Wow DSMyers. This thread endures interminably
|Originally posted by sancho|
I am not sure, but I didnt see Surena there, what do you think about him.
HIs victory at Harran was quite amazing, specially the logistics he used for the supply of water and arrows.
This is a keen observation, sancho (welcome to AE!). Although General Surena
vanishes as quickly as he came into the historical record (I know he was soon murdered by his own king), his masterstroke at Carrhae against the Romans was one of the greatest displays of utilizing the essentials of missile
power, shock (in the context of its era), and logistics by an exclusively mounted army: a feigned withdrawal separated the Roman infantry from their own cavalry, and with the actual or threat of
shock action by the cataphracts upon the legionnaires, the Roman
infantry was compelled to keep ranks, hence keeping for the more
numerous horse archers a larger and more static target. Indeed, bringing along
1,000 or so camels laden with a sufficient surplus of arrows
illustrated tremendous foresight. The employment was akin to, though lacking the complexities of, the Napoleonic 'rock-paper-scissors' style, whereby cavalry was
used to keep infantry in square formation, wherefrom they were raked with barraging artillery fire, and/or attacked by infantry in line.
Now, about Hannibal
, I have long post I would like to share which pulled out of my word documents. I implore if someone has a 'beef' with something along the lines of 'here we go again about Hannibal
' - simply don't read it: we are not matriculating here. People do that often with their forensic tactics - they connote that the one they disagree with is a 'hero-worshipper' and/or 'bore' etc., thus not as 'objective' as those very people. I'm sure it'll come up. Just move along if any of you have a problem. Whether one likes it or not, Hannibal
is one of the most attractive figures of action in military history, and the acclaimed scholars, from Gaetano de Sanctis
to John Lazenby
(to name two of many; Peter Connolly
is another), are just as well read and discerning as, forgive me, dolt-like posters such as Challenger2 (he's very rude to others, unless he has the driest sense of humor in history), who is fooling nobody but himself if he thinks he evinced anything with his aggressive diatribe on pg. 40 here on this thread, written some twenty months ago (it seems he thought he outsmarted we members of the 'Hannibal Fan Club', didn't he? I have the entire denunciation of Hannibal
pasted on a word document; I'll take it apart sometime. Every paragraph is rife with illusory nonsense). Though nothing is personal, I'm sure plenty of you have your predilections, and when one goes off like that so sharply against your strong opinions, well, tit for tat is in need
I recently contributed to a thread regarding specifics about Hannibal
on twcenter.net; the quotes henceforth are from posters over there - and I threw in something from AEs Challenger2, but spared him from more than one refutation (of oodles more in his post), at least for now. In my experience, critics of the great Carthaginian are seldom, at best, as tenable and scholarly as those who hold him in high regard. From here
I am known as Spartan JKM over there.
|How can Rome win the second punic war with only 1 victory in battle against Hannibal? This is BS|
I need an explanation
Okay, let's take a look. Basically, the war in Italy immersed into one of attrition waged by both sides that, by 209 B.C., Rome was at the end of her resources as many of the loyal allies were being bled white. Thus it was at this later juncture that Rome faced her severest dire straits, not immediately after Cannae - even if people at the time didn't realize that fully. Hannibal
never lost a field battle in Italy (Roman annalists don't fool anyone discerning enough to read between the lines), but the Romans and her protectorates who remained loyal stymied his attempts to gain some invaluable strongholds (Nola, Neopolis, etc.) which pivoted the strategic course for both sides which commenced after Cannae. In a nutshell, the political will of the Roman Senate was Rome's center of gravity (affected by the temper of the protectorates throughout Italy). Cracking that will enough could have led to a treaty advantageous to Carthage. The repeated defeats of Roman armies and conciliatory treatment to non-citizens of Rome, Hannibal
figured, could lead to enough of a loss of political will in the Senate. He simply couldn't break it enough, but when he set it out on his great endeavor the past afforded no refutation that he couldn't succeed. His ultimate failure is rife with moot and complex aspects, none of which come near his being a average general at best. Challenger2 made an intimating remark deriding Hannibal
along Ambrose Burnside
. I...couldn;t believe I read that! Maybe I'm too humble, and should identify idiocy sans politeness. Anyway, the political will of the oligarchic Carthaginian ruling class was their center of gravity. Thus the Romans' attacking a major source of their financial sinews, Iberia, and subsequently threatening Carthage herself in North Africa could and did break it. Rome won because she waged a more coherent national strategy.
It was always clear to Hannibal
of the importance of Rome's network of colonies and alliances, and saw that breaking up this network was the key to destroying Roman power. Hannibal's
attempt to enervate the Roman Federation enough for Carthage to regain her dominance in the Western Mediterranean came closer than many realize; his ultimate failure lay not so much in not gaining Italian support in the first place, but in failing to hold it in the later stages of the war. Even without the rhetoric of 'liberation' (eleutheria
, not the Latin libertas
spoke both Greek and Latin, albeit the latter not as well), Hannibal
held readily understandable attractions for those who revolted. All these groups were among the most recently conquered and least assimilated of Rome's allies. The Osci, in particular, had a long history of opposition to Rome. Indeed, the Samnites had been serious rivals to Rome for domination of Italy and an opportunity to proclaim their independence once again would have been welcome. As far as the Hellenes went, they had put up a considerable resistance to Rome in the 270s B.C. and were not, as far as we know, particularly assimilated into the Roman alliance system. If Hannibal
did indeed couch his appeal to the Italians in terms of 'liberation and freedom', it is not unlikely to have had a particular appeal for many of the Hellenes. The best glimpses of Hannibal’s
grand strategic design amid his campaign in Italy from our ancient sources come from Livy
, and Justin
, Ab Urbe Condita
, Book 34.60, c. 193 B.C.,"...Hannibal, a fugitive from his native country, had reached the court of Antiochus, where he was treated with great distinction, the only motive for this being that the king had long been meditating a war with Rome, and no one could be more qualified to discuss the subject with him than the Carthaginian commander. He had never wavered in his opinion that the war should be conducted on Italian soil; Italy would furnish both supplies and men to a foreign foe. But, he argued, if that country remained undisturbed and Rome were free to employ the strength and resources of Italy beyond its frontiers, no monarch, no nation could meet her on equal terms..."
Basically, the same strategic concept is summarized by both Appian
(Roman History, Book 11.7-9
) and Justin
, (Historiarum Philippicarum libri XLIV, Book 31.3
); both Polybius'
Book 19 of The Histories
, which covers the years 195-191 B.C., and the works of the reputable Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus
are unfortunately lost; it is from these two historians whom the above probably drew for this assessment on Hannibal's
A fragment from the contemporary poet Quintus Ennius
offers some data which is possibly based on fact related to this backdrop:Ennius
, Book 12.368, attributing the words to Antiochus III
,"...while Hannibal with bold breast exhorts me not to make war - he whom my heart believed to be a most mighty counsellor, yea one devoted in war's ruggedness..."Hannibal
was almost certainly not arguing against going to war tout court
, just against Antiochus'
intentions to restrict a war to Greece (ie, if his proposal wasn't accepted, he was in disfavor of going to war). An indiscriminate and reckless warmonger? Not from that depiction from a discerning and extant writer - not to mention a Roman.
|Invading Italy was an attempt to directly address the Roman advantage in manpower and naval power. Rome's strength lay in the tightness of the Italian confederacy, which gave Rome near endless reserves to draw on. Invading Italy by land avoided the naval problem, while the aim was to pointedly crush Italo-Roman armies in Italy and show that Rome was weak and could not uphold her end of the confederate bargain, thus persuading the Italian allies to abandon Rome.|
Yes, but more primarily, Hannibal's
overland and indirect route was with the political aim of rallying the Celts of northern Italy to his side, to whom he had sent envoys prior to his arrival. We shouldn't overestimate the capabilities of ships in this age: 'command of the sea' in antiquity hardly carried a modern analogy, and, superfluous to state, naval power could only be projected from the land.
|Fighting in Iberia would have allowed Rome to pick him off, since Rome had near naval supremacy and a secure line of communications, thus allowing her to strike anywhere she wished. Rome knew this, and had expected to retain the initiative in any war with Carthage, sending Publius Scipio to Iberia and Sempronius Longus to Sicily. If Hannibal had fought the war in Iberia, he'd have faced the problems that Rome later faced in Italy - reverses will tend to detach allies - except that Rome could reinforce at will. So Hannibal had to take the initiative somehow. Whatever the risks of the Italian expedition, it also carried with it the possibility of decisive victory, something a purely Iberian war lacked for Carthage. Hannibal's decision risked losing his army, but there was a possibiilty of utterly defeating Rome. Staying in Iberia would have kept communications unbroken, but it would not have decisively affected Rome, and eventual defeat was inevitable.|
challenged Rome later, as Polybius
felt he should have after 'solidifying' the other parts of the world, they would have been in a stronger position, as their interferences would almost surely not have ended with Hannibal's
standing down over the Saguntine issue, which would have been damaging to the previous two decades of work to restore Punic prestige and commercial strength on the Iberian Peninsula. Thus, when war was officially accepted, Hannibal
was faced with one of military history's greatest impasses: strike at Italy and attempt to break Rome’s complex alliance-system with her protectorates, which was the source of her military strength, or stay in Spain, where indeed his lines of communications and supply would be almost limitless, and he could destroy any Roman army that came after him. Moreover, Spain could not have been isolated as Sicily had been by Rome in the First Punic War. But the Roman armies would have just repeatedly come, with Carthage herself being quickly threatened. The Romans had already been to Africa, and had learned some lessons (stick to higher ground!). Now they had full control of Sicily, a perfectly placed striking base at Africa. The only way the allies would be willing or compelled to forsake Rome was for him to strike at Italy and show them Rome could not protect them, and be kind to them (ie, not assault their cities unless need be, as he could readily forage with his Numidians, brilliantly inclined for the invaluable task). But this also entailed a show of martial ability from his subordinates and allies in other theaters against the Romans, something that markedly went against his cause.
Moreover, staying in the Iberian Peninsula or even, if the intelligence coming back from Cisalpine Gaul had been too inauspicious for an alpine crossing, opening up a front in Sicily would do little to crack the morale of Rome's allies, no matter how smashing he won in battle against their expeditionary forces; the only way Rome was going to be reduced for Carthage's dignitas
to be safe in the Western Mediterranean was to isolate Rome from a substantial portion of her military federation, and this could only be effectuated by striking at the strategic center of gravity of the Roman Commonwealth - Italy.
|A quick explanation would be that the Romans were able to continually replace their soldiers lost in the field whilst Hannibal, deep inside Italy, couldn't. The Romans only needed to win one decisive victory to end Hannibal, he had to pretty much kill every man of fighting age in Italy to win.|
That's not untenable, but I feel we should also not underestimate Hannibal's
'Italian League', if you will; Livy
at times is detailed and circumstantial with his narrative of the war in Italy after Cannae (Polybius
is almost completely lost), but despite his lack of acute detail of how Hannibal
replaced his losses and sustained his army, the fact remains clear that he did, and his troops seldom had grounds for complaint. He still handed the Romans some defeats (two at Herdonea, Canusium, etc.) and installed garrisons. His reinforcements from abroad were just a force of 4,000 Numidians in 215 B.C., thus he clearly made viable use of local regions in Campania, Lucania, and Bruttium. Hannibal
obviously kept a powerful army in being throughout the war in Italy, however much it diminished as the years went by and his fortunes gradually waned. From Cannae until around five years later, when two field armies as well as garrisons were operating, Hannibal
overall may have had over 60,000 troops in arms between Campania, Lucania, and Bruttium. He doubtless replaced losses among his original troops with mostly Italic recruits. Mercenaries from outside Italy may have made their way to him, but if so cannot have been very numerous, while for Italians in the Punic army there is a fair amount of evidence from Livy
. By 208 B.C., while being dogged by Nero
could still send his subaltern Hanno
, still in harness, to raise a fresh army from the Bruttians (Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, Book 27.42
). Also, even as late as 204 B.C., Hannibal
still defeated the Roman consul Publius Sempronius Tuditanus
near Croton, in a scrappy running fight (Livy
, Book 29.36).
The aftermath of the defeat and departure of Pyrrhus
in 275 B.C. is characterized by an almost total silence in our surviving sources. References are infrequent and a huge gap in the ancient record is evident which would cover most of the mid-3rd century B.C. The only detailed information concerning relations between Rome and Magna Graecia
concerns the period between 215-207 B.C. (almost solely Livy
survives), the years during which most of the southern cities, both Hellenic and Oscan, abandoned their alliance with Rome in favor of Hannibal
. For this reason, if for no other, the Second Punic War is vitally importance for the study of Roman relations with the Italic peoples; the war illustrates a number of relatively detailed case studies of their attitudes to Rome, their reactions to Hannibal
, and the nature of any dissatisfaction with Roman behavior. Peculiarly, the Greeks of Italy are omitted from Polybius'
register of potential Italian manpower drawn up in 225 B.C., despite the fact that they clearly had a significant military capability. Hannibal
was a master of informational warfare and propaganda (like any great man in his field), thus once in southern Italy he played on the Greek traditional slogan of eleutheria tōn Hellenōn
('freedom of the Greeks'), a rallying cry used by the likes of Polyperchon
and Antigonus I
, Bibliotheca Historica
, Book 18.55
|...going for a highly populated area with large armies through a long and dangerous road, leaving your base no so well defended and not thinking about a prolonged campaign seems reckless and stupid to me.|
His only chance was making the Italian States follow him and he had clearly underestimated their loyalties.
I disagree. Hannibal
didn't need the Italian states to 'follow him'; they would be nothing more than millstones as they 'followed him' (however figurative you may have meant it). Hannibal
marched amid the interior lines with virtuosic skill, and by demonstrably defeating the mustered armies which Rome sent against him, and devastating the allies' lands if she refused battle, he was showing them that Rome could not defend them, and in turn for his conciliatory treatment of them, they would, he hoped, break their bonds with Rome herself. It was a tough nut to crack, as he was a Carthaginian nobleman leading an army of 'barbarians'. But as the years dragged on, many of the allies which didn't break with Rome began having misgivings.
We'll throw these in:
|Originally posted by Challenger2|
...when Carthage surrendered after Zama,
the Romans captured and scuttled 500 warships [according to
Goldsworthy, who seems to take Livius� word for it]...
did not write that: he states, from the Loeb Classical Library edition (with the juxtaposed original Latin text), Book 30.43,"...They [the Carthaginians> surrendered warships, elephants, deserters, runaway slaves, and 4,000 captives, among whom was Quintus Terentius Culleo, a senator. The ships Scipio ordered to be put to sea and to be burned. Some historians relate that there were 500 of them - every type of vessel propelled by oars..."Livy
was merely reporting what 'some historians related' (one of which was probably the one he most often criticized for exaggerated numbers, Coelius Antipitar
, though not here). The 500 figure is a convenient 'myriad', and even if close to the actual number, it clearly constituted small craft and cargo vessels, certainly not 500 warships.
|Originally posted by Challenger2|
...Now call me old fashioned, but if
someone came to my country, killed my children and burned my crops, and
did the same to my neighbours, try as I might, I wouldn�t feel
particularly well disposed towards him. If it really was Hannibal�s
strategy to �win friends and influence people�, he might have chosen
less violent means. It should come as no
surprise to anyone that most of these areas remained staunchly loyal to
the alliance with Rome even after Cannae. It is clear that Hannibal had
no such plans in mind ...
This is incredibly prevaricatory, as well as reeking of hypocrisy: Hannibal
did not strike into Italy as an ambassador of goodwill. Rome tried to impel terms on Carthage again when he was strategos
in Iberia. Call me old-fashioned, but if I had the capacity to fight as he ddi by the late 220s B.C., I wouldn't tolerate these bullies coming into regions I controlled and again expecting my state to cowtow to them, after humiliating my forefathers a generation earlier no less. He undertook these non-gratuitous acts only after the Italic peoples refused his terms - that they wouldn't be harmed if they forsook their allegiance to Rome; the pillaging was a strategic measure to compel the Romans to meet him in the field.
Another of history's great captains, whom Challenger2 lauds (I happen to agree here), is indeed the venerable and redoubtable John Churchill
- more well known as the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Marlborough
employed the same strategic attempt when he ravaged Bavaria after capturing Donauwörth in early July of 1704; he was attempting to force the issue against the Franco-Bavarian forces under the Kurfürst
of Bavaria Maximilain II
, who refused to fight or negotiate. Marlborough
himself wrote, on July 16,"We are doing all the mischief we can to this country, in order to make the Elector think of saving what he cannot reach; for as we advance we burn and destroy; but if this should not make him come to a treaty, I am afraid it may at last do ourselves hurt for want of what we destroy...we are now advancing into the heart of Bavaria to destroy the country and oblige the Elector on(e) way or (an)other to complyance..."
As many as 400 villages were destroyed in the name of 'cruel necessity' by Marlborough's
allied army. Of course, as many of you surely know, the Elector received news that the French army under Camille d'Hostun de la Baume
(Duc de Tallard) was approaching, and they soon joined at Augsburg. The union of Marlborough
(Prince of Savoy-Carignan) was effected on August 11, due to Marlborough's
brilliant capacity to move his army with force-marches. One of the greatest battles of military history was won by a master of war on August 13, 1704, at Blindheim (Blenheim).Hannibal
were as good as they came, IMHO, and they showed no scruples to secure supplies for their troops and effectuate other strategic measures amid their causes. But they will never be labeled, at least accurately, as brutal men for the intrinsic sake of inflicting cruelty. So, Hannibal
was a monster yet Corporal Jack
was a genius who had to undertake harsh military realities. Do you have David Chandler's
great work on Marlborough
? If so, see pgs. 139 and 314. Again, hypocrisy personified.
|Originally posted by Challenger2|
...Mago�s �talking up� of Hannibal�s
successes resulted in an ill advised, abortive attempt to retake
Sardinia, true, but despite all this Carthage still attempted to
reinforce Hannibal as best it could. Elephants are mentioned at
Casilinum, for example, where did they come from? Although not
chronicled, Carthage must have sent some reinforcements to Hannibal
after Cannae and before the Locri reinforcement...
An uprising against Roman rule broke out in Sardinia, and a joint effort with Carthaginian help was easily realized. The Carthaginian fleet was thrown off course due to a terrible storm; the Roman fleet, sailing further from western Sicily, arrived on the island tranquilly. The Romans established a footing which sealed the fate of Sardinia. Hannibal
was so stupid, amid his dispatches to the Home Government, to not warn them that their fleet would be afflicted by a storm yet the Roman would not. I mean - all these brilliant generals throughout history could have prophetically foresaw that, no? As for elephants at Casilinum, doesn't it occur to you that it was a writer's fancy or error, or if true, some elephants and supplies did get through without coming with a convoy of troops etc., which wouldn't escape the historiographic record??
, our primary ancient historian on this chapter, states clearly, The Histories
, Book 3.90, around Capua in 217 B.C., "...either he would compel the enemy to fight or make it plain to everybody that he was winning and that the Romans were abandoning the country to him. Upon this happening he hoped that the towns would be much impressed and hasten to throw off their allegiance to Rome. For up to now, although the Romans had been beaten in two battles, not a single Italian city had revolted to the Carthaginians, but all remained loyal, although some suffered much. From which one may estimate the awe and respect that the allies felt for the Roman state..."
expresses 'not a single Italian city had revolted to the Carthaginians' gives us a good indication of what Hannibal
was aiming for. However, once Hannibal
captured the supply depot at Cannae a year later, we are told by Polybius
, Book 3.107,"...they [the Roman army> continued, therefore, to send constant messages to Rome asking how they should act, stating that if they approached the enemy they would not be able to escape a battle, as the country was being pillaged and the temper of all the allies was uncertain. The Senate decided to give the enemy battle..."
|Maybe starting a personal war with Rome and then trying to get reinforcements and supplies from the Carthaginian government was the real and most important mistake Hannibal made.|
Clearly he wasn't prepared to face the romans in Italy, while Iberia was far to decentralized to offer a coerced resistance effort to Roman expansion.
Didn't he realized that he would be facing armies far bigger than his own in Italy? If so why basing his entire campaign in delivering a few defeats and waiting for an Italian rebellion that would crush Rome, doesn't speak that well of Hannibal as an strategist.
|One could argue that starting the war in the first place was Hannibal's first mistake|
|I would say that - first and decidedly epic mistake...|
|And that was all Hannibal's fault; the very fact that he started a war without consulting his government was already a treachery...|
|...Although he did start a war without their considerations...|
Rubbish, all of you. Hannibal's
preparations were justified by what took place in the earlier years, the majority in Carthage fully supported him, and the Iberian tribes simply wavered towards whomever gained an edge here and there. Hasdrubal
was merely able to buy off those Iberians helping the Scipio
brothers in 211 B.C. However one wishes to coin it - 'the revenge of Hannibal
, 'the wrath of the house of Barca
', etc. - is a Roman tradition which began in the annals with Quintus Fabius Pictor
. The story obscures, as it was intended to, the fact that Rome had no shadow of right over their sudden seizure of Sardinia, subsequent additional indemnity imposed on Carthage, and no legal redress to interfere in Spain south of the Ebro, which all drove Carthage to war. The re-establishment which began with Hamilcar Barca
of Carthage's prosperity in southern Iberia is far from analogous with assiduously planning a 'war of revenge' against Rome, nor is hatred per se, or even a vigilant eye in preparation for further Roman aggression. The tradition simply caught on as it became a convenient confirmation of the Roman thesis of war-guilt.
in Spain were not viceroys independent of the Home Government, however much 'freedom' they had; a unique Carthaginian distinction was that her separation of civil and military powers was wider than that of other ancient states. Military command was empowered to a chosen leader for that specific purpose, probably elected by a popular assembly (eg, Polybius, The Histories, Book 3.13.4
). This was probably due primarily to the composite and multi-ethnic nature of Carthaginian armies, which were better handled, theoretically, by a 'professional'. Unlike Roman magistrates, Carthaginian military leaders were not elected (or 'appointed') on a nominal and annual basis, and a successful one would remain in command for long periods. Hannibal
was the strategos
of Carthage as of 220 B.C., and however independent he was of the Home Government, he could not have forced war on his countrymen if they sternly didn't want it, just as a dictator couldn't do so in Rome. The Carthaginian senate simply gave Hannibal
a free hand to deal with the challenges as they emerged, after he had 'asked for instructions from Carthage
' when Roman envoys admonished him to stay away from Saguntum (Polybius
, Book 3.15.8). Polybius
speciously omits the Carthaginian reply to Hannibal
, but his silence is ample proof that they sanctioned whatever he wished to do. If they had warned him to take no action, Polybius
would have surely augmented his harsh description of Hannibal's
conduct over the Saguntine quarrel with the fact he even denounced his Home Government. As late as 210 B.C., we read that Carthage still believed that reinforcing Hannibal
in Italy was the key to victory (Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, Book 27.5
Please don't try it Roman apologists etc. (forgive my self-assured presumptions) - any polemic attempts along the lines of 'the Roman seizure of Sardinia was defensive'.
And here we have it, folks!
|Originally posted by Challenger2|
...If anything Rome's stance post- First Punic War was defensive. The seizure of Sardinia, for example, although an act of calculated aggression, served to protect Rome's western coastline. Sardinia would have made a useful Carthaginian forward base against Italy, but was of limited offensive value to Rome against Africa or Spain; Sicily was far better placed for this function. In 218 Rome was more focused towards Cisalpine Gaul and the Adriatic...
This is utter twaddle, however tenable on the surface of military geography; Challenger2 may have just glanced at a map without surveying the historical context, or perhaps is a lobbyist for the Roman actions in question and figured nobody on a chat forum would notice: Carthage had no chance of effecting anything in Sicily in 238 B.C., and Rome didn't annex Sardinia, not on the list of islands Carthage could no longer have sway over following the 1st Punic War, when she easily could have for any 'defensive' purposes before displaying an unscrupulous volte-face
- perhaps a reflection of the party holding a monopoly of voices at the time - over the island following the defeat of Carthage in 241 B.C. As many of you know, Carthage then became embroiled in a dangerous war with its unpaid mercenaries. At one point, the Carthaginians arrested Italian sea traders who were trafficking with the mutineers.Polybius
continues, The Histories
, Book 1.83,"...The Romans were annoyed at this, but when on sending an embassy, they recovered all the prisoners by diplomatic means, they were so much gratified, that in return they gave back to the Carthaginians all the remaining prisoners from the Sicilian war and henceforth gave prompt and friendly attention to all their requests They gave permission to their merchants to export all requirements for Carthage, but not for the enemy, and shortly afterwards, when the mercenaries in Sardinia on revolting from Carthage invited them to occupy the island, they refused. Again on the citizens of Utica offering to surrender to them they did not accept, but held to their treaty engagements...."Appian
even tells us that Rome helped Carthage by allowing her to hire mercenaries and draw supplies from Italy and Sicily (Roman History, Book 5.4
) to face the grave threat posed by the Mercenary War
. When the mercenaries were finally crushed by Hamilcar Barca
, Carthage proceeded to resume her possession of Sardinia, which wasn't included in the 'Peace of Lutatius' following the First Punic War. But in late 238 and perhaps into 237 B.C., Rome simply moved to occupy the island, admonishing Carthage that if the latter showed any activity on her part to move on Sardinia, it would be an act of war. Weakened by the loss in the first war with Rome and three years against the mercenaries, Carthage was powerless to object, compelled to yield, and over and above this, exacted additional indemnity to Rome. Sure, new circumstances entail new policies, it can be argued, but in this case that is ultra thin at best:Polybius
, The Histories
, Book 3.28,"...therefore we find that the crossing of the Romans to Sicily was not contrary to treaty, for the second war, that in which they made the treaty about Sardinia, it is impossible to discover any reasonable pretext or cause. In this case everyone would agree that the Carthaginians, contrary to all justice, and merely because the occasion permitted it, were forced to evacuate Sardinia and pay the additional sum..."
Carthage would find new prosperity westwards in southern Iberia, and part of that involved military build up. But Rome started meddling with them there, however innocuously inquiring it may have appeared at first. I agree with conon394 that building a fleet would attract Rome's attention. But if Hamilcar
resolved to attack Italy, a land route would necessitate the vast Celtic support, and that wasn't feasible until the mid 220s B.C. Cassius Dio's
statement of 'Carthaginians prepared to march on Rome' in Cisalpine Gaul in c. 230 B.C. is definitely a nominal mistake (perhaps committed by his Byzantine epitomizer Joannes Zonaras
) meant for the Boii, probably (Cassius Dio, Roman History, Book 12.19
). As if it were that simple...
Carthaginian squadrons raided Bruttium while Hannibal
advanced overland in 218 B.C., something probably carried out on his request; a Carthaginian fleet touched off at Pisa to attempt communication with Hannibal
; Carthage responded vigorously upon receiving a dispatch from Hannibal
urging them to attack Sicily after his agents had manipulated the strife in Syracuse to the advantage of Carthage. Hannibal
did not 'start this war' without the consent of his Home Government.
|...If you want to look at battles which were decisive, take a look at the Battle of Utica where Scipio's forces made the first beach-head in Africa, kind of like the Roman D-Day. Take a look at the Siege of Tarentum where Hannibal was made to lose and waste his forces needlessly. Or, Battle of Metaurus River where a large army led by Hasdrubal was cut off before it could meet up with and reinforce his brother Hannibal (one of the greatest battles/maneuvers in ancient history according to JFC Fuller, from what I remember)...|
Forgive me, but this is quite prevaricatory. In the autumn of 204 B.C., Scipio's
forces hardly landed and overcame odds impressively to secure a solid base. The 'Battle of Utica', correctly the Battle of the Tower of Agathocles (at least modern historians think so) against one Hanno
, was a cavalry ambuscade by Scipio
upon a force of Hanno's
cavalry (we don't know if all of Hanno's
4,000 cavalry were involved; probably not, as Scipio
had much less at their disposal at this time). Subsequently, after receiving provisions tranquilly from proximate Sicily, Scipio
, rife with seasoned men, craftsmen, siege engines, and vessels offshore was unable to make any impression on Utica after wasting forty days there while Hasdrubal Gisgo
raised troops and was joined from the west by Syphax
, the latter whom even had time to put down a rebellion. Scipio
landed, brushed away the meager resistance, and established himself ashore, but was compelled to winter on a barren headland with mustering enemy forces far outnumbering him concentrating against him. Unlike Hannibal
in Italy, he had not superior cavalry to forage. Hence his horridly treacherous act at the 'Burning of the Camps', albeit a strategically viable one under a critical situation following his opening strategic errors (hindsight).
There was no 'siege' of Tarentum; Hannibal
approached the walls in 214 B.C. and realized he had wasted a few days following up idle promises from the Tarentine nobles who had earlier approached him in Campania. He didn't waste time at all, however, in establishing good winter quarters further up north near Salapia. A year and a half or so later, he swiftly took the city with a brilliant force march with a picked force and the realized treachery. True, the Romans held the citadel, but they were effectively cut off when Hannibal
transferred the Tarentine fleet from the inner to the outer harbor (by land on wheels!), and they stymied the Roman attempt to run supplies to the citadel by sea, where food shortages were almost beyond endurance by 210 B.C. (Livy, Book 26.39
lost Tarentum because he beat away Marcus Marcellus
, ordered by Fabius
to keep Hannibal
in Apulia (Livy
, Book 27.12), at Canusium and immediately force-marched his army some 150 miles directly south to scatter away the besiegers of Caulonia
; he figured Tarentum could hold off longer, and he arrived too late before Fabius
re-gained the great port by treachery himself, and then avoided confronting Hannibal
in the field.
It wasn't Fuller
who wrote anything carrying such kudos to the Roman strategy concerning the Metaurus, but Edward Creasy
. One John Laffin
did in his thought-provoking Secrets of Leadership: Thirty Centuries of Command
conduct in the Metaurus campaign was certainly full of prowess and initiative, but the capture of Hasdrubal's
messengers, who reached a southern point past Hannibal's
position (unfortunately for them), and the subsequent desertion of his guides as he resolved to march away at night back NW, was a lucky break for Rome: the Romans' punctiliousness to protocol in indicating the number of bugle-sounds which announced a praetor's and consul's presence revealed to Hasdrubal
that Marcus Livius Salinator
had clearly been reinforced by the other consul Nero
, thus he was now outnumbered considerably. That was very foolish, particularly after the surreptitiousness Nero
effected such stealth beforehand. That doesn't require hindsight for criticism (IMHO, of course).
The outbreak of the Second Punic War was certainly not unilaterally Rome's or Carthage's fault; at the risk of sounding like a cop-out, paramount interests simply came to a head:
|...Well Massailia was a long time Roman ally and from their point of view Carthage was meddling in their well established sphere of economic interest so if Rome chose to help its friend - self interested no doubt but it not some Carthage any particualr right to Iberia or empire there...|
This is a very good point, an often overlooked one. But Carthage didn't infringe on their rightful territory - hence 'the street's a free enterprise', let alone martially attack Massilia's sphere. Carthage's growing empire indeed undermined the trading activities of the Massiliotes: the Ebro Covenant surely had their interests in mind when Rome received Hasdrubal's
predecessor) consent in c. 226 B.C. Massilia had established colonies on the east coast of Spain, even south of Saguntum (eg, modern Denia, Alicante). To the snippets of evidence concerning friendly relations between Massilia and Rome, which date to at least from the 4th century B.C. (eg, Diodorus, Bibliotheca Historica, Book 14.93
, Justin, Historiarum Philippicarum libri XLIV
), we can assume that these states would be mutually concerned about any northern expansion of Punic power in Spain. The Massiliotes were probably among the 'other Greeks who dwelt in the neighborhood of Emporia and other Spanish towns', and, 'having apprehensions for their safety, sent ambassadors to Rome' (Appian, Roman History, Book 6.7
) during Hasdrubal's
('the Fair') tenure. However, in the period lasting two decades between the First Punic War and the outbreak over Saguntum, when Carthage was extending her power and steadily threatening Massiliotes' trade and security, there were only two occasions when Rome was moved to intervene in Spain, in 231 B.C. and 226 B.C. in both instances under concern from the dangerous threat from the Celts - and only once if Cassius Dio
is wrong (Roman History
, Book 12.48) that a Roman embassy went to Hamilcar
in 231 B.C. (not in Polybius
|...If Massilia manged to involve their rather buff and powerful friend I see no issue - who says the Carthys had the right to meddle in Spain?...|
The issue between Hannibal
and Saguntum should have been a question, in terms of 'rights', not concerning Rome. Why Hannibal
chose to make a stand over Saguntum is far more understandable (IMHO) than why Rome made a stand over Saguntum, then subsequently did nothing to help the city when besieged by Hannibal
. Carthaginian activities in Iberia south of the Ebro should hardly have threatened Rome's interests. The Punic build up was probably what they most resented.
All food for thought, if I may.
Here are the notable circumstances which reveal the cracks in Rome's alliance after Cannae, etc., which Hannibal
resolved to break, as well as how his strike into Italy strained them to a breaking point (IMHO), along with their adaptive measures. Livy
provides a compressed list of those who defected to Hannibal
between late 216 and 212 B.C. (Ab Urbe Condita, Book 22.61
), but omits the Celts who changed sides in 218 B.C. and the Campanians in late 216 B.C. Also, Tarentum and Metapontum, omitted by Livy
, had defected in late 213 and 212 B.C. Remember, the Romans also regained some ground during this same period (eg, Casilinum, though not a defector). Livy's
work can be found here
. Remember, some of this is surely scaremongering ben-trovato
. The following is simply a gist of how strained Rome became; Hannibal
sure didn't have it easy.
Some Roman noblemen feel Rome is finished after Cannae, thus want to leave the Republic and seek asylum in the East (22.53; arraigned, 24.18)
The defection and political agreement between Hannibal
and Capua is completed (23.2-10).
The commons of Nola are in favor of alliance with Hannibal
Roman leaders are puzzled why detached allies would choose to fight with 'foreigners' and 'barbarians' (cf. Book 23.5; 24.47).
In Carthage, Hanno
smartly queries Mago
, 'from whom of the Latin League and Roman tribe has defected to us' (23.12).
repulses the first mobilized field Roman forces since Cannae (just a few months later, in late 216 B.C.) on the River Volturnus under the newly elected dictator Marcus Junius Pera
(Sextus Julius Frontinus, Stratagemata, Book 2.5.25
; Polyaenus, Strategica, Book 6.38.5 and 6.38.6
; Cassius Dio, Roman History, epitome of Johannes Zonaras, Book 9.3
), he captures Casilinum the following campaign season (early spring of 215 B.C.; Livy
, Book 23.19). Interestingly, the Latin garrison of the stronghold refuses Rome's offer of citizenship, perhaps indicating an equivocal attitude of the Latins to Rome as much as much as their pride in their own communities (23.20).Fabius
argues that a proposal to supplement the Senate by granting citizenship to Latin senators was inappropriate because 'the allies' feelings were unpredictable, and their loyalty uncertain' (23.22)Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus
, following the destruction of the consul-elect Postumius
in Cisalpine Gaul by the Boii, addresses a senatorial meeting, stating simply he 'prays things go as we hope'; Postumius'
death cannot be at the moment avenged because there is no way that two consular armies of sufficient strength can be formed in the moment for so important a struggle (23.25)Philip V
of Macedon makes pact of mutual interest with Hannibal
(23.33; also Polybius
, Book 7.9).
'A single disease has infected all the cities of Italy - aristocrats favor Rome, the commons favor Hannibal
', but in truth it was mixed with each variegated group (24.2).
Syracuse allies with Carthage after Hannibal's
(joined by a young nobleman named Hannibal
) manipulate the internal strife to favor Carthage's cause (24.6-24.32)
There exists a shortage of sailors for combat in Sicily; new decrees, raising the amount of slaves to be furnished to man ships, are set down to meet quotas (24.11).
In c. 214 B.C. the property qualification for army service among the assidui
(land owning citizens) is reduced by over 60% (compare Livy
, Book 1.43, drawing from Pictor
, and Polybius
, Book 6.19 - a drop from 1,100 denarii
to 400 denarii
; see Peter A. Brunt
, Italian Manpower 225 B.C. - A.D. 14
, Pgs. 66, 75, and 403).
With three newly formed legions in 212 B.C., a total of 25, including the two of volones
(slaves), are in the field in Italy in 212 B.C.; however, the number of Roman citizens per legion now drops increasingly with each year until 203 B.C., excluding Scipio's
5th and 6th in 204 B.C. (25.3)
Thirteen Tarentine nobles wish to deliver Tarentum into alliance with Hannibal
, thus he takes the great port, sans the citadel (25.8-11; Polybius, Book 8.24-34
The Roman citadel at Tarentum is successfully supplied with victuals and joined by soldiers from Metapontum, but the city of Metapontum and Thurii join Hannibal
A leader of a group of still pro-Roman Lucanians, Flavus
, concocts to betray Rome for self-rule, secretly meeting with one Mago
Following the destruction of a Roman army by Hannibal
near the Silarus River, in Lucania, the consuls have problems with the levy and desertions occur among the volones
An insufficient number of men are available for the fleets; private senatorial funds are called upon to deposit into the Republic's fisc (26.35-36)Hannibal
destroys a Roman army near Herdonea; soon, Latins and other socii
are having 'meetings' to discuss their displeasure with the war and contemplate 'to refuse to Rome what the necessities of their situation would very soon make it impossible to grant'. Moreover, the inner ring of Latin colonies (twelve of the total thirty) - ie, those supplying Rome directly - withdraw from the war effort, as they are now bled white (27.1; 27.9).
The Carthaginian fleet anchored at Tarentum sails across the Adriatic, and, ephemerally, is off Corcyra to help Philip V
of Macedon (27.15).
Etruria, increasingly burdened for its grain from Rome (Etrurian grain was sent to the Romans besieging Capua; 25.20), etc., begins showing signs of disaffection from Rome, a movement originating in Arretium; a rising soon becomes increasingly serious (27.21; 27.24). Between 212-207 B.C. Etruria was placed under the charge of either a praetor or propraetor, and in 206 B.C. under a proconsul with two legions (source: Thomas R. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic, Vol. 1
fails to retain Salapia but scatters Roman besiegers at Locri (27.28). But Scipio
takes the city, while Hannibal
successfully detaches his garrison form there (29.6-7).
In 208 B.C. the Roman census figure has dropped by about 15% from a decade or so earlier - 'a considerably smaller number than the one before the beginning of the war' (27.36). Note: the figure we read of 137,108 is demonstrably erroneous - whatever the reason for it being out of line (defective registration that year?), it would seem that 237,108 adult free males would be correct (down from 270,713 from 234 B.C.; Polybius
assessed 273,000 Roman infantry and cavalry in 225 B.C., The Histories, Book 2.24
More problems become manifest with the manpower pool - 'a smaller population from which to obtain the men required' (27.38).
In 207 B.C., following their great victory on the Metaurus River, Rome makes inquiries into which Etruscan and Umbrian communities were planning to join Hasdrubal Barca
or had already given him help (28.10).Mago Barca
disembarks in Liguria, captures Genua, receives reinforcements and money from Carthage (by sea no less), and destroys Genua; Etruria almost wholly in sympathy with Mago
(28.46; 29.4; 29.36; 30.1).Mago
is decisively defeated and Hannibal
is called to Africa by Carthage (30.18 and 30.20).
Thanks and enjoy, James