Roman Culture/Hannibal and The Second Punic War
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- One of ancient Rome's most notorious enemies throughout ancient history was Hannibal, of Carthage, encountered during the Second Punic War. Hamilcar Barca, Hannibal's father, was Carthage's general towards the end of the First Punic War, but he doesn't have the resources to defeat the Roman army. In such cases, he surrendered to Rome - the consequences of which they gain control of Sicily and the rest of the lower islands. One large benefit of this control was Rome was now in control of Sicily's grain production, which was important for the ever-growing population of Rome. Carthage retains control of Spain and Africa, but Hamilcar dies soon after the First Punic War. Hannibal was Hamilcar's son, and he swore to destroy the Romans, but he needed time to prepare for the war. There was a peaceful period of about forty years before Hannibal marched across the treaty line in Spain and takes a Roman ally city, and he begins his march on Rome itself - he travels up the coast. However, Hannibal makes a grave mistake to cross the Alps into Northern Italy - he loses many of his men and war elephants, and is thus militarily crippled as he proceeds into Italy. Hannibal relied upon getting Northern Italy allies to join his cause (Umbrians, Gauls, and Estrucans).
- There were three main battles (victories) during the war for Hannibal. The first one was the first encounter with the Romans - the battle of Trebia, on the river. Hannibal meets the Roman forces on the opposite sides of the river Trebia, where they are at a passé. Hannibal refuses to cross the lake because he knows he cannot take the brute force of the Roman legions - instead he makes the impatient and arrogant Roman legions cross the lake. The lake is freezing, and upon reaching the other side, the Romans are tired and cold, and Hannibal's forces easily overwhelm them.
- The second battle was lake Trasimene, where Hannibal crushed the Romans for a second time. The Roman forces had to approach the lake from the side while Hannibal's forces had the upper ground on a ridge above the Romans. Hannibal's forces successfully ambushed the Roman forces as they passed below the ridge, securing his second glaring victory over Rome. At this point, Hannibal uses his military style of trying to get the Roman's to attack in a straight head-on fight and use his strategy and wit to defeat their armies.
- Hannibal's third, and arguably most famous, victory over the Romans was at the battle of Cannae. The Roman forces had a very large main force and two cavalry forces, as did Hannibal. Hannibal sent out his cavalry forces to meet the Roman cavalry forces in a surprise attack, and then Hannibal met the Roman force and started to engage. Hannibal slowly moved his main line back and started to encircle the Roman forces. After Hannibal's cavalry defeated the Roman cavalry, they rejoined Hannibal and closed the circle in the back of Hannibal. The Roman army started to fall apart in the chaos of swords striking them from every direction - the battle became a chaotic bloodbath of the Roman army. The Roman army was crushed, and Hannibal emerged victorious in perhaps the most magnificent strategic battle of Ancient history. Rome, however, does not surrender to Hannibal after this battle, and Hannibal does not have the siege power to take Rome itself.
- After Cannae, Hannibal moves South and tries to break Rome's ties with the Samnites and the rest of the Greeks. Hannibal successfully breaks Rome's ties to some of its allies as he moves South. Rome, unwilling to claim defeat, raises twenty-five legions and empties its treasuries, but Quintos Fabious ("The Delayer") - the dictator of Rome at the time - was delaying a big fight with Hannibal. Instead, he went to Hannibal's new ally cities and crushed them for breaking ties - he was effectively playing a cat-and-mouse game with Hannibal. Publius Cornelius Scipio was elected to Consulship and ends up trapping Hannibal's armies in Tarentum. He then sails part of Rome's armies to Carthage and North Africa, which forces Hannibal to abandon Tarentum and sail himself back to Carthage. He meets the Roman forces head-on (what Hannibal feared most) in the battle of Zama and was badly defeated. Carthage was left alone due to the lack of siege power and effort required to destroy it. Hannibal was then-on known as Rome's greatest worth opponent - someone marked in the history books as someone who could have taken Rome in different circumstances.
EDITED: by Ariel Turpin on 12/14/2011 Checked for formatting, spelling, grammar, and plagiarism.