High Priestess of Ancient Carthage...
pools of these on the ground that made the foot slip. The smoke of the meats ascended into the foliage with the vapour of the breath. Simultaneously were heard the snapping of jaws, the noise of speech, songs, and cups, the crash of Campanian vases shivering into a thousand pieces, or the limpid sound of a large silver dish.
In proportion as their intoxication increased they more and more recalled the injustice of Carthage. The Republic, in fact, exhausted by the war, had allowed all the returning bands to accumulate in the town. Gisco, their general, had however been prudent enough to send them back severally in order to facilitate the liquidation of their pay, and the Council had believed that they would in the end consent to some reduction. But at present ill-will was caused by the inability to pay them. This debt was confused in the minds of the people with the 3200 Euboic talents exacted by Lutatius, and equally with Rome they were regarded as enemies to Carthage. The Mercenaries understood this, and
Evil triumphs over evil
Flaubert spent several years researching this book about an army of mercenaries who revolt against ancient Carthage.
The book is a combination of history and myth not unlike Homer’s Iliad. Like the Iliad it is a larger than life epic, but this tale has neither poetry nor heroes.
Carthage does not want to pay the mercenaries their due; the mercenaries seek to plunder Carthage in revenge. Both sides rely on deceit and treachery to advance their cause.
In the background, the sensual and mysterious Salammbo, seeking her own objective, indifferently and unwittingly affects the outcome.
The war becomes long and brutal as the balance shifts back and forth. The horror of war becomes increasingly indefensible as the author offers neither heroes nor justifications. Fed only by greed, pride and revenge, the war and the slaughter grind on endlessly.
Some would criticize, “This is not Madame Bovary, and this is too much violence without a point.” Others would answer, “This is not Madame Bovary, but to criticize that it is too much violence without a point, is to miss the point.”
Flaubert, painting with exquisite detail and unapologetic language, tells an epic, exotic and sensual tale of failure.
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