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General Hanibal Barca, Carthegian Civilization, North Africa

Carthage Ruins

Carthage was founded (traditionally by Dido) from Tyre in the 9th cent. B.C. The city-state built up trade and in the 6th and 5th cent. B.C. began to acquire dominance in the W Mediterranean.

 

Merchants and explorers established a wide net of trade that brought great wealth to Carthage.

 

The state was tightly controlled by an aristocracy of nobles and wealthy merchants. Although a council and a popular assembly existed, these soon lost power to oligarchical institutions, and actual power was in the hands of the judges and two elected magistrates (suffetes). There was also a small but powerful senate.

 

 

 

The greatest weakness of Carthage was the rivalry between landholding and maritime families. The maritime faction was generally in control, and about the end of the 6th cent. B.C. the Carthaginians established themselves on Sardinia, Malta, and the Balearic Islands. The navigator Hanno is supposed to have sailed down the African coast as far as Sierra Leone in the early 5th cent. The statesman Mago arrived at treaties with the Etruscans, the Romans, and some of the Greeks. Sicily, which lay almost at the front door of Carthage, was never brought completely under Carthaginian control.

 

Hannibal Coin

The move against the island, begun by settlements in W Sicily, was brought to a halt when the Carthaginian general Hamilcar (a name that recurred in the powerful Carthaginian family usually called the Barcas) was defeated (480 B.C.) by Gelon, tyrant of Syracuse, in the battle of Himera. The Greek city-states of Sicily were thus preserved, but the Carthaginian threat continued and grew with the steadily increasing power of Carthage.

 

Hamilcar's grandson, Hannibal (another name much used in the family), destroyed Himera (409 B.C.), and his colleague Himilco sacked Acragas (modern Agrigento) in 406 B.C. Syracuse resisted the conquerors, and a century later Carthage was threatened by the campaign (310–307?) of the tyrant Agathocles on the shores of Africa. After his death, however, Carthage had practically complete control over all the W Mediterranean. The two images to the left and below: are the photograph of General Hanibal Barca, from both sides of the coins used in Carthage during his lifetime. The elephant is on one side and he is on the other side.

 

Moorish soldiers are mentioned as early as the expedition to Sicily in 406 B.C., in a revolt by a certain Hanno Barca 350 B.C. and the Roman invasion of Africa in 256 B.C. They are similarly mentioned in Livy's account of the second Punic War (218-201 B.C.). In their bitter, prolonged and increasingly desperate struggle for national independence and control of the western Mediterranean, the Carthaginians utilized Moorish troops as integral elements in all of their battle campaigns.

 

Hannibal Coin

With the Numidians, the Moors fought on the side of the Carthaginians against the Romans. These redoubtable Moorish warriors greatly aided the Carthaginians, and were particularly beneficial to Hannibal Barca ­the illustrious African general.  Indeed, Hannibal, "who had over 6,000 [Moors] at his disposal, suffered his only defeat when they were no longer available."

 

Hannibal (also known as Hannibal Barca, 247-183 BCE) was a Carthaginian general during the Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome (218-202 BCE).  He is considered one of the greatest generals of antiquity and his tactics are still studied and used in the present day.

 

His father was Hamilcar Barca (275-228 BCE), the great general of the First Punic War (264-241 BCE). These wars were fought between the cities of Carthage in North Africa and Rome in northern Italy for supremacy in the Mediterranean region and the second war resulted directly from the first. Hannibal assumed command of the troops following his father's death and led them victoriously through a number of engagements until he stood almost at the gates of Rome; at which point he was stopped, not by the Romans, but through a lack of resources to take the city.

 

He was called back to Africa to defend Carthage from Roman invasion, was defeated at the Battle of Zama in 202 BCE by Scipio Africanus (236-183 BCE) and retired from service to Carthage. The remainder of his life was spent as a statesman and then in voluntary exile at the courts of foreign kings. He died in 183 BCE by drinking poison. According to the historian Philip Matyszak, "There is much we do not know about this man, though he was one of the greatest generals in antiquity.


No surviving ancient biography makes him the subject, and Hannibal slips in and out of focus according to the emphasis that other authors give his deeds and character" (24). Nothing is known of his mother and, although he was married at the time of some of his greatest victories, no records make mention of his wife other than her name, Imilce, and the fact that she bore him a son. What became her her or her son is not known. The story of Hannibal's life is told largely by his enemies, the Romans, through the historians who wrote of the Punic Wars.

 

Carthagian Dynasty

 

 

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