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Another Scipio

In response to:

Horace, Our Contemporary from the June 11, 1998 issue

To the Editors:

Reading Bernard Knox’s otherwise fine piece on Horace [“Horace, Our Contemporary,” NYR, June 11, 1998], I stumbled over the statement that “Scipio Africanus… destroyed Rome’s most dangerous enemy, Carthage, in 146 BC.” Scipio Africanus, who died in 183 BC, defeated the Carthaginians at the battle of Zama in 202 BC.

Some readers would also contest Knox’s description of Venusia as a “small southern Italian town.” When Horace was born there in 65 BC, it had already been the capital of the largest Roman colony since 290 BC, for which reason Mommsen researched and wrote part of his History of Rome there.

Robert Craft
Gulf Stream, Florida

Bernard Knox replies:

Robert Craft is of course quite right. The Scipio who destroyed Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War was Scipio Aemilianus, a grandson by adoption of Scipio Africanus. As for Venusia, I thought of it as a “small Italian town” in comparison with such great cities as Tarentum, Neapolis, and Syracuse.

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