Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hannibal Lecter

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Hannibal Tetralogy character
Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs
Hannibal Lecter
Birth name Hannibal Lecter (VIII)
Titles Count Hannibal Lecter VIII
Hannibal Lecter M.D.
Aliases Lloyd Wyman
"Dr. Fell"
Nickname "Hannibal the Cannibal"
Gender Male
Race Caucasian
Birth 1933 (Actual)
1938 (Documented)
Ancestry Lithuanian nobility (Paternal)
Italian nobility (Maternal)
Relatives Mischa Lecter (Sister)
Count Robert Lecter (Uncle)
Lady Murasaki Lecter (Aunt and guardian)
M.O. Organized serial murder, Revenge Cannibalism, Torture
Occupation(s) Surgeon, Psychiatrist, Culinary Artist, Artist, Library Curator
Current status: At large
Portrayed by: Brian Cox - Manhunter
Anthony Hopkins - The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon
Gaspard Ulliel - Hannibal Rising
Aaron Thomas - Hannibal Rising

Hannibal Lecter is a fictional character in a series of novels by author Thomas Harris. Lecter is introduced in the 1981 thriller novel Red Dragon as a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer. Lecter's role in the novel is minor, but in the sequel, The Silence of the Lambs, he becomes one of two primary antagonists. In the third novel, Hannibal, Lecter becomes the main character. His role as protagonist continues into the fourth novel, Hannibal Rising, which explores his childhood and development into a serial killer. Lecter's character also appears in all five film adaptations. The first film (Manhunter, 1986) was loosely based on Red Dragon, and features Brian Cox as Lecter, inexplicably spelled as "Lecktor". In 2002, a second film adaptation of Red Dragon was made under the original title, featuring Anthony Hopkins, who had previously portrayed Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Hopkins' won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the character in The Silence of the Lambs in 1991.

Lecter (as portrayed by Hopkins) has been named by The American Film Institute to be the most memorable villain in film history.[1]


  • 1 Character origin and development
  • 2 Appearance
  • 3 Fictional character biography
    • 3.1 Ancestry
    • 3.2 The Making of The Monster
    • 3.3 American Career
    • 3.4 Incarceration
    • 3.5 Winning Clarice
  • 4 Diagnosis
  • 5 Film portrayal
  • 6 Notes and references
  • 7 External links

[edit] Character origin and development

Harris has never explained where he got inspiration for Hannibal Lecter, but in a documentary for Hannibal Rising, Lecter's early murders were said by the filmmakers to be based on murders that Harris had covered when he was a crime scene reporter in the 1960s.[2]

In 1992, Harris also paid a visit to the ongoing trials of Pietro Pacciani, who was suspected of being the serial killer nicknamed the "Monster of Florence". Parts of the killer's modus operandi were used as reference for the novel Hannibal.

[edit] Appearance

Hannibal Lecter is described in the novels as being small and sleek, and with wiry strength in his arms.[3] In Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, Lecter's left hand has the condition called mid ray duplication polydactyly, or his left hand has an extra digit; a duplicated middle finger.[4] In Hannibal, he has since had his extra digit removed, while Hannibal Rising makes no mention of this physical abnormality.

Lecter's eyes are shade of maroon, and reflect the light in "pinpoints of red".[5] He is also said to have small white teeth[6] and dark hair.

[edit] Fictional character biography

The following account of the character's biography is based strictly on the novel series. All date contradictions are purported to be by Lecter himself, with the dates in Hannibal Rising purporting to be the correct ones.

[edit] Ancestry

A young Hannibal Lecter with his sister Mischa in the 2007 film Hannibal Rising.
A young Hannibal Lecter with his sister Mischa in the 2007 film Hannibal Rising.

Hannibal Rising reveals that Hannibal Lecter is the eighth generation descendant of the warlord "Hannibal the Grim" who defeated the Teutonic Order at the Battle of Grunwald (1410). Lecter's mother, Madame Simonetta Sforza, is descended from both the Visconti and Sforza families who separately ruled Milan for a total of 250 years.

In Hannibal, it is suggested that Lecter is also descended from Giuliano Bevisangue, a feared and ruthless figure in 12th-century Tuscany, and from the Machiavelli bloodline. In the book Hannibal, Lecter himself pursues this subject to determine from the records of the Capponi Library if there is any true connection to Bevisangue, but he is unable to answer the question. Hannibal also asserts that Lecter is a distant cousin of the artist Balthus.

[edit] The Making of The Monster

Lecter's childhood is first referenced in Hannibal, but is fully detailed in Hannibal Rising.

Hannibal Lecter was born on January 20, 1933 to a wealthy, aristocratic Lithuanian family. After the death of his parents in World War II, eleven-year-old Hannibal and his younger sister Mischa were held against their will by a group of looters during the severe winter of 1944. Unable to find food, the looters resorted to cannibalism, and chose Mischa to be consumed. Lecter was severely traumatized by his sister's death, an event that haunted him for the rest of his life. This destroyed his faith in God, and shaped him into the "monster" that is later depicted in the series.

Lecter, orphaned, lived in his former home which had been converted into an orphanage. After a year, his uncle and aunt, Count Robert Lecter, and Lady Murasaki, retrieved him so that he could live in France. Lecter committed his first murder as a teenager, by beheading a butcher who had insulted his aunt, and whose insult indirectly led to the death of his uncle. Lecter was interrogated by the police, but was released on lack of evidence. Knowing what Lecter had done, Lady Murasaki feared that he would try to kill the men who murdered Mischa. She failed to dissuade him from hunting the men, and Lecter left, determined to avenge his sister.

Avenging Mischa grew into an obsession, and he relentlessly hunted the group who killed his sister; he then systematically butchered them, cannibalizing several of them. When he confronted the group's leader, Vladis Grutas, he learned that he too had consumed Mischa's remains in a broth. Out of rage, Lecter carved the letter M into Grutas' body. Witnessing the monster that Lecter had become, Lady Murasaki left him. With all his loved ones gone, Lecter left Europe for the United States, having earlier been accepted to Johns Hopkins University.

[edit] American Career

After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, Lecter establishes a psychiatric practice in Baltimore, Maryland, and became a celebrated figure in the city's most prominent social circles. Lecter had also worked as an emergency room physician in Baltimore.

Lecter's desire to murder and cannibalize does not end after he avenges Mischa. Lecter kills nine more people in Baltimore and disables three others. Two of his victims figure in later novels: Hannibal introduces Mason Verger, a billionaire pedophile who survives Lecter's assault, but is left a hideously disfigured quadriplegic; and The Silence of the Lambs introduces Benjamin Raspail, an untalented flautist whose lover, Jame Gumb, becomes the serial killer "Buffalo Bill", the novel's secondary villain.

FBI Agent Will Graham consults Lecter in his office one Sunday, looking for psychiatric and surgical insight into a serial killer he is investigating. Briefly left alone in Lecter's office, he suddenly realizes the doctor is the killer he seeks after seeing the antique medical diagram "Wound Man" in Lecter's office; Graham remembers that one of the victims was found in the exact position. Lecter, having realised his mistake, returns to attack Graham, stabbing and nearly disemboweling him. Maryland State Troopers arrive and arrests Lecter.

Lecter is found not guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to nine consecutive life terms in the Chesapeake State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, later the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane (though the novel names it the Chesapeake Hospital, it makes it clear that the hospital is in Maryland and not Virginia). He is nicknamed "Hannibal the Cannibal" in the National Tattler, a lurid tabloid that covers his trial.

[edit] Incarceration

Lecter is a model patient for the first year of his incarceration. It is revealed in the novel Red Dragon, that he attacked a nurse, dislocating her jaw, eating her tongue and ripping out one of her eyes. During the assault, Lecter's pulse never rose above 85 BPM. This fact is later mentioned again in The Silence of the Lambs as a reminder to the audience.

Because of his unusual brain wave patterns and history of violence, he is branded a "pure sociopath"; Graham mentions, however, that Lecter does not really fit any psychological profile, and so is labeled a sociopath for lack of a more appropriate term. Lecter refuses to submit to any standard psychological testing, folding questionnaires into origami and reciting a recipe for a dip under the influence of sodium amytal.

Red Dragon introduces Lecter's keeper in the asylum: administrator Frederick Chilton, whom Lecter despises. In The Silence of the Lambs, orderly Barney Matthews, who treats Lecter with courtesy, is introduced, and he enjoys a mutual respect with Lecter.

In Red Dragon, Graham briefly consults Lecter in an investigation of a serial killer dubbed "The Tooth Fairy". Unknown to Graham, Lecter starts a correspondence with the killer, Francis Dolarhyde, and gives him Graham's home address in code. As a result, Dolarhyde is killed and Graham is permanently disfigured.

Hannibal Lecter talking to Clarice Starling in the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs.
Hannibal Lecter talking to Clarice Starling in the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs.

In The Silence of the Lambs, Lecter assists FBI trainee Clarice Starling in capturing "Buffalo Bill". In exchange for his help (given as vague, riddling clues) Lecter demands personal information about Starling's painful childhood. The two grow to respect each other, and it is implied that Lecter forms a romantic attachment to her. When I.J. "Multiple" Miggs, the prisoner in a cell four cells down and on the opposite side of the corridor from Lecter's, throws his semen into her face, Lecter "finds this discourtesy unspeakably ugly" and punishes Miggs by manipulating him into committing suicide.

Toward the end of the investigation, Lecter gives Starling a final clue: "This man covets, and how do we begin to covet? We covet what we see everyday." This helps Starling deduce that the killer knew one of his victims personally, and uses this to find "Buffalo Bill" in time to save the woman he had kidnapped, killing him in the ensuing struggle. Lecter escapes, killing two corrections officers, a staff of paramedics and a tourist whose identity he steals. He performs plastic surgery upon himself, and escapes to Europe, leaving Starling a note congratulating her on facing her personal demons.

[edit] Winning Clarice

Lecter next appears in Hannibal, set seven years later, living in Florence, Italy, under the alias "Dr. Fell". There, he is the curator of the prestigious Capponi Library (having murdered the position's previous occupant). He reads in an American newspaper that Starling, now a full-fledged FBI agent, has been blamed for a botched drug raid and is in danger of losing her job. He sends her a hand-written note of encouragement, reigniting the manhunt. Wanting to draw Lecter from hiding, Starling's superior Paul Krendler joins forces with one of Lecter's surviving victims named Mason Verger, in an attempt to frame Starling for an inappropriate relationship with Lecter. After Krendler convinces the FBI of the faux relationship, Starling is placed upon investigative leave.

In Florence, Lecter learns that a corrupt detective named Rinaldo Pazzi has discovered him and informed Verger of his location. He kills Pazzi and returns to the United States to stalk Starling. During this time, Lecter is captured by Verger. Knowing that Verger has Lecter, Starling attempts a rescue of him in order to turn him over to the FBI. She is wounded in the attempt and Lecter kidnaps her, after convincing Verger's abused sister, Margot Verger, a former patient of Lecter, to kill her brother.

Lecter holds Starling in captivity and uses a variety of mind-altering drugs and psychological conditioning techniques to sublimate her personality and transform her into a surrogate for his sister Mischa. Starling's personality remains intact, however, and she mocks his attempts to break her spirit. She then offers Lecter her breasts, and the two become lovers. Lecter kidnaps and lobotomizes Krendler, and the two dine on his still-living brain. They then flee to Argentina, where they are spotted three years later by Barney Matthews.

[edit] Diagnosis

Although the books suggest that Lecter cannot be diagnosed by characters within the universe, it is a much easier job when one can see Lecter's entire life. Within the framework of the DSM-IV TR, Lecter has pure Anti-Social Personality Disorder (in Axis 2), without any other accompanying anxiety or emotional disorders so far indicated (in Axis 1). It has been suggested in Red Dragon (the book) that he used to abuse animals, which is common in APD, but it is doubtful in light of Hannibal and Hannibal Rising. His crimes escalated before age 18, which is essential for APD. Along with this, Lecter has unusual brainwave patterns common in other sociopaths. It is safe to assume that Lecter is the victim of childhood trauma for his Axis 4 diagnosis. It is conceivable that Lecter could also have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because he probably ruminates about the stress in his childhood over and over, which would cause instability.

Supposedly, Lecter's murder fantasies center around "rudeness" and the control of it. Lecter has his own definition of "rudeness" which is a key to understanding his crimes. The connection between eating and "rudeness" is his sister, who was eaten by a band of Nazi deserters at the end of World War 2. In the movie Red Dragon, Lecter suggests that he would also eat the well meaning persons who have the intelligence and the focus to stop him in order to gain a portion of the desirable parts of their personalities. In that case, he wanted to eat someone's heart to gain their courage, which is out of sync with his main murder fantasy: the removal of rudeness from the world, or at least from Lecter's vicinity. Another idiosyncrasy happened during his incarceration, when he attacked a random nurse who was simply treating him in the asylum.

Lecter's killing pattern has three notable features. In no particular order, first, he does not search for victims, he waits for random persons to come to him (except in the case of his former overseer Fredrick Chilton whom he hunted down in South America). Second, he does not kill anyone of a specific gender, age, or body shape, which Starling in The Silence of the Lambs noted applied to Buffalo Bill, although he does only kill white persons. In Manhunter "Lecktor" is said to have killed only college women, but this is not canon. Third, he does not keep trophies of his victims, which Starling also noted.

[edit] Film portrayal

Hannibal "Lecktor", as portrayed by Brian Cox in Manhunter.
Hannibal "Lecktor", as portrayed by Brian Cox in Manhunter.

Lecter has been portrayed by four different actors in the films, but the most referenced actor is British actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, who portrayed the character in three of the five films. Hopkins's portrayal of the character in the Silence of the Lambs won him an Academy Award in 1992, even though his screentime in the film as Lecter only spans just under 17 minutes. It still stands as the shortest lead role to ever win an Academy Award. Hopkins claimed that he drew inspiration for his portrayal of Lecter from HAL-9000, the villainous computer from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.[7]

Hopkins was not the first actor to portray Lecter. Brian Cox portrayed Hannibal "Lecktor" in the 1986 film Manhunter. Cox said his characterization was inspired by Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel.[8]

Gaspard Ulliel portrays Lecter as a young man in the 2007 film Hannibal Rising. Ulliel stated that he based his portrayal on Hopkins' and mixed it with his own style.

Aaron Thomas portrays Lecter as a child in Hannibal Rising.


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Hannibal, son of Hamilcar Barca
247 BC – 183 BC

This Roman marble bust of Hannibal was found at Capua (Museo Nazionale, Naples) and was apparently made in his honor during Hannibal's own lifetime.
Allegiance Carthaginian Empire
Rank General, commander-in-chief of the Carthaginian armies
Battles/wars Second Punic War: Battle of Lake Trasimene, Battle of Trebia, Battle of Cannae, Battle of Zama

Hannibal, son of Hamilcar Barca, (247 BC – ca. 183 BC[1][2][3][4][5], short form Hannibal) was a Carthaginian military commander and tactician, later also working in other professions, who is popularly credited as one of the finest commanders in history. He lived during a period of tension in the Mediterranean, when Rome (then the Roman Republic) established its supremacy over other great powers such as Carthage , Macedon, Syracuse and the Seleucid empire. He is one of the best-known Carthaginian commanders. His most famous achievement was at the outbreak of the Second Punic War, when he marched an army, which included war elephants, from Iberia over the Pyrenees and the Alps into northern Italy.

During his invasion of Italy, he defeated the Romans in a series of battles, including those at Trebia, Trasimene and Cannae. After the Battle of Cannae, Capua, then the second largest city in the Roman Republic, defected from Rome and joined Hannibal. Hannibal lacked the siege equipment necessary to attack the heavily defended city of Rome.[6] He maintained an army in Italy for more than a decade afterward, never losing a major engagement, but he was never able to push the war through to a conclusion. During that period, the Roman armies regrouped. A Roman counter-invasion of Africa forced him to return to Carthage, where he was defeated in the Battle of Zama. The defeat forced the Carthaginian Senate to send him into exile. During this exile, he lived at the Seleucid court, where he acted as military advisor to Antiochus III in his war against Rome. Defeated in a naval battle, Hannibal fled again, this time to the Bithynian court.

Hannibal is universally ranked as one of the greatest military commanders and tacticians in history. Military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge once famously called Hannibal the "father of strategy",[7] because his greatest enemy, Rome, came to adopt elements of his military tactics in its own strategic arsenal. This praise has earned him a strong reputation in the modern world and he was regarded as a "gifted strategist" by men like Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington. His life has been the basis for a number of films and documentaries.

Hannibal: a 19th century engraved portrait based on the Capua bust.
Hannibal: a 19th century engraved portrait based on the Capua bust.


  • 1 Background and early career
  • 2 Second Punic War in Italy (218–203 BC)
    • 2.1 Overland journey to Italy
    • 2.2 Battle of Trebia
    • 2.3 Battle of Lake Trasimene
    • 2.4 Battle of Cannae
    • 2.5 Stalemate
    • 2.6 Hannibal's retreat in Italy
  • 3 Conclusion of Second Punic War (203–201 BC)
    • 3.1 Return to Carthage
    • 3.2 Battle of Zama
  • 4 Later career
    • 4.1 Peacetime Carthage (200–196 BC)
    • 4.2 Exile and death (195–183 BC)
  • 5 Possible Gravesite
  • 6 Legacy to the ancient world
  • 7 Legacy to the modern world
    • 7.1 TV and film
    • 7.2 Comics
    • 7.3 Literature
    • 7.4 Theatre and opera
    • 7.5 Military history
  • 8 References
  • 9 Further reading in Punic Wars
  • 10 See also

[edit] Background and early career

Hannibal Barca ("grace of Baal", Baal being the patron god of Carthage) was the son of Hamilcar Barca. Barca was not a family name, but it was carried by his sons.[citation needed]

Historians refer to the Hamilcar's family as the Barcids to avoid confusion with other Carthaginians of the same name. After Carthage's defeat in the First Punic War, Hamilcar set out to improve his family's and Carthage's fortunes. With that in mind and supported by Gades, Hamilcar began the subjugation of the tribes of the Iberian Peninsula. Carthage at the time was in such a poor state that its navy was unable to transport his army to Iberia (Hispania); instead, Hamilcar had to march it towards the Pillars of Hercules and ferry it across the Strait of Gibraltar (present-day Morocco).

According to Livy, Hannibal much later said that when he came upon his father and begged to go with him, Hamilcar agreed and demanded him to swear that as long as he lived he would never be a friend of Rome. Other sources report that Hannibal told his father, "I swear so soon as age will permit...I will use fire and steel to arrest the destiny of Rome."[8][7]

Hannibal's father went about the conquest of Hispania. When the father was killed in battle, Hannibal's brother-in-law Hasdrubal succeeded to his command of the army. Hasdrubal pursued a policy of consolidation of Carthage's Iberian interests, even signing a treaty with Rome whereby Carthage would not expand north of the Ebro River, so long as Rome did not expand south of it.

Upon the assassination of Hasdrubal (221 BC), Hannibal was proclaimed commander-in-chief by the army and confirmed in his appointment by the Carthaginian government. Titus Livy, a Roman scholar, gives a depiction of the young Carthaginian:

No sooner had he arrived...the old soldiers fancied they saw Hamilcar in his youth given back to them; the same bright look; the same fire in his eye, the same trick of countenance and features. Never was one and the same spirit more skillful to meet opposition, to obey, or to command...[9]

After he assumed command, Hannibal spent two years consolidating his holdings and completing the conquest of Hispania south of the Ebro.[10] However, Rome, fearing the growing strength of Hannibal in Iberia, made an alliance with the city of Saguntum which lay a considerable distance south of the River Ebro and claimed the city as its protectorate. Hannibal perceived this as a breach of the treaty signed with Hasdrubal and so he laid siege to the city, which fell after eight months. Rome reacted to this apparent violation of the treaty and demanded justice from Carthage. In view of Hannibal's great popularity, the Carthaginian government did not repudiate Hannibal's actions, and the war he sought was declared at the end of the year. Hannibal was now determined to carry the war into the heart of Italy by a rapid march through Hispania and southern Gaul.

[edit] Second Punic War in Italy (218–203 BC)

Main article: Second Punic War

[edit] Overland journey to Italy

Hannibal´s route of invasion given by the Department of History, United States Military Academy.
Hannibal´s route of invasion given by the Department of History, United States Military Academy.

Hannibal departed New Carthage in late spring of 218 BC[11] He fought his way through the northern tribes to the Pyrenees, subduing the tribes through clever mountain tactics and stubborn fighting. He left a detachment of 11,000 troops to garrison the newly conquered region. At the Pyrenees, he released another 11,000 Iberian troops who showed reluctance to leave their homeland. Hannibal reportedly entered Gaul with 40,000 foot soldiers and 12,000 horsemen.[12]

Hannibal recognized that he still needed to cross the Pyrenees, the Alps, and many significant rivers. Additionally, he would have to contend with opposition from the Gauls, whose territory he passed through. Starting in the spring of 218 BC, he easily fought his way through the northern tribes to the Pyrenees and, by conciliating the Gaulish chiefs along his passage, reached the Rhône River before the Romans could take any measures to bar his advance. Arriving at the Rhône in September, Hannibal's army numbered 38,000 infantry, 8,000 cavalry, and 37 war elephants.[13]

After outmaneuvering the natives, who had tried to prevent his crossing, Hannibal evaded a Roman force marching from the Mediterranean coast by turning inland up the valley of the Rhône. His exact route over the Alps has been the source of scholarly dispute ever since (Polybius, the surviving ancient account closest in time to Hannibal's campaign, reports that the route was already debated). The most influential modern theories favour either a march up the valley of the Drôme and a crossing of the main range to the south of the modern highway over the Col de Montgenevre (argued by Sir Gavin de Beer, Alps and Elephants) or a march farther north up the valleys of the Isere and Arc crossing the main range near the present Col de Mont Cenis (most fully argued by Denis Proctor, Hannibal's March in History).

Hannibal and his men crossing the Alps.
Hannibal and his men crossing the Alps.

By whichever route, his passage over the Alps is one of the most celebrated achievements of any military force in ancient warfare. Hannibal successfully crossed the mountains, despite numerous obstacles such as harsh climate and terrain, the guerrilla tactics of the native tribes, and the challenge of commanding an army diverse in race and language. He descended from the foothills and arrived into northern Italy in the vicinity of modern Turin, but accompanied by only half the forces he had started with, and only a few elephants. From the start, he seems to have calculated that he would have to operate without aid from Hispania. Historian Adrian Goldsworthy, however, points out that the figures for the number of troops he had when he left Hispania are less than reliable.

[edit] Battle of Trebia

Main article: Battle of Trebia

Hannibal's perilous march brought him into the Roman territory and frustrated the attempts of the enemy to fight out the main issue on foreign ground. His sudden appearance among the Gauls of the Po Valley, moreover, enabled him to detach those tribes from their new allegiance to the Romans before the latter could take steps to check the rebellion.

A diagram depicting the tactics used in the Battle of Trebbia
A diagram depicting the tactics used in the Battle of Trebbia

Publius Cornelius Scipio, the consul who commanded the Roman force sent to intercept Hannibal, had not expected Hannibal to make an attempt to cross the Alps, since the Romans were prepared to fight the war in Iberia. With a small detachment still positioned in Gaul, Scipio made an attempt to intercept Hannibal. Through prompt decision and speedy movement, he succeeded in transporting his army to Italy by sea, in time to meet Hannibal. Hannibal's forces moved through the Po Valley and were engaged in a small confrontation at Ticinus. Here, Hannibal forced the Romans, by virtue of his superior cavalry, to evacuate the plain of Lombardy.[14] While the victory was minor, it encouraged the Gauls and Ligurians to join the Carthaginian cause, whose troops bolstered his army back to 40,000 men. Scipio was severely injured and retreated across the river Trebia to camp at Placentia with his army intact.[14]

The other Roman consular army was rushed to the Po Valley. Even before news of the defeat at Ticinus had reached Rome, the senate had ordered the consul Sempronius Longus to bring his army back from Sicily to meet Scipio and face Hannibal. Hannibal, by skillful maneuvers, was in position to head him off, for he lay on the direct road between Placentia and Arminum, by which Sempronius would have to march in order to reinforce Scipio. He then captured Clastidium, from which he drew large amounts of rations for his men. But this gain was not without its loss, as Sempronius avoided Hannibal's watchfulness, slipped around his flank, and joined his colleague in his camp near the Trebbia River near Placentia. There, in December of the same year, Hannibal had an opportunity to show his superior military skill at Trebia; after wearing down the excellent Roman infantry he cut it to pieces by a surprise attack from an ambush in the flank.

[edit] Battle of Lake Trasimene

Main article: Battle of Lake Trasimene

Having secured his position in northern Italy by this victory, Hannibal quartered his troops for the winter with the Gauls, whose support for him abated. In the Spring of 217 BC, Hannibal decided to find a more reliable base of operations farther south. Expecting Hannibal to carry on advancing to Rome, Cnaeus Servilius and Gaius Flaminius (the new Consuls of Rome) took their armies to block the Eastern and Western routes Hannibal could use to get to Rome.

Battle of Lake Trasimene, -217.From the Department of History, United States Military Academy
Battle of Lake Trasimene, -217.
From the Department of History, United States Military Academy

The only alternate route to central Italy lay at the mouth of the Arno. This route was practically one huge marsh, and happened to be overflowing more than usual during this particular season. Hannibal knew that this route was full of difficulties, but it remained the surest and certainly the quickest route to Central Italy. As Polybius claims, Hannibal’s men marched for four days and three nights, “through a route which was under water”, suffering terribly from fatigue and enforced want of sleep. He crossed the Apennines (during which he lost his left eye because of conjunctivitis) and the seemingly impassable Arno without opposition, but in the marshy lowlands of the Arno, he lost a large part of his force, including, it would seem, his remaining elephants.

Arriving in Etruria in the spring of 217 BC, Hannibal decided to lure the main Roman army, under Flaminius, into a pitched battle, by devastating under his very own eye the area he had been sent to protect. As Polybius tells us, “he [Hannibal] calculated that, if he passed the camp and made a descent into the district beyond, Flaminius (partly for fear of popular reproach and partly of personal irritation) would be unable to endure watching passively the devastation of the country but would spontaneously follow him . . . and give him opportunities for attack.”[15] At the same time, Hannibal tried to break the allegiance of Rome’s allies, by proving that Flaminius was powerless to protect them. Despite this, Hannibal found Flaminius still passively encamped at Arretium. Unable to draw Flaminius into battle by mere devastation, Hannibal marched boldly around his opponent’s left flank and effectively cut Flaminius off from Rome (thus executing the first recorded turning movement in military history). Advancing through the uplands of Etruria, Hannibal provoked Flaminius to a hasty pursuit and, catching him in a defile on the shore of Lake Trasimenus, destroyed his army in the waters or on the adjoining slopes while killing Flaminius as well (see Battle of Lake Trasimene). He had now disposed of the only field force which could check his advance upon Rome, but, realizing that without siege engines he could not hope to take the capital, he preferred to exploit his victory by passing into central and southern Italy and encouraging a general revolt against the sovereign power. After Lake Trasimeno, Hannibal stated, “I have not come to fight Italians, but on behalf of the Italians against Rome.”[16]

The Romans appointed Fabius Maximus as a dictator. Departing from Roman military traditions, Fabius adopted the Fabian strategy — named after him — of refusing open battle with his opponent while placing several Roman armies in Hannibal’s vicinity to limit his movement.

Hannibal - Silver double shekel, c. 230 BC, The British Museum
Hannibal - Silver double shekel, c. 230 BC, The British Museum

Having ravaged Apulia without provoking Fabius to battle, Hannibal decided to march through Samnium to Campania, one of the richest and most fertile provinces of Italy, hoping that the devastation would draw Fabius into battle. Fabius closely followed Hannibal’s path of destruction, yet still refused to let himself be drawn, and thus remained on the defensive. This strategy was unpopular with many Romans who believed it was a form of cowardice.

Hannibal decided that it would be unwise to winter in the already devastated lowlands of Campania but Fabius had ensured that all the passes out of Campania were blocked. To avoid this, Hannibal deceived the Romans into thinking that the Carthaginian Army was going to escape through the woods. As the Romans moved off towards the woods, Hannibal's army occupied the pass, and his army made their way through the pass unopposed. Fabius was within striking distance but in this case his caution worked against him. Smelling a stratagem (rightly) he stayed put. For the winter, Hannibal found comfortable quarters in the Apulian plain. What Hannibal achieved in extricating his army was, as Adrian Goldsworthy puts it, "a classic of ancient generalship, finding its way into nearly every historical narrative of the war and being used by later military manuals".[17] This was a severe blow to Fabius’s prestige, and soon after this, his period of power ended.

[edit] Battle of Cannae

Destruction of the Roman army, courtesy of The Department of History, United States Military Academy.
Destruction of the Roman army, courtesy of The Department of History, United States Military Academy.
Main article: Battle of Cannae

In the spring of 216 BC, Hannibal took the initiative and seized the large supply depot at Cannae in the Apulian plain. By seizing Cannae, Hannibal had placed himself between the Romans and their crucial source of supply.[18] Once the Roman Senate resumed their Consular elections in 216, they appointed Gaius Terentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paullus as Consuls. In the meantime, the Romans, hoping to gain success through sheer strength in numbers, raised a new army of unprecedented size, estimated by some to be as large as 100,000 men.[19]

The Roman and Allied legions of the Consuls, resolving to confront Hannibal, marched southward to Apulia. They eventually found him on the left bank of the Aufidus River, and encamped six miles away. On this occasion, the two armies were combined into one, the Consuls having to alternate their command on a daily basis. The Consul Varro, who was in command on the first day, was a man of reckless and hubristic nature, and was determined to defeat Hannibal.[19] Hannibal capitalized on the eagerness of Varro and drew him into a trap by using an envelopment tactic which eliminated the Roman numerical advantage by shrinking the surface area where combat could occur. Hannibal drew up his least reliable infantry in a semicircle in the center with the wings composed of the Gallic and Numidian horse.[19] The Roman legions forced their way through Hannibal's weak center, but the Libyan Mercenaries in the wings, swung around by the movement, menaced their flanks. The onslaught of Hannibal's cavalry was irresistible, and Hasdrubal (not Hasdrubal Barca) who commanded the left, pushed in the Roman right and then swept across the rear and attacked Varro's cavalry on the Roman left.[19] Then he attacked the legions from behind. As a result, the Roman army was hemmed in with no means of escape.

Due to these brilliant tactics, Hannibal, with much inferior numbers, managed to surround and destroy all but a small remainder of this force. Depending upon the source, it is estimated that 50,000-70,000 Romans were killed or captured at Cannae.[7] Among the dead were the Roman consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus, as well two consuls for the preceding year, two quaestors, twenty-nine out of the forty-eight military tribunes and an additional eighty senators (at a time when the Roman Senate comprised no more than 300 men, this constituted 25%–30% of the governing body). This makes the Battle of Cannae one of the most catastrophic defeats in the history of Ancient Rome, and one of the bloodiest battles in all of human history (in terms of the number of lives lost within a single day).[19] After Cannae, the Romans were not as enthusiastic in challenging Hannibal in pitched battles, instead preferring to defeat him by attrition, relying on their advantages of supply and manpower. As a result, Hannibal and Rome fought no more major battles in Italy for the rest of the war.[20]

Hannibal counting the rings of the Roman knights killed during the battle, statue by Sébastien Slodzt, 1704, Louvre.
Hannibal counting the rings of the Roman knights killed during the battle, statue by Sébastien Slodzt, 1704, Louvre.

The effect on morale of this victory meant that many parts of Italy joined Hannibal's cause.[21] As Polybius notes, "How much more serious was the defeat of Cannae, than those which preceded it can be seen by the behavior of Rome’s allies; before that fateful day, their loyalty remained unshaken, now it began to waver for the simple reason that they despaired of Roman Power.".[22] During that same year, the Greek cities in Sicily were induced to revolt against Roman political control, while the Macedonian king, Philip V, pledged his support to Hannibal – thus initiating the First Macedonian War against Rome. Hannibal also secured an alliance with newly appointed King Hieronymus of Syracuse. It is often argued that if Hannibal had received proper material reinforcements from Carthage he might have succeeded with a direct attack upon Rome. For the present he had to content himself with subduing the fortresses which still held out against him, and the only other notable event of 216 BC was the defection of certain Italian territories, including Capua, the second largest city of Italy, which Hannibal made his new base. However, only a few of the Italian city-states which he had expected to gain as allies consented to join him.

[edit] Stalemate

The war in Italy settled into a strategic stalemate. The Romans utilized the attritional strategies Fabius had taught them, and which, they finally realized, were the only feasible means of defeating Hannibal.[23] Indeed, Fabius received the surname "Cunctator" because of his policy of attrition.[24] The Romans deprived Hannibal of a large-scale battle and instead, assaulted his weakening army with multiple smaller armies in an attempt to both weary him and create unrest in his troops.[7] For the next few years, Hannibal was forced to sustain a scorched earth policy and obtain local provisions for protracted and ineffectual operations throughout Southern Italy. His immediate objectives were reduced to minor operations which centered mainly round the cities of Campania.

As the forces detached his lieutenants were generally unable to hold their own, and neither his home government nor his new ally Philip V of Macedon helped to make good his losses, his position in southern Italy became increasingly difficult and his chance of ultimately conquering Rome grew ever more remote. Hannibal still won a number of notable victories: completely destroying two Roman armies in 212 BC, and at one point, killing two Consuls (which included the famed Marcus Claudius Marcellus) in a battle in 208 BC. Nevertheless, without the resources his allies could contribute, or reinforcements from Carthage, Hannibal could not make further significant gains. Thus, inadequately supported by his Italian allies, abandoned by his government (either because of jealousy or simply because Carthage was overstretched) , and unable to match Rome’s resources, Hannibal slowly began losing ground. Hannibal continued defeating the Romans whenever he could bring them into battle, yet he was never able to complete another decisive victory that produced a lasting strategic effect.

Carthaginian political will was embodied in the ruling oligarchy. While there was a Carthaginian Senate, the real power in Carthage was with the inner "Council of 30 Nobles" and the board of judges from ruling families known as the "Hundred and Four." These two bodies consisted of the wealthy, commercial families of Carthage. Two political factions operated in Carthage: the war party, also known as the "Barcids" (Hannibal’s family name) and the peace party led by Hanno the Great. Hanno had been instrumental in denying Hannibal’s requested reinforcement following the battle at Cannae.

Hannibal had started the war without the full backing of Carthaginian oligarchy. His attack of Saguntum had presented the oligarchy with a choice of war with Rome or loss of prestige in Iberia. The oligarchy and not Hannibal controlled the strategic resources of Carthage. Hannibal constantly sought reinforcement from either Iberia or North Africa. Hannibal’s troops lost in combat were replaced with less well-trained and motivated mercenaries from Italy or Gaul. The commercial interests of the Carthaginian oligarchy dictated the reinforcement of Iberia rather than Hannibal throughout the duration of the campaign.

[edit] Hannibal's retreat in Italy

In 212 BC Hannibal captured Tarentum but he failed to obtain control of the harbour. The tide was slowly turning against him, and in favor of Rome.

The Romans mounted two sieges of Capua, which fell in 211 BC, and the Romans completed their conquest of Syracuse and destruction of a Carthaginian army in Sicily. Shortly thereafter, the Romans pacified Sicily and entered into an alliance with the Aetolian League to counter Phillip V. Philip, who attempted to exploit Rome's preoccupation in Italy to conquer Illyria, now found himself under attack from several sides at once and was quickly subdued by Rome and her Greek allies. Meanwhile, Hannibal had defeated Fulvius at Herdonea in Apulia, but lost Tarentum in the following year.

In 210 BC Hannibal again proved his superiority in tactics by inflicting a severe defeat at Herdoniac (modern Ordona) in Apulia upon a proconsular army, and in 208 BC destroyed a Roman force engaged in the siege of Locri Epizephyri. But with the loss of Tarentum in 209 BC and the gradual reconquest by the Romans of Samnium and Lucania, his hold on south Italy was almost lost. In 207 BC he succeeded in making his way again into Apulia, where he waited to concert measures for a combined march upon Rome with his brother Hasdrubal Barca. On hearing, however, of his brother's defeat and death at the Metaurus he retired into Bruttium, where he maintained himself for the ensuing years. The combination of these events marked the end to Hannibal's success in Italy. With the failure of his brother Mago Barca in Liguria (205 BC-203 BC) and of his own negotiations with Philip of Macedon, the last hope of recovering his ascendancy in Italy was lost. In 203 BC, after nearly fifteen years of fighting in Italy, and with the military fortunes of Carthage rapidly declining, Hannibal was recalled to Carthage to direct the defense of his native country against a Roman invasion under Scipio Africanus.

Scipio Africanus.
Scipio Africanus.

[edit] Conclusion of Second Punic War (203–201 BC)

[edit] Return to Carthage

In 203 BC, when Scipio was carrying all before him in Africa and the Carthaginian peace party were arranging an armistice, Hannibal was recalled from Italy by the war party at Carthage. After leaving a record of his expedition engraved in Punic and Greek upon brazen tablets in the temple of Juno at Crotona, he sailed back to Africa.[25] His arrival immediately restored the predominance of the war party, who placed him in command of a combined force of African levies and his mercenaries from Italy. In 202 BC, Hannibal met Scipio in a fruitless peace conference. Despite mutual admiration, negotiations floundered due to Roman allegations of "Punic Faith," referring to the breach of protocols which ended the First Punic War by the Carthaginian attack on Saguntum, and a Carthaginan attack on a stranded Roman fleet. What had happened was that Scipio and Carthage had worked out a peace plan, which was approved by Rome. The terms of the treaty were quite modest, but the war had been long for the Romans. Carthage could keep its African territory but would lose its overseas empire, a fait-accompli. Masinissa (Numidia) was to be independent. Also, Carthage was to reduce its fleet and pay a war indemnity. But Carthage then made a terrible blunder. Its long-suffering citizens had captured a stranded Roman fleet in the Gulf of Tunes and stripped it of supplies. Meanwhile Hannibal, recalled from Italy by the Carthaginian senate, had returned with his army. Fortified by both Hannibal and the supplies, the Carthaginians foolishly rebuffed the treaty and Roman protests. The decisive battle at Zama soon followed, and it removed Hannibal's (and the city of Carthage's) invincibility.

[edit] Battle of Zama

Main article: Battle of Zama

Unlike most battles of the Second Punic War, at Zama the Romans had superiority in cavalry and the Carthaginians had superiority in infantry. This Roman cavalry superiority was due to the betrayal of Masinissa, who had earlier assisted Carthage in Iberia, but changed sides in 206 BC with the promise of land and due to his personal conflicts with Syphax, a Carthaginian ally. This betrayal gave Scipio Africanus an advantage that had previously been possessed by the Carthaginians. Although the aging Hannibal was suffering from mental exhaustion and deteriorating health after years of campaigning in Italy, the Carthaginians still had the advantage in numbers and were boosted by the presence of 80 war elephants.

Painting of the Battle of Zama by Cornelis Cort, 1567
Painting of the Battle of Zama by Cornelis Cort, 1567

The Roman cavalry won an early victory, and Scipio had devised tactics for defeating Carthaginian war elephants. However, the battle remained closely fought. At one point it seemed that Hannibal was on the verge of victory, but Scipio was able to rally his men, and his cavalry attacked Hannibal's rear. This two-pronged attack caused the Carthaginian formation to disintegrate and collapse. With their foremost general defeated, the Carthaginians had no choice but to accept defeat and surrender to Rome. Carthage lost approximately 31,000 troops with an additional 15,000 wounded. In contrast, the Romans suffered only 1500 casualties. The battle resulted in a loss of respect for Hannibal by his fellow Carthaginians. It marked the last major battle of the Second Punic War, with Rome the victor. The conditions of defeat were such that Carthage could no longer battle for Mediterranean supremacy. However, Hannibal has still been glorified despite this loss due to the fact that Scipio had used Hannibal's tactics to defeat him.

[edit] Later career

[edit] Peacetime Carthage (200–196 BC)

Hannibal was still only 43 and soon showed that he could be a statesman as well as a soldier. Following the conclusion of a peace that left Carthage stripped of its formerly mighty empire, Hannibal prepared to take a back seat for a time. However, the blatant corruption of the oligarchy gave Hannibal a chance of a come back and he was elected as suffet, or chief magistrate. The office had become rather insignificant, but Hannibal restored its power and authority. The oligarchy, always jealous of him, had even charged him with having betrayed the interests of his country while in Italy, for neglecting to take Rome when he might have done so. So effectively did Hannibal reform abuses that the heavy tribute imposed by Rome could be paid by installments without additional and extraordinary taxation. He also reformed the Hundred and Four, stipulating that its membership be chosen by direct election rather than co-option. He also used citizen support to change the term of office in the Hundred and Four from life to a year with a term limit of two years.

[edit] Exile and death (195–183 BC)

Fourteen years after the victory of Zama, the Romans, alarmed by Carthage's renewed prosperity, demanded Hannibal's surrender. Hannibal thereupon went into voluntary exile. First he journeyed to Tyre, the mother-city of Carthage, and then to Ephesus, where he was honorably received by Antiochus III of Syria, who was preparing for war with Rome. Hannibal soon saw that the king's army was no match for the Romans. He advised him to equip a fleet and land a body of troops in the south of Italy, offering to take command himself. But he could not make much impression on Antiochus, who listened to his courtiers and would not entrust Hannibal with any important office.

According to Cicero, while at the court of Antiochus, Hannibal attended a lecture by Phormio, a philosopher, that ranged through many topics. When Phormio finished a discourse on the duties of a general, Hannibal was asked his opinion. He replied: "I have seen during my life many an old fool; but this one beats them all." Another story about Hannibal in exile gives a strange slant to his supposed Punic perfidy. Antiochus III showed off a vast and well-armed formation to Hannibal and asked him if they would be enough for the Roman Republic, to which Hannibal replied, "Yes, enough for the Romans, however greedy they may be." It should be noted that in this situation Hannibal had not been given command of the army, but Antiochus himself had developed the battle plan and was subsequently defeated.

In 196 BC he was placed in command of a Phoenician fleet but was defeated in a battle off the Eurymedon River. According to Strabo and Plutarch, Hannibal also received hospitality at the Armenian court of Artaxias I where he planned and supervised the building of the new royal capital Artaxata. From the court of Antiochus, who seemed prepared to surrender him to the Romans, Hannibal fled to Crete, but he soon went back to Asia Minor and sought refuge with Prusias I of Bithynia, who was engaged in warfare with Rome's ally, King Eumenes II of Pergamum. Hannibal went on to serve Prusias in this war. In one of the victories he gained over Eumenes at sea, it is said that he used one of the first examples of biological warfare - he threw cauldrons of snakes into the enemy vessels. Hannibal also visited Tyre the home of his forefathers. However the Romans were determined to hunt him down, and they insisted on his surrender. Prusias agreed to give him up, but Hannibal was determined not to fall into his enemies' hands. At Libyssa on the eastern shore of the Sea of Marmara, he took poison, which, it was said, he had long carried about with him in a ring. The precise year of his death is a matter of controversy. If, as Livy seems to imply, it was 183 BC, he died in the same year as Scipio Africanus, at the age of sixty four.

[edit] Possible Gravesite

In modern-day Turkey (ruins near Diliskelesi, South of Gebze, 60km East of Istanbul), an interesting curiosity is to be found in an industrial estate on a small hill beneath some cypress trees. Reputed to be Hannibal's grave, it was magnificently restored by Emperor Septimius Severus (A.D. 193-211), but it is now just a pile of stones. Excavations were carried out in 1906 by Wiegand, but he was skeptical of the site.[26]

[edit] Legacy to the ancient world

Long after his death, his name continued to carry a portent of great or imminent danger within the Roman Republic. It was written that he taught the Romans, who claimed to be fierce descendants of Mars, the meaning of fear. For generations, Roman housekeepers would tell their children brutal tales of Hannibal when they misbehaved. In fact, Hannibal became such a figure of terror, that whenever disaster struck, the Roman Senators would exclaim "Hannibal ad portas" (“Hannibal is at the Gates!”) to express their fear or anxiety. This famous Latin phrase evolved into a common expression that is often still used when a client arrives through the door or when one is faced with calamity.[27] This illustrates the psychological impact Hannibal's presence in Italy had on Roman Culture.

A grudging admiration for Hannibal is evident in the works of Roman historians such as Livy and Juvenal. The Romans even built statues of the Carthaginian in the very streets of Rome to advertise their defeat of such a worthy adversary.[28] It is plausible to suggest that Hannibal engendered the greatest fear Rome had towards an enemy. Nevertheless, they grimly refused to admit the possibility of defeat and rejected all overtures for peace, and they even refused to accept the ransom of prisoners after Cannae.[29]

During the war there are no reports of revolutions among the Roman citizens, no factions with the Senate desiring peace, no pro-Carthaginian Roman turncoats, no coups or dictatorships.[30][31] Roman aristocrats throughout the war ferociously competed with each other for positions of command to fight against Rome's most dangerous enemy. Hannibal's military genius was not enough to really disturb the Roman political process and the collective political and military genius of the Roman people. As Lazenby states, "It says volumes, too, for their political maturity and respect for constitutional forms that the complicated machinery of government continued to function even amidst disaster--there are few states in the ancient world in which a general who had lost a battle like Cannae would have dared to remain, let alone would have continued to be treated respectfully as head of state."[32] According to the historian Titus Livy Hannibal's military genius was feared among the Romans and during Hannibal's march against Rome in 211 BC[33] "a messenger who had travelled from Fregellae for a day and a night without stopping created great alarm in Rome, and the excitement was increased by people running about the City with wildly exaggerated accounts of the news he had brought. The wailing cry of the matrons was heard everywhere, not only in private houses but even in the temples. Here they knelt and swept the temple-floors with their dishevelled hair and lifted up their hands to heaven in piteous entreaty to the gods that they would deliver the City of Rome out of the hands of the enemy and preserve its mothers and children from injury and outrage."[34] In the Senate the news were "received with varying feelings as men's temperaments differed,"[35] so it was decided to keep Capua under siege, but send 15,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry as reinforcements to Rome.[35].

According to Livy, the land occupied by Hannibal's army outside Rome in 211 was sold at the very time of its occupation and for the same price.[36] This may not be true but as Lazenby states, "could well be, exemplifying as it does not only the supreme confidence felt by the Romans in ultimate victory, but also the way in which something like normal life continued.[37]. After Cannae the Romans showed a considerable steadfastness in adversity. An undeniable proof of Rome's confidence is demonstrated by the fact that after the Cannae disaster she was left virtually defenseless, but the Senate still chose not to withdraw a single garrison from an overseas province to strengthen the city. In fact, they were reinforced and the campaigns there maintained until victory was secured; beginning first in Sicily under direction of Claudius Marcellus, and later Hispania under Scipio Africanus.[38][39] Although the long-term consequences of Hannibal's war are debatable, this war was undeniably Rome's "finest hour".[40][41]

Most of the sources available to historians about Hannibal are from Romans. They considered him the greatest enemy Rome had ever faced. Livy gives us the idea that he was extremely cruel. Even Cicero, when he talked of Rome and her two great enemies, spoke of the "honorable" Pyrrhus and the "cruel" Hannibal. Yet a different picture is sometimes revealed. When Hannibal's successes had brought about the death of two Roman consuls, he vainly searched for the body of Gaius Flaminius on the shores of Lake Trasimene, held ceremonial rituals in recognition of Lucius Aemilius Paullus, and sent Marcellus' ashes back to his family in Rome. Any bias attributed to Polybius, however, is more troublesome, since he was clearly sympathetic towards Hannibal. Nevertheless, Polybius spent a long period as a hostage in Italy and relied heavily on Roman sources, so there remains the possibility that he was reproducing elements of Roman propaganda.

[edit] Legacy to the modern world

The material of legend: in "Snow-storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps", J.M.W. Turner envelopes Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps in Romantic atmosphere
The material of legend: in "Snow-storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps", J.M.W. Turner envelopes Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps in Romantic atmosphere

Hannibal's name is also commonplace in later art and popular culture, an objective measure of his foreign influence on Western history.

Like other military leaders Hannibal's victories against superior forces in an ultimately losing cause won him enduring fame that outlasted his native country within North Africa. His crossing of the Alps remains one of the most monumental military feats of ancient warfare[42] and has since captured the imagination of the world (romanticized by several artworks).

[edit] TV and film

There are announcements that One Race films is currently in production of a movie starring Vin Diesel, who will be playing the character of Hannibal Barca.

Year Film Other notes
2008 Hannibal the Conqueror Upcoming Motion Picture starring Vin Diesel
2006 Hannibal - Rome's Worst Nightmare TV film, starring Alexander Siddig
2005 Hannibal vs. Rome in National Geographic Channel
2004 The Phantom of the Opera The beginning Opera being rehearsed is one about Hannibal so titled Hannibal
2005 The True Story of Hannibal British documentary
2001 Hannibal: The Man Who Hated Rome British documentary
1997 The Great Battles of Hannibal British documentary
1996 Gulliver’s Travels Gulliver summons Hannibal from a magic mirror.
1960 Annibale Italian Motion Picture starring Victor Mature
1955 Jupiter's Darling British Motion Picture starring Howard Keel
1939 Scipio Africanus - the Defeat of Hannibal (Scipione l'africano) Italian Motion Picture
1914 Cabiria Italian Silent film

[edit] Comics

[edit] Literature

Novel unless otherwise noted:

  • 1300s, Dante's Divine Comedy, poem, Inferno XXXI.97-132, 115-124 (Battle of Zama) and Paradiso VI
  • 1700s, Gulliver's Travels, satirical work
  • 1862, Gustave Flaubert's Salammbô, set in Carthage at the time of Hamilcar Barca. Hannibal appears as a child.
  • 1996, Elisabeth Craft, A Spy for Hannibal: A Novel of Carthage, 091015533X
  • Ross Leckie, Carthage trilogy, source of the 2008 film (1996, Hannibal: A Novel, ISBN 0-89526-443-9 ; 1999, Scipio, a Novel, ISBN 0-349-11238-X ; Carthage, 2000, ISBN 0-86241-944-1)
  • 2005, Terry McCarthy, The Sword of Hannibal, ISBN 0-446-61517-X
  • 2006, David Anthony Durham, Pride of Carthage: A Novel of Hannibal, ISBN 0-385-72249-4
  • 2006, Angela Render, Forged By Lightning: A Novel of Hannibal and Scipio, ISBN 1-4116-8002-2

[edit] Theatre and opera

  • In Hector Berlioz's 1858 opera Les Troyens, he appears in a vision to Dido just before she dies.
  • In Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera, the Opera Populaire is in rehearsal for an opera about Hannibal.

[edit] Military history

Hannibal is usually ranked among the best military strategists and tacticians. According to Appian, several years after the Second Punic War, Hannibal was a political advisor in the Seleucid Kingdom and Scipio was sent there on a diplomatic mission from Rome.

It is said that at one of their meetings in the gymnasium Scipio and Hannibal had a conversation on the subject of generalship, in the presence of a number of bystanders, and that Scipio asked Hannibal whom he considered the greatest general, to which the latter replied, "Alexander of Macedonia."

To this Scipio assented since he also yielded the first place to Alexander. Then he asked Hannibal whom he placed next, and he replied, "Pyrrhus of Epirus," because he considered boldness the first qualification of a general; "for it would not be possible," he said, "to find two kings more enterprising than these."

Scipio was rather nettled by this, but nevertheless he asked Hannibal to whom he would give the third place, expecting that at least the third would be assigned to him; but Hannibal replied, "To myself; for when I was a young man I conquered Hispania and crossed the Alps with an army, the first after Hercules. I invaded Italy and struck terror into all of you, laid waste 400 of your towns, and often put your city in extreme peril, all this time receiving neither money nor reinforcements from Carthage."

As Scipio saw that he was likely to prolong his self-laudation he said, laughing, "Where would you place yourself, Hannibal, if you had not been defeated by me?" Hannibal, now perceiving his jealousy, replied, "In that case I should have put myself before Alexander." Thus Hannibal continued his self-laudation, but flattered Scipio in a delicate manner by suggesting that he had conquered one who was the superior of Alexander.

At the end of this conversation Hannibal invited Scipio to be his guest, and Scipio replied that he would be so gladly if Hannibal were not living with Antiochus, who was held in suspicion by the Romans. Thus did they, in a manner worthy of great commanders, cast aside their enmity at the end of their wars.[43][4]

Hannibal's exploits (especially his victory at Cannae) continue to be studied in military academies all over the world.

Hannibal's celebrated feat in crossing the Alps with war elephants passed into European legend: a fresco detail, ca. 1510, Capitoline Museums, Rome
Hannibal's celebrated feat in crossing the Alps with war elephants passed into European legend: a fresco detail, ca. 1510, Capitoline Museums, Rome

The author of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article praises Hannibal in these words:

As to the transcendent military genius of Hannibal there cannot be two opinions. The man who for fifteen years could hold his ground in a hostile country against several powerful armies and a succession of able generals must have been a commander and a tactician of supreme capacity. In the use of stratagies and ambuscades he certainly surpassed all other generals of antiquity. Wonderful as his achievements were, we must marvel the more when we take into account the grudging support he received from Carthage. As his veterans melted away, he had to organize fresh levies on the spot. We never hear of a mutiny in his army, composed though it was of North Africans, Iberians and Gauls. Again, all we know of him comes for the most part from hostile sources. The Romans feared and hated him so much that they could not do him justice. Livy speaks of his great qualities, but he adds that his vices were equally great, among which he singles out his more than Punic perfidy and an inhuman cruelty. For the first there would seem to be no further justification than that he was consummately skillful in the use of ambuscades. For the latter there is, we believe, no more ground than that at certain crises he acted in the general spirit of ancient warfare. Sometimes he contrasts most favorably with his enemy. No such brutality stains his name as that perpetrated by Claudius Nero on the vanquished Hasdrubal. Polybius merely says that he was accused of cruelty by the Romans and of avarice by the Carthaginians. He had indeed bitter enemies, and his life was one continuous struggle against destiny. For steadfastness of purpose, for organizing capacity and a mastery of military science he has perhaps never had an equal.[3]

Even his Roman chroniclers acknowledged his supreme military leadership, writing that, "he never required others to do what he could and would not do himself".[44] According to Polybius 23, 13, p. 423: "It is a remarkable and very cogent proof of Hannibal's having been by nature a real leader and far superior to anyone else in statesmanship, that though he spent seventeen years in the field, passed through so many barbarous countries, and employed to aid him in desperate and extraordinary enterprises numbers of men of different nations and languages, no one ever dreamt of conspiring against him, nor was he ever deserted by those who had once joined him or submitted to him."

Alfred Graf von Schlieffen's eponymously-titled "Schlieffen Plan" was developed from his military studies, with particularly heavy emphasis on Hannibal's envelopment technique he employed to surround and victoriously destroy the Roman army at Cannae.[45][46] George S. Patton believed that he was a reincarnation of Hannibal as well as many other people including a Roman legionary and a Napoleonic soldier.[47][48] Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of the Coalition Forces in the Gulf War, claimed that "The technology of war may change, the sophistication of weapons certainly changes. But those same principles of war that applied to the days of Hannibal apply today."[49]

According to the military historian, Theodore Ayrault Dodge,

Hannibal excelled as a tactician. No battle in history is a finer sample of tactics than Cannae. But he was yet greater in logistics and strategy. No captain ever marched to and fro among so many armies of troops superior to his own numbers and material as fearlessly and skillfully as he. No man ever held his own so long or so ably against such odds. Constantly overmatched by better soldiers, led by generals always respectable, often of great ability, he yet defied all their efforts to drive him from Italy, for half a generation. Excepting in the case of Alexander, and some few isolated instances, all wars up to the Second Punic War, had been decided largely, if not entirely, by battle-tactics. Strategic ability had been comprehended only on a minor scale. Armies had marched towards each other, had fought in parallel order, and the conqueror had imposed terms on his opponent. Any variation from this rule consisted in ambuscades or other stratagems. That war could be waged by avoiding in lieu of seeking battle; that the results of a victory could be earned by attacks upon the enemy’s communications, by flank-maneuvers, by seizing positions from which safely to threaten him in case he moved, and by other devices of strategy, was not understood . . .[However] For the first time in the history of war, we see two contending generals avoiding each other, occupying impregnable camps on heights, marching about each other's flanks to seize cities or supplies in their rear, harassing each other with small-war, and rarely venturing on a battle which might prove a fatal disaster—all with a well-conceived purpose of placing his opponent at a strategic disadvantage. . .That it did so was due to the teaching of Hannibal.[7]