PUNIC WARS: BATTLE OF CANNAE
Swearing vengeance against Rome for the humiliation they inflicted on Carthage, Hannibal Barca in his Iberian kingdom set out on an audacious plan to strike at Rome's heart in Italy, by marching an army of between 60,000 and 80,000 men overland through southern Gaul and over the Alps.
Somewhere over 40,000 arrived in Italy with Hannibal some months later.
With inferior numbers, Hannibal wielded a tactical and strategic genius which allowed him to twice outsmart and defeat the Roman armies at Lake Trasimene and the River Trebia.
Appointed Dictator by the Senate of Rome, Quintus Fabius Maximus was not about to let Hannibal demolish and humiliate the Romans again. He began a policy of "delaying", a war of attrition which would starve Hannibal's army out of Italy.
This policy lasted as long as Fabius Maximus's Dictatorship. After it expired, the new Consuls for the year, Gaius Terentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paullus, raised an army of some 16 legions numbering between 80,000 and 90,000 men, Roman and Italian, to meet Hannibal Barca and defeat him once and for all.
The ensuing day's battle would be the turning point for the Second Punic War, and the course of Roman and Carthaginian history. Hannibal's tactics would be studied and admired by Rome for hundreds of years to come.
The strategy, as it unfolded, began by presenting Rome with an unavoidably appealing target---the Carthaginian infantry line, slightly ragged, shaped like a crescent. The cavalry met first, with Hannibal's Iberian, Gallic, and Carthaginian cavalry quickly defeating the Romans, and chasing them off the field completely. The Roman army pressed into the infantry, which gave ground steadily, flexing the crescent shape around and creating a sort of crater for the front lines of the Romans to crash into. Much of the center would be stuck in place by the sheer mass of the army moving forward.
On cue, the elite African and Libyan troops of Hannibal's army extended the lines and attacked the Roman flanks, leaving one line of escape. This was sealed shut by the returning heavy cavalry. While virtually every Carthaginian line could fight the Romans, only the Roman lines on the extreme flanks, rear, and front could fight while the rest were crushed in the center, left to panic that they were surrounded, and undoubtedly losing the battle.
Estimates put the Roman casualties at 50,000, with Consul Paullus dead, and over eighty Roman Senators killed. Carthage lost 6,000 dead and 10,000 wounded.
Despite the stunning victory, Hannibal Barca did not press on Rome itself. Theories range, claiming Hannibal could have taken Rome by force, while others put forth that because Barca had no siege equipment, he would have bled his army out on the walls, as the Romans had left a garrison in the city, and would scrape together all the troops they could to defend the city to the death.
Hannibal was ultimately defeated by Publius Cornelius Scipio at the Battle of Zama, after spending over a decade in Italy, victim of returning Dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus's "delaying" tactics, an entire Roman army keeping Hannibal pinned in Italy while Scipio led another army to ultimately destroy Hannibal's "kingdom" in Iberia. Hannibal risked the journey to Carthage with his ragged army when Carthage itself was threatened by Rome.
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The Punic Wars were a series of three wars fought between Rome and Carthage from 264 BC to 146 BC. At the time, they were probably the largest wars that had ever taken place. The term Punic comes from the Latin word Punicus (or Poenicus), meaning "Carthaginian", with reference to the Carthaginians' Phoenician ancestry. The main cause of the Punic Wars was the conflict of interests between the existing Carthaginian Empire and the expanding Roman Republic. The Romans were initially interested in expansion via Sicily (which at that time was a cultural melting pot), part of which lay under Carthaginian control. At the start of the first Punic War, Carthage was the dominant power of the Western Mediterranean, with an extensive maritime empire, while Rome was the rapidly ascending power in Italy, but lacked the naval power of Carthage. By the end of the third war, after more than a hundred years and the loss of many hundreds of thousands of soldiers from both sides, Rome had conquered Carthage's empire and completely destroyed the city, becoming the most powerful state of the Western Mediterranean. With the end of the Macedonian wars – which ran concurrently with the Punic Wars – and the defeat of the Seleucid King Antiochus III the Great in the Roman–Syrian War (Treaty of Apamea, 188 BC) in the eastern sea, Rome emerged as the dominant Mediterranean power and one of the most powerful cities in classical antiquity. The Roman victories over Carthage in these wars gave Rome a preeminent status it would retain until the 5th century AD.
During the mid-3rd century BC, Carthage was a large city located on the coast of modern Tunisia. Founded by the Phoenicians in the mid-9th century BC, it was a powerful thalassocratic city-state with a vast commercial network. Of the great city-states in the western Mediterranean, only Rome rivaled it in power, wealth, and population. While Carthage's navy was the largest in the ancient world at the time, it did not maintain a large, permanent, standing army. Instead, Carthage relied mostly on mercenaries, especially the indigenous Numidian Berbers, to fight its wars. However, most of the officers who commanded the armies were Carthaginian citizens. The Carthaginians were famed for their abilities as sailors, and unlike their armies, many Carthaginians from the lower classes served in their navy, which provided them with a stable income and career.
In 200 BC the Roman Republic had gained control of the Italian peninsula south of the Po river. Unlike Carthage, Rome had large disciplined armed forces. On the other hand, at the start of the First Punic War the Romans had no navy, and were thus at a disadvantage until they began to construct their own large fleets during the war.
Iberian falcata, 4th/3rd century BC. This weapon, a scythe-shaped sword, was unique to Iberia. By its inherent weight distribution, it could deliver blows as powerful as an axe. The Iberians also invented the gladius, the standard sword used by Roman infantry. National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
The First Punic War (264–241 BC) was fought partly on land in Sicily and Africa, but was largely a naval war. It began as a local conflict in Sicily between Hiero II of Syracuse and the Mamertines of Messina. The Mamertines enlisted the aid of the Carthaginian navy, and then subsequently betrayed them by entreating the Roman Senate for aid against Carthage. The Romans sent a garrison to secure Messina, so the outraged Carthaginians then lent aid to Syracuse. With the two powers now embroiled in the conflict, tensions quickly escalated into a full-scale war between Carthage and Rome for the control of Sicily. After a harsh defeat at the Battle of Agrigentum in 261 BC, the Carthaginian leadership resolved to avoid further direct land-based engagements with the powerful Roman legions, and concentrate on the sea where they believed Carthage's large navy had the advantage. Initially the Carthaginian navy prevailed. In 260 BC they defeated the fledgling Roman navy at the Battle of the Lipari Islands. Rome responded by drastically expanding its navy in a very short time. Within two months the Romans had a fleet of over one hundred warships. Because they knew that they could not defeat the Carthaginians in the traditional tactics of ramming and sinking enemy ships, the Romans added the corvus, an assault bridge, to Roman ships. The hinged bridge would swing onto enemy vessels with a sharp spike and stop them. Roman legionaries could then board and capture Carthaginian ships. This innovative Roman tactic reduced the Carthaginian navy's advantage in ship-to-ship engagements, and allowed Rome's superior infantry to be brought to bear in naval conflicts. However, the corvus was also cumbersome and dangerous, and was eventually phased out as the Roman navy became more experienced and tactically proficient. Save for the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Tunis in Africa, and two naval engagements, the First Punic War was a nearly unbroken string of Roman victories. In 241 BC, Carthage signed a peace treaty under the terms of which they evacuated Sicily and paid Rome a large war indemnity. The long war was costly to both powers, but Carthage was more seriously destabilized. In 238 BC, Carthage was plunged into the Mercenary War, during which Rome seized Sardinia and Corsica. Rome was now the most powerful state in the western Mediterranean: its large navy able to prevent seaborne invasion of Italy, control important sea trade routes, and invade foreign shores.
By the middle of the 3rd century BC, the Romans had secured the whole of the Italian peninsula, except Gallia Cisalpina (Po Valley). Over the course of the preceding one hundred years, Rome had defeated every rival that stood in the way of their domination of the Italian peninsula. First the Latin league was forcibly dissolved during the Latin War, then the power of the Samnites was broken during the three prolonged Samnite wars, and the Greek cities of Magna Graecia who were unified after Pyrrhus of Epirus finally left Italy, requiring the Greek Cities in southern Italy to submit to Roman authority at the conclusion of the Pyrrhic War.
Carthage considered itself the dominant naval power in the western Mediterranean. It originated as a Phoenician colony in Africa, near modern Tunis, and gradually became the center of a civilization whose hegemony reached along the North African coast and deep in its hinterland, and also included the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Corsica, a limited area in southern Spain, and the western half of Sicily. The conflict began after both Rome and Carthage intervened in Messana, the Sicilian city closest to the Italian peninsula.
In 288 BC, the Mamertines—a group of Italian (Campanian) mercenaries originally hired by Agathocles of Syracuse—occupied the city of Messana (modern Messina) in the northeastern tip of Sicily, killing all the men and taking the women as their wives. At the same time, a group of Roman troops made up of Campanian "citizens without the vote" also seized control of Rhegium, which lies across the straits on the mainland of Italy. In 270 BC, the Romans regained control of Rhegium and severely punished the survivors of the revolt. In Sicily, the Mamertines ravaged the countryside and collided with the expanding regional empire of the independent city of Syracuse. Hiero II, tyrant of Syracuse, defeated the Mamertines near Mylae on the Longanus River. Following the defeat at the river Longanus, the Mamertines appealed to both Rome and Carthage for assistance, and acting first the Carthaginians approached Hiero to take no further action and convinced the Mamertines to accept a Carthaginian garrison in Messana. Either unhappy with the prospect of a Carthaginian garrison, or convinced that the recent alliance between Rome and Carthage against Pyrrhus reflected cordial relations between the two, the Mamertines petitioned Rome for an alliance, hoping for more reliable protection. However, the rivalry between Rome and Carthage had grown since the war with Pyrrhus; therefore, according to Warmington, an alliance with both powers was simply no longer feasible.
According to the historian Polybius, considerable debate took place in Rome on the question of whether to accept the Mamertines' appeal for help, and thus likely enter into a war with Carthage. While the Romans did not wish to come to the aid of soldiers who had unjustly stolen a city from its rightful possessors, and although they were still recovering from the insurrection of Campanian troops at Rhegium in 271, many were also unwilling to see Carthaginian power in Sicily expand even further. Leaving the Carthaginians alone at Messana would give them a free hand to deal with Syracuse; after the Syracusans had been defeated, the Carthaginian takeover of Sicily would essentially be complete. A deadlocked senate put the matter before the popular assembly, where it was decided to accept the Mamertines' request and Appius Claudius Caudex was appointed commander of a military expedition with orders to cross to Messana.
 Roman landing and advance to Syracuse
Roman arrival and neutralization of Syracuse.
Sicily is a semi-hilly island, with geographical obstacles and rough terrain making lines of communication difficult to maintain. For this reason land warfare played a secondary role in the First Punic War. Land operations were confined to small scale raids and skirmishes, with few pitched battles. Sieges and land blockades were the most common large-scale operations for the regular army. The main blockade targets were the important ports, since neither Carthage nor Rome were based in Sicily and both needed continuous reinforcements and communication with the mainland.
The land war in Sicily began with the Roman landing at Messana in 264 BC. If one follows Polybius, the course of events was the following: Despite the Carthaginian pre-war naval advantage, the Roman landing was virtually unopposed. Two legions commanded by Appius Claudius Caudex disembarked at Messana, where the Mamertines had expelled the Carthaginian garrison commanded by Hanno (no relation to Hanno the Great). After defeating the Syracusan and Carthaginian forces besieging Messana, the Romans marched south and in turn besieged Syracuse. After a brief siege, with no Carthaginian help in sight, Syracuse made peace with the Romans. According to the terms of the treaty, Syracuse would become a Roman ally, would pay a somewhat light indemnity of 100 talents of silver to Rome, and, perhaps most importantly, would agree to help supply the Roman army in Sicily. This solved the Roman problem of having to keep an overseas army provisioned while facing an enemy with a superior navy. Following the defection of Syracuse, several other smaller Carthaginian dependencies in Sicily also switched to the Roman side.
 Carthage prepares for war
Meanwhile, Carthage had begun to build a mercenary army in Africa which was to be shipped to Sicily to meet the Romans. According to the historian Philinus, this army was composed of 50,000 infantry, 6,000 cavalry, and 60 elephants. According to Polybius, this army was partly composed of Ligurians, Celts and Iberians.
In past wars on the island of Sicily, Carthage had won out by relying on certain fortified strong-points throughout the island, and their plan was to conduct the land war in the same fashion. The mercenary army would operate in the open against the Romans, while the strongly fortified cities would provide a defensive base from which to operate.
Battle of Agrigentum
Main article: Battle of Agrigentum
One of these cities, Agrigentum (known to the Greeks as Acragas), would be the next Roman objective. In 262 BC, Rome besieged Agrigentum, an operation that involved both consular armies—a total of four Roman legions—and took several months to resolve. The garrison of Agrigentum managed to call for reinforcements and the Carthaginian relief force commanded by Hanno came to the rescue and destroyed the Roman supply base at Erbessus. With supplies from Syracuse cut, the Romans were now besieged and constructed a line of contravallation. After a few skirmishes, disease struck the Roman army while supplies in Agrigentum were running low, and both sides saw an open battle as preferable to the current situation. Although the Romans won a clear victory over the Carthaginian relief force at the Battle of Agrigentum, the Carthaginian army defending the city managed to escape. Agrigentum, now lacking any real defenses, fell easily to the Romans, who then sacked the city and enslaved the populace.
Rome builds a fleet
At the beginning of the First Punic War, Rome had virtually no experience in naval warfare, whereas Carthage had a great deal of experience on the seas thanks to its centuries of sea-based trade. Nevertheless, the growing Roman Republic soon understood the importance of Mediterranean control in the outcome of the conflict.
 Origin of Roman design
The first major Roman fleet was constructed after the victory of Agrigentum in 261 BC. Some historians have speculated that since Rome lacked advanced naval technology the design of the warships was probably copied verbatim from captured Carthaginian triremes and quinqueremes or from ships that had beached on Roman shores due to storms. Other historians have pointed out that Rome did have experience with naval technology, as she patrolled her coasts against piracy. Another possibility is that Rome received technical assistance from its seafaring Sicilian ally, Syracuse. Regardless of the state of their naval technology at the start of the war, Rome quickly adapted.
 The corvus
Diagram of a corvus boarding device.
Main article: Corvus (weapon)
In order to compensate for the lack of experience, and to make use of standard land military tactics on sea, the Romans equipped their new ships with a special boarding device, the corvus. The Roman military was a land-based army while Carthage was primarily a naval power. This boarding-bridge allowed the Roman navy to circumvent some of Carthage's naval skills by using their marines to board Carthaginian ships and fight in hand to hand combat. Instead of maneuvering to ram, which was the standard naval tactic at the time, corvus equipped ships would maneuver alongside the enemy vessel, deploy the bridge which would attach to the enemy ship through spikes on the end of the bridge, and send legionaries across as boarding parties.
The new weapon would prove its worth in the Battle of Mylae, the first Roman naval victory, and would continued to do so in the following years, especially in the huge Battle of Cape Ecnomus. The addition of the corvus forced Carthage to review its military tactics, and since the city had difficulty in doing so, Rome had the naval advantage.
 Battle of Mylae
Main article: Battle of Mylae
Location of Mylae (Milazzo) on the coast of northern Sicily.
Duilius met Hamilcar off northern Mylae in 260. Polybius states that the Carthaginians had 130 ships, but does not give an exact figure for the Romans. The loss of 17 ships at the Lipari Islands from a starting total of 120 ships suggests that Rome had 103 remaining. However, it is possible that this number was larger than 103, thanks to captured ships and the assistance of Roman allies. The Carthaginians anticipated victory, especially because of their superior experience at sea.
The corvus were very successful, and helped the Romans seize the first 30 Carthaginian ships that got close enough. In order to avoid the corvus, the Carthaginians were forced to navigate around them and approach the Romans from behind, or from the side. The corvus was usually still able to pivot and grapple most oncoming ships. Once an additional 20 of the Carthaginian ships had been hooked and lost to the Romans, Hamilcar retreated with his surviving ships, leaving Duilius with a clear victory.
Instead of following the remaining Carthaginians at sea, Duilius sailed to Sicily to retrieve control of the troops. There he saved the city of Segesta, which had been under siege from the Carthaginian infantry commander Hamilcar. Modern historians have wondered at Duilius’ decision not to immediately follow up with another naval attack, but Hamilcar’s remaining 80 ships was probably still too strong for Rome to conquer.
 Hamilcar's counterattack
The Roman advance now continued westward from Agrigentum to relieve in 260 BC the besieged city of Macella, which had sided with Rome and were attacked by the Carthaginians for doing so. In the north, the Romans, with their northern sea flank secured by their naval victory at Battle of Mylae, advanced toward Thermae. They were defeated there by the Carthaginians under Hamilcar (a popular Carthaginian name, not to be confused with Hannibal Barca's father, with the same name) in 260 BC. The Carthaginians took advantage of this victory by counterattacking, in 259 BC, and seizing Enna. Hamilcar continued south to Camarina, in Syracusan territory, presumably with the intent to convince the Syracusans to rejoin the Carthaginian side.
 Continued Roman advance
Continued Roman advance 260-256 BC.
The next year, 258 BC, the Romans were able to regain the initiative by retaking Enna and Camarina. In central Sicily, they took the town of Mytistraton, which they had attacked twice previously. The Romans also moved in the north by marching across the northern coast toward Panormus, but were not able to take the city.
 Invasion of Africa
After their conquests in the Agrigentum campaign, and following several naval battles, Rome attempted (256/255 BC) the second large scale land operation of the war. Seeking a swifter end to the war than the long sieges in Sicily would have provided, Rome decided to invade the Carthaginian colonies of Africa and usurp Carthage's supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea, consequently forcing Carthage to accept its terms.
 Battle of Cape Ecnomus
Main article: Battle of Cape Ecnomus
In order to initiate its invasion of Africa, the Roman Republic constructed a major fleet, comprising transports for the army and its equipment, and warships for protection. Carthage attempted to intervene with a fleet of 350 ships (according to Polybius), but was defeated in the Battle of Cape Ecnomus.
Invasion of Africa.
 Regulus's raid
Main articles: Battle of Adys and Battle of Tunis
As a result of the battle, the Roman army, commanded by Marcus Atilius Regulus, landed in Africa and began ravaging the Carthaginian countryside. At first, Regulus was victorious, winning the Battle of Adys and forcing Carthage to sue for peace. The terms were so heavy that negotiations failed and, in response, the Carthaginians hired Xanthippus, a Spartan mercenary, to reorganize the army. Xanthippus defeated the Roman army and captured Regulus at the Battle of Tunis, and then managed to cut off what remained of the Roman army from its base by re-establishing Carthaginian naval supremacy.
 Carthage's respite
The Romans, meanwhile, had sent a new fleet to pick up the survivors of its African expedition. Although the Romans defeated the Carthaginian fleet and were successful in rescuing its army in Africa, a storm destroyed nearly the entire Roman fleet on the trip home; the number of casualties in the disaster may have exceeded 90,000 men. The Carthaginians took advantage of this to attack Agrigentum. They did not believe they could hold the city, so they burned it and left.
 Renewed Roman offensive
Roman attacks 253-251 BC.
The Romans were able to rally, however, and quickly resumed the offensive. Along with constructing a new fleet of 140 ships, Rome returned to the strategy of taking the Carthaginian cities in Sicily one by one.
Attacks began with naval assaults on Lilybaeum, the center of Carthaginian power on Sicily, and a raid on Africa. Both efforts ended in failure. The Romans retreated from Lilybaeum, and the African force was caught in another storm and destroyed.
 Northern advance
The Romans, however, made great progress in the north. The city of Thermae was captured in 252 BC, enabling another advance on the port city of Panormus. The Romans attacked this city after taking Kephalodon in 251 BC. After fierce fighting, the Carthaginians were defeated and the city fell. With Panormus captured, much of western inland Sicily fell with it. The cities of Ietas, Solous, Petra, and Tyndaris agreed to peace with the Romans that same year.
 Southwestern expedition
Main article: Battle of Drepana
Roman attacks 250-249 BC.
The next year, the Romans shifted their attention to the southwest. They sent a naval expedition toward Lilybaeum. En route, the Romans seized and burned the Carthaginian hold-out cities of Selinous and Heraclea Minoa. This expedition to Lilybaeum was not successful, but attacking the Carthaginian headquarters demonstrated Roman resolve to take all of Sicily. The Roman fleet was defeated by the Carthaginians at Drepana, forcing the Romans to continue their attacks from land. Roman forces at Lilybaeum were relieved, and Eryx, near Drepana, was seized thus menacing that important city as well.
Following the conclusive naval victory off Drepana in 249 BC, Carthage ruled the seas as Rome was unwilling to finance the construction of yet another expensive fleet. Nevertheless the Carthaginian faction that opposed the conflict, led by the land-owning aristocrat Hanno the Great, gained power and in 244 BC, and considering the war to be over, started the demobilization of the fleet, giving the Romans a chance to again attain naval superiority.
Carthaginians negotiate peace and withdraw.
At this point (247 BC), Carthage sent general Hamilcar Barca (Hannibal's father) to Sicily. His landing at Heirkte (near Panormus) drew the Romans away to defend that port city and resupply point and gave Drepana some breathing room. Subsequent guerilla warfare kept the Roman legions pinned down and preserved Carthage's toehold in Sicily, although Roman forces which bypassed Hamilcar forced him to relocate to Eryx, to better defend Drepana.
Battle of the Aegates Islands
Perhaps in response to Hamilcar's raids, Rome did build another fleet paid for with donations from wealthy citizens and it was that fleet which rendered the Carthaginian success in Sicily futile, as the stalemate Hamilcar produced in Sicily became irrelevant following the Roman naval victory at the Battle of the Aegates Islands in 241 BC, where the new Roman fleet under consul Gaius Lutatius Catulus was victorious over an undermanned and hastily built Carthaginian fleet. Carthage lost most of its fleet and was economically incapable of funding another, or of finding manpower for the crews.
Without naval support, Hamilcar Barca was cut off from Carthage and forced to negotiate peace and agree to evacuate Sicily. It should be noted that Hamilcar Barca had a subordinate named Gesco conduct the negotiations with Lutatius, in order to create the impression that he had not really been defeated.
 Role of naval warfare
Photo of the remains of the naval base of the city of Carthage. Before the war, Carthage had the most powerful navy in the western Mediterranean.
See also: Roman Navy
Due to the difficulty of operating in Sicily, most of the First Punic War was fought at sea, including the most decisive battles. But one reason the war bogged down into stalemate on the landward side was because ancient navies were ineffective at maintaining seaward blockades of enemy ports. Consequently, Carthage was able to reinforce and re-supply its besieged strongholds, especially Lilybaeum, on the western end of Sicily. Both sides of the conflict had publicly funded fleets. This fact compromised Carthage and Rome's finances and eventually decided the course of the war.
Despite the Roman victories at sea, the Roman Republic lost countless ships and crews during the war, due to both storms and battles. On at least two occasions (255 and 253 BC) whole fleets were destroyed in bad weather; the disaster off Camarina in 255 BC counted two hundred seventy ships and over one hundred thousand men lost, the greatest single loss in history. One theory for the problem is the weight of the corvus on the prows of the ships made the ships unstable and caused them to sink in bad weather. Later, as Roman experience in naval warfare grew, the corvus device was abandoned due to its impact on the navigability of the war vessels.
Rome won the First Punic War after 23 years of conflict and in the end became the dominant naval power of the Mediterranean. In the aftermath of the war, both states were financially and demographically exhausted. Corsica, Sardinia and Africa remained Carthaginian, but they had to pay a high war indemnity. Rome's victory was greatly influenced by its persistence. Moreover, the Roman Republic's ability to attract private investments in the war effort to fund ships and crews was one of the deciding factors of the war, particularly when contrasted with the Carthaginian nobility's apparent unwillingness to risk their fortunes for the common war effort.
The exact number of casualties on each side is difficult to determine, due to bias in the historical sources.
According to sources (excluding land warfare casualties):
Although uncertain, the casualties were heavy for both sides. Polybius commented that the war was, at the time, the most destructive in terms of casualties in the history of warfare, including the battles of Alexander the Great. Analyzing the data from the Roman census of the 3rd century BC, Adrian Goldsworthy noted that during the conflict Rome lost about 50,000 citizens. This excludes auxiliary troops and every other man in the army without citizen status, who would be outside the head count.
 Peace terms
The terms of the Treaty of Lutatius designed by the Romans were particularly heavy for Carthage, which had lost bargaining power following its defeat at the Aegates islands. Both sides agreed upon:
Further clauses determined that the allies of each side would not be attacked by the other, no attacks were to be made by either side upon the other's allies and both sides were prohibited from recruiting soldiers within the territory of the other. This denied the Carthaginians access to any mercenary manpower from Italy and most of Sicily, although this later clause was temporarily abolished during the Mercenary War.
 Political results
In the aftermath of the war, Carthage had insufficient state funds. Hanno the Great tried to induce the disbanded armies to accept diminished payment, but kindled a movement that led to an internal conflict, the Mercenary War. After a hard struggle from the combined efforts of Hamilcar Barca, Hanno the Great and others, the Punic forces were finally able to annihilate the mercenaries and the insurgents. However, during this conflict, Rome took advantage of the opportunity to strip Carthage of Corsica and Sardinia as well.
Perhaps the most immediate political result of the First Punic War was the downfall of Carthage's naval power. Conditions signed in the peace treaty were intended to compromise Carthage's economic situation and prevent the city's recovery. The indemnity demanded by the Romans caused strain on the city's finances and forced Carthage to look to other areas of influence for the money to pay Rome.
Carthage, seeking to make up for the recent territorial losses and a plentiful source of silver to pay the large indemnity owed to Rome, turned its attention to Iberia, and in 237 BC the Carthaginians, led by Hamilcar Barca, began a series of campaigns to expand their control over the peninsula. Though Hamilcar was killed in 229 BC, the offensive continued with the Carthaginians extending their power towards the Ebro valley and founding "New Carthage" in 228 BC. It was this expansion that led to the Second Punic War when Carthage besieged the Roman protected town of Saguntum in 218 BC, igniting a conflict with Rome.
As for Rome, the end of the First Punic War marked the start of the expansion beyond the Italian Peninsula. Sicily became the first Roman province (Sicilia) governed by a former praetor, instead of an ally. Sicily would become very important to Rome as a source of grain. Importantly, Syracuse was granted nominal independent ally status for the lifetime of Hiero II, and was not incorporated into the Roman province of Sicily until after it was sacked by Marcus Claudius Marcellus during the Second Punic War.
Carthage spent the years following the war improving its finances and expanding its colonial empire in Hispania under the militaristic Barcid family. Rome's attention was mostly concentrated on the Illyrian Wars. In 219 BC Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar Barca, attacked Saguntum in Hispania, a city allied to Rome, starting the second Punic War.
Interval between the First and Second Punic Wars
According to Polybius there had been several trade agreements between Rome and Carthage, even a mutual alliance against king Pyrrhus of Epirus. When Rome and Carthage made peace in 241 BC, Rome secured the release of all 8,000 prisoners of war without ransom and, furthermore, received a considerable amount of silver as a war indemnity. However, Carthage refused to deliver to Rome the Roman deserters serving among their troops. A first issue for dispute was that the initial treaty, agreed upon by Hamilcar Barca and the Roman commander in Sicily, had a clause stipulating that the Roman popular assembly had to accept the treaty in order for it to be valid. The assembly not only rejected the treaty but increased the indemnity Carthage had to pay.
Carthage had a liquidity problem and attempted to gain financial help from Egypt, a mutual ally of Rome and Carthage, but failed. This resulted in delay of payments owed to the mercenary troops that had served Carthage in Sicily, leading to a climate of mutual mistrust and, finally, a revolt supported by the Libyan natives, known as the Mercenary War (240–238 BC). During this war, Rome and Syracuse both aided Carthage, although traders from Italy seem to have done business with the insurgents. Some of them were caught and punished by Carthage, aggravating the political climate which had started to improve in recognition of the old alliance and treaties.
During the uprising in the Punic mainland, the mercenary troops in Corsica and Sardinia toppled Punic rule and briefly established their own, but were expelled by a native uprising. After securing aid from Rome, the exiled mercenaries then regained authority on the island of Sicily. For several years a brutal campaign was fought to quell the insurgent natives. Like many Sicilians, they would ultimately rise again in support of Carthage during the Second Punic War.
Eventually, Rome annexed Corsica and Sardinia by revisiting the terms of the treaty that ended the first Punic War. As Carthage was under siege and engaged in a difficult civil war, they begrudgingly accepted the loss of these islands and the subsequent Roman conditions for ongoing peace, which also increased the war indemnity levied against Carthage after the first Punic War. This eventually plunged relations between the two powers to a new low point.
After Carthage emerged victorious from the Mercenary War there were two opposing factions: the reformist party was led by Hamilcar Barca while the other, more conservative, faction was represented by Hanno the Great and the old Carthaginian aristocracy. Hamilcar had led the initial Carthaginian peace negotiations and was blamed for the clause that allowed the Roman popular assembly to increase the war indemnity and annex Corsica and Sardinia, but his superlative generalship was instrumental in enabling Carthage to ultimately quell the mercenary uprising, ironically fought against many of the same mercenary troops he had trained. Hamilcar ultimately left Carthage for the Iberian peninsula where he captured rich silver mines and subdued many tribes who fortified his army with levies of native troops.
Hanno had lost many elephants and soldiers when he became complacent after a victory in the Mercenary War. Further, when he and Hamilcar were supreme commanders of Carthage's field armies, the soldiers had supported Hamilcar when his and Hamilcar's personalities clashed. On the other hand he was responsible for the greatest territorial expansion of Carthage's hinterland during his rule as strategus and wanted to continue such expansion. However, the Numidian king of the relevant area was now a son-in-law of Hamilcar and had supported Carthage during a crucial moment in the Mercenary War. While Hamilcar was able to obtain the resources for his aim, the Numidians in the Atlas Mountains were not conquered, like Hanno suggested, but became vassals of Carthage.
The Iberian conquest was begun by Hamilcar Barca and his other son-in-law, Hasdrubal the Fair, who ruled relatively independently of Carthage and signed the Ebro treaty with Rome. Hamilcar died in battle in 228 BC. Around this time, Hasdrubal became Carthaginian commander in Iberia (229 BC). He maintained this post for some eight years until 221 BC. Soon the Romans became aware of a burgeoning alliance between Carthage and the Celts of the Po river valley in northern Italy. The latter were amassing forces to invade Italy, presumably with Carthaginian backing. Thus, the Romans preemptively invaded the Po region in 225 BC. By 220 BC, the Romans had annexed the area as Gallia Cisalpina. Hasdrubal was assassinated around the same time (221 BC), bringing Hannibal to the fore. It seems that, having apparently dealt with the threat of a Gaulo-Carthaginian invasion of Italy (and perhaps with the original Carthaginian commander killed), the Romans lulled themselves into a false sense of security. Thus, Hannibal took the Romans by surprise a mere two years later (218 BC) by merely reviving and adapting the original Gaulo-Carthaginian invasion plan of his brother-in-law Hasdrubal.
After Hasdrubal's assassination by a Celtic assassin, Hamilcar's young sons took over, with Hannibal becoming the strategus of Iberia, although this decision was not undisputed in Carthage. The output of the Iberian silver mines allowed for the financing of a standing army and the payment of the war indemnity to Rome. The mines also served as a tool for political influence, creating a faction in Carthage's magistrate that was called the Barcino.
In 219 BC Hannibal attacked the town of Saguntum, which stood under the special protection of Rome. According to Roman tradition, Hannibal had been made to swear by his father never to be a friend of Rome, and he certainly did not take a conciliatory attitude when the Romans berated him for crossing the river Iberus (Ebro) which Carthage was bound by treaty not to cross. Hannibal did not cross the Ebro River (Saguntum was near modern Valencia – well south of the river) in arms, and the Saguntines provoked his attack by attacking their neighboring tribes who were Carthaginian protectorates and by massacring pro-Punic factions in their city. Rome had no legal protection pact with any tribe south of the Ebro River. Nonetheless, they asked Carthage to hand Hannibal over, and when the Carthaginian oligarchy refused, Rome declared war on Carthage.
The Barcid Empire
The 'Barcid Empire' consisted of the Punic territories in Iberia. According to the historian Pedro Barceló, it can be described as a private military-economic hegemony backed by the two independent powers, Carthage and Gades. These shared the profits of the silver mines in southern Iberia with the Barcas family and closely followed Hellenistic diplomatic customs. Gades played a supporting role in this field, but Hannibal visited the local temple to conduct ceremonies before launching his campaign against Rome. The Barcid Empire was strongly influenced by the Hellenistic kingdoms of the time and for example, contrary to Carthage, it minted silver coins in its short time of existence.
Second Punic War (218 to 201 BC)
Main article: Second Punic War
The Second Punic War (218 BC – 201 BC) is most remembered for the Carthaginian Hannibal's crossing of the Alps. His army invaded Italy from the north and resoundingly defeated the Roman army in several battles, but never achieved the ultimate goal of causing a political break between Rome and its allies.
While fighting Hannibal in Italy, Hispania, and Sicily, Rome simultaneously fought against Macedon in the First Macedonian War. Eventually, the war was taken to Africa, where Carthage was defeated at the Battle of Zama by Scipio Africanus. The end of the war saw Carthage's control reduced to only the city itself.
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War, (by the Romans) The War Against Hannibal, or "The Carthaginian War", lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the crucial participation of Numidian-Berber armies and tribes on both sides. The two states had three major conflicts against each other over the course of their existence. They are called the "Punic Wars" because Rome's name for Carthaginians was Punici, due to their Phoenician ancestry.
The war is marked by Hannibal's surprising overland journey and his costly crossing of the Alps, followed by his reinforcement by Gaulish allies and crushing victories over Roman armies in the battle of the Trebia and the giant ambush at Trasimene. Against his skill on the battlefield the Romans deployed the Fabian strategy. But because of the increasing unpopularity of this approach, the Romans resorted to a further major field battle. The result was the Roman defeat at Cannae. In consequence many Roman allies went over to Carthage, prolonging the war in Italy for over a decade, during which more Roman armies were destroyed on the battlefield. Despite these setbacks, the Roman forces were more capable in siegecraft than the Carthaginians and recaptured all the major cities that had joined the enemy, as well as defeating a Carthaginian attempt to reinforce Hannibal at the battle of the Metaurus. In the meantime in Iberia, which served as the main source of manpower for the Carthaginian army, a second Roman expedition under Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major took New Carthage by assault and ended Carthaginian rule over Iberia in the battle of Ilipa. The final showdown was the battle of Zama in Africa between Scipio Africanus and Hannibal, resulting in the latter's defeat and the imposition of harsh peace conditions on Carthage, which ceased to be a major power and became a Roman client-state.
A sideshow of this war was the indecisive First Macedonian War in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Ionian Sea.
All battles mentioned in the introduction are ranked among the most costly traditional battles of human history; in addition there were a few successful ambushes of armies that also ended in their annihilation.
The Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome was ignited by the dispute over the hegemony of Saguntum, a Hellenized Iberian coastal city with diplomatic contacts with Rome. After great tension within the city government, culminating in the assassination of the supporters of Carthage, Hannibal laid siege to the city of Saguntum in 219 BC. The city called for Roman aid, but the pleas fell on deaf ears. Following a prolonged siege and a bloody struggle, in which Hannibal himself was wounded and the army practically destroyed, the Carthaginians finally took control of the city. Many of the Saguntians chose to commit suicide rather than face subjugation by the Carthaginians.
Before the war Rome and Hasdrubal the Fair had made a treaty. Livy reports that it was agreed that the Iber should be the boundary between both empires and that the liberty of the Saguntines should be preserved.
 Hannibal takes the initiative (218–213 BC)
 Western Mediterranean (218–213 BC)
 Hannibal's overland journey
Route of Hannibal's invasion of Italy
The Carthaginian army in Iberia, excluding the forces in Africa, totaled, according to Polybius, 90,000 infantry, 12,000 cavalry and 37 war elephants: it was thus one of the largest in the Hellenistic world and equal in numbers to any that the Romans had yet fielded. Hannibal departed with this army from New Carthage (Cartagena, Spain) northwards along the coast in late spring of 218 BC. At the Ebro, he split the army into three columns and subdued the tribes from there to the Pyrenees within weeks, but with severe losses. At the Pyrenees, he left a detachment of 11,000 Iberian troops, who showed reluctance to leave their homeland, to garrison the newly conquered region. Hannibal reportedly entered Gaul with 50,000 infantry and 9,000 cavalry. He took his army by an inland route, avoiding the Roman allies along the coast. In Gaul negotiations helped him to move unmolested except for the Battle of Rhone Crossing where a force of the Allobroges unsuccessfully tried to oppose his 38,000 infantry (that number may exclude light infantry), 8,000 cavalry, and 37 war elephants from the other shore.
In the meantime, a Roman fleet with an invasion force was underway to northern Iberia. Its commanders, the brothers Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus and Publius Cornelius Scipio, knew that Hannibal had crossed the Ebro, but were surprised by the Carthaginian army's presence at the Rhone upstream of their ally Massalia, where they had landed. A scouting party of 300 cavalry was sent to discover the whereabouts of the enemy. These eventually defeated a Carthaginian scouting troop of 500 mounted Numidians and chased them back to their main camp. Thus, with knowledge of the location of the enemy, the Romans marched upstream, ready for battle. Hannibal evaded this force and by an unknown route  reached (the Isère or the Durance) the foot of the Alps in autumn. He also received messengers from his Gallic allies in Italy that urged him to come to their aid and offered to guide him over the Alps. Before setting out to cross the Alps, he was re-supplied by a native tribe, some of whose hereditary disputes he had helped solve.
 First Roman expedition to Iberia
Iberian warrior from bas-relief c. 200 BC. The warrior is armed with a falcata and an oval shield. Iberian tribes fought for both sides in the 2nd Punic War, but in reality most wanted to be rid of all foreign domination. National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
Iberian falcata, 4th/3rd century BC. This weapon, a scythe-shaped sword, was unique to Iberia. By its inherent weight distribution, it could deliver blows as powerful as an axe. The Iberians also invented the gladius, the standard sword used by Roman infantry. National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
The first Roman expedition to Iberia was unable to bring the Carthaginian troops in the hinterland of Massalia to a pitched battle, so it continued on its way to northern Iberia under Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus, a move which proved decisive for the outcome of the war. Their other commander, Publius Cornelius Scipio, returned to Rome, realizing the danger of an invasion of Italy where the tribes of the Boii and Insubres were already in revolt. After 217 BC, he also traveled to Iberia.
In Iberia, Carthaginian rule was not popular, but Roman inaction during the siege of Saguntum had made the natives cautious about an alliance against their masters. Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus established his headquarters at Cissa, in the midst of Hannibal's latest acquisition, the area between Ebro and Pyrenees. Despite initial setbacks, he won increasing support among the natives. This convinced the Carthaginian commander Hanno, the nephew of Hannibal, to accept pitched battle before his troops had been united with the army under Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, despite being outnumbered 2 to 1. The result was a Roman victory in the battle of Cissa in 218 BC. When Hasdrubal finally made it to the scene, he was in no position to fight the Roman army and merely caught their navy personnel off-guard, killing some of them in the process.
The combined Roman and Massalian fleet and army posed a threat to the Carthaginians. Hasdrubal intended to first defeat the fleet. However, his naval forces had a history of failure against the Romans. They had lost all but one major naval engagement in the First Punic War and in 218 BC a naval engagement in the waters of Lilybaeum had been lost despite numerical superiority. For this reason he moved the army and fleet together. The fleet is described as being very disorganized prior to the battle. The army in the meantime provided loud moral support and a safe harbour for the ensuing naval Battle of Ebro River. The 40 Carthaginian and Iberian vessels were severely defeated by the 55 Roman and Massalian ships in the second naval engagement of the war with about 3/4 of the fleet captured or sunk and the rest beaching their ships with the army on the shore. In the aftermath the Carthaginian forces retreated, but the Romans were still confined to the area between Ebro and Pyrenees.
This position prevented the Carthaginians from sending reinforcements from Iberia to Hannibal or to the insurgent Gauls in northern Italy during critical stages of the war. To deal with this problem, in 215 BC Hasdrubal marched into Roman territory and offered battle at Dertosa. In this battle he used his cavalry superiority to clear the field and to envelop the enemy on both sides with his infantry, a tactic that had been very successfully employed in Italy. But the Romans broke through the thinned out line in the centre and defeated both wings separately, inflicting severe losses; not without, however, taking heavy losses themselves.
While little progress was made in the Iberian theatre, the Scipios were able to negotiate a new front in Africa by allying themselves with Syphax, a powerful Numidian king in North Africa. In 213 BC he received Roman advisers to train his heavy infantry soldiers that had not yet been able to stand up to their Carthaginian counterparts. With this support he waged war against the Carthaginian ally Gala. According to Appian, in 213 BC Hasdrubal left Iberia and fought Syphax, though he may be confused with Hasdrubal Gisco, however, it did bind Carthaginian resources. Hasdrubal Gisco is the son of the Gesco who had served together with Hamilcar Barca, Hannibal's father, in Sicily during the First Punic War and son-in-law of Hanno the Elder who was one of Hannibal's lieutenants in Italy.
 Central Mediterranean (218–213 BC)
 Naval raids and expeditions
In 218 BC, the Carthaginian navy was busy scouting the Sicilian waters and preparing for a surprise attack on their former key stronghold Lilybaeum on the western tip of the island. Twenty quinqueremes, loaded with 1,000 soldiers, raided the Aegadian Islands west of Sicily and eight ships intended to attack the Vulcan islands, but were blown off-course in a storm towards the Straits of Messina. The Syracusan navy, then at Messina, managed to capture three of these ships without resistance. Learning from their crews that a Carthaginian fleet was to attack Lilybaeum, Hiero II warned the Roman praetor Marcus Amellius there. As a result the Romans prepared 20 quinqueremes to intercept, and defeated the 35 Carthaginian quinqueremes in the battle of Lilybaeum.
In 218 BC preparations were made to launch a Roman expedition from the same Lilybaeum against Africa. Hannibal had anticipated the move and reinforced the defending army in Africa with 13,850 Iberian heavy infantry, 870 Balearic slingers and 1200 Iberian cavalry. In addition, some 4000 Iberian men "of good family were called up who were under orders to be conveyed to Carthage to strengthen its defence, and also to serve as hostages for the loyalty of their people." In return, 11,850 Libyan infantry, 300 Ligurians, and 500 Balearics were sent to Iberia to strengthen the local defence against the other anticipated Roman invasion.
The Carthaginian navy had been defeated in two major encounters by the Romans, but neither side was usually able to interdict the other from raiding each other's coasts. An exception was in 217 BC, when a Carthaginian fleet of 70 quinqueremes was intercepted off the coast of Etruria by a Roman fleet of 120 quinqueremes and retreated without giving battle.
The first Carthaginian expedition to Sardinia, in 215 BC, was under the command of Hasdrubal The Bald with his subordinate Hampsicora. A previous pro-Carthaginian uprising had been defeated while a storm had blown the Carthaginian fleet to the Balearic Islands. When they finally made it to Sardinia, the Romans were aware of their intentions and had reinforced the unpopular garrison under Titus Manlius Torquatus to 20,000 infantry and 1,200 cavalry. These engaged and defeated the Carthaginians' 15,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry (plus an unknown number of elephants) and the remaining insurgent Sardinians at the Battle of Cornus. In the aftermath the defeated expedition of 60 quinqueremes and several transports encountered a Roman raiding party from Africa with 100 quinqueremes. The Carthaginian fleet scattered and escaped save for seven ships. As a result Sardinia, an important grain exporter, remained under Roman occupation.
Carthaginian coin showing (obverse) a deity or hero, probably Melqart assimilated to Hercules (hence club). Dated 221–218 BC, it is believed to be a portrait of Hannibal or (posthumously) of his father Hamilcar. On reverse, image of an African war elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). Silver double shekel. British Museum, London.
 Gallic uprising
The Romans simultaneously received news of Hannibal's crossing of the Ebro and of an uprising in northern Italy of the Gallic tribes Boii and Insubres. These had established diplomatic contact with the Carthaginians and joined them as allies against their common enemy, Rome. The first objective of the insurgents were the Roman colonies of Placentia and Cremona, causing the Romans to flee to Mutina (modern Modena), which the Gauls then besieged. In response, Praetor L. Manlius Vulso marched with two legions and allies, for a total of 1,600 cavalry and 20,000 infantry, to Cisalpine Gaul. This army was ambushed twice on the way from Ariminium, lost 1,200 men; although the siege of Mutina was raised, the army itself fell under a loose siege a few kilometers from Mutina. This event prompted the Roman Senate to send one of Scipio's legions and 5,000 allied troops to aid Vulso. Scipio had to raise troops to replace these and thus could not set out for Iberia until September 218 BC, giving Hannibal time to march from the Ebro to the Rhone.
After evading a pitched battle at the Rhone, Hannibal came to the aid of his Gallic allies, who were hard pressed by the Roman reinforcements. He crossed the Alps, surmounting the difficulties of climate and terrain, and the guerrilla tactics of the native tribes. His exact route is disputed. Hannibal arrived with at least 28,000 infantry, 6,000 cavalry and 30 elephants in the territory of the Taurini, in what is now Piedmont, northern Italy. His crossing was expected by the enemy, but not such an early arrival, while the Roman forces were still in their winter quarters. This crossing is usually credited as a great achievement since no army before had crossed the Alps in winter with elephants and it led to the termination of Rome's main intended thrust, an invasion of Africa.
The Gauls of the lower Po Valley, Hannibal's allies, were still far away. Hannibal was first obliged to fight with his currently reduced force to be able to reach them and to incite the rest of Gallia Cisalpina to revolt. His first action was to take the chief city of the hostile Taurini. Afterwards the Carthaginians were intercepted by a newly raised Roman force under Publius Cornelius Scipio, whom Hannibal had evaded earlier in the Rhone Valley, and who had not anticipated such an early arrival on the other side of the Alps. In the ensuing Battle of Ticinus the cavalry forces of Hannibal's army defeated the cavalry and light infantry of the Romans in a minor engagement. Scipio, severely injured in the battle, retreated across the River Trebia with his heavy infantry still intact, and encamped at the town of Placentia to await reinforcements. As a result of Rome's defeat at the Ticinus, all the Gauls except the Cenomani were induced to join the Carthaginian cause. Soon the entire north of Italy was unofficially insurgent, with both Gallic and Ligurian troops bolstering Hannibal's army back to at least 40,000 men.
Battle of the Trebia plan.
Even before news of the defeat at the Ticinus River reached Rome, the Senate had ordered the consul Sempronius Longus to bring his army back from Sicily, where it had been preparing for the invasion of Africa, to join Scipio and face Hannibal. The latter was blocking Sempronius' way to Scipio's army. But the Carthaginian capture of the supply depot at Clastidium, through the treachery of the local Latin commander, served as a diversion and allowed Sempronius' army to slip through to Scipio, who was still too seriously injured to take the field. After some minor successes, the united and numerically equal Roman force under the command of Sempronius Longus was lured by Hannibal into combat at the battle of the Trebia. The Roman troops were drawn into the engagement without breakfast and had to first cross a cold river, preventing many from putting up much of a fight. Furthermore, a hidden detachment led by Hannibal's younger brother Mago attacked them from the rear. All in all, the Romans suffered heavy losses with only 20,000 men out of 40,000 able to retreat to safety. They left Cisalpine Gaul in the aftermath. Having secured his position in northern Italy by this victory, Hannibal quartered his troops for the winter amongst the Gauls. The latter joined his army in large numbers, bringing it up to 60,000 men, but the Carthaginians living on their land reduced their enthusiasm.
The Roman Senate resolved to raise new armies against Hannibal under the recently elected consuls of 217 BC, Gnaeus Servilius Geminus and Gaius Flaminius. The latter had long distrusted his fellow senators and feared they would try to sabotage his command by finding excuses to delay his departure. So he quietly left Rome to take over his army at Ariminum without performing the lengthy religious rituals required of an incoming consul. The Senate voted unanimously to recall him but he ignored its orders. This caused widespread dismay among the Romans, who feared that Flaminius' disrespect for the gods would bring disaster on Rome. As it was expected that Hannibal would advance into central Italy, Flaminius moved his army from Ariminum to Arretium, to cover the Apennine mountain passes into Etruria. His colleague Servilius, who had performed the proper rituals and was therefore well behind Flaminius, replaced him with his freshly raised army at Ariminum to cover the route along the Adriatic coast. A third force, containing the survivors of previous engagements, was also stationed in Etruria under Scipio. Thus both the eastern and western routes to Rome appeared guarded.
In early spring 217 BC Hannibal decided to advance, leaving his wavering Gallic allies in the Po Valley and crossing the Apennines unopposed. Afterwards he avoided the Roman positions and took the only unguarded route into Etruria at the mouth of the Arno. This route was through a huge marsh which happened to be more flooded than usual for spring. Hannibal's army marched for several days without finding convenient places to rest, suffering terribly from fatigue and lack of sleep. This led to the loss of part of the force, including, it seems, the few remaining elephants.
Arriving in Etruria still in the spring of 217 BC, Hannibal tried without success to draw the main Roman army under Flaminius into a pitched battle by devastating the area the latter had been sent to protect. Then a new stratagem was employed by Hannibal who marched around his opponent’s left flank and effectively cut him off from Rome. Advancing through the uplands of Etruria, the Carthaginian now provoked Flaminius into a hasty pursuit without proper reconnaissance. Then, in a defile on the shore of Lake Trasimenus, Hannibal lay in ambush with his army. The ambush was a complete success: in the battle of Lake Trasimene Hannibal destroyed most of the Roman army and killed Flaminius with little loss to his own army. 6,000 Romans had been able to escape, but were caught and forced to surrender by Maharbal's Numidians. Furthermore, Scipio, aware of the fighting, sent his cavalry in support but it was also caught and annihilated. As a result of this victory, the heterogeneous force of insurgent Gauls, Africans, Iberians and Numidians had more military equipment than they could use themselves and sold the surplus via Egyptian traders to the Romans. As after all previous engagements the captured enemies were sorted according to whether they were Romans, who were held captive, or non-Romans, who were released to spread the propaganda that the Carthaginian army was in Italy to fight for their freedom against the Romans. Strategically, Hannibal had now disposed of the only field force which could check his advance upon Rome, but despite the urgings of his generals, did not proceed to attack Rome. Instead he marched to the south in the hope of winning over allies amongst the Greek and Italic population there.
 Fabian strategy
Detail of frieze showing the equipment of a soldier in the manipular Roman legion (left). Note mail armour, oval shield and helmet with plume (probably horsehair). The soldier at centre is an officer (bronze cuirass, mantle), prob. a tribunus militum. From an altar built by Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, consul in 122 BC. Musée du Louvre, Paris
Roman coin issued during the Second Punic war showing (obverse) the god of war Mars and (reverse) a very rare image of a Roman cavalryman of the time. Note plumed helmet, long spear (hasta), small round shield, flowing mantle. Roman cavalry was levied from the equites, or noble knights, until c. 338 BC and thereafter also from the First Class of commoners under the centuriate organisation. Bronze quincunx from Larinum mint
The defeat at Lake Trasimene put the Romans in an immense state of panic, fearing for the very existence of their city. The Senate decided to resort to the traditional emergency measure of appointing a dictator, a temporary commander-in-chief who would unite military authority, which was normally divided between the two consuls, under one head for six months. The usual procedure required the presence of a consul to appoint the dictator. Since one consul (Flaminius) was dead and the other (Servilius) away with the only army left in Italy, the Senate resolved to elect a dictator itself. As this was unconstitutional, the person appointed, Quintus Fabius Maximus, was given the title of prodictator (acting dictator) although he held the same powers as a dictator. The Senate also appointed his magister equitum ("master of cavalry", who acted as his second-in-command) instead of allowing the dictator to choose one himself as was the normal rule: M. Minucius Rufus.
Departing from the Roman military tradition of engaging the enemy in pitched battle as soon as possible, Fabius invented the Fabian strategy: refusing open battle with his opponent, but constantly skirmishing with small detachments of the enemy. This course was not popular among the soldiers, earning Fabius the nickname Cunctator ("delayer"), since he seemed to avoid battle while Italy was being ravaged by the enemy. Moreover, it was widely feared that, if Hannibal continued to plunder Italy unopposed, the terrified allies, believing that Rome was incapable of protecting them, might defect and pledge their allegiance to the Carthaginians. As a countermeasure, residents of villages were encouraged to post lookouts, so that they could gather their livestock and possessions in time and take refuge in fortified towns which the enemy could not yet take. Fabius' policy was to shadow Hannibal by moving on the heights parallel to the Carthaginian movements on the plains, to avoid Hannibal's cavalry which was supreme on flat terrain. This demanded great care since the Carthaginian tried with all his skill to ambush the Romans. For this reason a new marching formation with three parallel columns of infantry was developed instead of the single column that had been in use at Lake Trasimene.
Fabius' constant harassment of Hannibal's force handicapped the latter's command abilities and gained many prisoners. Both commanders decided that they would exchange prisoners under the same conditions as in the First Punic War. Although the Carthaginians returned to the Romans several hundred more prisoners than they received and were thus expecting monetary compensation, the Senate was reluctant to pay. However, the estates of Fabius had not been touched by the Carthaginian pillage parties in order to incite distrust against him. Fabius now sold these estates to pay the enemy army for the received surplus of prisoners.
Having ravaged Apulia without provoking Fabius into a battle, Hannibal decided to march through Samnium to Campania, one of the richest and most fertile provinces of Italy, hoping that the devastation would draw Fabius into battle. The latter was aware that there were excellent opportunities to trap the Carthaginian force on the Campanian plain and to force Hannibal to fight in the surrounding mountains on ground of his own choice. As the year wore on, Hannibal decided that it would be unwise to winter in the already devastated plains of Campania but Fabius had ensured that all the mountain passes offering an exit were blocked. This situation led to the night battle of Ager Falernus in which the Carthaginians made good their escape by tricking the Romans into believing that they were heading to the heights above them. The Romans were thus decoyed and the Carthaginians slipped through the undefended pass with all their baggage train. This was a severe blow to Fabius’ prestige.
Minucius, the magister equitum, was one of the leading voices in the army against the adoption of the Fabian Strategy. As soon as he scored a minor success by winning a skirmish with the Carthaginians, the Senate promoted Minucius to the same imperium (power of command) as Fabius, whom he accused of cowardice. In consequence the two men decided to split the army between them. Minucius with his division was swiftly lured by Hannibal into an ambush in the flat country of Geronium. Fabius Maximus rushed to his co-commander's assistance and Hannibal's forces immediately retreated. Subsequently Minucius accepted Fabius' authority and ended their political conflict.
 Seeking a decisive engagement
Main article: Battle of Cannae
Fabius became unpopular in Rome, since his tactics did not lead to a quick end to the war. The Roman populace derided the Cunctator, and at the elections of 216 BC elected as consuls Gaius Terentius Varro who advocated pursing a more aggressive war strategy and Lucius Aemilius Paullus, who advocated a strategy in the middle between the Fabian tactics and the tactics suggest by Varro. In the campaign of 217 BC, Hannibal had failed to obtain a following among the Italics. In the spring of 216 BC, he took the initiative and seized the large supply depot at Cannae in the Apulian plain. Thus, by seizing Cannae, Hannibal had placed himself between the Romans and their crucial source of supply. The Roman Senate authorised the raising of double-sized armies by consuls Varro and Aemilius Paullus. By some estimates, the Romans raised a force as large as 100,000 men, though this figure cannot be completely validated.
Opening and decisive phase of the Battle of Cannae, 216 BC. The Punic cavalry (made up of Gauls and Iberians) routed the much smaller Roman cavalry on the Roman right wing, then raced round the rear of the Roman line to attack from behind the Romans' allied Latin cavalry on the Roman left, who were already engaged with Hannibal's Numidian horse. The Latin cavalry was then destroyed. The victorious Punic cavalry were then free to attack the Roman infantry line from the rear. The battle confirmed the superiority of Hannibal's cavalry, in both numbers and training, over the Roman and Latin citizen levies. From this time, the Romans relied heavily on non-Italian allied cavalry and around the start of the 1st century BC legionary cavalry was abolished altogether
Consuls Aemilius Paullus and Varro resolved to confront Hannibal and marched southward to Apulia. After a two-day march, they found him on the left bank of the Aufidus River, and encamped six miles (10 km) away. Hannibal capitalized on Varro's eagerness and drew him into a trap by using an envelopment tactic which eliminated the Roman numerical advantage by shrinking the surface area where combat could occur. Hannibal drew up his least reliable infantry in the centre of a semicircle with the wings composed of the Gallic and Numidian horse. The Roman legions forced their way through Hannibal's weak centre but the Libyan Mercenaries on the wings swung around their advance, menacing their flanks. The onslaught of Hannibal's cavalry was irresistible, and Hasdrubal, his brother, who commanded the left, routed the Roman cavalry on the Roman right wing and then swept around the rear of the Roman line and attacked Varro's cavalry on the Roman left, and then the legions, from behind. As a result, the Roman army was surrounded with no means of escape. Due to these brilliant tactics, Hannibal, with much inferior numbers, managed to destroy all but a small remnant of this force. Depending on the source, it is estimated that 50,000–70,000 Romans were killed or captured at Cannae.
As Polybius notes, "How much more serious was the defeat of Cannae, than those which preceded it can be seen by the behaviour of Rome’s allies; before that fateful day, their loyalty remained unshaken, now it began to waver for the simple reason that they despaired of Roman power." During that same year, the Greek cities in Sicily were induced to revolt against Roman political control, while the Macedonian king, Philip V pledged his support to Hannibal – thus initiating the First Macedonian War against Rome. Hannibal also secured an alliance with newly appointed King Hieronymous of Syracuse, and Tarentum also came over to him around that time. Hannibal now had the resources and personnel needed to launch a successful attack on the City of Rome. However, he was uncertain of the feasibility of such an attack and spent a great deal of time pondering it. While he hesitated, the Romans were able to regroup, and the opportunity was lost. The Romans looked back on Hannibal's indecision as what saved Rome from certain defeat. The only other notable event of 216 BC was the defection of Capua, the second largest city of Italy, which Hannibal made his new base. Yet even this defection failed to satisfy him as only a few of the Italian city-states which he had expected to gain as allies agreed to join him. Furthermore, the Macedonian navy was no match for the Roman navy, so they were unable to help him directly.
Hannibal sent a delegation to Rome to negotiate a peace and another one offering to release his Roman prisoners of war for ransom, but Rome rejected all offers.
Establishing an allied base
For detailed analysis of Hannibal's relations with Roman allies, see: Socii
A well-preserved stretch of the Via Appia, the first major Roman road in Italy. Construction was launched under the censor Appius Claudius in 312 BC and continued in stages until 269 BC when it reached its final destination, the port of Brundisium. It was the road used by Rome's armies, including Fabius', to reach Hannibal in S. Italy 216-203 BC
Trace of the Via Appia imposed on a satellite picture of southern Italy, showing the location of many of the Greek cities fought over by Hannibal and the Romans. The original Via Appia is in white. The alternative road (in pink) was constructed 400 years later under emperor Trajan (ruled 98-117). But the route was already a busy one in Hannibal's time and repeatedly used by him
After Cannae several south Italian allies went over to Hannibal at once: the Apulian towns of Salapia, Arpi and Herdonia and many of the Lucanians. Mago marched south with an army detachment and some weeks later the Bruttians joined him. Simultaneously, Hannibal marched north with part of his forces and was joined by the Hirpini and the Caudini, two of the three
Eastern Mediterranean and Ionian Sea (218–213 BC)
- 217 BC – letter from Hannibal after Battle of Lake Trasimene leading to war preparations
- 216 BC – ambassadors to Hannibal after Battle of Cannae
- 214 BC – First Macedonian War officially starts
- 214 BC – naval expeditions from Macedonia
- 213 BC – land expedition to Lissus
 Rome takes key cities (212–207 BC)
 Western Mediterranean (212–207 BC)
 Defeat of the first expedition
Second Roman expedition to Iberia
 Central Mediterranean (212–207 BC)
 Climax and fall of Hannibal's alliance
 Hasdrubal's failed reinforcement
 Naval raids and expeditions
- 210 BC – second expedition to Sardinia
- 210 BC – naval expedition to Tarentum
- 210 BC – Roman raids on Africa
 Eastern Mediterranean and Ionian Sea (212–207 BC)
- 209 BC – Illyrian attack on Macedonia
- 209 BC – Punic naval expedition to Corcyra
- 209 BC – First Battle of Lamia
- 209 BC – Second Battle of Lamia
- 208 BC – Roman and Pergamese attack on Lemnos
 Seeking peace (206–202 BC)
 Western Mediterranean (206–202 BC)
 Carthage's last stand in Iberia
 The Numidian struggle
 Central Mediterranean (206–202 BC)
 Carrying the war to Africa
Broken armistice and final peace treaty
 Eastern Mediterranean and Ionian Sea (218–201 BC)
- 206 BC – the Aetolians make peace with Macedonia
- 205 BC – Rome lands with 11,000 men and 35 ships in Durrës but achieve no military objective
Carthage and Numidia after the war
 Hasdrubal's campaign to reinforce Hannibal
 Third Punic War (149 to 146 BC)
Carthage and the Phoenicians
Although Alpha and Beta are Greek letters that give us our word alphabet, the alphabet itself comes from the Phoenicians, at least conventionally. Greek myth and legend credit the dragon-teeth-sowing Phoenician Cadmus as not only founding the Boeotian Greek city of Thebes, but bringing the letters with him. The 22-letter abecedary of the Phoenicians contained only consonants, some of which had no equivalent in Greek. So the Greeks substituted their vowels for the unused letters. Some say that without the vowels, it was not an alphabet. If vowels aren't required, Egypt can also make a claim for the earliest alphabet.
the bireme (two tiers of oars) galley,
the luxurious purple dye known as Tyrian,
circumnavigating Africa, and
navigating by the stars.
The Phoenicians were merchants who developed an extensive empire almost as a by-product of their quality merchandise and trading routes. They are believed to have gone as far as England to buy Cornish tin, but they started in Tyre, in an area now part of Lebanon, and expanded. By the time the Greeks were colonizing Syracuse and the rest of Sicily, the Phoenicians were already (9th century B.C.) a major power in the middle of the Mediterranean. The principal city of the Phoenicians, Carthage, was located near modern Tunis, on a promontory on the Northern Coast of Africa. It was a prime spot for access to all areas of the "known world."
The Founding of Carthage - Legend
After the brother of Dido (famed for her role in Virgil's Aeneid) killed her husband, Queen Dido fled her palace home in Tyre to settle in Carthage, north Africa, where she sought to buy land for her new settlement. Coming from a nation of merchants she cleverly asked to buy an area of land that would fit within an ox hide. The local inhabitants thought she was a fool, but she got the last laugh when she cut the ox hide (byrsa) into strips to enclose a large area, with the sea coast acting as one border. Dido was queen of this new community.
Later, Aeneas, on his route from Troy to Latium, stopped in Carthage where he had an affair with the queen. When she found that he had abandoned her, Dido committed suicide, but not before cursing Aeneas and his descendants. Her story is an important part of Virgil's Aeneid and supplies a motive for the hostility between the Romans and Carthage.
Were this the only contribution of the Phoenicians, their place in history would be assured, but they did more. So much, it seems as though jealousy prompted the Romans to set out to annihilate them in 146 B.C., when they razed Carthage and were rumored to have salted its earth.
The Phoenicians are also credited with
At length, in dead of night, the ghost appears
Of her unhappy lord: the specter stares,
And, with erected eyes, his bloody bosom bares.
The cruel altars and his fate he tells,
And the dire secret of his house reveals,
Then warns the widow, with her household gods,
To seek a refuge in remote abodes.
Last, to support her in so long a way,
He shows her where his hidden treasure lay.
Admonish'd thus, and seiz'd with mortal fright,
The queen provides companions of her flight:
They meet, and all combine to leave the state,
Who hate the tyrant, or who fear his hate.
At last they landed, where from far your eyes
May view the turrets of new Carthage rise;
There bought a space of ground, which (Byrsa call'd,
From the bull's hide) they first inclos'd, and wall'd.
Translation from (www.uoregon.edu/~joelja/aeneid.html) of Vergil's Aeneid Book I