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Guide Men of Iron: The Roman Legion During Hannibals War

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It was even known to cut Roman swords clean in half.

These Are the 7 Weapons the Barbarians Used to Take Down Rome

The falcata served the barbarians well during more than years of warfare with Rome, and it was highly prized by the ancient general Hannibal, who equipped Carthaginian troops with it during the Second Punic War. Celtiberian weapons also proved influential for the Romans. In the fifth century A. Most Hun warriors carried composite bows assembled from wood, sinew, horn and bone. Unlike the Western bow, these steppe weapons were made to curve back on themselves at the ends, which generated added torque and made arrows fly with enough velocity to penetrate armor at yards.

They were also smaller than typical bows, making them easier to wield on horseback.

Hun horse archers were famed for their ability to accurately fire their bows even while at a full gallop. In battle, they often ambushed their adversaries in scattered bands, unleashing devastating hails of arrows before riding back to safety. Once the enemy was weakened, the Huns would swarm them at close range and finish the job with spears, sabers and even lassos. Unlike most barbarian groups, the Huns were particularly proficient at siege warfare.

They first gained insight on siege technology while serving as Roman auxiliaries, and they may have also relied on Roman prisoners and deserters to help them build war machines. The whole government, however, [Pg 17] was exercised by a small body of wealthy and aristocratic families at home. It was very much such a government as that of England is at the present day, only the aristocracy of England is based on ancient birth and landed property, whereas in Carthage it depended on commercial greatness, combined, it is true, with hereditary family distinction.

The aristocracy of Carthage controlled and governed every thing. None but its own sons could ordinarily obtain office or power. The great mass of inhabitants were kept in a state of servitude and vassalage. This state of things operated then, as it does now in England, very unjustly and hardly for those who were thus debased; but the result was—and in this respect the analogy with England still holds good—that a very efficient and energetic government was created. The government of an oligarchy makes sometimes a very rich and powerful state, but a discontented and unhappy people.

Let the reader now turn to the map and find the place of Carthage upon it. Let him imagine a great and rich city there, with piers, and docks, and extensive warehouses for the commerce, and temples, and public edifices of splendid architecture, for the religious and civil service [Pg 18] of the state, and elegant mansions and palaces for the wealthy aristocracy, and walls and towers for the defense of the whole. Let him then imagine a back country, extending for some hundred miles into the interior of Africa, fertile and highly cultivated, producing great stores of corn, and wine, and rich fruits of every description.

Let him then look at the islands of Sicily, of Corsica, and Sardinia, and the Baleares, and conceive of them as rich and prosperous countries, and all under the Carthaginian rule. Look, also, at the coast of Spain; see, in imagination, the city of Carthagena, with its fortifications, and its army, and the gold and silver mines, with thousands and thousands of slaves toiling in them.

Imagine fleets of ships going continually along the shores of the Mediterranean, from country to country, cruising back and forth to Tyre, to Cyprus, to Egypt, to Sicily, to Spain, carrying corn, and flax, and purple dyes, and spices, and perfumes, and precious stones, and ropes and sails for ships, and gold and silver, and then periodically returning to Carthage, to add the profits they had made to the vast treasures of wealth already accumulated there.

Let the reader imagine all this with the map before him, so as to have a distinct [Pg 19] conception of the geographical relations of the localities, and he will have a pretty correct idea of the Carthaginian power at the time it commenced its dreadful conflicts with Rome. Rome itself was very differently situated. Rome had been built by some wanderers from Troy, and it grew, for a long time, silently and slowly, by a sort of internal principle of life and energy. One region after another of the Italian peninsula was merged in the Roman state.

They formed a population which was, in the main, stationary and agricultural. They tilled the fields; they hunted the wild beasts; they raised great flocks and herds. They seem to have been a race—a sort of variety of the human species—possessed of a very refined and superior organization, which, in its development, gave rise to a character of firmness, energy, and force, both of body and mind, which has justly excited the admiration of mankind.

The Carthaginians had sagacity—the Romans called it cunning—and activity, enterprise and wealth. Their rivals, on the other hand, were characterized by genius, courage, and strength, giving rise to a certain calm and indomitable resolution and energy, which has since, in every age, been strongly associated, in the minds of men, with the very word Roman. The progress of nations was much more slow in ancient days than now, and these two rival empires continued their gradual growth and extension, each on its own side of the great sea which divided them, for five hundred years , before they came into collision.

At last, however, the collision came. It originated in the following way:. By looking at the map , the reader will see that the island of Sicily is separated from the main land by a narrow strait called the Strait of Messina. This strait derives its name from the town of Messina, which is situated upon it, on the Sicilian side. Opposite Messina, on the Italian side, there was a town named Rhegium. Now it happened that both these towns had been taken possession of by lawless bodies of soldiery. The Romans came and delivered Rhegium, and punished the soldiers who had seized it very severely.

The Sicilian authorities advanced to the deliverance of Messina. The troops there, finding themselves thus threatened, sent to the Romans to say that if they, the Romans, would come and protect them, they would deliver Messina into their hands. The question, what answer to give to this application, was brought before the Roman senate, [Pg 21] and caused them great perplexity. It seemed very inconsistent to take sides with the rebels of Messina, when they had punished so severely those of Rhegium. Still the Romans had been, for a long time, becoming very jealous of the growth and extension of the Carthaginian power.

Here was an opportunity of meeting and resisting it. The Sicilian authorities were about calling for direct aid from Carthage to recover the city, and the affair would probably result in establishing a large body of Carthaginian troops within sight of the Italian shore, and at a point where it would be easy for them to make hostile incursions into the Roman territories.

In a word, it was a case of what is called political necessity; that is to say, a case in which the interests of one of the parties in a contest were so strong that all considerations of justice, consistency, and honor are to be sacrificed to the promotion of them. Instances of this kind of political necessity occur very frequently in the management of public affairs in all ages of the world. The contest for Messina was, after all, however, considered by the Romans merely as a pretext, or rather as an occasion, for commencing the struggle which they had long been desirous [Pg 22] of entering upon.

They evinced their characteristic energy and greatness in the plan which they adopted at the outset. They knew very well that the power of Carthage rested mainly on her command of the seas, and that they could not hope successfully to cope with her till they could meet and conquer her on her own element. In the mean time, however, they had not a single ship and not a single sailor, while the Mediterranean was covered with Carthaginian ships and seamen. Not at all daunted by this prodigious inequality, the Romans resolved to begin at once the work of creating for themselves a naval power.

The preparations consumed some time; for the Romans had not only to build the ships, they had first to learn how to build them. They took their first lesson from a Carthaginian galley which was cast away in a storm upon the coast of Italy. They seized this galley, collected their carpenters to examine it, and set woodmen at work to fell trees and collect materials for imitating it. The carpenters studied their model very carefully, measured the dimensions of every part, and observed the manner in which the various parts were connected and secured together.

The heavy shocks which vessels are [Pg 23] exposed to from the waves makes it necessary to secure great strength in the construction of them; and, though the ships of the ancients were very small and imperfect compared with the men-of-war of the present day, still it is surprising that the Romans could succeed at all in such a sudden and hasty attempt at building them.

They did, however, succeed. While the ships were building, officers appointed for the purpose were training men, on shore, to the art of rowing them. Benches, like the seats which the oarsman would occupy in the ships, were arranged on the ground, and the intended seamen were drilled every day in the movements and action of rowers. The result was, that in a few months after the building of the ships was commenced, the Romans had a fleet of one hundred galleys of five banks of oars ready.

They remained in harbor with them for some time, to give the oarsmen the opportunity to see whether they could row on the water as well as on the land, and then boldly put to sea to meet the Carthaginians. There was one part of the arrangements made by the Romans in preparing their fleets which was strikingly characteristic of the determined [Pg 24] resolution which marked all their conduct. They constructed machines containing grappling irons, which they mounted on the prows of their vessels. These engines were so contrived, that the moment one of the ships containing them should encounter a vessel of the enemy, the grappling irons would fall upon the deck of the latter, and hold the two firmly together, so as to prevent the possibility of either escaping from the other.

The idea that they themselves should have any wish to withdraw from the encounter seemed entirely out of the question. Their only fear was that the Carthaginian seamen would employ their superior skill and experience in naval maneuvers in making their escape. Mankind have always regarded the action of the Romans, in this case, as one of the most striking examples of military courage and resolution which the history of war has ever recorded.

An army of landsmen come down to the sea-shore, and, without scarcely having ever seen a ship, undertake to build a fleet, and go out to attack a power whose navies covered the sea, and made her the sole and acknowledged mistress of it. They seize a wrecked galley of their enemies for their model; they build a hundred vessels like it; they practice [Pg 25] maneuvers for a short time in port; and then go forth to meet the fleets of their powerful enemy, with grappling machines to hold them, fearing nothing but the possibility of their escape.

The result was as might have been expected. The Romans captured, sunk, destroyed, or dispersed the Carthaginian fleet which was brought to oppose them. They took the prows of the ships which they captured and conveyed them to Rome, and built what is called a rostral pillar of them. A rostral pillar is a column ornamented with such beaks or prows, which were, in the Roman language, called rostra. This column was nearly destroyed by lightning about fifty years afterward, but it was repaired and rebuilt again, and it stood then for many centuries, a very striking and appropriate monument of this extraordinary naval victory.


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The Roman commander in this case was the consul Duilius. The rostral column was erected in honor of him. In digging among the ruins of Rome, there was found what was supposed to be the remains of this column, about three hundred years ago. The Romans now prepared to carry the war into Africa itself. Of course it was easy, after [Pg 26] their victory over the Carthaginian fleet, to transport troops across the sea to the Carthaginian shore. The Roman commonwealth was governed at this time by a senate, who made the laws, and by two supreme executive officers, called consuls.

They thought it was safer to have two chief magistrates than one, as each of the two would naturally be a check upon the other. The result was, however, that mutual jealousy involved them often in disputes and quarrels. It is thought better, in modern times, to have but one chief magistrate in the state, and to provide other modes to put a check upon any disposition he might evince to abuse his powers. The Roman consuls, in time of war, took command of the armies. The name of the consul upon whom it devolved to carry on the war with the Carthaginians, after this first great victory, was Regulus, and his name has been celebrated in every age, on account of his extraordinary adventures in this campaign, and his untimely fate.

How far the story is strictly true it is now impossible to ascertain, but the following is the story, as the Roman historians relate it:. At the time when Regulus was elected consul he was a plain man, living simply on his farm, maintaining himself by his own industry, [Pg 27] and evincing no ambition or pride. His fellow citizens, however, observed those qualities of mind in him which they were accustomed to admire, and made him consul. He left the city and took command of the army.

He enlarged the fleet to more than three hundred vessels.

Military of Carthage

He put one hundred and forty thousand men on board, and sailed for Africa. One or two years had been spent in making these preparations, which time the Carthaginians had improved in building new ships; so that, when the Romans set sail, and were moving along the coast of Sicily, they soon came in sight of a larger Carthaginian fleet assembled to oppose them. Regulus advanced to the contest. The Carthaginian fleet was beaten as before. The ships which were not captured or destroyed made their escape in all directions, and Regulus went on, without further opposition, and landed his forces on the Carthaginian shore.

He encamped as soon as he landed, and sent back word to the Roman senate asking what was next to be done. The senate, considering that the great difficulty and danger, viz. Regulus obeyed: he sent home the troops which had been ordered home, and with the rest began to advance upon the city. Just at this time, however, news came out to him that the farmer who had had the care of his land at home had died, and that his little farm, on which rested his sole reliance for the support of his family, was going to ruin. Regulus accordingly sent to the senate, asking them to place some one else in command of the army, and to allow him to resign his office, that he might go home and take care of his wife and children.

The senate sent back orders that he should go on with his campaign, and promised to provide support for his family, and to see that some one was appointed to take care of his land.

This story is thought to illustrate the extreme simplicity and plainness of all the habits of life among the Romans in those days. It certainly does so, if it is true. It is, however, very extraordinary, that a man who was intrusted by such a commonwealth, with the command of a fleet of a hundred and thirty vessels, and an army of a hundred and forty thousand men, should have a family at home dependent for subsistence on the hired cultivation of seven acres of land.

Scipio Attacks New Carthage

Still, such is the story. Regulus advanced toward Carthage, conquering as he came. The Carthaginians were beaten in one field after another, and were reduced, in fact, to the last extremity, when an occurrence took place which turned the scale. This occurrence was the arrival of a large body of troops from Greece, with a Grecian general at their head.

These were troops which the Carthaginians had hired to fight for them, as was the case with the rest of their army. But these were Greeks , and the Greeks were of the same race, and possessed the same qualities, as the Romans. The newly-arrived Grecian general evinced at once such military superiority, that the Carthaginians gave him the supreme command. He marshaled the army, accordingly, for battle.

He had a hundred elephants in the van. They were trained to rush forward and trample down the enemy. He had the Greek phalanx in the center, which was a close, compact body of many thousand troops, bristling with long, iron-pointed spears, with which the men pressed forward, bearing every thing before them. Regulus was, in a word, ready to meet Carthaginians, but he was not prepared to encounter Greeks. His army was put to flight, and he was taken prisoner.

Nothing could exceed [Pg 30] the excitement and exultation in the city when they saw Regulus and five hundred other Roman soldiers, brought captive in. A few days before, they had been in consternation at the imminent danger of his coming in as a ruthless and vindictive conqueror. The Roman senate were not discouraged by this disaster. They fitted out new armies, and the war went on, Regulus being kept all the time at Carthage as a close prisoner. At last the Carthaginians authorized him to go to Rome as a sort of commissioner, to propose to the Romans to exchange prisoners and to make peace.

They exacted from him a solemn promise that if he was unsuccessful he would return. The Romans had taken many of the Carthaginians prisoners in their naval combats, and held them captive at Rome. It is customary, in such cases, for the belligerent nations to make an exchange, and restore the captives on both sides to their friends and home. It was such an exchange of prisoners as this which Regulus was to propose. When Regulus reached Rome he refused to enter the city, but he appeared before the senate without the walls, in a very humble garb and with the most subdued and unassuming demeanor.

His opinion was, however, he said, that the Romans ought not to make peace or to exchange prisoners. He himself and the other Roman prisoners were old and infirm, and not worth the exchange; and, moreover, they had no claim whatever on their country, as they could only have been made prisoners in consequence of want of courage or patriotism to die in their country's cause.

He said that the Carthaginians were tired of the war, and that their resources were exhausted, and that the Romans ought to press forward in it with renewed vigor, and leave himself and the other prisoners to their fate. The senate came very slowly and reluctantly to the conclusion to follow this advice. They, however, all earnestly joined in attempting to persuade Regulus that he was under no obligation to return to Carthage.

His promise, they said, was extorted by the circumstances of the case, and was not binding. Regulus, however, insisted on keeping his faith with his enemies. The Carthaginians, exasperated at his having himself interposed to prevent the success of his mission, tortured him for some time in the most cruel manner, and finally put him to death. One would think that he ought to have counseled peace and an exchange of prisoners, and he ought not to have refused to see his unhappy wife and children; but it was certainly very noble in him to refuse to break his word.

The war continued for some time after this, until, at length, both nations became weary of the contest, and peace was made. The following is the treaty which was signed. It shows that the advantage, on the whole, in this first Punic war, was on the part of the Romans:. The Carthaginians shall evacuate all Sicily. They shall not make war upon any allies of the Romans. They shall restore to the Romans, without ransom, all the prisoners which they have taken from them, and pay them within ten years three thousand two hundred talents of silver.

T he name of Hannibal's father was Hamilcar. He was one of the leading Carthaginian generals. He occupied a very prominent position, both on account of his rank, and wealth, and high family connections at Carthage, and also on account of the great military energy which he displayed in the command of the armies abroad. He carried on the wars which the Carthaginians waged in Africa and in Spain after the conclusion of the war with the Romans, and he longed to commence hostilities with the Romans again.

At one time, when Hannibal was about nine years of age, Hamilcar was preparing to set off on an expedition into Spain, and, as was usual in those days, he was celebrating the occasion with games, and spectacles, and various religious ceremonies. It has been the custom in all ages of the world, when nations go to war with each other, for each side to take measures for propitiating the favor of Heaven. Christian nations at the present day do it by prayers offered in [Pg 34] each country for the success of their own arms.

Heathen nations do it by sacrifices, libations, and offerings. Hamilcar had made arrangements for such sacrifices, and the priests were offering them in the presence of the whole assembled army. Young Hannibal, then about nine years of age, was present. He was a boy of great spirit and energy, and he entered with much enthusiasm into the scene. He wanted to go to Spain himself with the army, and he came to his father and began to urge his request. His father could not consent to this. He was too young to endure the privations and fatigues of such an enterprise.

However, his father brought him to one of the altars, in the presence of the other officers of the army, and made him lay his hand upon the consecrated victim, and swear that, as soon as he was old enough, and had it in his power, he would make war upon the Romans. This was done, no doubt, in part to amuse young Hannibal's mind, and to relieve his disappointment in not being able to go to war at that time, by promising him a great and mighty enemy to fight at some future day.

Hannibal remembered it, and longed for the time to come when he could go to war against the Romans.

Hamilcar bade his son farewell and embarked for Spain. He was at liberty to extend his conquests there in all directions west of the River Iberus, a river which the reader will find upon the map , flowing southeast into the Mediterranean Sea. Its name, Iberus, has been gradually changed, in modern times, to Ebro.

By the treaty with the Romans the Carthaginians were not to cross the Iberus. They were also bound by the treaty not to molest the people of Saguntum, a city lying between the Iberus and the Carthaginian dominions. Saguntum was in alliance with the Romans and under their protection. Hamilcar was, however, very restless and uneasy at being obliged thus to refrain from hostilities with the Roman power.

He began, immediately after his arrival in Spain, to form plans for renewing the war. He had under him, as his principal lieutenant, a young man who had married his daughter. His name was Hasdrubal. With Hasdrubal's aid, he went on extending his conquests in Spain, and strengthening his position there, and gradually maturing his plans for renewing war with the Romans, when at length he died. Hasdrubal succeeded him. Hannibal was now, probably, about [Pg 36] twenty-one or two years old, and still in Carthage. Hasdrubal sent to the Carthaginian government a request that Hannibal might receive an appointment in the army, and be sent out to join him in Spain.

On the subject of complying with this request there was a great debate in the Carthaginian senate. In all cases where questions of government are controlled by votes , it has been found, in every age, that parties will always be formed, of which the two most prominent will usually be nearly balanced one against the other.

Thus, at this time, though the Hamilcar family were in power, there was a very strong party in Carthage in opposition to them. The leader of this party in the senate, whose name was Hanno, made a very earnest speech against sending Hannibal. He was too young, he said, to be of any service. He would only learn the vices and follies of the camp, and thus become corrupted and ruined. Hamilcar was not a king, that his authority should thus descend first to his son-in-law and then to his son; for this plan of making Hannibal," he said, "while yet scarcely arrived at [Pg 37] manhood, a high officer in the army, is only a stepping-stone to the putting of the forces wholly under his orders, whenever, for any reason, Hasdrubal shall cease to command them.

The Roman historian, through whose narrative we get our only account of this debate, says that, though these were good reasons, yet strength prevailed, as usual, over wisdom, in the decision of the question. They voted to send Hannibal, and he set out to cross the sea to Spain with a heart full of enthusiasm and joy. A great deal of curiosity and interest was felt throughout the army to see him on his arrival.

The soldiers had been devotedly attached to his father, and they were all ready to transfer this attachment at once to the son, if he should prove worthy of it. It was very evident, soon after he reached the camp, that he was going to prove himself thus worthy. He entered at once into the duties of his position with a degree of energy, patience, and self-denial which attracted universal attention, and made him a universal favorite. He dressed plainly; he assumed no airs; he sought for no pleasures or indulgences, nor demanded any exemption from the dangers and privations which the common soldiers had to endure.

He ate plain food, and slept, often [Pg 38] in his military cloak, on the ground, in the midst of the soldiers on guard; and in battle he was always foremost to press forward into the contest, and the last to leave the ground when the time came for repose. The Romans say that, in addition to these qualities, he was inhuman and merciless when in open warfare with his foes, and cunning and treacherous in every other mode of dealing with them. It is very probable that he was so. Such traits of character were considered by soldiers in those days, as they are now, virtues in themselves, though vices in their enemies.

However this may be, Hannibal became a great and universal favorite in the army. He went on for several years increasing his military knowledge, and widening and extending his influence, when at length, one day, Hasdrubal was suddenly killed by a ferocious native of the country whom he had by some means offended. As soon as the first shock of this occurrence was over, the leaders of the army went in pursuit of Hannibal, whom they brought in triumph to the tent of Hasdrubal, and instated him at once in the supreme command, with one consent and in the midst of universal acclamations.

As soon as news of this event reached [Pg 39] Carthage, the government there confirmed the act of the army, and Hannibal thus found himself suddenly but securely invested with a very high military command. His eager and restless desire to try his strength with the Romans received a new impulse by his finding that the power was now in his hands. Still the two countries were at peace. They were bound by solemn treaties to continue so. The River Iberus was the boundary which separated the dominions of the two nations from each other in Spain, the territory east of that boundary being under the Roman power, and that on the west under that of the Carthaginians; except that Saguntum, which was on the western side, was an ally of the Romans, and the Carthaginians were bound by the treaty to leave it independent and free.

Hannibal could not, therefore, cross the Iberus or attack Saguntum without an open infraction of the treaty. He, however, immediately began to move toward Saguntum and to attack the nations in the immediate vicinity of it. If he wished to get into a war with the Romans, this was the proper way to promote it; for, by advancing thus into the immediate vicinity of the capital of their allies, there was [Pg 40] great probability that disputes would arise which would sooner or later end in war. The Romans say that Hannibal was cunning and treacherous, and he certainly did display, on some occasions, a great degree of adroitness in his stratagems.

In one instance in these preliminary wars he gained a victory over an immensely superior force in a very remarkable manner. He was returning from an inroad upon some of the northern provinces, laden and encumbered with spoil, when he learned that an immense army, consisting, it was said, of a hundred thousand men, were coming down upon his rear.

There was a river at a short distance before him. Hannibal pressed on and crossed the river by a ford, the water being, perhaps, about three feet deep. He secreted a large body of cavalry near the bank of the stream, and pushed on with the main body of the army to some little distance from the river, so as to produce the impression upon his pursuers that he was pressing forward to make his escape. The enemy, thinking that they had no time to lose, poured down in great numbers into the stream from various points along the banks; and, as soon as they had reached the middle of the current, and were wading laboriously, half [Pg 43] submerged, with their weapons held above their heads, so as to present as little resistance as possible to the water, the horsemen of Hannibal rushed in to meet and attack them.

The horsemen had, of course, greatly the advantage; for, though their horses were in the water, they were themselves raised above it, and their limbs were free, while their enemies were half submerged, and, being encumbered by their arms and by one another, were nearly helpless. They were immediately thrown into complete confusion, and were overwhelmed and carried down by the current in great numbers. Some of them succeeded in landing below, on Hannibal's side; but, in the mean time, the main body of his army had returned, and was ready to receive them, and they were trampled under foot by the elephants, which it was the custom to employ, in those days, as a military force.

As soon as the river was cleared, Hannibal marched his own army across it, and attacked what remained of the enemy on their own side. He gained a complete victory, which was so great and decisive that he secured by it possession of the whole country west of the Iberus, except Saguntum, and Saguntum itself began to be seriously alarmed.

The Saguntines sent embassadors to Rome to ask the Romans to interpose and protect them from the dangers which threatened them. These embassadors made diligent efforts to reach Rome as soon as possible, but they were too late. On some pretext or other, Hannibal contrived to raise a dispute between the city and one of the neighboring tribes, and then, taking sides with the tribe, he advanced to attack the city.

The Saguntines prepared for their defense, hoping soon to receive succors from Rome.

These Are the 7 Weapons the Barbarians Used to Take Down Rome - HISTORY

They strengthened and fortified their walls, while Hannibal began to move forward great military engines for battering them down. Hannibal knew very well that by his hostilities against this city he was commencing a contest with Rome itself, as Rome must necessarily take part with her ally. In fact, there is no doubt that his design was to bring on a general war between the two great nations.

He began with Saguntum for two reasons: first, it would not be safe for him to cross the Iberus, and advance into the Roman territory, leaving so wealthy and powerful a city in his rear; and then, in the second place, it was easier for him to find pretexts for getting indirectly into a quarrel with Saguntum, and throwing the odium [Pg 45] of a declaration of war on Rome, than to persuade the Carthaginian state to renounce the peace and themselves commence hostilities. There was, as has been already stated, a very strong party at Carthage opposed to Hannibal, who would, of course, resist any measures tending to a war with Rome, for they would consider such a war as opening a vast field for gratifying Hannibal's ambition.

Bibliography

In doing so, the Roman cavalry swung to the left and right around the infantry forces on the field and the two cavalry forces fought behind the Carthaginian lines. The lines were so densely packed that the mercenaries fell back into the Libyan forces who could not give way because of the Carthaginians behind them. As the mercenaries were being crushed between the advancing Roman forces and the Libyans, they began to attack the Libyans to break through and escape. At this same time, the combined cavalry of Laelius and Masinissa returned to fall on the Carthaginian forces in the rear.

Hannibal himself escaped back to Carthage where he told the senate that he lost not only the battle, but the war, and suggested they sue for peace. At the Battle of Cannae, Rome had relied on traditional tactics using superior numbers to crush an enemy and, from that defeat, Scipio understood that new arts of war were necessary. Zama, then, was the end of the Second Punic War and the beginning of Roman conquest.

Originally published by the Ancient History Encyclopedia , Scipio orders his cavalry to blow loud horns to terrify the charging elephants. The panicked elephants turn at the Carthaginian left wing and disorder it. Roman right wing charges and routs the Carthaginian cavalry, followed by the Roman left wing routing the Carthaginian right wing.