Zeugitana, Carthago Nova (Barcids of Spain) AR Quarter-Shekel 218 - 209 BC

Obv: Head of Hannibal (young Hercules?) left. Rev: Horse standing right. Metal: Silver 1.8 Grams, 16 mm diameter. Condition: VF.

<Hannibal making a river crossing>
History of Hannibal

Hannibal was born (c247 BC) of a powerful Carthagian family. His father "Hamucar" was a general who subdued the tribes of Spain. When Hannibal was still a young man (about 21 years old), his father called for Hannibal to join him in his campaign in Spain. Hannibal proved to be a bold soldier and although rich he lived with the troops and became very popular. In 221 BC, Hamucar was killed and the young Hannibal was raised to the command of the army. This sudden elevation caused a great deal of debate in Carthage and he had many enemies. After the first punic war, Spain had been devided between Carthage's control and Roman control with everything east of the river Iberus belonging to Rome. The exception was the city of Sanguntum which was on the west side of the river and was to be neutral. Hannibal began to harass and threaten the city and took all the surrounding territories. The citizens requested help from Rome, but the Romans did not want a war. The Carthagians had grown rich and powerful since the first punic war and the exploits of Hannibal's cunning military capability was well known in Rome. The Romans made two attempts, by sending delegations to Carthage, to get Hannibal to stop his tauting of Sanguntum. In the meantime, Hannibal took the city in 218 BC and crossed the Iberus river into Roman territory. Rome organized two armies one to meet Hannibal in Gaul and the other to cross Sicily and make war on Carthage itself. Hannibal avoided conflict with the Romans in Gaul and made his famous crossing of the Alps. The Roman army sailed back to Italy to meet Hannibal after he crossed the Alps. Hannibal lost about 40,000 men (1/3 of his army) crossing the Alps. The Roman general "Scipio" (not Africanus) made a quick fight with Hannibal expecting his troops to be totally exhausted from the crossing, which indeed they were, however Scipio failed to take into account that Hannibal's men were trapped and as such were forced to fight to the death and with this desparation they defeated the Roman army. The second Roman army was immediately called back from Sicily to meet Hannibal. The two Roman armies joined now under two generals who disagreed on the next move. The new arrival was "Sempronius" who was impetuous and ready to attack. Knowing this, Hannibal in the early morning sent a small force to attack the camp. Quickly defeated the small force of Carthagians fled across a cold river with Sempronius in pursuit. Sempronius' soldiers were cold, wet, tired from the pursuit and hungry (no time for breakfast). When the Romans reached the opposite river bank, they were ambushed by Hannibal's main force fresh and ready for battle - the Romans were defeated. Hannibal moved towards Rome. The citizens of Rome quickly assembled another army under "Flaminius", but Hannibal quickly defeated this third army by trapping them in a narrow pass. Rome was in a panic, they chose "Fabius" as dictator during this emergency. Another army was drafted, but the two weak armies just followed each other in the field with minor battles. Hannibal's army was down to about 40,000 men about 1/3 of his original forces and he was reluctant to attack the formidable defenses of the city of Rome. About 215 BC, Hannibal settled in Capua building strong defenses and sent word of his victories back to Carthage with request for further support. Neither the Romans nor Hannibal wanted to attack the others defenses, however the Romans were able to keep reinforcements away from Hannibal. In the meantime, the Romans began attacking the Carthagians throughout their trading empire. Eventually the Roman general "Scipio Africanus" challenged Africa and the city of Carthage itself (205 BC). A false peace treaty was made by Carthage, to give time for Hannibal to organize a new army. In 201 BC, Hannibal returned with a newly organized ragtag army. Hannibal as head of this newly assembled army tried to get a better peace treaty without success. The battle took place and the Carthagians were easily defeated. The second set of surrender terms made in 200 BC were extremely harsh and the entire Carthagian fleet (about 500 ships) was surrended to Rome and burned. Hannibal remained as a political leader in Carthage, but he had enemies who charged him with treason. He fled the city in 192 BC, to the city of Tyre where he was welcomed as a hero. He then met with Antiochus III (the Great). Antiochus was at war with Hannibal's old foe "Rome" and Hannibal wanted revenge. He requested a fleet of about 100 ships and 10,000 to 12,000 men, with which he would return to Carthage collect a larger force and bring the war back to Italian shores. Antiochus could see that much of this request was for Hannibal to regain power in Carthage. He never told Hannibal "no" but he also never supplied the force. Hannibal did participant against Rome in the battle of Magnesia (190 BC) where Antiochus III was defeated. In 182 BC, Hannibal was living as a refugee in Bithynia, however he got word that the king had decided to turn him over to the Romans. Hannibal killed himself with poison rather than being a prisoner of Rome - he was an old man and glad to die.