CHAPTER IFirst Phœnician Settlement -- First Punic War -- Regulus defeated by Xanthippus -- Fate of Regulus -- The Mercenary War
The Phoenicians settled Carthage, in Africa, fifty years before the capture of Troy. Its founders were either Zorus and Carchedon, or, as the Romans and the Carthaginians themselves think, Dido, a Tyrian woman, whose husband had been slain clandestinely by Pygmalion, the ruler of Tyre. The murder being revealed to her in a dream, she embarked for Africa with her property and a number of men who desired to escape from the tyranny of Pygmalion, and arrived at that part of Africa where Carthage now stands. Being repelled by the inhabitants, they asked for as much land for a dwelling place as they could encompass with an ox-hide. The Africans laughed at this frivolity of the Phoenicians and were ashamed to deny so small a request. Besides, they could not imagine how a town could be built in so narrow a space, and wishing to unravel the mystery they agreed to give it, and confirmed the promise by an oath. The Phoenicians, cutting the hide round and round in one very narrow strip, enclosed the place where the citadel of Carthage now stands, which from this affair was called Byrsa (a hide).  Proceeding from this start and getting the upper hand of their neighbors, as they were more adroit, and engaging in traffic by sea, like the Phoenicians, they built a city around Byrsa. Gradually acquiring strength they mastered Africa and the greater part of the Mediterranean, carried war into Sicily and Sardinia and the other islands of that REDUCED FACSIMILE, VATICAN MS. GR. 134. XIV CENTURY. FIRST PAGE OF THE PUNIC WARS sea, and also into Spain. They sent out numerous colonies. They became a match for the Greeks in power, and next to the Persians in wealth. But about 700 years after the foundation of the city the Romans took Sicily and Sardinia away from them, and in a second war Spain also. Then, assailing each the other's territory with immense armies, the Carthaginians, under Hannibal, ravaged Italy for sixteen years in succession, but the Romans, under the leadership of Cornelius Scipio the elder, carried the war into Africa, crushed the Carthaginian power, took their ships and their elephants, and required them to pay tribute for a time. A second treaty was now made between the Romans and the Carthaginians which lasted fifty years, until, upon an infraction of it, the third and last war broke out between them, in which the Romans under Scipio the younger razed Carthage to the ground and forbade the rebuilding of it. But another city was built subsequently by their own people, very near the former one, for convenience in governing Africa. Of these matters the Sicilian part is shown in my Sicilian history, the Spanish in the Spanish history, and what Hannibal did in his Italian campaigns in the Hannibalic history. This book will deal with the operations in Africa from the earliest period.