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Who was Hannibal? Short biograhpy. Hannibal history, pictures and videos. Hannibal facts, birthday and Life Story…

Hannibal (c.247-183 BC) – Carthaginian general and conqueror

The name of Hannibal is one of the best known in all history. In his time, for fifteen or more years, it struck terror in the heart of every Roman who heard it.

This very great military genius was a son of Hamilcar Barca (p. 24), one of the leading generals on the Carthaginian side in the first war between Rome and Carthage (264-241). As a lad, he had been compelled by his father to promise that he would fight the Romans whenever he could.

By about 220, the Carthaginians felt strong enough to renew the war with Rome, and they appointed Hannibal to command a large army and sent him to Spain. There he quickly established himself as a splendid leader of men, especially gifted in the art of surprising his enemies and, having done so, ramming home his advantage in a crushing victory. He captured Saguntum, a Roman town on the north-east coast, and immediately marched on, out of Spain and up the Alps. He had with him some 50,000 troops and fifty elephants.

Then he began to cross this cold, treacherous, formidable group of mountains. Everyone had to go on foot. It was a terrible journey. The elephants slipped and slithered down the mountain sides or into great drifts of snow, screaming and trumpeting, and by the time the army reached the plains of Italy on the other side, the animals were dead. So were thousands of men. But many thousands survived and, invigorated by a rest in the foothills, and freshly encouraged by their intrepid commander, they marched on into Italy itself. There, under superb leadership and guided by brilliant strategy, they crushed every Roman army sent against them, at the Ticinus, the Trebia and Lake Trasimene in 218, and finally at Cannae in 216 where, it is said, 80,000 Roman cavalry and infantry were destroyed. These four victories were devas-tatingly complete. Cannae remained one of the worst disasters ever to befall a Roman army in twelve hundred years of history.

At that point, the gates of Rome were unprotected and there were hardly enough men left to make any but a token resistance. But Hannibal’s men were tired, too, and he needed reinforcements. So he did not attack. Instead, he ravaged the countryside far and wide and kept what was left of the Roman army on its toes. The Roman senate had appointed Quintus Fabius Maximus (p. 26) as dictator and he kept the army from fighting pitched battles with Hannibal.

After a few years of this inconclusive kind of warfare, Hannibal was called home to defend Carthage against a Roman force which had landed there from Italy under Publius Cornelius Scipio (p. 28). At Zama, the armies met Hannibal left Carthage and wandered about in the Near East. He had not forgotten his oath to fight Rome, and he looked around for other enemies of Rome whom he might help. He acted as adviser to Antiochus the Great (p. 26), who was defeated at the battle of Magnesia in 190. He then fled to Bithynia, where a few years later he took poison and died. It was a sad end for a once invincible military leader. But his fame has remained largely untarnished, for the crossing of the Alps and the succession of victories against Roman arms have seldom been equalled as achievements in world history.