Ancient history

The Ultimatum

Censorinus' orders are brief and fall like a cleaver:"Leave the city of Carthage, transfer your dwellings to any place you wish in your territory, provided it is 80 stadia (14 km) from the sea. For we are determined to destroy it. The reaction of the Carthaginians is spectacular. With a single cry, they break through the barriers and spread around the platform, tearing their clothes, reviling the Romans. In the midst of groans and sobs, they call and take their wives, their children, their parents to witness, while the name of Carthage keeps coming back. Appian, who recounts the sine, adds that it produced a very painful impression on the Romans, saddening the consuls themselves. Hanno, speaking on behalf of the Carthaginians, then tries to make the Romans listen to reason, but in vain. In response, Censorinus harangues these unfortunates in a long speech which seems to express some of the deep reasons of Rome:“There is no need to repeat to you again the orders of the Senate. He ordered it. It has to be done; you are not even allowed to postpone its execution... As often as the sight of the sea reminds you of your former domination, of your past greatness, it provokes you to uprising, causes you a thousand calamities. .. The life of the fields has more stability, the work of agriculture being more assured... And to tell you my feeling, I hold that a maritime city is rather a ship than a firm ground, so much is agitated with various affairs, subject to an infinity of revolutions, whereas the countryside yields fruits which can be gathered without danger. »

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