Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Carthage. Ancient North African city, whose ruins can now be found in the marshland northeast of Tunis. In classical times Carthage stood on a peninsula (the modern coastline has been much altered by wind-driven sand). It was originally a Phoenician colony founded in the ninth century b.c.e., but it grew to become Rome’s greatest rival, the conflicts between the two imperially ambitious city-states being known as the Punic Wars. The great Carthaginian hero of the first Punic War (264-241 b.c.e.), Hamilcar Barca, is one of the principal characters of Salammbô.

Flaubert imagines Carthage protected on its landward side by a moat, a rampart of turf, and a two-story wall thirty cubits (about 45 feet) high. This would make Carthage virtually impregnable, although the aqueduct carrying the city’s water supply, which runs obliquely across the narrowest part of the peninsula, would be an obvious point of vulnerability. Within the outer wall is Malqua, a quarter inhabited by seamen and dyers. The inner city is laid out in tiers, like an amphitheater, blurred boundaries still delineating three ancient quarters, each one studded with temples. The hill of the Acropolis is a confused mass of monuments and temples. Megara is the newest part of the city, extending to a cliff where a huge lighthouse stands. The suburb of Mouloya clings to the slope behind the lighthouse, with the Teveste gate at its further edge; it is by this route that Salammbô leaves the city when she goes to the barbarian camp.


(The entire section is 632 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Brombert, Victor. The Novels of Flaubert: A Study of Themes and Techniques. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966. Chapter 3 discusses “Salammbô: The Epic of Immobility.”

Culler, Jonathan. Flaubert: The Uses of Uncertainty. Rev. ed. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985. Salammbô is discussed in chapter 3.

Green, Anne. Flaubert and the Historical Novel: Salammbô Reassessed. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1982. A detailed study of the text and its literary context.

Sherrington, R. J. Three Novels by Flaubert: A Study of Techniques. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1970. Chapter 4 is a 78-page analysis of Salammbô.

Spencer, Philip. Flaubert. Winchester, Mass.: Faber & Faber, 1952. One of surprisingly few comprehensive biographical and critical studies of the author in English; probably the best general introduction to the man and his works.