General Hannibal Barka: photo, biography, interesting facts from the life of the great commander

Hannibal BarcaCarthaginian general, one of the great military commanders and statesmen of antiquity. He commanded the Carthaginian forces against Rome in the Second Punic War in 218–201. BC er and opposed the empire until his death. The years of life of the commander Hannibal Barki - 247 g. er - 183-181 BC. er


The personality of Hannibal Barka (briefly about him you will learn in the process of reading the article) is rather contradictory. Roman biographers do not treat him impartially and accuse him of cruelty. But despite this, there is evidence that he concluded agreements on the return of prisoners and respected the bodies of fallen enemy generals with respect. The courage of the warlord Hannibal Barca is well known. A lot of stories and anecdotes about his wit and subtlety of speech has reached our time. He was fluent in Greek and Latin.


It is difficult to judge the appearance and height of Hannibal Barki, since his only remaining portrait is silver coins from Carthage, on which he is depicted as a young man with a beardless face.

Hannibal Barca

Childhood and youth

Biography of the commander is not rich in accurate data. Many seemingly facts are mere conjectures. The short biography of Hannibal Barki begins with the information that he was the son of the great Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barka. His mother's name is unknown. Hannibal was brought to Spain by his father, he lived and was raised among the soldiers. At an early age, he was inspired by the eternal hostility towards Rome, and his whole life was devoted to this struggle.

First appointment

The first command of Hannibal Barka (photo, more precisely the portrait of the commander you have the opportunity to see in the article) received in the Carthaginian province of Spain. He became a successful officer, because after the murder of Hasdrubal in 221, the army declared him commander in chief at 26, and the Carthaginian government quickly ratified his appointment to the field.

Hannibal immediately joined the consolidation of the Punic seizure of Spain. He married the Spanish princess Imilke, and then conquered various Spanish tribes.He fought against the Olkad tribe and captured their capital, Altalia, subdued the Vaccais in the north-west. In 221, having made the seaport of Kart-adasht (present-day Carthage, Spain) a base, he won a resounding victory over the Carpathians in the region of the Tag.

In 219, Hannibal attacked Sagunt, an independent Iberian city south of the Ibr River. In the treaty between Rome and Carthage after the First Punic War (264–241) Iber was established as the northern limit of the Carthaginian influence on the Iberian Peninsula. Sagunt was south of Ibra, but the Romans had a “friendship” (although perhaps not an actual agreement) with the city, and he saw the Carthaginian attack on him as a military act.

The siege of Sagunta lasted eight months, in which Hannibal was wounded. The Romans, who sent ambassadors to Carthage in protest (although they did not send an army to help Sagunt), after his fall demanded the surrender of Hannibal. Thus began the Second Punic War, declared by Rome. On the Carthaginian side, Hannibal led the troops.

personality of hannibal bark

Hike to Gaul

Hannibal Barka (photo of the commander, unfortunately, we cannot see) spent the winter of 219–218 in Carthage in active preparations for transferring the war to Italy.Leaving his brother Hasdrubala in command of a large army to defend Spain and North Africa, he crossed Iber in April or May 218, and then went to the Pyrenees.

Hannibal left Carthage with an army of 90,000 men, including 12,000 cavalry, but in Spain he left at least 20,000 to protect supply lines. In the Pyrenees, his army, which included 37 elephants, met with stiff resistance from the Pyrenean tribes. This opposition and the retreat of the Spanish troops reduced the size of his army. When Hannibal reached the Rhone River, he met little resistance from the tribes of southern Gaul.

Meanwhile, the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio moved his army, which was detained by the insurgency in Italy, by sea to the region of Massilia (Marseille), a city that was connected with Rome. Thus, the access of Hannibal to the coastal route to Italy was blocked not only by olives, but at least by one army and another, which gathered in Italy. When Scipio was heading north along the right bank of the Rhone, he learned that Hannibal had already crossed the river and was heading north along the left bank. Realizing that Hannibal had planned to cross the Alps, Scipio returned to northern Italy to wait for him there.

Conflicting information surrounds the actions of Hannibal after crossing the Rhone. Polybius claims that he crossed the river four days from the sea. Researchers consider such historical places as the modern Boker and Avignon. Hannibal used captured fishing boats, he built floating platforms and rafts for elephants. Horses were transported in large boats. During the operation, hostile Gauls appeared on the east bank, and Hannibal sent forces under the command of Hanno to defend. He crossed the river further upstream and attacked from behind. When the Gauls tried to block Hannibal, Hanno's force struck, scattering the Gauls and allowing the main body of the Carthaginian army to pass through the Rhone.

Soon, Hannibal received the support of the Gallic tribes, which were led by the Celtic tribe of fighting. Their lands were seized by Roman settlements, and they had good information about the alpine passages. Polybius makes it clear that the army of Hannibal did not "blindly" cross the Alps, they had information about the best routes. After crossing the Rhone, Hannibal’s army traveled north 80 miles (130 km) and moved to an area called “island,” the location of which is the key to Hannibal’s subsequent movements on land.

According to Polybius, it was a fertile, populous triangle surrounded by hills, Rhone and a river called Izr. The confluence of the two rivers marked the border of the lands of the alobrog tribe. On the "island" was a civil war between two brothers, warlords. Brancus, the elder brother, in exchange for the help of Hannibal, provided supplies for the Carthaginian army, which, after a march of about 750 miles (1,210 km), in four months from Carthage needed them badly.

Hannibal Barca Photos

Crossing the Alps

Some details of the intersection of the Hannibal Alps were preserved, mainly by Polybius, who is said to have traveled the route himself. A group of tribes, outraged by the betrayal of Brancus, made an ambush and attacked from the rear on the columns of Hannibal on the way along the river Izr at the “gateway to the Alps” (modern Grenoble). It was a narrow river surrounded by massive ridges. Hannibal took countermeasures, but they entailed great losses among the warriors. On the third day he seized the Gallic city and provided the army with food for two or three days.

After about four days of trekking along the river valleys (the Isr and Ark rivers), Hannibal was ambushed with hostile galls in a “white stone” place, not far from the top of the mountain.The Gauls attacked, throwing heavy stones from a height, causing both people and animals to panic and lose their positions on the steep paths. Pursued by such daytime attacks and distrust of the loyalty of his Gallic guides, Hannibal decided to go at night and hide the animals in the canyon below. Before dawn, he led the rest of his forces through the narrow entrance to the gorge, killing several of the Gauls, who were guarding him and hoping that Hannibal would be trapped.

Gathering his strength on the top of the Alps, Hannibal stayed there a few days before his descent into Italy. Polybius makes it clear that the summit itself must be high enough so that the snow drifts remain from last winter (at least 8000 feet, or 2400 meters). The problem of determining the exact location of the camp is aggravated by the fact that the name of the passage was either not known to Polybius, or was considered insufficiently important. Livy, writing 150 years later, does not shed additional light on this question, and modern historians have proposed many theories about the exact course of Hannibal through the Alps.

At the final stage of the route to the pass, snow fell, making the descent even more insidious.The army was delayed for most of the day. Finally, after a five-month journey from Carthage, with 25,000 infantry, 6,000 cavalry and 30 elephants, Hannibal descended into Italy. He overcame the difficulties of climate, terrain and guerrilla tactics of local tribes.

warlord hannibal barge years of life

War in Italy

Hannibal's forces were small compared with Scipio’s army, which crossed the Po River to protect the newly established Roman colonies of Placencia (modern Piacenza) and Cremona. The first significant battle between the two armies took place on the plains of the Po, west of the Ticino River, and was defeated by the army of Hannibal. Scipio was badly wounded, and the Romans retreated to Placentia. After the maneuvers did not lead to the second battle, Hannibal successfully sent the army of Sempronius Longus to the battle on the left bank of the River Trebbia south of Placentia (December 218).

Roman forces were defeated. This victory led both Gauls and Ligurians to the side of Hannibal, and his army was significantly increased by Celtic recruits. After a harsh winter, Hannibal was able to advance in the spring of 217 to the Arno swamps, where he lost an eye from an infection. Although the two Roman armies opposed him, he was able to overcome the path to Arreetia (present-day Arezzo) and reached Kurtun (present-day Cortona).According to the plan, this move forced the Flaminius army to engage in open battle, and in the ensuing battle at Lake Trasimen, Hannibal's troops destroyed the Roman army, resulting in the death of 15,000 soldiers. Another 15,000 Romans and allied forces were captured.

The reinforcements (about 4,000 cavalrymen) under the command of Guy Centenius were intercepted and destroyed. Either the Carthaginian troops were too exhausted to consolidate their victories and march to Rome, or Hannibal believed that the city was too well fortified. In addition, he harbored the vain hope that the Italian allies of Rome would suffer damage and a civil war would occur.

Commander Hannibal Barka, whose biography is presented to your attention in the article, spent the summer of 217, resting in Pickenum, but later he ruined Apulia and Campania. Suddenly, in the early summer of 216, Hannibal moved south and captured a large army vault in Cannes on the Aufidus River. There, in early August, the battle of Hannibal Barca at Cannes (modern Monte di Cannes) took place. Hannibal acted wisely, forcing the numerically superior Romans to descend into a narrow plain surrounded by a river and a hill.

When the battle began, the Gauls and Iberian infantry of the central line of Hannibal gave way to the movement of the numerically superior Roman infantry. The Romans continued their advance, breaking both flank of the Spanish and Libyan infantry. Surrounded by the three sides, the path of retreat was closed to the Romans. So they were defeated by the army of Hannibal. Polybius speaks about 70,000 dead, and Livy reports 55,000; in any case, it was a disaster for Rome. Almost every fifth Roman man of military age was killed. Rome was now justifiably afraid of Hannibal.

The great victory brought the desired effect: many regions began to retreat from the Italic confederation. Hannibal, however, did not march on Rome, but spent the winter of 216–215 in Capua, which declared its loyalty to Hannibal, perhaps hoping that he would become equal to Rome. Gradually, the Carthaginian fighting force weakened. The strategy proposed by Fabius after the Battle of Trasimene was put back into action:

  • to protect cities loyal to Rome;
  • try to recover in those cities that have fallen before Hannibal;
  • never fight when the enemy imposed it.

Thus, Hannibal, unable due to the small size of the army to spread his forces, moved from an offensive to a cautious and not always successful defense in Italy. In addition, many of his Gallic supporters were tired of the war, and they returned to the north, to their homeland.

Since there were few reinforcements from Carthage, Hannibal, with the exception of the capture of Tarantum (modern Taranto), won only minor victories. In 213, Casilin and Arpi (captured by Hannibal in winter 216–215) were restored by the Romans, and in 211 Hannibal was forced to retire to lift the Roman siege of Capua. He tried to break the Roman army, but this step was not successful, and Kapuya fell. In the same year Syracuse fell on Sicily, and by 209 Tarent in the south of Italy was again seized by the Romans.

bark hannibal rise


The treaty between Rome and Carthage, which was concluded a year after the battle of Zama, upset all hopes of Hannibal to again speak out against Rome. He was able to overthrow the power of the oligarchic ruling faction in Carthage and achieve certain administrative and constitutional changes.

Although Scipio Africanus, who defeated him at Zama, supported his leadership in Carthage, he became unpopular with the Carthaginian nobility.According to Livy, this led to the fact that Hannibal was forced to flee first to Tire, and then to the court of Antiochus in Ephesus (195). At first he was accepted as Antiochus was preparing the war with Rome. Soon, however, the presence of Hannibal and the advice he gave on the conduct of the war became irrelevant, and he was sent to command the fleet of Antioch in the Phoenician cities. Inexperienced in naval affairs, he was defeated by the Roman navy from Sayd in Pamphylia. Antiochus was defeated in Magnesia in 190, and one of the demands of the Romans was that Hannibal had to surrender.

Further actions of Hannibal are not exactly known. Either he escaped through Crete to the king of Bithynia, or he joined the rebel forces in Armenia. In the end, it is known that he took refuge in Bithynia, which at that time was at war with Rome. The great commander participated in this war and defeated the Eumenes at sea.

Hannibal Barca Biography

Death commander

Under what circumstances did the warlord die? The influence of the Romans in the east expanded to such an extent that they were able to demand the surrender of Hannibal. In the last hours of his life, waiting for betrayal from Bithynia, he sent his last faithful servant to check all the secret exits from the fortress in Libissa (near modern Gebze, Turkey).The servant said that at each exit were unknown enemy guards. Knowing that he was betrayed and could not escape, Hannibal poisoned himself in the last act of disobedience to the Romans (probably 183 BC).

The history preserved the greatest achievements of Hannibal in the Second Punic War. He was an outstanding general with an invincible military strategy. Hannibal Barca’s bold attempt to fight Rome made him the best commander in ancient history.

Hannibal Barca Commander

Interesting Facts

As you can see, the personality of Hannibal Barki is quite interesting, although controversial. Historians have gathered some interesting information about this glorious commander.

  1. The surname of Hannibal Barca means "lightning strike".
  2. The father, watching Hannibal as a child, exclaimed: "Here is a lion, whom I cherish Rome for death."
  3. Elephants in the army of Hannibal were real armored vehicles. They had arrows on their backs, and they pierced any system, trampling people.
  4. The Romans used pipes to scare the elephants of the Carthaginian army at the battle of Zama. Frightened elephants fled, killing many of the Carthaginian troops.
  5. To convince people to join his army, the great commander, Hannibal Barka, chose their best warrior and fought him.
  6. In one of the battles at sea, the people of Hannibal threw pots with snakes at the enemy. It was one of the first examples of biological warfare.
  7. The phrase "Hannibal's oath" has become winged and means firm determination to finish the job.

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