I served in the Roman cavalry I never had the slightest animosity toward the enemy on the battlefield. In fact I sympathized with my victims-just not enough to permit them to slay me!”

The second story is narrated by Lucius’s cousin Enneas. Enneas is a year younger than Lucius. He is a child prodigy who can recite nearly the whole of the Iliad and the Odyssey in both Greek and Latin. He helped his Greek teacher, Livius Andronicus translate Homer into Latin. There were no student deferments in those days so Enneas is recruited into the Roman Cavalry in 217 B.C., also by young Publius Cornelius Scipio. He is sent to Arretium to the camp of the Consul Gaius Flaminius and arrives just in time for the disastrous battle of Trasimene. “It was the day of the Summer solstice that Flaminius led us right into Hannibal’s trap.” Enneas survives the battle but is captured the next day along with 6000 other Roman soldiers by Hannibal’s general Maharbal. Hannibal sells the Roman captives to Greek slave traders and Enneas is transported to Greece in chains. Enneas is eventually purchased by a wealthy Achaean politician and put to work herding sheep on his estate. Upon arriving at the estate, the overseer, Nicander, asks Enneas his name and, when he tells him, he proclaims “Aeneas! Why that’s a Trojan name! You must be a Trojan!.” Henceforth Enneas is addressed as “Trojan.” After a time Enneas marries a slave girl and fathers two children.  He says to his wife “They call me ‘Trojan’, Well, I’ll show them a Trojan!” He names his children Hector and Andromache. After  the end of the Second Punic war, Rome becomes increasingly powerful and increasingly involved in the affairs of Greece. As a byproduct of Rome’s war with Philip of Macedon, Rome makes a treaty with the Achaean League and, as a result, the surviving Punic war captives, serving as slaves in Achaea are repatriated to Rome. His cousin Lucius assists Enneas and his family and preserves them from destitution.

The third story is narrated by Enneas’ son Hector. Upon arriving in Rome, at the age of eleven, he Romanises his name and is called Ectorius.  Ectorius wants to join the Roman military and become a military tribune but, having grown up in adverse conditions he is small and weak and does not excel

on the Campus Martius. Lucius persuades him to perfect both his Greek and his Latin and become a translator. This leads to his first stint as a translator in the Roman army in the war against the Seleucid king Antiochus III when he is 16 years old. He accompanies the son of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, also 16 and in training for the priesthood of Jupiter, by sea to Pireus where the elder Scipio is supposed to meet them, but a storm arises and the ship is blown past the harbor and eastward. The boys are captured by the forces of Antiochus. Antiochus, however, has no wish to unduly antagonize the great general Scipio Africanus and sends the boys back to him without ransom.

After returning to Rome Ectorius makes his living as a translator and, for a time, translates works for the powerful senator and censor Marcus Porcius Cato. This employment ends abruptly one day when he is translating Cato’s book on agriculture and reads Cato’s inhumane recommendations concerning the treatment of slaves. Ectorius refuses to work on the book further. When the senator comes to his door and asks for an explanation, Ectorius replies “I suggest that you find someone to translate this book, Senator Cato, who has never been a slave!”

Ectorius’ next stint in the Roman military takes place during the third Macedonian war in 168 B.C. When he is recruited by young Publius Cornelius Scipio, who is now the Flamen Dialis.  He meets and befriends the dynamic and brilliant Greek historian Polybius.  After the war, Polybius, who  had, ironically, volunteered to fight for  Rome, is transported to Rome as a hostage, along with 1000 other  influential Achaeans.  But Polybius is allowed to live in Rome and becomes tutor to the sons of  the Consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus.  Ectorius marries into the expatriate Greek community and, consequently sees a lot of Polybius, who is the best connected Greek in town. Years later, when the son of Paullus is elected consul and is sent to destroy Carthage, he invites his old tutor Polybius to come and advise him on siege tactics, and Polybius, in turn, invites Ectorius to come along. Thus Ectorius witnesses the final destruction of Carthage.

Ectorius is way ahead of his time in several respects. He is staunchly opposed to slavery and goes out of his way to help a family of Epiriots who have been captured by the Romans and are about to be sold into slavery. Everyone considers him a bit odd. “Clearly Polybius thought that my views on the subject of slavery were  little short of insanity. Whenever I hold forth on the subject I’m met with incredulous looks and glassy-eyed stares, so  I generally only do that when I’ve had more wine than I should.”

He is also opposed to the destruction of Carthage: “I don’t understand it, Polybius. Why am I so different? Why am I the only person who thinks this was the wrong thing to do?”

“Well,” said Polybius “Perhaps it’s because you are neither Roman nor Greek, but actually a Trojan, Hector Aeneides, and in seeing the destruction of Carthage you were reliving the destruction of Troy!”

“Polybius, be serious!” I said.

“Well, here’s how I see it.” he said “You were the child of a Greek slave woman and a foreigner, and you spent your childhood herding sheep. You did not absorb much of what makes a person Greek. When you went to Rome, it was too late for you to absorb much of what makes a person Roman. You learned both languages well enough, but you never really learned the rules of either Greece or Rome. You’ve invented your own rules. Now your rules are logical and humane. They’re good rules. But they’re not Greek rules and they’re not Roman rules. The Roman rules permit, and even compel, the destruction of Carthage. Your rules do not. Do you understand now?”

Rome became the dominant power of its age precisely because it’s ideology permitted it to destroy any power that stood in the way of world domination, and because they had the military might to do just that.