Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia:

Who are the historical figures who are (1) best known in the Western world, and (2) did most or much of what made them famous while what is now Morocco, Algeria, or Tunisia was their home? I have one person in mind for each country, though there might of course be important rivals in each country, and for all I know there could be some who did much of their work in two or more of the countries.

Note that I ask here about people who are most well known in the Western world. I can't speak to who is most known within those countries, or in the Middle East. Also, of course many of these people are well known in the Western world despite not being widely known to have lived in those countries (or else what would be the point of the puzzle?). Rick doesn't count.

SFH (mail):
Hannibal's the obvious one for Tunisia.
9.9.2009 6:27pm
SFH (mail):
And St. Augustine of Hippo is the obvious one for Algeria. (I had to check a moment to make sure Hippo Regius wasn't in Tunisia.)
9.9.2009 6:29pm
NickM (mail) (www):
For Tunisia, I agree with SFH.

For Morocco, how about Maimonides?

9.9.2009 6:30pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
I believe Dizzy only spent a night in Tunisia....
9.9.2009 6:34pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
Did Calmus do any of his writing in Algeria?
9.9.2009 6:38pm
MarkField (mail):
Richard Blaine.
9.9.2009 6:40pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
Albert Camus does not have an "l" in his last name. Sorry.
9.9.2009 6:41pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Mark: Beat me to it. (But, really, it should be 'Rick.')
9.9.2009 6:44pm
Jason Woertink (mail):
For Tunisia the unfortunate answer is probably George Lucas because he filmed the first Star Wars there.
9.9.2009 6:46pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Mark Field: I beat you to it with the last line of my original post.

SFH and NickM: Your three answers are what I had in mind.
9.9.2009 6:47pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
Hannibal? Pfft. I'm going with OBI-WAN KENOBI.

Star Wars in Tunisia

- AJ
9.9.2009 6:50pm
MarkField (mail):

Mark Field: I beat you to it with the last line of my original post.

Well played. The sad thing is, I never even read the second paragraph, I was so anxious to post after reading the first.

I think the rest of this thread will benefit if everyone just accepts my last sentence at face value.
9.9.2009 6:53pm
I would disagree that Hannibal did the work for which he best known in Africa. Indeed, had he stayed in Africa, his name would probably be unknown. Cannae is in Italy.
9.9.2009 7:04pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
How about the Barbarossa brothers (the Turkish pirates, not the Holy Roman Emperor) for Algiers? Not sure if they're more famous than Camus.
9.9.2009 7:05pm
moqui (mail):
how long must one have been there for it to be considered that they "lived" there?

Erwin Rommel and Bernard Law Montgomery might qualify, depending on definitions.
9.9.2009 7:12pm
Rommel for all three?
9.9.2009 7:14pm
Can't find a good name:
Maimonides seems to have spent a good deal more time in Egypt than he did in Morocco. Consequently, I'm not sure he should be the person selected for Morocco, although I don't have a good candidate yet.
9.9.2009 7:15pm
markm (mail):
Hannibal counts. "[D]id most or much of what made them famous while what is now Morocco, Algeria, or Tunisia was their home?" does not require that whatever they did was done in one of those countries. His home was still Carthage (present-day Tunisia) no matter how many years he spent campaigning in foreign lands.

For Morocco, perhaps William S. Burroughs? He wrote Naked Lunch in Tangier, and it appears to have been his home at the time, if he had one at all. OTOH, I hope someone can think of a better offering from Morocco than the heroin-induced sexual fantasies of a gay remittance man...
9.9.2009 7:16pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Splunge: MarkM is right -- I deliberately phrased the question as "while what is now Morocco, Algeria, or Tunisia was their home" for precisely that reason.
9.9.2009 7:21pm
I don't think Maimonodes was really famous.
9.9.2009 7:22pm
The great Islamic philosopher Averroes, to whom we in the West owe a profound debt of gratitude for his commentaries on Aristotle (and thus the rescue Western philosophy from its eclipse in the Dark Ages). Although born in Spain (Andalusia), he wrote most of his philosophical and scientific works in Morocco.
9.9.2009 7:29pm
Averroes did much of his work while in Morocco
9.9.2009 7:30pm
I deliberately phrased the question as "while what is now Morocco, Algeria, or Tunisia was their home" for precisely that reason.

Yeah? Then you were sloppy, or deceiving, in the subsequent sentences about countries in which they "worked," viz.:

Also, of course many of these people are well known in the Western world despite not being widely known to have worked in those countries
9.9.2009 7:31pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Splunge: Whoops, sorry, that was indeed sloppy (though not technically wrong, since Hannibal did indeed work in Carthage, albeit without doing most of the work that made him famous in Carthage). I corrected it, from "to have worked" to "to have lived."

Now can you please tell me whether you were sloppy or deceiving in having ignored the "while what is now ... was their home" phrase?
9.9.2009 7:36pm
Doug Sundseth (mail):
First, I think that fourteen years is long enough to establish residency, so Hannibal Barca's home would reasonably count as Italy. Second, and similarly, we could reasonably count Tunisia as Erwin Rommel's home during a significant part of the late unpleasantness.

I understand that neither follows your intent, but since I'm a military brat, I argue that the rule of lenity works in favor of my answer (Rommel, though I had not previously posted it) being considered to be correct.


Oh, and for Morocco, I'll submit Ion Perdicaris. (There is, perhaps some question as to whether "being kidnapped" counts as 'doing' what made him famous, but there you go.)
9.9.2009 7:38pm
Now can you please tell me whether you were sloppy or deceiving in having ignored the "while what is now ... was their home" phrase?

Tsk. Neither, obviously. In the presence of ambiguity, I was forced to guess your precise meaning.

You'll also note that regardless of what you meant, my statement qua statement is perfectly accurate.
9.9.2009 7:41pm
For Algeria, it's Abd Al-Qadir.

He was so loved in the West that frontiersmen in America named Elkader, Iowa after him.
9.9.2009 7:44pm
Mike S.:
Maimonides lived in Spain and then Egypt. Rav Yitzchack Al-Fasi was in Fez, but is perhaps less well known outside of the world of Talmudic scholars.
9.9.2009 7:46pm
I don't see how anyone can seriously argue against St. Augustine for Algeria. The Barbarossas "pale" in comparison!
9.9.2009 7:46pm
Leo Marvin (mail):

Rick doesn't count

What's this site coming to?
9.9.2009 7:47pm
Crunchy Frog:

Second, and similarly, we could reasonably count Tunisia as Erwin Rommel's home during a significant part of the late unpleasantness.

I thought of Rommel, but most of his work in Africa took place in Libya, not Tunisia.
9.9.2009 7:54pm
Doug Sundseth (mail):
Well, Libya at the start, Egypt during the middle, and Tunisia at the end. But German HQ was in Tunisia for a significant part of the North Africa campaign, so Tunisia seemed reasonable to me.
9.9.2009 7:59pm
PaulMcKaskle (mail):
I don't know if Dido, Queen of Carthage, was a real person--but she is certainly extremely famous, at least to those who read Virgil (or even listen to Berlioz Operas).
9.9.2009 8:03pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Doug Sundseth: I'd think that a soldier fighting a long war -- in different places -- for many years still sees his home country as "home."
9.9.2009 8:10pm
CDR D (mail):
Just for grins, and speaking of Libya (Tripolitania), just to the east of the modern countries in question, who would be the most famous and powerful person to come from that place, (not counting Qadaffi)?
9.9.2009 8:12pm
Mark N. (www):
He can't compete with Augustine of Hippo for general fame, but among literary and classicist types, Apuleius is a rather prominent product of the part of Roman Africa that's now Algeria.
9.9.2009 8:13pm
guy in a veal calf office (mail) (www):
Aneneas &Dido are better chioces for Tunisia than Hannibal, I think.

I almost said William Eaton &Stephen Decauter, but that was Libya.
9.9.2009 8:21pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Scipio Africanus for Tunisia, Eisenhower for Morocco.

Abd el-Krim would have won for Algeria if you had asked this question around 1925.

Cyrus for Libya, if we're going there.
9.9.2009 8:40pm
klw (mail):
If Hannibal was famous for his work in Italy. Scipio Africanus was famous for his work in Tunisia. Hannibal and his family spent a great part of his life in Spain ( Barcelona)

Gaiseric lived in Carthage
9.9.2009 8:41pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
I'd have to agree with those who are dubious about Maimonides -- he lived in Spain, then spent about ten years in Morocco, and then about 30 years in Egypt. He did some work in Morocco, but both Mishneh Torah and Guide for the Perplexed were written in Egypt.
9.9.2009 8:54pm
Steven Lubet (mail):
The artist Ben Shahn
9.9.2009 8:55pm
Robert West (mail) (www):
KLW, Gaiseric lived in Carthage after he conquered it, but surely he's most famous for his work before he conquered Carthage.

Where did he live when he invaded Iberia?
9.9.2009 9:02pm
Pro Natura (mail):
What about Patton, Bowles, and Burroughs?
9.9.2009 9:31pm
I would say the late King Hassan II for Morocco. Best known for being a relative moderate, not too autocratic, and advancing his country. He's well known in the West, and is a historical figure, though not from a long time ago.
9.9.2009 9:44pm
Sebastian the Ibis (mail):
"while what is now Morocco, Algeria, or Tunisia was their home?" Where is the "home" of a soldier, where he fights or his homeland?

Hannibal left North African to make a name for himself in Europe, While Rommel left Europe to make a name for himself in North Africa.

Eisenhower, didn't make a name for himself in North Africa, at least compared to what he did later in the war, or later in life.
9.9.2009 9:46pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Algeria - Saint Augustine

Morocco - Paul Bowles

Tunisia - ????

Some of the other suggestions are silly:

Rommel retreated into Tunisia in late January 1943. His last counterattack was repulsed on March 6. He left for Germany on sick leave on March 9, and never returned. He never set foot in Morocco or Algeria. Neither did Montgomery, except in passing.

Eisenhower spent about a year in Algeria during the North African and Italian campaigns. These achievements were far outweighed by his service in command of OVERLORD - the D-Day landings and subsequent advance into Germany, and of course his Presidency.

The commander whose reputation was mostly made in Tunisia was British General Sir Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis. (Montgomery was Viscount Alamein.) However, I'm not sure how much time he spent in Tunisia - he commanded from Algiers, I think, and then from Naples.

I'm thinking there was some famous medieval Moslem writer from Kairouan - but I don't have a name.
9.9.2009 10:06pm
one of many:
Hmm, for Algeria and Tunisia no doubt it's Augustine and Hannibal but who is there for Morocco? Perhaps someone 19th or 20th century - Maimonides I would disqualify on the "most" standard, most of the work was no doubt done while he lived in Spain and Egypt, his time in Morocco was limited and his most famous works seem to have been written in the period between his living in Morocco and Egypt (hard to be certain, the "convert or die" thing and attendant subterfuge make his biography somewhat unreliable).
9.9.2009 10:29pm
SFH (mail):
Another fairly famous person from what is now Algeria was Jugurtha, against whom Rome fought a singularly frustrating war in the 2nd century BC.
9.9.2009 10:48pm
Jonathan Rubinstein (mail) (www):
Has anything happened there since the Romans salted it at the end of the Third Punic War? Aside from Rommel passing through on his way to suicide.
9.9.2009 11:17pm
David McCourt (mail):
Best known in the western world: Peter O'Toole, whose portrayal of T.E. Lawrence in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia was filmed in Morocco.
9.9.2009 11:26pm
Sum Budy:
I'm going to have to concur with Maimonides.
9.10.2009 12:22am
anotherpsychdoc (mail):
Leonardo Fibonacci: Algeria, where his father was posted. He may be the most famous visitor to bring back something of a foreign culture that was very valuable. It could make a very interesting historical movie.
9.10.2009 1:28am
countertop (mail):
What about Harrison Ford??

He played Han Solo while the movie was filmed in Tunisia, and of course, as Indiana Jones he spent most of the Raiders of the Lost Ark there as well.
9.10.2009 2:12am
Milhouse (www):
Maimonides left Spain when he was still a boy, and when he left Morocco he was still completely unknown. All of his fame was earned while he lived in Egypt. So he is not a good answer. For figures famous within Judaism, three obvious answers for Morocco would be Rabbis Yitzchak Al-Fasi (the Rif), Chaim ibn Attar (the Or Hachayim), and Yaacov Abuchatzera. (Yaacov's grandson Yisrael was fairly well-known when he left Morocco, but gained most of his ultimate fame after moving to Israel.) For Tunisia, the most obvious name that comes to mind is Rabbenu Chananel. But none of these figures are at all known in the Western world.
9.10.2009 3:06am
markm (mail):
Doug Sundseth: A serviceman's residence doesn't change no matter how long he is away, unless he wants to change it. I'd forgotten Hannibal's connections to Spain, so perhaps that would count as his home rather than Carthage, but Italy was not his home even if he did spend 14 years invading it.
9.10.2009 5:42am
Keith Jackson:
I'm a little suprised no one has mentioned Ibn Khaldun for Tunisia yet. His works are discussed in pretty much any class on the history of North and West Africa.
9.10.2009 8:07am
Charles de Gaulle for Algeria? He lived in exile in Algiers for a time during World War II, and he had his headquarters there until the liberation of Paris.
9.10.2009 8:39am
ASlyJD (mail):

This old man, he played five,
France is safe: I'm still alive.
Plastique, Pompidou, sing the Marseillaise,
Algerie, n'est pas francaise!
9.10.2009 8:50am
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
Zacarius Moussaoui is from Morocco
Hicham el-Garrouj - the world record holder in the 1500m, mile and 2k and olympic gold medalist is from morocco
9.10.2009 9:14am
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
Jacques Derrida was born in Algeria
9.10.2009 9:23am
~aardvark (mail):
It's amazing that there are more voices against Maimonides than for him right now--and that, of course, is correct. He barely made a home in Morocco as this was more of a home away from home once he settled in Egypt. Although Egypt was not his original goal--he was on the way to Palestine--it was the next best thing. By the time of his arrival, Morocco was well past its prime as far as Arabic philosophy was concerned, but there were quite a few rather famous ones there earlier.

As for "famous in the West, but living in Morocco", I'd have to go with a handful of US and European writers, especially of the Beatnik variety. Burroughs certainly comes to mind. He spent nearly five years in Tangiers, prior to publication of Naked Lunch. What brought him to Tangiers, however, is the writing of another American expat Paul Bowles, who did the same thing for an even longer period 20-30 years prior.

Of course, there is also the relativism of "lived in". Arafat lived in Tunis for at least a year between stays in Lebanon. There is also the relativism of "known in the West"--many are better known in France than they are in the US, like most of the French generals involved in the Algiers actions.
9.10.2009 9:34am
Tunisia likes to claim that the Island of the Lotus Eaters was actually Djerba, although Odysseus' lotus induced stupor wouldn't count as "living there" so maybe that's useless.
9.10.2009 12:01pm
Raționalitate (www):
"OTOH, I hope someone can think of a better offering from Morocco than the heroin-induced sexual fantasies of a gay remittance man..."

A closer reading of Burroughs would indicate that the sexual fantasies come when he's off the junk, not while he's on it. Hence the two books "Junky" and "Queer." Junky is a clear-eyed ethnography. But in Queer, Burroughs is off heroin, and so he becomes restless and horny.
9.10.2009 2:51pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Sasha is dubious about Maimonides for Morocco, and I happily defer to him (as well as finding his substantive points persuasive). Maimonides did do some important work in Morocco, but apparently not enough to count as "much."
9.10.2009 5:53pm
I would propose Ahmed ben Bella for Algiers. Unlike him, neither St.Augustin nor Camus became Heroes of the Soviet Union. It that's not a loud recognition of fame (or at least notoriety) then I don't know what is. Only Nasser merited a similar award (ok, his sidekick too, but who counts). However, Egypt is not included in this survey, probably being too lousy with pharaohs and their ilk.
9.10.2009 7:06pm
IcePilot (mail):
I'll strike for American History - Stephen Decatur

Intrepid, was used by Decatur on 16 February 1804 to execute a night raid into Tripoli harbor to destroy the U.S. frigate Philadelphia, which had been captured after running aground at the end of October 1803. Admiral Lord Nelson is said to have called this "the most bold and daring act of the Age".

This was in his youth - in the Second Barbary War, he just conquered all the Barbary Pirates.
9.10.2009 9:10pm

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