Hannibal Barca

Hannibal Barca (Barca was not a real surname, in Punic it means “lightning”) (247 B.C. – 182 B.C.), Hamilcar’s son, excelled all other Carthaginian commanders in skill and reputation.

Renowned for his achievements in the Second Punic War, he left from Spain and he crossed the Pyrenees and the Alps riding elephants, until he got to Italy where he defeated the Roman legions in three big battles: the battle of Trebbia (218 BC), the battle of Lake Trasimeno (217 BC) and the Battle of Cannae (216 BC), as well as several less important ones. However, although the Second Punic War was very tough for Rome, its outcome was determined by the bravery of the Roman commander Scipio who attacked and conquered Carthage forcing Hannibal to return to Africa in 204 BC where he was finally defeated in the Battle of Zama (202 BC).

After the end of the war, Hannibal ruled over Carthage for several years, trying to repair to the ravages, until he made up his mind to flee from his country in 195 BC to prevent Carthage from a final desctructive attack by the Romans.

Hannibal took refuge with King Antiochus III in Syria, where he kept on fighting against Rome. In 189 BC Antiochus III was defeated by Romans and Hannibal had to take flight again and this time joined King Prusias I in Bithynia. When the Romans asked Prusias to surrend him, Hannibal killed himself with poison. It was 182 BC.

It’s bewildering how Hannibal, in spite of his reputation of one of the greatest strategist of history, in fact contributed to the destruction of his city, which took place few years after his death, and as a consequence of his deeds. Moreover, since he had followed his father to Spain when he was still a little boy, he actually lived longer in Spain, Gaul, Italy and eventually into exile rather than in his homeland. His military genius is still studied today.