Why Did Hannibal Lose?

By | August 30, 2019

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The Fight between Scipio Africanus and Hannibal, c. 1616-1618. Artist: Cesari, Bernardino (1565-1621) Source: (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

If one had to list the great generals of history names such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Frederick the Great come to mind. Almost always on such lists is the Carthaginian general, Hannibal Barca. He was Rome’s greatest nemesis and won almost every battle, but ultimately lost his war against Rome.


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Map of the First Punic War. Source: (Wikipedia)

Hannibal was born in the city of Carthage in 247 BC. Carthage, a city of Phoenician descent on the North African coast had developed into a powerful contender for ultimate power in the Mediterranean basin. It's only rival was the Roman Republic, which had simultaneously been growing in strength.

The Romans and the Carthaginians fought their war over the span of 23 years from 264 to 241 BC. Carthage lost the war and was forced to give up territory in Sicily as well as pay a heavy indemnity to Rome. At the end of the war, civil disruption in Carthage allowed the Romans to take further advantage of their rivals and take the islands of Corsica and Sardinia from them.