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.

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