Government of the Phoenicians

 

The Semites, once they moved from nomadic life normally adopted a regal form of government . The Phoenician cities were ruled by kings, dynastic lists are far from complete .  One of the kings main roles was that of chief priest and the names of kings frequently incorporate the names of the Gods such as Baal, Melqart and Astatre . According to the Story of Wenamun kings often consulted an assembly of important members of state when dealing with important matters .  Ancient text refer to a 'People's Assembly' made up of enfranchised male citizens, but the little is known of its function or power . While the Phoenicians were frequently ruled by others, the Egyptians, Babylonians, Persian and Greek, the overlordship seems to have relatively non-invasive as long as tribute was paid .

In many of the Phoenician cities an oligarchy came to rule at some point .Under Persian rule, the council of elders made up of rich merchants began to rise to power .

Not much is known of the administration of the early Phoenician colonies . Probably, rule passed from an expedition leader to a governor from the mother city as was done at the colony of Tyre in Cyprus . After the 5th century B.C. in Carthage and other western colonies, constitutional power was in the hands of the two suffetes or kings who were elected . There was also a senate of 300 who were appointed for life and another 104 who made up the committee of public safety . This tripartite government set up resembles the Greek form in Athens, which influenced the Carthaginians . The choice of suffetes and senators seems largely based on wealth rather than hereditary, at least after the sixth century B.C.  So as time progressed, the rich merchant classes began to wield the real power in the state .

 

 

 

 

 

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