Although Hannibal’s heroic life ended in defeat, its quite possible that if Hannibal and Carthage had triumphed over Rome at the Battle of Zama in 204 BC, the story of Civilization as we know it today would have been quiet different.
Hannibal’s Early Life and Career
Born in North Africa in 247 BC, Hannibal was the Son of Hamilca Barca, a respected Carthegian General who had battled Rome in the first Punic War.
In his view, Rome’s victory over Carthage in the first Punic Wars was primarily due to divisive internal Politics within Carthage rather than Rome’s military supremacy.
As a result, he always sought the opportunity to reverse the Roman victory, and infused the same mission in his Son Hannibal.
Hannibal and his two brothers joined military life early and accompanied their father on military expeditions in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain) until his father died in battle in 229 BC.
Following his Father’s death Hannibal served as an Officer in the Carthegian Army until at 26 Years old, he took command of the Army in Spain after his brother’s death.
Italian Miltary Campaign
Hannibal immediately began pursuing his long held ambition against Rome when in 219 BC he initiated the second Punic Wars by attacking the City of Saguntum which was an ally of Rome.
The successful attack was followed by a daring march into Italy across the Alps with an Army of 100 000 Soldiers and about 40 Elephants.
On his arrival in Italy, Hannibal gathered support from the disgruntled Tribes of Gaul in order to replenish and swell the ranks of his army after the gruelling Alpine crossing.
Once in Italy, Hannibal fought a series of successful battles against Rome culminating in the Battle of Cannae.
Despite his convincing victories, Hannibal had no intention of marching on Rome itself and was content for Rome to surrender and enter a Peace Treaty with Carthage which would help regain Carthage’s losses from the first Punic Wars.
Rome refused to surrender however, and responded by raising another Army to confront Hannibal.
Roman General Scipio attacked Carthagean territory in Spain and initiated a direct assault on Carthage itself in North Africa.
Hannibal was forced to leave Italy and return to Carthage to repel the latest Roman offensive.
Return To Carthage, Defeat and Death
In 204 BC, Hannibal and Scipio fought on the battlefield at Zama.
Hannibals forces suffered heavy losses, and the Romans obtained a decisive victory.
The end result was Carthage’s loss of its overseas territorial possessions to Rome, the surrender of its naval fleet and the payment of a significant amount in Silver as a fine.
Hannibal managed to escape and continued to encourage insurrection against Rome by encouraging Kings such as Antiochus III of Syria and Prusias of Bithynia to rebel.
All the campaigns were unsuccesful and Rome demanded Hannibal’s surrender.
Hannibal was eventually unable to escape and rather than fall into Roman hands, he chose to commit suicide in 183 BC.
Despite his death, Hannibal’s legend has survived because he will always be known as one one of the true contenders and challengers of the mighty Roman Empire.