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Hannibal

Birthdate: 247 BC
Date of death: 183 BC

Hannibal Barca was a Carthaginian general, considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. His father Hamilcar Barca was the leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War. His younger brothers were Mago and Hasdrubal, and he was brother-in-law to Hasdrubal the Fair.

Hannibal lived during a period of great tension in the western Mediterranean Basin, when the Roman Republic established its supremacy over other great powers such as ancient Carthage, the Etruscans, the Samnites, and the Greek kingdom of Syracuse. One of his most famous achievements was at the outbreak of the Second Punic War, when he marched an army which included war elephants from Iberia over the Pyrenees and the Alps into Italy. In his first few years in Italy, he won dramatic victories at the Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae. He distinguished himself for his ability to determine his and his opponent's respective strengths and weaknesses, and to plan battles accordingly. Hannibal's well-planned strategies allowed him to conquer many allies of Rome.

Hannibal occupied most of Italy for 15 years but was unable to march on Rome. An enemy counter-invasion of North Africa forced him to return to Carthage, where he was decisively defeated by Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama. Scipio had studied Hannibal's tactics and brilliantly devised some of his own, and he finally defeated Rome's nemesis at Zama, having previously driven Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal out of the Iberian Peninsula.

After the war, Hannibal successfully ran for the office of sufet. He enacted political and financial reforms to enable the payment of the war indemnity imposed by Rome; however, those reforms were unpopular with members of the Carthaginian aristocracy and in Rome, and he fled into voluntary exile. 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, and 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 Romans and committed suicide by poisoning himself.

Hannibal is often 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, and Scipio Africanus. Plutarch states that Scipio asked Hannibal who was the greatest general, and Hannibal replied either Alexander or Pyrrhus, then himself . Military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge called Hannibal the "father of strategy", because his enemy Rome adopted elements of his military tactics in its own strategic arsenal. This praise has earned him a strong reputation in the modern world, and he was regarded as a great strategist by Napoleon and others.

„Let us ease the Roman people of their continual care, who think it long to await the death of an old man.“

—  Hannibal

Last words according to Livy "ab urbe condita", Book XXXIX, 51.
Original: (la) Liberemus diuturna cura populum Romanum, quando mortem senis exspectare longum censent. (Latin, not original language)

„I will either find a way, or make one.“

—  Hannibal

Latin proverb, most commonly attributed to Hannibal in response to his generals who had declared it impossible to cross the Alps with elephants; English translation as quoted in Salesmanship and Business Efficiency (1922) by James Samuel Knox, p. 27.
Original: (la) Aut viam inveniam aut faciam.

„I have come not to make war on the Italians, but to aid the Italians against Rome.“

—  Hannibal

Spoken to Italian soldiers of Rome captured at the Battle of Lake Trasimene (24 June 217 BC) as quoted in Hannibal : One Man Against Rome (1958) by Harold Lamb, p. 119.

„Ah there is one thing about them more wonderful than their numbers … in all that vast number there is not one man called Gisgo.“

—  Hannibal

Spoken as a jest to one of his officers named Gisgo, who had remarked on the numbers of Roman forces against them before the Battle of Cannae (2 August 216 BC), as quoted in A History of Rome (1855), by Henry George Liddell Vol. 1, p. 355
Variant translation: You forget one thing Gisgo, among all their numerous forces, there is not one man called Gisgo.

„God has given to man no sharper spur to victory than contempt of death.“

—  Hannibal

As quoted by Livy, :la:s:Ab Urbe Condita/liber XXI 44, as translated by Aubrey De Sélincourt, in The War with Hannibal (1965).
Original: (la) nullum contemptu m[ortis incitamentum] ad uincendum homini ab dis immortalibus acrius datum est.

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