Why Did The Roman Republic Transition to a Monarchy?

The Roman Republic was born in 509 B.C. when the Romans, under the leadership of Lucius Junius Brutus drove out the last King, Tarquin Superbus. The Republic was not very democratic, even though the leadership was elected. The aristocracy had far more say in affairs of state than the common people. It was, essentially, a […]

What Was the Role of Hispanian Tribesmen in the Second Punic War?

During the Second Punic War, Rome and Carthage contended with each other for the loyalty and support of the native Spanish Tribes. When Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar Barca, came to Spain to establish Carthaginian hegemony, he encountered resistance from some of the tribes. In fact, he was killed in a conflict with the Carpetani, a large […]

What Were Hannibal’s Mistakes?

Some people believe Hannibal’s biggest mistake was in failing to march on Rome and besiege it after the devastating battle of Cannae, in which some 55,000 Romans and their allies were slain. I doubt that such a siege would have been successful. Hannibal had no siege equipment and it would have been difficult to maintain […]

Book Review: The Invention of Yesterday by Tamim Ansary

  For anyone who wants to understand the past and how it has shaped the present, The Invention of Yesterday is a must read. Tamim Ansary traces human history back to the invention of true language. Other animals, such a dogs and apes can, if taught, associate words with objects, but, according to Ansary, “True […]

If a Roman General Ordered Decimation, What Would Have Happened if the Legionaries Refused to Comply?

If a legion ordered to perform decimation refused to comply, the other legions under the commander would be brought into action. It is quite possible that the entire mutinous legion would be killed. The Romans took mutiny very seriously. In 206 B.C. Publius Cornelius Scipio faced a mutiny among the soldiers at his base at […]

How Did the Romans Overtake the Greeks

A good book to read on this subject is Taken at the Flood by Robin Waterfield. At the end of the third century B.C. most of the Greek cities were under the rule of two successor kingdoms to Alexander the Great; the Macedonian Empire, and the Seleucid Empire. Macedonia, under king Philip V, had sided […]

Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Destroys Carthage.

When the Roman Senate made the decision to destroy Carthage in 149 B.C. the elected Consuls were Lucius Marcius Censorius and Marcus Manilius. They brought an army of 80,000 Roman legionaries. They demanded that the Carthaginians abandon their city and move at least ten miles from the coast. The Carthaginians, who had previously given in […]

Quora Question: What Was the Greatest Military Comeback in History

I’d have to give that to the Romans in the Second Punic War. The Carthaginian general Hannibal brought an army over the Alps in 218 B.C. During the next two years he won four battles: Ticinus, 2300 Roman casualties, Roman Consul wounded. Trebia 28,000 Roman Casualties. Trasimene, 15,000 Romans killed, 15,000 captured, Roman Consul killed. […]

Why Did Carthage Give So Little Support to Hannibal During the Second Punic War?

It is true that the Carthaginian Senate was divided during the Second Punic War. The “Merchant Party” supported Hannibal while the “Land Party” did not. The “Land Party” was led by Hanno the Great who was a staunch political enemy of Hamilcar Barca, the father of Hannibal. Livy quotes him as saying this at the […]

Why Did Rome Spare the City of Carthage after the Second Punic War and then Destroy it Fifty Years Later?

It was Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus who finally defeated Hannibal at the end of the Second Punic war. He imposed Roman terms on the city. They were generous terms in that they allowed Carthage autonomy with their own laws and government. The treaty forced Carthage to destroy all but five of their battleships, stop training […]