A tale of two cities’ disappearing

What is the following description about?

… they threw timbers from one [house] to another over the narrow passageways, and crossed as on bridges. While war was raging in this way on the roofs, another fight was going on among those who met each other in the streets below. All places were filled with groans, shrieks, shouts, and every kind of agony. Some were stabbed, others were hurled alive from the roofs to the pavement … No one dared to set fire to the houses on account of those who were still on the roofs, until [the commander showed up]. Then he set fire to the three streets all together, and gave orders to keep the passageways clear of burning material so that the army might move back and forth freely.

Then came new scenes of horror. As the fire spread and carried everything down, the soldiers did not wait to destroy the buildings little by little, but all in a heap. So the crashing grew louder, and many corpses fell with the stones into the midst. Others were seen still living, especially old men, women, and young children who had hidden in the inmost nooks of the houses, some of them wounded, some more or less burned, and uttering piteous cries. Still others, thrust out and falling from such a height with the stones, timbers, and fire, were torn asunder in all shapes of horror, crushed and mangled.

Nor was this the end of their miseries, for the street cleaners, who were removing the rubbish with axes, mattocks, and forks, and making the roads passable, tossed with these instruments the dead and the living together into holes in the ground, dragging them along like sticks and stones and turning them over with their iron tools. Trenches were filled with men. Some who were thrown in head foremost, with their legs sticking out of the ground, writhed a long time. Others fell with their feet downward and their heads above ground. [Army transports] ran over them, crushing their faces and skulls, not purposely on the part of the riders, but in their headlong haste. …

The Americans taking Fallujah in 2003? Street fighting in World War II? Nope. It’s the Romans wiping Carthage off the map, as described by Appian here.

The year was 146 BCE, and in that same year the Romans also destroyed Corinth in Greece. One city gone in the west, one in the east. A very Roman gesture.

In the previous post in this thread, I talked about Alexander looking west from his deathbed in 323 BCE and seeing a mighty city, Carthage, but not seeing a city called Rome, because there was nothing much to see yet. In this scene, 177 years later, that nation of which Alexander had not heard, Rome, was laying waste and subjugating the two great Mediterranean civilizations that Alexander had known, the Carthaginian-Punic and his own, the Greek.

Clearly, a lot had happened in those intervening years. Events that we today see all around us–by what we see, speak and think, and by what we do not see, speak and think. I will explain that in the next post.

And just as a reminder: The story of what happened between those dates–Alexander’s death and Rome’s domination of west and east–has, of course, everything to do with the main characters in my book: Hannibal, Fabius and Scipio.

Bookmark and Share

8 thoughts on “A tale of two cities’ disappearing

  1. So you are going to cover events from the death of Alexander through the rise of Rome, 3 Punic wars and run parallels to notable figures throughout history up to our times? With your attention to detail, this could span 2000 pages easy…

    Quite a bit to bite in a first book. I like the ambition (:

    • Not actually from the death of Alexander in my book, Joel. I start with Hannibal and Hamilcar, because I’m describing a personal and invididualstory. But yes, through to the sack of Carthage, and in each chapter with parallels to notable figures throughout history up to our times. Sounds ambitious, I know, but it’s much easier (to write and to read) than you would think. And 110,000 words only, by the way.

  2. Andreas:

    You previously commented that you were born in the wrong generation. I remembered that Patton (at least as described in the movie), handled the generational thing by believing that he was there, at many great battles throughout history. From the movie:

    The Carthaginians defending the city were attacked by three Roman legions. The Carthaginians were proud and brave but they couldn’t hold. They were massacred. Arab women stripped them of their tunics and their swords and lances. The soldiers lay naked in the sun. Two thousand years ago. I was here.

    I wonder if your treatment of Scipio in your coming bookis at all comparable to the legend we know as George C. Patton. Was he our Hannibal in WW II?


    • Oh my, I remember that scene now. I also remember that, watching it, I cringed at the word “Arabs”. The Arabs would be there in time, of course, but not for another 900 years.
      I’m not sure how to compare Scipio to Patton. that’s because I forget what our view of Patton is. But Scipio, in my book, is a noble, cosmopolitan, talented, charming and fair character, who is also (because of all this) rather naive when it comes to his own personal enemies in Rome and their petty means.

  3. Ohmygosh. You’ve got to read the Generations book. In fact, AK is the same Archetype as Patton (as am I) – being slightly too young to be a Boomer. Now, unfortunately (and I’m not making this up) our generation’s ‘constellation’ is moving into a time period (~ the Fourth Turning) when it’s time (forgive me) to clean up the mess left by my parent’s generation (too young to fight in WWII, overprotected during and after) and the Boomers’. Our children (mine and AK’s) will step in and fight the good fight while the Boomer’s provide the moral vision (ironically), and AK’s generation will kick ass and take names (like Patton). Patton, in today’s vernacular was not politically correct and from my reading, not cosmopolitan or charming (fair and noble, yes). Benjamin Franklin is the same archetypal generation as the Boomers, George Washington was not (he’s the same archetype as Patton and AK). The Strauss and Howe books don’t extend to Scipio’s generation, but it might be interesting to extrapolate.

    My wife’s Great Grandfather (definitely the WWII, American-Dream Guy), who is 93, teaches a course at Dartmouth about this. He has a ‘bird’s eye view’ of all four of the archetypes. He buys it. Very cool stuff.

  4. Thanks Mr. C-good recommendation.

    I think Patton saw himself as an inter-generational soldier, if not literally by believing in reincarnation, then certainly figuratively-as the prototypical warrior who pops up when we need him throughout history. Patton is reported to have been thoroughly confident, yes arrogant, understanding through his knowledge of history, or from actually believing he was there, that he would succeed because he had the knowledge and experience to do so. No repeating bad war experiences in history for him!

    The other war-hero type is the common person, like most of the foot soldiers in WWII, who knew they had never been there before, had no experience, but totally rose to the occasion which was sufficiently compelling to bring the best out in them and succeed. I don’t know where Scipio fits in and am satisfied to wait for the book. I am really interested in how this all turns out. (or I guess learning how it turned out).

    With all this discussion about the Baby Boomers, I must tell you that my cover band, Betty& the Boomers (no joke, it is the name of the band) is playing a fundraiser at the 4th Street Bar and Grill in downtown Sacramento on March 14, 2009 from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. I will leave all access passes at the door for AK, Mr. C, Mrs. S, and all the Hannibal Bloglodytes who are in town that night.

    rock n’ roll baby!!

  5. Darn! We don’t really have any gigs scheduled in April at this time. But it will get me thinking about where we could play in the Bay Area. We are really a local band in Sacramento although we enjoy a good road-trip when the opportunity presents itself.


Leave a Reply to Steve Block Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s