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Hannibal's elephants destroy Roman cavalry at Trebia

Hannibal's World (Home Page)

In 218 BC Hannibal led an invasion force through Gaul, over the Alps and into Rome. He proved to be a brilliant military commander, defeating the Romans at the Battle of Lake Trasimene and River Trebia. However, his most brilliant victory occurred at Cannae, in which eight Roman Legions (approximately 86,000 men) were defeated and slaughtered. Following this, Rome had no force available to defend it.

  • POINT OF DIVERGENCE

Hannibal marched to the gates of Rome and offered surrender. However, the Romans refused. Hannibal's first assault on the city resulted in failure as he had no siege weapons to breach Rome's massive walls. His Macedonian ally however, King Philip V sent a large fleet loaded with siege equipment, reinforcements and supplies. Using the Macedonian reinforcements Hannibal breached the walls and his men slaughtered the light Roman garrison there. Hannibal ordered the city to be destroyed as he feared that if Rome were allowed to survive it would grow strong and strike back (much like Carthage had.) The Roman citizens not massacred would be sold into slavery, boosting Hannibal's wealth. Very little of Rome exists today as the entire city was burned to the ground afterward. Hannibal returned to Carthage and was celebrated as a hero, and he was given a Carthaginian Triumph, in which he paraded the Roman dictator Fabius Maximus through the streets before he was publicly executed.

Hannibal would lead Carthage to be the dominant power in the Mediterranean, expanding the Punic Spanish territories as well as leading the invasion of Ptolemaic Egypt before his death in 189 BC. His descendants would continue to lead Carthage and establish it as the single most powerful nation on the Earth for nearly 600 years.

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