Friday 13 September 2013

The Second Roman War- Part 2

The death of Abd-Melqart sent ripples of shock through the whole of the army.  They would need a new leader, one who was just as charismatic and familiar to them, or this conquest simply wouldn't continue.  That man was Hasdrubaal, Abd-Melqart's old friend and ally (and as some alleged, his lover as well).  Hasdrubaal was so pleasing to Abd-Melqart that he had even arranged for him to marry his daughter, allowing him to become a part of the family of the Baraqim.  Previously, Hasdrubaal had been sent back to Phut to crush a Numidian revolt.  Now he returned to Tarshish as a new general, and Abd-Melqart's successor. 

He arrived in Gadir, at the barracks of his army's garrison, and decided to go to the native tribes and use diplomacy to ensure that he was still their leader.  The local tribes, due to respect and fear for Abd-Melqart, were submissive to Qart-Hadasht in general, but owed more respect for the Bet-Baraq than for the ruling Adirim of the city.  Hasdrubaal decided to approach an ally of Qart-Hadasht and Gadir, King Melek of Kastilo.  Melek was ruler of a native kingdom, not a Canaanite one, and his tribe name was the Oretans.  The Oretans had lived in Kastilo for hundreds of years, settling near the river. 

A bronze coin from Kastilo, home of the Oretans tribe.  One side shows a head, while the other shows a bull with a crescent above, possibly representing the moon god.
Hasdrubaal continued through the streets of Kastilo towards the great hall and home of the king.  The inside of the hall contained great columns which held up the roof, and on the walls hung the great shields of the tribe's warriors.  The walls themselves were decorated with images of winged horses, griffins, sphinxes, cherubim, stags, wolves, bears, kings, heroes, and gods.  Melek himself sat on a throne flanked by images of lions.

A citadel on a hill in an average city in Tarshish and the whole of Ishaphan
Hasdrubaal wished to form a strong alliance with the native tribes, and was aware that Melek had a daughter called Princess Milkat.  He requested that the king allow him to arrange a marriage between her and the young Hannobaal, son of Abd-Melqart.  Melek agreed, and a wedding ceremony was arranged.

King Melek in his throne room of his great hall, while Hannobaal and Milkat are married in the lower right
Braziers and fires were lit.  Incense was burned in the temples of the city.  The goddess Ashtart was invoked.  Carpets were laid out on the floor, and tables were set with food and drink ready for the wedding-feast.  The guests were present, including the whole royal family of the Oretans. 

A local barracks and farms in a city in Tarshish and Ishaphan in general

A market and some houses in a city, such as Kastilo.  The houses have tiled roofs and are very small, often one-roomed.

A dock in a small lake

A temple, with a bull statue outside.  Temples have downstairs and upstairs rooms, and are decorated with images of lions and sphinxes.
Hannobaal and Milkat swore their vows, and were married together then.  This secured an important political alliance between the Oretans and other native tribes, and the Baraqim and all of Qart-Hadasht.  Hasdrubaal was pleased.  Now, the conquest could continue, and Qart-Hadasht would own all of Ishaphan to make up for her losses of Shekelesh, Shardana, and Korsim in previous wars.

An Ishaphani warrior presents a sword before a bull statue.  A noblewoman can be seen standing behind him.  This is how Princess Milkat, who married Hannobaal, would have looked.
Gaining the support of the Ishaphani tribes was only the first thing Hasdrubaal had in mind.  Now it was time to found some colonies.  A city-state was founded in the south-east of Ishaphan, and it too was named Qart-Hadasht.  It was situated high in the hills, giving it a natural defense against the enemy.  It had two large ports as well, and was located near to a silver mine, making it incredibly rich.  The city had within it four big hills, and on each one was founded a temple.  The largest hill had a temple dedicated to Eshmun, while the other hills had temples for Kothar-wa-Khasis, Sakkun (alleged to have discovered the local silver mines and identified with a local god and the Greek Hermes), and Baal Hammon.  On top of the hill of Baal Hammon's temple, Hasdrubaal also constructed his palace from where he could overlook all of his city.  He moved his garrison to here from Gadir.  From here he could send out merchants to trade with the surrounding local tribes.

A coin minted in Hasdrubaal's Qart-Hadasht, showing the head of a man and a horse and palm tree motif
Now it was time to conquer yet again.  The military campaigning season began, and after making offerings in all the temples of his new city, Hasdrubaal led his army further north.  This was where all of the Greek colonies in Ishaphan were located.  Most of these colonies were founded long ago, during the time when the Persian Empire dominated the east.  The Greeks had left mainland Greece, fleeing the Persians, and had arrived here in the west.  Large temples stood dedicated to Asklepios and Hygieia.  Hasdrubaal besieged these cities and swiftly conquered them.  There was a problem, though.  These Greek cities were allied with the Romans, and this prompted the Romans to send out diplomats to investigate.  The Romans at last agreed to strike a compromise with Hasdrubaal, and a treaty was signed.  The terms of this treaty allowed Hasdrubaal to keep the conquered cities, but he was not to proceed any further north than the River Iberos, where yet more Greek cities remained in a largely Greek-dominated area with a heavy Hellenistic influence on the surrounding lands.  At the same time, the Romans could not proceed any further south than the River Iberos, and could not form an alliance with any city, kingdom, or tribe to the south of this river.  All of this caused some raised eyebrows back in the old city of Qart-Hadasht, in Phut, for Hasdrubaal was now concluding treaties with Rome in a foreign land without the permission of the Adirim.

Returning to his new city of Qart-Hadasht after a successful campaigning season, Hasdrubaal was satisfied.  He left his palace and wandered the streets near the market at the city's Merkaz.  And it was here that disaster struck.  A Celt, either a hired mercenary or a slave, rushed out and killed Hasdrubaal.  The assassin was caught by soldiers and executed, and word was sent through the city to name yet another new general.  Messengers arrived in the dwellings of the 26 year old Hannobaal Baraq, son of Abd-Melqart, and informed him that Hasdrubaal had been assassinated, and that the Adirim had named him the new general.  He appeared before his soldiers at the barracks, and they thought for a second after seeing the fire in his eyes that Abd-Melqart had returned to earth again.  He was a commanding figure, intelligent and charismatic.  He was no stranger to war either, having fought alongside his father and brother-in-law.  He was also educated, beginning schooling at an early age back in Qart-Hadasht.  Since he was from a warrior family and not a family of scribes, he had not been trained fully in scribal school.  He was literate though, and could read and write not only in his native Punic but in Greek as well.  He knew the history of his people, when they left Tyre long ago, and knew that his own family could trace their ancestry back to the Bet-Ethbaal of Tyre, coming from a younger sibling of Queen Elishat's.  His father Abd-Melqart had payed for the best Greek tutors to instruct him in military history, and he knew all about the conquests of King Alexander III of Macedon against the Persian Empire, as well as all of his tactics and feats.  These two Greek tutors were Sosylos, a Spartan; and Silenus, a Greek from Shekelesh.  Hannobaal also boasted something else in his private possessions which gave him a great connection with the past.  It was a small image of the great god Melqart, which was placed at the dining table by Hannobaal and given sacred meals as part of his private religious devotions.  But this small statue of the god had once belonged to Alexander himself, who called it Herakles, and carried it around on his conquests as he went through Canaan and into the east. 

Hannobaal's Melqart statue, which had once belonged to Alexander himself
Satisfied with his holdings in Ishaphan, Hannobaal and his young wife prepared to make the long journey back home to Qart-Hadasht again.  They sailed away on a ship across the Mediterranean Sea and back to Phut, where they were welcomed warmly to Qart-Hadasht. 

The colossal city walls of Qart-Hadasht
Hannobaal had not been home since that fateful night all those years ago when he had left with his father's army.  It felt good to be home, and to hear the familiar sounds of the seagulls soaring through the air along the sea-front, and the braying of donkeys carrying supplies to market, along with the shouts of merchants and buyers on the stalls.  They passed through the streets together, walking past the houses and shops of the people.  In the distance stood the great Bozrah hill, looming above the city with its impressive defensive walls and shining towers.  They passed the temples, with their wall reliefs showing angels carrying harps and winged jinn, which looked like bulls and eagles with the heads of bearded men.  Pilgrims and other worshipers gathered on festivals and holy days, wearing their bright robes and tall pointed hats, gathering in the courtyards of temples and shouting out praises to the gods; to Baal Hammon the creator, Tanit the mother goddess, the fiery Resheph, Ashtart the city's divinity, Anat the ferocious, Shamash the sun, Yarikh the moon who appeared as Hudish and Kese, Melqart and his companion Eshmun, the young god Shadrapa, Yam the sea god, Dagon the fertile earth, Baal Shamem the heaven, Sakkun the divine administrator, Kothar the intelligent, and the goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal who ruled the underworld and the dead.  There was also Baal Malage, a sea god; and Baal Zapan, the storm-god Hadad.  Pummay and Arish had their place in the god-lists of Qart-Hadasht as well, along with the Egyptian gods Osir, Aset, and Bes.  Finally there were the two Greek goddesses Demeter and her daughter Kore, who were worshiped in the city since the time of King Himilkat II.  And alongside these gods were numerous baalim: Baal Iddir, Baal Oz, Baal Marqod, and Baal Addir.  These were the gods worshiped by the Canaanites, who made up the vast majority of the city's population, but there were others as well.  The city had a small Greek quarter, and the Greeks there worshiped their own gods, but especially Demeter and Kore, who had their own temple in the city and were worshiped by the Canaanites as well.  The city also had a small Jewish quarter with its own synagogue; the Jews having been living there since the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. 

At night, Hannobaal and Milkat arrived in his house and met with the whole of his extended family who lived in the house and surrounding houses near the courtyard.  There was much discussion and much talking, and Hannobaal discussed the situation with the military and the conquests of Ishaphan and the alliance with Tarshish.  They spent some time reclining on couches and drinking wine in honor of the family and city's gods and of the ancestral shades- the Rephaim- as part of the Marzeach.  Abd-Melqart had recently gone down to the underworld among the shades of his ancestors, to the domain of the goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal.  He had been swallowed by Mot, and returned to the dust from which El had first formed him.  The whole family sat in mourning for a while in the house, and then went to their daily routines once more.  Hannobaal and Milkat spent some time in the city, living there and participating in festivals as well as exploring and drinking in the inns and taverns.  Finally though, it came to a time that Hannobaal had to say goodbye to his wife and leave by ship once more for Ishaphan.  Waving farewell, he set off for the port and climbed aboard the ship, which moved off out of the port, and rounded the corner, sailing far away into the west in the direction of the Pillars of Melqart and to new adventures.

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