Hannibal: Ancient Rome's Greatest Enemy

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Part 5: The End of an Era

Shockingly, on a day that should have been his to savor, with a home-soil triumph and renewed confidence in his ability to defeat the enemy, Hannibal instead tasted betrayal and defeat. Scipio (who, incidentally, had been one of the few Roman soldiers who had survived the massacre at Cannae) was the new king of the battlefield. He had studied Hannibal's tactics and daring, and he now supplanted the old master as the greatest living general in the Mediterranean world. (He so respected Hannibal and so wanted people to remember the victory at Zama for the rest of his life that he took the name Africanus as his last name.)

Surprisingly, Rome's terms were not all that harsh. The Carthaginian army and navy were vastly reduced, but Carthage was allowed to govern itself. Hannibal was even the head of the government for awhile. For a few years, now that Rome wasn't bent on its destruction, Carthage was allowed to thrive, even to rebuild its economy and its cities. Roman jealousy and desire for finality got the better of Rome in the end, however, and the government demanded that Carthage surrender Hannibal. He refused and, in 195, went into hiding, ending up in Syria as an adviser to King Antiochus III, who was planning a war with Rome. Antiochus wasn't the brightest of leaders, and he refused to take Hannibal's battlefield advice. The result was yet another Roman victory and yet another Hannibal escape, this time to Bithynia (which was in what is now Turkey). Roman armies found him eventually, in 183, and threatened to take him back to Rome as a criminal in chains. Rather than await this fate, Hannibal killed himself. The greatest military mind of ancient times was dead by his own hand.

First page > Warrior from Birth > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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David White