Hannibal (also well-known as Hannibal Barca, l. 247-183 BCE) was a Carthaginian general during the second Punic War in between Carthage and also Rome (218-202 BCE). He is thought about one that the greatest generals of antiquity and also his tactics room still studied and also used in the present day. His father to be Hamilcar Barca (l. 275-228 BCE), the good general the the an initial Punic battle (264-241 BCE).

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These wars were fought between the cities of Carthage in phibìc Africa and also Rome in north Italy for dominance in the Mediterranean region and the second war resulted straight from the first. Hannibal assumed command of the troops following his father"s death and also led castle victoriously with a variety of engagements until he stood practically at the gateways of Rome; in ~ which suggest he was stopped, not by the Romans, yet through a absence of resources to take it the city.


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He was called earlier to Africa to defend Carthage from roman inn invasion, was beat at the battle of Zama in 202 BCE by Scipio Africanus (l. 236-183 BCE) and retired from organization to Carthage. The remainder of his life was spent as a statesman and then in spontaneous exile at the court of international kings. He died in 183 BCE by drink poison.

Early Life

Although Hannibal is easily one the the most well known generals of antiquity, he continues to be a figure of part mystery. Scholar Philip Matyszak notes:


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There is lot we perform not know about this man, though he was among the biggest generals in antiquity. No surviving old biography provides him the subject, and Hannibal slips in and out of emphasis according come the emphasis that other authors provide his deeds and character. (24)

Nothing is recognized of his mother and, back he was married at the moment of several of his greatest victories, no documents make cite of his wife other than her name, Imilce, and the fact that she boring him a son. What came to be her or her kid is no known. The story of Hannibal"s life is told largely by his enemies, the Romans, through the chroniclers who created of the Punic Wars.


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As a boy, Hannibal"s dad commanded the "to swear the he would never ever be a girlfriend to Rome".

The Greek historian Polybius (l. C. 208-125 BCE) writes just how Hannibal"s father invited him to join an exploration to Spain when the young was approximately nine year old. Hannibal eagerly welcomed the invitation but, before he was allowed to sign up with up, his father "took Hannibal by the hand and also led him to the altar. There he commanded Hannibal to lay his hand on the body of the sacrificial victim and to swear that he would never ever be a girlfriend to Rome" (3:11). Hannibal take it the vow gladly - and never forgot it.

He accompanied his father to Spain and learned come fight, monitor and, many importantly, out-think one opponent. Matyszak comments how "the contemporary concept of teenagers as somewhere between child and also adult did no exist in the ancient world, and also Hannibal was given charge the troops at very early age" (23). Once his dad drowned, command the the army passed to Hasdrubal the fair (l. C. 270-221 BCE), Hamilcar"s son-in-law, and when Hasdrubal was assassinated in 221 BCE the troops unanimously referred to as for the election of Hannibal together their commander also though he was just 25 years old at the time.


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Crossing the Alps & early Victories

Following the very first Punic battle the treaty between Carthage and also Rome stipulated the Carthage could proceed to occupy areas in Spain as long as they preserved the stable tribute they now owed come Rome and also remained in particular areas. In 219 BCE the Romans orchestrated a coup in the city of of Saguntum which mounted a government hostile come Carthage and also her interests. Hannibal marched top top the city in 218 BCE, place siege come it, and took it. The Romans to be outraged and demanded Carthage hand their general over to them; as soon as Carthage refused, the second Punic battle was begun.

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Map the Hannibal"s Route right into Italy
The department of History, unified States army Academy (GNU FDL)

Hannibal decided to lug the fight to the Romans and also invade north Italy in 218 BCE by crossing the mountain range of the Alps. That left his brothers Hasdrubal Barca (l. C. 244-207 BCE) in fee of the militaries in Spain and set out v his males for Italy. On the way, recognizing the prestige of win the human being to his side, he depicted himself as a liberator freeing the civilization of Spain from roman inn control.

His military grew steadily with new recruits till he had actually 50,000 infantry and also 9,000 mounties by the moment he reached the Alps. He likewise had with him a number of elephants which he had actually found an extremely useful in terrorizing the roman army and also their cavalry. Upon reaching the mountains he was compelled to leaving behind his siege engines and a variety of other offers he feeling would slow their progress and then had the military begin their ascent.


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The troops and their basic had to battle not just the weather and the incline yet hostile people who resided in the mountains. By the time they reached the various other side, 17 days later, the military had been reduced to 26,000 guys in total and also a few elephants. Still, Hannibal to be confident he would be victorious and also led his guys down top top the levels of Italy.

The Romans, meanwhile, had actually no idea that Hannibal"s movements. Lock never considered he would move his military over the hills to with them and also thought he was still in Spain somewhere. When word reached Rome that Hannibal"s maneuver, however, lock were quick to act and sent the basic Scipio (father that Scipio Africanus the Elder, that accompanied him) come intercept. The two militaries met in ~ the Ticino River wherein the Romans to be defeated and also Scipio nearly killed

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Carthaginian war Elephant

Hannibal next defeated his enemies at Lake Trasimene and also quickly took manage of northern Italy. He had no siege machines and no elephants come take any type of of the cities and so relied ~ above his photo as liberator to try to coax the cities over to his side. He then sent out word come Carthage for much more men and also supplies, specifically siege engines, but his request was denied. The Carthaginian senate thought he might handle the situation without any included expense on their component and said his men live off the land.


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Hannibal"s top & the battle of Cannae

Hannibal"s strategy that presenting himself as a liberator worked and also a variety of cities decided to side v him against Rome if his to win on the field continued to puffy his ranking with brand-new recruits. ~ the fight of Trebbia (218 BCE), where he again defeated the Romans, that retreated because that the winter come the north wherein he arisen his plans because that the feather campaign and developed various strategems to save from gift assassinated by spies in his camp or hired killers sent out by the Romans. Polybius writes just how Hannibal,

had a set of wigs made, each of i m sorry made the look like a male of a various age. He changed these constantly, every time transforming his apparel to enhance his appearance. Hence he was tough to recognize, not just by those that saw that briefly, however even by those who knew the well. (3:78)

Once spring came, Hannibal introduced a new assault, destroying the Roman military under Gaius Flaminius and also another under Servilius Geminus.

The Romans then sent out the basic Quintus Fabius Maximus (l. C. 280-203 BCE) versus Hannibal that employed a new tactic of wearing Hannibal down by maintaining him constantly on the move and also off balance. Fabius came to be known together "the delayer" by refusing to confront Hannibal directly and delaying any type of face-to-face engagement; he wanted instead to strategically place his armies to stop Hannibal from one of two people attacking or retreating native Italy. So effective was Fabius" strategy that he virtually caught Hannibal in a trap.


Hannibal invested time learning about his enemy, their toughness & weaknesses, & knew the Varro to be over-confident that success.

He had the Carthaginians penned up near Capua wherein retreat was blocked by the Volturnus River. It appeared that Hannibal had actually to either fight his means out or surrender yet then, one night, the Romans witnessed a heat of torches relocating from the Carthaginian camp emplacement towards an area they knew was held by a solid garrison of your own.

It seemed clear Hannibal to be trying to an outbreak of the trap. Fabius" generals urged him to mount a night assault to support the garrison and crush the enemy between them but Fabius refused, believing the the garrison in place can easily protect against Hannibal from break out and would host until morning. As soon as the garrison mobilized to march out and meet Hannibal in battle, however, they found only livestock with torches bound on their horns and also Hannibal"s army had slipped away with the happen the Romans had actually left untended.

Fabius" tactic the refusing to satisfy Hannibal in open battle was start to wear top top the Romans that demanded direct action. Lock appointed a younger general, Minucius Rufus (dates unknown), as co-commander as Rufus to be confident he can defeat Hannibal and bring peace ago to the region. Fabius understood that Hannibal was no usual adversary, however, and also still refuse to engage. He provided Rufus fifty percent the army and also invited the to perform his best. Rufus attacked Hannibal near the city of Gerione and was so badly beat that Fabius had to save him and also what to be left of his troops from complete annihilation. Afterwards, Fabius resigned his position and also Rufus disappears from history.

Hannibal then marched to the roman supply depot that Cannae, i m sorry he take it easily, and also then provided his guys time come rest. The Romans sent the 2 consuls Lucius Aemilius Paulus (d. 216 BCE) and Caius Terentius Varro (served c. 218-200 BCE), v a pressure of end 80,000, versus his position; Hannibal had actually less 보다 50,000 men under his command. Together always, Hannibal spent time learning about his enemy, your strengths and also weaknesses, and also knew the Varro was passionate for a fight and also over-confident that success. As the two consuls traded turn off command that the army, it operated to Hannibal"s advantage that the more ambitious and also reckless the the two, Varro, organized supreme government on the very first day of battle.

Hannibal i ordered it his army in a crescent, placing his irradiate infantry the Gauls at the front and also center with the hefty infantry behind them and light and heavy cavalry on the wings. The Romans under Varro"s command were placed in traditional formation come march toward the center of the enemy"s lines and also break them. Varro thought he was dealing with an enemy like any of the others roman legions had defeated in the past and also was confident that the toughness of the Roman force would rest the Carthaginian line; this was specifically the conclusion Hannibal hope he would reach.

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When the Roman military advanced, the center of the Carthaginian line started to give way so the it appeared as though Varro had actually been correct and also the center would break. The Carthaginian pressures fell back evenly, drawing the Romans further and also further right into their lines, and then the irradiate infantry moved to either end of the crescent formation and the heavy infantry progressed to the front. At this same time, the Carthaginian cavalry engaged the roman inn cavalry and dispersed them, falling on the behind on the roman inn infantry.

The Romans, continuing in their timeless formation through their well-rehearsed tactics, ongoing to push forward but now lock were only pushing those in the former lines into the killing maker of the Carthaginian hefty infantry. The Carthaginian mounties had now closed the gap behind and also the pressures of Rome were completely surrounded. The the 80,000 roman soldiers that took the ar that day, 44,000 were eliminated while Hannibal lost around 6,000 men. It to be a terrible defeat because that Rome which led to a number of the Italian city-states defecting to Hannibal and Philip V that Macedon (r. 221-179 BCE) declaring in donate of Hannibal and initiating the very first Macedonian War with Rome.

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The people of Rome mobilized to defend their city, which castle were sure Hannibal would move on next. Veterans and brand-new recruits alike refuse pay in order to protect the city. Hannibal, however, could make no relocate on Rome because he lacked siege engines and reinforcements because that his army. His inquiry for these necessary supplies to be refused through Carthage due to the fact that the senate did not desire to exert the initiative or spend the money.

Hannibal"s command of the cavalry, Maharbal, urged Hannibal to attack anyway, i was sure they could win the war at this point when the Roman military was in disarray and the civilization in a panic. Once Hannibal refused, Maharbal said, "You know exactly how to victory a victory, Hannibal, but you execute not know exactly how to use it." Hannibal to be right, however; his troops were tired after Cannae and also he had actually neither elephants nor siege engines to take it the city. That did not even have enough men to minimize the city by encircling it for a long siege. If Carthage had actually sent the requested men and supplies in ~ this point, background would have been written really differently; yet they walk not.

Further projects & The battle of Zama

Among the roman warriors who survived Cannae was the guy who would concerned be known as Scipio Africanus the Elder. Scipio"s father and also uncle, two of the former commanders, had been killed fighting Hasdrubal Barca in Spain and, when the roman senate called for a general to protect the city versus Hannibal, every one of the many likely leaders refused believing, after ~ Cannae, that any type of such command was just a self-destruction mission. Scipio, only 24 years old at the time, volunteered. He left Rome with just 10,000 infantry and also 1,000 mounties to fulfill Hannibal"s much bigger force.

Scipio started in Spain - no Italy - in an initiative to subdue Hasdrubal very first and protect against reinforcements from getting to Italy. He very first took the city Carthago Nova and also moved on from over there to other victories. In 208 BCE, he defeated Hasdrubal at the battle of Baecula using the very same tactic Hannibal had at Cannae.


Hasdrubal, recognizing the Spain was a lost cause, overcome the Alps to join Hannibal in Italy for a united assault on Rome.

Hasdrubal, recognizing that Spain was a lost cause, overcome the Alps to sign up with Hannibal in Italy for a united strike on Rome. At the fight of the Metaurus flow in 207 BCE, however, Hasdrubal"s military was defeated by the Romans under Gaius Claudius Nero (c. 237-199 BCE); Hasdrubal to be killed and also his pressures scattered. Nero had actually been engaging Hannibal in the south but slipped away in the night, beat Hasdrubal, and also returned without Hannibal ever before noticing. The an initial Hannibal knew that Hasdrubal"s defeat was once a roman contingent threw his brother"s head to the sentries the his camp.

Scipio, still in Spain, requested money and also supplies native the roman senate to take the fight to Hannibal by attack Carthage; a relocate which, he to be sure, would pressure Carthage to recall Hannibal indigenous Italy to safeguard the city. The roman senate refused and so Scipio shamed them by elevating his own army and appealing to the civilization of Rome for support; the senate climate relented and gave the command of Sicily indigenous which to launch his invasion of north Africa.

Hannibal, in the meantime, was forced to proceed his vault strategy that striking in ~ Rome in quickly orchestrated engagements, and also trying to success city-states to his cause, without being able to take any city through storm. Matyszak writes:

In the field, Hannibal continued to be umatched. In 212 and also 210 he take it on the Romans and defeated them. Yet he now interpreted that the wound Rome had received at Cannae had not been mortal. The flow of defections come the Carthaginian next slowed and also then stopped. (39)

In Spain, the Carthaginians had actually been defeated by Scipio yet Hannibal had no knowledge of this; he just knew his brother had been killed however not the Spain was under roman control.

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By this time, Scipio was already set to invade North Africa and his arrangement would work specifically as he predicted. In 205 BCE he landing his forces and allied himself through the Numidian King Masinissa. He easily took the Carthaginian city the Utica and also marched on towards Carthage. Hannibal to be recalled from Italy to accomplish this threat and also the two forces met on the field in 202 BCE at the fight of Zama.

Scipio had studied Hannibal"s tactics closely in the same method that Hannibal had constantly taken ache to recognize his enemy and also out-think his opponents. He had actually no suffer in facing Scipio, however, and only knew him together the young general who had somehow regulated to defeat Hasdrubal in Spain. Scipio appeared to conform come Hannibal"s expectations when he arranged his forces in classic formation in a seemingly tight cluster.

Hannibal was particular he would certainly scatter these Romans quickly with one elephant charge but Scipio used his prior line together a display for a really different type of formation: rather of the closely-packed construction presenting a horizontal front across the line (the formation Hannibal witnessed from his position) he i ordered it his troops in vertical rows behind the front line. As soon as Hannibal launched his elephant charge, Scipio"s front line merely moved aside and also the elephants ran harmlessly under the alleys in between the roman inn troops that then killed their handlers and turned the elephants about to crush the ranks of the Carthaginians; Hannibal was defeated and also the second Punic war was over.

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Later year & Legacy

After the war, Hannibal accepted a position as cook Magistrate that Carthage in ~ which that performed as well as he had actually as a armed forces leader. The heavy fines applied on defeated Carthage by Rome, intended to cripple the city, were conveniently paid owing to the reforms Hannibal initiated. The members the the senate, who had actually refused come send him aid when he needed it in Italy, accused that of betraying the understand of the state by no taking Rome as soon as he had actually the chance but, still, Hannibal stayed true to the interests of his human being until the senators trump card up more charges and also denounced Hannibal to Rome declare he was making Carthage a strength again so as to an obstacle the Romans. Exactly why they made decision to do this is unclear except for your disappointment in him adhering to defeat in ~ Zama and simple jealousy end his abilitites.

In Rome, Scipio was likewise dealing with troubles posed through his own senate as they accused the of sympathizing with Hannibal by pardoning and releasing him, accepting bribes, and also misappropiating funds. Scipio safeguarded Hannibal as an honorable man and also kept the Romans from sending a delegation demanding his arrest however Hannibal interpreted it was just a issue of time prior to his own countrymen turned him over and also so the fled the city in 195 BCE because that Tyre and then moved on to Asia Minor whereby he was offered the place of consultant come Antiochus III (the Great, r. 223-187 BCE) of the Seleucid Empire.

Antiochus, the course, knew of Hannibal"s reputation and also did not want to danger placing so powerful and well-known a male in control of his armies and so preserved him at court until need drove that to choose Hannibal admiral that the marine in a war against Rhodes, one of Rome"s allies. Hannibal to be an inexperienced sailor, together was his crew, and also was beat even though, lot to his credit, he came close to winning. When Antiochus was defeated by the Romans at Magnesia in 189 BCE, Hannibal knew the he would be surrendered to Rome as part of the terms and again took flight.

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At the court that King Prusias the Bithynia in 183 BCE, through Rome quiet in pursuit, Hannibal determined to end his life quite than be taken by his enemies. The said, "Let us put an end to this life, which has actually caused so much dread to the Romans" and also then drank poison. He was 65 years old. During this very same time, in Rome, the charges against Scipio had disgusted that so much that he retreated to his estate outside the city and left orders in his will certainly that that be hidden there rather of in Rome. He died the same year as Hannibal in ~ the age of 53.

Hannibal became a legend in his own lifetime and, years after his death, roman inn mothers would continue to frighten their unwilling children to bed through the phrase "Hannibal ad Porto" (Hannibal is in ~ the door). His campaign across the Alps, unthinkable even in his day, winner him the grudging admiration that his enemies and enduring fame ever before since.

Hannibal"s strategies, learned so fine by Scipio, were integrated into roman inn tactics and also Rome would consistently use castle to great effect adhering to the fight of Zama. ~ the deaths the Hannibal and also Scipio, Carthage continued to cause problems for Rome which at some point resulted in the third Punic war (149-146 BCE) in i m sorry Carthage to be destroyed.

The historian Ernle Bradford writes the Hannibal"s war against the Romans,

may be related to as the last initiative of the old eastern and Semitic peoples to prevent the dominance of the Mediterranean civilization by a europe state. The it failed was due to the enormous resilience of the Romans, both in your political constitution and in their soldiery. (210)

While there is some truth to this, Hannibal"s ultimate loss was brought around by his own people"s weakness because that luxury, wealth, and ease as much as by the roman inn refusal to surrender after Cannae. There is no doubt, as Bradford likewise notes, that had Hannibal "been fighting against any other country in the old world...his overwhelming victories would certainly have lugged them to your knees and also to very early capitulation" (210) however the cause of Hannibal"s loss was just as much the error of the Carthaginian elite that refused to assistance the general and his troops who were fighting for your cause.

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No records exist the Carthage awarding Hannibal any recognition for his organization in Italy and he was honored an ext by Scipio"s pardon and also defense than by any actions on the part of his countrymen. Even so, he ongoing to carry out his best for his people throughout his life and remained true come the vow he had taken when young; to the end, he stayed an opponent of Rome and also his name would be remembered as Rome"s greatest adversary for generations - and also even to the existing day.