Hannibal  

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"These effects, however, are not the only reasons which have thrown so much interest on the passage of the Alps by Hannibal; for the doubt and uncertainty which have existed, even from very remote times, as to the road by which the passage was effected, the numerous and distinguished writers who have declared themselves on different sides of the question, the variation between the two great historians of the transactions of those times, Polybius and Livy, all these things united, have involved the subject in difficulties which have increased its importance, and which have long exercised many able writers in vain attempts to elucidate them."--A Dissertation on the Passage of Hannibal over the Alps (1820) by Henry Lewis Wickham, John Anthony Cramer

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Hannibal (247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Carthage in their battle with the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War.

Hannibal lived during a period of great tension in the western Mediterranean Basin, triggered by the emergence of the Roman Republic as a great power after establishing its supremacy over Italy. Although Rome had won the First Punic War, revanchism (the will to reverse territorial losses) prevailed in Carthage, symbolized by the pledge that Hannibal made to his father to "never be a friend of Rome".

The Second Punic War began in 218 BC after Hannibal's attack on Saguntum (modern Sagunto, Spain), an ally of Rome, in Hispania. It was during this war that Hannibal famously invaded Italy by crossing the Alps with North African war elephants.

In his first few years in Italy, he won a succession of victories at the Battle of the Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae (the last of which is considered one of the greatest tactical feats in history). Hannibal was distinguished for his ability to determine both his and his opponent's respective strengths and weaknesses, and to plan battles accordingly.

His well-planned strategies allowed him to conquer several Italian cities that were allied to Rome. Hannibal occupied most of southern Italy for 15 years. He could not win a decisive victory. The Romans, led by Fabius Maximus, avoided confrontation with him, instead waging a war of attrition. A counter-invasion of North Africa, led by Roman General Scipio Africanus, forced him to return to Carthage. Hannibal was eventually defeated at the Battle of Zama, his brother, Hasdrubal, driven out of the Iberian Peninsula by the forces of general Scipio.

After the war, Hannibal successfully ran for the office of sufet. He enacted political and financial reforms to enable the payment of the war indemnity imposed by Rome; however, those reforms were unpopular with members of the Carthaginian aristocracy and in Rome, and he fled into voluntary exile. During this time, he lived at the Seleucid court, where he acted as military advisor to Antiochus III the Great in his war against Rome. Antiochus met defeat at the Battle of Magnesia and was forced to accept Rome's terms, and Hannibal fled again, making a stop in the Kingdom of Armenia. His flight ended in the court of Bithynia. He was betrayed to the Romans and committed suicide by poisoning himself.

Hannibal is often regarded as one of the greatest military tacticians in history and one of the greatest generals of Mediterranean antiquity, together with Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus and Pyrrhus. Plutarch states that Scipio supposedly asked Hannibal "who the greatest general was", to which Hannibal replied "either Alexander or Pyrrhus, then himself". Military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge called Hannibal the "father of strategy", because Roman armies adopted elements of his military tactics into their own strategic arsenal.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hannibal" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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