Top 10 facts about Hannibal Barca

Hannibal Barca, better known as the Greatest Enemy of Rome, was against Rome from his early years. 

He would travel with his father Hamilcar to every battlefield and warzones. Most of his experiences were from the field visit with his father rather than from the educational field.

Though he took over the leadership at an early age, Hannibal was one of the most skilled, intelligent, smart, and spontaneous leaders in history. His strategies to fight against his enemy were unbelievable.

He was always a few steps ahead in planning than his enemy. Besides, he had various other interesting facts related to him. Here in this article, the top 10 most interesting facts are listed with details.

10. Born during the First Punic War

The Second Punic War - Hannibal's Troop
The Second Punic War – Hannibal’s Troop

Hannibal Barca was born in 247 BC in Carthage, in the Mediterranean region in present-day northern Tunisia.

The First Punic War had begun in 264 BC, where his father was a general and a statesman of the Carthage Army.  The war went on until 241 BC, Hannibal despite being a child, he travelled to various war zones with his father and learned quite a lot about wars and battles.

The whole Barca family was somehow connected to the wars and battles, as Hannibal’s both brothers Mago and Hasdrubal were involved in almost all the wars against Rome and many other cities.

 9. Hannibal’s father never defeated in a battle 

A silver coin with Hamilcar's face
A silver coin with Hamilcar’s face

Hamilcar, Hannibal’s father, was well-known for never losing to his enemy. He was a Carthaginian statesman, general, and leader of the Barcid family.

He was the commander of the Carthaginian land forces from 247 to 241 BC. He commanded in Sicily during the end of the First Punic War.

Hamilcar was a successful leader as he kept his army intact and always led a successful war against the Romans.

He wished his son to be like him and also be against the Romans. He never lost a war while in Carthage; however, the Carthage lost wars after Hamilcar retired from the Carthage in 241 BC. He happened to expand the territory of Carthage in Spain. 

Unfortunately, Hamilcar died when Hannibal was 20 years old, and the leadership was taken over by his son-in-law Hasdrubal the Fair. 

8. Hannibal’s tenure was relatively peaceful

The Greatest Enemy of Rome - Hannibal Barca
The Greatest Enemy of Rome – Hannibal Barca

Hannibal Barca was the Carthaginian general and statesman during the Second Punic War. He was one of the greatest commanders in history with qualities that could defeat any enemy with his wise tactics.

During his tenure, he occupied almost all parts of Southern Italy for over 15 years. His years as a leader proved to be one of the most peaceful times in history.

Although his second name Barca meant thunderbolt, he was never harsh or rude to his men. He would deal with everyone with kindness, love, and respect.

However, he was the harshest person when dealing with his enemies, mainly Roman and Rome.

Every individual of Carthage respected and honored Hannibal for his kindness. He had the most loyal soldiers with him who would never defy him in any condition.

7. A very kind leader – both for animals and humans

Hannibal Barca's troop crossing the Battle of Rhone
Hannibal Barca’s troop crossing the Battle of Rhone

Hannibal proved himself to be a soft-hearted leader for both humans and animals. He had about 37 elephants, 4000 horses, and about 80000 men in his troop.

He respected all his troops be it human or animal. He was kind and generous to all of them. Unlike many leaders, he treated his men with love, kindness and did the same to his animal troops.

He was loyal to his troops and expected the same from them. The proof of his kindness and loyalty was visible during the return from the Battle of  Trebia  River, where he stood on the battlefield equal to his troop and fought until he was capable.

His wise strategy and loyalty towards his troop made it possible to survive through the difficult way through Alps.

6. Hannibal’s army preferred Balearic slingers over archers

Hannibal's preference - Balearic Slingers
Hannibal’s preference – Balearic Slingers

The soldiers were given varieties of weapons on every battlefield. Some soldiers were experts in using slings, while some were good as archers.

When it came to choosing between the slingers and the archers, Hannibal chose Balearic Slingers over archers. Balearic Slingers were the most effective warriors whose aims would hardly miss the enemy.

Armies of the opposite team would always envy the team with slingers. The Balearic Slingers used a special sling made up of esparto grass and used as a rope to hurl rocks at the enemy.

The archers were very effective and accurate, but slingers’ accuracy would always win over archers, as per Hannibal’s belief.

5. Hannibal had a very good educational background

Hannibal's productive education
Hannibal’s productive education

Hannibal Barca gained practical knowledge regarding military affairs, mostly from his personal experience during his travel with his father. 

He perceived academic knowledge from his Ancient Greek teachers and proved to be a great scholar. 

Hannibal always believed in the pen being mightier than the sword. He not only got himself educated but made major contributions in the military field by writing military books. 

He had his experience and gained knowledge poured in those books, which were inspirational and educative at the same time.

Apart from the required knowledge, he had an interest in Arithmetic and the Greek language. Also, he would portray his plans regarding his strategy for battles on paper.

4. Hannibal lost his eye during the Battle of the Trebia River

Significant battle of the Trebia - Hannibal's Troop
Significant battle of the Trebia – Hannibal’s Troop

When you look at any statues or paintings of Hannibal Barca, you would never find him with an eye patch on. However, he did lose sight of his right eye during the Battle of the Trebia and would travel with one eye patch since then.

Hannibal and his troop were headed for the greatest battle of the Second Punic War. It was between the Carthage troop and the Roman troop. 

The troop of Hannibal gained a victory over the Roman troop in the Trebia river showing great strength as a leader and a commander with a remarkable battle strategy.

However, the return was a tough choice. Hannibal was to choose between the east coast of Italy and the Apennine Mountains. 

Choosing an easy way via East Coast, he would have to face the Roman armies waiting for his troops, whereas the other was a swamp route. So, he chose to travel via the latter and surprise the Romans.

The continuous walk on the water had them all tired but lacked a place to sleep, which resulted in an infection in his right eye. The infection caused the loss of sight of the right eye.

3. Hannibal, alongside his army, crossed the Alps

Hannibal along with his troop, crossing the Alps
Hannibal along with his troop, crossing the Alps

The Romans had taken over and replaced Carthage after the first punic war. So, it was almost close to impossible for Hannibal to attack Rome via sea.    

He would have to take initiation from over the lands. As he was keen on taking over Rome, he planned on attacking Rome crossing the mighty Alps.

Along with his troops, he started from Northern Spain and passed through Southern Gaul, and established garrisons. He had a huge army of about 80000 troops, 4000 horses, and about 37 elephants.

His strategy included starting during the Autumn season and moving forward without the siege weapons. He did not want anything to slow down his mission, not even the weapons. 

It took them about 17 days to reach Italy and proved to be the right choice as it was a success.

2. Hannibal took command of the army at an early age

Hannibal Barca
Hannibal Barca

Hannibal’s father was a prestigious and inspirational commander and a Carthaginian general. He happened to take victory over every war he was responsible for. 

However, he died when Hannibal was 20 years old in 228 BC. The position was taken over by Hasdrubal the Fair, Hamilcar’s son-in-law. Unfortunately, he was assassinated after commanding for 5 years.

So, all the responsiblities came up to Hannibal at the age of 26. Despite his young age, he commanded in a successful manner leading the same path as his father.

He was a smart, kind, educated, and generous general with great strategic thoughts and plans. Also, the experience he had gained since the age of 9 while travelling with his father helped him become an impactful leader.

He had traveled almost for 16 years and gained practical knowledge regarding tactics and strategies and the techniques to be applied on the battlefield.

His father let him travel in wars with him but made him swear he would never be a friend of Rome. He took this very seriously and always worked on defeating the Roman Army.

1. The death of Hannibal Barca was a mystery

The mysterious death of Hannibal Barca
The Mysterious death of Hannibal Barca

There are quite a few assumptions and thoughts on the death of Hannibal Barca. Some believe a cut in his finger from a sword caused a prolonged fever, leading to his death.

While some like to believe that the cause of his death was suicide, where he poisoned himself while in Libyssa, the reason for suicide is considered to be the exile after the Second Punic War.

The Romans wanted Hannibal to surrender, but he wanted to escape that, so he had himself poisoned in 183 B.C

Conclusion

Hannibal Barca, the great commander inspired numerous upcoming leaders and commanders including his brothers Mago and Hasdrubal.

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