After the termination of the Hannibalic war it was even enacted, on the proposal of Hannibal, that no member of the council of a Hundred could hold office for two consecutive years; and thereby a complete democracy was introduced, which certainly was under existing circumstances the only means of saving Carthage, if there was still time to do so. This opposition was swayed by a strong patriotic and reforming enthusiasm; but the fact cannot withal be overlooked, that it rested on a corrupt and rotten basis. The body of citizens in Carthage, which is compared by well-informed Greeks to the people of Alexandria, was so disorderly that to that extent it had well deserved to be powerless; and it might well be asked, what good could arise from revolutions, where, as in Carthage, the boys helped to make them.
Capital And Its Power In Carthage
From a financial point of view, Carthage held in every respect the first place among the states of antiquity. At the time of the Peloponnesian war this Phoenician city was, according to the testimony of the first of Greek historians, financially superior to all the Greek states, and its revenues were compared to those of the great-king; Polybius calls it the wealthiest city in the world. The intelligent character of the Carthaginian husbandry--which, as was the case subsequently in Rome, generals and statesmen did not disdain scientifically to practise and to teach--is attested by the agronomic treatise of the Carthaginian Mago, which was universally regarded by the later Greek and Roman farmers as the fundamental code of rational husbandry, and was not only translated into Greek, but was edited also in Latin by command of the Roman senate and officially recommended to the Italian landholders. A characteristic feature was the close connection between this Phoenician management of land and that of capital: it was quoted as a leading maxim of Phoenician husbandry that one should never acquire more land than he could thoroughly manage. The rich resources of the country in horses, oxen, sheep, and goats, in which Libya by reason of its Nomad economy perhaps excelled at that time, as Polybius testifies, all other lands of the earth, were of great advantage to the Carthaginians. As these were the instructors of the Romans in the art of profitably working the soil, they were so likewise in the art of turning to good account their subjects; by virtue of which Carthage reaped indirectly the rents of the "best part of Europe," and of the rich--and in some portions, such as in Byzacitis and on the lesser Syrtis, surpassingly productive--region of northern Africa. Commerce, which was always regarded in Carthage as an honourable pursuit, and the shipping and manufactures which commerce rendered flourishing, brought even in the natural course of things golden harvests annually to the settlers there; and we have already indicated how skilfully, by an extensive and evergrowing system of monopoly, not only all the foreign but also all the inland commerce of the western Mediterranean, and the whole carrying trade between the west and east, were more and more concentrated in that single harbour.
Science and art in Carthage, as afterwards in Rome, seem to have been mainly dependent on Hellenic influences, but they do not appear to have been neglected. There was a respectable Phoenician literature; and on the conquest of the city there were found rich treasures of art--not created, it is true, in Carthage, but carried off from Sicilian temples--and considerable libraries. But even intellect there was in the service of capital; the prominent features of its literature were chiefly agronomic and geographical treatises, such as the work of Mago already mentioned and the account by the admiral Hanno of his voyage along the west coast of Africa, which was originally deposited publicly in one of the Carthaginian temples, and which is still extant in a translation. Even the general diffusion of certain attainments, and particularly of the knowledge of foreign languages,(9) as to which the Carthage of this epoch probably stood almost on a level with Rome under the empire, forms an evidence of the thoroughly practical turn given to Hellenic culture in Carthage. It is absolutely impossible to form a conception of the mass of capital accumulated in this London of antiquity, but some notion at least may be gained of the sources of public revenue from the fact, that, in spite of the costly system on which Carthage organized its wars and in spite of the careless and faithless administration of the state property, the contributions of its subjects and the customs-revenue completely covered the expenditure, so that no direct taxes were levied from the citizens; and further, that even after the second Punic war, when the power of the state was already broken, the current expenses and the payment to Rome of a yearly instalment of 48,000 pounds could be met, without levying any tax, merely by a somewhat stricter management of the finances, and fourteen years after the peace the state proffered immediate payment of the thirty-six remaining instalments. But it was not merely the sum total of its revenues that evinced the superiority of the financial administration at Carthage. The economical principles of a later and more advanced epoch are found by us in Carthage alone of all the more considerable states of antiquity. Mention is made of foreign state-loans, and in the monetary system we find along with gold and silver mention of a token-money having no intrinsic value--a species of currency not used elsewhere in antiquity. In fact, if government had resolved itself into mere mercantile speculation, never would any state have solved the problem more brilliantly than Carthage.
Comparison Between Carthage And Rome In Their Economy
Let us now compare the respective resources of Carthage and Rome. Both were agricultural and mercantile cities, and nothing more; art and science had substantially the same altogether subordinate and altogether practical position in both, except that in this respect Carthage had made greater progress than Rome.