Hannibal: Ancient Rome's Greatest Enemy

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• An Introduction to Ancient Rome
Map of Hannibal's Invasion Route
• Ancient Rome Glossary

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The Battle of Lake Trasimene

Hannibal the master tactician had marched his army into the land surrounding Lake Trasimene by way of a narrow road that was bounded on one side by a set of hills and on the other side by the river itself. In essence, there was only one way in and one way out. And it was at the end of this narrow road that Hannibal was waiting. Actually, it was only a part of his army that was waiting, enough to signal to the angry Romans that the cause of their anger was very close indeed.

The Romans marched at speed by night into the fog-shrouded land that surrounded the lake, tramping down the same narrow road that Hannibal's troops had used earlier. Once the entire Roman army was past a certain point, a large detachment of Gauls fell in behind them, cutting off retreat. Heavy cavalry thundered out of the hills, and Hannibal's main force marched toward the Roman force from the front. The Romans had nowhere to go: Armies surrounded them on three sides, and the rain-swollen river prevented escape to the right. The Romans didn't even really have time to form ranks, so quick were the Carthaginians upon them. It was even a larger slaughter than at Trebia River. All told, more than 15,000 Romans lost their lives in a few short hours, including the Consul Flaminius. Carthaginian losses were 1,500.

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