Princess Tanit And Carthage Has Been Destroyed:

Gaius Antonius gave the order to retreat toward the Balearic Islands. There was no shame in it when they were so outnumbered. But considering the speed of the pursuing ships, he had better high tail it out of here quickly and in effect do the equivalent of a vanishing act. He caught the glare of Tanit and cursed her. He would not stop until she was dead. He had promised Cato.

He sailed back the way he had come with what looked like a whole navy coming after him. He sailed into a hidden cove on one of the more obscure Balearic Islands. His ship and the other one that had come with him were totally hidden by rocks. He sent a lookout up the cliff to conceal himself behind a tree and watch what the other navy did. He reported back not long after that they had sailed past the island all together.

Gaius Antonius had escaped to the Balearic Islands. A couple days later he sailed back into the port at Carthage. He told Scipio what had happened and how Tanit had almost led him into a trap. He swore he would capture her and make her pay or his name was not Cato.

As Scipio’s siege engines grew higher and higher until they were almost the height of the walls of Carthage itself, he saw Tanit appear on the walls again and again. Soldiers would appear and throw missiles down on the Romans to distract them when they were working on the siege engines, and the Princess Tanit would appear with them. She would raise above her head the souvenir she obviously took when she appeared in Rome at Cato’s latifundia. She must have been there in the room when his father was murdered. She was holding Cato’s other pen besides the one that had been clutched in his hand. It was an open insult.

At long last the siege engines were finished, and the city of Carthage was about ready to starve. Just as Scipio was giving the order to his legionaries to attack, an olive branch was seen on the walls. The ordinary folk of Carthage were surrendering. Scipio accepted their surrender, and the gates of the city opened wide as fifty thousand citizens marched out to surrender to the Roman legions and be made into slaves. Gaius knew that Tanit would not be among those numbers. She would never surrender.

When the final push came he entered the city behind his soldiers directing their activities as they pushed through the streets of Carthage taking building after building. They slaughtered the residents who had not surrendered floor by floor and then razed the buildings themselves as they progressed down the street. What was left in the rubble was burned after it had been thoroughly pillaged and sacked for valuables.

Gaius looked around and watched out of the corner of his eye to see if he could detect where Princess Tanit was hiding. They were approaching the royal palace. He gave the order to his soldiers to sack that structure next, which they were eager to do because of all the booty.
First they broke down the double doors. They ran against them repeatedly with a ram. When they finally gave way there stood a lone figure staring daggers at Gaius from the top of the gilded stairway. It was Princess Tanit! Gaius barked the orders to his soldiers to sack the first floor and pull off the gold ornaments and valuables from the walls and doors and furniture before they ascended to the next floor and the next and finally prepared to demolish the building. Then he raced up the stairs after Tanit himself.

She was as swift as a lynx running from room to room, but finally he pulled a rug out from under her feet and toppled her to the ground. He leaped on top of her and struggled from side to side while he tried to pry that pen from her right hand. He forced open her fingers and finally took back Cato’s second pen that he always used to write speeches before delivering them in the Senate House. Gaius could only imagine how many times this pen had written the words: Carthage must be destroyed.

Tanit took advantage of the opportunity to leap up while he was taking back the pen. She fled out onto the balcony attached to the upper level room of the Carthaginian royal palace.
Gaius followed her only to suddenly come upon the wife of the lead general of the Carthaginians, Hasdrubal, pontificating and prancing frantically back and forth on the balcony crying down to the Romans below. She decried her cowardly husband who had just surrendered to the Romans and could be seen kneeling at the feet of Scipio Aemilianus right this minute. She lifted up one of her children after the other and threw them into the burning city below. Then she climbed up onto the balcony and threw herself into the flames with a giant scream.

Princess Tanit backed up away from Gaius Antonius. She shook her head and cried out, “You shall never put your dirty hands on me again, Roman. You act like a colony of red ants crawling all over our city and pulling it down to the ground. But still I will not be your slave or your prisoner. Nor will I ever again have to look at or meet or be the prisoner of that madman, your father, who inspired all this destruction. At least I killed him, and I am glad I lived long enough to do so. It was no soldier who did it for me. It was this hand that wielded the bow and arrow that killed him.” She shouted out her final defiant brag to Gaius.

With that Tanit leaped up onto the balcony wall. She glared at Gaius for one second longer. Then she, too, leaped into the flames.

Gaius Antonius looked out over the burning city of Carthage. Flames leaped high. He saw the visage of his father rising like the sun over all. He spoke to him. “Father, just as you said, Carthage must be destroyed. Well, I am finally and at last reporting to you, Carthage has been destroyed.”

Leave a reply

Tanit Sails Away In The Middle Of The Night:

Gaius was so indignant about Tanit murdering his father in cold blood — the very man who had once paid host to her when she was visiting Rome and his latifundia — that he immediately scribbled a note and sent for Scipio Aemilianus though it was the middle of the night.

About an hour later Scipio arrived fully dressed in his military outfit. Gaius filled him in on what had just happened and how Tanit had outwitted them in the end and was now sailing away scott free at night.

“I think we should start sending the Roman navy to Carthage tomorrow,” Gaius insisted. “We cannot let her get away with murdering my father and not paying for the crime.”

Scipio nodded. “We will send the patrol boats to give them a scare. Of course the rest of the Roman army will be sailing within the week. We should all make it by Wednesday next.”

Gaius did not go back to bed that night. He worked straight way through packing his essentials for the campaign against Carthage. He wanted to leave with the advance boat to see if he could somehow catch Tanit before she arrived back in Carthage. He confided in Scipio that he wanted to go and why. And of course Scipio, the commander, honored his wish.

But as it turned out Gaius ended up sailing across the entire Mediterranean without once catching sight of the bitch of his creating. He had once flirted with her and encouraged her, making an absolute fool of himself. Fortunately nobody knew about it but himself and even that was too many people.

Days later they sailed into the port of Carthage, built as an amazing great circle in front of the city walls. It was now almost all emptied out. As they sailed up the last ships were disappearing out to sea. It would not do them much good. Soon they would not be able to bring in provisions no matter what.

Gaius gazed out to sea. He hoped one of those boats was not Tanit. He did not want her to escape.
Scipio was an experienced expert at siege warfare. They at once began constructing great siege engines. It was a slow way to get vengeance but a more certain one that trying to make attacks and enter the city prematurely. But still he worried about Tanit.

“Scipio, I would like to take a ship or two and follow that last Carthaginian ship out of the harbor,” Gaius explained. “I think it may be the princess of Carthage who stayed at Cato’s house as a hostage and a guest and then turned on him and murdered him in cold blood.”
 Of course Scipio gave his permission as the leading general. Gaius set sail in the direction the ship had escaped.

But the ship proved very elusive and hard to follow just like Tanit. It would appear on the horizon far ahead of them only from time to time and then mysteriously disappear again. It only appeared often enough so that they could still follow it. And it was progressing quite a distance, too. It was obviously not headed for a neighboring port such as the Samnites.

He headed out onto the open sea wondering if Tanit would lead him to a secret stash of weapons or soldiers that he should know about. It took a couple days where he would catch sight of the ship and once again it would elude him. And another restless night would pass.

All too soon he found himself back in Spanish waters approaching the port of New Carthage. But low and behold, no sooner did the port come in view than he saw a Phoenician navy massed there to greet him. All the ships looked like the one he had drawn for Cato not that long ago. He had brought only two Roman ships with him. He had followed Tanit into a trap. Worse, he could catch sight of the Princess herself on the upper deck next to the captain. Her hand was clapped over her mouth. She was laughing at him. Her eyes were full of evil mirth — and fire.

Leave a reply

Cato Wants To Adopt Gaius Antonius As His Son And Heir:

After the Senate declared war on Carthage, Cato summoned Gaius Antonius back to his house on Palatine Hill. As his niece and social hostess, Lavinia met Gaius at the door and threw her arms around him in welcome. She hugged him to her and kissed both his cheeks. She whispered into his ear, “We are to be married very soon.”

Is that what Cato was going to tell him? Gaius was very surprised. But he would reserve his judgement to see what the elder senator brought up. He proceeded directly through the atrium into the garden where Cato was awaiting him at a table set up with refreshments. He could see Lavinia still behind him hanging around a Doric pillar watching everything he did with intense interest.

“I suspect we must choose a general and be off,” Cato waved his arms about. “But before you set off as all the young men must do all with new military ranks, I want to adopt you, Gaius Antonius, as my son and heir.”

Gaius Antonius’s mouth fell open in surprise. He had certainly not expected anything like this to happen! To be adopted by the leading man of his time, the most famous of all living Romans, the author of the first prose work in Latin to boot! It was a Roman custom and was not all that rare to adopt as a son and heir a young man who had just grown up and was the right age even when his own father was still living. But Gaius had certainly never thought it would be happening to him of all people.

Cato held up his hand. “We can deal with all the surprise reactions later, but for me this is serious. I am now old enough to be practically the only man serving in the Senate who actually fought in the Second Punic War. I am no general and I am too old to fight again. After all, I am now in my late seventies and almost eighty! I have no wife and no son of my own, and considering the part I have played in the early stages of this war already . . . “

Gaius Antonius broke out in exclamation, “Of course you have practically guided and directed it more than even a general could. If it had not been for you, the Carthaginians would be building ships behind our noses and who knows what would happen!” he said. “By the time anybody else besides you detected what the problem was it might be too late. The Carthaginians might be at Ostia with their fleet. They might find another Hannibal to bring more elephants across the Alps Mountains into Italy and start attacking all our allies and all our fellow city states. And this time we might actually get defeated because of our own stupidity.”

Cato again held up his hand. “Many besides me have whispered to themselves about this festering problem with the Carthaginians. But only I have had the oratorical skills and the position in the state to bring about where we are now.”

“That is what I have said, no more no less!” Gaius broke out.

“I think it is fitting you go into battle representing me because of the way you have assisted me so far in preparing for this war and because of the way you just risked your life going to New Carthage and rescuing that map that you drew yourself,” Cato spoke. “So you can represent not only your own real father but me as well. That is why I want to adopt you.”

Lavinia sneaked into the room uninvited and waited only a few steps away for Gaius Antonius’s response. She had her hands tightly clutched together in suspense.
Cato and Lavinia traded looks. After all, Lavinia was his niece.

Gaius became aware that they were both waiting for his response. “Of course I accept!” he managed to stammer out. “I would be crazy to refuse such an offer.” He knew that his own real father who was only a minor senator would be very pleased if Gaius took on Cato’s name.

Cato nodded as if he had expected as much. “Of course we will have to hold the ceremony amidst all the bustle of war preparation.” He looked towards his niece. “And I think we will hold a wedding as well.”

Lavinia flew at Gaius Antonius and threw herself into his arms as he stood up to embrace her.

“We will invite all the senators and their relatives and use the banquet as another means of war preparation,” Gaius could see the great man’s brain turning and making plans with every happening and every turn of fate.

Gaius went home that evening and announced the amazing piece of good luck to his real mother and father. They were so overjoyed to hear that Cato wanted to adopt their son that they could hardly contain themselves. Now his father would be recognized as one of Cato’s chief friends and allies and would take precedence at all banquets and be seated next to the great man. Best of all, he could move his seat in the Senate House next to Cato’s. Everyone would envy his piece of good luck to have bred and raised a son like Gaius Antonius to make the Antonii clan famous. It would now be mentioned prominently in all the historical records of Rome and by historians long after his time.

Gaius took Lavinia with him for the first time to meet her new in laws. They were wowed by her education and graces and hosted her as a guest overnight, the woman who was soon to become their daughter-in-law.

That night as Gaius retired to be he thought of his habit of sketching everything and drawing and what had come of it. He thought of the map he had made of Carthage and of the Carthaginian ship. It was obviously the most important thing he had ever done in his life. And if he had two lifetimes, it was the most important thing in both. He would have to think of what to do next to honor his new name, Cato.

Leave a reply

Gaius Antonius Goes To Palma, Mallorca:

A couple of days later Gaius Antonius’s ship landed in the harbor of Palma, Mallorca in the Baleric Islands halfway across the Mediterranean Sea on the way back to Ostia and Rome. Gaius Antonius came ashore to find a messenger for his news. He did not want to have to wait until arriving back in Italy to inform his mentor about the big find —- the map itself.

Gaius did not care about the clear, blue water or the rocky cove in Mallorca. He did not pay much attention to the magnificent stone arch half covered with seaweed emerging from the salty brine near the coast of Mallorca either. Nor did he get bewitched by the surf that crashed against the sandy beach.

He got off the boat for the night and searched for a fisherman for hire. He spotted one. Then he waited for that fisherman to unload his catch of the day from his nets and to meet his eye.
Finally he gave Gaius the eye just as he expected. He must be used to ships putting ashore and having wealthy passengers who wanted chores done for them big and small. Gaius would wager, though, that none so far had a task to assign that was so ambitious and so important.

Gaius motioned to the man while he held out a hand full of coins. He provided many an aureus. The man looked at the money and counted it several times over. His eyes glistened. He obviously was satisfied. It was a sum for which he would be willing to risk his life.

“I am on my way back to Italy from Mallorca, but my ship won’t sail again for two days. I want you to go ahead of us and see if you can reach Italy first. I will hand you a letter. You are to take it to Cato, a senator who will be very interested in its contents. I can promise you that. He will certainly add to the sum of coins I just handed you,” he carefully instructed the man.

The man nodded in acknowledgement of what Gaius was saying.

The fisherman followed him back to his lodging for the night by the shore at the overseas estate of one of Cato’s friends from his school days back in Rome. He had moved to Roman Spain in Mallorca and set up his own latifundia. He was one of the first readers of Cato’s book on the subject and one of his greatest admirers. From his vantage point by the sea Gaius could see grape vines tracing their way up the hillside above him.

Trees grew between the rocks near the white sand. Gaius took a seat at a table and ordered refreshments from a slave. The slave also brought food and drink for the fisherman for hire. He brought a carafe of the finest vintage from the estate made right here on Mallorca.

Gaius composed the letter to his mentor, knowing full well that the fisherman would not be able to read it:

Cato: I have in my possession the drawing we were seeking. Tanit herself brought it to New Carthage. I saw her in a robe in which she was trying to disguise herself. I followed her, though she did not see me. I could swear it. I followed her all the way to the sea wall where we Romans once assaulted the town during the Second Punic War. I remember it from my childhood history lessons, though I never journeyed to the place before. She paid one of the watchmen to hide it in the wall in a crevice between the bricks.

The next day I disguised myself as one of the watchmen. I found the crevice all unobserved by my confederates. At the end of the watch I took it back to my lodgings. I locked the door and examined it. It was the very drawing I made that day in Carthage with you by my side.

I think it is all the evidence of the treachery of the Carthaginians that you will need. I am not going to give it to the fisherman. I think he is reliable and trustworthy, but I do not know him. And I do not want to take any chances with what we cannot afford to lose. But I am sending word ahead of me so you can be alerted and can start making plans.

Yours truly,
Gaius Antonius

The fisherman left right away. Gaius’s ship did not leave until the day after the next after taking on more provisions and wares that needed to be transported back to Rome. But it probably was better that he did not look as if he were in too much of a hurry to get back to Rome in case anyone was observing him.

Looking down to an aquamarine and blue water beach with pinkish sand and reddish cliffs on each side covered with vines, he imagined he saw somebody looking up at him from behind one of the projecting rocky cliffs. Whether it was his imagination he could not tell for sure. He just knew he had better be as careful as he could be. That night he directed Cato’s friend to station a guard outside his room.

He was impatient to be off. Once at sea he spent much time at the railing on deck looking out to the horizon and wondering if he could be the first one to spot their landfall.

He saw two dark specks on the shore early in the morning right after dawn. They grew bigger and bigger and took on form and shape. They filled him with hope when they became the all too familiar and beloved forms of Lavinia and Cato there at the dock to greet him.

Cato had no doubt studied the schedule of ships arriving at the port of Ostia. And he had probably been here hours ahead of time, probably early last night or late yesterday afternoon. Lavinia was leaping up and down at waving at him. He could already feel her kiss on his lips.

Leave a reply

Gaius Takes The Drawing Back To Rome:

Right in front of Gaius Antonius’s eyes was an elaborate, detailed drawing of the latest Carthaginian warship which had obviously been constructed since the last war. Its giant wooden hull was massive and impressive and unlike anything else the Carthaginians had sailed into battle up to this point in either the First or Second Punic Wars. In fact, it looked better than anything that the Roman navy had access to at this moment.

It led to the question about how many more of these ships did the Carthaginians possess and where were they hiding them? Perhaps in harbors of cities friendly to them? Perhaps even here in New Carthage? New Carthage had a large, impressive harbor. He had not had a chance to examine every square corner of it.

Gaius quickly got up to lock the door to the room. At least he had that much presence of mind. He did not want anyone barging in on him and attacking him when he was carefully examining the drawing and surprising him. If any of those watchmen had followed him back to the apartment building they might try something like that when they thought he was otherwise distracted.

He sat down again and spread the papers out on the table before him. The prow of the Carthaginian ship was painted bright blue with the drawing of an eye of their chief god, Baal, guiding them into battle. The rest of the hull was bright red and rather fiercesome looking. Together they constituted the chief colors of the Phoenician city state in northern Africa, blue and red. The golden oars shot out from the red hull so numerous that they could not be counted. They were like the legs of a spider. The big white sails had giant golden lions drawn on them.

Cato had been impressed with Gaius’s discovery, too, and they had planned to analyze the drawing in detail and discuss it with various members of the Roman Senate when the time came. Cato thought that now that the Carthaginians had finished paying their reparations to Rome for the last war they were using their money to improve their naval fleet.

He wanted Gaius to show off his drawing to the full, assembled Senate to make them angry, indignant, and fearful and eventually to call for war. As Cato had said many, many times, “Carthago delenda est”, or “Carthage must be destroyed.” He must complete what he had set out to accomplish.

Gaius Antonius was all too aware that Cato could not accomplish his aim without his assistance. He had to have the visual proof to shove right in front of the noses of the Roman senators. Gaius had to make it seem as if the senators were there with them in the harbor of Carthage on the Mediterranean shore of North Africa. They had to have nightmares about ships that looked like this two-toned monster with the sails flaunting golden lions sailing through their sleep to get them disturbed enough to act.

It was up to him to get this all important drawing back to Rome in short order. He folded it up and stuck the drawing into a fold in his robes. He looked tensely to both sides. Should he wait until tomorrow? Or should he try to take ship right now? It was already early afternoon, but ships left the harbor right up until sunset.

He had no business here in New Carthage otherwise. He had what he had come here to find. Lingering could only cause trouble big time.

He left money for the apartment owner in the center of the table, threw his cloak over his shoulders and head to disguise his identity, and made his way down the stairs to the ground level. Before emerging onto the street, he looked carefully in every possible direction. He did not see anyone lingering about looking towards him as he started on foot towards the harbor. He stopped at every street corner to study the scene about him. Only ordinary housewives and businessmen going about their daily business were in evidence anywhere he looked.

As luck would have it Gaius found a Roman merchantmen in the harbor. It had just unloaded a shipment of fine wines from Italian latafundia outside Rome. Cato ran such an operation on his estate and had just written a book about it called On Agriculture, which was noted to be the first such work using fine Latin prose. One of his wines could have been aboard.

Gaius Antonius boarded just before the ship cast off. It was sailing along the coast of Spain and planned to make landfall a few cities hence before darkness stopped the ship at port for the night before continuing on back to Rome across the Mediterranean Sea, or Our Sea as Romans liked to call it.

Leave a reply

Gaius Antonius Returns To The New Carthage Sea Wall:

Gaius Antonius had to find out where the New Carthage sea wall guards were housed. On the way back to his lodgings, he asked a few passersby. He had no choice if he was to get anywhere. But he was able to talk in Phoenician to deceive them. Tanit had inadvertently taught him a few words when she was a guest at Cato’s house.

“I have an important message for one of the guards,” he announced.

An unsuspecting citizen of New Carthage pointed out the location not far from the sea wall.
He found them in a kind of barracks. There were four different sets of guards of the watch who manned the New Carthage sea wall for six hours each. He located the barracks of the legion that was about to go on duty next and began to spy on them. One of the guards had a big bronze chalice of liquid on top of his dresser. He crept up on tiptoes and sniffed it. It was merely beer of a rather crude sort.

Gaius Antonius got the idea rather quickly that he should mix a sleeping potion in that beer. Quickly he ran off to obtain one from a shopkeeper. He was quickly back again. Fortunately the chalice was still where he first saw it. The watchman was still in the next room singing away and shaving himself.

Very quietly Gaius crept into his room while the watchman was otherwise occupied. He poured the sleeping draught into the chalice. He managed to scurry away just before the watchman returned to get dressed in his costume before joining his confederates.

From a safe distance Gaius watched as the watchman quaffed the drink. He drank it all the way down hardly leaving a drop. He observed carefully as the man started to get dressed and then yawned and yawned. He sat down on his bed and slumped against a pillow. Soon he was snoring.

Gaius took advantage of the opportunity. He crept back into the building, looking over his shoulder to make sure that no one was following him or observing him. He shut the door to the guard’s room and dressed himself in his guard costume.

He observed the nearest sundial in the courtyard of the building. It was time to join his confederates. He imitated their stance and movement and marched along with them toward the New Carthage sea wall. They relieved the previous guards with a salute and went on duty. For the first time ever Gaius was inside the sea wall which he had heard so much about ever since he was a little kid and had listened to tales of the Second Punic War and the Roman assault here.

He wondered what their duties were and hoped they were not too elaborate. He did not want to betray himself with his lack of experience. But it looked as if once inside the wall they did not do much except to spread out and lean against the back wall. A few sat down on the ground and got out their picnics. He tried to follow suit and just sat there vaguely glancing out a slit in the wall toward the ocean.

Not long after that a few of the men near him seemed to doze off. He once more took advantage of the situation to rise and explore certain areas of the inner wall. He was searching for some sort of cavity or crevice where someone might hide the maps. He reached into the darkness here, there, and everywhere. Finally his hand closed around something that felt like a wooden box.

He withdrew the box, looking from side to side to make sure that he was not being observed. But the box itself eluded him. He could not figure out how to open it. He heard footsteps and stuffed the box inside his robes. He pretended he was just gazing out to sea when a confederate ambled past.

He leaned against an interior wall and gazed out to sea for the rest of the duration of the watch. He did not dare take out the wooden box with everybody else around. He did not know what they knew and could not risk it. He waited until the end of the watch and marched back out of the New Carthage sea wall with his confederates of this particular watch.

He did not know if it was safe to return to the barracks.The man he was impersonating could have woken up. He would alert the others. Gaius instead disappeared down an alley and headed by a circuitous route back to his apartment. He stripped off his costume and threw it away so no one would associate him with it.

Only then did he sit on his bed and take out the wooden box. He grappled with it, attempting to find a clasp to open it. His finger finally hit it. The box gave way and sprang open. Out fell the maps he had drawn that day in Carthage with Cato by his side. He would never forget them.

Leave a reply

Gaius Visits the Sea Wall In New Carthage:

Gaius approached Tanit in the shadow of the sea wall in New Carthage. But he had to remind himself that he could not make himself known to her. That would spoil everything. The maps would become useless. The Carthaginians would be alerted, and all his plans and perhaps Cato’s too would come to naught.

He forced himself to remain at least ten paces behind the girl. When she stopped, he stopped and kept to the shadows. When she turned around, he stepped quickly into the darkest part of the shadows. When she speeded up, he sped up. When she hesitated, he hesitated. When she ducked behind a building, he followed.

She kept on looking towards the sea wall as if she were expecting something. Tanit hesitated and seemed to be waiting. So Gaius waited too.

Suddenly a contingent of soldiers in formal costume marched out of the town of New Carthage towards the sea wall in formation. They marched one direction behind the sea wall parallel to it and then marched back again. A similarly dressed contingent of soldiers marched out of the sea wall itself and joined them. Then they both marched in formation behind the wall. The soldiers stopped and saluted each other in what looked like a changing of the guard ceremony.

Only then did the group of soldiers who had been inside the wall march back towards the town and leave the new group of soldiers to take possession of the wall. They did that in short order and shut the door to the inner wall which must be at least twenty feet wide if it was a foot.

Only then did Tanit start towards them. So Gaius followed at what he judged to be a safe, discreet distance. She approached the door that had just slammed shut with a giant bang and knocked.
One of the soldiers answered the door and flung it wide open. As soon as the soldier saw her, he bowed low and said, “Princess!” Apparently she was recognized by the soldiers there as the Princess of Carthage, daughter of Hasdrubal. Perhaps they even knew her mission or had heard about it. The guard seemed to be expecting her.

She withdrew a sheaf of papers from her robe and waved it in front of the soldier. “Take these maps and hide them in a chamber within the wall. On your life don’t tell anybody that they are hidden there. The very existence of Carthage and perhaps of your city too is dependent upon it.”
The soldier motioned with his arm for her to follow him inside. Gaius wished that he could follow, too. They were obviously his maps, the ones he had drawn in person in Carthage when he had visited with Cato. He even recognized them. They were just what he had come looking for. It would be worth a lot to see exactly where they would put them.

But the door slammed behind them. When Gaius reached it, he could not open it. He put his ear to the door. Because of the massive stone ramparts and walls he could hear nothing.

He had to wait on the other side of the street hidden behind a statue to the god Baal complete with horns on his head. Eventually they appeared at the door again and Tanit hidden within her capacious robes took her leave of the soldiers and the seawall.

Gaius remained behind watching and waiting for his opportunity. It did not make any sense to follow Tanit now. She no longer had the maps in her possession. So he bided his time until the soldiers within the sea wall to appear once more. In about three more hours they performed the same feat in the area behind the sea wall. They marched back and forth and once again changed the guard. He saw the guard go off duty who was the one Tanit had been speaking to.

Gaius wondered if that particular guard had passed on the knowledge about the maps to his successors. He realized he would have to return here tomorrow at first light. Then the guards would change for the first time that day. Then Gaius Antonius would have to join them.

Leave a reply

Gaius Plans A Trip To Carthago Nova:

Gaius rode back to the Senate House in the Forum after his vain attempt to follow the escaping Carthaginian hostages who had revealed what they were up to in Carthago Nova. He had followed them to the edge of town where they seemed to disperse. Cato had been camped at the Senate House for hours. He had his slaves bring him dinner there along with dinner for all the other Senators.

Cato wore a perpetual frown. Gaius Antonius braced himself as he approached. He hated to deliver the bad news. Cato was already on the warpath. This news about the Carthaginians would push him over the edge. But Gaius could not hesitate. It was his duty. He could not allow the situation to delay his departure to Spain.

“Cato, I need to speak to you in private,” Gaius said in a low tone.

“What could possibly have gone wrong now?” Cato asked as they disappeared into a side chamber in the Senate House. He could feel the tense eyes of the other senators following them.

“Cato, it was all a subterfuge of the hostages. Tanit was behind it. She stole the map as I slept and substituted the version her fellow hostage had drawn in place of it.”

Cato listened carefully. “And what is the difference between the real drawings and the fake ones?”

“The ships. They were hiding the new fleet they have been building behind our backs,” he revealed.

Cato’s eyebrows shot up. “I knew it! The bastards want us to support them while they become battle-ready so they can defeat us in the end.”

““They obviously did not want us to find out. I captured something on my maps that no one was supposed to see. It was out in the open only through some carelessness on their part,” Gaius said.

“We will have to declare war right away!” Cato’s face darkened.

“Not so fast!” Gaius said the words he could not imagine saying to his mentor. No one mortal could restrain the tongue of the Roman Senate House.

Cato stared at him.

“Tanit has the maps that I drew. They are so valuable now that they are transporting them to New Carthage in Spain,” he explained.

“Where are they hiding the maps in New Carthage?” Cato asked the obvious question.

Gaius had to shrug. “I could not hear what they were saying. That is why I am now on my way to Spain to find out.”

Cato clapped him on the shoulder. “I always knew you were a lad of remarkable abilities.”

Cato told him how he would keep matters going here back in Rome, not letting anyone suspect what was going on. He would make more demands of the Carthaginians instead of declaring war right away. That should allow Gaius a couple months to make his trip and return to Rome with the news.

Gaius followed Cato out onto the Senate floor. He was in rare form. He demanded not only that the Carthaginians send all their weapons to Rome, but that they pay reparations again even though they had been doing so for fifty years and had just finished paying the previously imposed penalty.

Cato confided in Gaius Antonius that if the Carthaginians agreed, next he would push the Carthaginians to the wall. He would demand that they vacate their city state and go inland away from the sea. Rome would threaten to demolish the old city except for the grave yards. He smirked. What would the Carthaginians do then? Would they stoop so low to avoid the Roman ax? Or would they hurry to refurbish their fleet even faster?

“They won’t be suspicious about what you are doing,” Cato assured Gaius. “I will keep them so busy they won’t have time to even think to send spies to Carthago Nova.”

After that session of the Senate which extended to midnight with torches flaring and burning in the streets of the Forum as the Roman citizens gathered near, the next day Cato, Lavinia, and Gaius Antonius took off in secret for Ostia.

Cato briefed Gaius on the network of messengers he would create. He would send them to Cartegena, or New Carthage, to meet with Gaius every couple weeks. Gaius would stay in the main quarter by the harbor and see if he could pick up a trace of those maps from citizens in the street.

Cato supplied him with several bags of money even now to take with him for bribes. He would be willing to send a Roman military escort, but that might be too visible and would attract rumors and attention. That sort of thing would get back to the Carthaginians unfortunately.

“I will pray to the gods for your safety every day!” Lavinia said as she stood on the docks beside him.

Gaius embraced Lavinia. He did not know how that witch, Tanit, had ever attracted him with her wayward practices and ways. She had been trying to deceive him all along just to make off with his all too valuable maps. Now it was worth his life —- and perhaps Rome’s too —- to find those very maps again.

Leave a reply

Senator After Senator Yells “Treachery!”

Senator after senator was rising to his feet and shouting out the decisive word, “Treachery!” Gaius could hardly believe what was happening before his very eyes. It was practically a declaration of war against Carthage. Given the mood of the assembly, Gaius knew they would not retreat from it.

He tried to keep his mind clear and think and not be swept away by the general hysteria. He had to reach Cato’s country house quickly before the general news spread. He wanted to determine what Tanit knew about this. Was she aware that the details had been omitted in the new map? Did she know anything at all or had she found anything out since about his missing maps. He wanted to see if he could catch her before she was overwhelmed by the general mass hysteria.

Cato was still speaking when he left by the back door to the Senate House. He was declaring that either the Carthaginians return those maps or they would have to turn over not just one hundred hostages but also all their weapons and armaments. No sooner did he reach Cato’s town house than he ran into Lavinia.

She raced towards him, “Gaius, what has happened? I have heard that the Senate is up in arms about the Carthaginians.”

“Cato finally learned about the missing maps the hard way. He was giving a speech and asked for the maps. He discovered the mistake right in front of the assembled Senate,” Gaius tried to explain.
She shut her eyes and groaned as if she could picture it happening right in front of her eyes right now. “Oh, how unfortunate!”

“Now I am headed off to look for the hostages!” he announced.

“I hope there isn’t any danger?” she gripped hold of his tunic.

He shook his head. “The hostages are not armed in any way.”

He saddled his horse and rode off into the country. On his way out of town he saw people talking to each other by the side of the street, rumoring about what was going on in the Senate House. But as soon as he left the gates of Rome and was out where there were nothing but trees and rows of crops surrounding him, it all seemed to go away.

Still Gaius did not want to have himself announced when he reached Cato’s country house. He leaped down from the horse and tied it up himself. He sneaked into the main house. He could at once hear Tanit speaking to one of her confederates in the wing of the house where they were housed. He tiptoed up to the room and listened through the closed door to the conversation.

“Here take the map,” Tanit handed a young Carthaginian male who had come with her the secret documents that she had taken from Gaius while he slept. Now it was being revealed in the clearest way possible that she was responsible. “This is the one that Cato wants. I have just heard by secret messenger that they are in an uproar about it right now.”

“Where shall I take it?” the young man asked in suspense.

“Not back to Carthage,” she said decisively. “I am sure they will ransack the city searching for this. They must not find it there. Take it to New Carthage in Spain, Cartegena,” she said. She whispered low to him, and Gaius could not make out the rest of her words.

“I am off now. You may never see me again,” he declared.

She sounded as if she were kissing him on the cheek. “I will go with you. There will be nothing left for me remaining here. I will be suspect. I was trying to seduce that young man, Gaius Antonius, to see if I could pull the wool over his eyes. But it is too late now.”

Gaius clutched his fist. He wanted to put it through that seductive face of hers. But he didn’t dare now. He had to pay attention to details. If he confronted them now, they would obviously destroy the now irreplaceable documents.

“And those ships, the ones that Gaius Antonius saw and wasn’t supposed to see,” Tanit’s companion asked. “Where are they now?”

“They have been hidden from Roman view in case of another war. But let’s get out of here now before we are caught.”

He heard the door slam behind them.

He had to follow them to Spain. There was no doubt about it. He probably could order the guards to kill them now but that would destroy the one thing he must find —- the maps.

When he tried to follow them they seemed to leave no trail. He never saw them again. The magical Tanit vanished with her companion as if she were the Phoenician Goddess of the Moon who also bore her name, Tanit.

He would have to inform Cato and leave tonight for Hispania.

Leave a reply