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ASPIS (Ἀσπίς), aft. known by the Roman translation CLU´PEA, CLYPEA (Κλύπεα, Strab. Ptol. Kalibiah, Ru.), an important fortified city of the Carthaginian territory, and afterwards of the Roman province of Africa (Zeugitana). It derived its Greek and Roman names from its site, on a hill of shield-like shape, adjoining the promontory, which was sometimes called by the same name, and also Taphitis (ἄκρα Ταφῖτις, Strab. xvii. p.834), and which forms the E. point of the tongue of land that runs out NE., and terminates in Mercurii Pr. (C. Bon), the NE. headland of N. Africa. The island of Cossyra lies off it to the E., and Lilybaeum in Sicily is directly opposite to it, to the NE. (Strab. vi. p.277.) At the S. foot of the promontory is a small bay, forming a harbour protected on every side, and giving access to a large open plain. No spot could be more favourable for an invader; and a mythical tradition chose it as the landing-place of Cadmus (Nonn. Dionys. 4.386), while another made it the scene of the struggle of Heracles with Antaeus (Procop. Vand. 2.10). We are not informed whether there was a Punic fortress on the spot: it is incredible that the Carthaginians should have neglected it; but, at all events, Agathocles, who landed on the other side of the peninsula (see AQUILARIA), perceived its importance, and built the city known to the Greeks and Romans B.C. 310 (Strab. xvii. p.834). In the First Punic War it was the landing-place of Manlius and Regulus, whose first action was to take it, B.C. 256; and its possession afforded the survivors of the unfortunate army a place of refuge, from which they were carried off in safety by the victorious fleet of Aemilius and Fulvius B.C. 255. (Plb. 1.29, 36; Appian. Pun. 3.)

In the Second Punic War, passing over a naval skirmish off Clupea, B.C. 208 (Liv. 27.29), the plain beneath the city became famous for Masinissa's narrow escape after his defeat by Bocchar, when the wounded prince was only saved by the supposition that he had perished in the large river which flows through the plain (Wady-el-Adieb), but to which the ancients give no name, B.C. 204 (Liv. 29.32). In the Third Punic War, the consul Piso, B.C. 148, besieged it by land and sea, but was repulsed. (Appian. Pun. 110.) It is mentioned more than once in the Julian Civil War. (Caes. B.C. 2.23; Hirt. B. Afr. 2.) It stood 30 M. P. from Curubis. Under the Romans it was a free city (Plin. Nat. 5.4. s. 3; Ptol. 4.3. § § 7, 8), where Κλυπέα and Ἀσπίς are distinguished by 15′ of long.: probably the former is meant for the town and the latter for the cape (Mela, 1.7.3; Stadiasm. p. 452; Sil. 3.243; Solin. 27; Itin. Ant. pp. 55, 57, 493, 518; Tab. Peut.). It was a distinguished episcopal see, A.D. 411--646, and the last spot on which the African Christians made a stand against the Mohammedan conquerors. (Morcelli, Africa Christiana, s. v.; Arab writers, referred to by Barth, p. 186.)

Its interesting ruins, partly on and partly below the hill, and among them a remarkable Roman fort, are described by Barth (Wanderzungen, pp. 134--137; Shaw, p. 89, 2d ed.


hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.29
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.36
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 29
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 32
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 4.3
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