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date: 17 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The picture painted of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians in Greco-Roman literature is a paradoxical one. Distinct themes continue to characterize them from the archaic period to late antiquity, but their definition as a distinct group of people remains vague throughout. Military conflict with Greeks and Romans means that they are presented more positively by intellectuals than politicians, and more positively in the east than the west, but identifications with them tell the most interesting stories. In the end, the very notion of “Phoenician” is slippery, as sources from Homer to Augustine show us. The continuities in the way that the Phoenicians are depicted reinforce the porous nature of their definition as a group, from their identifications with the Greeks and then Romans themselves, to their lasting association with the sea.

Keywords: stereotype, Punica fides, political discourse, Classical literature, conflict, maritime, identification

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