Montesquieu

1Carthage increa­sed its might with its wealth, and then its wealth with its might. Mistress of the coasts of Africa washed by the Mediterranean, she exten­ded along those of the ocean. Hanno by order of the senate of Carthage dis­tri­bu­ted thirty thou­sand Carthaginians from the Pillars of Hercules to Cerne, which is, he said, as far from the Pillars of Hercules as the Pillars of Hercules are from Carthage. That posi­tion is most remar­ka­ble : it reveals that Hanno limi­ted his set­tle­ments to the twenty-fifth degree north lati­tude, in other words two or three degrees beyond the Canary Islands towards the south.

Hanno being in Cerne made ano­ther voyage, the object of which was to make dis­co­ve­ries far­ther to the south. He paid almost no heed to the conti­nent. The dis­tance of the coasts he fol­lo­wed was twenty-six days at sea, and he was obli­ged to return for want of pro­vi­sions. It appears that the Carthaginians made no use of this enter­prise of Hanno’s. Scylax2 says that the sea is not navi­ga­ble beyond Cerne because it is shal­low, and full of silt and sea weeds3 ; indeed there are many of them in that area.4 The Carthaginian mer­chants men­tio­ned by Scylax might encoun­ter obs­ta­cles that Hanno, who had sixty ships of fifty oars each, had over­come. The dif­fi­culties are rela­tive, and besi­des we must not confuse an enter­prise meant to prove bra­very and teme­rity with ele­ments of ordi­nary conduct.

Hanno’s rela­tion is a fine spe­ci­men of anti­quity : the same man who exe­cu­ted, wrote ; he puts no osten­ta­tion into his nar­ra­ti­ves. Great cap­tains relate their acts with sim­pli­city, because they are prou­der of what they have done than of what they have said.

The facts are like the style. He does not indulge in the super­na­tu­ral ; eve­ry­thing he says about the cli­mate, the ter­rain, the ethos, and the man­ners of the inha­bi­tants cor­res­ponds to what we see today on that coast of Africa ; it seems to be the jour­nal of one of our navi­ga­tors.

Hanno obser­ved from his fleet that a vast silence rei­gned on the conti­nent in the day­time, that at night one heard the sounds of various musi­cal ins­tru­ments, and that fires could be seen eve­ryw­here, some lar­ger and others smal­ler. Our rela­tions confirm this : we find there that in the day­time these sava­ges, to escape the heat of the sun, with­draw into the forests ; that at night they make great fires to hold the wild beasts at bay ; and that they pas­sio­na­tely love the dance and musi­cal ins­tru­ments.

Hanno des­cri­bes for us a vol­cano with all the phe­no­mena that Vesuvius dis­plays today ; and the story he tells of the two hir­sute women who allo­wed them­sel­ves to be killed rather than go with the Carthaginians, and whose skins he had brought to Carthage, is not, as has been said, beyond belief.

This rela­tion is all the more pre­cious that it is a Punic relic, and it is because it is a Punic relic that it has been regar­ded as ima­gi­nary. For the Romans retai­ned their hatred of the Carthaginians even after des­troying them. But it was only the vic­tory that deter­mi­ned whe­ther one should say foi puni­que or foi romaine.5

Some moderns have fol­lo­wed this pre­ju­dice.6 What has become, they say, of the cities Hanno des­cri­bes to us, which even in the time of Pliny had left not the sligh­test trace ? The mar­vel would be if any did remain. Was it Corinth or Athens that Hanno was going to build on these coasts ? He left Carthaginian fami­lies in the sites he thought sui­ta­ble for com­merce ; and in haste he secu­red them against savage men and fero­cious beasts. The cala­mi­ties of the Carthaginians brought navi­ga­tion to Africa to an end : those fami­lies had either to perish or to turn savage ; fur­ther­more, were the ruins of those cities still to sub­sist, who would have gone to find them in the woods and swamps ? Yet we find in Scylax and Polybius that the Carthaginians had large set­tle­ments on these coasts. Such are the ves­ti­ges of Hanno’s cities : there are no others, because there are no others of Carthage itself.

The Carthaginians were on the road to riches, and had they gone as far as the fourth degree north lati­tude and the fif­teenth of lon­gi­tude, they would have dis­co­ve­red the Gold Coast ; they would have had a much more impo­sing com­merce than what we carry on today when America seems to have deva­lued the wealth of all the other coun­tries ; there they would have found trea­su­res which the Romans could not carry off.

Very sur­pri­sing things are said of the wealth of Spain ; if we are to believe Aristotle,7 the Phoenicians who lan­ded at Tartessus found so much sil­ver there that their ships could not hold it, and they had their chea­pest uten­sils made from that metal. The Carthaginians, as Diodorus8 tells it, found so much gold and sil­ver in the Pyrenees that they put some of it into their ships’ anchors. We should place no faith in these popu­lar sto­ries ; here are some pre­cise facts.

We see in a frag­ment of Polybius quo­ted by Strabo that the sil­ver mines which were at the source of the Bætis,9 where forty thou­sand men were employed, yiel­ded to the Roman peo­ple twenty-five thou­sand drac­mas per day10 : that could come to about five mil­lion pounds per year at fifty francs to the mark. The moun­tains where these mines were loca­ted were cal­led the Silver Mountains,11 which shows that it was the Potosi of those times. Today the mines of Hanover have fewer than a quar­ter of the wor­kers that were employed in those of Spain, and they yield more ; but the Romans having almost nothing but cop­per mines, and few sil­ver mines, and the Greeks kno­wing only the mode­ra­tely pro­duc­tive mines of Attica, they must have been very sur­pri­sed at the abun­dance of those.

In the War of Spanish Succession, a man cal­led the Marquis of Rhodes, of whom it was said that he had rui­ned him­self in gold mines and enri­ched him­self in poo­rhou­ses,12 pro­po­sed to the French court to open the mines of the Pyrenees. He cited the Tyrians, the Carthaginians and the Romans ; he was allo­wed to pros­pect : he sear­ched, he dug eve­ryw­here ; he was still citing, and found nothing.

The Carthaginians, mas­ters of the trade in gold and sil­ver, wan­ted also to be mas­ters of the trade in lead and tin ; these metals were hau­led over­land from the Gallic ports on the ocean to ports on the Mediterranean. The Carthaginians wan­ted to receive them first hand, and sent Himilco13 to found set­tle­ments in the Cassiterides Islands,14 which are belie­ved to be the Scilly Islands.

These voya­ges from Bætica to England have cau­sed some to think the Carthaginians pos­ses­sed the com­pass, but it is clear that they fol­lo­wed the coasts : I want no fur­ther proof than what Himilco, who wai­ted four months to go from the mouth of the Bætis to England, says ; not to men­tion that the famous story15 of that Carthaginian pilot who, seeing a Roman ves­sel fol­lo­wing him, ran aground so he would not show it the way to England,16 shows that these ves­sels were very close to the coasts when they met up.

The Ancients could have made sea voya­ges that would give the impres­sion they pos­ses­sed the com­pass although they did not. If a pilot had strayed from the coasts, and during his voyage had a pea­ce­ful time when at night he had always had a polar star in sight, and in the day­time sun­rise and sun­set, it is clear that he could have gui­ded him­self as one does today with the com­pass ; but it would be a for­tui­tous case, and not a known way to sail.

We see in the treaty that ended the first Punic War that Carthage was prin­ci­pally concer­ned with pre­ser­ving its domi­na­tion of the sea, and Rome with pro­tec­ting its domi­na­tion of the land. Hanno, in the nego­tia­tion with the Romans, decla­red that he would not even allow them wash their hands in the seas of Sicily17 they were not allo­wed to sail beyond the fair pro­mon­tory18 ; they were for­bid­den19 to traf­fic in Sicily,20 in Sardinia, and in Africa except in Carthage : an excep­tion that shows that it was not an advan­ta­geous com­merce that was awai­ting them there.

In the ear­liest times there were great wars bet­ween Carthage and Marseille over fishing.21 After the peace, they car­ried on rival com­merce of eco­nomy. Marseille was all the more jea­lous that, equa­ling her rival in indus­try, she had become infe­rior to her in might : this is what explains her great fide­lity to the Romans. The war which the Romans waged against the Carthaginians in Spain was a source of wealth for Marseille, which ser­ved as ware­house. The rui­na­tion of Carthage and Corinth fur­ther increa­sed the glory of Marseille ; and were it not for the civil wars where one had to close one’s eyes and make a choice, she would have been happy under the pro­tec­tion of the Romans, who were not at all jea­lous of her trade.22

[In the edition of 1758, a prior paragraph (Annex 15) is inserted here.]

See his Periplus, the article on Carthage.

See Herodotus, in Melpomene, on the obstacles which Sataspes encountered.

See the maps and relations in the first volume of Voyages qui ont servi à l’établissement de la Compagnie des Indes, part I, p. 201. These grasses so cover the surface of the water that it can scarcely be seen, and ships can pass through them only with a fresh wind.

[I.e., to castigate egregiously bad faith.]

Mr. Dodwel : see his dissertation on the periplus of Hanno [I.e., Henry Dodwell, Dissertation de Arriani Nearcho].

On Marvelous Things Heard.

Book VI.

[The river today called the Guadalquivir.]

Book III.

Mons Argentarius.

He had had some share in the direction.

It seems from Pliny that this Himilcon was sent at the same time as Hanno, and about the same time as Agathocles ; there was a Hanno and a Himilcon, both Carthaginian chiefs. Mr. Dodwell conjectures that they are the same, all the more so that the republic was then flourishing. See his dissertation on the Periplus of Hanno.]

See Festus Avienus.

Strabo, toward the end of book III.

He was rewarded for it by the Carthaginian senate.

Livy, Supplementorum Livianorum, Decade II, book VI.

[Promontorium pulchrum, a name possibly designating Mount Pellegrino, at Palermo.]

Polybius, book III.

In the part subject to the Carthaginians.

Carthaginensium quoque exercitus, cum bellum, captis piscatorum navibus, ortum esset, sæpe fuderunt, pacemque victis dederunt (Justinus, book XLIII, ch. v).

[In the 1758 edition, a chapter (Annex 16) is inserted here.]