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Indeed, the soldiers remembered a great shout; Spendius, who was flying
at the head of the columns, had not heard it.

Then the corpses were placed in the arms of the Pataec gods that fringed
the temple of Khamon. They were upbraided with all the crimes of the
Mercenaries; their gluttony, their thefts, their impiety, their disdain,
and the murder of the fishes in Salammbo's garden. Their bodies were
subjected to infamous mutilations; the priests burned their hair
in order to torture their souls; they were hung up in pieces in the
meat-shops; some even buried their teeth in them, and in the evening
funeral-piles were kindled at the cross-ways to finish them.

These were the flames that had gleamed from a distance across the lake.
But some houses having taken fire, any dead or dying that remained were
speedily thrown over the walls; Zarxas had remained among the reeds on
the edge of the lake until the following day; then he had wandered about
through the country, seeking for the army by the footprints in the dust.
In the morning he hid himself in caves; in the evening he resumed his
march with his bleeding wounds, famished, sick, living on roots and
carrion; at last one day he perceived lances on the horizon, and he
had followed them, for his reason was disturbed through his terrors and
miseries.

The indignation of the soldiers, restrained so long as he was speaking,
broke forth like a tempest; they were going to massacre the guards
together with the Suffet. A few interposed, saying that they ought to
hear him and know at least whether they should be paid. Then they all
cried: "Our money!" Hanno replied that he had brought it.

They ran to the outposts, and the Suffet's baggage arrived in the midst
of the tents, pressed forward by the Barbarians. Without waiting for
the slaves, they very quickly unfastened the baskets; in them they
found hyacinth robes, sponges, scrapers, brushes, perfumes, and antimony
pencils for painting the eyes - all belonging to the guards, who were
rich men and accustomed to such refinements. Next they uncovered a large
bronze tub on a camel: it belonged to the Suffet who had it for bathing
in during his journey; for he had taken all manner of precautions, even
going so far as to bring caged weasels from Hecatompylos, which were
burnt alive to make his ptisan. But, as his malady gave him a great
appetite, there were also many comestibles and many wines, pickle, meats
and fishes preserved in honey, with little pots of Commagene, or melted
goose-fat covered with snow and chopped straw. There was a considerable
supply of it; the more they opened the baskets the more they found, and
laughter arose like conflicting waves.

As to the pay of the Mercenaries it nearly filled two esparto-grass
baskets; there were even visible in one of them some of the leathern
discs which the Republic used to economise its specie; and as the
Barbarians appeared greatly surprised, Hanno told them that, their
accounts being very difficult, the Ancients had not had leisure to
examine them. Meanwhile they had sent them this.

Then everything was in disorder and confusion: mules, serving men,
litter, provisions, and baggage. The soldiers took the coin in the bags
to stone Hanno. With great difficulty he was able to mount an ass; and
he fled, clinging to its hair, howling, weeping, shaken, bruised, and
calling down the curse of all the gods upon the army. His broad necklace
of precious stones rebounded up to his ears. His cloak which was too
long, and which trailed behind him, he kept on with his teeth, and from
afar the Barbarians shouted at him, "Begone coward! pig! sink of Moloch!
sweat your gold and your plague! quicker! quicker!" The routed escort
galloped beside him.

But the fury of the Barbarians did not abate. They remembered that
several of them who had set out for Carthage had not returned; no doubt
they had been killed. So much injustice exasperated them, and they began
to pull up the stakes of their tents, to roll up their cloaks, and to
bridle their horses; every one took his helmet and sword, and instantly
all was ready. Those who had no arms rushed into the woods to cut
staves.

Day dawned; the people of Sicca were roused, and stirring in the
streets. "They are going to Carthage," said they, and the rumour of this
soon spread through the country.

From every path and every ravine men arose. Shepherds were seen running
down from the mountains.

Then, when the Barbarians had set out, Spendius circled the plain,
riding on a Punic stallion, and attended by his slave, who led a third
horse.

A single tent remained. Spendius entered it.

"Up, master! rise! we are departing!"

"And where are you going?" asked Matho.

"To Carthage!" cried Spendius.

Matho bounded upon the horse which the slave held at the door.



CHAPTER III

SALAMMBO

The moon was rising just above the waves, and on the town which
was still wrapped in darkness there glittered white and luminous
specks: - the pole of a chariot, a dangling rag of linen, the corner of a
wall, or a golden necklace on the bosom of a god. The glass balls on
the roofs of the temples beamed like great diamonds here and there.
But ill-defined ruins, piles of black earth, and gardens formed deeper
masses in the gloom, and below Malqua fishermen's nets stretched from
one house to another like gigantic bats spreading their wings. The
grinding of the hydraulic wheels which conveyed water to the highest
storys of the palaces, was no longer heard; and the camels, lying
ostrich fashion on their stomachs, rested peacefully in the middle of
the terraces. The porters were asleep in the streets on the thresholds
of the houses; the shadows of the colossuses stretched across the
deserted squares; occasionally in the distance the smoke of a still
burning sacrifice would escape through the bronze tiling, and the heavy
breeze would waft the odours of aromatics blended with the scent of the
sea and the exhalation from the sun-heated walls. The motionless waves
shone around Carthage, for the moon was spreading her light at once upon
the mountain-circled gulf and upon the lake of Tunis, where flamingoes
formed long rose-coloured lines amid the banks of sand, while further
on beneath the catacombs the great salt lagoon shimmered like a piece
of silver. The blue vault of heaven sank on the horizon in one direction
into the dustiness of the plains, and in the other into the mists of the
sea, and on the summit of the Acropolis, the pyramidal cypress trees,
fringing the temple of Eschmoun, swayed murmuring like the regular waves
that beat slowly along the mole beneath the ramparts.

Salammbo ascended to the terrace of her palace, supported by a female
slave who carried an iron dish filled with live coals.

In the middle of the terrace there was a small ivory bed covered
with lynx skins, and cushions made with the feathers of the parrot, a
fatidical animal consecrated to the gods; and at the four corners rose
four long perfuming-pans filled with nard, incense, cinnamomum, and
myrrh. The slave lit the perfumes. Salammbo looked at the polar star;
she slowly saluted the four points of heaven, and knelt down on the
ground in the azure dust which was strewn with golden stars in imitation
of the firmament. Then with both elbows against her sides, her fore-arms
straight and her hands open, she threw back her head beneath the rays of
the moon, and said:

"O Rabetna! - Baalet! - Tanith!" and her voice was lengthened in a
plaintive fashion as if calling to some one. "Anaitis! Astarte! Derceto!
Astoreth! Mylitta! Athara! Elissa! Tiratha! - By the hidden symbols, by
the resounding sistra, - by the furrows of the earth, - by the eternal
silence and by the eternal fruitfulness, - mistress of the gloomy sea and
of the azure shores, O Queen of the watery world, all hail!"

She swayed her whole body twice or thrice, and then cast herself face
downwards in the dust with both arms outstretched.

But the slave nimbly raised her, for according to the rites someone must
catch the suppliant at the moment of his prostration; this told him that
the gods accepted him, and Salammbo's nurse never failed in this pious
duty.

Some merchants from Darytian Gaetulia had brought her to Carthage when
quite young, and after her enfranchisement she would not forsake her old
masters, as was shown by her right ear, which was pierced with a large
hole. A petticoat of many-coloured stripes fitted closely on her hips,
and fell to her ankles, where two tin rings clashed together. Her
somewhat flat face was yellow like her tunic. Silver bodkins of great
length formed a sun behind her head. She wore a coral button on the
nostril, and she stood beside the bed more erect than a Hermes, and with
her eyelids cast down.

Salammbo walked to the edge of the terrace; her eyes swept the horizon
for an instant, and then were lowered upon the sleeping town, while the
sigh that she heaved swelled her bosom, and gave an undulating movement
to the whole length of the long white simar which hung without clasp or
girdle about her. Her curved and painted sandals were hidden beneath
a heap of emeralds, and a net of purple thread was filled with her
disordered hair.

But she raised her head to gaze upon the moon, and murmured, mingling
her speech with fragments of hymns:

"How lightly turnest thou, supported by the impalpable ether! It
brightens about thee, and 'tis the stir of thine agitation that
distributes the winds and fruitful dews. According as thou dost wax
and wane the eyes of cats and spots of panthers lengthen or grow short.
Wives shriek thy name in the pangs of childbirth! Thou makest the shells
to swell, the wine to bubble, and the corpse to putrefy! Thou formest
the pearls at the bottom of the sea!

"And every germ, O goddess! ferments in the dark depths of thy moisture.

"When thou appearest, quietness is spread abroad upon the earth; the
flowers close, the waves are soothed, wearied man stretches his breast
toward thee, and the world with its oceans and mountains looks at
itself in thy face as in a mirror. Thou art white, gentle, luminous,
immaculate, helping, purifying, serene!"

The crescent of the moon was then over the mountain of the Hot Springs,
in the hollow formed by its two summits, on the other side of the gulf.
Below it there was a little star, and all around it a pale circle.
Salammbo went on:

"But thou art a terrible mistress! - Monsters, terrifying phantoms, and
lying dreams come from thee; thine eyes devour the stones of buildings,
and the apes are ever ill each time thou growest young again.

"Whither goest thou? Why dost thou change thy forms continually? Now,
slender and curved thou glidest through space like a mastless galley;
and then, amid the stars, thou art like a shepherd keeping his flock.
Shining and round, thou dost graze the mountain-tops like the wheel of a
chariot.

"O Tanith! thou dost love me? I have looked so much on thee! But no!
thou sailest through thine azure, and I - I remain on the motionless
earth.

"Taanach, take your nebal and play softly on the silver string, for my
heart is sad!"

The slave lifted a sort of harp of ebony wood, taller than herself,
and triangular in shape like a delta; she fixed the point in a crystal
globe, and with both hands began to play.

The sounds followed one another hurried and deep, like the buzzing of
bees, and with increasing sonorousness floated away into the night with
the complaining of the waves, and the rustling of the great trees on the
summit of the Acropolis.

"Hush!" cried Salammbo.

"What ails you, mistress? The blowing of the breeze, the passing of a
cloud, everything disquiets you just now!"

"I do not know," she said.

"You are wearied with too long prayers!"

"Oh! Tanaach, I would fain be dissolved in them like a flower in wine!"

"Perhaps it is the smoke of your perfumes?"

"No!" said Salammbo; "the spirit of the gods dwells in fragrant odours."

Then the slave spoke to her of her father. It was thought that he had
gone towards the amber country, behind the pillars of Melkarth. "But if
he does not return," she said, "you must nevertheless, since it was his
will, choose a husband among the sons of the Ancients, and then your
grief will pass away in a man's arms."

"Why?" asked the young girl. All those that she had seen had horrified
her with their fallow-deer laughter and their coarse limbs.

"Sometimes, Tanaach, from the depths of my being there exhale as it were
hot fumes heavier than the vapours from a volcano. Voices call me, a
globe of fire rolls and mounts within my bosom, it stifles me, I am at
the point of death; and then, something sweet, flowing from my brow to
my feet, passes through my flesh - it is a caress enfolding me, and I
feel myself crushed as if some god were stretched upon me. Oh! would
that I could lose myself in the mists of the night, the waters of the
fountains, the sap of the trees, that I could issue from my body, and be
but a breath, or a ray, and glide, mount up to thee, O Mother!"

She raised her arms to their full length, arching her form, which in
its long garment was as pale and light as the moon. Then she fell back,
panting, on the ivory couch; but Taanach passed an amber necklace with
dolphin's teeth about her neck to banish terrors, and Salammbo said in
an almost stifled voice: "Go and bring me Schahabarim."

Her father had not wished her to enter the college of priestesses,
nor even to be made at all acquainted with the popular Tanith. He was
reserving her for some alliance that might serve his political ends;
so that Salammbo lived alone in the midst of the palace. Her mother was
long since dead.

She had grown up with abstinences, fastings and purifications, always
surrounded by grave and exquisite things, her body saturated with
perfumes, and her soul filled with prayers. She had never tasted wine,
nor eaten meat, nor touched an unclean animal, nor set her heels in the
house of death.

She knew nothing of obscene images, for as each god was manifested
in different forms, the same principle often received the witness of
contradictory cults, and Salammbo worshipped the goddess in her sidereal
presentation. An influence had descended upon the maiden from the
moon; when the planet passed diminishing away, Salammbo grew weak. She
languished the whole day long, and revived at evening. During an eclipse
she nearly died.

But Rabetna, in jealousy, revenged herself for the virginity withdrawn
from her sacrifices, and she tormented Salammbo with possessions, all
the stronger for being vague, which were spread through this belief and
excited by it.

Unceasingly was Hamilcar's daughter disquieted about Tanith. She had
learned her adventures, her travels, and all her names, which she would
repeat without their having any distinct signification for her. In
order to penetrate into the depths of her dogma, she wished to become
acquainted, in the most secret part of the temple, with the old idol in
the magnificent mantle, whereon depended the destinies of Carthage, for
the idea of a god did not stand out clearly from his representation,
and to hold, or even see the image of one, was to take away part of his
virtue, and in a measure to rule him.

But Salammbo turned around. She had recognised the sound of the golden
bells which Schahabarim wore at the hem of his garment.

He ascended the staircases; then at the threshold of the terrace he
stopped and folded his arms.

His sunken eyes shone like the lamps of a sepulchre; his long thin body
floated in its linen robe which was weighted by the bells, the latter
alternating with balls of emeralds at his heels. He had feeble limbs, an
oblique skull and a pointed chin; his skin seemed cold to the touch, and
his yellow face, which was deeply furrowed with wrinkles, was as if it
contracted in a longing, in an everlasting grief.

He was the high priest of Tanith, and it was he who had educated
Salammbo.

"Speak!" he said. "What will you?"

"I hoped - you had almost promised me - " She stammered and was confused;
then suddenly: "Why do you despise me? what have I forgotten in
the rites? You are my master, and you told me that no one was so
accomplished in the things pertaining to the goddess as I; but there are
some of which you will not speak. Is it so, O father?"

Schahabarim remembered Hamilcar's orders, and replied:

"No, I have nothing more to teach you!"

"A genius," she resumed, "impels me to this love. I have climbed the
steps of Eschmoun, god of the planets and intelligences; I have slept
beneath the golden olive of Melkarth, patron of the Tyrian colonies;
I have pushed open the doors of Baal-Khamon, the enlightener and
fertiliser; I have sacrificed to the subterranean Kabiri, to the gods
of woods, winds, rivers and mountains; but, can you understand? they
are all too far away, too high, too insensible, while she - I feel
her mingled in my life; she fills my soul, and I quiver with inward
startings, as though she were leaping in order to escape. Methinks I am
about to hear her voice, and see her face, lightnings dazzle me and then
I sink back again into the darkness."

Schahabarim was silent. She entreated him with suppliant looks. At
last he made a sign for the dismissal of the slave, who was not of
Chanaanitish race. Taanach disappeared, and Schahabarim, raising one arm
in the air, began:

"Before the gods darkness alone was, and a breathing stirred dull
and indistinct as the conscience of a man in a dream. It contracted,
creating Desire and Cloud, and from Desire and Cloud there issued
primitive Matter. This was a water, muddy, black, icy and deep. It
contained senseless monsters, incoherent portions of the forms to be
born, which are painted on the walls of the sanctuaries.

"Then Matter condensed. It became an egg. It burst. One half formed the
earth and the other the firmament. Sun, moon, winds and clouds appeared,
and at the crash of the thunder intelligent creatures awoke. Then
Eschmoun spread himself in the starry sphere; Khamon beamed in the sun;
Melkarth thrust him with his arms behind Gades; the Kabiri descended
beneath the volcanoes, and Rabetna like a nurse bent over the world
pouring out her light like milk, and her night like a mantle."

"And then?" she said.

He had related the secret of the origins to her, to divert her from
sublimer prospects; but the maiden's desire kindled again at his last
words, and Schahabarim, half yielding resumed:

"She inspires and governs the loves of men."

"The loves of men!" repeated Salammbo dreamily.

"She is the soul of Carthage," continued the priest; "and although she
is everywhere diffused, it is here that she dwells, beneath the sacred
veil."

"O father!" cried Salammbo, "I shall see her, shall I not? you will
bring me to her! I had long been hesitating; I am devoured with
curiosity to see her form. Pity! help me! let us go?"

He repulsed her with a vehement gesture that was full of pride.

"Never! Do you not know that it means death? The hermaphrodite Baals are
unveiled to us alone who are men in understanding and women in weakness.
Your desire is sacrilege; be satisfied with the knowledge that you
possess!"

She fell upon her knees placing two fingers against her ears in token of
repentance; and crushed by the priest's words, and filled at once with
anger against him, with terror and humiliation, she burst into sobs.
Schahabarim remained erect, and more insensible than the stones of the
terrace. He looked down upon her quivering at his feet, and felt a kind
of joy on seeing her suffer for his divinity whom he himself could not
wholly embrace. The birds were already singing, a cold wind was blowing,
and little clouds were drifting in the paling sky.

Suddenly he perceived on the horizon, behind Tunis, what looked like
slight mists trailing along the ground; then these became a great
curtain of dust extending perpendicularly, and, amid the whirlwinds of
the thronging mass, dromedaries' heads, lances and shields appeared. It
was the army of the Barbarians advancing upon Carthage.



CHAPTER IV

BENEATH THE WALLS OF CARTHAGE

Some country people, riding on asses or running on foot, arrived in the
town, pale, breathless, and mad with fear. They were flying before the
army. It had accomplished the journey from Sicca in three days, in order
to reach Carthage and wholly exterminate it.

The gates were shut. The Barbarians appeared almost immediately; but
they stopped in the middle of the isthmus, on the edge of the lake.

At first they made no hostile announcement. Several approached with palm
branches in their hands. They were driven back with arrows, so great was
the terror.

In the morning and at nightfall prowlers would sometimes wander along
the walls. A little man carefully wrapped in a cloak, and with his face
concealed beneath a very low visor, was especially noticed. He would
remain whole hours gazing at the aqueduct, and so persistently that he
doubtless wished to mislead the Carthaginians as to his real designs.
Another man, a sort of giant who walked bareheaded, used to accompany
him.

But Carthage was defended throughout the whole breadth of the isthmus:
first by a trench, then by a grassy rampart, and lastly by a wall thirty
cubits high, built of freestone, and in two storys. It contained stables
for three hundred elephants with stores for their caparisons, shackles,
and food; other stables again for four thousand horses with supplies
of barley and harness, and barracks for twenty thousand soldiers with
armour and all materials of war. Towers rose from the second story, all
provided with battlements, and having bronze bucklers hung on cramps on
the outside.

This first line of wall gave immediate shelter to Malqua, the sailors'
and dyers' quarter. Masts might be seen whereon purple sails were
drying, and on the highest terraces clay furnaces for heating the pickle
were visible.

Behind, the lofty houses of the city rose in an ampitheatre of cubical
form. They were built of stone, planks, shingle, reeds, shells, and
beaten earth. The woods belonging to the temples were like lakes of
verdure in this mountain of diversely-coloured blocks. It was levelled
at unequal distances by the public squares, and was cut from top to
bottom by countless intersecting lanes. The enclosures of the three old
quarters which are now lost might be distinguished; they rose here
and there like great reefs, or extended in enormous fronts, blackened,
half-covered with flowers, and broadly striped by the casting of filth,
while streets passed through their yawning apertures like rivers beneath
bridges.

The hill of the Acropolis, in the centre of Byrsa, was hidden beneath a
disordered array of monuments. There were temples with wreathed columns
bearing bronze capitals and metal chains, cones of dry stones with bands
of azure, copper cupolas, marble architraves, Babylonian buttresses,
obelisks poised on their points like inverted torches. Peristyles
reached to pediments; volutes were displayed through colonnades; granite
walls supported tile partitions; the whole mounting, half-hidden, the
one above the other in a marvellous and incomprehensible fashion. In it
might be felt the succession of the ages, and, as it were, the memorials
of forgotten fatherlands.

Behind the Acropolis the Mappalian road, which was lined with tombs,
extended through red lands in a straight line from the shore to the
catacombs; then spacious dwellings occurred at intervals in the gardens,
and this third quarter, Megara, which was the new town, reached as far
as the edge of the cliff, where rose a giant pharos that blazed forth
every night.

In this fashion was Carthage displayed before the soldiers quartered in
the plain.

They could recognise the markets and crossways in the distance, and
disputed with one another as to the sites of the temples. Khamon's,
fronting the Syssitia, had golden tiles; Melkarth, to the left of
Eschmoun, had branches of coral on its roofing; beyond, Tanith's copper
cupola swelled among the palm trees; the dark Moloch was below
the cisterns, in the direction of the pharos. At the angles of the
pediments, on the tops of the walls, at the corners of the squares,
everywhere, divinities with hideous heads might be seen, colossal or
squat, with enormous bellies, or immoderately flattened, opening their
jaws, extending their arms, and holding forks, chains or javelins in
their hands; while the blue of the sea stretched away behind the streets
which were rendered still steeper by the perspective.



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