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Having recovered from their previous losses at Trebia and Trasimene, the Romans decided to engage Hannibal at Cannae, on August 2 nd 216 BC. The armies.

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Presentation on theme: "Having recovered from their previous losses at Trebia and Trasimene, the Romans decided to engage Hannibal at Cannae, on August 2 nd 216 BC. The armies."— Presentation transcript:


2 Having recovered from their previous losses at Trebia and Trasimene, the Romans decided to engage Hannibal at Cannae, on August 2 nd 216 BC. The armies met on the Apulian plain near the town of Cannae next to the River Aufidus. Leading into Battle: The newly elected Roman Consuls, Gaius Terentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paullus, were anxious to begin their tenure with military achievement. They formed a large force to deal with the Carthaginians ravaging southern Italy. Between the two Consuls, they levied a force of nearly 80,000 men. Hannibal meanwhile, still attempting to subvert Roman authority in the allied areas of Italy, was waiting for the Romans with a colourful mix of Gauls, Spaniards, Numidians and Carthaginians, approximately 40,000 men.

3 Hannibal placed his light slingers and spearmen at the front. He positioned his Celtic and Spanish swordsmen in a crescent in the centre. On his left wing he stationed his Celtic and Spanish heavy cavalry, on the right he stationed his light Numidian cavalry. Preparing for battle, he now ordered his light troops at the front to fall back and act as reserves. The Romans meanwhile acted as usual. The velites (skirmishers) were positioned at the front to cover their position. Behind them, in the centre the main body of the legion took its position, with allied Italian infantry on either side of it.

4 The Romans drove in hard, using their superior infantry to best advantage. They had their velites fall back and ploughed into their foe with their heavy infantry. The crescent of Celtic and Spanish swordsmen buckled and retreated. To the Romans this appeared to be due to their powerful drive into the opponents lines. In fact the troops had been told to retreat.

5 The Roman infantry had continued to drive forward, and had driven itself into an alley formed by the light Carthaginian infantry stationed at the sides. Shielded by these Carthaginian troops, their comrades who had stayed at the rear could now swing around and come in behind the Roman army. The Roman doomed legions were encircled and being attacked from all sides. In effect the Roman infantry had been defeated by the opposing infantry, although the returning Carthaginian cavalry helped further accelerate their victory.

6 Defeat in this battle was a blow from which Rome should be reeling for some time to come. Outcome 3000 Romans were taken prisoner, Paullus and Servilius were dead and Varro fled with about 15000 men. Polybius claims 70,000 dead and 10,000 captured, though Livy, Appian and Plutarch report only 50,000 dead. Polybius notes, "How much more serious was the defeat of Cannae, than those that preceded it can be seen by the behavior of Rome’s allies; before that fateful day, their loyalty remained unshaken, now it began to waver for the simple reason that they despaired of Roman Power." Hannibal lost about 6000 men in his greatest victory, and Rome’s worst defeat. From: Polybius, The Histories of Polybius, 2 Vols., trans. Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (London: Macmillan, 1889), I. 264-275.

7 Boak and Sinnigen Believed Roman forces traditionally numbered 80,000 men, but probably nearer 50,000. Only 10,000 Romans succeeded in forcing their way out of the trap. First Time Rome’s allies showed grave signs of disloyalty. Syracuse went over to Carthage. Capua, the second city of Italy opened its gates to Hannibal.

8 Hannibal faced Scipio in the concluding Battle of the war, this time on Carthaginian soil.

9 Roman forces landed in Africa defeating the Carthaginian armies under Syphax and supporting a Numidian rising against Carthaginian rule. Carthage was ready to sue for peace when Hannibal with 15'000 veterans returned from Italy, and so decided to continue War. Zama marked the end of the power of the great Hannibal Barca. Pinnacle in the career of the outstanding Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio, whose reforms to the Roman army made him legendary. Both armies numbered 35,000 to 40,000 men. Hannibal now had a strong elephant corps.


11 The Elephants charge The Roman Cavalry charges, the Infantry deploys The Cavalry returns

12 Scipio applied the tactics of encirclement which he had learnt from Hannibal but adapted to Roman military formations. The retreat of the Carthaginian mercenaries at a critical moment and the timely return of the Roman and Numidian Cavalry from pursuit of the routed Carthaginian horse resulted in a complete Victory for Scipio. Hannibal having lost the battle retreated to Carthage. 20,000 men from Hannibal's army were killed with an equal number taken as prisoners to be sold at slave auction. The Romans meanwhile, lost as few as 500 dead and 4,000 wounded Scipio returned to Rome to triumph “over the Carthaginians and Hannibal” and to receive the name of Africanus.

13 Spain was forever lost to Carthage and passed into the control of Rome for the next 7 centuries. Carthage was reduced to the status of a client state and lost all power of enacting its own treaties and diplomacy. It was forced to pay a tribute of 10,000 talents, all warships, save 10 were turned over to Rome along with any remaining war elephants. Carthage was forbidden to raise an army without the permission of Rome. Grain and reparations for lost supplies also had to be provided to Rome as well as having the responsibility of collecting runaway slaves and returning them. The defeat of Carthage transformed the Roman Republic from a growing regional power into the super-powered Empire of the Mediterranean. Rome became the master of not only all of Italy, but Africa, Spain and Greece as well. Zama did not decide the outcome of the war, which Carthage had already lost, but it did determine the kind of peace terms that Rome would impose on her defeated enemy.

14 Titus Livius: History of Rome, books nine through twenty-six. Polybius: The Histories. Boak and Sinnegen: Conquest of Mediterranean Chapter 8. Hannibal School Handouts.

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