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History Lessons by Jonathan Gifford

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HANNIBAL BARCA

(247–183 BCE)

Hannibal had the advantage that he was brought up to be a leader. His father, Hamilcar, had been commander of the Carthaginian forces against Rome in what is known as the First Punic War; his son was brought up, famously, to hate the Romans, and to expect to lead a Carthaginian army against them. Hannibal’s brother-in-law, Hasdrubal, who took command of the army when Hamilcar died, appointed Hannibal as head of cavalry when he was just 21 -years-old. It could be that Hannibal was simply an able soldier who, thanks to his family connections, was given early promotion, but there are clear indications that Hannibal was a natural leader. The Roman historian Livy (who never missed an opportunity to portray Hannibal, Rome’s ...

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