The Library of Carthage

When Rome conquered Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War, Scipio took possession of the city’s libraries and great troves of books.  He wrote back to the Roman Senate, asking what was to be done with them.  The senators regarding but a single book as being worth translating into Latin, an agricultural manual by Mago.  The rest was to be given away to Numidian princelings.  Today, even this small piece of Punic literature has been lost to us forever.


2 thoughts on “The Library of Carthage

  1. The only greater tragedy for a library that I have heard of is the burning of the library of Alexandria during the fighting between the Roman Empire and the Egyptians. It is a tragedy that the library of Carthage was given away to the Numidian princelings instead of being translated into Latin and incorporated into a senatorial library in Rome where it might have been preserved rather than lost to scholars forever. Shame on the Roman senate. In my opinion, they failed in the responsibilities to protect the assets seized during the war.

    • It’s an attitude that the Romans show often. Check out the entries regarding Scipio Africanus, or read about Coriolanus. There is just this attitude of supreme confidence, a knowledge that you are the greatest and owe nothing to anyone.

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