In the time of Solomon, about two hundred years
after the period when
it is supposed the Phoenicians began to direct their course by the
Lesser Bear,—it was 17 1/2 degrees from the North Pole: in the time
of Ptolemy, about one hundred and fifty years after Christ, its
distance had decreased to 12 degrees.
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE PROGRESS OF DISCOVERY AND COMMERCIAL ENTERPRIZE, FROM THE AGE OF HERODOTUS TO THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT, B.C. 324.
From the scanty materials respecting the Phoenicians, with which we are supplied by ancient history, it is evident that they founded several colonies, either for the purpose of commerce, or, induced by other motives, in different parts of Africa. Of these colonies, the most celebrated was that of Carthage: a state which maintained an arduous contest with Rome, during the period when the martial ardour and enterprize of that city was most strenuously supported by the stern purity of republican virtue, which more than once drove it to the brink of ruin, and which ultimately fell, rather through the vice of its own constitution and government, and the jealousies and quarrels of its own citizens, and through the operation of extraneous circumstances, over which it could have no controul, than from the fair and unassisted power of its adversary.
The era of the foundation of Carthage is unknown. According to some writers, it was built so early as 1233 years before Christ; but the more general, as well as more probable opinion, assigns it a much later foundation—about 818 years before the Christian era. If this opinion be correct, Rome and Carthage were founded nearly about the same period. The circumstances which led to and accompanied the foundation of Carthage, though related with circumstantial fulness by the ancient poets, are by no means accurately know to authentic history.
The situation of Carthage was peculiarly favourable to commerce and maritime enterprize; in the centre of the Mediterranean; in reach of the east as well as of the west; the most fertile, and most highly cultivated and civilized part of Africa in her immediate vicinity. Carthage itself was built at the bottom of a gulph, on a peninsula, which was about forty-five miles in circumference; and its strength and security were further aided by the isthmus which connected this peninsula to the main land, as it was little more than three miles broad; by a projection of land on the west side, which was only half a stadium in breadth; and by a lake or morass which lay on the opposite side: this projection, which ran out considerably into the sea, was naturally strong by the rocks with which it was covered, and was rendered still stronger by art. In one point only had this projection been neglected; this was an angle, which from the foundation of the city had been overlooked, advancing into the sea towards