Weekend Reading: Polybius on the First Two Treaties Between Rome and Carthage

The Phoenicians 1500 300 B C Essay Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Polybius: Histories: "The first treaty between Rome and Carthage was made... twenty-eight years before the invasion of Greece by Xerxes [509 BC].... The ancient language differs so much from that at present in use, that the best scholars among the Romans themselves have great difficulty in interpreting some points in it.... The treaty is as follows...

...There shall be friendship between the Romans and their allies, and the Carthaginians and their allies, on these conditions:

Neither the Romans nor their allies are to sail beyond the Fair Promontory, unless driven by stress of weather or the fear of enemies. If any one of them be driven ashore he shall not buy or take aught for himself save what is needful for the repair of his ship and the service of the gods, and he shall depart within five days.

Men landing for traffic shall strike no bargain save in the presence of a herald or town-clerk. Whatever is sold in the presence of these, let the price be secured to the seller on the credit of the state—that is to say, if such sale be in Libya or Sardinia.

If any Roman comes to the Carthaginian province in Sicily he shall enjoy all rights enjoyed by others. The Carthaginians shall do no injury to the people of Ardea, Antium, Laurentium, Circeii, Tarracina, nor any other people of the Latins that are subject to Rome.

From those townships even which are not subject to Rome they shall hold their hands; and if they take one shall deliver it unharmed to the Romans. They shall build no fort in Latium; and if they enter the district in arms, they shall not stay a night therein....

After this treaty there was a second [348 BC].... The treaty is as follows:

There shall be friendship between the Romans and their allies, and the Carthaginians, Tyrians, and township of Utica, on these terms: The Romans shall not maraud, nor traffic, nor found a city east of the Fair Promontory, Mastia, Tarseium. If the Carthaginians take any city in Latium which is not subject to Rome, they may keep the prisoners and the goods, but shall deliver up the town. If the Carthaginians take any folk, between whom and Rome a peace has been made in writing, though they be not subject to them, they shall not bring them into any harbours of the Romans; if such an one be so brought ashore, and any Roman lay claim to him, he shall be released. In like manner shall the Romans be bound towards the Carthaginians.

If a Roman take water or provisions from any district within the jurisdiction of Carthage, he shall not injure, while so doing, any between whom and Carthage there is peace and friendship. Neither shall a Carthaginian in like case. If any one shall do so, he shall not be punished by private vengeance, but such action shall be a public misdemeanour.

In Sardinia and Libya no Roman shall traffic nor found a city; he shall do no more than take in provisions and refit his ship. If a storm drive him upon-those coasts, he shall depart within five days.

In the Carthaginian province of Sicily and in Carthage he may transact business and sell whatsoever it is lawful for a citizen to do. In like manner also may a Carthaginian at Rome.

Once more in this treaty we may notice that the Carthaginians emphasise the fact of their entire possession of Libya and Sardinia, and prohibit any attempt of the Romans to land in them at all; and on the other hand, in the case of Sicily, they clearly distinguish their own province in it. So, too, the Romans, in regard to Latium, stipulate that the Carthaginians shall do no wrong to Ardea, Antium, Circeii, Tarracina, all of which are on the seaboard of Latium, to which alone the treaty refers...