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Updated on November 23, 2016

Hannibal was Carthaginian general. Born about 247 B.C. Died Bithynia, about 182 B.C.

Hannibal, one of the greatest generals and military strategists in history, led Carthage against Rome in the Second Punic War. He was the most dangerous enemy ever to confront the republic. His tactics were so successful that he fought in Italy for 15 years without losing a battle, although Rome remained unconquered.

Hannibal was the son of Hamilcar Barca, the Carthaginian leader who fought the Romans in the First Punic War. As a young boy, Hannibal became dedicated to the task of avenging Carthage's defeat in that war. According to tradition, Hannibal swore, at his father's request, a solemn oath to remain forever an enemy of Rome.

In 221 B.C., Hannibal succeeded his brother-in-law Hasdrubal as commander of the Carthaginian army in Spain. He soon completed the conquest of Spain south of the Ebro River. In 219 B.C. he laid siege to Sagunto, an ally of Rome. The city appealed to Rome for assistance. Despite repeated Roman protests, Hannibal continued the siege and captured Sagunto eight months later. After Carthage refused to repudiate Hannibal's military action, the Romans issued a declaration of war, and the Second Punic War began.

With amazing rapidity and daring, Hannibal invaded Italy. He led his army of over 35,000 men over the Pyrenees, across the Rhone, and over the Alps into the Po Valley, showing great ingenuity in moving his baggage train and elephant corps. Crossing the Alps cost Hannibal about half of his troops, but he arrived in Italy after having accomplished one of the greatest achievements in military history.

Late in 218 B.C., Hannibal defeated the Romans at the Ticino River and later at the Trebbia River. The following spring, after a difficult crossing over the Apennines, he overwhelmed a Roman army under Flaminius at Lake Trasimeno in central Italy.

In 216 B.C., Hannibal won his greatest victory over the largest army the Romans had ever assembled. At the Battle of Cannae, which ranks as one of the bloodiest battles in ancient history, Hannibal's forces slaughtered more than 50,000 Roman soldiers. For the next 13 years, Hannibal maintained himself in Italy. His most notable success was the capture of Taranto in 212 B.C., by which he gained direct communication with Carthage by sea. In 211 B.C., however, Capua was captured by the Romans, and in 209 B.C., Hannibal lost Taranto.

Hannibal's last hope of marching successfully on the city of Rome itself was ended in 207 B.C., when his brother Hasdrubal, who had brought a relieving army across the Alps, was defeated and killed at the Metauro River. Unable to continue the war, Hannibal withdrew his army into Bruttium (now Calabria) in southern Italy. In 203 B.C. he was recalled to Carthage.

In 202 B.C., Hannibal was overwhelmingly defeated by Scipio Africanus the Elder at Zama (now Jama), near the northern coast of Africa, and forced to sue for peace. After helping Carthage meet the obligations imposed by Rome, Hannibal withdrew into exile. He was welcomed by Antiochus III of Syria, who assisted his preparations for another war with Rome.

In 190 B.C. the Romans met and defeated Hannibal for the last time at the Eurymedon River (now Koprii River) in southern Asia Minor. Hannibal then fled to Bithynia. The Romans demanded his surrender. Hannibal refused to surrender and ended his life by swallowing poison.


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      8 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      I've come to question the so called 'Wrath of Barca' that, according to original sources, was a cause of the Second Punic War. It's certainly debatable, but I see that 'cause' as unlikely accept possibly as a motive for suspicion of Roman motives.


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