{short description of image}


John Sloan

The name for the series of wars between Rome and Carthage in the third and second centuries BC.


Primary sources:

There are no primary sources left from the Carthaginian side. Only the Greeks and victorious Romans left reports.
Plutarch - He has essays on Fabius and Marcellus, two of the Roman generals who opposed Hannibal in Italy, but none on Scipio. See Plutarch's Lives in Modern Library series, Random House,
Polybius - He was a Greek held hostage in Rome and personal adviser to Scipio Aemilianus. Polybius accompanied Scipio to Carthage and witnessed its destruction in the Third Punic War. Polybius covers the history of the Second Punic was as well, relying on information available to him in Roman records. But he mixes up a lot of his description of the structure of the Roman army putting things that existed at widely different times together as if they were part of the same structure. There are two convenient editions. One is the Penguin Classics and it has the title The Rise of the Roman Empire. The other is called The Histories, and is published in the Great Histories Series by Twayne Publishers. Polybius is one of the most important historians and his work should be read carefully in its own right as an example of the historian's craft.
Livy - Titus Livy was born in 59 BC and served as historian to the Caesars. But his long history of Rome is one of the best sources we have. Books XXI to XXX of his history are available in paperback in the Penguin Classics under the title The War with Hannibal. Livy is also a most important historian to read. He was much read by many subsequent historians and political scientists. Most important, Machiavelli based his most important book on Livy - The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy.

Secondary sources:

Information on the Punic Wars from secondary sources may be found in several types of books - Histories of Rome, Biographies of Hannibal or Scipio Africanus, Books on military history, Books on Naval warfare, Encyclopedias of military history, military biography, or general history. Articles in military history journals on specific battles, tactics, leaders, military uniforms, etc.


Warmington. B. H. Carthage. Pelican Book. 1958. This small book is convenient as a source written from the Carthaginian view point. But as the author points out, he had to use the same Greek and Roman sources other historians use, since these are the only ones available. However, by attempting to present the story from the Carthaginian side he does a good service and his work should be consulted.
Lancel, Serge, Carthage, This is a new book for which the author has used the latest archaeological findings and scholarship. It provides much new information and is a must reference for the Carthaginian side of the Punic wars.

Rome - greatest historians:

Mommsen - Theodor Mommsen was of the greatest of the German classical scholars who revolutionized the study of ancient times and of history in general. Everyone who wants to know about history and historians must read Mommsen. His most important work is The History of Rome published in the 19th century in 5 volumes. I have the English translation published in England in 1872. There was a greatly abridged version published in the U.S. in the 1960's, but it is no substitute. The wonderful account of the Punic Wars is in Book III, which is in the Second Volume. Try to get it! Mark Twain's report of being present at a dinner at which he was able to see Mommsen is itself a treasure, and it is repeated in the abridged version.
Delbruck - Hans Delbruck is another of the great German scholars. He lived shortly after Mommsen and wrote a monumental History of the Art of War in 4 volumes. Volume I is "Warfare in Antiquity" and it contains essential reading on Delbruck's analysis of parts of the Punic War. Delbruck did not write complete narrative history, but wrote a series of case studies of particular battles or campaigns selected to show various points or principles he wanted to stress. His forte was demolishing the astounding numerical figures ancient sources gave for the size of armies.
Toynbee - Arnold Toynbee was a British historian who took all the civilizations of the world as his special field. He was much acclaimed for his magisterial, sweeping expositions on the rise and fall of civilizations. One of his most impressive works is relatively little known. This is a two volume, massive study titled Hannibal's Legacy subtitled "The Hannibalic War's Effects on Roman Life". This was published by Oxford Univ Press in 1965. Despite the title, the author starts with a description of Rome prior to the First Punic War and concludes after the last war.

Biographies of Hannibal and Scipio:

These naturally only treat of the Second Punic War.
Dupuy, Trevor N. The Military Life of Hannibal: Father of Strategy, Franklin Watts, New York, 1969. Dupuy follows another famous historian, Theodore Dodge, whose biography of Hannibal has just been reprinted by Greenhill Press. Has maps.
De Beer, Sir Gavin, Hannibal, Viking Press, New York, 1969. Well illustrated. This is revisionist history. The author attempts to take on various issues and controversies about Hannibal such as his route of march over the Alps and subject them to analytic methods.
Connolly, Peter, Hannibal and the Enemies of Rome, Macdonald Educational, London, 1978. Not really a biography. This is a beautiful picture book containing a lot of data and information on all aspects of warfare in Hannibal's time. The illustrations of the Celtic and other elements in the Carthaginian army are exceptional. It is the story of the army of Rome's enemies and is meant to accompany a companion book on the Roman army (see below).
Lecke, Ross, Hannibal, Regnery Publishing, Washington DC., 1997. A novel that captures a vivid picture of the brutality of warfare and life in general during this period. The author adds a lot of information about Hannibal's private life not found in historical sources to make his story more interesting, but I didn't see anything that violates the possibilities.
Lecke, Ross, Scipio Africanus, Regnery Publishing, Washington DC., 1998. Unfortunately in this sequel to his successful biography of Hannibal, Lecke has introduced a lot of dubious information about such historical figures as Scipio's younger brother and Cato. Some of the descriptions include gratutious bloody violence. The book appears to be aimed at becoming a movie script.
Liddell Hart, B., Greater than Napoleon: Scipio Africanus. Little, Brown, Boston, 1927. recently reprinted by Greenhill in London. A tendentious study designed to show the value of Liddell Hart's own theory of indirect war by imputing its use to Scipio. Liddell Hart would have liked to show that Scipio actually learned this strategy from him, but he could not go that far.
Scullard, H., Scipio Africanus: Soldier and Politician, Cornell Univ. Press, New York, 1970. A much more scholarly and judicious examination of the real greatness of the Roman leader.
Sloan, John F. "Scipio Africannus", in International Military and Defense Encyclopedia, Brassey's, New York, 1992.
Sweetapple, Lee A. "Hannibal Barca", in International Military and Defense Encyclopedia, Brassey's, New York, 1992.

There is also a biography of Hannibal by Harold Lamb.

General Histories:

Cornell, Tim, and John Matthews, The Roman World, in The Cultural Atlas of the World Series, Stonehenge Press, Alexandria Va. 1991. An excellent general reference.
Scullard, Howard. H. A History of the Roman World 753-146 BC. Scullard is a very find historian and writer. This general history has a good section on the Punic War. Scullard also wrote articles about Scipio to counter the claims advanced by Liddell Hart. The apendix discusses the historiographical issues related to Hannibal's campaign in Italy.
Kagan Donald, ed, Problems in Ancient History, Volume Two: The Roman World, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1966. Kagan is one of the preeminent American classical scholars whose work on the Peloponnesian War is highly acclaimed. The chapter on the causes of the Second Punic War provides a range of views contained in excerpts from four ancient historians and three modern ones, including H. Scullard.
Kagan, Donald, On the Origins of War, Doubleday, New York, 1995. The author has an indispensable chapter in which he analyzes the causes of the outbreak of the Second Punic War. Essential reference.
Dudley, Donald R., The Romans 850 BC - 337 AD, Knopf, New York, 1970. This general history contains a brief summary of the Punic Wars.
Boardman, John, The Oxford History of the Classical World, Oxford Univ. Press, London, 1986. Well illustrated general history that places the short section on the Punic Wars into the over-all perspective.

Naval History:

The three indispensable sources for study on naval warfare in the Punic Wars, which of course were very largely naval wars, despite all the interest in Hannibal and Scipio.
Thiel, J. H. A History of Roman Sea-Power Before the Second Punic War, North Holland Publishing, Amsterdam, 1954.
Thiel, J. H. Studies on the History of Roman Sea-Power in Republican Times, North Holland Publishing, Amsterdam, 1946.
Rogers, William Ledyard, Greek and Roman Naval Warfare, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis MD. 1937.


Dupuy, Trevor, The Encyclopedia of Military History, Harper and Row, 1992. This is the best source for concise data and facts. Dupuy has analysis of the strategy and tactics in use at this time as well. I believe some aspects of Dupuy's description of the Zama Campaign are based on erroneous sources.
Langer, William. An Encyclopedia of World History, Certainly the best source for distilled information, dates and names of leaders etc.
Koerper, Phillip E. "Punic Wars", in Dupuy, Trevor, ed. International Military and Defense Encyclopedia, Brassey's, New York, 1992. See articles on Hannibal and Scipio mentioned above.

General military studies:

Adcock, F. E. Roman Art of War under the Republic, Heffer Series, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1940. Still one of the best studies of the internal structure of the Roman army.
Angilm, Simon, et al., Fighting Techniques of the Ancient World 3000 BC - 500 AD, St Martin's Press, NY., 2002. The book is organized topically such as "Role of Infantry, Mounted Warfare, Siege Warfare". For unknown reason the battle of Cannae is discussed in the section on mounted warfare. The batle map is wrong, The caption states that the Carthaginian cavalry fought dismounted when it was the Roman cavalry that did so.The book is highly illustrated with many battle maps.
Connolly, Peter, The Roman Army, Macdonald Educational, London, 1975. This is a beautiful picture book, but the illustrations are both highly effective and accurate. The sections on the army of the Republic that fought the Punic Wars are useful in their own right and by comparison with the sections on the army of Julius Caesar and of the Empire enable to reader to appreciate the very real differences that existed between these periods.
Connolly, Peter, Greece and Rome at War, Greenhill Books, London, 1998. A superior reference. This is a much expanded follow on book to several of Connolly's previous publications.
Cornell. T. J. The Beginnings of Rome, Routledge, London, 1995
Crawford, Michael, The Roman Republic, Harvard Univ. Press. 1993, Actually the political struggle that so influenced the course of Roman military affairs.
Creasy, Edward, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, A. L. Burt, New York, first published in 1851. It may be somewhat surprising to the student that neither Scipio nor Hannibal participated in the decisive battle of the Punic Wars. Creasy correctly selects the Battle of the Metaurus in which the combined Roman armies of Caius Claudius Nero and Marcus Livius defeated the Carthaginian relief army commanded by Hasdrubal Barca, one of Hannibal's brothers. Creasy counts this not only as the decisive battle of these wars, but also as one of the string of decisive battles between the forces of Europe and of the Orient. This used to be standard schoolboy fare and is still a great read.
Fagan, Barrett, Great Battles of the Ancient World, Video lecture in The Great Courses series, The Teaching Company, Verginia, 2005. An excellent analysis that judiciously disputes many accepted views.
Fuller, Major General J. F. C., A Military History of the Western World. Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1954. A basic text on military history in three volumes. The author is much better as a military historian and analyst than his more illustrious countryman. The content consists of thorough descriptions and analysis of selected critical battles, with transition sections discussing developments during the intervening periods between them. Both the Metaurus and Zama are included, as is Gaugamela. A few inadequate maps. Highly recommended.
Goldsworthy, Adrian Roman Warfare, Cassell, London, 2000. Paperback edition. A small print version but complete discussion of Roman army and its activities. Illustrations and maps suffer a bit from the reduced size.
Goldsworthy, Adrian, Roman Warfare, Cassell, London, 2000 A larger print and highly illustrated version. The book contains a brief but clear description of the battles of the Punic War with excellent maps.
Goldsworthy, Adrian, The Complete Roman Army, Thames and Hudson, London, 2003. An elaborately illustrated reference book organized by subjet including the structural development of the Roman army and the life of a Roman soldier, equipment and weapons, and battle tactics.
Goldsworthy, Adrian, The Punic Wars, Cassell, London, 2000. The most authoritative study of the Punic Wars and the Roman military and political policies
Hackett, Sir John, ed. Warfare in the Ancient World, Facts on File, New York, 1989. The article by Peter Connolly on "The Roman Army in the Age of Polybius" provides excellent information not included in his picture books on the Roman army.
Head, Duncan, Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars, War games Research Group, London, 1982. This specialty book for the war gamer contains concise but complete information on the armies including their organization, dress, weapons, tactics, leadership etc. It also has descriptions of major campaigns and battles. Profusely illustrated.
Jones, Arthur, The Art of War in the Western World, University of Illinois Press, Chicago, 1987. Dr Jones organizes his treatment of ancient warfare topically rather than chronologically. Thus the book serves as an excellent analytical study to complement standard historical works. He shows the contrast between the new Roman system of warfare and the Alexandrian system, which was essentially that which Hannibal was employing. The two systems engaged again when the Romans invaded Macedonia itself, with similar results.
Keppie, Lawrence, The Making of the Roman Army, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1984, Describes the evolution of the Roman army chronologically through the centuries from early times to the early empire, with emphasis on the latter.
Matyszak, Philip, Chronicle of the Roman Republic: The Rulers of Ancient Rome from Romulus to Augustus, Thames and Hundon, 2003 WEll illustrated history built around a chronology based on the lives of the Roman rulers.
May, Elmer C., Gerald P. Stadler, and John F. Votaw, Ancient and Medieval Warfare, Avery Publishing, Wayne New Jersey, 1984. This is the standard course text for military history at the U. S. Military Academy. Naturally, it is first rate. The maps are by far the best to use to illustrate oral presentations. It has a full discussion of both Roman and Carthaginian military systems.
Montagu, John Drogo, Greek and Roman Warfare: Battles, Tactics and Trickery, Greenhill Books. London, 2006, The book focuses on individual battles. Trevia,k Cannae, Baecula, Metarus, Ilipa, and Zama are included. With the focus on trickery one would expect Hannibal and Scipio would be well represented. Montagu notes that the Metarus was the 'turning point' of the 2nd Punic War.
Montagu, John Drogo, Battles of the Greek and Roman Worlds, Greenhill Books, London, 2000, This is a chronologically organized encyclopedia-type series of entries with brief descriptions of hundreds of battles
Montgomery of Alamein, Field Marshal Viscount, A History of Warfare, The World Publishing Company, New York, 1968. The author begins his preface with the words, "I have not written this book to glorify war." No doubt a true statement, but as to glorifying himself, the author was never known to miss a chance. There is a brief but useful section on the Punic Wars. The book is well illustrated and has battle maps. Montgomery considered himself the better of Scipio, Hannibal, Alexander, Napoleon and all the rest, so there are sections in which he tries to show how he would have done things better.
Montross, Lynn, War Through the Ages" Harper and Brothers, New York, 1960. As the title indicates, this is a very broad, sweeping general history. It contains short chapters on Alexander, the Romans, and Hannibal. Popular history, but now somewhat difficult to find.
Nossov, Konstantin War Elephants, Osprey New Vanguard, London, 2008. Includes use of elephants in war throughout Asia as well as Africa - brief discussion of Roman and Carthagian use
Parker, Geoffrey, ed. Cambridge Illustrated History Warfare, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1995. The book contains a chapter by Victor Hanson, which has excellent illustrations of the Roman legionary battle formation.
Peddie, John The Roman War Machine, Sutton, London, 1994. Organized topically, such as "Roman Generalship", "Comand and Control", "Siege Warfare", the book is mostly about the Roman army at its height during the empire.
Scu.llard, H. H The Elephant in the Greek and Roman World, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1974, The only book that describes in detail the war elephant and its use by all the ancient armies. The author presents a relatively favorable assessment on their use.
Sekunda, Nick, and Simon Northwood, Early Roman Armies, Osprey Publishing, London, 1995. A highly illustrated study of the Roman Army on the eve of the Punic Wars.
Spaulding, Oliver Lyman, Hoffman Nickerson, and John W. Wright, Warfare - A Study of Military Methods From the Earliest Times. The Infantry Journal, Washington D.C. 1937. A general survey like the foregoing, but considerably more scholarly. There are chapters on Alexander and on the Punic Wars. For many years this was the standard work. Very difficult to find now, but I understand it is to be reprinted.
Watson, G. R. The Roman Soldier, Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, 1969, Focused as the title indicates on the details of the Roman soldier as an individual.


Consult the Guide to Periodic Literature. There are too many articles on one or another aspect of the Punic wars to list. The most important journal devoted to the study of ancient military affairs is "Slingshot", published in England by the Society of Ancients.

Punic Wars:

Brief summary of some possible topics include the following: A comparison of the Roman and Carthaginian methods of naval war; The Employment of the Corvus; The Causes and Results of the First Punic War; The influence of Greco-Macedonian art of war on Carthage; Development of Roman military art during the First Punic War; The Role of Sicily and Spain in the struggle between Rome and Carthage; Comparison of Roman and Carthaginian military leadership as seen in the biographies of a number of leading commanders; Analysis of the Question of Hannibal's route of march over the Alps; a study of any of the many major battles analyzing the strategic and tactical situation and methods of both sides; The conflict between Quintus Fabius and Publius Cornelius Scipio and between their political and strategic outlooks or methods; The Development of the Roman military system during the Second Punic War; Comparison of P. C. Scipio and Hannibal as military commanders, leaders, strategists etc.; Comparison of Carthaginian and Roman use of cavalry; Relationship between Rome's wars with Carthage and Macedon; and Was the Third Punic War Necessary?.

Obviously these are but a few of the possible topics that one might investigate and report on.


Here is a list of the most important events.

The First Punic War
265 BC. Leaders in Messina, a city in Sicily, at war with another city, Syracuse appealed to both Rome and Carthage for assistance. The Carthaginians arrived first, seized the city, and were then thrown out by the Romans.
264 BC. The Carthaginians allied with Syracuse (ruler Hiero II) against Rome to regain Messina by siege and were defeated by the Roman army of Appius Claudius Caudex whose subsequent siege of Syracuse was also unsuccessful.
263 BC. Roman victories in eastern Sicily forced Hiero to switch sides and support the Roman invasion of Carthaginian territories in western Sicily.
262 BC. Roman army successfully besieged the Carthaginian fortress city at Agrigentum held by Hannibal Gisco and defeated a relieving army led by Hanno.
260 BC. Carthaginian navy defeated a Roman naval squadron at Lipara Islands.
260 BC. Roman fleet using new "secret weapon" the Corvus (a boarding bridge) destroyed a Carthaginian fleet at Mylae enabling the Romans to invade Corsica and Sardinia.
256 BC. A huge Roman fleet carrying an army to invade Africa defeated a nearly-as-large Carthaginian fleet at the battle of Cape Ecnomus off Sicily by using the Corvus again. The 20,000 strong Roman army under Marcus Atillius Regulus landed near Tunis. The Romans won major battle at Adys. When the Carthaginians asked for peace, the Romans made such excessive demands the Carthaginians called in Greek mercenary support led by Xanthippus.
255 BC. Xanthippus reorganized and trained the Carthaginian army enabling them to defeat and capture Regulus at the Battle of Tunes. While evacuating the surviving troops a large Roman fleet was destroyed in a storm, losing almost 100,000 of the best soldiers and sailors.
254 BC. With the threat in Africa gone Carthage again managed to reenforce its garrisons in Sicily and recapture Agrigentum.
251 BC. Roman consul Lucius Caecilius Mettellus defeated an equal strength Carthaginian army commanded by Hasdrubal at Cape Panormus. The Carthaginians asked for peace, but the Romans again refused.
249 BC. The Carthaginian fleet of admiral Adherbal destroyed a large Roman fleet commanded by P. Claudius Pulcher at the Battle of Drepanum. The same year Hamilcar Barca defeated Roman land forces in Sicily. Then the Romans suffered their fourth naval disaster in storms. By then they had lost over 700 vessels.
247-243 BC. Hamilcar Barca defeated all Roman offensives in Sicily but was unable to carry the war into Roman territory.
242 BC. The Romans completed rebuilding their navy and launched successful ground and naval assaults against Carthaginian fortresses at Lilybaeum and Drepanum in Sicily.
241 BC. The Roman navy commanded by L. Lutatius Catulus decisively defeated the Carthaginian relief fleet sent to Sicily under command of Hanno. Carthage surrendered, gave up all territories in Sicily, and paid a huge indemnity. This officially ended the First Punic War.
238. Despite the peace, Rome invaded Sardinia on the pretext of quelling a revolt of Carthaginian mercenary troops.
230-219 BC. The Romans were busy winning two small wars in Illyria (Albania) and in fending off an invasion of Italy by Gauls (Celts). The Illyrians were no match whatsoever. The Gauls were successful initially, but were eventually driven back to the Po River Valley. They were eager for revenge when a leader like Hannibal came to organize them.
The Second Punic War:
221 BC. The Romans began to support an anti-Carthaginian group in Saguntum, a Greek city well within the recognized Carthaginian area in Spain. This was clearly a provocation.
219 BC. Hannibal Barca (son of the assassinated Hamilcar) took Saguntum by storm and Rome declared war.
218 BC. Leaving about 20,000 troops with his brother, Hasdrubal, to fight in Spain, Hannibal left Spain ahead of the Roman army he knew would be arriving, marched over the Pyrenees, eluded a Roman force in southern Gaul (France), crossed the Rhone and then the Alps. At the same time the Roman army commanded by Consul Publius Cornelius Scipio and his brother Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio was moving from Italy to Spain. P.C. Scipio allowed Hannibal to outwit him in Gaul and then foolishly sent his army on to Spain while returning with a few troops to the Po River. Another Roman army led by the Praetor Lucius Manlius was assembling to defend the Po against possible Gaulish uprisings. The main Roman army commanded by the other Consul, Titus Sempronius, was preparing in Sicily to invade Africa. Learning of Hannibal's movements the Romans brought this army from Sicily by sea to the Po to join in the defense against Hannibal. Hannibal astounded the Romans by debouching from the Alps so quickly by October. In November he trounced the Roman army led by P.C. Scipio and L. Manlius at the Ticinus River. Hannibal rapidly executed his plan to recruit and train Gauls. In December T. Sempronius arrived. Hannibal tricked Sempronius into attacking across the Trebia River, executed an ambush, and nearly destroyed the Roman army.
217 BC. Hannibal recruited more Gauls and rested his army early in the year. The Romans elected new consuls - Gaius Flaminius and Gnaeus Servilius - to command two armies assembled in northern Italy. In March Hannibal crossed the Apennines and moved his army behind the divided Romans. In April Hannibal ambushed Flaminius, who was rushing south, at Lake Trasimene. The Roman Senate then appointed Quintus Fabius Dictator. Fabius instituted the delaying (attrition) strategy that came to bear his name (Fabian). Meanwhile P. C. Scipio joined his brother in Spain where they slowly drove Hannibal's brothers, Hasdrubal and Mago, back and retook Saguntum.
216 BC Hannibal won the greatest battle of his career and provided succeeding generations of military students and commanders with the epitome of a perfect tactical battle at Cannae. The indomitable Romans declared full mobilization, elected M. Junius Pera dictator, and sent another army south under command of the very experienced Marcus Claudius Marcellus.
215-213 BC. According to Hannibal's strategic plan, King Philip of Macedon joined the war, but with their vast manpower resources the Romans were able to dispatch armies against him in Greece. Meanwhile the Roman armies in Spain continued their gradual success. Hannibal was able to elude much larger Roman armies marching about southern Italy, but could do little more.
213-211 BC. While Hannibal continued to defeat one Roman general after another in southern Italy, M. Claudius Marcellus took a large force to Sicily to besiege Syracuse. It was in this famous siege that Archimedes distinguished himself be inventing numerous defensive engineering apparatus before being killed by the victorious Romans.
211 BC. Hasdrubal finally defeated and killed the Scipio brothers in Spain.
The consuls Publius Sulpicius Galba and Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus invested Hannibal's ally, Capua, with very large armies. Hannibal attempted to relieve the city, but was driven off by superior forces. He then attempted a march directly on Rome itself, but its massive fortifications and 50,000 man garrison made any real attempt at a siege impossible. Capua eventually surrendered.
210 BC. Roman efforts to destroy Hannibal's logistic bases in southern Italy rather than face him in open battle also failed as he destroyed several more armies, killing G. F. Centumalus himself at the Second Battle of Herdonia. Hannibal then defeated M. C. Marcellus again at Numistro.
210-209 BC. The Roman Senate sent Publius C. Scipio, son of the killed commander to take over the Roman armies in Spain. He quickly executed a brilliant surprise advance against the Carthaginian capital at New Carthage.
209-208 BC. Even though Quintus Fabius captured Hannibal's base at Tarentum by treason of its garrison, Hannibal managed to hold off vastly superior Roman armies, defeating M.C. Marcellus yet again, at Asculum.
208 BC. P. C. Scipio managed a drawn battle with Hasdrubal at Beccula, but allowed the latter to march away with a fresh army toward Italy. Hasdrubal moved into Gaul to recruit a relief force as ordered by Hannibal.
207 BC. The Consul Caius Claudius Nero with a superior force managed to check Hannibal's march north in Italy at Grumentum. Then, as Hannibal encamped to await word from Hasdrubal, Nero intercepted the messengers. Leaving part of the army to deceive Hannibal, Nero marched rapidly and secretly north to join the other Roman Consul, M. Livius Salinator near the Metaurus River. Realizing he was outnumbered by the combined Roman armies, Hasdrubal attempted to withdraw across the river but was killed in battle as his army was destroyed. This was the decisive battle of the war.
206 BC. Scipio continued to defeat the remaining Carthaginian forces in Spain led by Hannibal's remaining brother, Mago, and Hasdrubal Gisco. Hannibal continued his war of maneuver across southern Italy but was gradually confined to the southernmost section in Bruttium.
205 BC. Having gained control of Spain, Scipio journeyed to Africa to enlist local allies and then proceeded to Sicily to train an invasion army using the exiled survivors of Cannae as cadre.
204 BC. Mago Barca led a small Carthaginian army in an amphibious landing near Genoa in hopes of replacing Hasdrubal's threat to Rome. Scipio landed in Africa with a fine, veteran army of 30,000 men to besiege Utica. Another of Hannibal's brothers, Hanno, was killed in this action. Hasdrubal Gisco and the Numidian king Syphax forced Scipio to give up the siege.
203 BC. Scipio destroyed the armies of Hasdrubal Gisco and Syphax in a surprise attack on their separate camps. But the allies soon brought up fresh armies, which Scipio again defeated at Bagbrades. At this the Carthaginian Senate recalled Hannibal and Mago from Italy to defend the city. Mago died from wounds en route, but Hannibal managed to elude the Roman navy and bring a few thousand Italian veterans with him.
202 BC. Hannibal attempted to position himself between Scipio's Romans and their Numidian allies, but failed to prevent the junction of the two forces. Hannibal was forced into battle, although unready, at Zama, where he attempted to repeat the basic tactical maneuver of Cannae. Scipio was no Varro and his army was much better trained than the Roman levies of 14 years previous. While Hannibal's force of new recruits was no match for his original veteran army. The result was complete victory for the Romans, after which Carthage finally surrendered and Hannibal fled to Asia Minor. Scipio was given the honorific name, Africanus.

The Third Punic War:

This was very much an anticlimax. It was also an example of Roman brutality and imperial ambition at its worst.
149 BC. Rome declared war on the pretext of various incitements by its African (Numidian) allies. Surprisingly, the initial naval and ground operations went in favor of Carthage.
147 BC. The invading Roman army in Africa received a new commander -Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, the son of one great Roman general (L. Aemilius Paulus who destroyed the Macedonians at Pynda) and adopted grandson of another (Scipio Africanus).
146 BC. Scipio Aemilianus sacked Carthage but wanted to spare the city further destruction. The Roman Senate decreed otherwise, completely destroying the city and selling some 50,000 citizens as slaves. The city became a quarry of available stone for generations, but no copies of written literature survived.

Return to Xenophon main page.