Hannibal Watson

Hannibal had a very lasting impact on
Roman society
In is said that Hannibal taught the
Romans the meaning of fear. Naughty
children were threatened with the idea
that “Hannibal was coming to get them”
Despite the trivial nature of this point, it
demonstrates the psychological
impact that Hannibal had on the
Rome’s war with Hannibal caused both
negative and positive consequences in both
the short and long term
During the war:
• Hannibal’s strength at sea forced Rome to
adjust to their environment - corvus
• They were also forced to into guerrilla tactics, led by Fabius
• The destruction of Carthage in
the Third Punic War was a
direct impact of Hannibal’s
attack on Rome
The introduction of boats not only gave them a large advantage
during the war, but after enabled them to expand their trade to all
over the Mediterranean
After the war
• By the time he was defeated, the bulk of the Italian the
Italian countryside was devastated. In response, many
rich aristocrats bought up huge tracts of these lands for
very little money.
• Because of this,
large numbers of
peasants migrated
to the city, leaving
these aristocrats
with large masses
of land
Aside from his immediate impact, Hannibal had a
significant effect on military history
Hannibal is still studied today in military academies
for his brilliance
With specific reference to Cannae, many military
college’s study Hannibal’s tactics and leadership
- Phalanx manoeuvre at Cannae at the Australian
Defence Force Academy
Hannibal’s leadership also has had an enduring
effect. His leadership qualities have been examined
throughout history
 ‘’No other foreigner made such an impact on
Roman history’’ (Livy)
The battle has been marked down in military
textbooks for two thousand years as the classic
example of entrapment
Count Alfred von Schlieffen: German field
marshal in the 20th century
-His plan was a very large scale strategic
readdressing of Hannibal's tactics in the
defeat of the French Third Republic and the
Russian Empire
Napoleon and Norman Schwarzkopf are both
modern examples of generals that incorporated
Hannibal’s tactics in their own warfare
Legacy-modern day
Hannibal's name is commonplace in art and popular culture,
an objective measure of his foreign influence on Western
His crossing of the Alps remains one of the
most monumental military feats of ancient
warfare an is romanticized by
several artworks
Art - Hannibal and his Army Crossing
the Alps1812 Joseph Turner
Literature – Gulliver’s Travels, satirical work 1726
Films – Hannibal-Rome's Worst Nightmare, Hannibal vs
It is difficult to fully assess the life of Hannibal as all the
information we have on him is Roman, most of which is
subject to bias
However, all sources agree that he was a military genius
and is considered “one of the world’s greatest soldiers”
Oxford Classical Dictionary
His military genius was demonstrated by:
 His extraordinary tactical skill
 His capacity for leadership which commanded the loyalty of
mercenary troops
 Threatening the existence of Rome
One the greatest testament to Hannibal’s leadership is that
he never faced mutiny or lost the confidence of his men
His greatness is manifested through
his legacy throughout the modern and
ancient world
- Napoleon praising Hannibal very highly,
complimenting him on his military tactics and
his audacity
Maximilian Otto Bismarck Caspari, a
prestigious university lecturer praises
Hannibal highly:
-“The transcendent military genius of
Hannibal there cannot be two opinions. For
steadfastness of purpose, for organizing
capacity and a mastery of military science he
has perhaps never had an equal”
There are two main ancient texts of
Hannibal's route:
- Titus Livius (Livy)
- Polybius
- Others include Plutarch, Appian
and Cicero
These historians’ accounts remain fairly uniform however
some differences are evident.
The reason for these differences is due largely to the motive
and perspective of both these historians.
Polybius was a Greek historian/writer living in Rome, where
Livy on the other hand lived 200 years after Hannibal.
Livy is a less reliable source than
Polybius as he used other eyewitness
accounts to write his own account of
particular events
Livy had little experience of war and
politics and very often biased towards
What Livy accounts on Hannibal:
 When he was younger
 Crossing the alps
 Main battles between Carthage and
 Death
Livy’s account of Hannibal depicts him as
extremely cruel, which conflicts with
other accounts from historians
Livy wants to portray Hannibal was a war
criminal and to demonize him. Livy writes
of Hannibal upon seeing blood “Oh what
a lovely sight!”
Livy understands Hannibal as a cannibal,
cruel and ultimately power hungry individual
According to Livy, Hannibal's military genius
was feared among the Romans
Polybius is seen as a very reliable source as he was often an
eyewitness to the events he recounted.
He also had access to official Roman documents because of his
privileged position in Rome
However he tended to display bias in his
treatment of Scipio Aemilianus, but was
clearly sympathetic to Hannibal
Polybius spent a long period as a
hostage in Italy and relied heavily on
Roman sources
Polybius’ and Livy’s account mostly compliment
each other, with only small differences in their
Polybius conversely, is far more detached and thus
Polybius also has great admiration for Hannibal’s
leadership qualities.
Polybius describes Hannibal as a true leader
working hard and fighting from the front thus
sharing the dangers and leading from the
Most of the sources available to historians about Hannibal
are from Romans. They considered him the greatest enemy
Rome had ever faced
The modern historians or tacticians sited
are on the whole far more balanced
Theodore Ayrault Dodge (May 28, 1842 –
1909) was an American officer and military
historian and thus analyses Hannibal
-“Hannibal excelled as a tactician. No battle in
history is a finer sample of tactics than
Cannae” and called Hannibal the "father of
Modern interpretations of Hannibal are
also conveyed through generals, such as
Napoleon, Schwarzkopf and Schlieffen
Hannibal : a history of the art of war among the
Carthaginians and Romans down to the Battle of
Pydna, 168 B.C – Dodge, Theodore Ayrault
YouTube – Hannibal - Rome’s worst nightmare
Antiquity 3 – HSC textbook, Oxford
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