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Hannibal: Enemy of Rome

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Hannibal: Enemy of Rome

The author of Hannibal: Enemy of Rome, Mr. Leonard Cottrell, inspired by the book, The Histories of Polybius, translated by W. R. Paton. Mr. Cottrell, endeavored to recreate the journeys of Hannibal by traveling by car nearly the same route in 1959. Mr. Cottrell traveled by car the journey of Hannibal through northern Spain, the modern day Swiss Alps, and down into the Italian peninsula while constantly referring to Polybuis' writings. Mr. Cottrell describes Hannibal's motives, his journey, his battles to conquer the Roman Republic, his defeat, and his eventual withdrawal.

Mr. Cottrell describes Hannibal as an ambitious warrior from boyhood. He learned soldierly virtues and hatred for the Romans from his father at an early age. Hannibal was the son of Hamlicar, a distinguished leader and veteran of the first Punic War against Rome. Hannibal's motives derived from loyalty to his father, his lineage, and hate for the Roman Republic. Following the first Punic War, Sicily had been taken by Rome, Corsica and Sardina were lost, but Spain remained as a powerful Carthaginian settlement. By the efforts of his father, Hannibal was taken to an altar in Spain to witness the offerings; and laying his hands upon such, sweared an oath to prove himself to forever be an enemy of the Roman Empire.

Hannibal proved to be an excellent leader. He had the support of both his troops and of the government above him. This was quite an achievement considering that the military he commanded was not made of one race or speech. Unlike the soldiers of Rome who were bound by a common loyalty to the State, his soldiers owed no such allegiance. His soldiers ranged from conscripts of Spain to volunteers from North Africa. In fact, the only binding factor among them was the promise of plunder and personal loyalty to their commander. The army he commanded numbered over 90,000 foot soldiers and 12,000 cavalry.

Hannibal was both forward thinking and a brilliant tactician. His journey across the north of Spain, across the Alps, and down into Italy was considered by the Romans and impassable. He chose not to approach by sea but to attack from the Roman's north by land. The journey was long and arduous. Hannibal chose strategic avenues to approach the Roman forces. Roman leaders had news of his approach and sent Legions to stop his advance. Hannibal set up ambushes at strategic avenues in the Alps rolling boulders down the valleys into the Roman forces.

Hannibal was not without setbacks in his march to the Roman capitol. The winter in the mountain passes were not as bearable as he had anticipated. He lost a large number of his forces to the cold and to hunger. The elephants he had acquired to lead any attack he mounted also perished. Still, Hannibal continued the pursuit of conquering the Roman Republic.


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