Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
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The Art of Asia
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Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
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Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Ancient World

ca. 2500 B.C. - 900 A.D.


The epics of Homer, the wars of Caesar, and temples and palaces characterize the image of classic antiquity and the cultures of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. They are the sources from which the Western world draws the foundations of its philosophy, literature, and, not least of all, its state organization. The Greek city-states, above all Athens, were the birthplace of democracy. The regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and great parts of Northwest Europe were forged together into the Roman Empire, which survived until the time of the Great Migration of Peoples. Mighty empires also existed beyond the ancient Mediterranean world, however, such as those of the Mauryas in India and the Han in China.


Alexander the Great



Carthage: World Power and Rival of Rome

814-44 B.C.


1 Hannibal crossing the Rhone in 21 8 B.C.

The Phoenician colony of Carthage, traditionally founded in 814 B.C., rose, through trade and shipping, to become the leading power of the Western Mediterranean. Facing conflicts with the Greek colonies on Sicily and later with Rome, Carthage also armed itself militarily. The struggle between Rome and Carthage under 1 Hannibal was a battle for survival. It culminated in the defeat and destruction of Carthage.


The Rise of Carthage to Military and Economic Power

After Carthage's ascendancy as a trading power, it also became an important military power as a result of its clashes with the West Greeks and Romans in Sicily.

Originally settled by Phoenicians from Tyre, 4 Carthage was initially very much under Phoenician cultural and religious influence.

4 Ruins of Punic Carthage

Its highest god was 3 Baal Hammon, joined in the fifth century B.C. by the goddess Tanit.

3 Statue of Baal Hammon

The cult was practiced in cave-like 6 shrines (tophets), but whether child sacrifices were made—as was reported—is disputed.

6 Shrine (tophet) of Carthage

Grotesque 2 clay masks that have been found in the area possibly belonged to à cult or the dead.

2 Pendants in the form of bearded heads,
ca. fourth/third century B.C., found in Carthage

In the sixth century B.C., the politically independent Carthage began setting up trading colonies in North Africa and on the Mediterranean coasts. Carthage became a great city with, at its zenith, 400,000-700,000 people living in buildings up to six stories tall.

The heart of the city was the double harbor (Cothon)—a circular inner 5 military harbor enclosed by an outer harbor for trading vessels—and a city wall 20 miles long was constructed.

5 Punic defensive military harbor with docks which
cannot be observed from the sea, artist's reconstruction

Carthage was ruled by elected shophets (chief magistrates)—who were both head of state and military leaders—and a senate composed of members of the nobility. The conflicts with the West Greeks, primarily with the tyrants of Syracuse, began in the fifth century B.C., over bases and trading settlements in Sicily and Sardinia. After several wars and sieges, the Halycus River was set as the boundary line in Sicily in 374 B.C. From the sixth to the third centuries, the Carthaginians maintained trade relations with the Etruscans and the Romans, to whom they were tied by alliance treaties. When the Romans took control of Messina in northeast Sicily in 264 B.C., a conflict ensued. In the First Punic War (264-241 â.ñ), the Romans drove the Carthaginians out of Sicily although a Roman landing in Africa in 256-255 was repelled. In 241, Rome destroyed the Carthaginian fleet. Forced to sue for peace, Carthage withdrew from Sicily and Sardinia in 237.




According to the myth, it was the Phoenician princess Dido who founded Carthage. The Roman poet Virgil tells of her love for the Trojan hero Aeneas. When Aeneas only stops briefly in Carthage on his way from the defeated Troy and then leaves the queen in order to fulfill his destiny and found Rome, she immolates herself on a burning pyre. The story has been a very popular subject among writers, composers, and poets since.



Hannibal and the End of Carthage

Hannibal´s route of invasion given by the Department of History, United States Military Academy.


In the Second Punic War, Hannibal was able to win several victories against Rome but was then forced onto the defensive. Carthage was totally destroyed in the Third Punic War.

In 237-236 B.C. the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca occupied the south and west of Spain as a power base against Rome. His son-in-law Hasdrubal advanced up to the middle of Spain but concluded a moratorium with Rome in 226.

With Hasdrubal's murder in 221, command fell to 9 Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar Barca, who had 12 sworn deadly enmity against Rome as a boy.

Hannibal had enormous talent for military and tactical thinking, and he immediately began with the conquest of the area north of the Ebro River in Spain, provoking the Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.). Hannibal famously crossed the Alps with his army and the legendary elephants in 218 and defeated the Romans under Publius Cornelius Scipio, later known as Scipio Africanus, on the Trebia River in 218 and again on Lake Trasimene in 217.

9 Portrait bust of Hannibal

12 Hamilcar Barka lets his nine-year-old son swear enmity to the Romans,
painting by Johann Heinrich Schonfeld, ca.1662


Hannibal crossing of the Alps

Hannibal crossing of the Alps

Hannibal crossing of the Alps

Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps J.M.W.Turner


11 Battle of Cannae, 216 B.C.

By encircling the Romans, he won a major victory at the 11 Battle of Cannae in 216.

He then tried to force the northern Italian peoples such as the Celts to join him against the Romans, but was only partially successful. However, in 215 he was able to form an alliance with Philip V of Macedonia, another enemy of Rome.

Under the Roman consul and dictator Quintus Fabius, known as "Cunctator" ("the delayer"), the Romans consistently avoided direct battle with the Carthaginians and limited themselves to guerrilla attacks. Consequcntly, Hannibal moved toward Rome in 211 B.C. but was stopped and soon forced out of most of Italy and Spain in 206. In 204, P. Cornelius Scipio landed in North Africa with his Roman legions.

Hannibal returned to defend Carthage but was defeated in battle at 13 Zama by Scipio in 202.

13 Scipio conquers Hannibal in the Battle of Zama, 202 â.ñ. painting 1521


Battle of Cannae

Battle of Cannae

Engraving of the Battle of Zama by Cornelis Cort, 1567.

Note that the elephants shown are Asian ones rather than the very small North African ones used by Carthage.


Hunted by the Romans, Hannibal fled through Syria to Bithynia. Threatened with extradition to Rome, he 8 ended his own life in 183.

Total submission to the power of Rome saved Carthage at first. But the fear of the once powerful city-state, stirred up primarily by Cato the Elder, led to the Third Punic War (149-146 B.C.).

Carthage was taken and 7 obliterated in 146 â.ñ—the ground of the city strewn with salt to render it infertile. Resettled under Julius Caesar, in 29 B.C.

Colonia Julia Carthago became the capital of the African province.

8 Hannibal's suicide in
Libyssa in Bithynia in 183 B.C.

7 Obliteration of Carthage
in 146 B.C. in the Third Punic War

10 Mosaic with scenes of country life on a
Roman estate near Carthage


Scipio Africanus

Cato's Closing Words

Cato the Elder's dosing words of every one of his speeches before the Roman Senate:

"Ceterum censeo, Carthaginem esse delendam."

("I declare that Carthage must be destroyed").


Cato the Elder



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