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Thread: Maybe Hannibal wasn't so horrible

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    Account Inactive friedrich braun's Avatar
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    Maybe Hannibal wasn't so horrible

    from the January 11, 2005 edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0111/p15s02-bogn.html

    Maybe Hannibal wasn't so horrible
    Hannibal swarmed over the Alps with elephants, assembled a rainbow coalition of enemies against Rome, and almost overwhelmed the world's only superpower.
    By Ron Charles

    The brief prologue to David Durham's new novel inspires all the faith needed to march through the next 500 pages. We meet a reluctant young warrior whose division is laying siege to the city of Arbocala (now Tordesillas, Spain) in the 3rd century BC When the wall finally collapses, he mounts the rubble in time to take an arrow through his palm and get trampled by the soldiers following behind, but he survives. That evening, a humbly dressed officer enters the soldier's tent and commends his bravery with a lavish tribute. For one of ancient history's forgotten millions, it's a moment filled with awe. For us, it's an introduction to the benevolent side of the world's most formidable warrior: Hannibal.

    Of course, the scene is pure speculation. What we do know about Hannibal is that he was born in Carthage, a vast power in northern Africa that challenged Rome's supremacy. Tradition has it that at 9, Hannibal swore to throw off Rome's oppression. At 26, he took control of the Carthaginian army and tried to fulfill that promise with a series of brilliant and brutal attacks that almost succeeded.

    The risks were formidable - for the general and the novelist. The logistics of both enterprises are staggering. Elephants resist crossing snowcapped mountains; readers balk at wading through ancient history. But Hannibal and Durham are masters of persuasion and imagination. For the young commander, it was a matter of assembling a rainbow coalition of enemies against Rome. For the novelist, success rests on his ability to move from epic battles to private moments that capture the doubts and joys of individuals caught in this earth-changing clash.

    Durham's Hannibal is a temperate man of strict self-denial. He sleeps on the ground with his troops and has no taste for the carnal excesses of the men he leads. Having come of age during his father's defeat, he's motivated by twin desires for justice and revenge.

    Durham shows a commander who knows how to motivate his "African furies," how to enlist potential allies by sympathizing with their grievances, and how to demoralize enemies with tactical creativity that's as dazzling as it is deadly. Marching through Northern Africa, Iberia, and myriad Roman colonies, he collects strange, disparate armies by highlighting the contrast between his honor and Rome's perfidy. Again and again, he countermands orders of more expedient generals who would win over opposing cities by skewering all their children. Oh, he's not above murdering recalcitrant populations, but he understands that the battle against Rome must also be a battle for the hearts of her oppressed subjects. (Something for Americans to keep in mind.)

    But how deadly he is! "Pride of Carthage" is soaked with blood - "a choreographed sacrifice of massive proportions." In one spectacular scene after another, Durham throws together tens of thousands of men churning the ground in mile-wide swaths as they kill one another in a sickening variety of ways. Hannibal's attacks on Roman forces twice the size of his own army are awesome and desperate, full of cries and fire; armor and limbs; elephants, horses, and dogs - oh my!

    But Durham is also remarkably attentive to individual lives and moments between heaves of battle. Hannibal, "the child of a thunderbolt," is worn by doubts and melancholy, desperate for the company of his wife and baby. He constantly feels the horrible burden of destiny. "At moments," he says, "I look down and realize that I'm seated on a monster fouler than anything I could have conceived."

    His brothers adore him, but they labor under a sense of inadequacy that saps their initiative and leads to fatal errors. His wife, mother, and older sister present fascinating pictures of the complicated, compromised position of smart women in an ancient, patriarchal culture.

    On the other side, we catch glimpses of Roman leaders who vacillate between arrogance and panic, unable to fathom this barbarian's next move. And at the other end of the social spectrum, we see the beggars, slaves, and prostitutes who follow behind these giant armies, supplying and reaping what they can without a care for who wins or loses.

    Durham warns in his acknowledgments that "this book is a work of fiction and should only be read as a novel," but the historical records that survive are hardly models of modern academic objectivity. The Romans never managed to kill Hannibal, but they did write the only surviving history of his life. There are no extant Carthaginian sources.

    In fact, there's almost nothing left from Carthage. At the conclusion of the Third Punic War in 146 BC, Rome carried out what may have been the largest systematic execution of noncombatants before World War II, killing all but 50,000 of its 700,000 inhabitants and burning the entire city to the ground. Cato's much-repeated demand, "Carthage must be destroyed," was finally carried out.

    Much that was lost is revived here in all its glory and gore, but ultimately what's more stunning is Durham's imagination, his sensitivity to the cost and exhaustion of war. It's a brilliant exploration of the tension between private destiny and historical force, as full of the sweep of geopolitics as the quiet intimacies of a marriage. He so clearly creates the hopes and fears of these people removed from us by time and culture that we can recognize our tragic, common heritage.

    • Ron Charles is the Monitor's book editor. Send e-mail comments about the book section to Ron Charles.

    Pride of Carthage
    By David Durham
    Doubleday567 pp., $26.96

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    Account Inactive Draugr's Avatar
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    Hannibaal may not have himself been so horrible, but the Punic culture was disgusting. They had to hire mercenaries to fill out their armies (can't fight as a people) and practiced child sacrifice. Besides they were Semetic bastards anyways.

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    Senior Member Folkvang's Avatar
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    I always admired Hannibal; partly because he was the 'underdog', so to speak, and partly because he succeeded against all odds. He was a survivor, and an ingenious one at that. I've never thought of him as a vicious monster, just as a person who's will to conquer and overcome was vastly superior to anyone around him.

    +1 for Hannibal

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    Account Inactive Draugr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Folkvang
    I always admired Hannibal; partly because he was the 'underdog', so to speak, and partly because he succeeded against all odds. He was a survivor, and an ingenious one at that. I've never thought of him as a vicious monster, just as a person who's will to conquer and overcome was vastly superior to anyone around him.

    +1 for Hannibal
    Hanibaal had a large mercenary force with him, these were seasoned military professionals. And he was no friend of the northmen, when his celtic guides weren't fast enough in finding the way, he executed them. Hanibaal is the same type of Asian madman as Xerxes, do you think it would have been better if the Persians had conquered Greece?

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    Senior Member Folkvang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Draugr
    Hanibaal had a large mercenary force with him, these were seasoned military professionals. And he was no friend of the northmen, when his celtic guides weren't fast enough in finding the way, he executed them. Hanibaal is the same type of Asian madman as Xerxes, do you think it would have been better if the Persians had conquered Greece?

    Love the sinner, hate the sin. I can admire his tactics without having to agree on everything he did. Xerxes was a madman... I don't think he could have taken over Greece, or at least have held it. Fortunately, however, Greek military ingenuity spares us the pain of wondering, "what if Xerxes hadn't won?".

    BTW- I like your avatar. Could you possibly post the original image?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Folkvang
    I always admired Hannibal; partly because he was the 'underdog', so to speak, and partly because he succeeded against all odds. He was a survivor, and an ingenious one at that. I've never thought of him as a vicious monster, just as a person who's will to conquer and overcome was vastly superior to anyone around him.

    +1 for Hannibal
    Hannibal was indeed a great man who accomplished an amazing feet. He was one of the youngest(he became commander of the army at age 20) and most brilliant military commanders in History.

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    The War fought by the Carthaginians under Hannibal against the Romans was the most memorable of all wars ever waged. Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, XXI.I



    Neither love nor treaty shall there be between the nations . . . .
    Let your shores oppose their shores, your waves their waves, your arms their arms. This is my prayer: let them fight, they and their sons’ sons, forever.
    Dido, Queen of Carthage’s curse upon the Romans. Virgil, Aeneid IV, 624 ff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jagdmesser View Post
    The War fought by the Carthaginians under Hannibal against the Romans was the most memorable of all wars ever waged. Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, XXI.I


    Neither love nor treaty shall there be between the nations . . . .
    Let your shores oppose their shores, your waves their waves, your arms their arms. This is my prayer: let them fight, they and their sons’ sons, forever.
    Dido, Queen of Carthage’s curse upon the Romans. Virgil, Aeneid IV, 624 ff.

    The desire to fight for the sake of fighting; in other words killing and butchering your fellow man for the sheer love of it places man in my opinion below the level of the beasts in the field-the majority of which only fight out of necessity. I have nothing against fighting out of self-preservation or to protect one's clan but to blindly fight for a nation state is the height of folly. This is why they say 'military intelligence' is an oxy-moron.
    I also don't think that the Queen of Carthage did much fighting herself. Such is the way, the elites send to their deaths the children of the masses, treating them like cannon fodder whilst they themselves do not get their hands dirty.

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    Chpt II MERCENARIES who returned to Carthage from Sicily. They had not been paid for several years. Of course they rebel.


    Without the arms of Spendius there were still ten pieces of two men, catapulted into Tunis. That done,great braziers were lit before each troop of archers and each catapult. At one trumpet, a rain of fire fell on Tunis. It burned for three days and nights. Four times, each of those days, my father Hamilcar Barca renewed his hail of fire. He knew how much water there was in Tunis.

    Irregular groups of mercenaries sought a different death. Some. on fire, jumped from the walls. Others ran from the gates. Some of these were killed. Most were captured and then crucified upon the crosses of Haggith and his men. All about the crosses and our camp sat and squawked the black and bloodied ravens.

    Of course Carthage rejoiced when we returned, our bodies blackened by the smoke, our clothes fouled by the reek of burnt flesh. “Hamilicar, our saviour, Eye of Khamon,” cried the people, even Baalhaan, wearing his tiara with its eight mystic tiers, an emerald shell in the middle. I slipped away. I Hannibal wanted to see Silenus. I had missed him. He was not in our classroom. But a scroll was open on his desk. It was the fourteenth book of Homer’s Iliad and, returned from the Truceless War, I read:


    The Gods decreed that from youth even unto old age we should labour, fighting in arduous wars, each of us until we are dead.


    Book HANNIBAL by Ross Leckie.

    Hannibal lived during a period of great tension in the western Mediterranean Basin, when the Roman Republic established its supremacy over other great powers such as ancient Carthage, the Etruscans, the Samnites, and the Greek kingdom of Syracuse. One of his most famous achievements was at the outbreak of the Second Punic War, when he marched an armywhich included war elephants from Iberia over the Pyrenees and the Alps into Italy. In his first few years in Italy, he won dramatic victories at the Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae. He distinguished himself for his ability to determine his and his opponent's respective strengths and weaknesses, and to plan battles accordingly. Hannibal's well-planned strategies allowed him to conquer many allies of Rome.

    Hannibal - Wikipedia


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    Hannibal also sacrificed his own daughter to Baal to gain favor as I recall.
    Oh and he also used African mercenaries in his war against Rome.
    Last edited by Chlodovech; Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 at 12:24 AM. Reason: No slurs

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