Aug 8, 2013
For over 120 years and across three separate wars, Rome and Carthage battled for control of the Mediterranean in a no-holds barred conflict that would see Hannibal march his elephants across the Alps, terrorize the Italian mainland for fifteen years but ultimately be utterly defeated. When the Romans defeated Carthage, they not only sold its people into slavery but also razed it to the ground until the city, the civilization and its written records were wiped from history. To this day, many of us are still captivated by Hannibal's famous march and awed by the idea that the Romans not only destroyed the city but salted the earth so that nothing living could ever survive there again. Why does this civilization that has left no great monuments, no great books and no great institutions still capture our imagination?Richard Miles is the senior lecturer in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney and the author of Carthage Must Be Destroyed. In this episode of the show, he says that the power of Carthage in the modern Western mind is that it taps into our deepest insecurity: the fear that Western civilization will fail. The British Empire lived in constant fear that its days were numbered and, since the founding of the United States, Americans have worried that collapse might be imminent. We remember Carthage precisely because it represents our own deepest fears: that everything we have built might amount to nothing.Besides Carthage's symbolic power, Richard, Bryan and Hunter discuss war elephants, Alexander the Great and the very different (and much more brutal) nature of ancient warfare. Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization is available in print, eBook and audiobook.