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The History of Rome, Volume 4, Books 26-32

Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
Length: 18 hrs and 34 mins
Categories: History, Ancient
4.5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

No historian has ever possessed the ability to highlight dramatic episodes in the manner that Livy accomplished. He had an uncanny feel for the narrative potential inherent in historical works, and he brought out the drama so well that, even after 2,000 years, we still feel a stirring thrill whenever we hear his retelling of the epic grandeur of the Roman Republic.

In this volume, Hannibal and Carthage are finally worn down by the grim determination of the Roman people, and their army is destroyed at Zama by Publius Scipio. And hardly is this over before the vengeful Romans cast their eyes eastward to Philip of Macedon, who had made the fatal error of backing the Carthaginians.

Livy's The History of Rome continues in an additional two volumes. Translation: William Masfen Roberts.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend us your ears. Listen to more of Livy's The History of Rome.
Public Domain (P)2011 Audio Connoisseur

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What is most glorious is also the safest...

"What is most glorious is also the safest: to place our hopes in valour."
- Livy, History of Rome, XXXIV, xiv

BOOK 26 (The Fate of Capua) & BOOK 27 (Scipio in Spain)

Livy's History of Rome books 26 through 27 (211-207 BC). These books detail Hannibal coming up to the bank of the Anio in Rome, the fall of Capua (taken by Quintus Fulvius and Appius Claudius), Publius Scipio's storming of New Carthage at age 24, the reckless death of Marcellus in an ambush. In Spain Scipio fights with Hasdrubal and Hamilcar. Hasdrubal leaves Spain as things in Spain. After crossing the Alps, 56,000 of Hasdrubal's troops are killed at the Battle of the Metaurus. The Battle of Metaurus is for the Carthaginian as big a defeat as the earlier Battle at Cannae was for the Romans.

It is fascinating to read Livy. Obviously, there is a bit of a bias against Hannibal and the Carthaginians built into Livy. However, Livy does a good job of being mostly fair when discussing Hannibal and his generals and the Roman generals. Many of Hannibal's failures seem to stem from Hannibal's occasionally and costly political mistakes, and the fortunes of war. He was never a great 'hearts and minds" general like Publius Scipio, aka Scipio Africanus, aka Scipio the Great.

One of the great things (and I understand we are talking about war and not a sport) about the Second Punic War is how damn dramatic it is. There are great players: Hannibal, Hasdrubal & Mago; Scipio Africanus, Marcellus, & Fabius. It has so many ebbs, flows, dramas, and stunning turn-arounds there is a reason why people still read, write, and talk about it. Livy is best here when he is describing battles and delivering speeches from generals before a battle.

Books 28-30 of Livy's History of Rome details the 2nd Punic War, specifically in Spain and Africa.

BOOK 28 sees Scipio's lieutenant, Silanus, successful against the Carthaginians in Spain in the 14th year of the war. Scipio ventures into Africa to form a treaty with Syphax, King of the Massylians. During the siege of Gisia, the citizens end up killing their own wives and children (and gold) and then threw themselves on the pyre. Scipio gets sick, some of his army mutinies, and he quells it. Scipio also makes friends with Masinissa, King of the Numidians. Scipio returns to Rome and is elected Consul. He is given Africa (despite Quintus Fabius Maximus' opposition). Mago, son of Hamilcar, crosses to Italy.

BOOK 29 sees Gaius Laelius sent on a raiding party by Scipio into Africa and he returns with an immense booty. Scipio crosses from Syracuse into the Bruttian territory (tip of the Roman toe) and puts Hannibal to flight. The Locrians send envoys to Rome to complain about Pleminius carrying away money from the temple of Prosperpina (as well as outraging their wives and children). Scipio is also accused in the Senate. Scipio is cleared, and with the permission of the Senate, crosses into Africa. Syphax, meanwhile, has married the daughter of Hasdrubal, making the previous treaty with Scipio a bit precarious. Masinissa, however, joins Scipio in Africa, and early in the campaign slays Hanno, son of Mamilcar. Scipio faces off with Hasdrubal and Syphax, and is forced to raise the siege of Utica.

BOOK 30, Scipio defeats the Carthaginians (Syphax and Hasdrubal) in a number of battles with the help of Masinissa. He assaults two Carthaginian camps and wipes them out with fire. He captures Syphax, Masinissa marries Syphax's wife to protect her from Rome. Scipio has to deal with the difficulties that arise from one of his allies marrying one of his enemies wives. Hannibal is asked to return to Carthage to defend his home. He tries to negotiate from a place of strength, but after negotiations falter, Hannibal is defeated in battle by Scipio. Scipio eventually negotiates a peace with the Carthaginians, despite their Senate's slipperiness. Mago dies. Masinissa regains his kingdom (and loses his new wife). Scipio returns triumphantly to Rome and is given the name Africanus.

BOOK 31 sees the renewal of Romes war against King Philip of Macedonia. Athens asks Rome to help as they are being attacked by King Philip. Consul Publius Sulpicius leads his army to Macedonia and fights successfully against Philip in several cavalry battles. The people of Abydus kill themselves rather than surrender. Lucius Furius, the praetor, defeats in battle the Insubrian Gauls. Hamilcar the Carthaginian (not Hannibal's father) and 35k men are killed during the campaign.

BOOK 32 sees many prodigies. Titus Quincitius Flaminiunus fights successfully against Philip in the passes of Epirus (pushing Philip back to his kingdom). His brother Lucius Quinctius Flamininus Euboea helps fight Macedonia along the sea coast. A conspiracy of slaves is crushed. Cornelius Cethegus routs the Insubrian Gauls in battle. A treaty is signed with Sparta and their tyrant Nabis.

***

Having grown up with an older brother who idolized Hannibal, it is hard to see his star fade as it is replaced by Scipio. But after harassing Rome on their own land for 17+ years, there is a solid reason Hannibal belongs in the history books. He was brilliant, bold, and seemed to always see the coin of battle flip in his favor...until the coin stopped spinning his way. It seemed Hannibal was defeated as much by his own people and a couple key mistakes (stemming from pride) as he was by just fate. Hannibal eventually lost in Africa, but I'm sure one could make an argument that he was almost never out generaled. That said, he WAS eventually defeated by Rome's great general Scipio. Young, bold, and brash, Scipio had both the skill and the luck needed to eventually defeat Hannibal and humble Carthage.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful