previous next

UTICA

UTICA ( Ἰτύκη, Plb. 1.75; Ptol. 4.3.6; Οὐτίκη, D. C. 41.41; Eth. Uticensis; Liv. 29.35; Caes. B.C. 2.36), a colony founded by the Tyrians on the N. coast of Zeugitana in Africa. (Vell. 1.2; Mela, 1.7; Just. 18.4, &c.) The date of its foundation is said to have been a few years after that of Gades, and 287 years before that of Carthage. (Vell. Pat. l.c.; Aristot. Mirab. Ausc. 146; Gesenius, Monum. Script. Linguaeque Phoenic. p. 291; Sil. Ital. Pun. 3.241, sqq. &c.) Its name signified in Phoenician, “ancient,” or “noble” (HEBREW, Gesen. ib. p. 420, and Thes. Ling. Heb. p. 1085). Utica was situated near the mouth of the river Bagradas, or rather that of its western arm, in the Bay of Carthage, and not far from the promontory of Apollo, which forms the western boundary of the bay. (Strab. xvii. p.832; Liv. l.c.; Ptol. l.c.; Appian, App. BC 2.44, seq.; Procop. B. V. 2.15, &c.) It lay 27 miles NW. of Carthage. (Itin. Ant. p. 22.) The distance is given as 60 stadia in Appian (App. Pun. 75), which is probably an error for 160; and as a day's sail by sea. (Scylax, Geogr. Min. i. p. 50, ed. Huds.) Both Utica and Tunes might be descried from Carthage. (Strab. l.c.; Plb. 1.73; Liv. 30.9.) Utica possessed a good harbour, or rather harbours, made by art,with excellent anchorage and numerous landing places. (Appian, l.c.; cf. Barth, Wanderungen durch die Küstenländer des Mittelmeers, pp. 111, 125.) On the land side it was protected by steep hills, which, together with the sea and its artificial defences, which were carefully kept up, rendered it a very strong place. (Liv. 29.35; App. Pun. 16, 30, 75; Diod. 20.54; Plut. Cat. Mi. 58.) The surrounding country was exceedingly fertile and well cultivated, and produced abundance of corn, of which there was a great export trade to Rome. (Liv. 25.31.) The hills behind the town, as well as the district near the present Porto Farina, contained rich veins of various metals; and the coast was celebrated for producing vast quantities of, salt of a very peculiar quality. (Plin. Nat. 31.7. s. 39; Caes. B.C. 2.37; Plb. 12.3, seq.; Diod. 20.8, &c.) Among the buildings of the town, we hear of a temple of Jupiter (Plut. Cat. Mi. 5) and of one of Apollo, with its planks of Numidian cedar near twelve centuries old (Plin. Nat. 16.40. s. 79); of a forum of Trajan, and a theatre outside the city. (Tiro Prosper, ap. Morcelli, Afr. Christ. iii. p. 40; Caes. B.C. 2.25.) The tomb and statue of Cato on the sea-shore were extant in the time of Plutarch (Ib. 79). Shaw (Travels, vol. i. p. 160, seq.) has the merit of having first pointed out the true situation of this celebrated city, the most important in N. Africa after Carthage. Before the time of Shaw, it was sought sometimes at Biserta, sometimes at Porto Farina; but that learned traveller fixed it near the little miserable Duar, which has a holy tomb called Boo-shatter; and with this view many writers have agreed (Falbe, Recherches sur l'Emplacement de Carthage, p. 66; Barth, Wanderungen, &c. p. 109; Semilasso, pp. 39, 46; Ritter, Afrika, p. 913, &c.) Since the Roman times the muddy stream of the Bagradas has deposited at its mouth a delta of from 3 to 4 miles in extent, so that the innermost recess of the Bay of Carthage, on which ancient Utica was situated, as well as the eastern arm of the river itself, have been converted into a broad morass, in which traces are still visible of the quays which formerly lined the shore, and of the northern mole which enclosed the harbour. More towards the E., at the margin of the chain of hills which at an earlier period descended to the sea, may be discerned blocks of masonry belonging to the ancient town wall. On the declivity of the hills towards the SE. are the remains of six cisterns, or reservoirs, 136 feet long, 15 to 19 feet broad, and 20 to 30 feet deep, covered with a remarkably thin arched roof. These are connected with an aqueduct, which may be traced several miles from Boo-shatter, in the direction of the hills; but its most remarkable remains are a treble row of arches by which it was carried over a ravine. These reservoirs may probably have served to furnish water for a naumachia in the neighbouring amphitheatre, which is hollowed out of the hills, and is capable of containing about 20,000 persons. The ancient site of the city is covered with ruins. Near its centre rises the highest summit of the chain of hills on which stood the citadel and, probably, also the ancient temple of Apollo. The ruins of other temples and castles have been discovered, as well as the site of the senate house (Plut. Cat. Mi. 67), which has been thought to be determined by the excavation of a number of statues. These are now preserved in the museum at Leyden.

In the course of time, as is usual with such connections, Utica became severed from the mother-city, and first appears in history as independent of it. In the first commercial treaty between Rome and Carthage, in the year 509 B.C. Utica was probably included in it among the allies of the Carthaginians (Plb. 3.22); in the second, in B.C. 348, it is expressly named (ib. 24; Diod. 16.69, who however confounds the two treaties), as well as in the alliance concluded by Hannibal with Philip of Macedon in the Second Punic War, B.C. 215 (Plb. 8.9). Subsequently, however, Utica appears to have thrown off her dependence upon, or perhaps we should rather [p. 2.1329]call it her alliance with, Carthage, and, with other cities of N. Africa, to have joined the Sicilian Agathocles, the opponent of Carthage; to have afterwards revolted from that conqueror, butto have been again reduced to obedience (Diod. 20.17, 54: cf. Plb. 1.82). In the First Punic War, Utica remained faithful to Carthage; afterwards it joined the Libyans, but was compelled to submit by the victorious Carthaginians (Polyb. ib. 88: Diod. Fr. xxv.). In the Second Punic War also we find it in firm alliance with Carthage, to whose fleets the excellent harbour of Utica was very serviceable. But this exposed it to many attacks from the Romans, whose freebooting excursions were frequently directed against it from Lilybaeum, as well as to a more regular, but fruitless siege by Scipio himself (Liv. 25.31, 27.5, 18.4, 29.35, 30.3, &c.; Plb. 14.2; Appian, Punic. 16, 25, 30). In the third war, however, the situation of Carthage being now hopeless, the Uticenses indulged their ancient grudge against that city, and made their submission to Rome by a separate embassy (Plb. 36.1; Appian, App. Pun. 75, 110, 113). This step greatly increased the material prosperity of Utica. After the destruction of Carthage, the Romans presented Utica with the fertile district lying between that city and Hippo Diarrhytus. It became the chief town of the province, the residence of the Roman governor, the principal emporium for the Roman commerce, and the port of debarcation for the Roman armaments destined to act in the interior of Africa. Owing to this intimate connection with Rome, the name of Utica appears very frequently in the later history of the republic, as in the accounts of the Jugurthine War, of the war carried on by Pompey at the head of Sulla's faction, against the Marian party under Domitius and his ally the Numidian king Iarbas, and in the struggle between Caesar and the Pompeians, with their ally Juba. It is unnecessary to quote the numerous passages in which the name of Utica occurs in relation to these events. In the last of these wars, Utica was the scene of the celebrated death of the younger Cato, so often related or adverted to by the ancients (Plut. Cat. Mi. 58, seq.: D. C. 43.10, sqq.; V. Max. 3.2.14; Cic. pro Ligar. 1, &c.; cf. Dict. of Biogr. Vol. I. p. 649). Augustus presented the Uticenses with the Roman civitas, partly as a reward for the inclination which they had manifested for the party of his uncle, and partly also to indemnify them for the rebuilding of Carthage (D. C. 49.16; cf. Sext. Rufus, Brev. 4). We know nothing more of Utica till the time of Hadrian, who visited N. Africa in his extensive travels, and at whose desire the city changed its ancient constitution for that of a Roman colony (Spartian. Hadr. 13; Gell. N. Att. 16.13). Thus it appears in the Tab. Peut. with the appellation of Colonia, as well as in an inscription preserved in the museum of Leyden (Cot. Jul. Ael. Hadr. Utic., ap. Janssen, Mus. Lugd. Batav. Inscr. Gr. et Lat.). Septimius Severus, an African by birth, endowed it, as well as Carthage and his birthplace Leptis Magna, with the Jus Italicum. We find the bishops of Utica frequently mentioned in the Christian period from the time of the great Synod under Cyprian of Carthage in 256, down to 684, when a bishop of Utica appeared in the Council of Toledo. The city is said to have witnessed the martyrdom of 300 persons at one time (cf. Morcelli, Afr. Christ. i. p. 362, ii. p. 150; Munter, Primod. Eccl. Afr. p. 32; Augustin, c. Donat. 7.8). Utica probably fell with Carthage, into the hands of the Vandals under Genseric in 439. Subsequently it was recovered by the Byzantine emperors, but in the reign of the Chalif Abdelmalek was conquered by the Arabians under Hassan; and though it appears to have been again recovered by John the prefect or patrician, it finally sank under the power of the Saracens during the reign of the same Chalif, and on its second capture was destroyed (cf. Papencordt, die Vandal Herrschaft in Afr. p. 72, sq., 151, sq.; Weil, Gesch. der Chalifer, i. p. 473, sqq.; Gibbon, Decl. and Fall, 6.350, sqq. ed. Smith). The remains of its marbles and columns were carried away in the preceding century, to serve as materials for the great mosque of Tunis (Semilasso, p. 43.)

Several coins of Utica are extant bearing the heads of Tiberius or Livia; a testimony perhaps of the gratitude of the city for the rights bestowed upon it by Augustus (cf. Mionnet, Med. Ant. vi. p. 589; Supp. viii. p. 208).

[T.H.D]

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: