Second Punic War

Eyridiki Sellou | Apr 9, 2024

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The Second Punic War was the second of three conflicts known as the Punic Wars, which pitted Rome against Carthage. More precisely, this conflict took place in the third century BC, from 218 to 203 in Europe, then from 203 to 201 in Africa.

This war began at the initiative of the Carthaginians, who wanted to take their revenge following their defeat in the first Punic war. This war is well known for the means used at the time and for its consequences: its human cost (size of the populations concerned) and economic cost, the decisive impact on the historical, political and social context, in the whole Mediterranean world and for many centuries, are considerable.

Unlike the first Punic war, which was fought and won mainly at sea, the second was an uninterrupted succession of land battles with the movement of huge masses of infantry, cavalry and elephants. Maritime means were used almost exclusively to assist armies in their movements, or for the travel of diplomats from one Mediterranean kingdom to another. Although the conduct of the war has generally been perceived by following Hannibal's path from Iberia to southern Italy, the Mediterranean is, in fact, directly and indirectly involved in the conflict between Rome and Carthage. The circumference of the Western Mediterranean basin is an enormous battlefield: Iberia, Gaul, Cisalpine Gaul, Italy, Africa are concerned; the diplomatic stakes involve the ambassadors of the two rivals in Numidia, Greece, Macedonia, Syria, the kingdoms of Anatolia, and Egypt.

The great figures of this confrontation are famous. On the Carthaginian side, the general Hannibal Barca crossed the Pyrenees, the Rhone and the Alps with his elephants, and won a series of victories over the Roman legions. On the Roman side, Scipio led decisive counter-attacks in Iberia, then in Africa. Hannibal was finally defeated by Scipio the African at the battle of Zama.


At the end of the first Punic war, Carthage is in a disastrous financial situation. Huge sums (nearly 3,200 talents of Euboea over 10 years) had to be given as compensation to Rome. Moreover, the rich territories of Sicily are lost for Carthage and pass under the control of Rome; it is interdict with Carthage to carry the war against Hiéron II of Syracuse. Carthage is consequently unable to pay the Libyan and Numidian mercenaries who were used during the war. These mercenaries revolt and it takes three years of efforts and hard fights for Carthage to crush the sedition. Rome took advantage of this revolt to occupy Sardinia and Corsica. Carthage is also obliged to pay an additional indemnity of 1 200 talents, in order to avoid a resumption of the war, because Carthage does not have then any more the means of making a new war against Rome. This action is regarded as a humiliating wound by the Carthaginians, who thus undergo a defeat without fighting.

Moreover at the end of this war, Carthage lost a part of the territories where it carried out an important recruitment. Sicily and Magna Graecia were now Roman territories. The recruitment of the Carthaginian armies was then carried out mainly on African territory: at the altar of the Philene brothers, in the Great Syrte, on the Moorish or Iberian coast, in the Balearic Islands, in Melita (the ancient name of the current island of Malta), in Pantelleria (an island in the center of the Sicilian channel, between the latter and Tunisia), among the Libyans, in Hadrumet or in Utica. These new units allowed the Carthaginian armies to diversify their combat tactics. The Celtiberians wielded the falcata, the Balearics their famous slingshot and the Ligurians the javelin.

From 237 BC, the Carthaginians expanded rapidly into southern Iberia under the leadership of a member of the Barcid family: Hamilcar Barca, and later his son-in-law Hasdrubal. With the fertile basin of the Guadalquivir, the silver-lead mines of the Sierra Morena and the powerful colony of Qart Hadasht, as well as the submission of the natives, this region became a granary of wheat, a rich region of extraction of precious metals and an area of recruitment of valued soldiers.

Carthage also recovered its economic power, thanks to its agriculture and arboriculture in the African territories, and to the vitality of its trade, notably under the effect of the conquest of barcid Iberia. Politically, factions were still present in Carthage, with a struggle between the aristocracy (whose wealth came from large landholdings, based on specialized crops) and a new "middle class" (whose wealth came from trade and crafts). Strong struggles for influence took place to make important decisions, as this new "middle class" was rather in favor of an extension of the Carthaginian territory on the coasts of Europe.

Polybius tells how in fifty-three years Rome became the mistress of the Mediterranean. The victory over the Carthaginians was a great step forward, but this success required decades of preparation. At the time of the first Punic war, the Romans had not yet unified all of Italy: Greek colonies jealously guarded their freedom, the populations of the Adriatic Sea were simply allies and the Samnites resisted.

After the first Punic war, Rome had a free hand in Italy, and the city had just obtained its first province outside Italy: Sicily, a rich, productive and culturally advanced province. The Senate then does not debate on the "how" or the "if" to widen the domination, but rather on the "where", because Rome has important military and financial means. The decision taken was first to invade the Po plain, to block the southern route to Liguria and to definitively prevent any invasion by the Gauls. Rome also sought to find land for its veterans by creating various colonies and led a war against the Illyrian queen Teuta, whose kingdom threatened trade between Italy and Greece. This last war (the First Illyrian War) allowed Rome to interfere in Greek, Macedonian and Etolian affairs, as these kingdoms were also under attack by Illyrian pirates. Rome also took advantage of the difficulties of Carthage during the war of the Mercenaries to occupy Corsica and Sardinia, then still subjected to the Punic domination.

After having defeated the revolting mercenaries, Carthage sought to expand its territory. The government of the city was divided into two factions: the first one was led by the landed aristocracy, mainly grouped around the Hannon family; the other faction was more of a group of merchant families, such as the family of Hamilcar Barca, more generally called the Barcid family.

Hannon advocates an agreement with Rome and the widening of the Carthaginian power inside Africa. Hamilcar, as for him, thinks more about Iberia, because for centuries, Carthage maintains important commercial counters in this region, which thus becomes the principal center of revival of the Carthaginian finances.

But Hamilcar was defeated politically, although he had played a leading role in the suppression of the revolt of the mercenaries. The Carthaginian Senate being opposed to it, he did not receive the ships of the Carthaginian fleet to go to Iberia. He took control of a unit of mercenaries and made the journey by boat along the coast of North Africa to the Straits of Gibraltar. He made this journey accompanied by his son Hannibal and by Hasdrubal the Beautiful (also known as Hasdrubal the Elder, general and son-in-law of Hamilcar) in search of new wealth for Carthage.

Hamilcar's expedition took on the appearance of a war of conquest for Carthage, starting from the city of Gades (today Cadiz), although it began without the authorization of the Senate of Carthage. From 237 to 229 BC C. (year of Hamilcar's death in battle), he made maritime navigation economically and militarily viable, and even sent large quantities of goods and metal to Carthage, which can be considered as a tribute from the Iberian populations to the city of Carthage. When Hamilcar died, his son-in-law Hasdrubal the Handsome succeeded him for eight years and began a consolidation of Punic territories in Iberia; He signed various treaties with the local people and founded a new city "Qart Hadasht" (this is also the name of Carthage in Carthaginian), which means "New city" in French. This capital of the barcid empire benefited from the contribution of many minerals from its hinterland and was a first choice place to make an arsenal for the Punic war fleet, the city being defended by impressive walls. The Romans named it Carthago Nova.

Thus, the young Hannibal assumed the supreme command in Iberia, having already distinguished himself in the army for his physical stamina, his courage and his skill at the head of the cavalry, quickly winning the sympathy of the troops. He soon revealed himself as one of the greatest generals in history. According to the German historian Theodor Mommsen, "no one was able to combine wisdom and enthusiasm, prudence and strength like he did.

Rome being already engaged in a war against the Celts in Cisalpine Gaul, it prefers to put itself in agreement with Hasdrubal the Beautiful in 226 BC, and concludes a treaty which places the Ebro as limit with the expansion of Carthage. This treaty also allowed Carthage to have the new territories annexed in Iberia recognized. Carthage was at the head of an army of 50,000 infantrymen, 6,000 cavalrymen and 200 elephants, an economic problem arose concerning the maintenance of the troops (in particular the pay), which is why the Carthaginians sought potential targets. The turning point came in 221 BC, when Hasdrubal the Beautiful was killed by a Celtic mercenary and the Carthaginian army proclaimed Hannibal as its leader. Hannibal was only 26 years old when he became the third general of the Carthaginian army in Iberia. In Carthage, after a decision of the people, the Carthaginian Senate decides to ratify the command of Hannibal.

Polybius in his Histories lists the three main reasons for the outbreak of the Second Punic War:

For Polybe, just like for Fabius Pictor, the seat of Sagonte seems to be the first cause of the starting of the war. The second cause is the passage of the Ebro by the Carthaginian armies. These two events seem to appear as the immediate causes, but some other causes seem to be deeper. The treaty of 226 B.C., which marks the limit of Punic influence, seems to be a deeper cause, especially since some cities of the Carthaginian space are allies of Rome: Emporion, Rhode and the most famous of all, Sagonte. The city of Sagonte is built on a hill, and the assault of this fortified position must allow the army of Hannibal to refine its preparation. Sagonte is thus the principal reason for the casus belli of the second Punic war.

Hannibal, before declaring war openly to Rome, must ensure the control of the Iberian territory. To do this, he invaded the neighboring peoples of the city of Sagonte. Thus, the Olcades are defeated, then the Vacceans and the Carpetans between 221 and 219 BC. All the peoples south of the Ebro being then subjected, Hannibal can now deal with the city of Sagonte.

Hannibal took advantage of a pretext to declare the war to Sagonte, and this one asks for help to Rome. The Roman Republic is satisfied only to send ambassadors to Hannibal, embassy that the Carthaginian general refuses to receive. It puts a drastic siege in front of the city in March 219 B.C., the siege lasts eight months before Rome does not decide to take measures, from where the answer of an ambassador sagontin:

"(the) Dum Romæ consulitur, Saguntum expugnatur "

"(fr) While in Rome we discuss, Sagonte falls "

The siege of the city of Sagonte began in 219 BC. Hannibal knew that by laying siege to this city, he opened the possibility that Rome would go to war against Carthage. And that even if, according to the treaty of 241 BC which delimits the respective zones of influence of the two rival powers, Rome should not have contracted an alliance south of the Ebro. It seems that Rome took advantage here of an imprecision of the treaty, and interpreted this clause by considering that the quoted river is not the Ebro flowing in the North of Iberia, but a coastal river located at the south of Sagonte. In this case, it is obviously Carthage which is in fault. This artifice allows Rome not to perjure itself, and to maintain the peace of the gods. Moreover, the Senate of Rome sends an embassy to try to stop the siege by diplomacy. The embassy is sent to Hannibal when he besieges Sagonte. The latter does not receive it by pretext of a lack of time. The Roman embassy then embarked in direction of Carthage. During its arrival in Carthage, it is received by the Senate of Carthage. It is a new failure because almost all the Carthaginian Senate supports Hannibal in his decision to come to an armed conflict with Rome. Only a senator named Hannon tried to pass a proposal so that Hannibal stops the siege of Sagonte, but without result. The Roman embassy then proposes two solutions:

Finally, Sagonte, exhausted by months of famine, battles, death and despair, surrenders and is razed.

The Carthaginians tried to defend themselves and to support Hannibal, claiming that in the treaty at the end of the first Punic War, there was no mention of the Iberian Peninsula or the Ebro. However, Sagonte is considered as an ally and a friend of the Roman people, the war is therefore inevitable. The war does not take place only in the Iberian peninsula (as the Romans wish), but also in Italy and under the walls of Rome. At the end of 219 BC, the Second Punic War began.

On its return to Rome, the embassy made its report, and the Roman Senate decided to send another embassy to Carthage, with the declaration of the state of war between the two people.

Preparations for Hannibal

In spring 218 BC, a few months after the capture of Sagonte, Hannibal completes the second selection of his army: he sends an army, towards Carthage, composed of 15 000 men including 2 000 Numidian horsemen. According to Polybius, he set up a prudent and wise policy consisting in sending Libyan soldiers in the Iberian peninsula and vice-versa, thus consolidating the bonds of mutual loyalty between the two provinces and thus avoiding the same errors committed by the Punics at the time of the first Punic war. Hannibal leaves Iberia by leaving the command to his brother Hasdrubal, to hold in respect the local populations with a naval force formed by 50 quinqueremes, 2 quadriremes and 5 triremes; and for the ground forces 4 550 horsemen of which 450 Libyphenicians and Libyans, 300 ilergètes and 1 800 among Numides, Massyles, Mesesuli, Maccei and Marusi, as well as 11 850 Libyan infantrymen, 300 Ligures, 500 Balearics and 21 elephants.

With local forces and a thousand Ligurians, Hannibal entrusted the surveillance of Iberia to his brother Hasdrubal to contain the local populations. Reinforcements are sent towards Carthage of 13 850 infantrymen and 1 200 horsemen, as well as 800 slingers of the Balearic Islands. 4 000 Iberian nobles also make the voyage as "auxiliary force", but it is more certainly about hostages to ensure the fidelity of the Iberian cities. This "auxiliary force" is composed of many tribes of the Iberian peninsula, more or less faithful to Carthage, like the Celtiberians, the Mastians or the Olcades. Hannibal also sent messengers to the Celts of Cisalpine Gaul, hoping that their hatred of the Romans would make them join his party.

To the forces left in Iberia and sent to Carthage, the Roman sources of the time mention 90,000 infantrymen and 12,000 cavalrymen taking the road to Italy, estimates undoubtedly exaggerated. The number of 60,000 to 70,000 soldiers seems more reasonable and only 20,000 infantrymen and 6,000 cavalrymen are mentioned on arrival in Cisalpine Gaul. While mentioning that during his journey, Hannibal left 10,000 soldiers to guard the territories between Sagonte and the Pyrenees and that 10,000 Iberians were sent back home when crossing Gaul.

Preparations for Rome

Rome, in addition to being able to mobilize a potential consequent army of 700 000 infantrymen and 70 000 Roman or allied horsemen according to a census carried out shortly before the second Punic war in 225 BC, can count on the contribution of the province of Sicily or that of Hiéron II of Syracuse. After the naval battles of the first Punic war, Rome built a fleet of more than 220 quinqueremes and 20 lighter vessels. The city itself provided 24,000 infantry and 18,000 cavalry (for a total of six legions) from among its own citizens, and in addition, a number of Italian allies numbering 40,000 infantry and 4,400 cavalry. The two consuls shared the consular provinces, Tiberius Sempronius Longus was sent to Sicily with the forces of two legions and several thousands of allies, that is to say approximately 24,000 infantrymen and 2,000 cavalrymen with instructions from the Senate to go and bring the war to Africa directly under the walls of Carthage. A fleet of 160 quinqueremes and 12 lighter vessels was placed at his disposal to transport the troops from Sicily to Africa.

In the years following the beginning of the war, the Romans were forced to mobilize even more soldiers. In 216 BC, 80,000 infantrymen were deployed, as well as 9,600 cavalrymen, the equivalent of sixteen legions. In 211 B.C., the number of legions reaches at this time a record: twenty-three legions (or perhaps even twenty-five), that is to say approximately 115 000 infantry soldiers and 13 000 horsemen, as well as two fleets of 150 quinqueremes.

First Roman actions (218 BC)

The first military action of Rome was to lay siege to the Carthaginian fortress of Melita, located on the island of Malta. The garrison of the fortress, composed of 2,000 men, quickly surrendered without a fight. Western Sicily and the Aeolian Islands benefited from the sending of reinforcements.

Publius Cornelius Scipio, father of Scipio the African and brother of Gnæus Cornelius Scipio Calvus, was assigned Iberia with the rest of the forces: that is to say two legions and many allies, which amounts to an army of 22,000 infantrymen, 2,000 cavalrymen and about sixty quinqueremes. The plan was to attack Carthage with an army that would land in Africa, because the city was not considered to be completely ready, and with another army to attack Hannibal in Iberia by asking for the help of the local populations.

Ambassadors are sent in Iberia to seek the alliance of the Celtiberian tribes, which were for years in fight against the Carthaginians, in particular the tribes of Ilergetes and the legendary slingers of Balearic. But only some tribes accepted, the others remembering the lack of help in Sagonte from Rome. Most of the tribes refuse to help Rome in Iberia, and this reaction extends in the two sides of the Alps (in Gaul and in part of the Cisalpine Gaul). Rome can count only on its own forces and on those of Italy of which certain territories are hardly conquered, and still traversed at some by shudders of freedom.

The Romans spent time fortifying the cities of Cisalpine Gaul and ordered the colonists, 6,000 of each new city founded, to be at the established location within thirty days. The first of the colonies is founded on the river Po and is called Placentia, the other one is located at the north of the river and is called Cremona. The objectives of these two cities were to monitor the behavior of the Celtic populations of the Boians and the Insubrians, who, once aware of the Carthaginian advance in transalpine Gaul, rebelled against the Roman power.

In Sicily, the Romans learn by their ally Hiéron II of Syracuse that the principal objective of the Carthaginians is the occupation of Lilybée. Thus, the procurator Marcus Æmilius Lepidus, who administered this province, reacted immediately by sending ambassadors and tribunes to various cities, so that the leaders would be particularly vigilant in the face of this threat and that Lilybia would receive all possible forms of defense. When the Carthaginians attacked the city with 35 quinqueremes, one morning in the summer of 218 BC, the signal was immediately given by the observation posts. The ensuing naval battle saw the Romans prevail and repel the enemy, while continuing the occupation of Melita on the island of Malta. The Punic landings on the islands Lipari and Vulcano in the Aeolian Islands were repulsed by Hieron II of Syracuse.

Punic march to Italy (218 BC)

In May 218 BC, Hannibal left the Iberian Peninsula with between 90,000 and 100,000 infantry and cavalry. He must move quickly if he is to divide Rome's forces to prevent them from attacking Carthage, a condition also necessary if he is to end the war quickly. By bringing the war quickly to the enemy territory, he hopes to arouse by his presence in Italy at the head of a large army and by a series of victories, a general revolt of the Italian peoples recently subjected to the domination of the Roman Republic.

The Carthaginian naval inferiority forced him to choose a land route to attack Italy. He crossed the Ebro river, and for about two months, his army fought against the peoples between the river and the Pyrenees), losing 22,000 men (either by death or defection), where he left for the protection of the new conquered territories a contingent of about 10,000 men and 1,000 cavalrymen under the command of Hannon. After having crossed this chain of mountains located between Iberia and Gaul in direction of the Rhone, it remains 48 000 infantrymen, 9 000 riders and 37 elephants.

Hannibal seeks the alliance of the Gallic and Ligurian populations on whose lands his army must pass. He assures them that he does not want to conquer their lands. The Celtic region that Hannibal must cross between the Pyrenees and the Rhone is at least neutral, if not benevolent, the populations finding there the occasion of an advantageous trade of supplies. But the allied territories of the future Roman province, faithful to Rome, harassed the Carthaginian army which had to move away from the coast to avoid Marseilles. The passage in certain tribes, however, is far from being easy and it must make a passage with the weapons by losing approximately 13 000 men including 1 000 horsemen. After the desertion of 3 000 Carpetans, it allows 7 000 men, not very eager to follow him to return on their premises. Towards the middle of August, he arrived at the Rhone with 38,000 infantrymen and 8,000 cavalrymen, mostly loyal troops already battle-tested in hard battles.

Meanwhile, the diplomacy of Hannibal in Cisalpine Gaul pushes the Insubrious Gauls and the Boians to the revolt. They drove the colonists out of Placentia and pushed them back to Mutino, which was in a state of siege and almost occupied. These actions forced Publius Cornelius Scipio to divert to the Po valley while his forces were in Pisa waiting to embark for Gaul. Publius Cornelius Scipio was forced to return to Rome to enlist a seventh legion and was forced to send it against the Insubrious. He succeeded in arriving at Massilia to confront Hannibal, but he lost precious time.

Crossing the Alps by Hannibal (218 BC)

Hannibal must make his army pass on the left bank of the Rhone. He is awaited by the powerful tribe of the Volcans and Publius Cornelius Scipio with his legions, which on leaving for Iberia and because of the accumulated delays and the fast march of Hannibal, are redirected towards Massalia. After the defeat of the Volcanoes, the Carthaginians understood that they could not reach Italy by the coastal road and thus joined it by the mountains by borrowing the valleys of the Rhone and the Isere.

The meeting of the Roman and Carthaginian forces in Gaul was limited to a clash of cavalry detachments sent on reconnaissance (battle of the Rhône).

There is no certainty as to the place used by Hannibal to cross the Alps. The passage of the Alps by Hannibal is reported by Polybius, then Titus Livius, without being able to determine precisely which despite numerous studies by which route he passed. However, in March 2016, in the journal Archeometry taken up by the head of the Italian magazine Le Scienze on April 7, 2016, mentions the work of Mahaney on the passage of Hannibal by a specific point of the Alps: the pass of the Traversette, near Mount Viso. Previously, Polybius' version was analyzed, according to which Hannibal would have followed the course of the Isere, deciding to cross the Alps from the Mont-Cenis pass. Another possibility evoked by historians is the crossing by the Petit-Saint-Bernard pass (Cremonis iugum) also cited by Cornelius Nepos under the name of Saltus Graius or the Montgenèvre pass. A more recent reconstruction, still based on the writings of Polybius, places the passage for the Autaret pass in the valleys of Lanzo and the descent to the present municipality of Ussel. Giovanni Brizzi evokes the passage of the Alps by the pass of the Traversette.

To cross the Alps towards the end of September, under the harassment of the natives, whereas the first snows of the autumn fall for men and animals acclimatized to the sun of the Iberian coast, proves terribly trying: after five months of way including nine days of rise and six days of descent (18 days in all, if one follows Tite-Live), it is an exhausted army which arrives in Italy on the territory of Taurini, which will become Turin: 20.000 infantrymen and 6.000 horsemen, according to Polybe.

Rome is forced to revise its plan of maneuver. First of all, Publius Cornelius Scipio must turn back to Massalia with part of his army, the other part sailing towards Iberia under the command of his brother, Gnæus Cornelius Scipio Calvus. Then the army of the consul Sempronius Longus which stationed at Lilybée in order to prepare a landing in Africa must return from Sicily by Ariminum. This last army must make its junction with the army of Publius Scipio.

Success of Hannibal (218-217 BC)

Publius Cornelius Scipio, back in Italy, crossed the Po in October 218 BC to confront Hannibal during his descent of the Alps (during which Hannibal lost an eye) in order to prevent his junction with the revolting Insubrious. The meeting took place between two rivers (Tessin and Sesia): it was the battle of Tessin. A confrontation between the cavalry of the two armies composed for the Romans of velites and Gallic cavalry, the Carthaginians gathered a cosmopolitan army of African, Iberian and Numidian soldiers under the orders of Maharbal. During this battle, the Romans were defeated and Publius Scipio was wounded and saved by his son, the future Scipio the African according to the legend.

Shortly afterwards, the Romans withdrew in good order by crossing the Po, then by assigning troops to destroy the bridge which spanned the river, which enabled Hannibal to capture 600 additional Roman soldiers. Hannibal in turn crossed the river two days later, taking care to receive Celtic deserters from the Roman army and to conclude an alliance with the Boian people.

At the diplomatic level, after this Carthaginian victory, most of the Celtic peoples of the south of the Po plain joined Hannibal's party. Publius Cornelius Scipio decided to camp near Piacenza, a Roman colony founded in 219 BC, in the Po plain. This battle highlights a fact to be taken into account during the whole conflict, that of the superiority of the Carthaginian cavalry over all other cavalry engaged during the second Punic war.

While Hannibal continues his march, the armies of Tiberius Sempronius Longus and Publius Cornelius Scipio operate their junction at Trébie, near Placentia. The two Roman consuls install their camp on a height near a Celtic people still allied. While the Romans work on their strategy, Hannibal, lacking to live, takes advantage of this respite to obtain Clastidium thanks to a defector resulting from Italy of the South, Dasius. Hannibal captures the Roman wheat stocks and Sempronius Longus decides to take action without the agreement of Publius Scipio. Publius Scipio does not want an immediate confrontation with Hannibal, because he thinks that his troops will have been hardened during the winter, and that the Gauls will not remain faithful to the Carthaginians for very long.

The battle began at the end of December, when Sempronius Longus launched four Roman legions (36,000 infantrymen and 4,000 cavalrymen) on the offensive and crossed the river Trebia. It is in reality a stratagem of Hannibal who makes harass the Roman troops by his Numidian light cavalry. In retreat, hidden, 2 000 Punic under the orders of Magon wait to pass to the action. After having crossed the river, the Romans are cold and starving, and the 20 000 infantrymen and 8 000 horsemen of Hannibal's army are waiting for them. It is at this point that Magon launches himself against the rear of the Roman troops and catches them off guard, causing the Romans to flee in desperation.

It is a terrible defeat for the Romans: they lose at least 20 000 men. The important Roman losses are due to the presence of the river Trébie on their backs, which slows down the withdrawal of the Roman armies. 10 000 Roman soldiers succeeded all the same in withdrawing, by piercing the Punic center, on the colony of Piacenza. Hannibal victorious, who has only to note the loss of 1 500 men, receives the rallying of many Celts, which supplement its manpower. In Rome, the concern is not immediate because the consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus sends a letter to the Senate affirming that the defeat is due to a storm. When the Roman senators realize the gravity of the situation, they decide the sending of reinforcements in Sardinia, in Sicily, in Taranto and in other strategic positions. The Senate also asked its ally of Syracuse, Hiéron II, for the help, what Rome obtained. Hiéron II sent 500 Cretan archers and 1 000 peltasts. Cornelius Scipion embarked for Iberia with the title of proconsul.

Hannibal cannot pursue the routed Roman army because his army is exhausted because of the weather conditions, which will cause the loss of many Carthaginian soldiers and elephants in the following days. Only one elephant will survive: Syros. He took advantage of this period to attack the various strongholds in order to supply his army and to starve the Roman garrisons of Cremona and Placentia. After having taken the city of Victimulae and in front of the impatience of the Celts who dreamed of acquiring the wealth of Tuscany and Latium, the Carthaginian general resumed his march at the beginning of the year 217 B.C.

In the spring of 217 BC, Hannibal penetrated Etruria by crossing the Apennines. Rome organized its defense: a new army of four legions, led by the Roman consul Gaius Flaminius Nepos, came into play. Three other legions and a fleet are intended for the southern front and two legions are assigned to the defense of the city of Rome itself. The second consul Cnaeus Servilius Geminus took possession of his two legions at Ariminum on the Adriatic Sea. The former consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus joined his troops at Arretium in Etruria in order to blockade the Punic troops on both sides of the Apennines.

Hannibal with an army of 40 000, chose in March to pass by the shortest way through the muddy swamps of the Arno. Once the obstacle is crossed, he camps near Fiesole. While his army recovers, Hannibal multiplies the plunderings in order to force Gaius Flaminius Nepos to attack him before the Roman armies make their junction. Flaminius refuses the direct confrontation because with two legions his army is in inferiority numerical, it is satisfied to follow the Punic movements. Hannibal has no other choice than to try to trap the Roman consul by using the many plunders that his army carries out between Cortona and the Trasimeno lake. The place chosen by the Carthaginian general is located in the plain of Tuoro, between the mount Gualandro and the northern banks of the lake. The Roman army camped the same evening near the Borghetto gorge, accompanied by numerous merchants, ready to buy the future prisoners of war of the Punic army as slaves.

Flaminius fell into a trap on June 20, 217 B.C.: on the banks of the Trasimene lake, by rushing with his army of 25 000 men in the defile without sending scouts in recognition. The fog is dense this day and the army of Hannibal emerges from the mists and surprises the Roman army in order of march between the lake and the defile. The Romans lost 15,000 to 20,000 legionnaires, massacred or drowned and Hannibal took about 10,000 prisoners. 6 000 Romans escaped the disaster and managed to take refuge on a hill near the lake Plestia, but they surrendered to Maharbal the following day.

Hannibal chooses to free the Italian prisoners in order to show that he is only present to free Italy from the Roman tutelage. The following day, 4 000 horsemen under the orders of Caius centenius, sent in reinforcement by Servilius Geminus, were killed or made prisoners. These two successes bring him equipment, mainly swords, which makes evolve the techniques of combat of the Punic soldiers by bringing them more mobility, they which are accustomed until this battle to the Macedonian sarissa. At the same time, Rome is constrained to send troops in reinforcement in the south: two legions in Sicily, one in Sardinia, a garrison and sixty quninqueremes to defend the port of Taranto.

Roman offensives in Iberia and the Sea of Sicily (217 BC)

The Romans arrived in Iberia in 218 BC under the leadership of Cneus Cornelius Scipio and landed in Ampurias. From this place, it carries out a policy of conquest based on the clemency towards the defeated Hispanic people, helped indirectly in its task by the Punic command of the sector, Hannon, which delays to intervene. Hannon decides however to intervene without waiting for the arrival of the reinforcements led by Hasdrubal Barca, he thus finds himself in front of a Roman army reinforced by Hispanic auxiliaries. Ilergètes led by Indibilis join the army of Hannon for the battle of Cissé at the end of the year 218 BC. It is a clear Roman victory: 6 000 dead Carthaginians and 2 000 prisoners including Hannon and Indibilis.

At the same time, Hasdrubal goes in direction of Tarraco to destroy the Roman fleet in the port, then withdraws beyond the Ebro before carrying out a guerrilla war in the area always with the assistance of Ilergètes. The reaction of Cneus Scipion is merciless, it subjects Ilergètes, but also Ausétans and Lacétans, which must pay respectively to a tribute of 20 talents of gold. Hasdurbal spends the winter to prepare a fleet of war under the orders of Himilcon, but Cnaeus Scipion is going to precede him by attacking the Punic fleet at the mouth of the Ebro. It is a Roman victory which results in the capture of 25 warships. Cnaeus Scipio captured the Balearic Islands and obtained reinforcements consisting of an enlarged Roman legion (about 8,000 soldiers) and the arrival of his brother Publius with the title of proconsul accompanied by 25 additional ships. In autumn, the two brothers Scipio and the Roman army crossed the Ebro at the time when Hasdrubal and his Carthaginians fought the Celtiberians, put the siege in front of Sagonte and took it back from the Punics.

At the same time, the second consul Cnaeus Servilius Geminus, during the summer of 217 BC, had to protect the Roman provisions bound for Iberia, the Roman supply ships being the preferred target of the Punic ships. The protection of supplies mobilized a large Roman fleet of 120 quinqueremes, which the consul used after a success against the Carthaginian fleet to capture Kerkennah off Punic Africa and Kossyra between Sicily and Africa. Once these two missions were accomplished, the Roman fleet returned to the port of Ostia where it spent its winter quarters.

Carthaginian march towards the South of Italy (217 BC)

Conversely, these two Roman defeats on Italian soil lead to a politico-religious crisis in Rome and a dictator with a limited mandate is appointed in July 217 BC to manage the state. The choice is made on Quintus Fabius Maximus, already elected twice consul in his political career, he appoints as master of cavalry Marcus Minucius Rufus, a choice heavy of consequences in the following months. Fabius orders the consultation of the Sibylline books and gives the authorization to carry out human sacrifices. At the military level, Fabius chooses to try to deprive of supply and resources the Punic army by using the policy of the scorched earth, then makes march towards the south by the via Latina, by having been ensured of the fidelity of the Roman cities of Etruria and Umbria, with the pursuit of the Carthaginian army.

Hannibal continued his move southwards by plundering Spoleto and the Picenum plain. Then he decided to go to the Adriatic coast, while privileging the plundering only of the Roman colonies. Arriving in Apulia, the plundering, from now on of Latin colonies, continues: Hadria, Luceria and Arpi. Fabius and Minucius with four legions at their disposal caught up with the Carthaginian general near Vibinum, but the Romans under the leadership of their prudent dictator refused the battle. Hannibal sees himself constrained to pass in Samnium by continuing his policy of plundering in Telesia and Casilinum, then of Falerna and Sinuessa.

In the autumn of 217 BC, Hannibal wished to withdraw to Apulia to take his winter quarters. Fabius closed all the accesses allowing him to go there, the Roman trap seems to work. The Carthaginian general uses a new stratagem, he makes hang flaming torches to 2 000 oxen, while passing with his army opposite the place where he sends the oxen under the control of Hasdrubal. The Punic army is saved and is going to settle in Geronium followed closely by the Roman army commanded by the master of cavalry Minucius. Fabius being recalled to Rome for religious services and to take part in the election of the new consuls, Minucius has the field free to pass to the offensive and to finish with the careful tactics of the dictator. Minucius had a minor success, which convinced the Roman senators to give him the same powers as Fabius. On his return, Fabius and Minucius divided the Roman army into two separate camps in November 217 BC. Minucius went on the offensive, was ambushed by Hannibal and was finally saved only by the energetic intervention of Fabius. The battle of Geronium turns to the advantage of the Punic and the Romans leave 6 000 dead on the battlefield. Fabius and Minucius were reconciled and resumed their tactics of harassing the Carthaginian armies.

Continuation of the Roman offensive in Iberia (216 BC)

On the Iberian front, in the spring of 216 BC, the two Scipio brothers shared the Roman army: to Cnaeus the Roman army and to Publius the Roman fleet. For his part, Hasdrubal had to manage a revolt, then defeat a coalition formed by the Turdetans, which he did at the battle of Ascua. Shortly after, the Carthaginian general started to prepare funds and troops for an expedition to help his brother in Italy. The Scipio brothers took advantage of this respite to continue their conquest of Iberia, they put the seat in front of Hibera. The Punic ones by wanting in their turn to besiege a city allied to the Romans start a battle against these last ones. It is a Carthaginian defeat due mainly to the use of Iberian troops little motivated with the idea of a future voyage in Italy; Hasdrubal manages to save only his cavalry.

In front of this disaster, the Senate of Carthage is forced to divert the reinforcements ordered by Magon Barca and intended to unload in Italy. Thus, 12,000 infantrymen, 1,500 horsemen, 40 elephants and a sum of 1,000 talents took the sea route to Iberia, to which 20,000 Iberians and 4,000 Iberian horsemen were to be added the following year.

Battle of Cannes (216 BC)

On the maritime level, in the summer 216 BC, the Punic fleet shows itself again offensive by attacking the kingdom of Syracuse of Hiéron II.

On the ground, the command normally returns to two consuls: Varron and Paul Emile. The two former consuls Cnaeus Servilius Geminus and Marcus Atilius Regulus are prorogued and become proconsuls in order to command the plethoric manpower of the Roman army for this time, eight legions that is to say 81.000 legionnaires and 9.600 to 12.800 horsemen. Rome's allies also provided the same number of infantry and three times the number of cavalry. The Roman Senate also decided to send a legion to Cisalpine Gaul under the command of Lucius Postumius Albinus in order to quell the Celtic revolt, which contributed half of Hannibal's manpower, and a legion to Sicily under the command of Marcus Claudius Marcellus in order to prevent a Punic landing.

Hannibal left Gerondium and attacked the citadel of Cannes where the Roman harvests of the sector were stored. The Carthaginian general is aware that the Romans have learned a lot from the defeats he inflicted on them the two previous years, so he decides to fight on a flat, narrow and open ground along the Aufide river in order to limit the number of troops the Romans can deploy. The Romans established a camp on each bank of the Aufide, but the Roman foragers were regularly attacked by Carthaginian troops. Exasperated by the situation, the consul Varron decided on an offensive on August 2, 216 B.C. against the advice of the other consul Paul Emile.

The Roman units are placed in the usual order of battle, but the ranks between the units are narrower because of the lack of space between the river and the hills. The two consuls are placed on the wings with the command of the cavalry and the two proconsuls in the center of the Roman device. 10 000 to 15 000 men are assigned to the guard of the two Roman camps, which allows the army to align between 76 000 and 79 000 soldiers on the battlefield. On the other side, Hannibal will use a new tactic, his center will progressively move back and his wings will progressively encircle the Roman army by using the fact that the heavy Roman units are not known for their agility. This battle ends in a disaster for the Roman army.

The Roman army records the death of 70 000 Roman and allied legionnaires, on a strength of 79 000. It is necessary to add 10 000 prisoners, and the death of Paul Emile, of a great part of his staff, 80 senators and a great number of Roman knights. The Carthaginian losses are a little more than 6 000 killed, of which two thirds are Celts, for 50 000 engaged men. Only 5 000 of the 15 000 Roman soldiers guarding the two camps manage to escape, to join the consul Varron and to regain Rome while passing by Canusium.

Hannibal waits for Rome, after this defeat, to start negotiations, which Rome is not willing to do. The Punic general is not unaware of the fact that he does not have the material of siege to take Rome by storm whereas the Carthaginian fleet, which always fears the Roman warships, cannot carry reinforcements to him. Moreover, even if the extent of the Roman defeat involves the defection of the old cities of Great-Greece and Sicily under the influence of Gélon II (the son of Hiéron II), other areas remain faithful to Rome like its allies of central Italy. The upheaval remains great for Rome which, in addition to the loss of a great number of senators, must enroll slaves in its armies.

In the autumn of 216, Capua opened up to the Carthaginians on the initiative of its highest magistrate Pacuvius Calavius, and Hannibal took up his winter quarters there. But if these defectors supply his army, they are not decided to take part in the war at his sides. It is the famous episode known as "the delights of Capua". Hannibal waited for reinforcements, but he could not take control of Naples, Brindisi, or Rhegium, ports where the Roman garrisons clung.

Punic actions in Magna Graecia and Sicily (215 BC)

After the battle of Cannes, Hannibal tries to attract the Greek world in the war by two methods: literature and politics. At the level of the literature, it surrounds itself with historians of Greek origin more or less known like Chaireas, Eumaque of Naples, Silénos of Kalé Akté or still Sosylos of Lacédémone. To counter the Punic attempts in the literary field, a literature in Greek language develops during or after the second Punic war with historians like Cincius Alimentus, Coelius Antipater and Fabius Pictor. At the political level, Hannibal consolidates the bonds with the old Greek cities of Great Greece, with the exception of Neapolis which remains faithful to Rome. Cities like Arpi, Capoue, Herdonae and Salapia pass in the Punic camp.

Shortly afterwards, Magon was sent to raise against Rome the various non-Greek peoples settled in the former Magna Graecia. The Bruttians, the Lucanians and the Samnites rise against the Roman Republic during its passage, before the latter returns to Carthage to seek the promised reinforcements there. At the same time, with the capture of Consentia, Crotone, Locres and Petelia by the Punic armies or the people from now on allied to these last ones, the Carthaginian general can release his Celtic troops which return to fight in Cisalpine Gaul to defend their lands against the Roman armies. A few weeks later, the Boians massacred two Roman legions and their commander Lucius Postumius Albinus in Cisalpine in an ambush near Modena.

In reaction, Rome appoints a new dictator Marcus Junius Pera and a new master of cavalry Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus whose first tasks are going to be the constitution of four new legions (of which two urban) and the raising of 1 000 horsemen, without counting the contribution of the allies. New measures were put in place: the hiring of 8,000 slaves, conscription lowered to 17 years and the doubling of taxes. During this time, Hannibal continued his expansion with more or less success: capture of Acerrae, capture at the second attempt of Casilinum, failure in front of Néapolis, capture of Nuceria Alfaterna, failure in front of Nola.

But the events remained favorable to the Carthaginians because the most faithful ally of the Romans, Hiéron II of Syracuse, had just died. His grandson Hieronymus, 15 years old, succeeded him and signed an alliance with Carthage a few days after his arrival on the throne. Carthage undertakes to provide troops to defend the city of Syracuse and that the territory of the latter will extend until the river Himère in a first time, then on the whole of Sicily in a second time. Numerous cities of the island, like Morgantina, drove out the Roman garrisons and rallied the Carthaginian alliance.

First Macedonian War

Hannibal employs diplomacy, and in spring 215 ties an alliance with Philip V of Macedonia. Informed by chance by the capture of the Macedonian emissaries, the Romans block any attempt of Macedonian landing with a squadron of 50 ships based in Brindisi. Philip V, deprived of fleet of war, is reduced to waiting for a Carthaginian naval intervention, which will never come. This Macedonian war is included in the second Punic war. Philip V does not manage to seize the Roman positions of Dyrrachium and Apollonia on the illyrian coast, while the Romans put in difficulty on its backs, by allying itself with the Etolian League in 212 with a Roman naval support, then with the Greek cities of Sparta, Messene and Elis in 211, and even with Attalus Ier king of Pergamon in 209. When in 205, the Carthaginian failure was obvious, the Roman Senate and Philip V signed the peace.

Enlightenment in Italy: alliances and sieges (215-209 BC)

Rome was effectively protected by Latium, Umbria and Etruria which remained faithful. The considerable human losses are compensated by new levies near the allied cities, and by the enlistment of voluntary slaves and freed for the occasion. These inexperienced troops do not allow to engage an offensive. Fabius Cunctator, consul in 215 then in 214, locked the passages between Campania and Latium. The war in Italy became a war of positions; the outcome of the conflict was to be decided in other theaters of operation.

In -215, in Carthage, Magon had to take the road to Spain to join Hasdrubal. Carthaginians landed in Sardinia, hoping for an indigenous uprising against the Romans, but they were annihilated. Only a small contingent from Carthage with some elephants could land on the Italian coast at Locres in 215, and join Hannibal.

The scandalous conduct of Hieronymus provoked a sedition and he was assassinated in -214. This led to unrest in the city and finally the whole royal family was massacred. The Carthaginians took advantage of this to take control of the city and, from there, to try to reconquer Sicily. The takeover was carried out rather by diplomatic means, by turning the alliances around, than by military battles.

The consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus did not succeed in re-establishing the alliance with Syracuse by negotiation, and in spring -213 began the siege of Syracuse. At the same time, a Carthaginian army of 25,000 men and 3,000 horsemen landed in Sicily, commanded by Himilcon. He occupied Agrigento, but could not raise the siege of Syracuse. An epidemic then decimated his army. The Carthaginian fleet supplied Syracuse several times, but returned to Carthage each time, fearing a naval combat with the Roman war fleet.

In -212, Marcellus ends up, after a long siege and many adventures by taking back Syracuse, "the most beautiful and the most illustrious of the Greek cities", which he delivers partially to the plunder. The great scientist Archimedes was, according to a legend reported by Livy, killed during the sack by a soldier who did not know him while he was contemplating geometric figures in the sand. All the works of art of the city, public or belonging to private individuals, were transferred to Rome.

The Romans ensured the fidelity of their Sicilian allies tempted by an alliance with Carthage by various means, including by the "preventive" massacre of the inhabitants of Enna: "Then one slit the throats of the inhabitants of Enna parked in the theater. It is thus that one kept Enna: I do not know if it was a terrible crime or an essential measure".

During the winter of 213-212 BC, Taranto opened its doors to Hannibal. However the Roman garrison entrenched in the citadel locked the access to the port. Hannibal finally managed to gain access to the sea by seizing the nearby coastal cities of Metapontum, Heraclea and Thurai. If the Punic fleet manages to embark the troops of Philip V of Macedonia, it will be able to unload them in Southern Italy. But in 211, the fleet of Bomilcar supplies one last time Syracuse besieged and is satisfied to block the citadel of Tarentum, remaining with the variation of the Roman fleet of Brindisi.

Taking advantage of Hannibal's fixation on Taranto, the Romans regained a foothold in Campania and besieged Capua a first time in 212, but Hannibal beat them. In 211, they resumed their blockade, which Hannibal could not break. Hannibal then attempted a diversion by heading for Rome with his cavalry. No force interfered, the Romans always refused a frontal pitched battle.

Hannibal ad portas ("Hannibal is at our gates") reports Livy. The Senate hastened to organize the defense of the city behind its walls and even auctioned the land occupied by Hannibal. Hannibal's cavalry camped near Rome, but due to a lack of siege machinery, they had to turn back to southern Italy.

The Romans did not lift their siege around Capua: Hannibal's diversion failed. Capua capitulated in 211. As a punishment for its treason towards Rome, all its lands were confiscated and attached to the ager publicus. Finally, in 209, Fabius Cunctator reoccupied Taranto. The repression is more severe than in Capua: Taranto is plundered, and 30 000 inhabitants are sold as slaves.

Iberian front 218-206 B.C. (to be integrated)

The Scipio brothers prevented Hasdrubal from joining his brother Hannibal, and provoked in 215 a war of the Numidian king Syphax against the Carthaginians.

But in 212, Hasdrubal, Hannibal's brother, subdued Syphax, and three Carthaginian armies crossed into Spain. The Scipio brothers were defeated and killed in 211, the Roman forces retreated to the Ebro.

In Rome, the young Publius Cornelius Scipio, son of Publius Cornelius Scipio, who was later known as Scipio the African, entered the scene. Although he had never been consul, he obtained proconsular power for Spain in 210. In 209, he took the port of Cartagena, with the war treasure and the Iberian hostages held by the Carthaginians. The liberation of these hostages allowed him to gain the support of Iberian peoples against Carthage (see the episode of the Iberian chief Allutius). In 208, Scipio confronted Hasdrubal at Bæcula (probably near Santo Tomé, Jaén, Spain), who managed, despite his losses, to break through to the north to join his brother.

Hasdrubal left Spain with an army of 60,000 men, and took up winter quarters in Gaul. In spring 207, Hasdrubal is in Italy ready to operate his junction with Hannibal in the South of Italy. Very boldly, the consul Caius Claudius Nero leaves a curtain of troops in front of Hannibal, goes up North with his best legions to join the other consul Livius Salinator. Both meet and annihilate Hasdrubal's army at the battle of the Metaurus. Hasdrubal dies in the battle, he is beheaded once his body is found. The consul Caius Claudius Nero hurries back to his camp and has Hasdrubal's head thrown in front of Hannibal's camp.

The following year in 206, Scipio went to Africa to the court of the Numidian king Syphax, to conclude a treaty. Later, he allied himself with the Numidian king Massinissa, who in Spain was fighting with the Carthaginians. Massinissa returned to the Carthaginians, but the alliance with the Romans later bore fruit when Scipio led the war in Africa.

While Hasdrubal Gisco had already passed into Africa with the remains of his army, Scipio defeated the last Carthaginian forces commanded by Magon at Ilipa, and seized Gades (Cadiz), completing the conquest of Carthaginian Spain. Magon fled with the fleet to the Balearic Islands. From there, he landed in 205 with 12,000 men in the Gulf of Genoa. Magon seized the city and tried to raise the Ligurians and Gauls against the Romans. Although it manages to attract the friendship of these people, it does not succeed in generating a general uprising. The Roman armies frightened these people too much. In 203, the praetor Publius Quinctilius Varus and the proconsul Marcus Cornelius Cethegus delivered battle to Magon on the territory of the Insubres Gauls. The battle is uncertain until Magon is wounded in the thigh. The Carthaginians and their allies, who had dared to brave the Romans, fled. Under the cover of night, Magon took refuge among the Ligurians. There, he was recalled by Carthage and had to leave Italy with his army. He had to help his country against Scipio. But, during the journey, Magon dies of his wound.

Back from Spain covered with glory, Scipio is candidate to the election as consul for 205, although he is not of legal age. His program is an expedition in Africa on the territory of Carthage. In spite of the opposition of Fabius, the Senate grants him the government of Sicily and two legions. Scipio devotes the year 205 and the beginning of 204 to prepare his expedition: he completes his manpower, even calling upon volunteers, an exceptional form of recruitment at the time. The outstanding event of 205 will be the conclusion of a peace of statu quo with Philip V of Macedonia.

Scipio landed near Carthage in 204 and allied himself with the Numidian king Massinissa. His beginnings were laborious: he failed to take Utica and had to winter on a promontory on the coast between Utica and Carthage. The following year, in 203, he attacked the Carthaginian and Numidian camps, then defeated a Carthaginian army commanded by Hasdrubal Gisco and Syphax on the Great Plains. Then Massinissa and Laelius captured the Numidian king Syphax near Cirta in June. There followed the tragic episode of the capture of the Numidian capital by Massinissa, which saw the wife of Syphax (and daughter of Hasdrubal Gisco) Sophonisbe poisoning herself in order not to fall alive into the hands of the Romans. Carthage feels that the war is lost and negotiates with Scipio. She accepts the conditions that he imposes to her:

While the Carthaginian ambassadors went to Rome to have this treaty ratified by the Roman senate, Hannibal and Magon left Italy with their armies in 203. In Rome itself, the political adversaries of Scipio, who reproached him for having taken the initiative to decide alone on the conditions of the capitulation of Carthage, made the talks drag on, and the peace was not yet signed in 202. It was then that a minor incident broke the truce: cut off from its hinterland, Carthage was starving. A Roman supply ship in distress was boarded. The conflict starts again.

The meeting of the two armies took place at the battle of Zama in 202; the Romans, inferior in number but helped by the Numidian cavalry of Masinissa, won the victory over the Carthaginians. To honor his victory, the Romans added the nickname Africanus to the name of Scipio, who then became Scipio the African.

New conditions of peace are imposed on Carthage in 201, even harder than the previous ones:

Analysis of the Roman success

Rome won against Hannibal, whom history places among the great strategists and fine tacticians. He stayed 15 years on the Roman soil, without being able to bring Rome to capitulation. Among the reasons for the Roman success, we can cite:

Carthage engaged well important forces on several occasions, and tied dangerous alliances for Rome, but it could not carry out an effective coordination of its means, for lack of controlling its connections with Hannibal and Philip V.

The science fiction author Poul Anderson imagines in the short story The Other Universe (published in 1955) a world where the Carthaginians have won the Second Punic War. The dominant civilizations have taken a purely maritime orientation, and the Roman Empire has never existed. The origin of this uchrony is the death of the Scipios at the Battle of Trebia (218 BC).

The manga Ad Astra by Mihachi Kagano traces the course of the Second Punic War through the rivalry of the generals Hannibal Barca and Scipio the African.

Ancient references

: document used as a source for the writing of this article.


  1. Second Punic War
  2. Deuxième guerre punique
  3. Tite-Live, XXI, 17.
  4. a b c d et e Appien, Guerre d'Hannibal : livre VII, paragraphe 1, 4.
  5. Polybe, Histoires : livre I, paragraphe 63, 1-3.
  6. Rowland Shutt: Polybios: A Sketch. In: Greece & Rome. Nr. 8 (22), 1938, S. 53.
  7. Adrian Goldsworthy: The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars 265–146 BC. London 2006, ISBN 978-0-304-36642-2, S. 20.
  8. F.W. Walbank: Polybios. 1990, ISBN 978-0-520-06981-7, S. 11 f.
  9. John Lazenby: The First Punic War: A Military History. Stanford 1996, ISBN 978-0-8047-2673-3, S. 10 f.
  10. Lisa Hau: Moral History from Herodotus to Diodorus Siculus. Edinburgh, ISBN 978-1-4744-1107-3, S. 23 f.
  11. O termo púnico vem da palavra em latim punicus (também grafada como poenicus), que significa "cartaginês" e é uma referência à ancestralidade fenícia dos cartagineses.[1]
  12. Este número poderia aumentar para cinco mil em alguns casos,[19] ou mais ainda em casos raríssimos.[20]
  13. As fontes romanas e gregas referem-se a esses lutadores estrangeiros depreciativamente como "mercenários", porém Goldworthy descreve isso como "uma simplificação grosseira". Eles serviam sob uma variedade de arranjos; por exemplo, alguns eram as tropas regulares de cidades ou reinos aliados cedidos a Cartago como parte de arranjos formais, alguns eram de estados aliados lutando sob seus próprios líderes, enquanto muitos eram voluntários de áreas sob controle cartaginês que não eram cidadãos de Cartago.[27]
  14. Tropas de "choque" eram aquelas treinadas e usadas para aproximaram-se rapidamente de um oponente com a intenção de quebrá-lo antes ou imediatamente ao contato.[28]
  15. Estes elefantes geralmente tinham 2,5 metros de altura e não devem ser confundidos com o maior elefante-da-savana.[38]
  16. ^ The term Punic comes from the Latin word Punicus (or Poenicus), meaning "Carthaginian" and is a reference to the Carthaginians' Phoenician ancestry.[1]
  17. ^ Sources other than Polybius are discussed by Bernard Mineo in "Principal Literary Sources for the Punic Wars (apart from Polybius)".[17]
  18. ^ This could be increased to 5,000 in some circumstances,[19] or, rarely, even more.[20]
  19. ^ Roman and Greek sources refer to these foreign fighters derogatively as "mercenaries", but the modern historian Adrian Goldsworthy describes this as "a gross oversimplification". They served under a variety of arrangements; for example, some were the regular troops of allied cities or kingdoms seconded to Carthage as part of formal treaties, some were from allied states fighting under their own leader, many were volunteers from areas under Carthaginian control who were not Carthaginian citizens. (Which was largely reserved for inhabitants of the city of Carthage.)[27]
  20. ^ "Shock" troops are those trained to close rapidly and aggressively with their opponents, with the intention of breaking their formation before, or immediately upon, contact.[28]

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