Historical story

Hannibal | Who was Annibale Barca?

Hannibal, the "greatest general of antiquity" who crossed the Alps with an army of war elephants.

Hannibal Barca he was a very important Carthaginian leader, considered by some to be the greatest strategist of the ancient world, and, in all probability, he was also the most famous Carthaginian of all time. His deeds, in the long war against Rome, which saw him protagonist in the second and third Punic wars, have made him an immortal legend, and despite his city being razed to the ground and completely erased from history following the final defeat, the greatness of the name of Hannibal, and consequently of Carthage itself, has survived intact over the centuries, but who was Hannibal Barca really?

Theodor Mommsen , in the second volume of his History of Rome , defined Hannibal "the greatest general of antiquity", placing him above men of the caliber of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great , whose Hellenic empire had extended far beyond the borders of the known world, and above all, above its contemporary and main rival, Publio Cornelio Scipione , said the African. The greatness of Hannibal was recognized as superior to that of the man, of the general, who in fact defeated Hannibal himself.

Although the story of Hannibal largely coincides with the story of the second and third Punic war , his life and his story did not begin on the battlefield; Hannibal's story begins in a certain sense in the privilege and luxury of the private rooms of one of the oldest and most noble Carthaginian families. Hannibal was the first of three brothers, eldest son and heir of Amilcare known as Barak, which in Carthaginian meant lightning or lightning bolt, (not to be confused with the name Barack, which in Arabic means "blessed") , his nickname was later transliterated by Latin chroniclers in Barca , and inherited from his descendants as a family name.

The fortune and power of the Barcadi family it did not begin with Amilcare, but is indissolubly linked to the history of Carthage itself since its foundation. The centrality of the Barcadi in Carthaginian society was directly linked to the land holdings that had grown over time, through military conquests and trade agreements which, over the centuries, had brought numerous landholdings in the region of under the direct control of the Barcadi. Byzacena , which extended along the North African coast east of Carthage, in fact Hannibal's family directly controlled large land holdings in what is now the Tunisian hinterland and some of the most important commercial freight rates, along what is now the Libyan coast.

In times of war, in an era in which armies were not permanent and soldiers provided their own armament, military command depended to a very large extent on the economic resources of families and generally, to assume military command, with the degree of general, they were members of the oldest and richest families.

Amilcare Barca , father of Hannibal, just like his sons Hannibal, Hasdrubal and Magone after him, he served Carthage as a military commander and commander, he took on the role of general during the first Punic war and he was entrusted with the task, not an easy one, of fighting in Sicily despite almost all of the island having now fallen under the control of Rome.

Despite the adverse terrain and enemies on every front, Amilcare managed to land in Sicily, in the north-western part of the island, together with a handful of men with whom he first took refuge on Monte Pellegrino and later moved to Monte Erice , from here he would have conquered an important strategic position that allowed him to resist enemy attacks and at the same time to advance and launch numerous attacks and raids towards mainland Italy.

It is said of Amilcare that he never suffered defeat in Sicily and the rumors of his success, his valor, his loyalty and his honor on the battlefield, as well as his extraordinary ability as a commander in the field, reached as far as Rome. , the beating heart of the greatest enemy of Hamilcar and Carthage, and there, despite the rivalry and hostility, despite Hamilcar was a Carthaginian general during the first war between Rome and Carthage, he was recognized the honor of arms, a totally exceptional fact, totally anomalous for the Roman custom.
Amilcare's fame had reached Rome, where its value was recognized and despite the rivalry, his name was feared and respected and before Hamilcare, Rome had never recognized the honor of arms to any of its defeated enemies. .

The history of Hamilcare ends in 229 BC. during a conflict in Spain, following an unsuccessful siege of the city of Helike (now Elche) , drowning during the retreat.
There is no direct link between the death of Amilcare and Rome, if not perhaps an indirect, very forced link that would have triggered a series of provocations which, just ten years later, would have resulted in a territorial dispute along the Ebro river, marking the beginning of the second Punic war.

In the house of Hamilcar, Rome represented a great danger, an eternal enemy against which Carthage and the Carthaginians were destined to fight forever, Hamilcar was aware that the Carthaginian dominion over the Mediterranean was threatened by the rise and ambitions of Rome, he knew that the two giants of the Mediterranean could never coexist, sooner or later one of the two would have been destroyed and these ideas echoed in the Barca home even and above all after his death. This eternal rivalry between Rome and Carthage settled in the heirs and descendants of Hamilcar, who grew up harboring in their hearts a deep hatred towards Rome.

Among all, Hannibal, the eldest son of Hamilcar, born in 247 BC. the same year in which his father had been sent to Sicily to fight against Rome, against the Romans, he grew up with a deep resentment towards Rome, of that Rome that had kept him away from his parent, and as soon as he was able to fight, he did not hesitate to take up arms and follow his father's example. Hannibal undertook the military route in 221 BC. just three years before the outbreak of the Second Punic War, and from that moment on, he would have devoted every single day, every instant of his existence, to tirelessly fighting against Rome.

Hannibal was driven by a blind and unstoppable fury and at the same time by an irreproachable ideal, for him Rome represented a threat not only for Carthage, but for any other people of the Mediterranean.

Rome had a reputation for an insatiable desire for power , a thirst for power that in the eyes of Hannibal turned into the conquest and destruction of any civilization that opposed Rome, and in the resistance to the Roman advance Hannibal saw his mission, saw his purpose in life, in fact voting his own entire existence to fight Rome.

Similarly to Hannibal, almost two thousand years later, Carl von Clausewitz he would have made a very similar decision, devoted his existence to fighting Napoleon , a dangerous man, whose empire, just as happened in Rome, represented a threat to the pre-established order of the world, a threat to the peoples and European nations of the time. Eventually the ancient European ruling houses, thanks to the insights of Von Clausewitz , would have managed to defeat Napoleon and restore the ancient European order, uniting and trying to overcome some ideological divergences, and even if with difficulty and not a few compromises, traditional Europe would have survived for a few decades before its decline, but this did not it was the fate of Rome and Hannibal.

Hannibal never managed to concretely unite all enemies of Rome in a real anti-Roman coalition, although he tried on several occasions to build a large army made up of all the enemies of Rome, however, precisely because of this lack, despite his incredible military acumen, in the end, the greater resources and men available to Rome, marked the defeat of Hannibal and the definitive fall of Carthage.

This failure, however, did not mark the end of Hannibal, who continued to fight Rome, with greater impetus and vigor, even after the destruction of Carthage. The end of Carthage increased Hannibal's hatred and resentment, clouding his mind and pushing him to fight with less and less clarity, first in the service of the Seleucid empire and then of the kingdom of Bithynia , indirectly becoming the very engine of that end of non-Roman civilizations, which he had tried so hard to prevent.

To counter Hannibal, Rome went east, advancing into Greece, Anatolia and the Near East , went beyond the sea, to chase Hannibal, to chase the most feared man in all of Roman history. Hannibal was powerful and dangerous and his obstinacy, his hatred of Rome, his determination, represented the greatest threat that Rome had ever faced and precisely to counter this threat, Rome was almost forced to pursue him, to give him a hunting, to hunt him, and this tireless search, this manhunt and his allies, ended up giving Rome the pretext to expand its borders and declare war on all those who gave asylum to Hannibal.

Hannibal, the man who wanted to stop the rise of Rome, in an attempt to destroy Rome ended up accelerating the growth of Rome, making it larger and more powerful than it had ever been before, and than it was. would never be again later.