|© 1998 Bernard SUZANNE||Last updated November 15, 1998|
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This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. By clicking on the minimap at the beginning of the entry, you can go to a full size map in which the city or location appears. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
City of northern Africa, west of Sicily.
Carthage was located on what is now the Bay of Tunis, on the shores of North Africa, and was only about 100 miles away from the western tip of Sicily. It was founded by Phoenician settlers from the city of Tyre (a city along the shores of what is now Lebanon) in the IXth or VIIIth century B. C., under the leadership of Queen Dido, the daughter of the then king of Tyre. It is because of this Phoenician origin that Carthage avoided being subjected by Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great and king of Persia toward the end of the VIth century B. C., whose fleet, mostly composed of Phoenicians from the motherland, refused to wage war against kinsmen (Herodotus, III, 17-19).
During the VIth century B. C., Carthage establishes settlements in western Sicily (Thucydides, VI, 2). After the Carthaginians were beaten by Gelon, the tyrant of Syracuse, at the battle of Himera in 480 (the same day as the battle of Salamis according to tradition, see Herodotus, VII, 166-167), they left most of Sicily. But, toward the end of the Vth century B. C., a new war broke out between Carthage and the Sicilians. The Carthaginians took several cities of Sicily, including Acragas and Gela, but were defeated by Dionysius I, the Elder when trying to take Syracuse.
Carthage had been allied to Rome since the end of the VIth century B. C., and continued to wage recurrent wars against the Greeks of Sicily until, in 264 B. C., a war broke out between Carthage and Rome when the Romans set out to invade Sicily. But this part of history is no longer related to our period of interest.