• Scipio Africanus

  • The Life and Legacy of the Roman General Who Defeated Hannibal During the Second Punic War
  • By: Charles River Editors
  • Narrated by: Colin Fluxman
  • Length: 2 hrs and 5 mins

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Publisher's Summary

Carthage was one of the great ancient civilizations, and at its peak, the wealthy Carthaginian Empire dominated the Mediterranean against the likes of Greece and Rome, with commercial enterprises and influence stretching from Spain to Turkey. In fact, at several points in history it had a very real chance of replacing the fledgling Roman empire or the failing Greek poleis (city-states) altogether as master of the Mediterranean. Although Carthage by far preferred to exert economic pressure and influence before resorting to direct military power (and even went so far as to rely primarily on mercenary armies paid with its vast wealth for much of its history, it nonetheless produced a number of outstanding generals, from the likes of Hanno Magnus to, of course, the great bogeyman of Roman nightmares himself: Hannibal. 

Certain foreign policy decisions led to continuing enmity between Carthage and the burgeoning power of Rome, and what followed was a series of wars that turned from a battle for Mediterranean hegemony into an all-out struggle for survival. Although the Romans gained the upper hand in the wake of the First Punic War, Hannibal brought the Romans to their knees for more than a decade during the Second Punic War. While military historians are still amazed that he was able to maintain his army in Italy near Rome for nearly 15 years, scholars are still puzzled over some of his decisions, including why he never attempted to march on Rome in the first place. 

While Hannibal had been in Italy, it had been relatively easy for the Carthaginian oligarchy, particularly the Hundred and Four, a federation of powerful traders, and Hannibal’s chief political rival, Hanno the Great, to marginalize him. For years his political party, the Barcids, had struggled to obtain even a token amount of funds and troops for his enterprise, but Hannibal’s arrival on the scene changed all that. Even his rivals could not deny the simple fact that, all else aside, the man could fight a battle like no other general alive. With Rome threatening invasion, Hannibal was suddenly the necessary hero of the hour. Bolstering his Italian mercenaries with levies from Africa and Carthage, the Carthaginian ruling elite desperately invested the money that Hannibal had begged for throughout the last decade. 

While he remains far less known than Hannibal, Publius Cornelius Scipio, the man who has become known to history as Scipio Africanus, is widely regarded as one of the greatest military leaders of all time. In the space of less than 10 years, the genius of Scipio took Rome from being on the brink of utter destruction to becoming the dominant power in the Mediterranean. He displayed not just acute understanding of the tactical needs of the battlefield but also a strategic overview that consistently allowed him to confound his enemies. Scipio has been described as “the embodiment of grand strategy, as his campaigns are the supreme example in history of its meaning”. 

However, like many other successful military leaders, Scipio proved much less able to deal with the envy and political machinations of the Roman Senate, and he ended his life not in glory but in bitter, self-imposed retirement, much the same way Hannibal did. Both men left legacies of military genius, catastrophic defeats, perseverance in the face of setbacks, astounding victories. Their stories also heavily involve ingratitude, envy, and enmity from within. 

Scipio Africanus: The Life and Legacy of the Roman General Who Defeated Hannibal During the Second Punic War chronicles how Scipio rose to prominence, his legendary victory at Zama, and the legacy he had on antiquity.

©2020 Charles River Editors (P)2020 Charles River Editors

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