Sep 27 2014

The War with Hannibal by Livy

Livy is too patriotic to be completely trusted as a historian, but even he cannot help but convey a grudging admiration for the towering figure of Hannibal. He has nothing good to say about Carthage in general, and he works in some malicious gossip about Hannibal that is probably nothing more than just that, but as a historian he is forced to admit that for many years no Roman commander was the equal of Hannibal and every Roman army that took the field against him was defeated. You can audibly hear him thanking the heavens that Scipio finally appeared on the scene to save Rome’s honor. Yet this book shows what kind of people the Romans of this period were, the way they stubbornly held on when all seemed lost and prevailed in the end, and many historians have considered their victory in this war the apex of Roman achievement, after which decline inevitably set in. Hannibal, alas, deserved a better nation to serve than Carthage, but his genius left its mark on military history for ages to come.

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