Hannibal Essay Questions

Hannibal Essay Questions-25
This was a very common practice in ancient historiography: the reader expected short speeches in which the actors explained what they were doing and why.These explanatory speeches were usually included before a particularly important action took place.

This was a very common practice in ancient historiography: the reader expected short speeches in which the actors explained what they were doing and why.These explanatory speeches were usually included before a particularly important action took place.

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The Carthaginian general Hannibal (247-182 BCE) was one of the greatest military leaders in history.

His most famous campaign took place during the Second Punic War (218-202), when he caught the Romans off guard by crossing the Alps.

Polybius used the original text; Livy knew it indirectly.

His real source cannot be identified, but we can be confident that this intermediary was a careful author, who meticulously copied all the chronological indications he found in the eyewitness report.

On the other hand, Livy has his qualities too, because he carefully copies what had been carefully copied.

As a consequence, we cannot choose either of these historical texts as "most reliable".The pass which Hannibal took during the second night, can be identified with the Col de Cabre.[The argument that Hannibal encountered the Allobroges and consequently must have passed along the Isère is not conclusive, because Celtic tribes were not very sedentary.The fact that the Allobroges lived on the banks of the Isère in the second century BCE does not prove that this was their home in the third century.] Probably, Hannibal had always wanted to take the road to the Col du Mont Genèvre.Now that we know that Hannibal crossed the Alps between Briançon and Susa, we can try to find the other stations of his march.The enemy town that was taken on the third day, can easily be identified with modern Gap, because it is a three days' march downstream from Briançon (i.e., days four, five and six).There are two ancient texts that give a description of Hannibal's route.The oldest is in the third book of the World History by the Greek historian Polybius of Megalopolis (ca.200-118 BCE).Since Polybius and Livy both liken the Alps to the walls of Rome, it is likely that the speech was already included in the original account.(Besides, the question seems inevitable how Hannibal's men could possibly see Italy if it were snowing, as Livy indicates.) As we can see in the table below, only one pass fits the sixth condition.It is therefore tempting to regard Polybius as more reliable than Livy.He has first-hand knowledge of the Alps, has read the original eyewitness account, and understands army maneuvers.

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