1. Hannibal Barcas – general.
Maybe the best known military commander of our history. He was like bright star in his time and raised above all others. He was the enemy of Rome and never gave up in that. In second Punic war Romans learned to avoid him and destroyed first all Hannibal’s fellow commanders until in final battle they charged him. And won. Maybe by little luck. Anyway Hannibal kept his word for his father and fought all his life against Romans and finally in eastern Mediterranean committed suicide. He was a man of his word.
Hannibal in Louvre museum. Probably very much styled picture and tells not too much from Hannibal. However statue has clear symbolic message. Roman eagle is turned downwards – Romans have lost! And Hannibal won!
There are some statue heads and paintings from Hannibal. Probably non very much alike him. However these two statue heads may give some signs about Hannibal’s character. The first one is maybe the most known and it really shows a man of principle. Sculpture has really been able to create a man with great character. In those eyes one can see a strong will and deep conviction of his course. On the other hand one can see in his eyes kind of knowledge of destruction – like there was a fate that could not be turned.
The second painting presents Hannibal as a soldier with a helmet on his head. Also very strong and convincing picture of Hannibal. We know that Hannibal was a kind of common man. He was a real leader but also easy to approach for his men – a kind of earthly man. He slept after marches under open sky with his men and shared their ordeals. He did not require more of his men than from himself. He was wise, cunning and resourceful He was a perfect general to follow and this was important because he had a mercenary army – not an army of common men fighting from their country. We know that mercenary army is hard to keep loyal when difficult battles are met. But Hannibal could control and guide his army as nobody could.
Hannibal’s origin was in might Cartage in northern Africa – near city of Tunis. He was born in Carthage at 247 BC and he died in Eastern Mediterranean at 181 BC. Many of the new cities around Mediterranean coasts were colonies of ancient mother cities. Most of the colonies were Creek origin but Carthage had it’s origin in Tyros. Tyros was an old Phoenician harbor city in today’s Lebanon. Basically this meant that the culture and genetics of Carthagian people came from mid-eastern culture. Of course with the time Carthage had grown greater and more magnificent than it’s founder Tyros. Thus it had developed somewhat own culture and lifestyle. But for example their Gods were different and there exist some lively stories about their God Baal. Their belief was that life was not meant to be easy and there were not coming any better in the afterlife – hard! In history books there are some stories that their hygiene was not the best and thus they suffered a lot in long lasting battles. Romans liked to also say that Carthagian’s were treacherous and deceitful – especially Hannibal. But at least with Hannibal it was not true. In many ways he was much more human and fair than his Roman opponents. Any way it was obvious than in Punic wars two very different society’s were fighting to survive and keep their way of living. Another one had to be destroyed.
Hannibal’s father – Hamilcar Barcas – was once fighting in first Punic war and was on loosing side. Even though he had will to continue fighting against Romans, his city state – Carthage – asked truce and admitted it had lost. But Hamilcar did not accept the defeat but felt that Carthage gave up too soon. So his bitterness was strong and he then asked an oath of his oldest son Hannibal – still child – to fight against Romans all his life. After lost war and heavy loss of land and money, Hamilcar took his men and family to Hispania – today’s Spain. He took New Carthagena in east coast as his capital city and started to conquer land to Carthage. And he was very successful. Soon he had lot of money, silver mines and big army. And land. As years went by Hamilcar’s sons grew adult and competent military officer. Especially Hannibal. His other brothers were Mago and Hasdrubal. Then Hamilcar was suddenly killed in one battle at 228 BC and Hannibal took the lead in New Carthage. Probably very soon or even earlier with his father, Hannibal started to create a battle plan to defeat Rome. It was a simple one but difficult to fulfil. Their plant was to invade Rome from north and took battles on Roman soil. However only route through land was from north over alps. Because Rome was now superior to Carthage on sea, Hannibal found it better to march through land rather than try to invade with fleet.
2. Second part – 2. Punic war begins, Over Alps into Rome
However there needed to be a reason for war and Hannibal found it easily. City of Saguntum repulsed New Carthage and allied with Rome. Of course question was of cold imperial policy. Rome wanted to grow also in Hispania. Because Saguntum was near new Carthage in Hispania Hannibal wanted to conquer it and merge it to his realm. He could not have enemies nearby. So he attacked against Saguntum and took the city. Rome could not help so fast Saguntum but their representative travelled to Carthage and asked Hannibal’s head as a revenge. Of course Carthagian senate did not accept Roman ultimatum and war was to become – as Hannibal had calculated. Dice was cast …
So in year 218 BC at springtime Hannibal was ready and he left New Carthage with his mercenary army. Hannibal’s army had a strength of 71 000 infantry, 12 000 cavalry and 38 elephants. They travelled along Hispanian east coast towards north and in their way they conquered some cities and land. When they got to borderline of Hispania and Gaul Carthagian founded a fortress which grew later on to a village and then city. Today it has name Barcelona. Of course Hannibal had to leave some men behind to places they conquered. And some men he did not trust he released on border of Pyrenees. Then Hannibal climbed over Pyrenees with his army and took the route westwards towards Alps along Mediterranean coastline. In their journey they needed some Gauls to be their guides. However Carthagians soon find out that it was a trick. Celtic tribes tried to rob them and ambushed the advancing army. But for Hannibal it was not a thread and after beating easily Celts they went further forward to the west. Carthagians knew that the big city of Massilia on sea coastline in their route was an ally of Rome. So they had to go round it from north to avoid too big combat. After all their target was Rome in Italy – not Massilia. In meantime Rome had sent a fleet and army detachment towards Hispania to take foothold and fleet stopped in Massilia. Their commander Scipio elder heard then that Carthagian troops were seen around the city and he took his cavalry to take closer look. When they entered northwards they just reached Carthagian rear troops after Hannibal’s army had gone over Rhone river. After short skirmish Hannibal still kept his fast course to west and did not want to waist time for useful battle. Then also Scipio understood that unbelievable was to happen! Hannibal was really in his way to Italy from north! Nobody could have believed so crazy idea! So Scipio rode back to his fleet in Massilia and took again route to Italy. He aimed to meet Hannibal in northern Italy. Meantime Hannibal continued his journey towards Alps and finally got there.
Before alps his army was afraid and wondered how they could succeed to go over. But Hannibal had that character that made him bigger than the rest. He could give strength to his army and persuade them to start their path over Alps. There are three different possible routes over Alps and nobody really knows which one they chose. Probably the rightmost one (the closest to sea) was the one, because there were not too high points and not too difficult climbing. Anyway it was cold high up there on top of mountains and the army – especially elephants – suffered a lot. And once they found their path closed by big rocks and thought they need to go backwards. But Hannibal succeeded to break those rocks with first heating them with fire and then pouring cold wine over rocks. Temperature difference did it’s job and brake rocks smaller ones and they could wipe those away their path. Finally after hard troubles the army crossed Alps and got down to valleys of Cis-Alpine Gaul. After leaving New Carthage Hannibal’s army was now only size of 20 000 infantry, 4 000 horsemen and only a few elephants – too small to beat Rome. After some skirmish with local tribes Carthagians gathered into peaceful valleys and rested. They needed to get their strength back – eat and rest. They tried to find out whether local Gallic tribes would join them but found them hesitating. They were too afraid of Romans. Once these Gallic tribes had dominated north parts of Italy, but some hundred years fierce fighting, had brought them on their knees. Soon Hannibal understood that he needed a victory to give his army and surrounding Gallic tribes faith for winning.
3. Third part – Rome hits back
And it was going to take place – a great victory. Soon Carthagians heard that Scipio elder was advancing from south to north to defeat Carthagians. Hannibal got ready with his army and gave them strong speech. He told his men that only brave men could win the obstacles that they are going to face. But as a free men they were better than Romans and they had the will to win – therefore victory is going to be their. In November, 218 BC two armies had first contact. They were camped near each others and when they understood it, they send cavalry forward to take first contact. Carthagians had 6 000 cavalry and Numidian lighter cavalry was on both sides. Romans led by Publius Cornelius Scipio had 3 000 cavalry and 7 000 velites – spearmen. Spearmen were to be in front of line and throw their spears and then returns behind first line. When Hannibal saw this he commanded his cavalry to charge at once and before velites were organized to throw spear they had to escape Carthagian cavalry. When heavy Carthagian cavalry advanced close combat in middle the lighter Numidian cavalry acted as planned and beat the Roman flanks and attacked on their rear. So Romans found themselves soon surrounded by Carthagians and they driven to small unorganized groups – they collapsed. And then also their commander Publius Cornelius Scipio was wounded severely and only in last minutes his son succeeded to save him. So later Scipio Africanus showed heroic deeds as a young man. Even though Scipio had acted swiftly and brought his army from Massilia fast as a wind to meet Carthagians in the beginning, he had lost the first round. This was going to be big win because now Gauls started to believe Hannibal.
Battle of River Trebia
But happenings went on. In placentia – these days Piacenza – was going to take place the first big clash between Romans and Hannibal. The second consul – Sempronius Longus – with his army had been ordered behalf of Senate to march from Sicily to Northern Italy to help Scipio. So he met in plains of Placentia defeated and wounded Scipo elder. Sempronius was eager to raise his “virtus” and wanted to have victory over Hannibal. He did not take seriously the warnings of Scipio and they had a disagreement – as often with consuls – how to handle Hannibal. Anyway Scipio “loaned” couple legions to Sempronius So in December in Placentia he led the main army of Scipio and his own army daringly against Hannibal. Romans had more men – about 40 000 – and some cavalry (4000) against approximate 30 000 Carthagians foot soldiers and 10 000 cavalry. But Hannibal did not let the figures prevent him but created a cunning plan. He put in advance his brother Mago to lurk in bushes on right side with some 1000 men. When Roman army advanced rapidly over very cold Trebia river in close combat with main Carthagian army, Mago led his men to hit rear of Roman lines. Because Romans were so easily drawn to attack against Carthagian lines, they did not saw this trap. Already tired and stiffen because on cold December water Romans yielded and flee from battlefield. It was a big win for Hannibal. He had beaten in short time both consuls and last time in clear massive open field. Now all Gallic tribes gave their help to Hannibal. They saw their savior in Hannibal. But Romans were not giving up so easily.
Battle of lake Trasimene
After terrible defeat of Trebia Romans were eager to settle things because they did not wanted to look weak in the eyes of their allies. Old consuls were replaced by new ones. Now Gnaeus Servilius Geminus and Gaius Flaminius took leading role. They got the remains of lost Roman legions and raised four new ones. After Roman lost in Trebia the route was open to Rome. Now started a race between Carthagian and the Roman armies to south. Hannibal was faster and Flaminius with his half of Roman army was after start slower. Servilius was also marching south to help Flaminius and intended to join. Hannibal wanted to draw Flaminius into big battle and irritated consul Byt destroying all countryside around Faesula and Arretium. Hannibal wanted to show ordinary citizen that Rome was no capable of protecting them and therefor smoke of destruction raised above countryside. But Flaminius did not enter and a battle – not even when Hannibal cut his connection Rome when settling between army of Flaminius and Rome. Maybe Flaminius was waiting Servius. When it was clear that Flaminius remained in his camp fort, Hannibal started his march towards Apulia. After being so unhonored by Hannibal, Flaminius wanted to get revenge. He ordered his troops to follow Hannibal even though all advisers asked him to wait Servius. Together they would be bigger match for Hannibal.
Lake Trasimene is half away between Firenze and Rome – very much middle of Italy peninsula. Also in west-east direction. One can understand how terrifying news this defeat has been for Romans. From here it is not far away to Rome – Eternal city is just below Trasimene. And Rome did not anymore have legions – at least nearby.
But Flaminius went on and sent his cavalry to harass Hannibal’s rear forces. Hannibal felt now that finally Flaminius was ready for battle and he laid his trap to lake Trasimene. When entering north there was only one pass, where the route was leading between high forest hills and lake. It was very easy for Hannibal to hide hos troops on northern high hills so that he could close the path to defile and attack from northern hills over Romans walking in long march lines. He let some part of his troops march forward so that Romans believed whole army was going to south-east. When night fall Roman saw thousands of torches marching in front of them and finally camping far away on the hills of Tuoro. Romans just hurried forward – they did not suspect anything. But Hannibal was with his main force hiding in northern forest hills and waiting silently in the night. When foggy morning finally at 24. of June became, Carthagians launched their trap. And it was terrible and perfect. Now army of Flaminius was entirely entered on narrow defile and Carthagian infantry and cavalry closed the path on Roman rear and Roman troops where attacked from three sides – back, northern side and front. Only free side was lake itself. When Carthagians rolled downwards from hills against Romans from the mist, they had unbeatable force. Roman troops were hidden suddenly by enemy when they were most vulnerable – as march colon. They had no time to organize and had battle lines. Carthagians practically drove over them. So Romans were divided in smaller groups and Roman rear was driven fast by Carthagian cavalry into the lake and who did not die in fight was drowned. The middle part where Flaminius were died in their feet as last men in a battle that took three hours. Some of the lighter advance guard succeeded to escape through forest, when they understood fast that battle was lost. When battle was done 15 000 Romans were dead and some 10 000 captured. Some days after Hannibal reached also Roman reinforcement of propaetor Gaius Centenius with 4000 men and killed those in short battle. Numbers of Roman legionaries were decreasing and Carthagians increasing after every victory.
4. Fourth Part – After lake Trasimene
Because last Roman troops between Rome were destroyed Hannibal had now two choices. He could attack Rome but then he would had to build siege engines. Another possibility was to invide further south and plunder countryside and try to revoke creek cities to mutiny. And Hannibal chose the second chance – which was an error I think. Building siege engines and circleling Rome would have taken time and troops. But at least it would have shown Romans and their allies that rome. Hannibal could not be beaten. But I guess Hannibal did not really understand the essential nature of Rome. After total defeat Romans understood that Hannibal was something different that they have ever met. Three battles – three losses. Figures were clear. So they decided not to charge Hannibal again but burn everything around Carthagian army and disturb Hannibal’s supply lines. Therefore Fabius Maximus was appointed as a dictator to lead Roman armies. So Maximus sent small armies around hannibal’s army to attack and cut their supply lines.
After his decision Hannibal marched into eastern part of Italy – Apulia – and ravaged it freely as they wanted. When he understood that there will not be any big fights with Maximus, he continued to Southern Italy – to Samnium and Campania. All these areas and tribes were once Roman enemies. Like cities of Pompei, Cumae, Neapolis, Tarentum, Paestum, Croton, Heraclea and Thurii were old creek cities and therefore possibly allies of Hannibal. So he did hid best to so that Rome was weak and old creel settlements should abandon Rome. When Hannibal ravaged south Italian fields many Roman felt shame, because they could not accept new tactic which they felt to be cowardice. When hannibal succeeded to lure Maximus when marching thourgh narrow pass from campania to southwards, Maximus lost his supoorters. Later on senate desiced to let Maximus go and elected new consuls. At 216 BC Terentius Varro and Aemilius Paullusnew consuls. After resting winter 215-216 in Southern Italy, hannibak succeeded to capture large supply depot at Cannae in spring 216BC. When he placed his army into Canae he was between Rome and their southern supply line, things were getting grave to Romans. Now having new consuls Romans raised an army never seen before and marched to Cannae with 80 000 men – most of them legionaries. Romans thought that this would be now test of shear power and believed that their iron heart – heavily armoured legionaries – would save the day.
Battle of Cannae
So Roman United army marched to Apulia and camped beside Aufidus river aoem 10 km away from Carthagians. Roman colsuls were not totally same mind how to proceed now. Paullus was much more cautious and Varro wanted to attack straight forward. Because consuls had leadership of army every second day, it ment that army was not working totally efficiently. Second of August 216 Varro was leading Roman army and he marched with it on the plains and charged Carthagians. Hannibal had already made his plans and he responded the roman initiative. Battle of the centuries was starting. Hannibal placed his troops in a way that weaker detachments were placed in the middle. When Varro attacked it seemed first to Romans that Carthagian lines were breaking and they pushed forward when Carthagina lines seemed to give up. Soon Carthagian lines were like convex shaped but that was as Hannibal wanted. On both sides Numidian cavalry – much better than Romans – defeated their opponents and drove them off from battle field. When Roman legionaries pushed forward on middle, Hannibal gave sign and his experienced troops attacked on both sides where they have hiding.
Soon also Carthagian cavalry came back and attacked om Roman rear. Suddenly Roman army was trapped on every side. When there was no room for tactic maneuvers, numbers did not help. Varro had played everything for Hannibal and again Romans were outmaneuvered. and it was coming to real massacre. In some hours more than 50 000 Romans were slaughtered and also consul Paullus was among killed. The real guilty for this loss – Varro – succeeded to escape. This fight is still very famous and even military academies teach the lessons learn from it.
5. Fift part – What next?
This was the real question. Hannibal had showed his dominion over Romans and beaten them so badly that nobody believed anymore that Carthagians with lead of Hannibal could be won. Not even Romans. Even some creek cities started to abandon Rome – like Cumae. But what should Hannibal do – attack city of Rome itself? Or conquer other cities in Italy? There was no more Roman armies in Italian peninsula, so it was all free territory for Hannibal. Hannibal cavalry commander suggested that Hannibal should attack Rome and lay siege on it. I think that would have been right thing to do. Even though it would have been difficult, it would have had enormous psychological influence. It would have forced Roman to defend their heart and not give time to think something else – like conquering Hispania. It would also have shown Roman allies how weak they were. But Hannibal hesitated. Nobody really knows why. Some believe that Hannibal thought that four successive defeat – last one enormous – was enough for Rome. And Roman would sue peace. Somebody could defend this by saying that this was according the rules of ancient world. Somebody believes that even Hannibal was shocked by enormous slaughter in the field were some 70 000 men lost their lives in one afternoon. But I doubt that. It may have been that Hannibal was just a logical men – and because that could not see bigger picture. Probably he thought that he can not conquer Rome. For that he would have needed much more troops. And that was actually what he did. He asked Carthagian senate to send him more troops so he could take Rome. In the meantime he did an attempt to test city of Rome and lead his army to the gates of Rome. It is said that he then threw his javelin over walls of Rome. That was the closest he got Rome. After a heavy thunderstorm he decided very soon to march south. Probably he found out that he could not take the city. Even smaller city of Saguntum in Hispania lasted nearly year of Carthagian siege.
After terrible loss in Cannae, Romans held meetings were they thought deeply what went wrong. They could not find any other reason but gods were angry for them. Therefor they decided to offer two Creeks and Carthagians for God Jupiter and buried them alive. Then Romans made one decisive agreement which was not to charge Hannibal again. So they accepted again the tactic of Fabius which lead the concept of burnt land. Romans concentrated to attack supply lines, cities that allied with Hannibal and other Carthagian army commanders – but not Hannibal. And it actually started to work. Hannibal had also lost men in the battles and he could not replace the losses with good quality soldiers. Local Gauls and Creeks were no match to Hannibal’s earlier mercenary troops. So finally also Hannibal’s army get weaker. He could either not get enough support from his new allies from Macedonia – Philip V – or new ally Sicily. Very soon it was also evident that Hannibal’s lieutenants could not do alone but Romans beat them easily. Still Hannibal gained some big victories after Cannae. At 212 BC he destroyed completely two Roman armies and at 208 BC he succeeded to kill two Roman consuls in Battle. But the fact was that he had not enough men to beat Romans. Therefore he settled in Southern Italy and asked more men from Carthagian senate. But politics is politics. It seems to be so that Carthagian nobles envied Hannibal and feared his influence. Hannibal was too successful. Especially Hanno II the great, who led the opposite party than Hannibal was calculated to belong, take care that Hannibal did not have any support from Carthage. Instead of giving more men for Hannibal to destroy the head of snake – Rome – they sent an army to northern Hispania. This army was soon destroyed by Romans so it did not help Carthagian at all but was terrible waste of resources. And even if it sounds odd the Carthagian senate finally decided this way the result of the war when they denied additional troops from Hannibal. On the other hand Carthagian senate had not started the war but Hannibal had placed them in the situation that they had no choice. So maybe it was their revenge… In year 212 BC Hannibal captured Tarentum but could not occupy it’s harbor but Roman controlled that. In becoming years Roman succeeded to conquer finally some cities allied with Hannibal. Capua was taken after heavy siege by Romans and also Sicilia in whole was won by Romans. Later on Hannibal lost even Tarentum and retired into Bruttium – southern part of Italy. Finally at 205-203 BC Carthagian senate sent Hannibal’s brother Mago to attack Liguria – to help Hannibal to defeat Romans. But is was too little and too late. Mago’s expedition failed. When even Philip V – the king of Macedonia – left Hannibal and made peace with Romans all was lost. In 203 BC Carthagian senate recalled Hannibal back to north Africa to defend Carthage against Scipio. After 15 years of fighting in Italian peninsula, Hannibal had to admit that he had lost there the game.
6. part – War goes to Hispania
Now when Hannibal wasted his time in Southern Italy with too small troops, Romans sent armies to Hispania. And after difficult start they were successful. In 211 BC his father and uncle were killed in battle against Hasdrubal Barca in Hispania. Now Rome needed commander to lead new army in Hispania and Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (236–183 BC) was chosen. Mainly because every one else had fear to enter Hispania. Scipio started with sensation because he did the most unexpected thing and attacked cunningly against Carthagian capital city in Hispania – Carthago Nova. This attack was so surprising that it succeeded and Romans got huge storage of supplies for their army. Of course this was chocking news for Carthagians who had three armies in Hispania led by Mago, Hasdrubal and Hasdrubal Gisco – first two brothers of Hannibal. The fact that Carthagian forces were divided in three parts which were not able to work together came in the end aid for Romans. After some tactical movements Scipio succeeded to challenge army of Hasdrubal into battle at 209 BC. It was important for Scipio to try to pick Carthagian army’s one by one alone – together they were too numerous. At Baecula on the upper Guadalquivir Scipio finally routed Hasdrubal’s army and it escaped to north. Hasdrubal thought then to be better to join Hannibal in Italy and marched same route over Gaul and Alps to Italy. As we know today it did not get too well for Hasdrubal. He managed to pass Alps but in northern Italy he was ambushed by Romans. They have heard that Hasdrubal was on his way to meet Hannibal so they wanted to prevent that in any cost. With extremely fast movements Roman consuls Gaius Claudius Nero and Marcus Livius marched with their eight legions to meet Hasdrubal and succeeded to take surprise attack near lake Metaurus. When Hasdrubal saw that he could not escape he fought bravely but was defeated and killed by more numerous Roman troops. Romans were very kind to send message for this victory to Hannibal. It is said they threw the cut off head of Hasdrubal to Hannibal’s camp. Story tells that Hannibal said the – Now I know how this war will end! In Hispania it went even better for Scipio. In 206 BC he succeeded to beat all Carthagian armies at Ilipa near todays Sevilla. It meant that Carthagians admitted that they have lost Hispania and they left it and evacuated their population to north Africa.
7. Part – to the end of Second Punic war
When Hannibal got order to return Carthagians were pressed heavily in Northern Africa. Scipio Africanus had made an alliance with Numidians and now he got the support of them instead of Carthagians. Also the worlds best cavalry – the Numidian one – was now on Scipio’s side which was very important fact for becoming battles. Now when Hannibal arrived to Carthage again his party – the war party – took control and Hannibal was named as commander of all Carthagian armies – all mercenaries and Carthagian troops. In 202 BC Hannibal met Scipio in a short negotiation where Hannibal tried to persuade Scipio to peace but with no success. Hannibal was already old so he knew how fortunes of war were unpredictable and thus he wanted to settle things out. But Scipio was in his best age and eager to reach honor. Also first peace treaty between Scipio, Rome and Carthage had been broken before Hannibal’s arrive, so Rome was not trusting anymore Carthagians. So the decisive battle took place in Zama 202 BC. Unlike other battles in Zama Rome was superior in cavalry because Numidian prince Masinissa had allied 206 BC with Scipio. Carthagians instead had more numerous infantry and thus it was like Cannae but different positions. Also Hannibal had 80 war elephants, which was a remarkable force for his attack. There are little bit different point of views how battle went. Generally it is believed that Roman/Numidian cavalry routed fast the Carthagian cavalry. As the war elephants attacked Romans had exercised a tactic which was efficient to scare elephants backwards.
It is said that Romans opened lines when elephants attacked and they used spears and trumpets to scare them. This way they actually drove elephants back to stomp Carthagian infantry. Some sources say that first Carthagian lines were just new recruits and backlines were waiting the real veterans. Thus Hannibal was nearly winning the battle, when his veterans started to press Romans. Some say Scipio was able to rally his men at this critical point again and when feral elephants routed the Carthagian veteran lines when rushing backwards, romans took the advantage. Anyway in the end Roman/Numidian cavalry came back after chasing Cartagian cavalry away from the field and charged the Carthagian rear lines. That was the last strike and Hannibal’s army collapsed. As always the defeated side suffered losses of more than 20 000 men and Romans only some 3 000 men. After this decisive defeat Carthagian sued peace and it was no longer a Mediterranean super power.
According peace treaty Carthage lost all overseas lands and they had to pay heavy tribute to Rome. First Hannibal retired from all public offices but times were restless in Carthage. After some political turmoil, Hannibal was elected as a suffet – a kind of prime minister – to take control of Carthagian civil government. Very soon Hannibal turned out to be also a very talented civil servant. He renewed Carthagian government system and revived economy and business. The renewal of political system led Carthage again to a prosperous city and it could pay tribute to Rome easily. But when Roman noted that Carthage was again prosperous they got alarmed and demanded Hannibal to be jailed.
8. Part – Hannibal’s exile and death
Because Romans hunted him, Hannibal had to go exile in 195 BC. He travelled to Tyre – mother city of Carthage – and to Ephesus. There he met Antiochus III of Syria who was preparing war against Rome. Therefore Hannibal gave valuable advice and guidance for king how to develop his army. However Antiochus did not made Hannibal as his army commander even though Hannibal asked that. In 191 BC Romans defeated Antiochus in Thermopylae and again in Magnesia (Anatolia) 190 BC. After this Antiochus made Hannibal as his fleet commander but Hannibal lost the fight against Roman fleet in 190 BC at Eurymedon. This meant that Seleucid empire started to sue peace from Rome and Hannibal had to flee again. There are several stories how Hannibal travelled in Asia minor in these years – in Armenia, Crete, Bithynia.
In Bithynia he achieved his last victories over Pergamon’s king Eumenes with his fleet and land army. But because Pergamon was ally of Rome, it meant that Romans intervened to this war and asked Prusias I – king of Bithynia – to give Hannibal to Romans. And he admitted and Hannibal fled again. It is not exactly known what was the death year of Hannibal. A historian Polybius claims that Hannibal died in 182 BC. Maybe most believable story is that Hannibal took poison when he found out in Libyssa – on the eastern shore of the sea Marmara – that he cannot escape anymore Romans. But he did not want to be imprisoned by Romans. It is said he wrote a message for Romans to see.
“Let us relieve the Romans from the anxiety they have so long experienced, since they think it tries their patience too much to wait for an old man’s death.”