Don Antonio Soulard, the Spanish surveyor general of what much later became Missouri, seems to be my kind of man.
I would never have heard of him but for Jim Markovitch, a reader of The Hannibal Blog who gets this week’s fist bump for some ad hoc investigative work while driving around Missouri.
As Jim discovered here and here, Don Antonio journeyed up the Mississippi some time around 1800 and, like so many classically educated types in those days, admired the people who also happen to be the main characters in my book:
Hannibal (above left),
Fabius (above right) and
So Don Antonio named bodies of water after his heroes:
– the Hannibal Creek (now called Bear Creek), site of the eponymous future hometown of Mark Twain;
– the Scipio River (Bay de Charles); and
– the Fabius River (still named that).
And there is of course Carthage, MO, reachable in 5 hours, 34 minutes from Hannibal, according to Jim’s iPhone screen directions. Had Hannibal only had an iPhone when he crossed the Alps!
Alright, Hannibal did not actually go to South America and Missouri, in large part because he didn’t know that they existed. 😉
But have you ever wondered why more than a million Colombians on the steamy Caribbean coast live in a city called Cartagena? Because Colombia was Spanish, of course, and there is a city in Spain (Murcia) that is called Cartagena. But why is that city called Cartagena? Because it was founded by Hannibal’s brother-in-law, Hasdrubal (not to be confused with his biological brother, also named Hasdrubal), who made it Carthage’s regional capital. He called it Little Carthage, or Little New City, since Carthage is Punic for New City, as mentioned already.
When the great Scipio, another of my heroes and Hannibal’s eventual nemesis, conquered Spain, he renamed it New Carthage (Carthago Nova), thus inadvertently calling it New New City. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.
Now, how about that fantastic party town with all that great Gaudi architecture, Barcelona? Hannibal’s clan or family name, you recall, was Barca. Sounds suspiciously similar, doesn’t it? Barcelona probably started as the “camp of the Barcas”, when Hamilcar, with his young son Hannibal in tow, showed up in Spain to conquer it. Hannibal later would have passed nearby on his way to the Alps and Italy.
And what about that town in Missouri on the Mississippi, where Mark Twain grew up and had his Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn get into all sorts of trouble? It’s called Hannibal. I must assume that it’s named after my hero/antihero, but I’ve not actually been able to verify that. If anybody knows, please drop me a line below.