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ID number:723104
Evaluation:
Published: 18.10.2004.
Language: English
Level: College/University
Literature: 3 units
References: Not used
Extract

Punic War, Second (218-201 BC), also called SECOND CARTHAGINIAN WAR, second in a series of wars between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian (Punic) Empire that resulted in Roman hegemony over the western Mediterranean.
In the years after the First Punic War, Rome wrested Corsica and Sardinia from Carthage and forced Carthaginians to pay an even greater indemnity than the payment exacted immediately following the war. Eventually, however, under the leadership of Hamilcar Barca, his son Hannibal, and his son-in-law Hasdrubal, Carthage acquired a new base in Spain, whence they could renew the war against Rome.³


Beginning of War.
In 219 Hannibal captured Saguntum (Sagunto) an independent Iberian city south of the Ebro River on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Rome demanded his withdrawal, but Carhage refused to recall him, and Rome declared war.
Hannibal spent the winter of 219-218 at Cartagena in active preparations for carrying the war into Italy. Leaving his brother Hasdrubal in command of a considerable army for the defense of Spain and North Africa, he crossed the Ebro in April or May of 218 and marched into Pyrenees.
Because Rome controlled the sea, Hannibal led his army overland through Spain and Gaul and across the Alps.

The Alpine crossing.
Some details of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps have been preserved. At first danger came from the Allobroges, who attacked the rear of Hannibal’s column. (Along the middle stages of the route, other Celtic groups attacked the baggage animals and rolled heavy stones down from the heights on the enfilade below, thus causing both men and animals to panic and lose their footings on the precipitous paths. Hannibal took countermeasures, but these involved him in heavy losses in men.) On the third day he captured a Gallic town and provided the army from its stores with rations for two or three days. Harrased by the daytime attentions of the Gauls from the heights and mistrusting the loyalty of his Gallic guides, Hannibal bivouacked on a large bare rock to cover the passage by night of his horses and pack animals in the gorge below. Snow was folling on the summit of the pass, making the descent even more treacherous. Upon the hardened ice of the previous year’s fall, the soldiers and animals alike slid and foundered in the fresh snow. A lindslide blocked the narrow track, and the army was held up for one day while it was cleared.
Finnaly in 218 BC on the 15th day, after a journey of five months from Cartagena, with 20 000 infantry, 6000 cavalry, and only a few of the original 38 elephants, Hannibal descended into Italy, having surmounted the difficulties of climate and terrain, the guerrila tactics of inaccessible tribes, and the major difficulty of commanding a body of men diverse in race and language under conditions to which they were ill fitted.

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