To continue with my character’s journey we head to Hippo Regius, another Phoenician settlement. Today, it is near Annaba, in Algeria. To get an idea of where it is, refer to my previous post Destination: North Africa, and look at the map. There isn’t a lot of information on Hippo Regius but if you do go to Annaba, there are still the ruins of the city and a museum to view the artefacts.
King Phineus & the Harpies, Athenian red-figure hydria
C5th B.C., The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu
To clarify a point: when the Ancient Greek writers refer to Libya, they mean Africa. A very general classification but in light of the technology and understanding of the day, still exemplary.
Hippo Regius was founded in the 4th Century BC by the Carthaginians, descendants of the Phoenicians. In the 2nd century BC, Rome conquered the Carthaginian Empire, and established their own rule. The Phoenicians have a long history and are believed to be descendants of the Canaanites. To relate it to present day, the people of Lebanon, Syria and Israel are the countries where they had remained. There is a great website where you can look up more information.
I chose Hippo Regius as the next destination for my character because he needs to get to Carthage. While in the port city, he learns how to ride a horse, a skill the Numidians were famous for, and is pursued by Harpies. If you are not familiar with Greek Mythology, Harpies are also known as ‘snatchers’ and like all myths there is more than one version. Initially, they were beautiful winged beasts but with each retelling were transformed into horrible monsters. Described as birds with the faces of young maidens with long claws on their hands. In the original myth, they would steal food from Phineas, a punishment enforced by Zeus. However, in Jason and the Argonauts, they were considered hags that fouled the food and spread disease. They were agents of Zeus, would abduct people and transport them to Tartaros.
The term harpy can be found in dictionaries to describe a cruel individual. I will leave it at that.
Next stop: Carthage.