It is usually held that Hippo Regius, after successfully resisting a siege by the Vandals in 430–1 A.D., was abandoned by its inhabitants and burned by the invaders, and that it was afterwards reoccupied by the Romans. There are, however, certain difficulties involved in the acceptance of this view, which is based on the following passage in the Life of St. Augustine by Possidius: ‘Of the innumerable churches he [St. Augustine] saw only three survive, namely those of Carthage, Hippo and Cirta, which by God's favor were not demolished. These cities too still stand, protected by human and divine aid, although after Augustine's death the city of Hippo, abandoned by its inhabitants, was burned by the enemy.’
In The Journal of Roman Studies (vol. xiv, pp. 257–8), Mr. E. C. Howard published ‘A Note on the Vandal Occupation of Hippo Regius’, in which he suggests that ‘Hippo,’ in the passage quoted above, refers not to Hippo Regius, now Bona, but to Hippo Diarrhytus (or Zarytus), now Bizerta. That his suggestion is impossible will be shown below. But first, in order to facilitate an understanding of the whole question, it will be necessary to review briefly certain portions of the history of the period, to state the problem, and to outline Mr. Howard's arguments.