The Romans elected the young but popular Scipio Aemilianus as consul, a
special law being passed to lift the age restriction. Scipio restored
discipline, defeated the Carthaginians in a field battle, and besieged
the city closely, constructing a mole to block the harbor.
spring of 146 BC the Romans broke through the city wall but they were
hard pressed to take the city. Every building, house and temple had been
turned into a stronghold and every Carthaginian had taken up a weapon.
The Romans were forced to move slowly, capturing the city house by
house, street by street and fighting each Carthaginian soldier who
fought with courage born of despair. Eventually after hours upon hours
of house-to-house fighting, the Carthaginians surrendered. An estimated
50,000 surviving inhabitants were sold into slavery. The city was then
leveled. The land surrounding Carthage was declared ager publicus, and
it was shared between local farmers, and Roman and Italian ones.
the end of the battle, a dramatic event took place: the few survivors
had found refuge in the temple of Eshmun, in the citadel of Byrsa,
although it was already burning. They negotiated their surrender, but
Scipio Aemilianus expressed that forgiveness was impossible either for
Hasdrubal, the general who defended the city, or for the Roman
deserters. Hasdrubal then left the Citadel to surrender and praying for
mercy (he had tortured Roman prisoners in front of the Roman army). At
that moment Hasdrubal's wife allegedly went out with her two children,
insulted her husband, sacrificed her sons and jumped with them into a
fire that the deserters had started. The deserters then jumped into the
fire too, and Scipio Aemilianus started crying.
After the war, Scipio Aemilianus was given the honorific nickname Scipio Aemilianus Africanus (Scipio Aemilianus The African).
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