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Marcus_Aurelius

Hannibal

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I added this poll due to the fact Hannibal is one of the most impressive generals in history.There were many legends about him in the ancient world but as the romans were the victors of the second punic war we can't expect them to be quite objective.I personally believe he was one of the greatest men ever and I would easily put him among Caesar,Alexander and Napoleon(whose life as millitary commander was very similar to Hannibal's,Napoleon had his own Scipio too-Wellington).I am asking you to describe Hannibal as you know him or as you believe he really was.

Also please give him a grade as general between 1 and 100. B)

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Do you know the episode between Hannibal and Scipio at Ephesus?'They began also now to regard with increased admiration the clemency and magnanimity of Scipio Africanus, and called to mind how he, when he had vanquished in Africa the till then invincible and terrible Hannibal, neither banished him his country, nor exacted of his countrymen that they should give him up. At a parley just before they joined battle, Scipio gave him his hand, and in the peace made after it, he put no hard article upon him, nor insulted over his fallen fortune.

 

It is told, too, that they had another meeting afterwards, at Ephesus, and that when Hannibal, as they were walking together, took the upper hand, Africanus let it pass, and walked on without the least notice of it; and that then they began to talk of generals, and Hannibal affirmed that Alexander was the greatest commander the world had seen, next to him Pyrrhus, and the third was himself; Africanus, with a smile, asked, "What would you have said, if I had not defeated you?" "I would not then, Scipio," he replied, "have made myself the third, but the first commander

See http://www.barca.fsnet.co.uk if you are interested in Hannibal(correctly Han'baal)

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Barca Hannibal, "Father of Strtegy"

Principle Wars:

Conquest of Spain

Second Punic War

 

Priciple Battles:

Siege of Saguntum

The Tricinus

The Trebbia

Lake Trasimene

Cannae

Zama

 

I like him beause he defied the impossible by bringing elephants over the Alps and he tore Rome a new one!

I would give his a 97 out of 100

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I'm a big fan of Hannibal myself but his major flaw was a lack of grand strategy. He could defeat any army tactically but strategically he could not break the Romans despite roaming their heartland for 13 years.

 

A great general must also win the grand strategic game to be truly great IMO so I'd give him an 90 out of a 100.

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I'm a big fan of Hannibal myself but his major flaw was a lack of grand strategy. He could defeat any army tactically but strategically he could not break the Romans despite roaming their heartland for 13 years.

 

A great general must also win the grand strategic game to be truly great IMO so I'd give him an 90 out of a 100.

 

http://www.unrv.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=9955

This is a fascinating topic debated in depth in the link above. I tend to agree with you that whilst Hannibal was a brilliant battlefield tactician, he was strategically left wanting.

 

Having said that, the ancient world was very different to that of the last few hundred years. Ancient commanders did not stand over maps and compose grand strategies and battlefield communications were inefficient. There was no "academic" destinction between strategy, operations and tactics, but a much more ad hoc approach to warfare where rudimentary expectations would form the objective.

 

Hannibal expected the Roman Republic to come to terms after Cannae and why wouldn't he! That he failed to understand the singular character of the republic, its massive manpower and indomitable spirit is not too much of a criticism of the man, but more a testament to the unique fortitude of Rome herself.

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I'm a big fan of Hannibal myself but his major flaw was a lack of grand strategy. He could defeat any army tactically but strategically he could not break the Romans despite roaming their heartland for 13 years.

 

A great general must also win the grand strategic game to be truly great IMO so I'd give him an 90 out of a 100.

 

http://www.unrv.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=9955

This is a fascinating topic debated in depth in the link above. I tend to agree with you that whilst Hannibal was a brilliant battlefield tactician, he was strategically left wanting.

 

Having said that, the ancient world was very different to that of the last few hundred years. Ancient commanders did not stand over maps and compose grand strategies and battlefield communications were inefficient. There was no "academic" destinction between strategy, operations and tactics, but a much more ad hoc approach to warfare where rudimentary expectations would form the objective.

 

Hannibal expected the Roman Republic to come to terms after Cannae and why wouldn't he! That he failed to understand the singular character of the republic, its massive manpower and indomitable spirit is not too much of a criticism of the man, but more a testament to the unique fortitude of Rome herself.

 

But seeing as in the time of his father the Romans had willingly sustained the losses of two whole fleets but kept on trucking he should have been aware of their remarkable ability to suck it up when needed and had a plan B for the eventuality of them not surrendering.

 

The Romans' durability was indeed remarkable but not unknown at that time so his lack of grand strategic contingencies lost him a war which he won tactically on all counts until Zama.

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I'm a big fan of Hannibal myself but his major flaw was a lack of grand strategy. He could defeat any army tactically but strategically he could not break the Romans despite roaming their heartland for 13 years.

 

A great general must also win the grand strategic game to be truly great IMO so I'd give him an 90 out of a 100.

 

http://www.unrv.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=9955

This is a fascinating topic debated in depth in the link above. I tend to agree with you that whilst Hannibal was a brilliant battlefield tactician, he was strategically left wanting.

 

Having said that, the ancient world was very different to that of the last few hundred years. Ancient commanders did not stand over maps and compose grand strategies and battlefield communications were inefficient. There was no "academic" destinction between strategy, operations and tactics, but a much more ad hoc approach to warfare where rudimentary expectations would form the objective.

 

Hannibal expected the Roman Republic to come to terms after Cannae and why wouldn't he! That he failed to understand the singular character of the republic, its massive manpower and indomitable spirit is not too much of a criticism of the man, but more a testament to the unique fortitude of Rome herself.

 

But seeing as in the time of his father the Romans had willingly sustained the losses of two whole fleets but kept on trucking he should have been aware of their remarkable ability to suck it up when needed and had a plan B for the eventuality of them not surrendering.

 

The Romans' durability was indeed remarkable but not unknown at that time so his lack of grand strategic contingencies lost him a war which he won tactically on all counts until Zama.

This is a good point. I would only say that Roman losses at sea - barring the defeat at Drepana - were inflicted by Mother Nature and bad seamanship and they only, if our available sources are accepted, suffered one defeat in a set piece battle at the hands of Xanthipus during the African campaign. The huge losses at sea attributed to storms, assuming Hannibal knew about them, would certainly have told him that Rome was resilient and had huge manpower reserves, but would not have necessarily given him the clues needed to predict how they might react after three enormous land defeats.

 

Having said that, there should have been enough evidence to show Hannibal that he should not expect a conventional reaction. There may have been further clues available in his studying of Pyrrhus derived of his experience of the Roman "hydra".

 

The most extensive evidence, however, was available to Hannibal. Cannae, as we all know, was sheer carnage and that the Republic did not come to terms. Hannibal had already inflicted two great defeats on Rome at the Trebia and Trasimine and therefore after Cannae should have been aware that you could destroy whole Consular armies without the Republic throwing in the towel.

 

Hannibal had a strategy, that of reducing Rome to a regional power and detaching her from her allies. The first of those objectives could only be reached by forcing the Republic to concede defeat and accept terms. In this he simply did not understand that the combination of massive human resources and, whichever way you read it, something indomitable in the character of the people and the state.

 

The second objective was based on an assumption that the Latin, Italian and Italiote Greeks allies were waiting for some sort of liberation. Whereas some capitulated, it was not because they welcomed Hannibal in particular, but because they felt there was no option. Enough of the important coastal communities stood with Rome to deprive Carthage of disembarkation points for reinforcements.

 

All in all, I think that we are both saying that there were in the first place available clues as to the singular nature of the Republic. That he did not heed those clues led to him being unable to fulfill that first component of his strategy. It seems to me, that he missed the fact that the Roman opponent was different but so was her relationship with her allies.

Edited by marcus silanus

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I'm a big fan of Hannibal myself but his major flaw was a lack of grand strategy. He could defeat any army tactically but strategically he could not break the Romans despite roaming their heartland for 13 years.

 

A great general must also win the grand strategic game to be truly great IMO so I'd give him an 90 out of a 100.

 

http://www.unrv.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=9955

This is a fascinating topic debated in depth in the link above. I tend to agree with you that whilst Hannibal was a brilliant battlefield tactician, he was strategically left wanting.

 

Having said that, the ancient world was very different to that of the last few hundred years. Ancient commanders did not stand over maps and compose grand strategies and battlefield communications were inefficient. There was no "academic" destinction between strategy, operations and tactics, but a much more ad hoc approach to warfare where rudimentary expectations would form the objective.

 

Hannibal expected the Roman Republic to come to terms after Cannae and why wouldn't he! That he failed to understand the singular character of the republic, its massive manpower and indomitable spirit is not too much of a criticism of the man, but more a testament to the unique fortitude of Rome herself.

 

But seeing as in the time of his father the Romans had willingly sustained the losses of two whole fleets but kept on trucking he should have been aware of their remarkable ability to suck it up when needed and had a plan B for the eventuality of them not surrendering.

 

The Romans' durability was indeed remarkable but not unknown at that time so his lack of grand strategic contingencies lost him a war which he won tactically on all counts until Zama.

This is a good point. I would only say that Roman losses at sea - barring the defeat at Drepana - were inflicted by Mother Nature and bad seamanship and they only, if our available sources are accepted, suffered one defeat in a set piece battle at the hands of Xanthipus during the African campaign. The huge losses at sea attributed to storms, assuming Hannibal knew about them, would certainly have told him that Rome was resilient and had huge manpower reserves, but would not have necessarily given him the clues needed to predict how they might react after three enormous land defeats.

 

Having said that, there should have been enough evidence to show Hannibal that he should not expect a conventional reaction. There may have been further clues available in his studying of Pyrrhus derived of his experience of the Roman "hydra".

 

The most extensive evidence, however, was available to Hannibal. Cannae, as we all know, was sheer carnage and that the Republic did not come to terms. Hannibal had already inflicted two great defeats on Rome at the Trebia and Trasimine and therefore after Cannae should have been aware that you could destroy whole Consular armies without the Republic throwing in the towel.

 

Hannibal had a strategy, that of reducing Rome to a regional power and detaching her from her allies. The first of those objectives could only be reached by forcing the Republic to concede defeat and accept terms. In this he simply did not understand that the combination of massive human resources and, whichever way you read it, something indomitable in the character of the people and the state.

 

The second objective was based on an assumption that the Latin, Italian and Italiote Greeks allies were waiting for some sort of liberation. Whereas some capitulated, it was not because they welcomed Hannibal in particular, but because they felt there was no option. Enough of the important coastal communities stood with Rome to deprive Carthage of disembarkation points for reinforcements.

 

All in all, I think that we are both saying that there were in the first place available clues as to the singular nature of the Republic. That he did not heed those clues led to him being unable to fulfill that first component of his strategy. It seems to me, that he missed the fact that the Roman opponent was different but so was her relationship with her allies.

 

Kinda like how Napoleon beat everyone in his path heading into Russia but failing to realize Russia's will to fight despite horrendous suffering and losses.

 

Which makes Napoleon a great general but a poor strategist overall too.

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I don't think that Hannibal had any alternatives to what he did.

When the war started he could wait in Spain for the romans to come, and giving the roman superiority in numbers the result was not in much doubt, or take the fight to the romans trying to gain allies, take away roman allies and destroy roman resources.

His choice can not be faulted here. If he did not invaded Italy then celts, macedonians, Syracuse and Tarentum would have never fought the romans and the romans could have concentrated much more power against Carthage.

His decision not to attack the walls of Rome was probably sound as it is obvious that roman forces still outnumbered him and in a siege he would have supply problems while being denied the opportunity to outmaneuver the romans on a battlefield.

I believe that he was a brilliant general and if other Carthaginians would have behaved better the end result could have been different. His only error was starting a war and provoking a determined enemy while his own country was undecided.

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I don't think that Hannibal had any alternatives to what he did.

When the war started he could wait in Spain for the romans to come, and giving the roman superiority in numbers the result was not in much doubt, or take the fight to the romans trying to gain allies, take away roman allies and destroy roman resources.

His choice can not be faulted here. If he did not invaded Italy then celts, macedonians, Syracuse and Tarentum would have never fought the romans and the romans could have concentrated much more power against Carthage.

His decision not to attack the walls of Rome was probably sound as it is obvious that roman forces still outnumbered him and in a siege he would have supply problems while being denied the opportunity to outmaneuver the romans on a battlefield.

I believe that he was a brilliant general and if other Carthaginians would have behaved better the end result could have been different. His only error was starting a war and provoking a determined enemy while his own country was undecided.

 

Most take the view that it was never part of Hannibal's plan to utterly defeat Rome by storm or siege. Even after Cannae, there were sufficient forces there to force a long and costly siege with an unpredictable outcome. His aim was the reduction of Roman power by the detachment of her allies and in this he was to an extent successful. He did, however, misjudge the appetite amongst the allies for a detachment from Rome.

 

With respect to Carthaginian support, we are familiar with Hanno's opposition to Barcid actions in Spain and there may have remained a powerful lobby at Carthage that had no desire for a renewed and protracted war with the Roman Republic. This may or may not have been the case, but we should not forget that the Barcids built their power base in Spain to be independent of Carthage and it is by no means certain that the Carthaginian Senate even knew of Hannibal crossing the Alps at the time that he did so. In these circumstances, it would be unreasonable to expect the Carthaginian state to support a maverick, secretive and suspicious general.

 

However, the news of the victory at Cannae changed much. We are told that Hannibal's brother Mago, punctuated his news of the victory by casting piles of gold rings taken from Roman dead in front of the Senators, silencing those voices of opposition and creating a great deal of enthusiasm for the enterprise! Hannibal did not ask for reinforcements at this time, purely because Rome still dominated the sea and there were insufficient defections of port communities to allow disembarkation. Carthage undertook support of Hannibal by political means, creating alliances that threatened Rome, whilst Hannibal continued in trying to detach allies. The theory was that Rome having to defend herself in Italy would be unable to counter any external threats and would eventually have to come to terms to ensure any survival as even a minor power.

 

The Carthaginian state was decisive in its support of Hannibal, but that support was political and complementary to his military campaign. Orchestrated by the Carthaginians and signed by Hannibal was the treaty with Philip V and Demetrius, beginning a hostile political envelopment of Italy. This hostile environment was further developed on the death of Hiero of Syracuse whose successor Hieronymus entered negotiations with Carthage against Rome. Therefore, a political encirclement, organised by the Carthaginian state in support of and involving Hannibal was almost complete, with a threat across the Adriatic, in Sicily and lastly in Sardinia where a Carthaginian expedition found huge support amongst the tribes of that island.

 

Rome was therefore under threat militarily by Hannibal within Italy and without by the political support of the Carthaginian alliances forged by the state. That this ultimately failed, is only further evidence of Roman resilience and resources on the part of the political threat and of the largely loyal nature of the allies. The fact that Rome suffered Cannae, defeat in Cisalpine Gaul and still went on to continuing the war on multiple fronts is utterly remarkable and could not have been foreseen by Hannibal or anybody for that matter.

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Rome was therefore under threat militarily by Hannibal within Italy and without by the political support of the Carthaginian alliances forged by the state. That this ultimately failed, is only further evidence of Roman resilience and resources on the part of the political threat and of the largely loyal nature of the allies. The fact that Rome suffered Cannae, defeat in Cisalpine Gaul and still went on to continuing the war on multiple fronts is utterly remarkable and could not have been foreseen by Hannibal or anybody for that matter.

 

I fully agree. If we see how quickly Scipio's campaign in Africa dismantled the carthaginian alliances we can understand why it was easy for Hannibal to believe that the same would happen to Rome.

But even if Hannibal realized that Rome will resist he had no alternative but to try to defeat it anyway. As long as no one points to a realistic different, winning strategy I have to say that Hannibal made no mistake. Sometime one loses even if he does everything perfectly because there is a large disparity of resources that he can not match by talent. And even worse with Scipio the romans had evened the field regarding talent and experienced army.

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