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834

UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

permission of Rome that furnished to the latter the long-sought pretext for

a war of extermination upon her ancient rival.

In the struggle that ensued neither Cato, its great instigator, nor

Masinissa, its occasion, lived to see the issue. The former at the age of

eighty-five and the latter at ninety, both died in the first year of the

conflict.

Carthage now exerted herself to the utmost to avert the storm which her

simple action of self-defense had raised. Ambassadors were sent to the

Roman Senate to explain the situation, and to offer such apology as might

be necessary for the conduct of the state in resisting Masinissa. The

messengers were received with little respect, and in answer the Senate

demanded that three hundred Carthaginians should be given up as hostages.

It was thought that this concession would placate the factitious anger of

Rome, but nothing could allay her hate. A fleet under command of Publius

Scipio Aemilianus was at once dispatched to the African coast, and landed

at Utica. The Carthaginians hastened to inquire the occasion of this

further menace, and were informed that their city and state, being now

under the protectorate of Rome, and having no further necessity to engage

in hostile enterprises, should deliver up all her arms and munitions of

war. Astounding as was this demand, it was complied with by the

Carthaginians, who knew too well the temper of the race with whom they had

to deal. When this business was accomplished, the Romans threw off all

disguise and made known the real purpose of the expedition, which was:

"That Carthage must be destroyed, and the inhabitants colonized in a new

settlement ten miles from the sea." Among the doings of the civilized

nations of antiquity, there is not perhaps another instance of open and

formal treachery so revolting and perfidious as that of the Romans in their

course toward Carthage.

As soon as the people of that fated city heard of the cruel and insolent

demand now made upon them, they broke out under the inspiration of despair

into universal insurrection. The spirit of faction was heard no more, and

every man, woman, and child rose as one to fight to the last the heartless

foe whose fell purpose was no longer concealed. The whole city was suddenly

metamorphosed into a camp. The public buildings-even the temples-were

converted into shops and factories. On every hand was heard the din of

preparation-the noise and tumult of that despairing energy which had lost

all sense of fear. A new supply of arms was produced as rapidly as

possible. The women were everywhere present with their husbands and

brothers, encouraging and aiding the work. They cut off their long hair,

and gave it to the manufacturers to make strings for the bows and

catapults. Hasdrubal was recalled from banishment, and was entrusted with

the defense of the city. So energetic and thorough was the preparation,

that when the Roman army arrived from Utica the city was found impregnable

to assault. Having made one effort to carry the place by storm Scipio, who

commanded only as military tribune, was obliged to content himself with the

slow processes of a siege. The Roman army, however, was badly equipped for

such an enterprise, and little progress was made towards the reduction of

the city.

In B. C. 147, Scipio, then but thirty-seven years of age, and thus legally

disqualified for the office, was invested with the consulship. Returning to

Africa he renewed the siege with great vigor. The ramparts were broken

through. Square after square was carried in the face of the most stubborn

resistance. Every house was burned as soon as taken. The narrowing line of

destruction closed around the old citadel of Byrsa, where the remnant of

the people and soldiery had taken their last stand for the defense of their

altars. At last this stronghold was also carried, and with it were captured

the remaining fifty thousand inhabitants of the doomed city. These were

carried away into slavery. Scipio, glancing over the ruin of what had so

recently been the proudest emporium of Northern Africa, is said to have had

a presentiment of a similar doom for Rome, and to have repeated in sadness

a prophetic couplet of the Iliad.

"The day shall surely come when sacred Troy shall fall, And Priam and the

people of the ash-speared Priam fall."