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"Was Hannibal the greatest battlefield general of antiquity?" Topic

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Tango01 In the TMP Dawghouse23 Oct 2018 8:52 p.m. PST

Interesting thread here…



SOB Van Owen23 Oct 2018 10:08 p.m. PST

The article starts out with praising Hannibal for losing half his army getting to Italy.
It goes on to say that Scipio wasn't really better just because he beat him.


John Edmundson24 Oct 2018 12:06 a.m. PST

Well, those statements aren't necessarily that outlandish. By getting to Italy, despite the losses, he did wrong-foot the Romans. He then maintained an army in the field in largely hostile territory when the Romans were on home soil, able to raise legion after legion and army after army. The logistical advantages held by the Romans were enormous. Eventually forced to leave Italy after his brother was defeated, he put together an army much inferior to that which he had had in Italy and inferior too to the army used by Scipio at Zama. Carthage simply didn't have the resources available to Rome, especially after the Spanish territories were lost and the Numidians defected.

None of that takes away from Scipio's ability, but the statements quoted above can be true, despite seemingly being a bit odd.


Tango01 In the TMP Dawghouse24 Oct 2018 11:09 a.m. PST



evilgong Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2018 1:18 p.m. PST

Hannibal rated himself at number three, behind Alex and Pyrrhus.

David F Brown

KimRYoung Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2018 6:34 p.m. PST

<?>Hannibal rated himself at number three, behind Alex and Pyrrhus.</?>

He said this in his conversation with Scipio years after ZAMA. To which Scipio asked, "And if you had defeated me?"

Hannibal responded, "Then I would rank myself number one."

Hannibal understood that ultimately, winning battles was the most important factor in determining greatness.


Koxinga25 Oct 2018 5:51 a.m. PST

I've always thought Alexander was overrated, given the nature of his opponents.
I think Hannibal, Pyrrhus, and Scipio could give Alexander a run for his money.
But does Hannibal deserve his reputation and title as the "father of strategy"?
Given all the obstacles that Hannibal had to overcome: uncooperative government, numerical disadvantages, logistical issues, multi-ethnic army, and limited sources of recruitment, just ones of these factors would have crippled a lesser commander. He didn't inherit an elite phalangite army or a cooperative navy.
Still can't find a commander to equal such a feat. Maybe Jackson at New Orleans?

catavar25 Oct 2018 12:21 p.m. PST

If not one of the best I don't know who is.

Marcus Brutus25 Oct 2018 1:26 p.m. PST

We have had this discussion before. Personally I don't think any ancient (or modern) commander equaled what Hannibal did. He was a tactical and strategic genius of the highest order. He attempted to defeat Rome in the only way it could be at the time. The fact that he ultimately lost simply shows how tightly knit the Roman confederacy was in the 3rd century.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine25 Oct 2018 11:57 p.m. PST

*Hannibal understood that ultimately, winning battles was the most important factor in determining greatness.*

And yet he rated Pyrrhus a guy whose victories usual left him worse off than his enemies :)

Marcus Brutus26 Oct 2018 5:36 a.m. PST

Von Manstein is often considered the best general of WWII but he often "lost" battles and campaigns because of Hitler and the strength of the Soviet army. The quality of the opposition matters (which is why Alexander is lower on my list than Hannibal.)

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