Thursday, 9 February 2012

Hannibal ad Portas!

This is a Latin saying, which means 'Hannibal is at the door'.

The fear of Hannibal became so great that it was said Roman parents would use it as a way to threaten their misbehaving children. If a child was bad, the parent would tell them that Hannibal was coming for them - the modern equivalent is the 'bogeyman'.

This illustrates the psychological impact Hannibal's presence in Italy had on Roman society. Rome had not had a military threat on their treasured city since the Gauls had sacked Rome.

Another reason for the fear inspired by Hannibal was his use of elephants, with which the Romans were unfamiliar.

It was said that Hannibal took an oath from his father when he was 9, that he would hate Rome for life. This enmity between Carthage and Rome was not new. Carthage's legendary Queen Dido was quoted as saying: "Neither love nor treaty shall there be between the nations... Let your shores oppose their shores, your waves their waves, your arms their arms. This is my prayer let them fight, they and their sons, forever."

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