Hannibal


Hannibal

biographical name

(born 247 BC, North Africa—died c.183–181 BC, Libyssa, Bithynia) Carthaginian general, one of the great military leaders of antiquity. Taken to Spain by his father, the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca (d. 229/228 BC), he was sworn to eternal enmity with Rome. After the death of his father and brother-in-law, he took charge of Carthage's army in Spain (221). He secured Spain, then crossed the Ebro River into Roman territory and entered Gaul. He marched over the Alps into Italy; encumbered by elephants and horses, he was beset by Gallic tribes, harsh winter weather, and defection of his Spanish troops. He defeated Gaius Flaminius but was severely harassed by Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator. In 216 he won the Battle of Cannae. In 203 he left for northern Africa to help Carthage fend off Scipio Africanus the Elder's forces. He lost decisively to Scipio's ally, Masinissa, at the Battle of Zama but escaped. He headed the Carthaginian government (c. 202–195); forced to flee, he sought refuge with Antiochus III, whose fleet he commanded against Rome, with disastrous results. After the Battle of Magnesia (190) the Romans demanded he be handed over; he eluded them until, seeing no escape, he took poison.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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