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Thread: Punic Military Ranks

  1. #1

    Default Punic Military Ranks

    I understand that "Rb Mhnt" means general of the army, but I can't find any
    reference to the "Mepaqed". Is it a Semitic term or a native Libyan title?

    Also, is there any indication what names Phoenicians or Carthaginians used for middle-ranking
    officers?

  2. #2
    EB:NOM Triumvir Member gamegeek2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    IIRC it's a Hebrew word used as a substitute. That's my guess, since IIRC Mepaked means "General" in Hebrew. But the two are quite closely related, to be fair.
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  3. #3
    EB Online Founder Senior Member vartan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    Sounds like high time to go back to the Punic dictionary, hmm?
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    Quote Originally Posted by gamegeek2 View Post
    IIRC it's a Hebrew word used as a substitute. That's my guess, since IIRC Mepaked means "General" in Hebrew. But the two are quite closely related, to be fair.
    I thought "Aluf" was Hebrew for general, or is that a modern Hebrew word?

  5. #5
    EB Online Founder Senior Member vartan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    I cannot find Mepaqed in the Punic. Perhaps it is of foreign origin. But that would be odd, if it indeed was used by the Carthaginians to mean general. Then, if it was indeed used by them, it would show up in the Punic. I'm interested to know why the EB team chose to go with Mepaqed for general (otherwise all of the Punic names in EB check out as far as I've checked). The Punic for general is RB. I'll go over a few of these terms now.

    rb general (also can be short for rb mḥnt; also governor)
    rb 'rṣ regional governor
    rb mḥnt head of the army
    rb tt rb mnt head (of the army) acting for the head of the army (basically, proconsul)
    rb šny (or rb sn') adjutant general (literally, second general)
    rb šlšy (or rb sls') co-adjutant general (literally, third general)
    rb m't military title designating the head of one hundred man unit (of course m't meaning one hundred, m'tm two hundred, and so on)

    tm' military commander
    tm' drkm infantry commander
    tm' mḥnt commander of the army
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    Quote Originally Posted by vartan View Post
    I cannot find Mepaqed in the Punic. Perhaps it is of foreign origin. But that would be odd, if it indeed was used by the Carthaginians to mean general. Then, if it was indeed used by them, it would show up in the Punic. I'm interested to know why the EB team chose to go with Mepaqed for general (otherwise all of the Punic names in EB check out as far as I've checked). The Punic for general is RB. I'll go over a few of these terms now.

    rb general (also can be short for rb mḥnt; also governor)
    rb 'rṣ regional governor
    rb mḥnt head of the army
    rb tt rb mnt head (of the army) acting for the head of the army (basically, proconsul)
    rb šny (or rb sn') adjutant general (literally, second general)
    rb šlšy (or rb sls') co-adjutant general (literally, third general)
    rb m't military title designating the head of one hundred man unit (of course m't meaning one hundred, m'tm two hundred, and so on)

    tm' military commander
    tm' drkm infantry commander
    tm' mḥnt commander of the army

    Interesting list. How are most of these pronounced, though. I know Rab-Mahant, Rab-Miat, and I presume drkm is dorkim (darak is also translated in the Phoenician dictionary as infantry). How does the rest of it go?

  7. #7
    EB Online Founder Senior Member vartan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Titus Pullo View Post
    Interesting list. How are most of these pronounced, though. I know Rab-Mahant, Rab-Miat, and I presume drkm is dorkim (darak is also translated in the Phoenician dictionary as infantry). How does the rest of it go?
    Drkm is dorkim, infantry, yes. Drk (Hebrew: derek) surely means road, and could mean journey, voyage. Its second meaning is problematic, as indicated by Krahmalkov, and he indicates that drk (Hebrew dōrek) can mean foot soldier, infantryman.

    The reason we have these different meanings sometimes is because these words are best interpreted in context. These words are also written in Standard Phoenician "conservative (historical), consonantal orthography". Since I have not studied Phoenician, I cannot tell you which vowels you need for the various cases in the grammar (I'm not looking at the grammar today).
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    Quote Originally Posted by vartan View Post
    I cannot find Mepaqed in the Punic. Perhaps it is of foreign origin. But that would be odd, if it indeed was used by the Carthaginians to mean general. Then, if it was indeed used by them, it would show up in the Punic. I'm interested to know why the EB team chose to go with Mepaqed for general (otherwise all of the Punic names in EB check out as far as I've checked).
    Try googling it without vowels, it turns up a few times, it may be that a mistake was made with the name though, so you will have to wait and see if Tanit can comment on this.


  9. #9
    EB Online Founder Senior Member vartan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    Quote Originally Posted by bobbin View Post
    Try googling it without vowels, it turns up a few times, it may be that a mistake was made with the name though, so you will have to wait and see if Tanit can comment on this.
    Yes, I hope Tanit can comment sometime on this. In the contexts it seems rb would mean governor/general and tm' would refer to military commanders specifically (though not entailing a "general" specifically, unlike rb). I don't know. Where is you Tanit? We need you!
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  10. #10
    Controversial Modder Member Zarax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    We don't have a clear structure, however Vartan's reconstruction is quite good.

    rb mḥnt is indeed head of the army, however a regional governor was referred as shophet.
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  11. #11
    EB Online Founder Senior Member vartan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    Quote Originally Posted by Zarax View Post
    rb mḥnt is indeed head of the army, however a regional governor was referred as shophet.
    It was my understanding that the špṭ (šōpeṭ in Hebrew, identical to your reference) was a judge (British English: magistrate?) in Carthage. Were these magistrates given gubernatorial positions? Or am I thinking of another word?

    EDIT: Sure šōpeṭ is judge in the Hebrew but that's not the only reason why I mention this. Krahmalkov himself looks in context to see the use of špṭ and identifies it as judge (or "adjudge"). For example, if we look at it as a verb in the Punic [Hebrew: š-p-ṭ]:
    wkl 'š lsr t-'bn z by py 'nk wby py 'dm bšmy wšp tnt pnb'l brḥ 'dm h'
    "As for anyone who shall remove this stele without my permission or without the permission of someone authorized by me, Tinit-Phanebal shall adjudge the intent of that person."
    [Tinit? Like Tanit? ]
    Last edited by vartan; 08-14-2011 at 01:38.
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  12. #12
    Controversial Modder Member Zarax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    My source:

    CHIEF MAGISTRATES: THE SUFETES
    The chief offi cials of the republic were an annually elected pair of
    ‘sufetes’, a title which Punic inscriptions and some Latin writers
    attest, although Greeks – and even Carthaginians writing in Greek,
    as we shall see – invariably use the term ‘king’ or ‘kings’ (basileus,
    basileis). Aristotle stresses that wealth and birth were both needed in
    seeking high offi ce, plainly implying that both were legally required.
    On the other hand he mentions no details about a minimum requisite
    level of wealth, for instance, or how distinction of birth was
    defi ned. We can infer that Carthaginian ancestry on both parents’
    sides was not essential, for Hamilcar the ‘king’ in 480 had a Greek
    mother; but notable ancestors on at least one side must have been.
    26
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    Cicero’s contemporary Cornelius Nepos mentions that there were
    two sufetes – he too writes ‘kings’ – elected each year, and several
    Carthaginian inscriptions date a year by a pair of sufetes’ names.
    Two yearly sufetes are also recorded, most of them in Roman times,
    at Libyan and Sardinian cities that retained Carthaginian cultural
    usages. A passing comment by Plato the philosopher shows him,
    too, taking for granted that Carthaginian magistrates served
    annually. A pair a year can thus be accepted as Carthage’s historical
    norm. Evidence for more than two is fragile – for instance Cato the
    Censor, in the 2nd Century, seeming to write of four sufetes collaborating
    in some action like levying or paying troops. Unfortunately
    we have only a very scrappily preserved sentence with no context;
    Cato may perhaps have been reporting an action taken over two
    successive years. If more than two a year ever were elected, most
    likely this happened seldom.14
    Sufetes as supreme magistrates were a development of the 6th
    Century or, possibly, the late 7th. A damaged Punic votive stele of
    around 500–450 seems to be dated – though the reading is debated
    – to ‘the twentieth year of the rule of the sufetes in Carthage’. There
    is no independent evidence to confi rm this information, and another
    reading of the stele gives ‘in the one hundred and twentieth year’
    while a third interpretation sees no dating in it at all. If either of the
    numerals is correct, it implies that the monarchy had lasted at least
    two or maybe even three hundred years, until 620 or later. If not, the
    best we can infer is that by the later 4th Century, Aristotle’s time, the
    sufeteship was certainly the supreme offi ce.15
    In an earlier period of Carthage’s history, it is just possible that
    only one sufete existed: for instance, perhaps ‘Malchus’ in the 6th
    Century (if he existed) and perhaps the ‘basileus’ Hamilcar who
    fought the Sicilian Greeks in 480 were sole sufetes as well as generals.
    One person holding more than one offi ce at a time was common
    enough at Carthage when Aristotle wrote, and more than likely was
    a long-established usage. It is just as conceivable, though, that in the
    fi rst centuries of the republic there were already two sufetes: one
    could take the fi eld as military commander when necessary, while
    the other remained at home in charge of civil affairs. Limiting their
    functions to civil and home affairs would then have occurred later.
    When they do appear in Greek and Roman accounts, they are
    running the affairs of the republic in consultation with the senate,
    and – in later times at least – judging civil lawsuits.
    Sufetes is Livy’s Latin version of Punic šp��m (shophetim, shuphetim
    or softim), a title often mentioned in inscriptions at Carthage and
    27
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    other Phoenician colonies which had the same offi ce. It is equivalent
    to the biblical shophetim, conventionally translated ‘judges’. The
    diffi culty with tracing developments is Greek writers mentioning a
    Carthaginian ‘king’ or ‘kings’ but never a ‘sufete’. Herodotus
    describes Hamilcar, the general who fought the Sicilian Greeks in
    480, as ‘king of the Carthaginians’ – ‘because of his valour’, he
    explains – while Diodorus reports how in 410 the city chose its
    leading man Hannibal, who was ‘at that time king by law’, as general
    for another Sicilian offensive. For another Sicilian war in 396 they
    ‘appointed Himilco king by law’; and did so again with Mago in
    383, except that this time Diodorus leaves out the term ‘by law’.
    Himilco was already in Sicily as general, so Diodorus’ report of his
    appointment as ‘king by law’ is best explained as Himilco’s being
    elected sufete for the new year while continuing in the Sicilian
    command. The other men too, with the possible exception of
    Hamilcar, can hardly be anything but sufetes: how a sufete could
    also be a general will be explored later.16
    Obvious family pride appears in inscriptions that list a dedicator’s
    ancestors going back three or more generations. One document
    naming the two sufetes together with two generals in an unknown
    year includes six generations of the forefathers of one general,
    Abdmilqart, and three for the other, Abd’rš (Abdarish). On another,
    a man named Baalay lists fi ve generations, of whom the earliest had
    been a sufete and his son perhaps a rab (another offi ce, soon to be
    looked at). Women also commemorated their forebears, as does
    Arishat daughter of Bodmilqart son of Hannibaal on a votive stele.
    Rather overdoing it, in turn, was one Pn ‘of the nation of Carthage’,
    dedicator of a stele at Olbia in Sardinia, who lists no fewer than
    sixteen forefathers – a family record going back a good four hundred
    years. None of these, nor Pn himself, held an offi ce, but this vividly
    illuminates the ancestral claims that ambitious men might parade in
    their political careers. A candidate who could point to sufetes or at
    least ‘great ones’ (senators) among his forebears surely found it an
    advantage.
    When Aristotle describes the ‘kings’ (basileis) as the city’s chief
    magistrates, who act in consultation with the Carthaginian senate,
    he plainly means elected offi ce-holders. Nor does he suggest
    anywhere that a titular king still existed too, even though he
    discusses other offi cial bodies like the senate and the ‘pentarchies’.
    In a famous confrontation with Roman envoys in 218, the Carthaginian
    spokesman in the senate is termed the basileus by Polybius:
    this must mean a sufete. An inscription in Greek, set up by a
    28
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    Carthaginian named Himilco (‘Iomilkos’ in the text) on the Aegean
    island of Delos in 279, terms him a basileus too, so the term was
    not simply a literary usage. Again, it should mean that Himilco
    was or had been a sufete.17
    The sufete is sometimes called a ‘praetor’ by Latin writers
    (including Livy once), borrowing the title of Roman magistrates
    with judicial authority, and once or twice a ‘king’ as in Greek writers
    – or even a ‘consul’, the name of the highest offi ce at Rome. It may
    be that the sufete or sufetes began under the kings as judicial offi cers,
    hence their title; then acquired greater authority over time, until the
    king was sidelined and eventually not replaced (though some scholars
    think that the offi ce survived at least in name). His replacement by
    elected sufetes may well have come about from pressure, if nothing
    worse, by Carthage’s council of elders or senate, whose predecessors
    at Phoenician cities had always been a powerful makeweight to the
    monarchs.
    ADIRIM: THE SENATE OF CARTHAGE
    Phoenician kings always had to collaborate with their city’s leading
    men, who from early times formed a recognised council of advisors
    as the ‘mighty ones’ or ‘great ones’ (’drm, approximately pronounced
    adirim). At Carthage this became the senate, as the Romans called it;
    in Greek terminology the gerousia. As just noted, the ‘great ones’
    quite possibly were responsible for the effective end of the monarchy,
    with the sufeteship as a limited substitute for it – like the consulship
    at Rome – which at least some leading men could look forward to
    holding turn by turn. Whether they were always elected by the whole
    citizen body, or at fi rst by the ’drm with popular election developing
    later, is not known. Nor how senators themselves were recruited, or
    even how many there were at any time, although two or even three
    hundred is likely as we shall see. The building where they usually
    met seems to have been close to the great market square (agora to
    Greeks) which was the hub of business and administration, but we
    do read of two meetings held in the temple of ‘Aesculapius’, in other
    words of Eshmun on Byrsa hill.
    The senate had varied and broad authority, to judge from our
    sources. As usual the glimpses are given by writers from Herodotus
    in the 5th Century to much later ones like Appian and Justin, so
    that generalisations have to be fairly careful. Again Aristotle gives
    the fullest sketch. The ‘kings’ convened and consulted the body on
    29
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    affairs of state; if they unanimously agreed on what action to take,
    this could be taken without any need to put the issue before the
    assembled citizens. On the other hand, some decisions taken by
    sufetes and senate in agreement could still be put before the
    assembly, which had the power to reject them. Again, if both
    sufetes – or by implication even one – disagreed with the senate on
    a matter, the question would go to the assembly. How often this
    happened, and what questions might be put to the people, the
    philosopher avoids stating.
    What procedures and protocols governed the senate’s debates is
    not known, nor is it clear whether changes in its protocol and range
    of functions took place over the centuries. Polybius does claim that
    by the time of the Second Punic War the republic had become ‘more
    democratic’ – something he is not enthusiastic about, even hinting
    that it cost Carthage the war – which would suggest that in earlier
    ages senate and sufetes had seldom needed to involve the assembly in
    decision-making. His claim, however, seems overdone. During and
    after the war the senate can be found directing diplomatic, fi nancial
    and even military measures, just it had done for centuries. And on
    the other hand, Aristotle sees fi t to describe the Carthage of his own
    time, a century before Polybius, fi rst as a blend of monarchy, aristocracy
    and democracy (with aristocracy dominant), and later as
    ‘democratically ruled’: perhaps a clumsy generalisation, but a
    noteworthy one.
    The range of functions of the adirim was at least as broad as the
    Roman senate’s. They decided on war and peace, though the decision
    probably needed ratifi cation by the assembly of citizens, as Diodorus
    mentions happening in 397. They handled foreign relations to the
    point of deciding on war and peace: for example rejecting the victorious
    invader Regulus’ harsh peace terms in 256, receiving Roman
    envoys in 218 and accepting their declaration of a Second Punic
    War, and conversely in 149 themselves declaring war in defi ance of
    the Roman forces surrounding the city. In military affairs, we fi nd
    the senate in 310 reprimanding (and putting in fear of their lives) the
    generals who had failed to prevent Agathocles’ Syracusan expedition
    from landing. After Hannibal’s victory at Cannae in 216, it
    authorised fresh forces to go to Sardinia and Spain, and reinforcements
    with sizeable funds for Hannibal. In 147 it issued (fruitless)
    criticisms of the savage treatment of Roman prisoners by Hasdrubal,
    the commanding general in the besieged city.
    Some domestic decisions are recorded too. In the mid-4th Century,
    in a fi t of anti-Greek feeling, the adirim issued a decree (ultimately
    30
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    repealed) forbidding the study of that language. In 195 after Hannibal
    left Carthage to avoid victimisation, they were forced to promise to
    take whatever steps against him might be demanded by envoys just
    arrived from Rome. No doubt it was a senate decree (even if ratifi ed
    by the assembly) that proceeded to confi scate his property, raze his
    house, and formally banish him.18
    Measures like these would be decreed on the sufetes’ proposal, as
    Aristotle indicates. There must have been sharp debates at times: for
    example, leading up to the decision in 256 to fi ght on – for the Carthaginians
    themselves had earlier asked for terms. Certainly there was
    some opposition to peace in 202, even after Hannibal lost the battle of
    Zama, forcing Hannibal himself to exert pressure on his fellow
    senators and on the citizen assembly too to accept Scipio’s terms.
    Nonetheless, when a powerful faction dominated the state, the sufetes’
    proposals and the senate’s decisions naturally obeyed factional wishes,
    whatever arguments opponents might put. Livy’s and Appian’s
    pictures of the senate’s small anti-Barcid group speaking against the
    Barcids’ policies to no avail may be imaginative in detail, but illustrate
    fairly well what the situation must have been like.
    Livy once mentions a smaller senatorial body too. The peace
    embassy sent to Scipio Africanus in 203 consisted, he says, of thirty
    senators called ‘the more sacred council’, termed the dominant
    element in the senate. No such body appears under this name
    elsewhere, but now and again other delegations of thirty leading
    senators do: conceivably this ‘more sacred council’ again. One
    delegation persuaded the feuding generals Hamilcar and Hanno to
    cooperate against the Libyan rebels in 238; one in 202 – surely the
    same body as the year before, though Livy does not comment – was
    sent out to ask peace from Scipio after his victory over Hannibal; a
    third, according to Diodorus, was delegated to learn the invading
    Romans’ demands in 149. All the same, these seem rather demeaning,
    even if necessary, missions for the supposedly most powerful body in
    the republic’s most powerful institution. Greek writers, including
    Polybius and Diodorus, do not help clarity by mentioning at various
    times a Carthaginian gerousia (‘body of elders’), synkletos
    (‘summoned body’) and synedrion (‘sitting body’), without
    explaining the distinctions. All three terms are applied by Greeks to
    the Roman senate, which had no inner council. Efforts to treat
    synkletos or else gerousia in Carthaginian contexts as indicating the
    ‘more sacred council’, and the other two terms as referring to the
    adirim, have no fi rm evidence to rest on. No Punic inscription
    describes anyone as member of such an inner body, either.
    31
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    If the ‘more sacred council’ did exist, at least in the 3rd and 2nd
    Centuries, we could see it (given the absence of any specifi c details)
    as a largely honorifi c body of eminent senators – probably ex-sufetes
    – whose experience and high repute could be called on in diffi cult
    situations. They could also have exerted real though unoffi cial infl uence
    in normal affairs. If Livy’s term ‘more sacred’ has any specifi c
    validity, it may be that the members also held high-ranking priesthoods,
    conferring added solemnity on the council.
    THE MYSTERIOUS ‘PENTARCHIES’
    Another arm of government is mentioned, all too succinctly again,
    by Aristotle and no one else: the ‘pentarchies’ or fi ve-man commissions.
    New members were co-opted by existing ones, members
    served without pay, and the commissions controlled ‘many important
    matters’, including judging cases at law. None of these features
    is described in any fuller detail. Nor is the philosopher very clear in
    explaining how (or why) commissioners had lengthier tenures of
    position than other offi cials: ‘they are in power after they have gone
    out of offi ce and before they have actually entered upon it’. As it
    stands, this seems to make it pointless for them to have a stated term
    of offi ce at all, and to imply that there might often be more than fi ve
    members of a commission in practice.
    Carthaginian inscriptions make no mention of anyone belonging to
    a fi ve-man commission, but do attest a board or commission of ten for
    sacred places and one of thirty supervising taxes. Were the pentarchies,
    or some of them, subdivisions of these? Also attested are offi cials
    called ‘treasurers’ or ‘accountants’ (m��šbm sounded as mehashbim),
    whose powers included penalising persons who failed to pay customs
    dues. If Aristotle is correct that the pentarchies handled many important
    matters and could try cases, either their tasks clashed with the
    work of these offi cials or – much likelier – the m��šbm formed one or
    more of the pentarchies. Carthage’s institutions are so opaquely
    known that these interpretations are a reasonable possibility. Standard
    public tasks like taxes, sacred places and judicial affairs perhaps
    seemed to call for lengthier terms of administrative offi ce (three to fi ve
    years?) for greater continuity. Even so, Aristotle’s dictum about
    pentarchy members holding their positions both before and after they
    were pentarchy members remains a puzzle.19
    One offi cial at Carthage is known almost entirely from Punic
    inscriptions: the rb or rab, meaning ‘chief’ or ‘head’. A hundred or
    32
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    so men are termed rab in the documents without accompanying
    description, implying an offi ce different from the rb khnm (rab
    kohanim, chief of priests) and rb m��nt (rab mahanet, ‘head of the
    army’ or general). This rab seems to have been in charge of state
    fi nances, equivalent then to a treasurer. If so, this was the offi cial
    whom Livy terms ‘quaestor’, using a Roman title again, who in
    196 defi ed the newly-elected reforming sufete Hannibal until taught
    a sharp lesson. (At Gades in 206 we read of a quaestor, too, presumably
    that city’s rab.) He presumably had the m��šbm as his subordinates,
    although the inscriptions mentioning these do not refer to
    him. An inscription mentioning one person, it seems, as rab ‘for the
    third time’ (rb šlš, approximately rab shelosi) suggests – along with
    the large number of rabim known – that it was a position with a
    time-limit. So does Livy’s report that the ‘quaestor’ defi ed Hannibal
    because he knew that, after holding offi ce, he would automatically
    join the powerful and virtually impregnable ‘order of judges’ (on
    which more below). The offi ce was probably annual, like a
    sufete’s.
    It must have given plenty of opportunities for holders to enrich
    themselves. Both Aristotle and Polybius tell us that Carthaginians in
    their day viewed giving bribes as normal in public life, including
    bribes for election votes. The philosopher comments, in a different
    context, that it was perfectly normal for Carthaginian offi cials to
    practise money-making activities (adding tartly ‘and no revolution
    has yet occurred’). Profi ting from public revenues, which he also
    notices, was a natural extension (rather optimistically, he thinks that
    wealthy men like Carthaginian offi cials would be less tempted). In
    one known period at least, it had become so severe that it was
    affecting the republic’s ability to pay its way: Hannibal was elected
    sufete partly to deal with it – and his fi rst confrontation was with the
    chief of fi nances.
    One more feature noted by Aristotle, disapprovingly, is that the
    same man could hold more than one offi ce at the same time. A
    votive stele interestingly commemorates one Hanno, sufete and
    chief of priests (rb khnm, or rab kohanim), son of Abdmilqart
    (Hamilcar) who again had been sufete and chief of priests. Of
    course the sufeteship was a one-year offi ce, while the priesthood
    was permanent. Aristotle no doubt was thinking more of
    non-religious combinations, like being sufete and rab together, or
    even sufete and general. Though no clear evidence for sufete-rab
    combinations exists, it is possible that occasionally a sufete might
    indeed become a general too.20
    33
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    THE GENERALS
    At some moment in the city’s history a further position was created,
    that of general (rb m��nt, approximately pronounced rab mahanet;
    in Greek, strategos). Offi cially this innovation separated military
    duties from civil, a contrast with Rome where the consuls regularly
    and praetors sometimes had to carry out both. The Carthaginians
    perhaps initiated their generalship in the middle or later 6th Century,
    when they began sending military forces over to Sicily and Sardinia.
    Even if they did, it looks as though the offi ce down to the early 4th
    Century could still, as suggested above, be taken on by a sufete
    should the situation demand it. That would explain examples
    mentioned earlier, such as Hamilcar in 480, Himilco in 396, and
    Mago as late as 383 – ‘kings’ appointed to commands in Sicily. As
    mentioned above too, Isocrates in an effusive paean to authoritarian
    rule matches Carthage and Sparta as two states ‘ruled oligarchically
    at home and monarchically at war’. This is not a sign that Carthage
    still had real kings active in affairs, for he also praises his contemporary
    the ruthless tyrant (in modern terms, dictator) of Syracuse,
    Dionysius I. But it may be a sign that her ‘kings’ – that is, sufetes –
    still led armies at least on important campaigns in his time.
    All the same, over these centuries there were probably plenty of
    military tasks not important or enticing enough for a sufete. These
    could be handled by men who held the generalship alone, whether or
    not they had been sufetes or later became sufetes. By Aristotle’s day
    (it is clear) a general was not normally a sufete at the same time. But
    generals too were elected, and the offi ce was enough of a political
    prize for men to pay perfectly good bribes to obtain it. A century
    later, effective control of affairs rested with the elected generals of
    the Barcid family (Hannibal’s father and brother-in-law, and
    Hannibal himself), none of whom is recorded as being sufete along
    with being general. Instead they were able, it seems, to get kinsmen
    and supporters elected to sufeteships year after year, not to mention
    to other generalships as needed.
    A general did not serve for a fi xed term, for obvious reasons.
    The appointment seems to have been for the length of a war, or at
    any rate until another general was chosen to take over command.
    Then again, more than one rab mahanet could be chosen for
    military operations: most obviously if land operations (in Sicily
    for instance) needed one commander and naval operations
    another, or for commitments in different regions. In North Africa
    itself, during the great revolt by Carthage’s mercenary troops and
    34
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    Libyan subjects from 241 to 237, two generals – Hamilcar Barca
    and his one-time friend, then rival, Hanno ‘the Great’ – held
    equal-ranking generalships, which caused friction. In an effort to
    improve collaboration, Hanno was replaced for a time by a more
    cooperative commander who, in practice if not in law, acted as
    Hamilcar’s subordinate.
    This is not the only evidence that, at times, one general might be
    appointed as deputy to another. Two Punic inscriptions have the
    term rb šny (vocalised approximately rab sheni), or an abbreviated
    hšn’, each of which seems to mean ‘second general’. They imply
    subordinate commanders and, although details are entirely lacking
    (save that the hšn’ was a Hasdrubal), such an arrangement is often
    reported in narratives of Carthage’s later wars. Thus in 397 Himilco,
    the general in Sicily, had an ‘admiral’ (nauarchos in Diodorus)
    named Mago leading his fl eet, while a century and a half later, in
    250, Adherbal in command there had a naval deputy, one Hannibal,
    whom Polybius terms a ‘trierarch’. Hamilcar Barca later appointed
    his son-in-law Hasdrubal ‘trierarch’ when operating in Spain in the
    230s, even though Hasdrubal’s naval tasks were minor by all
    accounts: the equivalent term in Punic had perhaps become the
    normal one for a general’s immediate deputy, whatever his duties.21
    Certainly the practice of a supreme general with subordinates
    became the norm over the nearly four decades of Barcid dominance
    after 237. Polybius emphasises Hannibal’s direction of all military
    affairs during the Second Punic War, which at its height involved
    up to seven generals in different theatres. Hannibal commanded in
    Italy with another offi cer acting semi-independently under him;
    three generals – two of them his brothers Hasdrubal and Mago –
    operated in Spain against the invading Romans; a sixth commanded
    an expeditionary army in Sicily; and a seventh (apparently another
    Barcid kinsman, Bomilcar) led out the navy on several rather fruitless
    sorties. After peace with Rome in 201, with all warfare now
    effectively banned, what was done with the generals is unknown.
    Either they became civil (or ornamental) offi cials, or they lapsed
    altogether until the Carthaginians unwisely decided to fi ght
    Numidia half a century later. In their fi nal war with Rome, they
    seem to have had two separate and equal generals again: one
    operating in the countryside, the other defending the besieged city
    (Chapter XII).
    35
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    NEMESIS OF GENERALS: THE COURT OF
    ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR
    The state was notoriously draconian in dealing with its defeated
    generals. In later times at least, the penalty for failure was crucifi
    xion, as happened for instance to Hanno, the admiral beaten by
    the Romans in 241. We are told that fear of punishment was
    always in the mind of Carthaginian commanders, and we read of
    one or two who killed themselves to avoid it (the corpse of one
    such, Mago in 344 or 343, was itself crucifi ed instead). The process
    of judging unsatisfactory military performance must originally
    have been carried out by the senate and sufetes (or possibly one of
    the pentarchies, but a fi ve-man court for such serious indictments
    seems unlikely). A change, though, came in the 5th Century or
    early in the 4th, when a special tribunal was created for the purpose
    (Chapter VIII).
    This was the body which Aristotle calls the One Hundred and
    Four. He also calls it ‘the greatest authority’ at Carthage, with
    members chosen solely on merit: but does not say what it actually
    did apart from likening it to the fi ve ephors at Sparta. The comparison
    looks excessive, for Sparta’s ephors not only supervised (and
    could prosecute) the Spartan kings but dealt, too, with large areas
    of administration both civil and military – areas which at Carthage
    were handled by the pentarchies, on Aristotle’s own evidence, or
    offi cials like the rab and the generals (on evidence from other
    sources, inscriptions included). But Justin reports a hundred-strong
    senatorial court being set up during Magonid times to scrutinise
    generals’ actions. This must be the same body. Thus the court of
    One Hundred and Four was the authority that convicted and
    executed delinquent generals. After a time its supervision may have
    widened to generals’ subordinates too. An offi cer was crucifi ed in
    264 for giving up the occupied city of Messana in Sicily without a
    fi ght, the same punishment that the court infl icted on unsatisfactory
    generals, and so perhaps a case of its now judging other
    military miscreants. What body had previously dealt with such
    offi cers we do not know – maybe one of the pentarchies. Aristotle’s
    comparison with the ephors would certainly be more understandable
    if, even in his day, the One Hundred and Four was beginning
    to encroach on other bodies’ functions.
    Why there were one hundred and four judges is not known; the
    fi gure has been doubted because Aristotle also writes simply of one
    hundred, as does Justin. One suggestion, if one hundred and four is
    36
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    correct (and ‘one hundred’ just a rounding-down), is that the two
    sufetes and two other offi cials (the rab and the rab kohanim?) could
    have been members ex offi cio. The ordinary judges were senators
    selected by the pentarchies, on unknown criteria save for the merit
    stated by Aristotle, and they served on the court for life.22
    Supposedly then it was the One Hundred and Four who kept the
    republic’s generals on the straight and narrow in wars, and for the
    same reason caused them too often to be over-cautious. Yet how
    impartial its judgements were may be wondered, especially when
    feelings ran high after a defeat or – worse – a lost war. Generals, and
    often if not always their lieutenants, were senators themselves: this
    meant having friends and enemies among the adirim and participating
    in Carthage’s vigorous, at times embittered, politics. Such
    connections could be pivotal to the outcome of a prosecution
    whatever the merits of the case itself. Punishments or threats of
    punishment are rarely recorded. Crucifi xion did await Hanno, the
    admiral whose defeat at the Aegates Islands in 241 forced Carthage
    to sue for peace, yet twenty years earlier a defeated general, another
    Hanno, not only survived (though heavily fi ned) but fi ve years later
    was commanding a section of the navy. Hamilcar Barca, who had to
    negotiate the invidious peace terms with Rome in 241, was threatened
    with trial when he returned home, but nothing came of it. Nor
    was Hannibal prosecuted after the disaster of Zama.
    THE ASSEMBLY OF CITIZENS
    The citizen assembly was called simply ‘m (ham), ‘the people’. It
    most probably met in the city’s great marketplace, called the agora
    by Greeks. In later centuries this lay south-east of Byrsa and near the
    sea; earlier, before the city expanded in that direction, the original
    agora may have been on the low ground between Byrsa and the
    shore to its east.
    The earliest possible mention of the ‘m as a political body is in
    Justin’s story of ‘Malchus’, thus after 550. Returning from abroad
    with his army to punish his ungrateful enemies, that general
    summoned ‘the people’ to explain his grievances, complain that his
    fellow-citizens had tolerated his enemies’ behaviour, but then grant
    them – the citizens – his magnanimous forgiveness. He then ‘restored
    the city to its laws’, meaning lawful government. If correct, this is a
    picture of a citizenry which at least was treated with a degree of
    respect. Whether restoring lawful government implied, among other
    37
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    things, restoring political functions to the ‘m is only a guess, but at
    some date the assembly gained the power to elect magistrates and –
    probably as a later development – to vote on policy decisions.
    Its normal share in affairs by Aristotle’s time involved voting on
    decisions passed by the senate, resolving a deadlock between the
    senate and one or both sufetes, and electing sufetes, generals, and
    other offi cials like the rab. As already noted, Aristotle shows that
    even some decisions agreed on by senate and sufetes were still put to
    the assembly. On such occasions the sufetes ‘do not merely let the
    people sit and listen to the decisions that have been taken by their
    rulers’ but allow free discussion (a concession unique to Carthage,
    he notes), and even then ‘the people have the sovereign decision’.
    This must mean that the assembly could reject the proposals, just as
    it decided the issue when there was a deadlock. Later on the philosopher
    remarks that Carthage was a ‘democratically ruled’ state; rather
    an exaggeration, but a passing acknowledgement that the assembly’s
    role was both important and, at times, decisive.
    These functions seem reasonably robust for a citizen assembly in
    the ancient world. It is therefore puzzling to read Polybius’ disapproving
    claim that in Hannibal’s day ‘the people’ (meaning the
    citizen body) had the greatest say. After all we still fi nd the adirim
    making the major decisions then – even in his own account of events,
    such as going to war with Rome in 218 and discussing peace in 203.
    No doubt these would in turn be put before the ham for ratifi cation,
    but that was not new. The best surmise must be that by 218 every
    decision of sufetes and senate, not just some as previously, was
    formally presented to the assembly, even if merely to be ratifi ed. The
    dominance of the Barcid generals down to 201, based as much on
    popular support as on alliance with other leading men, probably
    gave greater visibility to the assembly, without thereby adding to its
    real power. This would hardly be a huge democratic advance, but
    Polybius is really seeking to stress how superior Rome’s ‘aristocratic’
    political system was in those days, and he may well be pushing an
    over-artifi cial contrast.
    No defi nite information exists about how the assembly functioned.
    One hypothesis comes from a Latin inscription of ad 48 commemorating
    a local magnate at the Libyan country town of Thugga, who
    received an honorary sufeteship from the town’s senate and people
    ‘by the votes [or the assent] of all the gates (portae)’. These ‘gates’ at
    Thugga must have been a voting arrangement, perhaps denoting
    local clans or the residents of different sectors of the town. That the
    citizens at Carthage likewise voted in separate groups, each called a
    38
    STATE AND GOVERNMENT
    ‘gate’ (š‘r), is speculation all the same. Gates of the usual kind are
    mentioned on stelae or other documents – the New Gate inscription,
    for example – but never in connection with political or social life.23
    The citizen assembly perhaps gained its greater prominence under
    the trauma of the great revolt of 241–237 in Africa. Citizens had to
    enlist and fi ght in battle for Carthage’s survival, and they settled on
    Hamilcar Barca as their military and political leader during the
    revolt and after it. He was followed as general – in effect chief
    general, whether or not so titled – by his son-in-law Hasdrubal and
    then his eldest son Hannibal, each elected in turn by the citizen
    body. The Barcid faction’s dominance of affairs clearly included the
    adirim, the magistrates and even the One Hundred and Four, but it
    always faced some opposition, and the support of the assembly may
    well have been the Barcids’ ultimate strength.
    After the peace of 201, the Barcids lost their control and the
    republic came under the effective (though not offi cial) sway of the
    court of One Hundred and Four. Their corrupt rule, as we shall see,
    then brought Hannibal back as sufete a few years later to end the
    scandals and help set the state back on its feet. For the remaining
    decades of Carthage’s life, politics and government were more
    vigorous than they had been in a century or more: a vitality which by
    a tragic irony contributed to the ultimately lethal hostility of her old
    enemy in Italy.
    Last edited by Zarax; 08-14-2011 at 12:32.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    Did the Carthaginians have a separate chain of command for their navy, or did they not bother with distinctions between land and naval personnel?

  14. #14
    Controversial Modder Member Zarax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punic Military Ranks

    IIRC there were admirals but not much detail is known.

    If you want to have a comprehensive view of Carthaginian society I suggest you try "The Carthaginians" by Dexter Hoyos, perhaps the best compendium out there and quite easy to read.
    The best is yet to come.
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