The Republic of Carthage is a major power of the Mediterranean Sea, occupying territory in North Africa, Iberia, and Italy. It is a Republican Oligarchy and was formerly a Monarchy until 308 BC with the death of Bomilcar, the last King of Carthage. Carthage is a former Phoenician colony that gradually grew independent and became a much larger nation, able to challenge the Roman Republic.
The Hannibalistic War
In 218 BC, The Second Punic War, or The Hannibalic War as it's known as in Carthage, arose from a dispute between Rome and Carthage over the hegemony of Saguntum, an Iberian coastal city with diplomatic contacts with Rome. Hannibal Barca laid siege to the city, but no Roman response was made. Hannibal sensed that Rome was weak, and made his move. He went through Western Iberia, through Gaul, and across the Alps into Cispaline Gaul and then finally, the Roman Republic. His army consisted of 90,000 soldiers, 12,000 cavalry, 37 War Elephants, and many siege engines. This was the largest army ever seen by the Hellenistic World and larger than any Roman Army ever fielded yet.
The Roman Republic was unaware any attack was coming, due to the belief that the Alps would keep invaders away and their navy could destroy and prospect of an Amphibious assault. Hannibal fought and won the battles of Massalia, Trebia, and Trasimene. Hannibal also won the sieges of Ariminum, Arretium, Etruria, and even Rome while in Italy. However, he did not realize that Rome had sent an army to Carthago Nova in Iberia, lead by Scipio Africanis, a young and great general of Rome who many believed could challenge Hannibal himself. Scipio defeated Hasdrupal, Hannibal's brother, in Carthago Nova and laid siege to the city.
Hannibal held Rome, and Scipio held Carthago Nova. A peace was brokered by Hannibal due to the fact that his men were exhausted, dead, wounded, and held low morale. There also was no more major armies in Iberia to oppose the Romans with the defeat of Hasdrupal. The peace treaty was known as the Treaty of Hannibal in Carthage and the Treaty of Rome in the Roman Republic. The conditions were that Rome would receive Carthago Nova, and the Canaris Islands, and Carthage would receive North-West Rome and half of the island of Sardinia.
Carthaginians speak Punic, a variety of Phoenician, which is a Semitic language originating in the Carthaginians' orginial homeland of Phoenicia.
Carthaginian commerce extends by sea throughout the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic as far as the Canary Islands, and by land across the Sahara desert. The Carthaginians have trade treaties with many civilizations of commerce to regulate exports and imports.
The Republic of Carthage relies on trade with Tartessos and other cities of the Iberian Peninsula, from where it obtains large quantities of silver, lead, copper, tin, and ore. Carthage's navy also allowed for trade with tin-rich Britain. Carthaginian merchants have strived to make sure the tin-mines locations remain secret.
Carthage produces finely embroidered silks, dyed textiles of cotton, linen, and wool, artistic and functional pottery, faience, incense, and perfumes. Its artisans work expertly with ivory, glassware, and wood, as well as with alabaster, bronze, brass, lead, gold, silver, and precious stones to create a wide array of goods, including mirrors, furniture and cabinetry, beds, bedding, and pillows, jewelry, arms, implements, and household items. It trads in salted Atlantic fish and fish sauce (garum), and brokered the manufactured, agricultural, and natural products of almost every Mediterranean people. In addition to manufacturing, Carthage practises highly advanced and productive agriculture, using iron plows, irrigation, and crop rotation.
The Republic of Carthage is an Oligarchic Republic, which relies on a system of checks and balances and ensured a form of public accountability. At the head of the Carthaginian state are two annually elected, not hereditary, Suffets, or Judges, similar to modern-day executive presidents. Greek and Roman scholars typically refer to them as "Kings".
By the time of the Hannibalistic War, two Suffets were elected annually from among the most wealthy and influential families and ruled collegially, similarly to Roman consuls. A range of more junior officials and special commissioners oversaw different aspects of governmental business such as public works, tax-collecting, and the administration of the state treasury.
The aristocratic families were represented in a supreme council (Called a "Carthaginian Senate" by Rome and "Council of Elders" by Greeks.), which had a wide range of powers. Suffets were elected by the council to ensure the stability of the Oligarchal government. Suffets exercise judicial and executive power, but not military, as generals are chosen by the administration. The final supervision of the Treasury and Foreign Affairs comes under the Supreme Council.
A body known as the Tribunal of the Hundred and Four, similar to Spartan ephors, acts as a kind of higher constitutional court and oversee the actions of generals. These generals could be sometimes sentenced to crucifixion, as well as other officials. Panels of special commissioners, called pentarchies, are appointed from the Tribunal of One Hundred and Four and deal with a variety of affairs for the state.
Although the nation's administration is firmly controlled by oligarchs, democratic elements are found as well. The Republic of Carthage has elected legislators, trade unions and town meetings in the form of Popular Assembly. Unless the Suffets and the Council reach a unanimous decision, the Carthaginian popular assembly holds the decisive vote.
Carthaginian religion was based on Phoenician religion (derived from faiths of the Levant), a form of polytheism. Many of the gods the Carthaginians worshiped are localized to hold specific traditions as well as their national traditions. Carthage is also host to Jewish communities.
The supreme divine couple is tat of Tanit and Ba'al Hammon. The Goddess Astarte was popular but her worship has fallen into just a few scattered communities. Many of Carthage's lesser deities are from neighbouring civilizations such as the Greeks, Egypt and Etruscan city-states. A pantheon is presided over by the father of the gods, but a goddess is the principal figure in Phoenician Pantheon. A caste of organized temple priests and acolytes performing difference functions, for different prices, exist. Priests are clena shaven, unlike most of the population.
Cippi and Stelae of limestone are characteristic monuments of Punic art and religion, found throughout the African Carthage and Southern Carthaginian Iberia. Most of them are set up over urns containing cremated human remains, placed within open-air sanctuaries. Child sacrifice is a mild occurrence in Carthage. In ancient times, mothers and fathers would bury their children who had been sacrificed to Ba'al Hammon and Tanit in the tophet. The practice was distasteful and mothers and fathers began to buy children specifically for the purpose of sacrifice or even to raise servant children instead of offering up their own. By the Hannibalistic War, Carthaginian children were only sacrificed in times of crisis or calamity like war, drought or famine. During very extreme crisis, up to 200 children of the most affluent and powerful families were slain and tossed into a burning pyre.
The most distinct feature of the Carthaginian army is its composition. Contrary to most other states in the Mediterranean at the time, the army is composed almost exclusively of foreign mercenary units while its navy is manned by citizens. Carthage lacks a history of citizen infantry forces, requiring its army to be composed of mainly foreign troops, particularly Libyans, Numidians, Iberians, Gauls, and Greeks. The army is enlisted for only particular campaigns and then demobilized, and only when the City of Carthage itself was threatened, would citizens be conscripted to fight in infantry service.
The commander of Punic forces are strategos or boetarchs. The former can at the same time also be a military governor and has the authority to sign treaties. In areas of conflict, dual command of an army by strategoi was common. Nobles that can afford to sustain their own armies are legally allowed to, leading to some standing Carthaginian armies, and the nobles often have familiy members in ranking positions in their armies.
The hired units were deployed with their own command structure. Carthage will send out specific recruiters who will bargain contracts with each soldier/corps of soldiers, who also served as officers responsible for the integration of their units into the army.
Composition of the Army
The Libyans supply both heavy and light infantry and form the most disciplined units of the army. The heavy infantry fight in close formation, armed with long spears and round shields, wearing helmets and linen cuirasses. The light Libyan infantry carry javelins and a small shield, same as Iberian light infantry. The Iberian infantry wear purple bordered white tunics and leather headgear. The Iberian heavy infantry fight in a dense phalanx, armed with solid metal javelins called "angon", long body shields and short thrusting swords called 'falcata". Campanian, Sardinian and Gallic infantry fight in their native gear, but often are equipped by Carthage. Hannibal's heavy Libyan infantry are equipped with the sarissa (pike), thus forming a Macedonian style phalanx.
The Libyans, Carthaginian citizens and the Libyo-Phoenicians provide disciplined, well-trained cavalry equipped with thrusting spears and round shields. Numidia provide superb light cavalry, highly skilled in skirmishing tactics, armed with bundles of javelins, a small round shield and riding without bridle or saddle. Iberians and Gauls also provide cavalry, which relied on the all out charge. The Libyans provided the bulk of the heavy, four horse war chariots for Carthage, used before the Hannibalistic War. Allied cities of the Punic hegemony contributed contingents for the army as well. Carthaginian officer corps held overall command of the army, although many units may have fought under their chieftains.
The navy of Carthage is the nation's primary security, and it is the preeminent force patrolling the Mediterranean on the basis of tactics and ship quality. This was due to its central location, control of the pathway between Sicily and Tunisia, through which all ships must travel in order to cross the Mediterranean, and the skill with which its ships were designed and built.
Originally based on Tyrian designs with two or three levels of rowers that were perfected by generations of Phoenician seamanship, it also includes quadriremes and quinqueremes, warships with four and five ranks of rowers on no more than three levels. These latter ships are much larger than their predecessors.
The navy includes some 300 to 350 warships that continuously patrolled the expanse of the Mediterranean, mainly its Western part. The Romans, unable to defeat them through conventional maritime tactics, developed the Corvus, or the crow, a spiked boarding bridge that could be impaled onto an enemy ship so that the Romans could send over marines to capture or sink the Carthaginian vessels.
The sailors and marines of the fleets are recruited from the lower classes of Carthage itself, meaning the navy is manned in the majority by actual Carthaginian citizens, this is in contrast to the largely mercenary army. The navy offers a stable profession and financial security for its sailors. This helped to contribute to the nation's political stability, since the unemployed, debt-ridden poor in other cities are frequently inclined to support revolutionary leaders in the hope of improving their own lot.
|Mediterranean (Romae Delenda Est)|
|Powers||Macedonian Confed ♦Ptolemaic Egypt ♦ Carthage ♦ Roman Republic|
|Nations||Numidia ♦ Cispaline Gallic Tribes ♦ Narbonensis ♦ Bosporus Tribes ♦ Dacians ♦ Illyrians ♦ Thracians ♦ Aquintine ♦ Epirus ♦ Iberian Tribes ♦ Appolonia ♦ Scythians|