In the early days of Rome, Hannibal Barca was one of the most famous and successful enemies of the Republic.
In 218 BC he led an army of 100,000 men (including war elephants!) from Spain, across the Pyrenees and the Alps, to attack the Romans in Italy itself. Hannibal is often said to have been one of the best military strategists of all time. Although he was eventually defeated, he was a thorn in the Romans' side for many years.
A military genius
(Or so most experts say)
He came from somewhere called Carthage
(Known as Tunisia today).
Hannibal fell out with the Romans
After he moved to Spain.
They quarrelled over territory;
He thought they were a pain.
Hannibal built up an army -
Thousands of soldiers, and
He even had some elephants
He'd brought from his homeland.
He marched them all to Italy,
A journey filled with dangers -
They crossed the Pyrenees and Alps
(Both massive mountain ranges).
"But Elephants can't climb mountains!
No way!" it's often muttered.
But yes, they can, because they are
Once there he had hoped the locals
Would want to become his allies.
But they all seemed to think that
Fighting with Rome would be unwise.
So Hannibal and his army
Fought on nevertheless.
They were tactically astute and
They did have some success.
Despite winning some battles though,
They never conquered Rome,
And one day Hannibal got some
Disturbing news from home.
Apparently the Romans who’d
Seen Spain left unprotected,
Had conquered it - an outcome which
Our hero had not expected.
But that’s not all, now Carthage too
Was under Roman attack.
Carthage was Hannibal's homeland
And so they all rushed back.
The Battle of Zama was where
The two armies would meet.
Unfortunately, for Hannibal
It ended in defeat.