The Roman Republic was the era of classical Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BC, ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire. It was during this period that Rome's control expanded from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world. Roman society under the Republic was a cultural mix of Latin and Greek elements, visible in the Roman Pantheon, its political organisation was influenced by the Greek city states of Magna Graecia, with collective and annual magistracies, overseen by a senate. The top magistrates were the two consuls, who had an extensive range of executive, judicial and religious powers. Whilst there were elections each year, the Republic was not a democracy, but an oligarchy, as a small number of large families monopolised the main magistracies. Roman institutions underwent considerable changes throughout the Republic to adapt to the difficulties it faced, such as the creation of promagistracies to rule its conquered provinces, or the composition of the senate.
Unlike the Pax Romana of the Roman Empire, the Republic was in a state of quasi-perpetual war throughout its existence. Its first enemies were its Latin and Etruscan neighbours as well as the Gauls, who sacked the city in 387 BC; the Republic nonetheless demonstrated extreme resilience and always managed to overcome its losses, however catastrophic. After the Gallic Sack, Rome indeed conquered the whole Italian peninsula in a century, which turned the Republic into a major power in the Mediterranean; the Republic's greatest enemy was doubtless Carthage, against. The Punic general Hannibal famously invaded Italy by crossing the Alps and inflicted on Rome two devastating defeats at the Lake Trasimene and Cannae, but the Republic once again recovered and won the war thanks to Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. With Carthage defeated, Rome became the dominant power of the ancient Mediterranean world, it embarked in a long series of difficult conquests, after having notably defeated Philip V and Perseus of Macedon, Antiochus III of the Seleucid Empire, the Lusitanian Viriathis, the Numidian Jugurtha, the great Pontic king Mithridates VI, the Gaul Vercingetorix, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
At home, the Republic experienced a long streak of social and political crises, which ended in several violent civil wars. At first, the Conflict of the Orders opposed the patricians, the closed oligarchic elite, to the far more numerous plebs, who achieved political equality in several steps during the 4th century BC; the vast conquests of the Republic disrupted its society, as the immense influx of slaves they brought enriched the aristocracy, but ruined the peasantry and urban workers. In order to solve this issue, several social reformers, known as the Populares, tried to pass agrarian laws, but the Gracchi brothers, Saturninus, or Clodius Pulcher were all murdered by their opponents, the Optimates, keepers of the traditional aristocratic order. Mass slavery caused three Servile Wars. In this context, the last decades of the Republic were marked by the rise of great generals, who exploited their military conquests and the factional situation in Rome to gain control of the political system.
Marius Sulla dominated in turn the Republic. These multiple tensions lead to a series of civil wars. Despite his victory and appointment as dictator for life, Caesar was murdered in 44 BC. Caesar's heir Octavian and lieutenant Mark Antony defeated Caesar's assassins Brutus and Cassius in 42 BC, but turned against each other; the final defeat of Mark Antony and his ally Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, the Senate's grant of extraordinary powers to Octavian as Augustus in 27 BC – which made him the first Roman emperor – thus ended the Republic. Since the foundation of Rome, its rulers had been monarchs, elected for life by the patrician noblemen who made up the Roman Senate; the last Roman king was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. In the traditional histories, Tarquin was expelled in 509 because his son Sextus Tarquinius had raped the noblewoman Lucretia, who afterwards took her own life. Lucretia's father, her husband Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, Tarquin's nephew Lucius Junius Brutus mustered support from the Senate and army, forced Tarquin into exile in Etruria.
The Senate agreed to abolish kingship. Most of the king's former functions were transferred to two consuls, who were elected to office for a term of one year; each consul had the capacity to act as a check on his colleague, if necessary through the same power of veto that the kings had held. If a consul abused his powers in office, he could be prosecuted. Brutus and Collatinus became Republican Rome's first consuls. Despite Collatinus' role in the creation of the Republic, he belonged to the same family as the former king, was forced to abdicate his office and leave Rome, he was replaced as co-consul by Publius Valerius Publicola. Most modern scholarship describes these events as the quasi-mythological detailing of an aristocratic coup within Tarquin's own family, not a popular revolution, they fit a narrative of a personal vengeance against a tyrant leading to his overthrow, common among Greek cities and theorised by Aristotle
Hannibal's crossing of the Alps
Hannibal's crossing of the Alps in 218 BC was one of the major events of the Second Punic War, one of the most celebrated achievements of any military force in ancient warfare. Bypassing Roman and allied land garrisons and Roman naval dominance, Hannibal managed to lead his Carthaginian army over the Alps and into Italy to take the war directly to the Roman Republic. After the final Carthaginian naval defeat at the Aegates Islands, the Carthaginians surrendered and accepted defeat in the First Punic War. Hamilcar Barca, a leading member of the patriotic Barcine party in Carthage and a general who operated with ability in the course of the First Punic War, sought to remedy the losses that Carthage had suffered in Sicily to the Romans. In addition to this, the Carthaginians were embittered by the loss of Sardinia. After the Carthaginians' loss of the war, the Romans imposed terms upon them that were designed to reduce Carthage to a tribute-paying city to Rome and strip it of its fleet. While the terms of the peace treaty were harsh, the Romans did not strip Carthage of her strength.
The Carthaginian Barcine party was interested in conquering Iberia, a land whose variety of natural resources would fill its coffers with sorely needed revenue and replace the riches of Sicily that, following the end of the First Punic War, were now flowing into Roman coffers. In addition, it was the ambition of the Barcas, one of the leading noble families of the patriotic party, to some day employ the Iberian peninsula as a base of operations for waging a war of revenge against the Roman military alliance; those two things went hand in hand, in spite of conservative opposition to his expedition, Hamilcar set out in 238 BC to begin his conquest of the Iberian peninsula with these objectives in mind. Marching west from Carthage towards the Pillars of Hercules, where his army crossed the strait and proceeded to subdue the peninsula, in the course of nine years Hamilcar conquered the south-eastern portion of the peninsula, his administration of the freshly conquered provinces led Cato the Elder to remark that "there was no king equal to Hamilcar Barca."In 228 BC, Hamilcar was killed, witnessed by Hannibal, during a campaign against the Celtic natives of the peninsula.
The commanding naval officer, both Hamilcar's son in law and a member of the Patriotic party – Hasdrubal "The Handsome" – was awarded the chief command by the officers of the Carthaginian Iberian army. There were a number of Grecian colonies along the eastern coast of the Iberian peninsula, the most notable being the trade emporium of Saguntum; these colonies expressed concern about the consolidation of Carthaginian power on the peninsula, which Hasdrubal's deft military leadership and diplomatic skill procured. For protection, Saguntum turned to Rome; the conclusion of the treaty and the embassy were sent to Hasdrubal's camp in 226 BC. In 221 BC, Hasdrubal was killed by an assassin, it was in that year that the officers of the Carthaginian army in Iberia expressed their high opinion of Hamilcar's 29-year-old son, Hannibal, by electing him to the chief command of the army. Having assumed the command of the army that his father had wielded through nine years of hard mountain fighting, Hannibal declared that he was going to finish his father's project of conquering the Iberian peninsula, the first objective in his father's plan to bring a war to Rome in Italy and defeat it there.
Hannibal spent the first two years of his command seeking to complete his father's ambition while putting down several potential revolts that resulted in part from the death of Hasdrubal, which menaced the Carthaginian possessions conquered thus far. He attacked the tribe captured their chief town of Althaea. A number of the neighbouring tribes were astonished at the vigour and rapacity of this attack, as a result of which they submitted to the Carthaginians, he received tribute from all of these subjugated tribes, marched his army back to Cartagena, where he rewarded his troops with gifts and promised more gifts in the future. During the next two years, Hannibal reduced all of Iberia south of the Ebro to subjection, excepting the city of Saguntum, under the aegis of Rome, was outside of his immediate plans. Catalonia and Saguntum were now the only areas of the peninsula not in Hannibal's possession. Hannibal was informed of Roman politics, saw that this was the opportune time to attack, he had Gallic spies in every corner of the Roman Republic within the inner circles of the Senate itself.
The Romans had spent the years since the end of the First Punic War tightening their grip on the peninsula by taking important geographical positions in the peninsula in addition to extending Rome's grip on Sicily and Sardinia. In addition to this, the Romans had been at war with the Padane Gauls off and on for more than a century; the Boii had waged war upon the Romans in 238 BC, a war that lasted until 236 BC. In 225 BC, the natives of northern Italy, seeing that Rome was again moving aggressively to colonize their territory, progressed to the attack, but were defeated; the Romans were determined to drive their borders right up to the Alps. In 224 BC, the Boii submitted to Roman hegemony, the next y
Battle of the Upper Baetis
The Battle of the Upper Baetis was a double battle, comprising the battles of Castulo and Ilorca, fought in 211 BC during the Second Punic War between a Carthaginian force led by Hasdrubal Barca and a Roman force led by Publius Cornelius Scipio and his brother Gnaeus. The immediate result was a Carthaginian victory. Before this defeat, the brothers had spent seven years campaigning in Hispania, which had limited the resources available to Hannibal, fighting the Romans in Italy; this double battle represents the only Carthaginian victory in a major land battle during the Second Punic War in which Hannibal was not in command of the Carthaginian armies. After the defeat of Hasdrubal Barca in the Battle of Dertosa in the spring of 215 BC, the Romans had secured their bases north of the Ebro, they proceeded to win over some Iberian tribes in the region. Both the Romans and Carthaginians put down Iberian tribal revolts; the Scipios received no reinforcement from Italy. Due to a lack of support from Rome, the Scipios mounted no decisive operations against the Carthaginians in 214–213 BC.
In 215 BC, the brothers complained about the lack of Roman supplies and finance for their army. The Roman Senate responded by sending private companies to supply their forces. Two of these merchants and Postumius, turned about to be criminals who cheated the Scipios of their money. In 214 BC, Rome suffered a financial crisis as a result of the strains of war, increasing the Scipios' funding troubles. Despite the lack of any reinforcement or renewed funding, the Scipios went over to the offensive in 212 BC, re-capturing Saguntum, lost to Hannibal in 219 BC. Meanwhile, Hasdrubal had been reinforced by two armies, led by his younger brother, Mago Barca, Hasdrubal Gisco. According to Livy, the Romans fought multiple battles against the Carthaginians south of the Ebro from 215–214 BC, at Iliturgi and Orongi. Livy's chronology is confused and contradicted by Polybius, who explicitly states that the Scipio brothers did not venture south of the Ebro until 212 BC; as a result, most historians consider these engagements to be ahistorical.
The Scipios had persuaded Syphax, a Numidian king, to open hostilities against Carthage with an army, trained by Statorius, a Roman centurion, in 213 or 212 BC. On the whole, the situation in Iberia was stable enough for Hasdrubal Barca to shift his attention to Africa in 213/212 BC in order to put down this rebellion. Hasdrubal Barca returned to Iberia in late 212 BC, bringing with him 3,000 Numidians under Masinissa, the future king of Numidia. In 212 BC, the Scipio brothers captured Castulo, a major mining town and the home of Hannibal's wife Imilce, they wintered at Castulo and Ilugia. The brothers hired 20,000 Celt-Iberian mercenaries to reinforce their army of 20,000 Romans; the Romans strength had been reduced by losses sustained against the Carthaginians and Iberian tribes since 218 BC and the need to garrison the main Roman base at Tarraco. Observing that the Carthaginian armies were deployed separately from each other, with Hasdrubal Barca's army near Amtorgis. Publius Scipio led Roman and allied soldiers to attack Mago Barca near Castulo, while Gnaeus Scipio took one-third of the Roman army in Spain and the mercenaries to attack Hasdrubal Barca.
This stratagem would lead to two battles, the Battle of Castulo and the Battle of Ilorca, which took place within a few days of each other. Gnaeus Scipio arrived at his objective first. However, Hasdrubal Barca had ordered the armies of Indibilis and Mandonius and Hasdrubal Gisco to join Mago near Castulo. Hasdrubal Barca held his ground against Gnaeus Scipio, staying within his fortified camp managed to bribe the Celt-Iberian mercenaries to desert Gnaeus Scipio; this led to Hasdrubal's army outnumbering that of Gnaeus Scipio. Hasdrubal bided his time; as Publius Scipio neared Castulo, he was harassed day and night by the Numidian light cavalry under Masinissa. When informed that Indibilis was moving across his line of retreat with 7,500 Iberians, Publius Scipio decided not to face Mago but to attack the Iberian chieftain, fearing that he would be surrounded by Carthaginian forces. Leaving 2,000 soldiers in his camp under the legate Tiberius Fonteus, he marched out that night to launch an attack on the Iberians and evade Masinissa's cavalry.
Scipio marched throughout the night and caught Indibilis and his men by surprise in the early morning. However, the Iberians managed to hold off the Romans in the confused night battle just long enough for Masinissa to arrive. With the Numidian horse attacking from the flank, the Roman assault on the Iberians began to slacken; when Mago and Hasdrubal Gisco arrived with their combined armies, the Romans after a grim struggle and fled, leaving Publius Scipio and most of their comrades dead on the field. Mago gave the Numidians enough time to loot the dead before force marching the army towards Hasdrubal Barca's position. A handful of Roman survivors managed to reach their camp. Gnaeus Scipio had lost the advantage of numbers with the desertion of the mercenaries. Although unaware of Publius Scipio's fate, Gnaeus decided to withdraw towards northern Iberia after Mago and Hasdrubal Gisco arrived with their armies; the Romans moved out of their camp, leaving their camp fires burning, made for the Ebro at night.
Battle of Crotona
The battle or, more the battles of Croton in 204 and 203 BC were, as well as the raid in Cisalpine Gaul, the last larger scale engagements between the Romans and the Carthaginians in Italy during the Second Punic War. After Hannibal’s retreat to Bruttium due to the Metaurus debacle, the Romans continuously tried to block his forces from gaining access to the Ionian Sea and cut his eventual escape to Carthage by capturing Croton; the Carthaginian commander struggled to retain his hold on the last efficient port which had remained in his hands after years of fighting and was successful. The last exploits of Hannibal in Italy are recorded by Titus Livius in his Ab urbe condita; the other comparatively detailed account belongs to Appian, who dedicated a special part of his Roman History to the Hannibal's invasion. Some additional sketches provides another "Roman History", written by Cassius Dio. By 204 BC, the Romans were winning the war. Three years earlier, they had destroyed the army of Hasdrubal Barca, who had marched from Iberia through the Alps into Italy to help his brother Hannibal.
Publius Cornelius Scipio had taken advantage of Hasdrubal's departure and broke the Carthaginian power on the Iberian peninsula as a result of the battle at Ilipa. The final victory was just a matter of time. Following the battle of the Metaurus river, Hannibal decided to concentrate all his remaining forces and supporters in Bruttium, “the remotest corner of Italy”, he relinquished his other possessions in Lucania and Magna Graecia because they lost their strategical importance and he deemed them indefensible against Rome's superior forces. Furthermore, having lost many troops in cities taken by the Romans in the previous years, he wanted to diminish his losses. A mountainous region entirely surrounded by the sea, Bruttium provided Hannibal with a perfect base to check the Roman advance and force the Senate to keep a large standing army against him, thus he resorted to the same tactics his father Hamilcar Barca used for seven years during the First Punic war in Sicily. According to the military historian Hans Delbrück, the strategic goal behind these tactics was to induce Rome to an acceptable peace treaty in return for relinquishing the Punic base in Italy.
Livy describes the character of the ensuing warfare in this way: “The struggle in Bruttium had assumed the character of brigandage much more than that of regular warfare. The Numidians had commenced the practice, the Bruttians followed their example, not so much because of their alliance with the Carthaginians as because it was their traditional and natural method of carrying on war. At last the Romans were infected by the passion for plunder and, as far as their generals allowed them, used to make predatory incursions on the enemy's fields.”At this point, Rome had to decide how to proceed. After much debating in the Senate, elected consul for 205 BC, was authorized to invade Africa. Scipio's point was that only by this invasion would he induce Carthage to recall Hannibal and Mago, who had set up another Carthaginian stronghold in Italy by landing in Liguria, he was not given sufficient resources though and had to spend a year in preparations for the expedition from Sicily. With time, Scipio's assessment proved correct.
For four years the main Roman forces were entangled in Bruttium and some were diverted to Etruria and Cisalpine Gaul to face Mago. In 206 BC, Bruttium was assigned to both of the consuls. Cassius Dio explains their inaction: “Hannibal for a time was keeping quiet, satisfied if he might only retain such advantages as were his, and the consuls, believing that his power would waste away without a battle waited.” Appian states. This did not come, for a large convoy of 100 ships with soldiers and supplies was driven off its course by high winds and routed by the Roman fleet at Sardinia. Hannibal had to collect more resources by confiscations; these measures undermined his popularity among the local population and were the cause for several cases of defection. The deportation of unreliable citizens from strategic fortresses, referred by Appian, produced more security for Hannibal but not in the case of Locri. In 205 BC, a Roman detachment, sent from Rhegium by Scipio, managed to capture a part of the town by a sudden assault.
Hannibal moved to expel the enemy “and the Romans would not have held out had not the population, embittered by the tyranny and rapacity of the Carthaginians, taken their side.”Pressed by the loss of the strategic port, Hannibal set his base “at Croton, which he found to be well situated for his operations and where he established his magazines and his headquarters against the other towns”. As in the previous year, he was confronted by two armies of two legions each, one commanded by the consul Publius Licinius Crassus, the other by the proconsul Q. Caecilius. According to Appian, Crassus managed to detach from Hannibal seven towns in Bruttium, Consentia among them, it is open to debate whether he did this by persuasion. It is debatable whether Crassus accomplished anything, for Livy narrates that Consentia surrendered after the battles at Croton in the following year. For Livy, the most memorable event in Bruttium in 205 BC was a pestilence that “attacked the Romans and the Carthaginians and was fatal to both, but in addition to the epidemic, the Carthaginians were suffering from scarcity of food”.
This occurred toward the year's end. The disease was so serious that Crassus could not return to Rome for conducting the elections of the next consuls and recommended to the Senate to disband one of the armies in Bruttium, so as to preserve the soldiers’ lives; the Senate let Crassus
Battle of Herdonia (210 BC)
The second battle of Herdonia took place in 210 BC during the Second Punic War. Hannibal, leader of the Carthaginians, who had invaded Italy eight years earlier and destroyed a Roman army, operating against his allies in Apulia; the heavy defeat increased the war's burden on Rome and, piled on previous military disasters, aggravated the relations with her exhausted Italian allies. For Hannibal the battle did not halt for long the Roman advance. Within the next three years the Romans reconquered most of the territories and cities lost at the beginning of the war and pushed the Carthaginian general to the southwestern end of the Apennine peninsula; the battle was the last Carthaginian victory of the war. There is a controversy among modern historians arising from the narrative of Titus Livius, the major source of this event, who describes two battles taking place in the span of two years at the same place between Hannibal and Roman commanders with similar names; some state that there was just one battle in fact.
Following his incursion into southern Italy in 217 BC, Hannibal defeated the Roman forces in the battle of Cannae. This victory brought him a host of new allies from Campania, Apulia, Lucania and Magna Graecia, who revolted from Rome enticed by his narrative of Roman oppression. One of these allies was the city of Herdonia in northern Apulia, it was the site of a general engagement between Hannibal and the Romans in 212 BC, because despite the severe defeats on the battlefield Rome still managed to preserve intact the core of its system of alliances in Italy and continued to mount a slow but steady counter-offensive. The first battle of Herdonia ended with the total annihilation of the troops led by the praetor Gnaeus Fulvius Flaccus; however Flaccus' army was just a fraction of the forces fielded by Rome. The siege of Capua, which had begun years before, ended in 211 BC with the fall of the largest city that had taken the side of Hannibal after Cannae; the Carthaginian's inability to defend Capua reversed the mood among many of his allies and Hannibal's position began to weaken.
The Roman advance in southern Italy continued in 210 BC. Two armies stood against Hannibal in Apulia; the one was under the consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus. The proconsul Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus commanded the other, their overall strength was four Roman legions plus an equal allied contingent. Since they operated not far from each other Hannibal did not dare to challenge them; this allowed Marcellus to capture the city of Salapia, betrayed to him by a fraction of its citizens, to destroy the Carthaginian garrison. Following this setback Hannibal retreated and a rumour was spread that he was going away to Bruttium. Upon learning this Marcellus moved to Samnium and reduced two more towns that served as Carthaginian bases in this region. Meanwhile, Hannibal returned to northern Apulia with forced marches and managed to catch Centumalus off-guard when the latter was besieging Herdonia. Despite the Carthaginian numerical superiority the proconsul did not decline the battle, he clashed with the Carthaginian infantry.
Hannibal waited until the Romans and their allies were engaged and sent his Numidian cavalry to surround them. Part of the Numidians attacked the Roman camp, insufficiently protected; the others dispersed it. The same happened to the Romans fighting in the front line. Centumalus, eleven military tribunes and 7,000–13,000 soldiers were slain; the rest were scattered and some escaped to Marcellus in Samnium. The victory did not bring strategic advantages to Hannibal. Judging that in the long run he could not retain Herdonia, the Carthaginian general decided to resettle its population in Metapontum and Thurii to the south and destroy the city itself. Before that he set an example to other eventual traitors by executing some of the distinguished citizens who had conspired to betray Herdonia to Centumalus. For the rest of the summer he was forced to fight off the second Roman army; the next battle with Marcellus at Numistro was inconclusive and Hannibal was unable to regain the positions lost at the beginning of the campaign.
The second defeat at Herdonia did not make the Roman Senate change its warlike stance. Once again, as in the aftermath of Cannae, the senators resorted to punitive actions against the remnants of the defeated army. 4,344 men were rounded up and sent to Sicily where they joined the survivors of Cannae and were sentenced to serve on the island until the end of the war. This had undesired repercussions; the deportation of the soldiers, most of whom were of Latin origin, caused considerable discontent among the Latin colonies, drained by ten years of continuous warfare on Italian soil. Amidst great want of additional manpower and financial resources twelve out of thirty colonies refused to send any more levies and money to Rome; this crisis put severe strain on the Roman war effort. First Battle of Herdonia Note: All links to online sources were active on October 26, 2007 Appian, Roman History, The Hannibalic War, Livius Articles on Ancient History Eutropius, Abridgement of Roman History, Book III, available on Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum - A Digital Library of Latin Literature Livius, The History of Rome, Vol. IV, University of Virginia
Hannibal Barca was a general and statesman from Ancient Carthage, considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. His father, Hamilcar Barca, was a leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War, his younger brothers were Mago and Hasdrubal, he was brother-in-law to Hasdrubal the Fair, all commanded Carthaginian armies. Hannibal lived during a period of great tension in the western Mediterranean Basin, triggered by the emergence of the Roman Republic as a great power after it had established its supremacy over Italy. Although Rome had won the First Punic War, revanchism prevailed in Carthage, symbolised by the alleged pledge that Hannibal made to his father to never be a friend of Rome; the Second Punic War broke out in 218 after Hannibal's attack on Saguntum, an ally of Rome in Hispania. He made his famous military exploit of carrying war to Italy by crossing the Alps with his African elephants. In his first few years in Italy, he won a succession of dramatic victories at the Trebia, Lake Trasimene, Cannae.
He distinguished himself for his ability to determine his and his opponent's respective strengths and weaknesses, to plan battles accordingly. Hannibal's well-planned strategies allowed him to conquer. Hannibal occupied most of southern Italy for 15 years, but could not win a decisive victory, as the Romans led by Fabius Maximus avoided confrontation with him, instead waging a war of attrition. A counter-invasion of North Africa led by Scipio Africanus forced him to return to Carthage. Scipio had studied Hannibal's tactics and brilliantly devised some of his own, he defeated Rome's nemesis at the Battle of Zama, having driven Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal out of the Iberian Peninsula. After the war, Hannibal ran for the office of sufet, he enacted political and financial reforms to enable the payment of the war indemnity imposed by Rome. During this time, he lived at the Seleucid court, where he acted as military advisor to Antiochus III the Great in his war against Rome. Antiochus met defeat at the Battle of Magnesia and was forced to accept Rome's terms, Hannibal fled again, making a stop in the Kingdom of Armenia.
His flight ended in the court of Bithynia, where he achieved an outstanding naval victory against a fleet from Pergamon. He was afterwards betrayed to the committed suicide by poisoning himself. Hannibal is regarded as one of the greatest military strategists in history and one of the greatest generals of Mediterranean antiquity, together with Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus. Plutarch states that Scipio asked Hannibal "who the greatest general was", to which Hannibal replied "either Alexander or Pyrrhus himself" Military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge called Hannibal the "father of strategy", because Roman armies adopted elements of his military tactics into its own strategic arsenal. Hannibal has been cited by various subsequent military leaders, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, as an inspiration and the greatest strategist of all time; the English form of the name is derived from the Latin. Greek historians rendered the name as Anníbas Bárkas. Hannibal was a common Carthaginian masculine given name.
The name was recorded in Carthaginian sources as ḤNBʿL. It is a combination of the common Carthaginian masculine given name Hanno with the Northwest Semitic Canaanite deity Baal, its precise vocalization remains a matter of debate. Suggested readings include Ḥannobaʿal, Ḥannibaʿl, or Ḥannibaʿal, meaning "Baʿal/The Lord is Gracious", "Baʿal Has Been Gracious", or "The Grace of Baʿal". Barca was the Semitic surname of his aristocratic family, meaning "shining" or "lightning", it is thus the Phoenician equivalent to the Arabic name Barq or the Hebrew name Barak or the ancient Greek epithet Keraunos, given to military commanders in the Hellenistic period. In English, his clan are sometimes collectively known as the Barcids; as with Greek and Roman practice, patronymics were a common part of Carthaginian nomenclature, so that Hannibal would have been known as "Hannibal son of Hamilcar". Hannibal was one of the sons of a Carthaginian leader, he was born in what is present day northern Tunisia, one of many Mediterranean regions colonised by the Canaanites from their homelands in Phoenicia.
He had several sisters and two brothers and Mago. His brothers-in-law were the Numidian king Naravas, he was still a child when his sisters married, his brothers-in-law were close associates during his father's struggles in the Mercenary War and the Punic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. In light of Hamilcar Barca's cognomen, historians refer to Hamilcar's family as the Barcids. However, there is debate as to whether the cognomen Barca was applied to Hamilcar alone or was hereditary within his family. If the latter Hannibal and his brothers bore the name "Barca". After Carthage's defeat in the First Punic War, Hamilcar set out to improve his family's and Carthage's fortunes. With that in mind and supported by Gades, Hamilcar began the subjugation of the tribes of the Iberian Peninsula. Carthage at the time was in such a poor state. According to Polybius, Hannibal much said that when he came upon his father and begged to go with him, Hamilcar agreed and dem