This site has been put together with material publicly available on the Web, for educational use, in the interest of providing as complete a treatment as possible in one place. The source, attribution or copyright has been quoted where known. Please let me know if the source of any material is insufficiently described of if you object to the inclusion of any material.

In general I have edited and compiled information from a very wide number of sources, which I have tried to acknowledge. There are many very good sites out there, particularly on some of the more detailed aspects. I have drawn freely from these. In some cases I have mirrored some parts of these sites and provided an attribution and a link. The reason I have done this is because of the ephemeral nature of some of the content on the Web. Nothing is as disappointing as a dead link - and I have come across dozens in researching this topic.

There are other 'Hannibal' sites. I haven't deliberately copied any of these, although there may inevitably be some similarities. I encourage you to visit them and the other 'specialist' sites - see the links on the various pages.

Historical Sources

There are no primary sources left from the Carthaginian side. Only the Greeks and victorious Romans left reports, of which the main historical sources are Polybius and Livy. A number of later writers elaborated (sometime imaginatively) on these and other sources.


The best authority for this period of history is Polybius of Megalopolis - a Greek aristocrat and politician who lived from c. 204-122 BC. Polybius was an intelligent man, who decided to use his time to explain to his fellow Greeks (in his Histories) why the Romans had conqured the Hellenistic World. Polybius is the most reliable, but not the most brilliant, of ancient historians.

Polybius was an officer of the Achaean League, which sought by federating the Peloponnesus to make it strong enough to keep its independence against the Romans, but Rome was already too strong to be resisted, and arresting a thousand of the most influential members, sent them to Italy to await trial for conspiracy. Polybius had the good fortune, during seventeen years exile, to be allowed to live with the Scipios, where he struck up a friendship with Scipio Aemilianus (adopted son of Scipio Africanus) and became his personal advise. Polybius accompanied Scipio to Carthage and witnessed its destruction in the Third Punic War in 146 B. C. Polybius covers the history of the Second Punic was as well, relying on information available to him in Roman records.

The Battle of Cannae, 216 BCE, History, Book III.107 | The Character of Hannibal, The Histories, Book IX, Chapters 22-26 | The Third Punic War, 149-146 BCE, The Histories, Book XXXVI-XXXIX | Rome at the End of the Punic Wars The Histories, Book 6


Titus Livy was born in 59 BC and served as historian to the Caesars living until 17 AD. But his long history of Rome (History of Rome from its Foundation, surviving books XXI to XXXIX) is one of the best sources we have. Books XXVI to XXX of deal with the war with Hannibal. He was much read by many subsequent historians and political scientists. Machiavelli based his most important book on Livy - The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy.

Livy used the earlier lost annalists and some state records as well as family histories. He shows some bias, in that he writes a lot that is 'pro-Scipio' and tries to make Aemilus Paulus look good even when he's responsible for half of the Cannae disaster; by contrast, he makes Varro look bad even though he continued to have a succes sful political career.

Livy's History in English (external sites) - Summary of books 26-30 | Livy in Latin (!) | Critique of Livy's style


Plutarch was a Greek writer (c. 45-120 AD) whose work'Parallel Lives'  contains essays on Cato and Fabius, as well as Flamininus and Marcellus, two of the Roman generals who opposed Hannibal in Italy; and Pyrrhus

Appian: Hannibal and Hispanica

Cornelius Nepos (c.99-c.24 BCE): The writer of the first surviving biographies in Latin. Hannibal, from De Viribus Illustris, trans. J. Thomas, 1995. [At Iowa State]. Also Hamilcar (in Latin).

Silius Italicus: his epic poem Punica (the longest surviving peom in Latin). (text) Silius' Punica is the longest Latin poem to come down to us, a historical epic in 12,200 verses (17 books) recounting the events of the Second Punic War. The poem begins with Hannibal's oath and, except for digressions on Regulus and Anna, follows events in order until Scipio's triumph after Zama. Silius' main source was Livy, but the work also encounters Ennius, Virgil and Lucan. The work positions itself as the 'middle' work in the "Roman Trilogy" of the Aeneid, Punica and Bellum Civile. The work is at once a celebration of an ideal past and a realisation that the seeds of later changes were always there in the nature of Rome : both Scipio and the ambitious Hannibal prefigure later Roman rulers.


Petrarch wrote an extensive epic poem: Africa, which covered much of Hannibal's activities.

Dio Cassius

Cassius Dio was a Greek who became prominent in Roman imperial politics in the early third centuries after Christ, becoming a Consul in ca. AD 205. In retirement he wrote a massive history of Rome from the beginning. The years 68-10 BC are preserved intact, and the earlier years are summarized in a medieval author. He often has good sources, but has little understanding of the Repulbic's institutions and is unreliable in his interpretation of the relationship of events to one another.

His Roman History is especially valuable to modern historians because Dio Cassius spent most of his life in public service, holding many high government offices during the reigns of Commodus, Pertinax, Septimius Severus, and Severus Alexander. He witnessed the decay of society under Elagabalus and Caracalla’s reign of terror. His insights into the workings of the Roman imperial government provide details that would not be considered important by a military man or writer of epic poetry. He was a senator from the early years of the Third Century, Consul under Elagabalus and Severus Alexander, and Governor of Pannonia under Severus Alexander. Dio Cassius wrote his history in eighty books, but only eighteen of these survive today. These eighteen cover the period from 68 B. C. to A. D. 46. 

Bill Thayer, has an on-line translation of the History.

John Tzetzes, Byzantine scholar

Herodotus (c.490-c.425 BCE): The Carthaginian Attack on Sicily, 480 BCE

Sallust The War with Jugurtha

Virgil The Aeneid

Pliny 8th Book of the history of nature

Cato the Elder's 'Origines', the earlier version of Livy, in which two names appear: Cato the Elder and Serus the Elephant.

Lost sources

We know of the existence of a History of the First Punic War by Philinus of Agrigentum, and the records of the campaigns of Hannibal compiled by his friends and teachers the Spartan Sosylus and Silenus, a fragment of which, the famous Hannibal's Dream, has been preserved in the works of Cicero and Livy. Hannibal himself, it is said, wrote several works in Greek and Punic. In his Lexicon Suidas mentions a certain Charon of Carthage who wrote a whole series of Lives of famous men and women as well as a history of the tyrants of Europe and Asia.

Livy tells us, too, that during the Punic War "Hannibal spent the summer near the Temple of Juno Lacinia. He had an altar erected with a long carved inscription detailling his exploits in Punic and Greek characters". This inscription in the Temple of Hera Lacinia at Croton was painstakingly studied by Polybius. It contained in particular an account of the troops exchanged between Spain and Africa and of those left in Spain by Hasdrubal at the start of the war in 219 B.C.

Although he had direct access to the documents in Roman archives - such as the series of treaties between Rome and Carthage (111, 22-7) - Polybius by no means neglected his predecessors, the historians who were contemporary with the events. For his account of the first Punic War, he consulted Philinos of Agrigentum, who had probably witnessed this conflict and championed the Punic cause, and Fabius Pictor, who also wrote in Greek but from the Roman viewpoint. The last-named is to be found again in Polybius' sources for the account of the second Punic War, compared with the Lacedaemonian Sosylos, who had lived in Hannibal's camp (he had been his tutor in Greek literature), and another Greek, Silenos, from Kale Akte in Sicily, who had also been among the Carthaginian leader's entourage (Cornelius Nepos, Hannibal, 13, 3)." (page 26).

Livy also delved into other sources, which he sometimes quotes: C. Acilius, Claudius Quadrigarius, Valerius Antias, and chiefly Coelius Antipater, who in the late second century BC had written a history of the second Punic War in seven books, unfortunately now lost, of which only a few rare membra disiecta survive, also known from quotations by Cicero.

The loss of Coelius' history is the more regrettable since he seems to have followed Silenos, one of Hannibal's historiographers whom we have already seen used by Polybius.

Seibert is silent on Silenos, but mentions Sosylos of Sparta, writing that Sosylos stayed with Hannibal "for as long as he lived". This sentence is ambiguous, as it is not clear who of the two is meant by "he". Certainly it seems to be taken an accepted fact that Hannibal fled from Carthage without any entourage. Seibert also mentions a "Sosylos Papyrus" in a footnote.