Flaubert’s five published novels appear to alternate wildly between exotic, hysterical, sadistic, Romantic excess, and sober – even dreary – satiric realism, as if he were trying to release and then repress his exuberant imagination (Donato 1976). After mocking the stifling small town of “Yonville” in Madame Bovary (1857), Flaubert turned to ancient Carthage (near the present-day Bay of Tunis) around 241 B.C., just after Carthage’s defeat and retreat in the first Punic War against the Romans. After extensive research, with the Greek historian Polybius as his major source, Flaubert depicts Carthage as a commercial slave state that hires mercenaries from various countries to fight its wars. The Carthaginian religion …

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Porter, Laurence M.. "Salammbô". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 August 2011
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=2290, accessed 28 September 2016.]