Hannibal Victorious: A Carthaginian TL


The 6th of August, 216BCE.
The Senate.

“We cannot and will not countenance any terms that would have us surrender Italy! It would insult the gods, and our noble forebears to do such a thing, to surrender land that has been paid for in Roman lives and blood!”
The Senator’s words were defiant, but they were the words of a desperate man. Carthalo knew fear, he had seen it before. And this man and his compatriots feared him. Or, more precisely, they feared who he represented. Hannibal Barca, Heracles reborn, who had smashed every Roman Army driven before him. None of those victories had compared to Cannae though, and the great victory there. The largest Roman Army ever assembled, smashed beyond recognition. And with the victory, came the defections; the southern cities of Italy, the Hellenic colonies on the coast. He said as much to the assembled Senators.

“Surrender? That implies Italy is still yours to give. Already Capua and Tarentum have joined our cause. Their wealth and power supports ours. They have joined together with the Hellenes to create a free and democratic Italian League, apart from Rome. Phillip V of Macedon fights with us. The reborn Alexander is preparing to march from the East with his army. The Gauls north of the Po have joined our struggle; the entirety of the central Meditarian marches against this city and its Senate. But divine Athena rewards wisdom as much as the blessed Baal Hammon rewards might, so Carthage is prepared to offer advantageous terms to Rome.”

Silence created his speech, before a Senator Carthalo did not recognise stood to speak. His eyes were full of hate for Carthalo and all he represented, but also a deep seated weariness. He walked with a limp and a cane, but remained tall and proud, the bearing of a wounded soldier.

“Speak your terms, Carthalo, so that we may hear them. But know that Rome does not suffer insolence or ill-intent well. We are battered, but remain unbowed, unbent, unbroken”.

Carthalo paused for effect, looking around the Senate room, at the faces of Rome’s wealthiest and powerful citizens. He recognised a host of emotions, anger to be sure, but also fear and worry. And maybe a smidge of hope. He would kindle that hope while exploiting the fear.

“Carthage desires the return of Sardinia and her possessions in Sicily. Rome is also to recognise the independence of the Italian League as an independent state, and a friend of Carthage. All Roman territory and interests outside of Italy are to be rendered null and forfeit, apart from Corsica, which, whilst demilitarised, is to remain under the control of the Roman Republic.”
His terms inspired much shouting and rage, as he was accused of the basest of blasphemy and the greatest of sins. Words like piety and honour were bandied around, as if they could shield off the iron clad fist of Hannibal’s army.

The turmoil eventually subsided, and Carthalo decided that it was time to offer the alternative of hope.

“Carthage has no interest in ceasing control of central Italy, however. The Etruscans and other friends of Rome shall remain as such. Nor shall Rome suffer financially. We desire no gold or civil from you.”

The assembled worthies had turned from rage to some sort of angry contemplation.

And now Carthalo rolled his best dice.

“Think of your sons, gentleman of Rome. Hannibal, blessed of Melqart and Heracles reborn, has broken every Army sent against him. At sea, our mighty fleet, rebuilt after so many years, controls the waves. Would you send your sons against the gods divinely ordained plan, against their chosen champion? Rome is famed for its piety. Act in that spirit now, gentlemen, and enact a divine peace.”

And with that flourish, Carthalo knew he had them.
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Carthage after Hannibal’s War.
216 BCE to 200BCE.

News of Hannibal’s victory over the Romans, and the subsequent peace settlement, caused a surprisingly mixed reaction amongst the people of Carthage. Amongst the urban poor, Hannibal’s victory brought the possibility of colonisation in Sicily and Sardinia, or at the very least, a share of the loot that Hannibal had promised to distribute amongst said poor. Amongst the more prosperous non-nobility; the merchants, the dock workers and so forth, Hannibal’s victories represented new opportunities in trade and construction. Even among the lesser nobility, there was recognition that Hannibal’s victory brought forward new opportunities for military glory; Iberia had brought much wealth to Carthage, and much of that land remained unconquered. There were also whispers of political reform; of Hannibal overturning the oligarchical constitution and introducing more democratic elements to the city.

It was these rumoured political reforms, along with Hannibal’s undisputed success and capability, that led to the highest nobility, those who dominated the Council of Elders and the Council of One Hundred and Four being worried about the general’s return. In the words of Hannibal’s contemporary and political opponent Gisco “Carthage is a great city, but is it great enough for Hannibal?” His words speak to a fear amongst the Carthaginian nobility that Hannibal would seek to govern in the manner of a Hellenistic tyrant, rather than a mere accomplished nobleman.

Such fears were not assuaged by the grand parade Hannibal held with his army after returning to the city, although said fears were mitigated somewhat when Hannibal, at the end of his parade, dismissed his army after a grand speech and with the reward of a substantial amount of silver coin for even the lowest solider. Whilst publically assuring the nobility and commons of his peaceful intentions, private letters from the time speak of how “Hannibal, in paying such a fine sum to his troops, ensured their loyalty was to him and him alone”. Recently released letters from Hannibal to people identified as high ranking commanders in his army which continued to his death confirm both the close bond he had with them, and his ability, if not his need, to call upon their services.

Having abandoned the tyrannical approach of a military coup, Hannibal sought and easily won one of the two positions of Suffete, who at the time were the annually elected executive officers of the Carthaginian Commonwealth. And once in office, Hannibal acted with the energy and competence that had stood him so successfully in his military campaign.

Undoubtedly, the crowning accomplishment of his first term was construction of the cothon, the mighty double harbour that, whilst now a museum surrounded by a busy modern port, is still a marvel of engineering. Slums were cleared, and large apartments built in their place. Based on his experiences on campaign, a public safety board was established, dealing with sanitation, fire-fighting and a rudimentary form of policing, funded by a sales tax on slaves. A magnificent new temple to Melqart was also built, along with one to the Hellenic war god Ares. Both of these were private gifts of Hannibal, built from money he had both took and been gifted on campaign.
War meant substantial political reforms, and here Hannibal caused a revolution, although not one that did any physical harm. The Carthaginian Constitution at the time balanced the institutions of state between the democratic Popular Assembly, the oligarchical Council of Elders and Council of One Hundred and Four (the latter also serving as a judicial body, a role which in modified form it still holds) and the monarchical-like position of the dual Suffetes, the executive officers of the state.

Hannibal’s wealth and popularity changed all that. Rooting out corruption and improving the city made both profound practical sense and also solidified his popularity; it enabled him to enact numerous political reforms, amongst them the transformation of the Council of Hundred and Four from a hereditary body to a democratic one, as well as granting the popular assembly the right to propose and veto any and all legislation. Enacting said legislation was still the responsibility of the Suffetes, however, and here was where Hannibal made his boldest political gamble yet.

Rather than the previous system of two annually elected executive officers, a feature Carthage shared with Rome, Hannibal proposed a single Suffete, to be elected to repeated four year terms by the entire (male) citizen body. By this point, his popularity with the citizen body was something beyond that owed to a human being, and while Hannibal did not accept the semi-divine status many attributed to him, nor did he publically reject them. While adamantly opposed by the higher nobility apart from members of his own extended family, the popular support Hannibal had was enough to ensure the passage of his desired law.

As it turned out, Hannibal had no desire to govern Carthage in a manner of a Syracusian Tyrant. Much of Hannibal’s attention was given to reintegrating western Sicily and Sardinia into the Carthaginian state system, along with making sure the fragile Italian League remained intact and not torn apart by the competing interests of its members. Relations with the various North African kingdoms and peoples also took up considerable amounts of Hannibal’s time and attention. While the specifics are lost to us now, it is clear that Hannibal saw in Rome’s network of allies something Carthage should try and emulate; stone inscriptions speak to the granting of Carthaginian citizenship to numerous Libyan towns and cities via the Sidonian Rites, a process which had previously tied directly to military service. A new model of “Colonial Citizenship” was also created; while denying membership in the active political process, it entitled the holder to take part in the Judicial system, as well as free movement and protection anywhere in the Carthaginian sphere. Whilst remaining a distinctly second class form of citizenship, it marked an evolution from the previous mish-mash of local citizenships that had previously existed. However, the Carthaginian consolidation of its colonial territory, as well as expansion into its North African hinterland, did not mean that the entire western side of North Africa could be considered fully under their control, at least directly. Numidia, a powerful North African kingdom allied to Carthage which had consolidated itself during Hannibal’s War, was later to prove particularly problematic. The move from direct rule of the coast and influence inland to full annexation would have to come later, as would the slow and piecemeal integration of Iberia, firstly into the Carthaginian sphere of influence, and then as time passed, into direct rule.

Hannibal accomplished a great deal by the time he retired from office in 200 BCE, particularly with regard to the renewal of Carthage itself. However, his attempts to rationalise and consolidate the Carthaginian Commonwealth into some sort of unified whole were stymied by competing interests at home and abroad. It would be up to his successors to decide which course Carthage would take.
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Publius Cornelius Scipio had never seen Rome so subdued and despondent. He had survived battles great and small, including the tragedy at Cannae. While Scipio knew even on the day itself that it would have far reaching consequences, even he had not guessed how far the Senate would stoop in the name of peace.

Italy sundered. Sardinia surrendered. The Celts let loose. The Greeks have betrayed us.

The last of these had hurt Scipio more than anything else. He had idealised the Greeks, and their works, both mental and physical. The war had changed that. After the Senate has announced its acceptance of Hannibal’s terms, Scipio had loudly and publicly spoke in the middle of the Forum, cursing the Greeks and all other traitors to Rome. Who those other traitors were was left unstated, but obvious. He had given his speech outside the Senate House, at the same spot where Cato had, in bloodily spectacular fashion, committed suicide in a final act of defiance. The slaves had yet to wash away what was left of the blood.

Beside the despondence that afflicted all defeated cities, beside the widowed wives and grieving families, there was a sense that the gods had deserted Rome. Scipio was a pious man, as expected of a Roman, and particularly of a Roman of his class. But the wailing and gnashing of teeth that he witnessed had an oriental aspect to it, an unhinged fanaticism. Already, Scipio had heard of men and women attacked and beaten for supposed improprieties and insults to the gods and traditions.

Our rage should be turned against Carthage, against Syracuse, against Macedon and the Sammnites.

He ponded this as he went about his tasks around the city; tasks mostly related to his fellow soldiers, the Equites whom he knew closest and had served alongside. There was talk of some sort of pension for the veterans; half a thanks, half an apology. That was what he was concerned with,
rallying support for recognition of their sacrifice, their bloodshed. He had no need for it personally; the Cornelia were a wealthy family. He was fully prepared to return his pension to the state treasury if it the poorer veterans were to benefit. There were also calls from circles for a distribution of public land; it was argued that Rome’s citizen body had become weak, and that a return to the soil would be the best for the Republic.

As he walked home, Scipio thought over these issues. He thought about the tactical and strategic failures of the war, of how Rome had lost off the battlefield before Hannibal’s cavalry had driven them off it. He thought of loyalty, of identity. Of how one allied city might remain true while another turned its face away from Rome’s light.

This city deserves a better class of leadership. And I’m going to give it to them.
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Rome after Hannibal’s War.

Whereas Carthage in the 16 years Hannibal’s War underwent extensive change in terms of both its characteristics as a city and its political structure as a colonial power, Rome remained unchanged, although it’s character firmly changed. Our literacy sources from the time reveal a profound sense of religious guilt in the city; having long prided itself on its piety, Rome found itself at a loss after Hannibal’s victory, a victory that seemed divine in both its scope and justification. In syncretising Melqart and Hercules, and casting his process through Italy as walking in the legendary demi-god’s footsteps, Hannibal had, by both his propaganda and military success completely demolished Rome’s pretension to be a member of what was then called the Civilised World. For years previously, Rome had been adamant of its self-proclaimed membership of the Hellenic world. Now, Rome was defined as an aggressive state, whose imperial ambitions were at opposite with the city-state scaled ambitions and quarrels of the Western Mediterranean.

Success in Carthage bred massive political, social and economic change. Rome responded to defeat with a heavy handed conservatism. Part and parcel of that was an emphasis on traditional Roman religion and customs; the Vestal Virgins received considerable donations from the wealthiest citizens of Rome, although only after a considerable number had been executed in the traditional manner of being buried alive for supposed sexual immodesty. The treatment of the Vestal Virgins was just part of what has come to be seen in more modern historiography as the Roman male elite clamping down on female sexuality; laws regarding illegitimate children and adultery were swiftly put into effect.

As well as a clampdown on female sexual activity, there was a more general revival of what was felt to be traditional Roman religion, at the expense of imports from the Hellenic World. In particular, small shrines to Jupiter and Mars flourished, and the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus flourished. Archaeological evidence from Rome at the time shows that shrines and temples to the demi-god Hercules were vandalised and often destroyed by either individual action or by mobs, depending on the scale and context of the destruction. Harsh financial fines were also imposed on those who violated religious norms, although what these violations were was left purposefully broad.

The religious fines also bring another facet of post war Rome to light; the war meant Rome had incurred considerable financial loss, and shorn of its control over southern Italy, the Roman Senate sought to find new sources of revenue. One of these was the Lex Julia of 210 BCE, which in order to fund a pension for disabled and injured veterans of the Roman Army, established a sales tax on slaves. Another Law, the Lex Cornelia of 208BC, also known as the Cavalry Law, was a levy raised on the construction of temples to non-Roman gods; it was used to establish Rome’s first standing military force, a mercenary unit of southern Gallic cavalry. All states in the classical period relied on military might; but Rome had always prided itself on seeking diplomatic solutions wherever possible. That was to change, albeit slowly, over the next several decades, as the bitter wounds of was turned into ugly, permanent scars.

This era would also see the beginning of the rise of Publius Cornelius Scipio, famously known to history as Scipio Gallicanus. Active in the efforts to provide a pension for Roman veterans mentioned previously, the young aristocrat had turned from a famed Hellenophile into one of the foremost champions of a uniquely Roman identity. Scipio won an election for the position of quaestor in 213BCE, an office he won for after consulting with his mother, as his private letter reveal to us.

It was the start of what would prove to be a long and prosperous career.
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Iberia-Local Peoples and Carthaginian Colonies.

Iberia was an ancient land, long settled by the Phoenician peoples for its massive mineral wealth. By the time of Hannibal’s War, the South East of the country was dominated by Carthage; more precisely, it was ruled from the Iberian New Carthage and its hinterland, a private fiefdom in the hands of the Barcid Clan.

The resources of Barcid Iberia and its vassals had enabled Hannibal’s War, and ensured Hannibal’s victory. Amongst the voices raised against Hannibal’s political aspirations, it was loudly and repeatedly stated that he would he use his private resources to seize autocratic power over Carthage itself. The appointment of a viceroy sent directly from Carthage to supervise the colony, an appointment made at Hannibal’s request assuaged these fears somewhat, but Iberia remained an extraordinary personal source of wealth and power for the Barcid Clan, as well as offering Carthage and its people a source of immense revenue.

The creation of a common “Colonial Citizenship” further increased both the personal power of the Barcids and that of Carthage. The Iberian veterans of Hannibal’s army felt they now had a stake in the continued survival of the Carthaginian Colony there, while several entire tribes and communities inland of the Colony offered their allegiance to Carthage in exchange for this lesser, albeit still important, form of citizenship. Even the Hellenic colony of Emporion voted en-mass to offer itself to Carthage; it had already been subject to an annual tribute; now it could take part in colonial affairs as a full and equal partner.

The mines of Iberia also provide Carthage with its first regular supply of silver coin; where as previously silver had been restricted to pay for the mercenary armies, now it replaced the common copper coinage in use with the citizen body. Such was the amount of silver produced that inflation resulted, causing the rise of a new school of philosophy; one that would be later called economics, as a result. Said developments were only part of the growth of a unique Carthaginian school of thinking.

Increased Carthaginian control of the eastern coast of Iberia and further inland did not mean that Carthage was without competitors in that land. Two local tribes in particular came to form powerful regional hegemonies; the Arevaci and the Lusitani, in central and south-western Iberia respectively. Both grew rich off trade with Carthage, and became increasingly influenced by Carthaginian and Hellenic models of government; around 200BCE, the Lusitani adapted a formally organised system of tribute between it and its subservient communities, although the precise details of this arrangement remain lost to us.

As with the Gallic mercenaries in Roman service, Iberia’s riches were as much manpower as mineral and agricultural. Iberian mercenaries, both skirmishers and medium infantry had formed a key part of Hannibal’s army; such had been their prowess that Carthage set aside money to retain the services of Iberian troops in the future.

While Iberia would remain divided between competing peoples and states for some time, the control of the Carthaginian's over such an expanse of territory meant this situation could not last. The next few decades would see massive, irreversible changes to the region.
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Macedon and the Hellenic States

The withdrawal of Roman power from outside of Italy, and it’s weakening within that area, presented opportunities for other states to step into the vacuum. Aside from the obvious ascendency of Carthage, the powerful Hellenic kingdom of Macedon under the Antigonid Dynasty also sort to seek advantage from the collapse of Rome.

Under its capable ruler, Phillip V, Macedon had allied itself with Carthage and had rapidly occupied the territory vacated by Rome on the other side of the Adriatic; Corcyra, Apollonia and Epidammus all fell under Macedonian control by 214BCE; a process that would have gone faster if not for the attempts of the Epirot League to annex Corcyra onto itself.

The Epirot League remained a throne in the side of Antigond Dynasty; its federalist political structure provided an alternative to the monarchism of the Macedonians, showing how a Hellenic state could organise itself a city-state level without falling into tyranny or monarchism. As well as the ideological problems Epirus posed, it cut off Corcyra and the new Adriatic possessions from Pella. Combined with popular apathy from the Epirot population towards Macedon and its Kings, it is no surprise that war broke out in 210BCE.

Under the able leadership of Phillip V, and with the League having no overseas allies, the result of the conflict was swift and inevitable, although that had its blessings. While the league was dissolved and its cities annexed individually to the Kingdom, the speedy resolution of the conflict and that the rapid defeat of the Epirot Army in the field meant that the towns and villages that made up the League were taken without the sacking and looting usual to the time. While many towns were forced to give “contributions” to the King, and the common Epirot treasury was seized, the relative clemency of Phillip was to prove useful in rapidly securing the loyalty, if not the love, of the King’s new subjects.

Securing the Macedonian heartland was just the first step of a series of military and diplomatic campaigns that came to be called the “Reductions”. Phillip had come to the conclusion that the complex array of vassals and allies that formed the southern Hellenic heartland were just as much a threat as an asset; he had learnt well of how Hannibal had exploited the divisions between Rome and its tributaries.

Over the next 8 years, then, Phillip undertook to reduce the disparate Hellenic city-states into Macedonian provinces. Slowed primarily by his desire to avoid devastating the land he sort to make his own, the Reduction was a piecemeal affair; Athens surrendered without a fight, and was allowed to maintain limited internal self-government alongside the Macedonian governor placed in the city. Corinth, on the other hand, fought fiercely to maintain its independence and was thoroughly sacked by Phillip’s forces. Sparta too fought, and fought well, but surrendered after feeling honour was satisfied by its conduct. While its government was more restricted then that of Athens, and a permeant Macedonian garrison placed there, the settlements of the Peloponnese remained unravaged. However, this did not mean that the Spartans remained entirely unchanged. Phillip forever changed the nature of Spartan society by freeing the Helots from their obligation to serve Sparta; whilst the slaves of individual Spartans remained, the system on which Sparta depended had been utterly shattered.

By 200BCE, the whole of the Hellenic mainland had be reduced to a set of Macedonian provinces, albeit with varying levels of autonomy and responsibilities to the royal core, along with the “overseas” territories of the Cyclades and Caria. However, Phillip’s rapid advance across the southern Hellenic states sparked a wave of panic amongst the various lesser Hellenic states around the Aegean as they sought allies and protectors. The Ptolemaic Dynasty that ruled Egypt at the time was courted, but that realm was about to undergo a period of great turmoil. The Seleucids, seeking to consolidate and Hellenise their Syrian and Mesopotamian heartland, had little interest in direct rule over the coastal and island state of the Aegean, but they gladly accepted tribute in return for protecting the various states. Crete and Rhodes tied themselves to the Seleucid’s banner, whilst further north, Chiros and Byzantion found themselves vassals of the Kingdom of Pergamon.
However, for the moment, Phillip’s ambitions in the Hellenic world had been sated. The various alliances that had formed against Macedon meant further expansion eastwards would have been difficult in practical terms, never minding the propaganda cost to Phillip, who, despite his best efforts, was developing a reputation as thuggish tyrant. It was for this reason that Phillip set his eyes on a diverse set of lands that had long been outside Hellenic rule.

He turned his eyes north.


Philosophy and Thinking in Carthage.

Carthage did not have a reputation for philosophers and thinkers before Hannibal’s War. While it did have what was possibly the finest library in the western Meditarian, compared to Alexandria, Athens and Syracuse, its reputation for academic accomplishment was lacking in terms of original and famous thinkers.

Victory over Rome, and the subsequent expansion into Iberia, brought wealth to Carthage. That wealth, in turn, inspired scholars and thinkers from far and wide to visit Carthage. While most of these were Hellenes from the western colonies, there were others. Libyans, Samnites, and even Etruscans. Most of their names have been forgotten by history, but one stands. An Etruscan of noble birth, and, more impressively for the time, a woman.

Semni was an Etruscan woman of an unknown, although certainly wealthy family. Arriving in Carthage at the age of 32 in 198BCE with her husband, and with letters of recommendation from several leading members of Etruscan society and with an invitation from the Council of Elders, had rapidly established herself in the city. She was to remain in North Africa for the rest of her life.

Rather than debating and discussing the nature of reality and perception, Semni acted in the tradition of Herodotus as an historian. Having already interviewed many on the Roman side of the conflict, Semi sought to balance herself by presenting the Carthaginian view of events, offering us our only contemporary source that gives both sides of the conflict.

In Herodotus’s footsteps, Semmi included a large amount of ethnographic, political and geographic data in her account, which came to called The History of the Great Struggles. Semni attempted to strip away the mysticism and religious aspects that surrounded the conflict, basing her account on, in her own words “what was witnessed by those involved”. She also explicitly discarded the second hand and the unsure; her mission was to deal with certainties.

Semmi’s History is justly famous, particularly the section devoted to her interview with Hannibal Barca himself. But the logical conclusions she drew from her interviews and discussions have had just as much an impact on the world. The Hellenic tradition, and particularly the Platonic school, held that human reason could divine the true nature of reality, and that our senses were a limited thing. This argument had profound moral and political implications, since it held that only those who fully realised their potential for reason were fully human. And to the Hellenes, the only ones capable of fully utilising their reason were Hellenic men.

Semmi’s emphasis on experience had very different ethical conclusions. No longer was the truth of reality open only to those with right (re: Hellenic) mindset. Rather, observation and recording was how reality was best perceived; the truth was available to all, from kings to slaves. Semmism, also known as Etruscan/Carthaginian Empiricism, also caused diary keeping to become popular in Carthage, and with literate elites across the Carthaginian sphere. Even poorer families paid for special events and occasions to be recorded for commemoration; written accounts of marriages, birthdays, and deaths.

Such was the increased demand for written records that technology had to change to keep up, leading to two major developments: wooden block printing and paper, in 186BCE. The inventor of paper is unknown, and is thought to have been developed independently by several different people. Wooden block printing, however, is commonly ascribed to Hanno, a merchant of mixed Carthaginian and Iberian parentage living in New Carthage. Carthage’s government swiftly adapted both tools for record keeping, and with its example, both technologies spread rapidly across the Hellenistic world and beyond. By 100BCE, they had reached India via Egypt.

Paper and printing caused an economic boom; identical duplicate documents enabled long distance trade on a scale never before scene. Scraps and fragments have been found buried on the coast of Gothland in written Celtic with Hellenic characters, on paper, printed. Carthaginian documents have been found as distant as Corea and Japan. The precursors to today’s multinational companies; organisations, mostly banks and merchants combines, operating in multiple cities to the same ends and goals. The new technologies even had medical impacts; books and such, although still difficult to produce, we no longer the exercise in tedium they once were; doctors across the Meditarian world were now able to exchange information much easier than before; even farmers were able to benefit, exchanging ideas and tips to maximise yields.

Carthaginian Empiricism operated in much the same vein after Semmi’s death in 158BCE at the age of 78. The Carthaginian Academy paid good money for those who could reliably offer accounts of distant lands and peoples, from the peoples of West Africa to the tribes of Scandinavia, earlier mentioned by Pytheas. As the turn of the 1st Century BCE approached however, Carthaginian philosophical thinking was shook loose from its niche by the rise of Jehovism in the Seleucid Empire, and the profound moral, religious and ethical implications it posed.
Subscribed. Let's see where this goes! :D

I like your focus on the immediate aftermath of Second Punic War in the Mediterranean Sea. It's interesting to see how the philosophy of Carthage develop and the expansion of Hellenic culture into Eastern Europe.