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"Hannibalís elephants and the battle of Zama" Topic

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431 hits since 8 Apr 2021
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
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MichaelCollinsHimself08 Apr 2021 5:22 a.m. PST

I`ve just posted my paper on this subject on
Here`s the introduction to give you an idea…

In the late summer to early autumn of 202 BC the Second Punic War was brought to a conclusion at the battle of Zama. It was here that Publius Cornelius Scipio defeated Hannibal Barca and according to Polybius` account of the battle, with twenty thousand enemy killed and as many taken prisoner, Scipio`s victory was a crushingly decisive one; it was the knockout blow of the war.
But this victory over Hannibal was also a victory won against large numbers of the animal that had become a symbol of Hannibal's success over Roman armies and its generals in 16 years of campaigning in Italy. Zama was also a victory over Hannibal's elephants.
This is how the early Roman historians and their audience would have wished it to appear. Polybius` version of the battle (which is generally accepted today as the most reliable account) followed their lead, but perhaps his eyewitness (Gaius Laelius or his son Gaius Laelius Sapiens) added some tactical embellishments of their own?

In this paper I will consider the probability of the size of Hannibal's elephant corps in the autumn of 202 BC and question Hannibal's tactical use of his elephants in Polybius` battle of Zama and Scipio`s response to them. These points have been discussed in the past, but I will also consider the circumstances of the Zama campaign and address the environmental conditions and logistical requirements that would have affected the deployment of elephants in North Africa during the late summer to early autumn of 202 BC.

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