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Hannibal And The Downfall Of Carthage: Hannibal's Decision To Cross The Alps Rather Than The Mediterranean In The 2nd Punic War

1465 words - 6 pages

"I swear that so soon as age will permit, I will use fire and steel to arrest the destiny of Rome"So vowed the young boy, as he stood at the altar beside his father. Son of the great Carthaginian general Hamilcar and brother-in-law of Hamilcar?s able successor Hasdrubal, Hannibal Barca?s roots in the military and Carthage lay deep. And so it was, as the oath taken proclaimed, that his life was an ongoing battle against Carthage?s greatest adversary: the Roman Republic. Two great powers separated only by the Mediterranean, the clash between the two was inevitable. By the age of eighteen, Hannibal was one of the main leaders in the Carthaginian, and by twenty-six, he was proclaimed commander of the army when Hasdrubal was assassinated. When he rose to power, he set out to make up for the losses which Carthage had suffered at the hands of the Romans in the first war against Rome. An excellent strategist, experienced, and with the blood of a brilliant military leader coursing through veins, Hannibal concocted a daring plan. He would lead the troops through mainland Europe and attack Rome from the mainland as opposed to the usual, much shorter, route across the Mediterranean.In this unique act of daring and boldness, Hannibal Barca had made a rash decision which would cost him the capture of Rome, and ultimately lead to the downfall of his own home of Carthage. Firstly, Carthage was far more adapted to fighting in the water than on land. Next, had he confronted the Roman straight away, they would not have been able to counter-attack on Carthage later on. Lastly, the lives many troops were wasted in the treacherous terrain of the Alps which could have better been used. Thus, Hannibal had made a foolish error in crossing the Alps in his attack on Rome.Hannibal?s decision to assault Rome by land was a completely preposterous choice, given that Carthage was more well-suited to a naval conflict than a war on land. During the First Punic War, the Carthaginians had had an immense and powerful fleet, and though much of it was destroyed during the war, Carthage could have rebuilt its navy with it good port, good sailors, good shipbuilders, and wealth. From the very beginning, the Phoenician colonists who founded Carthage had meant to be a sea-based city. When the city was first built, it was meant as a rest area, repair station, and refuge for the Phoenician trade ships. For this purpose the city was located right on the coast of North Africa and had Hannibal chosen to fight the Romans in the Mediterranean, ships would have been able to rapidly enter, re-supply, and leave port quickly. Next, the Phoenicians were the most skilled sailors and shipbuilders of the time and the Carthaginians were colonists of Phoenicia, and also had such skill. As for wealth, Carthage had more than sufficient to build many ships; they extracted many precious metals from surrounding regions, took loot from cities it had sacked, and gained profits from the flourishing trade within...

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