Hannibal Barca: Military Genius
Carthage Before Hannibal Carthage, one of the most famous cities of antiquity, was founded on the north coast of Africa by the Phoenicians of Tyre (sur) in 814 B.C. The foundation of Carthage was closely followed by the establishment of other Phoenician cities in the west Mediterranean over which Carthage gradually gained control. From then on, Carthaginian power expanded into Spain, Sicily and numerous other places in the northern Mediterranean. This brought them into direct conflict with the empires in Rome and Greece. At the start of the 3rd century B.C.. Carthage was supreme in the western Mediterranean, enjoying the security of sea power and trading with her stations in Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain as well as with the shores of Africa. Rome was painfully strug-gling to obtain the mastery of central and southern Italy, where she had absorbed the power and culture of the Etruscans and gradually forged a fed- eration of small states.
It must havc already become clear that there was not going to be room in the Mediter- ranean for both Rome and Carthage. The clash came over Sicily in the First Punic War (264-241 B.C), at the end of which Carthage lost Sicily. sea-power, and security. The Roman victorv in Sicily induced Rome to cross the narrow straits to Africa and attack Carthage directly. Fortunately for Carthage, a strong and honest man appeared in the person of Hamilcar Barca, a commander who had evacuated his forces undefeated from Sicily in the best tradition of Dunkirk. Hamilcar was able to put down a mutiny in the Carthagian army and restore order to it. The political situation at that time had a strangely modern flavour. Rome pursued a policy of cold war during which annexed Sardinia and Corsica,