By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Hannibal Barca was born in Carthage, (modern-day Tunisia, North Africa) in 247 BC. He was the son of Hamilcar Barca, who was a highly respected Carthaginian general, and one of the leaders in the first Punic War with the Roman Republic. His brothers Hasdrubal and Mago Barca and his brother-in-law Hasdrubal The Fair, were all commanders in the Carthaginian Military.
Even though Carthage loss the the first Punic War, the Carthaginians and Hannibal were not a submissive people and what they may have loss in the first Punic War, they started to win back in the punic peace, when they started to reclaim their loss territory. The second Punic war started in 218 BC, when Hannibal and his army attacked Saguntum (modern-day Spain), which was an ally of Rome. Hannibal then brought the war to Rome’s Italy territory, when he marched his army and African war elephants out of Africa and into Southern Europe, by crossing the Alps. Hannibal used his brilliant military mind to out strategize his opponents and exploit their weaknesses. For the first several years of his military campaign against the Romans, he achieved many victories, including the battle of Trebia, The Battle of Cannae and the Battle of Lake Trasimene. Hannibal and his forces would eventually take control of most of Southern Italy, and would hold on to it for about a decade and a half. Unfortunately, for Hannibal, he was unable to put the final nail in the Roman Republic’s coffin because for the most part the Roman military, which was led by Fabius Maximus, refused to have a head-to-head battle with their African rivals. Instead they used what is now called the “Fabian Strategy”, which is war of attrition. While Hannibal and his men were busy occupying Southern Italy, Roman general Scipio Africanus, saw that as an opportunity to invade Northern Africa. Once Hannibal discovered their new strategy, he immediately returned to Carthage and would eventually be defeated by Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama.
Post War Life
After the Second Punic War with the Romans, Hannibal decided to run for political office and was elected “Sufet”, which in modern-day terms would be the equivalent of a chief magistrate. Hannibal would use his political power to enact financial reforms to raise money to pay war reparations to the Romans. The reforms were so unpopular with the wealthy aristocrats in Carthage and Roman, that Hannibal decided to go into self-imposed exile. One of the places he lived while in exile was the Seleucid Empire, there he became a military advisor to Antiochus III The Great, during his military campaign against Rome. When Antiochus was defeated at the battle of Magnesia, Hannibal once more was forced to go into exile. Hannibal would eventually travel to the Kingdom of Armenia, where he sought sanctuary, there he would be betrayed to the Romans. Instead of allowing himself to be a prisoner of the Romans, he committed Suicide by poisoning.