• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Using Livy, How Great a General was Hannibal?

Extracts from this document...


Using Livy, How Great a General was Hannibal? When Hannibal left Italy in 203 BC "he had filled Italy...with monuments of his tremendous campaigns"1. In this essay I will consider Hannibal's legacy and what aspects of his personality created these 'monuments.' After research,2 I have set out some criteria of a great general and in this essay I will attempt to establish to what extent Hannibal fulfils these criteria. According to Lazenby, to do what Hannibal did required "great strategic skill, tactical ingenuity and sheer force of personality"3. I will consider where these characteristics came from and how he used these characteristics to his advantage in the Second Punic War. After Hasdrubal was assassinated Hannibal became general of the Carthaginian army in Spain. He had had an interesting upbringing as the son of a popular war hero, Hamilcar. Hamilcar "led the boy [Hannibal] to the altar and made him solemnly swear...that as soon as he was old enough he would become an enemy of Rome"4. There was some debate as to whether Hannibal should become commander at this young age. However "the troops received him [Hannibal] with ominous enthusiasm, the soldiers feeling that in the person of this young man Hamilcar himself was restored to them...the same vigour in his look, the same fire in his eyes"5. Indeed one of Hannibal's flaws was, according to Caven, "his all consuming ambition to excel in all that his father had taught him...the terrible game of war, the only worthwhile occupation for a Barca"6. This 'game of war' was all about knowing how to be a good general, and how to defeat the Romans. In my opinion a good general must fulfil the following criteria. He must deceive the enemy; have a good strategy, know the state of his own forces and his enemy's capabilities and intentions. He must know the objective. He must defeat his enemies and forces, take the offensive, have unity in his command and know how to economise his army. ...read more.


Longus engaged the Carthaginians exactly where Hannibal wanted him to and was ensnared in his trap. The Romans were annihilated. This battle shows for the first time Hannibal's use of deception. He utilised the terrain to his advantage. Needing "a resounding victory to maintain the morale of his men and the enthusiasm and war-like spirit of the Gauls"12, Hannibal had taken a risk by isolating his Numidian horsemen from the rest of his troops. "Hannibal was always inclined by temperament to favour the unexpected solution"13. There were many consequences of this battle. Many Gauls flocked to support Hannibal. Rome started a defensive (but not Fabian) policy, putting garrisons at strategic points throughout Italy. After wintering his men in the Po valley Hannibal marched through marshy countryside for four days and three nights. Many horses and pack animals died. Hannibal lost his sight in one eye. He knew the condition of his men was bad, and so rested them, again showing this key aspect of good generalship. He "collected information about the enemy"14. He knew he was likely to face Flaminus (one of the consuls) at Arretium. Flaminus was "absurdly overconfident"15. Hannibal walked straight past Flaminus, burning and pillaging the region, and tormented the Roman troops. Hannibal was again using psychological warfare. Flaminus was pulled into a huge trap at the Battle of Trasimene in 217 BC. 15,000 Romans were killed. Of the captured soldiers only the allies of Rome were set free, encouraging schisms in the alliance system. The next major encounter was at the battle of Cannae in 216 BC. It was to be his most famous victory. The term of office for the Dictator Fabius had come to an end and the consuls Varro and Paullus were elected. Varro is depicted as being reckless, arrogant and inexperienced militarily. Paullus was a cautious, sensible and experienced patrician. Hannibal met Varro and Paullus outside Cannae. ...read more.


This weakness was evidenced at the battle of Zama. The armies were quite even, in size and training. Scipio Africanus, the general of the Roman troops had taught his forces Hannibal's tactics. He had acquired Numidian horsemen gaving him the advantage over Hannibal. It was Cannae in reverse. Hannibal was defeated for the first time ever. I believe this was because he did not choose the battleground well. There were no features he could use to hide his troops, or to stop himself from being outflanked. However Polybius says that "Hannibal had achieved the distinction of having drawn his line on that day with remarkable skill"19 using his veterans as a van-guard. In conclusion we can see that Hannibal fulfils all of my criteria for being a great general except for a few. He fails in his dealings with Roman allies - he underestimated Rome's capabilities and there grip on their allies. He failed to secure his supply lines - this is an administrative failure. He also failed to prioritise his objectives - he cannot see any other way to defeat Rome other than splitting it from its Allies. He fulfilled all the other criteria that I set out. He is one of the best generals ever. 3, 569 words. 1 Titus Livius (Livy) XXX: 28 2 An Encyclopaedia Britannica article entitled The Conduct and Theory of War 3 Lazenby, page 256 4 Livy XXI: 1 5 Livy XXI: 2 6 Caven, page 86 7 Polybius III: 17 * However, it was never Hannibal's plan to cross the Alps. This aspect of the journey occurred because of Scipio's blocking of the normal route. 8 An Encyclopaedia Britannica article entitled The Conduct and Theory of War 9 Polybius III: 67 10 Polybius III: 70 11 Polybius III: 70 12 Pamela Bradley, page 138 13 Polybius III: 78 14 Polybius III: 80 15 Polybius III: 80 16 Polybius III: 48 17 Polybius III: 17 18 Livy XXII: 51 19 Poybius XV: 12 Edward Moloney, 16/05/2007, Classical Civilisation coursework, 1 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE History Projects section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE History Projects essays

  1. Why was the Roman Army so Successful? Rome was one ...

    In addition, there was the short sword which was used for quickly piercing the enemy. It was used more often than the pugio. The pila was very closely related to the javelin. It was used for throwing and was about 2m in length.

  2. How did the Cold War begin?

    Richard Nixon who wanted to win the election, took advantage of the increasing oppositions to war and in his election campaign made a promise of 'de-Americanization' for the American people in order to get more votes. In stead of Johnson, Richard Nixon became the president following the year.

  1. How Were The Roman Army Superior In Weaponry, Armour And Tactics To The Celts?

    This meant unlike the Celts the Roman shields were usable throughout battle and this gave them a lot of protection. Those Celts who had access to swords had a formidable weapon that was quite strong (although opinions vary on this).

  2. What were the origins of Roman religion and how did it progress?

    The festival was therefore celebrated on 5th March. There were a number of cult objects, which were found in the festival. There was a sacred dress, and a sacred rattle. The ceremony would have included hymns and readings not unlike today's church services except for the inclusion of a sacrifice!

  1. My main question is : How did Mussolini rise to power in ...

    He made known a Fascist Grand Council which would decide the program for Italy without asking the non-fascists in the government first. In February 1923, Mussolini and the Fascist Grand Council introduced the Acerbo Law. This law changed election results.

  2. The object of this coursework is to gather information and data, on how woman ...

    The reasoning for this is that, many of my sources show that the violence of the suffragettes actually produced fear among the public and many of the politicians, who then did not support them. Many of the cartoons in my sources, although rather amusing, show that the public were actually scared that the woman were taking over.

  1. Does General Douglas Haig deserve to be remembered as the butcher of the Somme(TM)?

    were confident with it and Haig was a product of his time in the 20th century. He did what he could and did it well and Britain is proud of him. He had good leadership skills and was well experienced with a lot of determination.

  2. Describe how a Roman Soldier was armed and how the army was organised - ...

    This also had another advantage; if the spear was thrown and it hit an enemy shield, it would disable the shield allowing the second javelin that a legionary carried to be thrown to kill. The Sandals The sandals were made of leather and had metal studs on the soles which had three uses.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work