Sunday, 11 March 2012

Hannibal's Brother Mago (243 - 203 BC)

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Mago (probably)
The Barca brothers were a formidable team. Mago (also written as Magon) was the younger brother, the third son of Hamilcar. He  played a major part in the Second Punic War in Italy and Spain and took the war to the Balearic Islands.

Rome Wins at Sea - Gaius Duilius and the 'Crow'

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The 'corvus' or crow
Before the First Punic War Rome was a land power only. The expansion of Rome's ambitions to Sicily revealed to them the importance of sea power in building up an overseas empire.

Gaius Duilius was the first of all Roman leaders to receive a triumph for a naval victory, won over the Carthaginians during the First Punic War (264–241).

Crossing the Alps - Hannibal and the Allobroges 218 BC

Hannibal vs. Allobroges

The first reference to the Allobroge tribe of Gaul is made by the Greek historian, Polybius, who described Hannibal's crossing of the Alps in 218 BC.  They were one of the richest and most powerful nations of Gaul. Because of their territory, among the most extensive in south-eastern Gaul, they controlled part of the Rhône Valley, and were situated at the point where all the roads across the Alps arrived.

The Allobroges attempted to prevent  Hannibal from crossing when he entered the first passes. But they were not successful.

Elephants, Hannibal and the Metellus Family

Silver Denarius with Elephants
drawing a chariot.
Minted in Rome  - circa 125 B.C.
The coin shown was minted around 125 BC by the Metellus family to commemorate a triumph at Panormus (now Palermo, Sicily) in 251 BC, during the First Punic War by the then consul Lucius Caecilius Metellus. Metellus decisively defeated the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal by panicking the enemy's elephants (as Scipio later did at Zama). The elephants which he took in this battle were exhibited in his triumph at Rome - the first time elephants had appeared in a triumph. Thereafter the image of an elephant frequently appeared on coins issued by the Metellus family.

Other members of the Metellus family figured in the story of Hannibal and his family.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Hannibal, Capua and Spartacus

The entry of Hannibal in Capua
 (engraving from the XVII century)
After Hannibal's crushing victory at Cannae (in 216BC), the city of Capua made a major strategic decision and allied itself with Hannibal and opened its gates to his army. This was one of Hannibal's greatest political successes and he probably assumed that other cities would ally themselves with him against Rome.

It was not to be and the 'soft living' available in Capua may have diverted the almost unstoppable military momentum that Hannibal had built up.

There was also a heavy price to pay when Capua was subsequently recaptured by the Romans.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Carthage and the fall of Gaius Gracchus (122-121 BC)

Gracchus addressing the Concilium Plebis

There is one further historical footnote to the destruction of Carthage by Rome - by the adoptive grandson of Scipio Africanus - and it involves another of the Scipio clan, Gaius Gracchus, the son of Africanus' daughter, Cornelia.