Hannibal, Baal, and Rome Hannibal Barca was one of the greatest Generals of his time. Although his abilities at developing battle strategies were unequaled in his day, the driving forces behind his successes as a general, were not only his superior military ability, but also his feelings of hostility toward the Romans. Because of his ability to plan and organize military campaigns he was able to succeed in crossing thousands of troops across the Alps to invade Italy.
Hannibal, son of General Hamilcar Barca, showed hostility oward the Romans due to the fact that he had been indoctrinated in the theology of the Carthaginian god Baal.This indoctrination along with the fact that Rome and Carthage were enemies only served to fuel his hostility and aggression. Baal was the Carthaginian version of a “divine lord and protector”, much like Zeus was to the Greeks, and Jupiter to the Romans. Baal, however, had other names, such as Beelzebub, meaning “Lord of the Flies”. Baal was given this dubious title due to the large numbers of flies that were seen to gather in and around his statues, attracted y the foul stench of decay, blood and death.Baal was reputed to be a hard hearted god who ruled with an iron fist.
Since Baal was the god of fertility and was responsible for rain and successful crops, the people of Carthage believed that if he were angered he would he would retaliate by bringing famine and destruction to Carthage. It was customary in many places including Carthage to offer blood sacrifices in order to appease the gods. The Carthaginians felt it was necessary to sacrifice their first born son to Baal before the age often in order to assure rain and long and prosperous growing season.The Carthaginians also believed that if something more valuable could be offered to Baal than the sacrifice of a child, then the child’s life could be spared.
Hamilcar offered Baal something more valuable than his child’s life; he offered his child’s future, he offered his son as a warrior. Hamilcar had his son, Hannibal take an oath of eternal Hostility to Rome, an enemy of Carthage. To the Carthaginians this was an acceptable trade because his oath bound him to Baal for all eternity. After Hannibal’s oath his father took him to Spain so he ould become experienced in the art of war.Hannibal’s life, from the time he left Carthage and went to Spain with his father, until the time of his father’s death, was filled with constant training and preparation for battle. During this span of time there was turmoil and tension in the area in and around the Mediterranean Sea as the Roman Republic became powerful and proceeded to threaten the area which included Carthage and the kingdoms of Macedon, Syracuse, and the Seleucid Empire. When Hannibal’s father died in battle, his brother-in-law, Hasdrubal, took hisHamilcar’s place as general, Hannibal was given his first official orders under Hasdrubal and had great success.
When Hannibal’s brother-in-law died, the army Immealately selected nvm to De tne next general. I ne army Is Known to nave consistently compared him to his father not only in appearance but in his military ability. It has been written that in one battle that took place on the banks of Lake Trasimene, Hannibal lured Roman troops by sending out animals so it looked like the Carthaginians were retreating.Hannibal had his troops waiting in the forests ready o spring on a moment’s notice. When the Romans began to chase the lights that the animals were caring, Hannibal and his troops charged at them from the forest forcing the majority of the Roman legions including Flaminius a Roman General, into the water drowning them. During the Second Punic War Hannibal distinguished himself as an unusually astute and cunning tactician and warrior. He is most remembered for marching an army of thousands which included war elephants, from Iberia over the Pyrenees and the Alps into the northern part of Italy.
During the first years of his ifteen year occupation of Italy, Hannibal and his armies were able to take Trebia, Trasimene and Cannae. In addition he was able to build alliances with some Romans. However, Scipio of North Africa had spent time analyzing and studying Hannibal’s tactics, he added some of his own and launched a counter invasion from the Northern part of Africa. Scipio sent Hannibal and his troops back to Carthage where he and his troops were defeated at the Battle of Zama. A number of events in the life of Hannibal Barca contributed to the hostility and aggression with which he reated his Roman conquests.Beginning with his name, which meant “Gift of Baal”, progressing to his dedication, by his father, as a child, to serve Baal in all things for all eternity, and continuing with the extensive training he received at the hands of his father in the theology of Baal as well as his lifelong exposure to the art of war. All these events served to rank Hannibal Barca one of the most hostile, feared, and successful generals of his time.
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