HANNIBAL, Enemy of Rome (2009)

History Channel

Hannibal: Enemy of Rome
3 ratings
Views: 10,863
Date Added: 12 years ago.

Documentary Description


From his exile in Spain, 26-year-old Hannibal Barca was the mastermind behind what is arguably the most audacious military move in history. With 50,000 soldiers and 37 elephants he marched 1,500 miles from Spain to Rome, destroying the Roman myth of invincibility by defeating the great nation and army not once, but three times. Combining immersive drama with the latest historical research and CGI, Hannibal is brought to life for the first time, on an epic scale.

Hannibal's name is synonymous with one thing: crossing the Alps with an army of elephants. Why did he do it and what motivated him? How did he crush the biggest army Rome had ever assembled in battle, yet lose the war? How did a man who made a boyhood pledge to his father to destroy Rome become the touchstone of the Roman Empire? Why is he still considered one of the most brilliant commanders in history, when he died by his own hand, hunted down by the Romans, an outcast amongst his own people?

This drama-documentary, filmed on location in Hannibal's native Tunisia (Carthage) and the Alps, includes new analysis of the original sources and uncovers the true story behind Hannibal's oath of lifelong enmity to Rome and his betrayal by Carthage.

Taking us back to the year 218BC, the film reveals just how close Hannibal came to wiping out Rome and destroying the nascent Roman Empire. It follows his extraordinary journey across the Alps, battling not just against the terrain, but also bitter winter conditions and marauding mountain tribesmen, carefully nurturing his secret weapon, 38 battle elephants, only for the mountaineering elephants to fall sick and die in the Italian plains.

In order to unravel the events behind Hannibal's extraordinary expedition, we use the earliest records of his journey - the writings of the ancient Greek scholar, Polybius, to enable us to retrace and relive Hannibal's adventure. We reveal how this brilliant military tactician, still lauded by modern soldiers, inflicted crushing defeats on Rome and, except for an ill-gauged pause to wait for reinforcements, which Carthage never sent, would have crushed the emerging Roman Empire and changed forever the course of Western History.

Even in defeat, Hannibal managed to leave his mark on the Roman Empire. The military skills he gained would enable Rome to control Europe for 400 years.

In this documentary, we also learn the truth behind Hannibal's most infamous weapon, the war elephant. A group of elephants is taken to the Alps to show not only how difficult they were to train and handle and how much they hated snow, but how they were a far more effective symbol of the might of Carthage than they ever were a war machine. It was Hannibal's ingenious tactics on the battlefield rather than the brute strength of his elephants that won him an extraordinary string of victories. Rome lost an unprecedented 20,000 troops at Trebia and a further 30,000 at Lake Trasimene, two of the key battles in Hannibal's campaign.

However, it was Hannibal's battle at Cannae that would propel him to legendary status. Here Hannibal faced 85,000 men, the largest army Rome had ever assembled, and he was outnumbered by nearly four to one. Yet he lost just 6,000 men in one of the greatest battles of history, outwitting, encircling and ultimately slaughtering the Roman army. Whilst this legendary battle plan would be passed down through history as the supreme example of a 'model battle', in a cruel twist of fate it would eventually be used against Hannibal and would bring about his downfall.

Our journey ends in 202BC, when Hannibal faced the great Roman general Scipio Africanus at Zama, on the plains of northern Africa. Hannibal was again outnumbered, but this time he was also outfought by a Roman army battle-hardened by their previous humiliations at the hands of Hannibal. Hunted by the enemy and abandoned by his own men, Hannibal was forced into exile. At the age of 63, he took poison and killed himself, denying Rome their final victory.

This film shows how Rome never forgave Hannibal his victories and fifty years later, under the command of Scipio the Younger, Rome burned Carthage to the ground.


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