Phoenicians were more than smart ancient people who ruled the Mediterranean before the grandeur of Rome took over the world under the sandals. They were brilliant seafaring merchants, navigating the open waters with the direction of the Polaris, the occupants of Canaan, the biblical land of honey and milk, the high-end manufacturer of Tyrian purple, and the inventor of the alphabet. They were adventurous and impetuous, wild and civilized, just as Dido, the queen of Phoenician Carthage, was to Aeneas and General Hannibal to his Roman enemy force.
As aforesaid, Phoenicians were Canaanite of Semite groups that shared the same cultural and linguistic roots with Jews. Interestingly, Phoenicia was not a single country but a confederate of city-states located along the eastern Mediterranean Sea, comprising modern-day Syria, Israel, and Lebanon about 3,000 B.C. Phoenicians sailed across unknown seas of antiquity, always bringing seeds of vine tree with them to sow them on foreign lands, propagating the bliss of wine everywhere they went. So they went to North Africa and established their city-state called Carthage, located in what is now known as Tunisia, and planted vine trees producing melliferous wine. Perhaps it’s the aura that the land of vine trees infatuated Aeneas, a Trojan prince, destined to become the founder of the Roman race, in the person of sultry queen Dido. Sure, Dido was a Baal worshipper. So was Hannibal because Phoenicians regarded Baal, the dignitary in the circles of hell, to Christians, as the god of fertility and weather, with El, the father of all gods, and Astarte, the progenitor of Greek Artemis and Aphrodite. Moreover, human sacrifices of children during natural disasters or wars were performed, while sacred prostitution to honor their gods Adonis and Astarte, just as Babylonian women did in the temple of Ishtar. It seems that except for the Jews, the ancient peoples from the Middle East, near the Middle East, and the Mediterranean seem to regard physical pleasure as the essential component of euphoria that accounted for sacred ecstasy in the worship of their deities.
Such is my impression of ancient Phoenicians whom Alexander the Great couldn’t even dominate. Romans destroyed Phoenician city-state Carthage, after which it was said that a priest cursed Phoenicians, sprinkling grain of salt on the conquered land, lest they arise again, evermore. Whether it was true, the curse proved not as effective as the Romans wished because the Phoenician legacy continues in the form of cultural influence as aforesaid.
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