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Hannibal: Let’s hear it for Hannibal!

What with publication date coming up, I thought I’d do a few posts about Carthage, and the iconic general from there who so nearly conquered the Roman Republic. What first comes to mind are the amazing textbooks I read while plotting my new quadrilogy *cough, sorry, trilogy*. There are lots of good texts out there, but some are outstanding. 

Some of these would be The Punic Wars by Nigel Bagnall, Greece and Rome at War by Peter Connolly (a great all-round text, a must for any Roman enthusiast),  Hannibal’s War by J.F. Lazenby, and the recent (2010) really great read Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles (who often has excellent documentaries on TV). There are a host of others, which I referred to at the back of Hannibal: Enemy of Rome ;-)

If you’re after some really informative, interesting and amusing TV about Hannibal, watch the 6-part BBC minseries by Ben, Danny and Sam Wood, three Aussie brothers who last year cycled the route taken by Hannibal from Spain to Italy. Watch On Hannibal’s Trail here. There’s also rather a good BBC film about Hannibal, called Rome’s Worst Nightmare. Still plenty of room for a good Hollywood blockbuster about the man, however! Just not one starring Vin Diesel, please.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted 26 May 2011 at 20:36 | Permalink

    Will have to look out the film Rome’s Worst Nightmare, i have the TV series on the sky box still its great fun. Im looking forward to this so dont forget to get down to toppings…i dont get my book until you have done the biz there..LOL.

  2. benkane
    Posted 26 May 2011 at 20:55 | Permalink

    @Parmenion: ‘fraid I’m not in Toppings until the 20th of June. Can you wait that long? ;-)

  3. John Salter
    Posted 27 May 2011 at 13:01 | Permalink

    Ben, what I can never understand about Hannibal is why he didn’t destroy Rome when he had the chance? He had crushed every Roman army thrown against him and at one point only had the city to take and yet hesitated, hovered and waited for external legions to return Italy, the rest is history.

    If I had a bitter enemy at my mercy that I had fought for decades as had my father, I would have destroyed them utterly as Rome ultimately did with Carthage. Has there ever been an explanation for this?

  4. benkane
    Posted 27 May 2011 at 13:55 | Permalink

    @John: you’ll have to wait until Legionary (book two) to find out! ;-)

    It’s a very commonly and hotly debated point. Let’s remember that it’s very easy to have prefect hindsight vision too. Maharbal, Hannibal’s commander of cavalry, advised him to march on Rome immediately after Cannae. He didn’t, possibly because of a number of reasons: 1. After such a crushing defeat, just about every civilisation would have capitulated. Hannibal wasn’t to know that Rome wouldn’t. 2. Despite their stunning victory, his men would have been utterly exhausted. Marching them hundreds of miles to Rome, in the summer heat, and finding enough supplies for them and their mounts, would have been a Herculean task. 3. Perhaps the most important point of all: Hannibal had no siege machines. Rome’s walls were tall, deep and very strong. It also had two legionsof defenders. Taking the city would have been difficult enough for a fresh army, well equipped with catapults and siege towers, never mind one depleted by death, injuries and disease.

  5. Posted 27 May 2011 at 14:40 | Permalink

    20th June…Swooooooon……!! I will cry every day…but im sure i will make it…cheers

  6. John Salter
    Posted 27 May 2011 at 17:29 | Permalink

    Ben, I just wondered if there had ever been a reason that actually explained it or an official account. Let’s face it even he if had actually taken Rome, the legions elsewhere wouldn’t have just gone away anyway, they’d have marched straight back to Italy even if it meant abandoning where they were.

    Book TWO! I haven’t even got my paws on the first one yet! I’m really looking forward to it because I’m all out of descent books, I’m ploughing my way through The Coming of the King but it’s not what I’d call pacey, nice descriptions of things but it’s a bit slow. Don’t tell Manda! ;-)

  7. annis
    Posted 28 May 2011 at 20:16 | Permalink

    There’s a useful article around (which no doubt Ben already has in his Hannibal collection!) called “Hannibal’s Mules: The Logistical Limitations of Hannibal’s Army and The Battle of Cannae, 216 BC”, by John F Shean. It can be accessed through JSTOR if you belong to a participating library.

    Now I’m reminded of another one of those ’60s macho historical adventures, “The Man from Cannae”, by John Jakes, originally published as “Traitors’ Legion”. For some hilariously breathless prose, check out the original blurb :) http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/s/jay-scotland/traitors-legion.htm

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