previous next

Ha'nnibal

10. Son of Hamilcar Barca, and one of the most illustrious generals of antiquity. The year of his birth is not mentioned by any ancient writer, but from the statements concerning his age at the battle of Zama, it appears that he must have been born in B. C. 247, the very year in which his father Hamilcar was first appointed to the command in Sicily. (Clinton, F. H. vol. iii. pp. 20, 52; but compare Niebuhr, Lect. on Rom. Hist. vol. i. p. 158.) He was only nine years old when his father took him with him into Spain, and it was on this occasion that Hamilcar made him swear upon the altar eternal hostility to Rome. The story was told by Hannibal himself many years afterwards to Antiochus, and is one of the best attested in ancient history. (Plb. 3.11; Liv. 21.1, 35.19; Corn. Nep. Hann. 2; Appian, App. Hisp. 9; V. Max. 9.3, ext. § 3.) Child as he then was, Hannibal never forgot his vow, and his whole life was one continual struggle against the power and domination of Rome. He was early trained in arms under the eye of his father, and probably accompanied him on most of his campaigns in Spain. We find him present with him in the battle in which Hamilcar perished (B. C. 229); and though only eighteen years old at this time, he had already displayed so much courage and capacity for war, that he was entrusted by Hasdrubal (the son-in-law and successor of Hamilcar) with the chief command of most of the military enterprises planned by that general. (Diod. Exc. Hoesch. xxv. p. 511; Liv. 21.4; Appian, App. Hisp. 6.) Of the details of these campaigns we know nothing; but it is clear that Hannibal thus early gave proof of that remarkable power over the minds of men, which he afterwards displayed in so eminent a degree, and secured to himself the devoted attachment of the army under his command. The consequence was, that on the assassination of Hasdrubal (B. C. 221), the soldiers unanimously proclaimed their youthful leader commander-in-chief, and the government at Carthage hastened to ratify an appointment which they had not, in fact, the power to prevent. (Plb. 3.13 Appian, App. Hisp. 8; Zonar. 8.21.)

Hannibal was at this time in the twenty-sixth year of his age. There can be no doubt that he already looked forward to the invasion and conquest of Italy as the goal of his ambition; but it was necessary for him first to complete the work which had been so ably begun by his two predecessors, and to establish the Carthaginian power as firmly as possible in Spain, before he made that country the base of his subsequent operations. This was the work of two campaigns. Immediately after he had received the command, he turned his arms against the Olcades, a nation of the interior, who were speedily compelled to submit by the fall of their capital city, Althaea. Hannibal levied large sums of money from them and the neighbouring tribes, after which he returned into winter quarters at New Carthage. The next year (220), he penetrated farther into the country, in order to assail the powerful tribe of the Vaccaeans. and reduced their two strong and populous cities of Helmantica and Arbocala. On his return from this expedition, he was involved in great danger by a sudden attack from the Carpetanians, together with the remaining forces of the Olcades and Vaccaeans, but by a dexterous manoeuvre he placed the river Tagus between himself and the enemy, and the barbarian army was cut to pieces in the attempt to force their passage. After these successes he again returned to spend the winter at New Carthage. (Plb. 3.13-15; Liv. 21.5.)

Early in the ensuing spring (B. C. 219) Hannibal proceeded to lay siege to Saguntum, a city of Greek origin, which, though situated to the south of the Iberus, and therefore not included under the protection of the treaty between Hasdrubal and the Romans [HASDRUBAL, No. 5], had concluded an alliance with the latter people. There could be little doubt, therefore, that an attack upon Saguntum would inevitably bring on a war with Rome; but for this Hannibal was prepared, or rather it was unquestionably his real object. The immediate pretext of his invasion was the same of which the Romans so often availed themselves,-- some injuries inflicted by the Saguntines upon one of the neighbouring tribes, who invoked the assistance of Hannibal. But the resistance of the city was long and desperate, and it was not till after a siege of near eight months, in the course of which Hannibal himself had been severely wounded, that he made himself master of the place. (Plb. 3.17; Liv. 21.6-15; Appian, App. Hisp. 10-12 ; Zonar. 8.21.) During all this period the Romans sent no assistance to their allies: they had, indeed, as soon as they heard of the siege, dispatched ambassadors to Hannibal, but he referred them for an answer to the government at home, and they could obtain no satisfaction from the Caithaginians, in whose councils the war party had now a decided predominance. A second embassy was sent after the fall of Saguntum to demand the surrender of Hannibal in atonement for the breach of the treaty; but this was met by an open declaration of war, and thus began the long and arduous struggle called the Second Punic War. Of this it has been justly remarked, that it was not so much a contest between the powers of two great nations,--between Carthage and Rome,0-as between the individual genius of Hannibal on the one hand, and the combined energies of the Roman people on the other. The position of Hannibal was indeed very peculiar: his command in Spain, and the powerful army there, which was entirely at his own disposal, rendered him in great measure independent of the government at Carthage, and the latter seemed disposed to take advantage of this circumstance to devolve all responsibility upon him. When he sent to Carthage for instructions as to how he should act in regard to Saguntum, he could obtain no other reply than that he should do as he thought best (Appian, App. Hisp. 10); and though the government afterwards avowed and supported his proceedings in that instance, they did little themselves to prepare for the impending contest. All was left to Hannibal, who, after the conquest of Saguntum, had returned once more to New Carthage for the winter, and was there actively engaged in preparations for transporting the scene of war in the ensuing campaign from Spain into Italy. At the same time, he did not neglect to provide for the defence of Spain and Africa during his absence: in the former country he placed his brother Hasdrubal with a considerable army, great part of which was composed of Africans, while he sent over a large body of Spanish troops to contribute to the defence of Africa and even of Carthage itself. (Plb. 3.33.) During the winter he allowed many of the Spaniards in his own army to return to their homes, that they might rejoin their standards with fresh spirits for the approaching campaign: he himself is said to have repaired to Gades, and there to have offered up in the temple of Melkarth, the tutelary deity of Tyre and of Carthage, a solemn sacrifice for the success of his expedition. (Liv. 21.21.)

All his preparations being now completed, Hannibal quitted his winter-quarters at New Carthage in the spring of 218, and crossed the Iberus with an army of 90,000 foot and 12,000 horse. (Plb. 3.35). The tribes between that river and the Pyrenees offered at first a vigorous resistance; and though they were quickly subdued, Hannibal thought it necessary to leave behind him a force of 11,000 men, under Hanno, to maintain this newly acquired province. His forces were farther thinned during the passage of the Pyrenees by desertion, which obliged him to send home a large body of his Spanish troops. With a greatly diminished army, but one on which he could securely rely, he now continued his march from the foot of the Pyrenees to the Rhone without meeting with any opposition, the Gaulish tribes through which he passed being favourably disposed to him, or having been previously gained over by his emissaries. The Roman consul, P. Scipio, had already arrived in the neighbourhood of Massilia, when he heard that Hannibal had reached the Rhone, but was too late to dispute the passage of that river : the barbarians on the left bank in vain endeavoured to prevent the Carthaginian army from crossing; and Hannibal, having effected his passage with but little loss, continued his march up the left bank of the Rhone as far as its confluence with the Isère. Here he interposed in a dispute between two rival chiefs of the Allobroges, and by lending his aid to establish one of them firmly on the throne, secured the co-operation of an efficient ally, who greatly facilitated his farther progress. But at the very commencement of the actual passage of the Alps he was met by hostile barbarians, who at first threatened altogether to prevent his advance; and it was not without heavy loss that he was able to surmount this difficult pass. For some time after this his advance was comparatively unimpeded; but a sudden and treacherous attack from the Gaulish mountaineers at the moment when his troops were struggling through a narrow and dangerous defile, went near to annihilate his whole army. Surmounting all these dangers, he at length reached the summit of the pass, and thenceforth suffered but little from hostile attacks; but the natural difficulties of the road, enhanced by the lateness of the season (the beginning of October, at which time the snows have already commenced in the high Alps), caused him almost as much detention and difficulty as the opposition of the barbarians on the other side of the mountains. So heavy were his losses from these combined causes, that when he at length emerged from the valley of Aosta into the plains of the Po, and encamped in the friendly country of the Insubrians, he had with him no more than 20,000 foot and 6000 horse. Such were the forces, as Polybius remarks (2.24), with which he descended into Italy, to attempt the overthrow of a power that a few years before was able to muster a disposable force of above 700,000 fighting men. (Plb. 3.35, 40-56; Liv. 21.21-37.)

The march of Hannibal across the Alps is one of the most remarkable events in ancient history, and, as such, was early disfigured by exaggerations and misconceptions. The above narrative is taken wholly from that of Polybius, which is certainly by far the most trustworthy that has descended to us; but that author has nowhere clearly stated by which of the passes across the Alps Hannibal effected his march; and this question has given rise to much controversy both in ancient and modern times. Into this discussion our limits will not allow us to enter, but the following may be briefly stated as the general results:-- 1. That after a careful examination of the text of Polybius, and comparison of the different localities, his narrative will be found on the whole to agree best with the supposition that Hannibal crossed the Graian Alps, or Little St. Bernard, though it cannot be denied that there are some difficulties attending this line, especially in regard to the descent into Italy. 2. That Caelius Antipater certainly represented him as taking this route (Liv. 21.38); and as he is known to have followed the Greek history of Silenus, who is said to have accompanied Hannibal in many of his campaigns, his authority is of the greatest weight. 3. That Livy and Strabo, on the contrary, both suppose him to have crossed the Cottian Alps, or Mont Genèvre. (Liv. l.c.; Strab. iv. p.209.) But the main argument that appears to have weighed with Livy, as it has done with several modern writers on the subject, is the assumption that Hannibal descended in the first instance into the country of the Taurinians, which is opposed to the direct testimony of Polybius, who says expressly that he descended among the Insubrians (κατῇρε τολμηρῶς εἰς τὰ περὶ τὸν Πάδον πεδία, καὶ τὸ τῶν Ἰσόμβρων ἐ̂θνος, 3.56.), and subsequently mentions his attack on the Taurinians. 4. That as according to Livy himself (21.29) the Gaulish emissaries who acted as Hannibal's guides were Boians, it was natural that these should conduct him by the passage that led directly into the territory of their allies and brothers-in-arms, the Insubrians, rather than into that of the Taurinians, a Ligurian tribe, who were at this very time in a state of hostility with the Insubrians. (Plb. 3.60.) And this remark will serve to explain why Hannibal chose apparently a longer route instead of the more direct one of the Mont Genèvre. Lastly, it is remarkable that Polybius, though he censures the exaggerations and absurdities with which earlier writers had encumbered their narrative (3.47, 48), does not intimate that any doubt was entertained as to the line of his march; and Pompey, in a letter to the senate, written in 73 B. C. (ap. Sallust. Hist. Frag. lib. iii. ), alludes to the route of Hannibal across the Alps as something well known: hence it appears clear that the passage by which he crossed them must have been one of those frequented in subsequent times by the Romans; and this argument seems decisive against the claims of the Mont Cenis, which have been advocated by some modern writers, that pass having apparently never been used until the middle ages. For a fuller examination of this much controverted subject, the reader may consult De Luc, Histoire du Passage des Alpes par Annibal, 8vo. Genève, 2d edit. 1825; Wickham and Cramer, Dissertation on the Passage of Hannibal over the Alps, Lond, 1828, 2d edit.; Ukert, Hannibal's Zug. über die Alpen, appended to the 4th vol. of his Geographie d. Griech. u. Römer: in which works the earlier dissertations and scattered remarks of other writers are discussed or referred to. Of the latest historians it may be noticed that Niebuhr (Lect. on Rom. Hist., vol. i. p. 170) and Arnold (Hist. of Rome, vol. iii. p. 83-92, note M), as well as Bötticher (Gesch. d. Carthager, p. 261), have decided in favour of the Little St. Bernard; while Michelet (Hist. Romaine, vol. ii. p. 10) and Thierry (Hist. des Gaulois, vol. i. p. 276), in common with almost all French writers, adopt the Mont Genevre or Mont Cenis.

Five months had been employed in the march from New Carthage to the plains of Italy, of which the actual passage of the Alps had occupied fifteen days. (Plb. 3.56.) Hannibal's first care was now to recruit the strength of his troops, exhausted by the hardships and fatigues they had undergone: after a short interval of repose, he turned his arms against the Taurinians (a tribe bordering on, and hostile to, the Insubrians), whom he quickly reduced, and took their principal city. The news of the approach of P. Scipio next obliged him to turn his attention towards a more formidable enemy. Scipio had sent on his own army from Massilia into Spain, while he himself, returning to Etruria, crossed the Apennines from thence into Cisalpine Gaul, took the command of the praetor's army, which he found there, and led it against Hannibal. In the first action, which took place in the plains westward of the Ticinus, the cavalry and lightarmed troops of the two armies were alone engaged, and the superiority of Hannibal's Numidian horse at once decided the combat in his favour. The Romans were completely routed, and Scipio himself severely wounded; in consequence of which he hastened to retreat beyond the Ticinus and the Po, under the walls of Placentia. Hannibal crossed the Po higher up; and advancing to Placentia, offered battle to Scipio; but the latter declined the combat, and withdrew to the hills on the left bank of the Trebia. Here he was soon after joined by the other consul, Ti. Sempronius Longus, who had hastened from Ariminum to his support: their combined armies were greatly superior to that of the Carthaginians, and Sempronius was eager to bring on a general battle, of which Hannibal, on his side, was not less desirous, notwithstanding the great inferiority of his force. The result was decisive: the Romans were completely defeated, with heavy loss; and the remains of their shattered army, together with the two consuls, took refuge within the walls of Placentia. (Plb. 3.60-74; Liv. 21.39-48, 52-56; Appian, Annib. 5-7; Zonar. 8.23, 24.)

The battle of the Trebia was fought late in the year, and the winter had already begun with unusual severity, so that Hannibal's troops suffered severely from cold, and all his elephants perished, except one. But his victory had caused all the wavering tribes of the Gauls to declare in his favour; and he was now able to take up his winterquarters in security, and to levy fresh troops among the Gauls, while he awaited the approach of spring. According to Livy (21.58), he made an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Apennines before the winter was well over, but was driven back by the violence of the storms that he encountered. But as soon as the season permitted the renewal of military operations (B. C. 217), he entered the country of the Ligurian tribes, who had lately declared in his favour, and descended by the valley of the Macra into the marshes on the banks of the Arno. He had apparently chosen this route in order to avoid the Roman armies, which, under the two consuls, Flaminius and Servilius, guarded the more obvious passes of the Apennines; but the hardships and difficulties which he encountered in struggling through the marshes were immense, great numbers of his horses and beasts of burthen perished, and he himself lost the sight of one eye by a violent attack of ophthalmia. At length, however, he reached Faesulae in safety, and was able to allow his troops a short interval of repose. Flaminius, with his army, was at this time at Arretium; and Hannibal (whose object was always to bring the Roman commanders to a battle, in which the superior discipline of his veteran troops, and the excellence of his numerous cavalry, rendered him secure of victory), when he moved from Faesulae, passed by the Roman general, and advanced towards Perugia, laying waste the fertile country on his line of march. Flaminius immediately broke up his camp, and following the traces of Hannibal, fell into the snare which was prepared for him. His army was attacked under the most disadvantageous circumstances, where it was hemmed in between rocky heights previously occupied by the enemy and the lake of Thrasymenus; and its destruction was almost complete, thousands fell by the sword, among whom was the consul himself; thousands more perished in the lake, and no less than 15,000 prisoners fell into the hands of Hannibal, who on his side is said to have lost only 1500 men. A body of 4000 horse, who had been sent to the support of Flaminius, under C. Centenius, were also intercepted, and the whole of them cut to pieces or made prisoners. (Plb. 3.77-86; Liv. 22.1-8; Appian, Annib. 9, 10; Zonar. 8.25.) Hannibal's treatment of the captives on this occasion, as well as after the battle of the Trebia, was marked by the same policy on which he afterwards uniformly acted: the Roman citizens alone were retained as prisoners, while their Italian allies were dismissed without ransom to their respective homes. By this means he hoped to excite the nations of Italy against their Roman masters, and to place himself in the position of the leader of a national movement rather than that of a foreign invader. It was probably in order to give time for tllis feeling to display itself, that he did not, after so decisive a victory, push on towards Rome itself; but after an unsuccessful attempt upon the Roman colony of Spoletium, he turned aside through the Apennines into Picenum, and thence into the northern part of Apulia. Here he spent a great part of the summer, and was able effectually to restore his troops, which had suffered much from the hardships of their previous marches. But no symptoms appeared of the insurrections he had looked for among the Italians. The Romans had collected a fresh army; and Fabius, who had been appointed to the command of it, with the title of dictator, while he prudently avoided a general action, was able frequently to harass and annoy the Carthaginian army. Hannibal now, therefore, recrossed the Apennines, descended into the rich plains of Campania, and laid waste, without opposition, that fertile territory. But he was unable either to make himself master of any of the towns, or to draw the wary Fabius to a battle. The Roman general contented himself with occupying the mountain passes leading from Samnium into Campania, by which Hannibal must of necessity retreat, and believed that he had caught him as it were in a trap; but Hannibal eluded his vigilance by an ingenious stratagem, passed the defiles of the Apennines without loss, and established himself in the plains of Apulia, where he collected supplies from all sides, in order to prepare for the winter. During this operation the impatience of the Romans and the rashness of Minuucius (who had been raised by the voice of popular clamour to an equality in the command with Fabius) were very near giving Hannibal the opportunity for which he was ever on the watch, to crush the Roman army by a decisive blow; but Fabius was able to save his colleague from destruction; and Hannibal, after obtaining only a partial advantage, took up his winter-quarters at the small town of Geronium. (Plb. 3.85-94, 100-105; Liv. 22.7-18, 23-30, 32; Plut. Fab. 3-13; Appian, Annib. 12-16; Zonar. 8.25, 26.)

The next spring (B. C. 216) was a period of inaction on both sides: the Romans were engaged in making preparations for bringing an unusually large force into the field; and Hannibal remained at Geronium until late in the spring, when the want of provisions compelling him to move, he surprised the Roman magazines at Cannae, a small town of Apulia, and established his head-quarters there until the harvest could be got in. Meanwhile, the two Roman consuls, L. Aemilius Paullus and C. Terentius Varro, arrived at the head of an army of little less than 90,000 men. To this mighty host Hannibal gave battle in the plains on the right bank of the Aufidus, just below the town of Cannae. 1 We have no statement of the numbers of his army, but it is certain that it must have been greatly inferior to that of the enemy; notwithstanding which, the excellence of his cavalry, and the disciplined valour of his African and Spanish infantry, gave him the most decisive victory. The immense army of the Romans was not only defeated, but annihilated; and between forty and fifty thousand men are said to have fallen in the field, among whom was the consul Aemilius Paullus, both the consuls of the preceding year, the late master of the horse, Minucias, above eighty senators, and a multitude of the wealthy knights who composed the Roman cavalry. The otherconsul, Varro, escaped with a few horsemen to Venusia, and a small band of resolute men forced their way from the Roman camp to Canusium all the rest were killed, dispersed, or taken prisoners. (Plb. 3.107-117; Liv. 22.36, 38-50; Plut. Fab. 14-16; Appian,Annib. 17-25; Zonar. 9.1.)

Hannibal has been generally blamed for not following up his advantage at once, after so decisive a victory, by an immediate advance upon Rome itself,--a measure which was strongly urged upon him by Maharbal [MAHARBAL]; and we are told that he himself afterwards bitterly repented of his error. Whatever may be the motives that deterred him from such a step, we cannot but be surprised at his apparent inactivity after the battle. He probably expected that so brilliant a success would immediately produce a general rising among the nations of Italy, and remained for a time quietly in Apulia, until they should have had time to declare themselves. Nor were his hopes disappointed: the Hirpinians, all the Samnites (except the Pentrian tribe), and almost all the Apulians, Lucanians, and Bruttians declared in favour of Carthage. But though the whole of the south of Italy was thus apparently lost to the Romans, yet the effect of this insurrection was not so decisive as it would at first appear; for the Latin colonies. which still without exception remained faithful, gave the Romans a powerful hold upon the revolted provinces; and the Greek cities on the coast, though mostly disposed to join the Carthaginians, were restrained by the presence of Roman garrisons. Hence it became necessary to support the insurrection in the different parts of Italy with a Carthaginian force; and Hannibal, while he himself moved forward into Samnium, detached his brother Mago into Bruttium, and Hanno, one of his ablest officers, into Lucania. After securing the submission of the Samnites, he pushed forward into Campania, and though foiled in the attempt to make himself master of Neapolis, which had been the immediate object of his advance, he was more than compensated by the acquisition of Capua (a city scarcely inferior to Rome itself in importance), the gates of which were opened to him by the popular party. Here, after reducing the small towns of Nuceria and Acerrae, he established his army in winter-quarters; while he, at the same time, carried on the siege of Casilinum, a small but strong fortress in the immediate neighbourhood. (Liv. 22.58, 61, 23.1-10, 14-18; Zonar. 9.1, 2; Plut. Fab. 17.)

Capua was celebrated for its wealth and luxury, and the enervating effect which these produced upon the army of Hannibal became a favourite theme of rhetorical exaggeration in later ages. (Zonar. 9.3; Florus, 2.6.) The futility of such declamations is sufficiently shown by the simple fact that the superiority of that army in the field remained as decided as ever. Still it may be truly said that the winter spent at Capua, B. C. 216-215, was in great measure the turning point of Hannibal's fortune, and from this time the war assumed an altered character. The experiment of what he could effect with his single army had now been fully tried, and, notwithstanding all his victories, it had decidedly failed; for Rome was still unsubdued, and still provided with the means of maintaining a protracted contest. But Hannibal had not relied on his own forces alone, and he now found himself, apparently at least, in a condition to commence the execution of his long-cherished plan, --that of arming Italy itself against the Romans, and crushing the ruling power by means of her own subjects. It was to this object that his attention was henceforth mainly directed; and hence, even when apparently inactive, he was, in reality, occupied with the most important schemes, and busy in raising up fresh foes to overwhelm his antagonists. From this time, also, the Romans in great measure changed their plan of operations, and, instead of opposing to Hannibal one great army in the field, they hemmed in his movements on all sides, guarded all the most important towns with strong garrisons, and kept up an army in every province of Italy, to thwart the operations of his lieutenants, and check the rising disposition to revolt. It is impossible here to follow in detail the complicated movements of the subsequent campaigns, during which Hannibal himself frequently traversed Italy in all directions, appearing suddenly wherever his presence was called for, and astonishing, and often baffling, the enemy by the rapidity of his marches. Still less can we advert to all the successes or defeats of his generals, though these of necessity often influenced his own operations. All that we can do is, to notice very briefly the leading events which distinguished each successive campaign. But it is necessary to bear in mind, if we would rightly estimate the character and genius of Hannibal, that it was not only where he was present in person that his superiority made itself felt: as Polybius has justly remarked (9.22), he was at once the author and the presiding spirit of all that was done in this war against the Roman power, --in Sicily and in Macedonia, as well as in Italy itself, from one extremity of the peninsula to the other.

The campaign of 215 was not marked by any decisive events. Casilinum had fallen in the course of the winter, and with the advance of spring Hannibal took up his camp on Mount Tifata, where, while awaiting the arrival of reinforcements from Carthage, he was at hand to support his partisans in Campania, and oppose the Roman generals in that province. But his attempts on Cumae and Neapolis were foiled; and even after he had been joined by a force from Carthage (very inferior, however, to what he had expected), he sustained a repulse before Nola, which was magnified by the Romans into a defeat. As the winter approached, he withdrew into Apulia, and took up his quarters in the plains around Arpi. But other prospects were already opening before him; in his camp on Tifata he had received embassies from Philip, king of Macedonia, and Hieronymus of Syracuse, both of which he had eagerly welcomed ; and thus sowed the seeds of two fresh wars, and raised up two formidable enemies against the Roman power. (Liv. 23.19, 20, 30-39, 41-- 46; 24.6; Plut. Marc. 10-12; Plb. 7.2, 9; Zonar. 9.4.)

These two collateral wars in some degree drew off the attention of both parties from that in Italy itself; yet the Romans still opposed to the Carthaginian general a chain of armies which hampered all his operations; and though Hannibal was ever on the watch for the opportunity of striking a blow, the campaign of 214 was still less decisive than that of the preceding year. Early in the summer he advanced from Apulia to his former station on Mount Tifata, to watch over the safety of Capua; from thence he had descended to the Lake Avernus, in hopes of making himself master of Puteoli, when a prospect was held out to him of surprising the important city of Tarentum. Thither he hastened by forced marches, but arrived too late,--Tarentum had been secured by a Roman force. After this his operations were of little importance, until he again took up his winter-quarters in Apulia. (Liv. 24.12, 13, 17, 20.)

During the following summer (B. C. 213), while all eyes were turned towards the war in Sicily, Hannibal remained almost wholly inactive in the neighbourhood of Tarentum, the hopes he still entertained of making himself master of that important city rendering him unwilling to quit that quarter of Italy. Fabius, who was opposed to him, was equally inefficient; and the capture of Arpi, which was betrayed into his hands, was the only advantage he was able to gain. But before the close of the ensuing winter Hannibal was rewarded with the long-looked-for prize, and Tarentum was betrayed into his hands by Nicon and Philemenus. The advantage, however, was still incomplete, for a Roman garrison still held possession of the citadel, from which he was unable to dislodge them. (Plb. 8.26-36; Liv. 24.44-47; 25.1, 8-11; Appian, Annib. 31-33.)

The next year (212) was marked by important events. In Sicily, on the one hand, the fall of Syracuse more than counterbalanced the acquisition of Tarentum; while in Spain, on the contrary, the defeat and death of the two Scipios [HASDRUBAL, No. 6] seemed to establish the superiority of Carthage in that country, and open the way to Hasdrubal to join his brother in Italy; a movement which Hannibal appears to have been already long expecting. Meanwhile, the two consuls, emboldened by the apparent inactivity of the Carthaginian general, began to draw together their forces for the purpose of besieging Capua. Hanno, who was despatched thither by Hannibal with a large convoy of stores and provisions, was defeated, and the object of his march frustrated; and though another officer of the same name, with a body of Carthaginian and Numidian troops, threw himself into the city, the Romans still threatened it with a siege, and Hannibal himself was compelled to advance to its relief. By this movement he for a time checked the operations of the consuls, and compelled them to withdraw; but he was unable to bring either of them to battle. Centenius, a centurion, who had obtained the command of a force of 8000 men, was more confident; he ventured an engagement with Hannibal, and paid the penalty of his rashness by the loss of his army and his life. This success was soon followed by a more important victory over the praetor Cn. Fulvius at Herdonea in Apulia, in which the army of the latter was utterly destroyed, and 20,000 men cut to pieces. But while Hannibal was thus employed elsewhere, he was unable to prevent the consuls from effectually forming the siege of Capua, and surrounding that city with a double line of intrenchments. (Liv. 25.13-15, 18-22.)

His power in the south had been increased during this campaign by the important accession of Metapontum and Thurii: but the citadel of Tarentum still held out, and, with a view to urge the siege of this fortress by his presence, Hannibal spent the winter, and the whole of the ensuing spring (211), in its immediate neighbourhood. But as the season advanced, the pressing danger of Capua once more summoned him to its relief. He accordingly presented himself before the Roman camp, and attacked their lines from without, while the garrison co-operated with him by a vigorous sally from the walls. Both attacks were, however, repulsed, and Hannibal, thus foiled in his attempt to raise the siege by direct means, determined on the bold manoeuvre of marching directly upon Rome itself, in hopes of thus compelling the consuls to abandon their designs upon Capua, in order to provide for the defence of the city. But this daring scheme was again frustrated: the appearance of Hannibal before the gates of Rome for a moment struck terror through the city, but a considerable body of troops was at the time within the walls, and the consul, Fulvius Flaccus, as soon as he heard of Hannibal's march, hastened, with a portion of the besieging army, from Capua, while he still left with the other consul a force amply sufficient to carry on the siee. Hannibal was thus disappointed in the main object of his advance, and he had no means of effecting any thing against Rome itself, where Fulvius and Fabius confined themselves strictly to the defensive, allowing him to ravage the whole country, up to the very walls of Rome, without opposition. Nothing therefore remained for him but to retreat, and he accordingly recrossed the Anio, and marched slowly and sullenly through the land of the Sabines and Samnites, ravaging the country which he traversed, and closely followed by the Roman consul, upon whom he at length turned suddenly, and, by a night attack, very nearly destroyed his whole army. When he had thus reached Apulia, he made from thence a forced march into Bruttium, in hopes of surprising Rhegium; but here he was again foiled, and Capua, which he was now compelled to abandon to its fate, soon after surrendered to the Romans. Hannibal once more took up his winter-quarters in Apulia. (Liv. 26.4-14; Plb. 9.3-7 Appian, Annib. 38-43; Zonar. 9.6.)

The commencement of the next season (210) was marked by the fall of Salapia. which was betrayded by the inhabitants to Marcellus; but this loss was soon avenged by the total defeat and destruction of the army of the proconsul Cn. Fulvius at Herdonea. Marcellus, on his part, carefully avoided an action for the rest of the campaign, while he harassed his opponent by every possible means. Thus the rest of that summer, too, wore away without any important results. But this state of comparative inactivity was necessarily i injurious to the cause of Hannibal: the nations of Italy that had espoused that cause when triumphant, now began to waver in their attachment; and, in the course of the following summer (209), the Samnites and Lucanians submitted to Rome, and were admitted to favourable terms. A still more disastrous blow to the Carthaginian cause was the loss of Tarentum, which was betrayed into the hands of Fabius, as it had been into those of Hannibal. In vain did the latter seek to draw the Roman general into a snare; the wary Fabius eluded his toils. But Marcellus, after a pretended victory over Hannibal during the earlier part of the campaign, had shut himself up within the walls of Venusia, and remained there in utter inactivity. Hannibal meanwhile still traversed the open country unopposed, and laid waste the territories of his enemies. Yet we cannot suppose that he any longer looked for ultimate success from any efforts of his own : his object was, doubtless, now only to main tain his ground in the south until his brother Hasdrubal should appear in the north of Italy, an event to which he had long looked forward with anxious expectation. (Liv. 27.1, 2, 4, 12-16, 20 ; Plut. Fab. 19, 21-23, Marc. 24-27; Appian, Annib. 45-50; Zonar. 9.7, 8.)

Yet the following summer (208) was not unmarked by some brilliant achievements. The Romans having formed the siege of Locri, a legion, which was despatched to their support from Tarentum, was intercepted in its march, and utterly destroyed; and not long afterwards the two consuls, Crispinus and Marcellus, who, with their united armies, were opposed to Hannibal in Lucania, al lowed themselves to be led into an ambush, in which Marcellus was killed, and Crispinus mortally wounded. After this the Roman armies withdrew, while Hannibal hastened to Locri, and not only raised the siege, but utterly destroyed the besieging army. Thus he again found himself undisputed master of the south of Italy during the remainder of this campaign. (Liv. 27.25-28; Plb. 10.32; Plut. Marc. 29; Appian, Annib. 50 ; Zonar. 9.9.)

Of the two consuls of the ensuing year (207), C. Nero was opposed to Hannibal, while M. Livius was appointed to take the field against Hasdrubal, who had at length crossed the Alps, and descended into Cisalpine Gaul. [HASDRUBAL, No. 6.] According to Livy (27.39), Hannibal was apprised of his brother's arrival at Placentia before he had himself moved from his winter-quarters; but it is difficult to believe that, if this had been the case, he would not have made more energetic efforts to join him. If we can trust the narrative transmitted to us, which is certainly in many respects unsatisfactory, Hannibal spent much time in various unimportant movements, before he advanced northwards into Apulia, where he was met by the Roman consul, and not only held in check, but so effectually deceived, that he knew nothing of Nero's march to support his colleague until after his return, and the first tidings of the battle of the Metaurus were conveyed to him by the sight of the head of Hasdrubal. (Liv. 27.40-51; Plb. 11.1-3; Appian, Annib. 52; Zonar. 9.9.)

But, whatever exaggeration we may justly suspect in this relation, it is not the less certain that the defeat and death of Hasdrubal was decisive of the fate of the war in Italy, and the conduct of Hannibal shows that he felt it to be such. From this time he abandoned all thoughts of offensive operations, and, withdrawing his garrisons from Metapontum, and other towns that he still held in Lucania, collected together his forces within the peninsula of Bruttium. In the fastnesses of that wild and mountainous region he maintained his ground for nearly four years, while the towns that he still possessed on the coast gave him the command of the sea. Of the events of these four years (B. C. 207-203) we know but little. It appears that the Romans at first contented themselves with shutting him up within the peninsula, but gradually began to encroach upon these bounds; and though the statements of their repeated victories are doubtless gross exaggerations, if not altogether unfounded, yet the successive loss of Locri, Consentia, and Pandosia, besides other smaller towns, must have hemmed him in within limits continually narrowing. Crotona seems to have been his chief stronghold, and centre of operations; and it was during this period that he erected, in the temple of the Lacinian Juno, near that city, a column bearing an inscription which recorded the leading events of his memorable expedition. To this important monument, which was seen and consulted by Polybius, we are indebted for many of the statements of that author. (Plb. 3.33, 56; Liv. 27.51, 28.12, 46; 29.7, 36.)

It is difficult to judge whether it was the expectation of effective assistance from Carthage, or the hopes of a fresh diversion being operated by Mago in the north, that induced Hannibal to cling so pertinaciously to the corner of Italy that he still held. It is certain that he was at any time free to quit it; and when he was at length induced to comply with the urgent request of the Carthaginian government that he should return to Africa to make head against Scipio, he was able to embark his troops without an attempt at opposition. (Liv. 30.19, 20.) His departure from Italy seems, indeed, to have been the great object of desire with the Romans. For more than fifteen years had he carried on the war in that country, laying it waste from one extremity to the other, and during all this period his superiority in the field had been uncontested. (Plb. 10.33, 15.11; Corn. Nep. Hann. 5.) The Romans calculated that in these fifteen years their losses in the field alone had amounted to not less than 300,000 men (Appian, App. Pun. 134); a statement which will hardly appear exaggerated, when we consider the continual combats in which they were engaged by their ever-watchful foe.

Hannibal landed, with the small but veteran army which he was able to bring with him from Italy, at Leptis, in Africa, apparently before the close of the year 203. From thence he proceeded to the strong city of Hadrumetum. The circumstances of the campaign which followed are very differently related, nor will our space allow us to enter into any discussion of the details. Some of these, especially the well-known account of the interview between Scipio and Hannibal, savour strongly of romance, notwithstanding the high authority of Polybius. (Comp. Plb. 15.1-9; Liv. 30.25-32; Appian, App. Pun. 33-41; Zonar. 9.13.) The decisive action was fought at a place called Naragara, not far from the city of Zama; and Hannibal, according to the express testimony of his antagonist, displayed on this occasion all the qualities of a consummate general. But he was now particularly deficient in that formidable cavalry which had so often decided the victory in his favour: his elephants, of which lie had a great number, were rendered unavailing by the skilful management of Scipio, and the battle ended in his complete defeat, notwithstanding the heroic exertions of his veteran infantry. Twenty thousand of his men fell on the field of battle; as many more were made prisoners, and Hannibal himself with difficulty escaped the pursuit of Masinissa, and fled with a few horsemen to Hadrumetum. Here he succeeded in collecting about 6000 men, the remnant of his scattered army, with which he repaired to Carthage. But all hopes of resistance were now at an end, and he was one of the first to urge the necessity of an immediate peace. Much time, however, appears to have been occupied in the negotiations for this purpose; and the treaty was not finally concluded until the year after the battle of Zama (B. C. 201). (Plb. 15.10-19; Liv. 30.33-44; Appian, App. Pun. 42-66; Zonar. 9.14.)

By this treaty Hannibal saw the object of his whole life frustrated, and Carthage effectually humbled before her imperious rival. But his enmity to Rome was unabated; and though now more than 45 years old, he set himself to work, like his father, Hamilcar, after the end of the first Punic war, to prepare the means for renewing the contest at no distant period. His first measures related to the internal affairs of Carthage, and were directed to the reform of abuses in the administration, and the introduction of certain constitutional changes, which our imperfect knowledge of the government of Carthage does not enable its clearly to under stand. We are told that after the termination of the war with Rome, Hannibal was assailed by the opposite faction with charges of remissness, and even treachery, in his command--accusations so obviously filse, that they appear to have recoiled on the heads of his accusers; and he was not only acquitted, but shortly afterwards was raised to the chief magistracy of the republic, the office styled by Livy practor--by which it is probable that he means one of the suffetes. (Liv. 33.46; Corn. Nep. Hann. 7; Zonar. 9.14.) But the virtual control of the whole government had at this time been assumed by the assembly of judges (ordo judicum (Liv. l.c.) apparently the same with the Council of One hundred; see Just. 19.2, and Aristot, Pol. 2.11), evidently a high aristocratic body; and it was only by the overthrow of this power that Hannibal was enabled to introduce order into the finances of the state, and thus pre pare the way for the gradual restoration of the re public. But though he succeeded in accomplishing this object, and in introducing the most beneficial reforms, such a revolution could not but irritate the adverse faction, and they soon found an opportunity of avenging themselves, by denouncing him to the Romans as engaged in negotiations with Antiochus III. king of Syria, to induce him to take up arms against Rome. (Liv. 33.45). There can be little doubt that the charge was well founded, and Hannibal saw that his enemies were too strong for him. No sooner, therefore, did the Roman envoys appear at Carthage than he secretly took to flight, and escaped by sea to the island of Cercina, from whence he repaired to Tyre, and thence again, after a short interval, to the court of Antiochus at Ephesus. The Syrian monarch was at this time (B. C. 193) on the eve of war with Rome, though hostilities had not actually commenced. Hence Hannibal was welcomed with the utmost honours. But Antiochus, partly perhaps from incapacity, partly also from personal jealousy, encouraged by the intrigues of his courtiers, could not be induced to listen to his judicious counsels, the wisdom of which he was compelled to acknowledge when too late. Hannibal in vain urged the necessity of carrying the war at once into Italy, instead of awaiting the Romans in Greece. The king could not be persuaded to place a force at his disposal for this purpose, and sent him instead to assemble a fleet for him from the cities of Phoenicia. This Hannibal effected, and took the command of it in person; but his previous habits could have little qualified him for this service, and he was defeated by the Rhodian fleet in an action near Side. But unimportant as his services in this war appear to have been, he was still regarded by the Romans with such apprehension, that his surrender was one of the conditions of the peace granted to Antiochus after his defeat at Magnesia, B. C. 190. (Plb. 21.14, 22.26.) Hannibal, however, foresaw his danger, and made his escape to Crete, from whence he afterwards repaired to the court of Prusias, king of Bithynia. Another account represents him as repairing from the court of Antiochus to Armenia, where it is said he found refuge for a time with Artaxias, one of the generals of Antiochus who had revolted from his master, and that he superintended the foundation of Artaxata, the new capital of the Armenian kingdom. (Strab. xi. p.528; Plut. Luc. 31.) In any case it was with Prusias that he ultimately took up his abode. That monarch was in a state of hostility with Eumenes, the faithful ally of Rome, and on that account unfriendly at least to the Romans. Here, therefore, he found for some years a secure asylum, during which time we are told that he commanded the fleet of Prusias in a naval action against Eumenes, and gained a victory over that monarch, absurdly attributed by Cornelius Nepos and Justin to the stratagem of throwing vessels filled with serpents into the enemy's ships! (Liv. 33.47-49, 34.60, 61, 35.19, 42, 43, 36.7, 15, 37.8, 23, 24; Appian, App. Syr. 4, 7, 10, 11, 14, 22; Zonar. 9.18, 20; Corn. Nep. Hann. 7-11; Just. 32.4.) But the Romans could not be at ease so long as Hannibal lived; and T. Quintius Flamininus was at length despatched to the court of Prusias to demand the surrender of the fugitive. The Bithynian king was unable to resist, and sent troops to arrest his illustrious guest; but Hannibal, who had long been in expectation of such an event, as soon as he found that all approaches were beset, and that flight was impossible, took poison, to avoid falling into the hands of his enemies. (Liv. 39.51; Corn. Nep. Hann. 12; Just. 32.4.8; Plut. Fiamin. 20; Zonav. 9.21.) The year of his death is uncertain, having been a subject of much dispute among the Roman chronologers. The testimony of Polybius on the point, which would have appeared conclusive, is doubtful. From the expressions of Livy, we should certainly have inferred that he placed the death of Hannibal, together with those of Scipio and Philopoemen, in the consulship of M. Claudius Marcellus and Q. Fabius Labeo (B. C. 183); and this, which was the date adopted by Atticus, appears on the whole the most probable; but Cornelius Nepos expressly says that Polybius assigned it to the following year (182), and Sulpicius to the year after that (B. C. 181). (Corn. Nep. Hann. 13; Liv. xxxiix 50, 52; Clinton, F. H. vol. iii. p. 72). The scene of his death and burial was a village named Libyssa, on the coast of Bithynia. (Plut. Flmin. 20; Appian, App. Syr. 11; Zonar. 9.21.)

Hannibal's character has been very variously estimated by different writers. A man who had rendered himself so formidable to the Roman power, and had wrought them such extensive miischief, could hardly fail to be the object of the falsest calumnies and misrepresentations during his life; and there can be no doubt that many such were recorded in the pages of the historian Fabius, and have been transmitted to us by Appian and Zonaras. He was judged with less passion, and on the whole with great impartiality, by Polybius. (ix 22-26, 11.19, 24.9. An able review of his character will be found also in Dio Cassius, Ecc. Peiresc. 47, Exc. Vat. 67.) But that writer tells us that he was accused of avarice by the Carthaginians, and of cruelty by the Romans. Many instances of the latter are certainly recorded by the Roman historians; but even if we were content to admit them all as true (and many of them are even demonstrably false), they do not exceed, or even equal what the same writers have related of their own generals: and severity, often degenerating into cruelty, seems to have been so characteristic ot the Carthaginians in general, that Hannibal's conduct in this respect, as compared with that of his countrymen, deserves to be regarded as a favourable exception. We find him readily entering into an agreement with Fahius for an exchange of prisoners; and it was only the sternness of the Romans themselves that prevented the same humane arrangements from being carried throughout the war. On many occasions too his generous sympathy for his fallen foes bears witness of a noble spirit; and his treatment of the dead bodies of Flaiminius, of Gracchus, and of Marcellus (Liv. 22.7, 25.17; Plut. Marc. 30), contrasts most favourably with the barbarity of Claudius Nero to that of Hasdrubal. The charge of avarice appears to have been as little founded: of such a vice in its lowest acceptation he was certainly incapable, though it is not unlikely that he was greedy of money for the prosecution of his great schemes, and perhaps unscrupulous in his modes of acquiring it. Among other virtues he is extolled for his temperance and continence (Just. 32.4; Frontin. 4.3.7), and for the fortitude with which he endured every species of toil and hardship (Dio Cass. Exc. Peiresr. 47.) Of his abilities as a general it is unnecessary to speak : all the great masters of the art of war, from Scipio to the emperor Napoleon, have concurred in their homage to his genius. But in comparing Hannibal with any other of the great leaders of antiquity, we must ever bear in mind the peculiar circumstances in which he was placed. He was not in the position either of a powerful monarch, disposing at his pleasure of the whole resources of the state, nor yet in that of a republican leader, supported by the patriotism and national spirit of the people that followed him to battle. Feebly and grudgingly supported by the government at home, he stood alone, at the head of an army composed of mercenaries of many nations, of men fickle and treacherous to all others but himself, men who had no other bond of union than their common confidence in their leader. Yet not only did he retain the attachment of these men, unshaken by any change of fortune, for a period of more than fifteen years, but he trained up army after army; and long after the veterans that had followed him over the Alps had dwindled to an inconsiderable remnant, his new levies were still as invincible as their predecessors.

Of the private character of Hannibal we know very little--no man ever played so conspicuous a part in history of whom so few personal anecdotes have been recorded. Yet this can hardly have been for want of the opportunity of preserving them, for we are told (Corn. Nep. Hann. 13) that he was accompanied throughout his campaigns by two Greek writers, Silenus and Sosilus; and we know that the works of both these authors were extant in later times; but they seem to have been unworthy of their subject. Sosilus is censured by Polybius (3.20.5) for the fables and absurdities with which he had overlaid his history; and Silenus is only cited as an authority for dreams and prodigies. The former is said also to have acted as Hannibal's instructor in Greek, a language which, at least in the latter years of his life, he spoke with fluency (Cic. de Or. 2.18), and in which he even composed, during his residence at the court of Prusias, a history of the expedition of Cn. Manlius Vulso against the Galatians. (Corn. Nep. l.c.) If we may believe Zonaras (8.24), he was at an early age master of several other languages also, Latin among the rest: but this seems at least very doubtful. Dio Cassius, however, also bears testimony (Fr. Vat. 67, p. 187, ed. Mai) to his having received an excellent education, not only in Punic, but in Greek learning and literature. During his residence in Spain Hannibal had married the daughter of a Spanish chieftain (Liv. 24.41); but we do not learn that he left any children.

The principal ancient authorities for the life of Hannibal have been already cited in the course of the above narrative: besides those there referred to, many detached facts and anecdotes, but almost all relating to his military operations, will be found in Valerius Maximus, Polyaenus, and Frontinus: and the leading events of the second Pnnic war are also given by the epitomizers of Roman history, Florus, Eutropius, and Orosius. Among modern writers it may be sufficient to mention Arnold, the third volume of whose History of Rome contains much the best account of the second Punic war that has yet appeared; and Niebuhr, in his Lectures on Roman History (vol. i. lect. 8-15). The reader who desires military commentaries on his operations may consult Vaudencourt (Hist. des Champagnes d'Annibal en Italie, 3 tom. Milan, 1812) and Guischard (Mémoires Militaires sur les Grecs et les Romains, 4to. La Haye, 1758). There are few separate histories of the second Punic war as a whole: the principal are Becker's Vorarbeiten zu einer Geschichte des zweiten Punischen Krieges, and a work entitled Der Zweite Punische Krieg und der Kriegsplan der Karthager, by Ludwig-Freiherr von Vincke.

1 * The battle of Cannae was fought, according to Claudius Quadrigarius (ap. Macrob. 1.16; Gel. 5.17.2), on the 2nd of August; but it seems probable that the Roman calendar was at this period considerably in advance of the true time, and that the battle was fought in reality at least as early as the middle of June. (See Arnold's Rome, vol. iii. p. 136; Clinton, F. H. vol. iii. p. 42; where the words "behind the true time" are evidently an accidental error.)

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
216 BC (2)
247 BC (1)
229 BC (1)
221 BC (1)
219 BC (1)
217 BC (1)
215 BC (1)
213 BC (1)
207 BC (1)
203 BC (1)
201 BC (1)
193 BC (1)
190 BC (1)
183 BC (1)
181 BC (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: