In Search of an­cient North Africa

Timeless Travels Magazine - - BOOK REVIEWS -

Barn­aby Roger­son Haus Pub­lished: Fe­bru­ary 2018 Price: £25.00

Thi­sis a mag­nif­i­cently opin­ion­ated, and at time reck­lessly dis­cur­sive, ex­am­ple of his­tory as story-telling as Roger­son takes us on a se­ries of quixotic bi­o­graph­i­cal quests.

We be­gin with the leg­ends that swirl around Queen Dido, not in or­der to un­pick them, but rather to un­der­stand how they shaped the fu­ture of the city. We dis­cover the con­nec­tion be­tween Juba II and Au­gus­tus, and the sub­se­quent ca­reer of this Berber prince as spy, ex­plorer, his­to­rian and king.

Han­ni­bal is pre­sented not as an ori­en­tal en­emy but as a true hero, whose ca­reer is use­fully con­trasted with that of Masinissa, the cavalry com­man­der, whose de­fec­tion to Rome, helped de­stroy Carthage and make Nu­midia.

The lives of the Libyan-born Em­peror Sep­ti­m­ius Severus and the Al­ge­rian born St Au­gus­tine take us up into the ex­tra­or­di­nary cul­tural apogee of this re­gion, which has per­ma­nently en­riched West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion.

It is if a lost vol­ume of Plutarch has just been un­earthed, but this time not con­cerned with par­al­lel lives of Ro­mans and Greeks, but North Africans.

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