The tale of the second Punic War and Hannibal’s brilliant leadership has ﬁred the imagination of composers, scholars, and historians for two thousand years. Still studied at military academies for tactical strategy, the exploits of this young Carthaginian general inspired both the creation of the Roman navy and Rome’s eventual conquest of the western Mediterranean: Sicily, Spain and ﬁnally Carthage itself. Livy’s dramatic account includes dialog as well as intimate details of Hannibal’s devotion to his family, loyalty to his country, and his astonishing tactics. The tale also deals with his ability to overcome enormous hardships and his unlikely victories. This larger-than-life portrait made him what the Romans called “A Worthy Enemy.” He became a standard topic of rhetorical debate in schools from Roman times through the Victorian age.
In this class we will read the relevant passages of Livy’s The War with Hannibal from Books 21 and 22. Around the edges we will explore the early culture and life around the Mediterranean Sea — including such mysteries as the lost city of Atlantis and the elusive “Sea People”. We will use the Penguin Classics paperback edition, ISBN: 978-014-044-1451. Since this is a close reading seminar, a commitment to attendance is especially important.