Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

Destruction of Carthage

While Rome was thus little by little extending its powers in the East, the Carthaginians were slowly recovering from the Second Punic War, which had proved so disastrous for them. The Romans, in the mean while, felt no great anxiety about Carthage, because their ally, Masinissa, was still king of Numidia, and was expected to keep the senate informed of all that was happening in Africa.

But after the peace had lasted about fifty years, and Carthage had got over her losses, and again amassed much wealth, some of the Romans felt quite sure that the time would come when the contest would be renewed. Others, however, kept saying that Carthage should be entirely crushed before she managed to get strength enough to fight.

One man in Rome was so much in favor of this latter plan that he spoke of it on every opportunity. This was Cato, the censor, a stern and proud old man, who ended every one of the speeches which he made before the senate, by saying: "Carthage must be destroyed!"

He repeated these words so often and so persistently that by and by the Romans began to think as he did; and they were not at all sorry when the King of Numidia broke the peace and began what is known in history as the Third Punic War.

The Carthaginians, worsted in the first encounter, were very anxious to secure peace. Indeed, they were so anxious that they once gave up all their arms at the request of Rome. But after making them give up nearly all they owned, the Romans finally ordered them to leave their beautiful city so that it could be destroyed, and this they refused to do.

As peace was not possible, the Carthaginians then made up their minds to fight bravely, and to sell their liberty only with their lives. Their arms having been taken away from them, all the metal in town was collected for new weapons. Such was the love of the people for their city that the inhabitants gave all their silver and gold for its defense, to make the walls stronger.

Not content with giving up their jewelry, the Carthaginian women cut off their long hair to make ropes and bowstrings, and went out with their oldest children to work at the fortifications, which were to be strengthened to resist the coming attack. Every child old enough to walk, fired by the example of all around him, managed to carry a stone or sod to help in the work of defense.

The siege began, and, under the conduct of Hasdrubal, their general, the Carthaginians held out so bravely that at the end of five years Carthage was still free. The Romans, under various commanders, vainly tried to surprise the city, but it was only when Scipio Æmilianus broke down the harbor wall that his army managed to enter Carthage.

The Romans were so angry at the long resistance of their enemies that they slew many of the men, made all the women captives, pillaged the town, and then set fire to it. Next the mighty walls were razed, and Carthage, the proud city which had rivaled Rome for more than a hundred years, was entirely destroyed.

Thus ended the third and last Punic War, and the heroic defense of the city which the Romans had always feared, and which they would not allow to stand lest it should some day become powerful enough to rule them.

That same year, after secretly encouraging all the Greek cities to quarrel among themselves, the Romans went over to Greece, and soon made themselves masters of the whole country. They destroyed Corinth in the same way as Carthage, and bore away from it countless treasures of art, which they were yet too ignorant to appreciate.

Not long afterwards, a third town shared the terrible fate of Carthage and Corinth. This was Numantia, in Spain, whose walls were successfully defended against the Romans until supplies failed and many of the inhabitants had starved to death. Too weak to fight any longer, the remainder saw their town leveled with the ground, and were then sold into slavery.


Front Matter

The First Settlers
Escape from the Burning City
The Clever Trick
The Boards Are Eaten
The Wolf and the Twins
Romulus Builds Rome
The Maidens Carried Off
Union of Sabines and Romans
Death of Romulus
Strange Signs of the Romans
The Quarrel with Alba
The Horatii and Curiatii
Tarquin and the Eagle
The Roman Youths
The King Outwitted
The Murder of Tarquin
The Ungrateful Children
The Mysterious Books
Tarquin's Poppies
The Oracle of Delphi
The Death of Lucretia
The Stern Father
A Roman Triumph
A Roman Triumph (Cont.)
Defense of the Bridge
The Burnt Hand
The Twin Gods
The Wrongs of the Poor
Fable of the Stomach
The Story of Coriolanus
The Farmer Hero
The New Laws
Death of Virginia
Plans of a Traitor
A School-Teacher Punished
Invasion of the Gauls
The Sacred Geese
Two Heroes of Rome
Disaster at Caudine Forks
Pyrrhus and His Elephants
The Elephants Routed
Ancient Ships
Regulus and the Snake
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
The Romans Defeated
The Inventor Archimedes
The Roman Conquests
Destruction of Carthage
Roman Amusements
The Jewels of Cornelia
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Caius Gracchus
Jugurtha, King of Numidia
The Barbarians
The Social War
The Flight of Marius
The Proscription Lists
Sertorius and His Doe
Revolt of the Slaves
Pompey's Conquests
Conspiracy of Catiline
Caesar's Conquests
Crossing of the Rubicon
Battle of Pharsalia
The Death of Caesar
The Second Triumvirate
The Vision of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
The Poisonous Snake
The Augustan Age
Death of Augustus
Varus Avenged
Death of Germanicus
Tiberius Smothered
The Wild Caligula
Wicked Wives of Claudius
Nero's First Crimes
Christians Persecuted
Nero's Cruelty
Two Short Reigns
The Siege of Jerusalem
The Buried Cities
The Terrible Banquet
The Emperor's Tablets
The Good Trajan
Trajan's Column
The Great Wall
Hadrian's Death
Antoninus Pius
The Model Pagan
Another Cruel Emperor
An Unnatural Son
The Senate of Women
The Gigantic Emperor
Invasion of the Goths
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra
A Prophecy Fulfulled
First Christian Emperor
Roman Empire Divided
An Emperor's Penance
Sieges of Rome
End of the Western Empire