Hannibal - World History

Hannibal - World History
Posted on 30-12-2022

Hannibal ( 220 ) Hannibal enters Italy and the Romans are unable to defeat him.

Hannibal Barca had been raised in Spain since he was nine years old. His father had been a magnificent tactician, teaching him everything he knew while instilling in him a visceral hatred of the Romans. When he led the Carthaginian troops in Spain, the soldiers acclaimed him, because he had grown up among them, they all loved him and knew his qualities. Hasdrubal had prepared a magnificent army for him. He had a strong Iberian infantry, with Numidian horsemen, with slingers from the Balearic Islands, capable of throwing stones or lead balls with more precision than archers, and he also had some North African elephants. They were not the great Central African elephants, but other smaller ones, little bigger than a horse. Under these conditions, Hannibal set out to fulfill his father's dream: to defeat Rome. The biggest drawback he had to deal with was Carthage. The rulers of Carthage did not even want to think about a confrontation with Rome. They were merchants and what they wanted was to trade. But Hannibal knew how to treat Carthage. They were merchants and what they wanted was to trade. But Hannibal knew how to treat Carthage. They were merchants and what they wanted was to trade. But Hannibal knew how to treat Carthage.

In 219 he besieged Saguntum and demanded its surrender. The Saguntines appealed to Rome, which immediately sent messengers to Hannibal to remind him that he was violating the treaty signed by Hasdrubal. Hannibal treated the Romans in a deliberately insulting manner, and invited them to take their grievances to Carthage, hoping that the angry Romans would immediately declare war, but to Hannibal's chagrin they accepted his suggestion and headed for Carthage. Hannibal sent his own messengers to Carthage, who went ahead of the Romans, and tried to get as much support as possible for the war, while making the talks between Rome and Carthage as difficult as possible.

These were not very agile, because at the same time Rome had started a second campaign against Illyrian piracy, under the direction of the consul Lucio Emilio Paulo (the little one). In his first campaign, Rome had left part of Illyria under the rule of Demetrius of Faros, but he allowed the pirates to continue dominating the Adriatic. Taking advantage of the arrival of the Romans, Queen Teuta attacked Demetrius, but finally Paulo razed Faros and Demetrius was forced to flee to Macedonia. Paulo's campaign put a definitive end to Illyrian piracy.

A dispute between the Achaean League and the Aetolian League induced Philip V of Macedonia to confront the Aetolians. The king proved to be an excellent general and the campaign helped him to impose an absolute monarchy on Macedonia.

In 218, after eight months of siege, Saguntum fell, and the usual looting took place, which Hannibal did not try to stop in order to anger the Romans. He confiscated the city's treasury and sent it to Carthage. The case was that when Rome raised the ultimatum: war or peace, the Carthaginians, inflamed by the victory of Hannibal and satisfied with the gold, responded to the Romans that they choose them. The choice was war, and thus began the Second Punic War.

Hannibal left Cartagena with 90,000 infantry, 12,000 cavalry, and some elephants. He left his brother Asdrúbal in Spain in command of another 15,000 men. He advanced north. His men ended up realizing the goal: they were heading to Italy. Hannibal allowed the most fearful to desert, so that his fear would not spread to the rest. Meanwhile, Rome, unaware of Hannibal's plans, sent troops to Spain, under the command of Publius Cornelius Scipio.When he disembarked, he learned that Hannibal was near the Rhône, so he re-embarked to head north. When he reached the mouth of the Rhone he learned that Hannibal had advanced along the river to get away from him, and was speeding towards the Alps. Scipio did not try to follow him, for crossing the Alps was madness. In his place, he sent his brother De he Gnaeus to Spain while he returned to Italy, ready to wait for Hannibal on the other side of the Alps, if he came.

It took Hannibal fifteen days to cross the Alps. He had to fight two battles against the Gauls and won both, albeit with heavy losses. Winter was approaching and his men had to endure the cold and the snow. By the time he reached northern Italy, his troops had dwindled to about 26,000 men. He had no bases, lines of communication or reserves. His undertaking seemed like suicide. Scipio was waiting for him by the Ticino river.There a confrontation between the cavalries took place in which the Romans were defeated. Scipio himself was wounded and apparently would have died if his son had not saved his life. Scipio managed to withdraw his army across the Po and fell back east of the Trebia River. There he awaited the arrival of the other consul, Tiberius Sempronius Longus .(the long one), who brought his own army. Hannibal was not about to have another little skirmish with the Romans. He wanted a serious fight, so he waited west of the Trebia and did not try to prevent the two armies from coming together. Scipio understood that Hannibal was dangerous, and was in favor of retiring, but Sempronio was not willing to accept such dishonor. Hannibal sent a cavalry detachment across the river, the Romans attacked, and after a brief resistance, the Carthaginians fled. The Romans followed close behind and their infantry rushed after them across the river. It was winter and the water was freezing. The Romans reached the other shore numb with cold, while a dry and fully-fit army awaited them there. The Roman legions fought professionally and managed to break through Hannibal's lines, but he was unable to withstand the charge of the cavalry and elephants. In addition, Hannibal had hidden two thousand men under the command of his younger brother,Mago, who attacked the Romans from the rear at the opportune moment. Part of the Roman army could be saved, but at the cost of heavy losses. Rome retained two garrisons in Cisalpine Gaul, but had to abandon the rest as the recently subdued Gauls jubilantly joined the Carthaginians, Hannibal more than making up for the losses he had suffered crossing the Alps.

After the battle, Hannibal camped for the winter, and the Romans left him alone while they rebuilt their legions. Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio was sent to Emporion (Ampurias) to attack Hannibal's supply base and thus prevent him from receiving reinforcements. He went down the coast and met the Carthaginians at Cissa (Tarragona). There, the general Hannón had allied himself with Indíbil, leader of the Ilergetes, who populated the current Lleida, but he was defeated by Scipio.

Antiochus III had put down some rebellions typical of the change of king, and then declared war on Ptolemy IV. Thus began the Fourth Syrian War. At first he had a certain advantage, but in 217 he faced the bulk of the Egyptian army led by Ptolemy IV himself. The combat took place in Rafia,next to the Egyptian border. Antiochus III's Asian elephants faced Ptolemy IV's Africans. The Africans were larger, but less docile. Until then, the Ptolemaic armies had consisted solely of Greeks, but, faced with the Seleucid threat, Ptolemy IV had raised a phalanx of 20,000 native Egyptians. He also had a good number of Galatian and Thracian mercenaries. With these troops, Ptolemy IV won the battle.

The defeat caused numerous problems for Antiochus III, who had to deal with a revolt in Asia Minor for a few years. For his part, Ptolemy IV must have thought that Egypt was free from all danger and neglected the government tasks in the hands of his ministers. Among his hobbies was building gigantic ships, without any practical value due to their lack of maneuverability. The largest he ever had was about 130 meters long and had four thousand oars.

Publius Cornelius Scipio was sent to Spain to help his brother, and Hannibal also sent his brother Magon to Spain to help Hasdrubal. Meanwhile he led his army over the Apennines to the vicinity of Lake Trasimeno, in Etruria. The path was not easy, all the elephants except one were lost. They spent four days crossing a marsh, which triggered an epidemic of plague. Hannibal lost sight in one eye due to the infection. Rome sent against him an army greater than the previous one, under the command of Gaius Flaminius.

Beside Lake Trasimeno, Hannibal observed a narrow path that ran along the edge of a hill. He positioned all of his men behind the hill and waited. The Roman army arrived the next morning along the road. Hannibal threw his troops down the hill, catching the Romans utterly unawares, spread out in a long, weak, thin line, and the result was slaughter.

However, despite the victory, Hannibal suffered a strong setback. His hope was to raise all of Italy against Rome. Certainly the northern Gauls had joined him as soon as he had defeated Scipio, but the Etruscans did not after the second victory. They remained faithful to Rome, although Hannibal decided to release all the Italian prisoners. Hannibal must have thought that he needed another victory.

Philip V became very interested in what was happening in Italy and hastened to make peace with the Aetolians. He wanted to have his hands free to intervene at the opportune moment.

Rome was terrified, so the Senate appointed a dictator: Quintus Fabius Maximus (the eldest). Fabio adopted the policy that least favored Hannibal. He needed a victory and Fabio was not willing to offer it to him. He avoided direct confrontation at all times. His men followed the Carthaginians closely and attacked any detachment, but withdrew if Hannibal approached with the main body of the army. Fabio received the nickname of Cunctator(the one that delays) and his strategy was slowly wearing down the invading army. However, with the passage of time, Fabio's attitude was questioned in Rome. The Romans were forgetting Hannibal's ability and the opinion was emerging that Fabius was a coward, and that Hannibal had to be dealt with once and for all. Thus, in 216, when Fabio's second dictatorship ended, Gaius Terence Varro was elected consuls.and Lucio Emilio Paulo. The first had been one of the most aggressive critics against Fabio, and the Senate entrusted them to confront Hannibal. They found it in Cannae, on the Apulian coast, in southern Italy. Hannibal had about 50,000 men, while the Roman army numbered 86,000. But Hannibal did not shy away from combat. Instead, he arranged his men in the shape of a semicircle, with the convex part facing the Romans. As they attacked, the center gradually fell back, and the Romans advanced in the hope of breaking the enemy lines. But in their advance they did not observe that the ends of the Carthaginian front remained firm, while if the center retreated it was because it had been ordered to do so. The semicircle turned straight, then concave with the Romans inside. When the Romans understood what was happening, they tried to prevent it with the cavalry, but it was rejected by the Carthaginian cavalry, which then definitively closed the circle in which the Roman army was systematically annihilated. Paulo died in the battle and Varro survived, but he preferred to commit suicide rather than return to Rome and explain himself. When the Romans understood what was happening, they tried to prevent it with the cavalry, but it was rejected by the Carthaginian cavalry, which then definitively closed the circle in which the Roman army was systematically annihilated. Paulo died in the battle and Varro survived, but he preferred to commit suicide rather than return to Rome and explain himself. When the Romans understood what was happening, they tried to prevent it with the cavalry, but it was rejected by the Carthaginian cavalry, which then definitively closed the circle in which the Roman army was systematically annihilated. Paulo died in the battle and Varro survived, but he preferred to commit suicide rather than return to Rome and explain himself.

The victory at Cannae bore some fruit, though perhaps less than Hannibal would have hoped for. The city of Capua, in Campania, decided to support Hannibal, and it was followed by a few more, but few. On the other hand, Philip V of Macedonia signed an alliance with Hannibal.

So far, Hannibal had cost Rome over a hundred thousand lives, but the Romans would not even mention the word surrender. Any sign of mourning for the dead in Cannae was prohibited and the policy of attrition advocated by Fabio returned. The essential thing was to prevent reinforcements from reaching Hannibal. Scipio remained in Spain with his brother fighting with Hasdrubal. He was not very successful, but he kept Hasdrubal busy. The Roman fleet was led into the Adriatic to prevent Philip V of Macedon from sending reinforcements. Consul Marco Claudio Marcelo(Marquito), who had been leading with Flaminius in the conquest of Cisalpine Gaul, had a small success in preventing Hannibal from capturing the city of Nola, near Naples, which was not a big deal, but it did lift the spirits of the Romans.

In 215 King Hiero of Syracuse died, who was until his death a faithful ally of Rome, but his son Hieronymusdecided to side with Carthage. He was not unreasonable: if Hannibal won, Rome would have to cede Sicily to Carthage, and the Carthaginians would have been ruthless with a pro-Roman Syracuse. Since Marcellus had been praetor in Sicily, he was sent to the island, defeated a Carthaginian army, and laid siege to Syracuse. Regarding Macedonia, Rome established an alliance with the Aetolian League and with Sparta and sent a small number of troops, which began the First Macedonian War. Meanwhile Hannibal led his army to Capua, where he spent some time recovering his strength. The Romans surrounded the city. In Spain, Hibera (near Tortosa) and forced him to retreat.

The Romans then made an alliance with Syphax, king of the Massilians, the western Numidians, who seized the throne from Gaia, king of the Massilians, and attacked Carthage. In 214 Hasdrubal had to leave Spain to help in the fight against the Numidians, and in his absence the Scipios were able to occupy the south of the peninsula with the help of mercenary Iberian soldiers.

That same year Demetrius of Faros died in a battle, and in 213 Arato died, the one who had led the Achaean League until it had to yield to Macedonia. Philip V managed to slightly strengthen his rule over Greece.

Meanwhile Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di (or rather his minister Li Si) continued to impose imperial authority on China. Obviously, the new regime had many detractors, and this year a drastic decision was made: the subversive books were ordered to be burned and anyone who kept them was sentenced to death. The order extended to the classical texts of Confucianism, to the notes of the philosophical schools, and to all historical works except the Qin Chronicle. The books on medicine, agriculture, etc. were not subversive. Even books on divination were accepted. Instead, it was expressly prohibited "criticize the present by evoking antiquity". This alluded to the Confucians, who used the mythical ancient kingdoms as a model for their political theories.

On the other hand, the borders of the Empire continued to expand to the south. In the north the pressure of the barbarians increased. Now the Hsiung-nu ruled, though they had been harassing China for more than a century. They are commonly known as the Huns, although it is difficult to know if they were related to the people of the same name who appeared in Europe centuries later. The defensive walls that had been built by the northern kingdoms were united into a monumental Great Wall 6,000 kilometers long. On the contrary, the inner walls that marked the limits between different kingdoms, as well as the fortifications, were destroyed. The emperor promoted great public works: in addition to the Great Wall, he built a radial road system that linked the capital with the border territories, as well as irrigation canals and many palaces.

Returning to Italy, in 212, after a long siege of two years, Syracuse fell. Tradition says that during the siege the nightmare of the Romans was Archimedes, who built all sorts of devices, from catapults to concave mirrors that focused the sun's rays on the Roman ships and burned them. They say that when the soldiers saw something strange appear on the walls, they would run just in case. Naturally, later Greek historians presumably exaggerated the fight between a Greek mastermind versus a Roman army. The fact is that, apparently, a part of the wall was left unguarded during a party and the Romans managed to enter. Marcelo gave orders that Archimedes be brought into his presence without harm. It is said that a soldier found him drawing figures in the sand, oblivious to the invasion. He ordered him to accompany him, but the old man replied:"Don't smash my circles," and the soldier killed him. Marcelo was upset to learn this and ordered an honorable funeral to be held in his memory, while he made sure that his family was protected. He then dedicated himself to clearing Sicily of Carthaginians.

The Carthaginians managed to dominate Numidian Syphax with the help of Masinisa, the son of King Gaea. The Carthaginian senate sent Asdrúbal, his brother Magón, and another general named Asdrúbal Giscón back to Spain. Masinisa also went with them, commanding a contingent of Numidian horsemen. Among all of them and with the help of the Ilergetes from Indíbil they managed to defeat the Scipios in Ilorci (Lorca), where Gnaeus died, while Publio had to flee to the Ebro and died shortly after fighting against Asdrúbal Giscón near Cástulo. The Roman troops in Spain were commanded by the son of Publius, also called Publius Cornelius Scipio. (Some nicknames, such as Varro or Scipio, passed from father to son). Asdrúbal Gisco returned to Carthage, where he managed to seal an alliance with the Numidian Syphax, to whom his daughter Sofonisbe gave him in marriage , despite the fact that she was promised to Masinissa, and she made him forget his old alliance with Rome. .

Antiochus III tried to rebuild Alexander's shattered empire, or at least that part of it that formed the early Seleucid Empire before it broke up. In the cases that he could, he tried to do it amicably. Thus, he married three of his daughters to as many monarchs: one to Mithridates III of Pontus, another to Ariarates IV of Cappadocia, and another to Demetrius, the son of Euthydemus of Bactria. Formally, these kingdoms recognized the sovereignty of Antiochus III, although they enjoyed great autonomy.

Hannibal had marched south from Capua, looking for some allies he could not find. The city of Taranto sided with him and, with the help of the Tarentines themselves, he drove the Roman garrison out of the city. Meanwhile the Romans besieged Capua, with which they were particularly angry, for its early surrender. Hannibal left Taranto and went to the aid of Capua, but the Romans disappeared. When he returned to Taranto, the Romans returned to Capua. The situation was frustrating for Hannibal. in 211He headed for Rome itself. In reality, he did not have the necessary elements to besiege the city and was not in a position to receive supplies. The Romans were unfazed. They didn't even call in their troops from Capua, who ended up taking the city. They simply set out to withstand a siege that could not last. Hannibal knew it. It is said that he heard from him that the owner of the land on which he had camped had put it up for sale, and that it had been purchased for all its value. It is also said that Hannibal approached the wall and threw a spear into the city.

In 210 the Romans took Agrigento, in Sicily, leaving the Carthaginians off the island.

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