Hannibal and the Downfall of Carthage: Hannibal's decision to cross the Alps rather than the Mediterranean in the 2nd Punic War

Essay by chanjoHigh School, 11th gradeA+, February 2004

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"I swear that so soon as age will permit, I will use fire and steel to arrest the destiny of Rome"

So vowed the young boy, as he stood at the altar beside his father. Son of the great Carthaginian general Hamilcar and brother-in-law of Hamilcar?s able successor Hasdrubal, Hannibal Barca?s roots in the military and Carthage lay deep. And so it was, as the oath taken proclaimed, that his life was an ongoing battle against Carthage?s greatest adversary: the Roman Republic. Two great powers separated only by the Mediterranean, the clash between the two was inevitable. By the age of eighteen, Hannibal was one of the main leaders in the Carthaginian, and by twenty-six, he was proclaimed commander of the army when Hasdrubal was assassinated. When he rose to power, he set out to make up for the losses which Carthage had suffered at the hands of the Romans in the first war against Rome.

An excellent strategist, experienced, and with the blood of a brilliant military leader coursing through veins, Hannibal concocted a daring plan. He would lead the troops through mainland Europe and attack Rome from the mainland as opposed to the usual, much shorter, route across the Mediterranean.

In this unique act of daring and boldness, Hannibal Barca had made a rash decision which would cost him the capture of Rome, and ultimately lead to the downfall of his own home of Carthage. Firstly, Carthage was far more adapted to fighting in the water than on land. Next, had he confronted the Roman straight away, they would not have been able to counter-attack on Carthage later on. Lastly, the lives many troops were wasted in the treacherous terrain of the Alps which could have better been used. Thus, Hannibal had made a foolish error in...