The history of coastal cities can be fascinating for history buffs.

Queen Dido was the founder and first Queen of Carthage in modern-day Tunisia on the coast of North Africa according to ancient Greek and Roman sources.

She was able to carve out this property through a clever proposal: she asked a piece of land from the local Berber king Iarbas, but only so much that she could enclose using the hide of an ox.

According to the Roman poet Virgil in Aeneid, he wrote:

The Kingdom you see is Carthage, the Tyrians, the town of Agenor;
But the country around is Libya, no folk to meet in war.
Dido, who left the city of Tyre to escape her brother,
Rules here–a long and labyrinthine tale of wrong
Is hers, but I will touch on its salient points in order….Dido, in great disquiet,
organised her friends for escape.
They met together, all those who harshly hated the tyrant
Or keenly feared him: they seized some ships which chanced to be ready…
They came to this spot, where to-day you can behold the mighty
Battlements and the rising citadel of New Carthage,
And purchased a site, which was named ‘Bull’s Hide’ after the bargain
By which they should get as much land as they could enclose with a bull’s hide
.”

After Queen Dido asked the king Iarbas for only as much land as could be encompassed by an oxhide, she came up with this solution: She cut the oxhide into long, thin strips. Then she put the ends of the strips into the Mediterranean Sea and was able to encircle a significant area and thereby created the new city of Carthage with the help of the sea and ingenuity.

Illustration of

 

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source


 

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Carthage courtesy of Historum.