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Sophoniba  

Duane W. Roller

Carthaginian aristocrat, was the daughter of Hasdrubal, the noted Carthaginian commander of the Second Punic War. Her name is also given as Sophonisba and Spnb’l (“Baal has pronounced judgment”). Essentially all that is known about her is the manner of her death, which may have been preserved in a tragedy known to Livy (30, 12–15); other parallel extant accounts are by Appian (Libyka 10, 27–28) and Dio (17). She was well educated in both literature and music, and she was noted for her charm. She was originally engaged to Massinissa, the great Numidian king (Diodoros 27.7) but eventually married the Numidian chieftain Syphax, who was politically opposed both to Massinissa and the official Numidian government. Sophoniba was instrumental in persuading Syphax to change his policies from pro-Roman to pro-Carthaginian.

When Syphax was captured by the Romans in 203 BCE Massinissa hurried to rescue Sophoniba before she was also taken ...