2nd Punic War

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

Author: Lili Wang

2nd Punic War Timeline

Bolded = people

Truceless War (240-238 BC)

  • Carthage could not pay its mercenaries from the 1st Punic War (b/c of heavy reparations to Rome) so while Hamilcar is putting down the mercenaries’ uprising Rome takes Corsica and Sardinia

  • Rome claims Carthage is boosting its military (when it attempts to pursue the remaining mercenaries to Sardinia) and declares war

  • Carthage cannot fight so they have to surrender (pay Rome even more)

Carthage colonization of Spain

  • Carthage needs money for reparations, Spain has many natural resources (silver, agriculture, and people)

  • Hamilcar (Hannibal’s father) appoints Hasdrubal Pulcher as naval commander and brings him and Hannibal to Spain

  • Hannibal swears to always hate Rome

River Ebro Treaty

  • Hamilcar dies in a swamp in 228 BC

  • Hasdrubal Pulcher makes a treaty with Rome (Carthage won’t go North of the Ebro River and Rome won’t go South of it)

  • Hasdrubal Pulcher is assassinated in 221 BC, Hannibal (25 y/o) takes over

Saguntum, start of war (219 BC)

  • Saguntum was a town South of the Ebro river but it had ties to Rome

  • Hannibal besieges it, the Saguntines ask Rome for help but Rome doesn’t come (b/c of the Ebro treaty)

  • Saguntum falls after 8 months, Rome uses it to declare war

Battle of Ticinus (218 BC)

  • Italy is the main theater of war (Hannibal’s strategy is to attack Italy so they can’t attack Africa)

  • Hannibal comes to Italy w/ elephants, he starts in North Italy and works his way South

  • Hannibal vs Publius Cornelius Scipio (consul) - the Numidian cavalry beat the Romans, his victory leads Gallic tribes to begin allying w/ him (27,000 troops becomes 40,000)

  • P. Cornelius Scipio is saved by his son Scipio

Battle of Trebia (218 BC)

  • Senate sends Sempronius Longus (consul) to leave Sicily and help P. Cornelius Scipio

  • Longus is provoked by Hannibal and the Roman army is destroyed - the Carthaginians showed up on the other side of the river and the surprised Romans were woken up early and crossed the river to fight them (were wet and hungry)

  • More Galls join (40,000 becomes 60,000)

Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 BC)

  • Hannibal marches his army through a swamp to outflank the Romans, they fight on the shore of Lake Trasimene, ¾ of the Roman army is killed including Gaius Flaminius (new consul)

  • This victory clears the path to Rome and the Senate freaks but Hannibal goes to S. Italy first (he had his reasons for this)

  • Hannibal releases non-Roman prisoners to spread propaganda (“freeing the people from Roman oppression”)

Fabian Tactics (217 BC)

  • Senate appoints Quintus Fabius Maximus “Cunctator” dictator (“The Delayer”, actually quite insulting)

  • He avoids frontal assaults and instead uses skirmishes and supply line disruptions to harass the enemy (affects Carthaginian moral), moves the battle to hilly terrain where Hannibal’s cavalry doesn’t work as well

  • Senate actually is unhappy (dummies) so they make Marcus Minucius Rufus co-dictator (which is an oxymoron since the whole definition of dictator is ruling alone), he is ambushed by Hannibal - Fabius rescues Minucius and Minucius accepts Fabius’ authority

  • Hannibal uses scorched earth policy across Italy (burn everything down)

Cannae (215 BC)

  • Absolute low point of the war for Rome

  • Hannibal seizes the supply depot in Cannae so Senate sends Lucius Aemilius Paulus and Gaius Terentius Varro (the consuls) w/ a double army

  • Hannibal’s trap - he purposely weakens the center and surrounds the Romans when they charge in, Paullus is killed Varro escapes (which is ironic since Paullus didn’t really wanna fight while Varro was super gung-ho)

Aftermath of Cannae and First Macedonian War (214-205 BC)

  • Rome’s allies revolt (no loyalty there unfortunately, submission to strength), Capua and Tarentum (2 of the largest city states in Italy) pledged loyalty to Hannibal

  • Philip V of Macedonia allies w/ Carthage (which Rome really needs to prevent) so...

  • First Macedonian War - 9 years of skirmishes in Greece and Illyria btw Rome and Macedonia (no decisive battles), ends in a stalemate (not much of war)

Siege of Syracuse, Sicily (213-212 BC)

  • Hiero of Syracuse - friend of Rome, dies

  • Hieronymus (Hiero’s grandson) - allies w/ Carthage instead and gives them control of Sicily, he’s disliked and assassinated but Sicily remains w/ Carthage

  • Marcus Claudius Marcellus (consul) went to take back Syracuse (very important city) but Archimedes fortifies it w/ many weapons (like a giant crane operated hook that picked ships up before dropping them to their doom and, supposedly, a giant mirror that reflected sun beams onto ships’ sails to burn them)

  • Marcellus finds a weakness in the walls and attacks during a festival, he orders Archimedes not to be harmed (respects him) but an angry Roman soldier kills Archimedes (legend says he was so deep in a math problem that he told the soldier to wait, or maybe didn’t even here him until the soldier ran out of patience)

  • Rome finally has a victory

Battle of Upper Baetis (211 BC)

  • Gnaeus and P. Cornelius Scipio (brothers) split their forces to go after 2 Carthaginian armies (so the Battle of Upper Baetis was actually 2 battles)

  • Hasdrubal bribed Roman mercenaries to desert, both Roman armies were destroyed and the brothers were killed

  • Romans flee back north of the Ebro

Scipio in Spain (211-206 BC)

  • Scipio review- saved his father as a kid, survived Cannae, received command of Spain as a 25 y/o when others thought it was a death sentence

  • He captures Carthago Nova (Carthaginian base of operations and a harbor), shows kindness to the prisoners/hostages/non-Carthaginians

  • 209 BC - defeats Hasdrubal (who retreats to Italy to meet up w/ his big bro)

  • 206 BC - the rest of the Carthaginian commanders leave Spain (good job Scipio!)

Battle of Metaurus (207 BC)

  • Turning point of war in Italy, Rome wins decisively

  • Claudius Nero (ancestor of the crazy, mass-murdering emperor Nero) marches North to join Marcus Livius (consul) but is very quiet about it to deceive Hannibal and Hasdrubal

  • He sneaks up on Hasdrubal (who tries to escape to Gaul but is forced into battle), Hasdrubal charges into Roman ranks (basically suicide) and is killed → his head is thrown into Hannibal’s tent

Scipio in Africa (205-204 BC)

  • Elected consul (31 y/o, which is super young and w/ his long hair/fashionable dress makes others, like Fabius Maximus, oppose him)

  • He uses Sicily as training ground for invasion

  • He gets permission to cross Africa (204 BC), defeats Syphax and ensures Masinissa (Numidian prince who is friends w/ Rome) becomes Numidian King

Battle of Zama (202 BC)

  • Hannibal is recalled home, Hannibal and Scipio have a civil meeting but negotiations break down

  • They meet in battle and Rome wins w/ a lot of credit going to the Numidian Cavalry (which is now on their side since Scipio became bros w/ Masinissa at some point)


  • Carthage gives up their fleet (except for 10 ships) and pays tribute (10,000 tributes = billions of dollars)

  • Scipio allows Hannibal to become civic leader of Carthage

  • Rome becomes a superpower

Famous Phrase

  • Punica fides - Punic faith (double crossers, don’t trust the Carthaginians)

Hannibal failed b/c he couldn’t

  1. Get a port

  2. Keep Sicily

  3. Meet up w/ his brother’s reinforcements (Battle of Metaurus)

#Latin3 #DrA

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