Titus Livy Book 21 Thesis

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Titus Livy, Book

Titus Livius (59 BC - AD 17?) lived during the reign of Octavianus Augustus. Despite having strong ties to the imperial family (Augustus's wife Livia was a member of the Livia gens, same as Titus Livius), he never occupied any public positions and gained all his fame as the author of one of the best histories of Rome.

AB urbe condita ("from the foundation of the city') is Livius' best known and only surviving work. It consisted of 142 libri (books) of which sadly just 35 survive to this day. The books covered the history of Rome since its traditional foundation in 753 BC to approximately 9 BC.

Book 21 to 45 deal with the Second Punic

War (218 BC - 201 BC) which was fought between the armies of Rome and those of Carthage commanded by Hannibal. Book 21 describes the opening moves of the war, the crossing of the Alps and the first movements in Italy up to and including the battle of Trebia.

The first part of Book 21 is a succinct summary of some of the events following the first Punic war: the mercenary revolts in Africa, quelled by Hamilcar Barcas, Hannibal's father and the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula by Hamilcar, and after his death Hasdrubal, his son-in-law. Livius recounts how Hasdrubal is killed and the army chooses Hannibal as their leader. Here Livius introduces Hannibal's character, drawing a moral portrait of the general.

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Next, the author proceeds to detail the siege and conquests of Saguntum, the "cassus belli" of the Second Punic War, as it violated the treaty between Romans and Carthaginians which specified that the latter shall not extend its territory beyond the river Iberus (Ebro in today Spain) and provided specifically for the liberty of the Saguntines. After defeating a coalition of local tribes, Hannibal proceeds to lay siege to Saguntum itself, during which he is himself wounded in the leg by a javelin thrown by the defenders.

Thesis on Titus Livy Book 21 Assignment

The Romans decide to send an embassy to Hannibal to enforce the treaty, and from there, in case the negotiations failed and war continued, to Carthage, to demand the extradition of Hannibal in payment for the breach of the treaty. The embassy was not received by Hannibal, and its mission in Carthage proved to be a failure. Despite the eloquent intervention in the Carthaginian Senate of Hanno, the leader of the faction which advocated peace with the Romans, the Barcid faction, which supported Hannibal, proved stronger.

The siege of Saguntum, which took eight months, ended with the capture of the city, whose inhabitants were almost all enslaved or killed. Livius describes the dismay of the Romans at the news of the capture of the city and the failure of their embassy, their shame of not sending help to an ally, the fear at the prospect of facing such a fierce enemy and the fury of being made war upon by a nation they had defeated some 22 years earlier.

The Romans began preparation for the war according to their custom, levying armies from Rome and its allies and entrusting them to the consuls, in order to be able to better conduct the war. A new embassy was dispatched to Carthage, and after some failed negotiations, war was declared.

It is interesting to note here the polemic between the Carthaginians and Romans regarding the treaties concluded between them. The fact that Hannibal broke the treaty made by Hamilcar and reinforced by Hasrdubal is true, it's not less true the fact that despite the treaty concluded at the end of the first Punic War, the Romans took advantage of the internal troubles that the Carthaginians had soon after (the slave and mercenary rebellions) and conquered Corsica and Sardinia, which belonged to Carthage. This reveals that the causes and justness of the war was disputed even in ancient times. Additionally, the Romans failed to provide protection for Saguntum, even if previously promised, a fact that, Livius notes, was reproached to the Roman envoys sent to the Iberian Peninsula to incite the local tribes to rebellion and convince them to join an alliance against Hannibal. The Roman envoys are greeted even less cordially in the lands of the Gauls. It should be noted that Livius doesn't hide these facts, despite his obvious love and admiration for Roman state and is not afraid to lay bare the less honorable aspects of the Roman politics.

Following the war declaration, Hannibal, who had previously moved his troops to winter quarters back in Spain at Carthago Nova, made his own preparations, allowing his troops to rest and dispatching forces to Africa to guard Carthage and other points dimmed strategic, also ordering the levying of troops in the home country; in Spain he leaves his brother Hasdrubal with a strong garrison of African forces.

In the spring, Hannibal gathers his troops and crosses the Iberus, occupying the country between the Iberus River and the Pyrenees Mountains, completing the conquest of Spain. Leaving some troops and one of his generals, Hanno, in charge of the newly conquered territories he then proceeds to cross the mountains, arriving in the lands of the Gauls (between the Pyrenees and the Alps, in today's France). Through negotiations he succeeds in crossing their lands mostly unchallenged.

Meanwhile, in northern Italy, the Gallic tribes of the Boii and Insubres began to rebel upon hearing rumours of Hannibal's advance. They besiege the city of Mutina and ambush the armies of Praetor Manlius, who were sent to pacify them, forcing him to go on defense. Additional Roman forces were sent, and they fled to their territories. Meanwhile, the Roman Consul P. Cornelius Scipio sailed with some hastily assembled forces to Gaul, at the mouth of the River Rhone, making a camp there and sending riders to scout.

Hannibal, upon reaching the river Rhone met resistance from the Gallic tribe inhabiting the banks of the river, which tried to stop their advance. When the Romans failed to provide assistance in the defense of the river, Hannibal is able to quickly defeat this resistance by splitting his army in two, one part crossing the river through a ford at some distance away, the other by boats and rafts. After the battle, and after crossing over the war elephants, the riders sent by the Roman consul engage the Carthaginian cavalry in a short skirmish which resulted in a couple of hundred of deaths on both sides.

Hannibal, faced with the choice of a battle against this Roman army or with continuing to move towards Italy, is met by the leader of Boii tribe, who promises guides through the Alps to Italy and a safe foothold in Italy in the territories belonging to the Boii. Here Livius tells how Hannibal, before marching on, holds a speech in front of his soldiers. Hannibal's discourse, as illustrated by Livius keep nevertheless their original qualities: they were short, concise, well reasoned, easily understandable by the common soldiers and inspiring. Afterwards, Hannibal and his armies proceed through Gaul, moving away from the coast and heading to the Alps, encountering different Gallic tribes across their path.

Consul P. Cornelius Scipio, upon learning of the departure of the enemy sends his troops in Spain under the command of his brother Cnaeus Scipio, to try and take Spain from Hasdrubal, while he sailed with few troops back to Italy, to mount the resistance against Hannibal there.

Hannibal proceeded to cross the Alps, despite some resistance from the Gallic tribes inhabiting the mountains, which managed to cause him some losses, especially baggage of the army. Using guile Hannibal managed to force the passes and defeat these tribes. The snow, a new sight especially to the African troops, added to the difficulties of the crossing. The army continued the climb, reaching the summit and beginning the descent, all the way suffering losses of men, horses, elephants and equipment. Finally, they pushed through the mountains and reached the plains of northern Italy, his army very much diminished during the difficult crossing.

Once on the plains of northern Italy he encountered the tribes of Gauls and Ligurians, who flocked under his banner. Here however, he encountered the armies of Consul P. Cornelius Scipio, who had returned with his fleet from Transalpine Gaul, and, gathering the troops previously under the command of praetors Manlius and Atilius near lake Trasimenus, had set a camp near the Ticinus river. The armies of Carthage and Rome were once again face-to-face, and battle seemed unavoidable. Each of the commanders held a speech before the army, as was the custom of the time, in which they bring before the men the arguments thought best to inspire them to fight for victory.

The armies were prepared for battle, and both commanders decided on a reconnaissance in force, which led to an engagement of the cavalries of the two armies - the Battle of Ticinus. Hannibal's heavy cavalry and the light Numidian cavalry, which he employed in an outflanking maneuver, managed to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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