Essay On Hannibal
It has been said when a tree falls with no man present to hear, it makes no sound. Can the same be true of a man’s unwritten deeds? What better tribute can I, Hyperbole, exiled Roman scribe and General Barca’s personal secretary offer to the Hero of our day than the written word? So follows my documentation of General Hannibal Barca’s great deeds from 535 to 552 ab urbe condita, spoken in his own words, from his first bold march, storming Italia, mocking Rome, through his recent return to besieged Carthage and subsequent battle at Naggara, Brumidi. May this Leader’s acts of conquest and triumph live through his words to impress and inspire the many generations of Carthaginian people to come. ***************** “ Heed these words spoken truly by myself, Hannibal Barca, General of the Army of Carthage, son of the ambushed and drowned Hamilcar, Hater of Rome. I sit before my scribe offended, stripped of my army, defeated in a final battle. How did this come about? Surely not from lack of craft, brilliance or fighting men. Perchance the truth will reveal itself to me in my words to follow. As the elected Commander of the Carthaginian army in Iberia I had opportunity to fulfill and express my pledge to my father the Great General Hamilcar Barca, of promising eternal hatred against the Romans. Their forces were occupied elsewhere as I pushed my troops rapidly across the Iberian peninsula, first capturing Salamenca then Saguntum in the year 534 a.u.c. After an 8 month blockade. Rome may have believed I violated a diplomatic treaty between the Empire and Hasdrubal The Fair made 28 years past...this was distant history with Hasdrubal long gone...murdered. Who was to say? Whatever the reason, I learned that the Romans were offended by my acquisition of their little port town Saguntum and requested that I be handed over by Carthage. Regardless of this knowledge I advanced my soldiers north, crossing the Elbro River in my effort to complete the conquest of the Iberian peninsula. Rome responded to my force by declaring war and sending a group of their soldiers to Sicilia, obviously expecting an attack from Carthage, located directly across the sea. I had carefully prepared for this very event, amassing an army and infantry of nearly 60,000 men and corp of 37 prime war elephants. My zeal
attracted men from Brumidi, Carthage and Hispania. Hungry, fit, disgruntled haters of Rome. I recruited soldier translators in preparation for future Gaul and Italian defectors. Taking the peninsula was merely a taunt, a bait, for my true goal was to completely undo the Roman Empire by skill, strength and most importantly, the conversion of Roman allies to the side and support of Carthage. While their army poised waiting, staring across the empty Mare Internum, I moved swiftly north, the energy of long-suppressed men, fresh horses and mighty elephants making light work of the Pyrenaes mountains. Startlement would be my friend and a distress to the Romans but only my quick advancement would prolong this advantage. At the Rhone River my soldiers fashioned huge rafts to ferry supplies and elephants. I hear the panicked trumpeting of those great beasts and feel the icy, froth of that water as if it had occurred only a day before. It was our march over the Alps, ridges of evil, perilous stone that nearly proved the undoing of my army. You cannot imagine six weeks of endless days and sleepless nights of freezing, treacherous climbs, men and beasts swept from implacable stone walls by buffeting snow gusts, vituperative, deadly attacks by mountain wild-folk allowing little time for fire or food. The dreadful cries of 20,000 dying men, exhausted horse and elephant finally laid low by our own hand, their final act as shield from the storms and raw meat for sustenance. I am not a heartless man and yet although I privately suffered a ceaseless, scalding remorse for the sad end of my loyal and trusting troops, I was also amazed at the hardened, disciplined citizens that emerged away from the shadow of those mountains and walked with purposeful step into the valley of the river Po. The plains people were Gauls as I had known, unwilling subjects of Rome. My surviving interpreters told them our story and encouraged their allegiance. When the stunned Roman troops commanded by General Publius Cornelius Scipio arrived to confront us, my hardened cavalry engaged them with the ferocity and zeal of men given a second chance at life, easily defeating the softer, pampered Romans at the River Ticinus in 535 a.u.c. Our first battle a sweet victory, 14,000 Gauls then pledged themselves to me, making good my goal to convert Roman allies to the side of Carthage. Freshly manned I quickly moved my army again into battle against the Roman
soldiers, some of them from the very group of “Water Gazers” that had originally convened in Sicily. Now apprised of our threat they approached with vigor and professionalism, and camped, a formidable group, on the banks of the river Trebia. Yet, knowing their love of the open battle field I waited until nightfall then sent my cavalry into the surrounding brush with the order to lie their horses down in the wood in ambush. My foot soldiers attacked the Romans as they slept, forcing them out of their camp into a drowsy, disheveled attempt at engagement. I gave the command and my hidden cavalry rose up and smote them. Now the Romans truly feared me. It was soon rumored that Roman shields sweated blood and fiery stones and tablets dropped from the sky, one inscribed with the phrase, “Mars now brandisheth his weapons.” I rested my troops for the winter at Bologna and planned throughout those dark months. In response to my victory at Lake Trebia, Gaius Flaminius was appointed Consul to command what remained of Sempronius’s army. New legions were created and added, building his army to many thousands whose ambition it was to subdue me. I was delighted in their choice of Consul for not only was Flaminius an experienced warrior, worthy of my careful strategy, he was known for his high zeal and impetuosity which I intended to reform to lack of prudence on the battlefield. My advantage was understanding the disparity of our goals – whereas his was to conquer Hannibal and return to his beloved Rome an applauded victor, mine was two- fold, to both incite Rome’s army to reactive combat and to seize the admiration of Rome’s allies. For I knew their support to be an absolute power that no army of men could equal. Flaminius moved his new army southward, preparing to protect the region around Rome and I ordered my troops to follow. I knew their expectation to be as protectors against my onslaught against Rome yet truly my actions were strategy only, for then to acquire allies was still my priority even to conquering Rome. I tempted Flaminius to battle, mocking him by laying to waste the very countryside he had come to protect. I knew this to enrage him but he remained unmoved, his army camped at the city of Arretium. I marched my forces around to his rear flank, cutting him off from Rome therefore separating him from the very thing he was to defend. Still he would not battle.
I then sent my army out to burn the region of Apulia, close enough to Flaminius that he could see the smoke rising from my waste. I could so confidently predict in Flamius’s act of retaliation that I had formed a complete plan of offense, detailed to the position of each man and beast. Flaminius could not contain himself. I received word that he was sending his men to battle and moved my forces into position, camping along the hills bordering Lake Trasimene. When the Romans appeared on the lake road I gave the command to attack. My troops rushed down from the surrounding hills, sealing the valley opening to prevent escape. They engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat, surrounding most and forcing others into the lake to drown. Within hours their Army was destroyed, the survivors fled, to be captured later and sold to slavery. Flaminius was among the casualties, although I searched for his body myself it was never recovered. It was also said that the earth moved beneath us during battle, violently enough to destroy cities and flatten mountains. I was never aware of this. Looking back at that day, I now know it to be a turning point. For amidst my throes of a conqueror’s joy, flaunting my decisive victory to the world, even then were Rome’s allies unconvinced and not converted to Carthage. From that point my energies were turned slightly from my goal, that sure path never to be regained. With the death of Flaminius, the agitated Men of Rome gave dictatorship to the Consul Fabius Maximus. Where the impulsive Flaminius sprang to battle, Fabius would have withheld the fight, supported and succored Rome’s allies and allowed Hannibal to wear away from the waiting. His own people called him Cunctator, The Dawdler, yet with camp pitched just out of my reach, I knew him to be a wise, wily enemy, withholding his resources – which he had plenty of – waiting for the vigor of my troops to wane. For though my army accomplished great victories, only the Gauls had as yet sided with me, and this Fabius knew. To my relief, the rash Terentius Varro was given Consulship and assembled 88,000 men to battle, the army of Lucius Aemilius Paullus following closely behind. I was camped near Cannae when Terentius approached with twice the men of my own and signaled for battle. I had planned my strategy to the smallest detail. I held my men back until the enemy was spread below us in full preparation. Then I sent them down the hills, dry winds at their backs, sandy gusts in the faces of the Romans. My
soldiers surrounded their forces, some holding that position while others pressed inward at the apex of their throng, luring the enemy into pursuit so that they rushed back into their own midst...poured into my trap and engulfed like wine to a vessel! They stood as tightly packed animals on the field surrounded by my soldiers who flung their weaponry at this helpless group and smote them down. Victory seemingly so complete, my own men urged that we take Rome at once and their frustration was high when I would not. My weapons and supplies had dwindled and, as I had expected, Rome’s stubborn spirits rallied, Fabius was newly revered as a miraculous and intelligent leader for predicting that battle’s outcome, guards were put to their gates and even the humiliated Varro was welcomed back to the City with great fanfare. In those days that followed, my sweet victory turned hollow, tamped by foreboding. For though I rode triumphantly into Capua, my new capitol city astride a battle elephant amidst the cheering residents, the Roman senate would not acknowledge me and while several allies came to my side, many others remained supportive of Rome. I made alliance with King Philip V of Macedonia and Syracuse was sided with me, yet it would be only a short time before the Roman commander Marcus Claudius Marcellus would wrest it away again. I look back 14 years and see my fortune. Despite my victories, Rome continued to rally and changed their tactics to avoid direct dealings with me. Experienced commanders Marcellus and Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio were ordered to cut off my supply lines and systematically re-take Carthage allies as Rome’s own. Syracuse was re-taken and they approached my beloved Capua. My men few and weary, we made what was to be our last attack on Rome itself, marching to the very walls of that city. Knowing this to be a fruitless gesture against an enemy beyond my grasp, this was performed as an act of diversion to direct their attention away from my capitol city, to no avail. It was taken from me in 542 a.u.c.. The years turned and my hardened team of veteran soldiers continued to battle until my dream of victory over Rome ended with the crossing of Commander Publius Cornelius Scipio and his army to Numidian soil, his attack on Carthage and support of the Numidian uprising against Carthage. My government grew fearful and called me home in 552. In 553 a.u.c with my 15,000 remaining veterans and refreshed forces of mercenaries,
Carthaginians and corp of war elephants, I met Scipio and Numidia’s Masinissa in battle at Naraggara. I ordered a charge of my war elephants, yet Scipio was prepared and controlled their rampage then ordered his trumpeters to blow, frightening my animals and leaving them ineffective in battle. Scipio knew my army to be vulnerable at that moment and launched a cavalry attack, sending my inferior Carthaginian cavalry to flight, his men following closely behind. The Romans charged and my mercenaries boldly held the front line against them. My Roman foe had matured over the years to a disciplined, relentless force. The mercenaries finally gave way and again the Carthaginian troops proved their inferiority by failing to battle, even fighting the mercenaries as they attempted to fall back. My skilled veterans forced both these groups aside and held that line until the Roman cavalry returned from their chase, attacked brutally from the rear of my forces and the battle was quickly lost to me. I am returned to Carthage, peace has been signed and I have resigned as a general. Where do my misjudgments lie? If I had taken Rome after Cannae would Carthage be victor today? Rather than acquiring allies would mere conquest have changed this tide? Was my failure in my methods of acquisition – to lay waste, to instill fear, to convince by brute force? Should I not have sold Flaminius’s men to slavery or cut the tendons of Varro’s troops? Would a diplomatic process have saved Carthage? My words today are done yet my questions remain. It may be men as yet unborn that learn the answers. II. Paragraphs II.a. Comitia Centuriata vs. Concilium Plebis Neither of these systems could truly be called democratic, due both to the unbalanced representation of the groups of people involved with them and the presence of significant class distinctions within them. The Concilium Plebis consisted exclusively of Plebians (considered common folk) and was not a true Comitia because it did not represent all Roman classes. A Tribune was elected annually by members of the Concilium to preside at legislative meetings yet the laws (plebiscita) that were passed were only intended for Plebes, not the entire Republic. Concilium Plebis is important in that it represented the first political power the Plebes had ever had, offering a way to
protect themselves against Patrician abuse. Although the Comitia Centuriata was considered to be “the assembly of the whole people” and was the main legislative body of Rome, the opportunity of a Plebe’s vote to count was restricted. There were 193 centuries and the votes of each member would combine to make a single vote. The majority – 98 – centuries (voting blocks) consisted of Patricians, members of “upper crust” families and/or high court officials. Because the election was finished once a majority had been reached, often only the first Patrician classes had opportunity to vote. By 287 B.C.,however, because the Concilium Plebis process was less complicated, it became the chosen legislature of Rome and plebiscites became law for everyone, not just the Plebes. II.b. - Description Of Roman Italy : Not Empire Or Federation Roman Italy was a composite of peoples resulting from conquests starting with the deposition of the Etruscan king Tarquin The Proud in 509 B.C. After several invasions against them, the Romans regrouped, eventually moving on to conquer the Gauls, Latium, Samnites and the Greeks until they controlled the “boot” of land that we call Italy today. This could neither be called an empire or a federation but simply a collection of conquered people ruled by one group. These conquered territories could not be described as a federation – a group of separate “states” politically united by one central government – yet their relationship with their Roman conquerors was more diplomatic than empirical. Although ruled by one, powerful, sovereign government, the Romans used diplomacy to manage and influence most of these groups to accept that rule peacefully, often granting them rights and citizenship, even giving soldiers property in conquered territory as payment for their military service, managing to settle these troops in every land that they conquered. This made for a long, lasting, relatively peaceful Roman rule which would change with the arrival of Hamilcar and later Hannibal. III. Identifications Including Historical Significance III.a – Hamilcar Barca Carthaginian General, Statesman, born 270 B.C., took command in Sicily during First Punic War in 247 B.C. when the island was almost completely run by Romans. Negotiated peace terms between Rome and Carthage after Rome's victory over the
Carthaginian fleet in 241 B.C., returned to Carthage and crushed a revolt of his own mutinied troops, raised to a dictatorship, returned to war in Spain with 9 yr. old Hannibal where he fought successfully until his death by drowning in 228 B.C.during a siege on Helice. H.S. - Peace treaty he assisted in drawing up between Rome and Carthage put an end to the First PunicWar, his later conquests in Spain were influencial in the buildup in conflict that led to the Second Punic War and influenced his son, Hannibal Barca to share in his hatred of Rome and become a key figure in the Second Punic War. III. b. Praetor The Sexto-Licinian Laws initiated by the plebs Stolo and Sextius stated that one of the two Roman consuls (officials) had to be a pleb, an elected official to this Roman office created in 366 B.C. to relieve the consuls of their judicial responsibilities. Praetors had the imperium - power - to perform many judicial functions including chairing the Senate if the consuls were away, serving as army commander, proposing laws, conducting hearings including handling cases involving foreigners and having the power to call an assembly. H.S.- The praetorship gave plebeians one of the earliest opportunities to hold an office in the Roman order of offices providing political privileges to the plebeian class that had never been available before. III. c. Quaestor Originally a certain type of Roman police officer was titled Quaestor , this eventually became the name of an official position created in 447 B.C.in the Roman order of offices. A magistrate, fiscal administrator, elected annually in the Tribal Assembly, was
a financial staff member to the consuls and later to praetors and other important members in Roman office. This person could have held the position of accountant in charge of the public treasury, collected taxes or taken on a military role as pay/quartermaster. H.S. - First postion as financial administrator in Roman history that was obtained by vote/election. Due to the importance of their roles, the number of Quaestors expanded over the years to meet the needs of the military, new Roman provinces and allies and the supervisory needs of the Roman games. III. f. Toga Basic costume of the Roman male, dress of the magistrate also denoting Roman citizenship, semi-circle sash of woolen material worn over a tunica, designed in several styles including toga virilis the basic toga for men, candida, the chalk-whitened toga worn by political candidates and praetexta, worn by officials of the state, designed with a purple-red stripe the width of the stripe dependent on the style of toga it was. H.S. - Earliest dress clothing worn by the Romans, became important primarily as a ceremonial garment worn by magistrates and used only in politics, a hugely respected form of dress off-limits to foreigners, considered a sign of peace.