We last left our two mortal enemies waging their own separate campaigns to adapt to the new status quo following on from the momentous Battle of Cannae. Hannibal was slowly becoming a diminished presence outside of Rome, as the Romans did not engage him in a full-scale war. He wanted to make a statement, that he could still get the Roman army to meet him in battle and turn things around. Meanwhile Scipio was gaining kudos by becoming a Quaestor (junior Magistrate), but upsetting some Senators because of his young age. They were both headstrong and ambitious you see and neither had fulfilled his true potential. So, we have now journeyed to the time of their shared lives when they were both in, what I call, important adult Years of Revolution (according to Life Cycles theory the first year of every 12 year cycle can be marked by the beginning of a new age/direction set to last for many years). Scipio became 24 most probably in the latter part of 212 BC and included a large part of 211 BC, whilst Hannibal was in his very important age of 36 at the same time.
It is interesting that even though they didn't meet in battle (that would come much later), their lives were even more inextricably linked by separate events, which determined the shape of their whole futures. Firstly let's take Hannibal. He had been using the ancient (and second most important after Rome) city of Capua (16 miles north of modern day Naples) as his winter headquarters. It has been reported that his men had become used to a lifestyle of soft living there and weren't as tough as they used to be. Whenever they were in the countryside for a period, Roman tactics were to march up to the vicinity of the city walls, wherein Hannibal was alerted and came straight back to defend home base. He decided that he needed a tactic that would copy this with Rome. He would instead lay a siege causing the Roman army outside Capua to come back to defend it and so meet them in the open.
These two scenarios played out in the exact period of study (212 BC-211 BC). In 212 BC the recent attempt by the Roman forces to march on Capua resulted in the two groups meeting in the Battle of Herdonia. This resulted in the loss of 16,000 Roman soldiers, so it was back to the drawing boards for the Roman generals. In the summer of 211 BC Hannibal was busy in the south of Italia and so the Romans were ready to try again, banking on taking Capua before he could return. Hannibal feared that if he approached Capua the Romans would simply withdraw, as they had done numerous times, only to return and lay siege when he had left. He tried to break this pattern by marching on Rome itself, laying siege and hoping the Roman army would return so he could meet them in open battle and win. Once again, things were in the balance during this time - the very time that most probably correlates with his being in his age 36 Year of Revolution (late 212 BC-late 211 BC).
|Roman Forces At The Battle Of Capua|
So he camped outside the Roman city walls for the first and only time in his life. This, however, was not on his terms. Not a true siege, for he lacked effective weapons and supplies for a lengthy encounter and planned it only as a feint. Not nearly the same as it would have been after the devastating Battle of Cannae, with the Roman army decimated. In 216 BC, with or without siege weapons, he would have created wholesale panic and exerted much psychological pressure. Now some five years later it was reported that Roman Patricians, far from being frightened, were openly selling the land he occupied for real estate purposes. Can you imagine this? They were making a mockery of him. One thing the last five years had taught them and that was resolve and patience to wait this warrior out. Word of his ineffective siege got back to the besiegers of Capua and they simply continued. On hearing this Hannibal had to retreat back to the south and Capua fell to the Roman forces soon after (shown in the drawing above).
So, for Hannibal, his central and often life and career-defining age of 36, did not contain a magnificent victory, only a humiliating defeat and with it the loss of much prestige throughout the whole region. Cities that had defected to him after Cannae, were switching back their allegiance to Rome. He no longer had Capua as his home base and the Romans knew that from this point onwards, they had the upper hand. He would now be the one pursued, rather than the pursuer. This unfortunate turn of events was to set in train a pattern of repetition throughout the rest of his life. He would continue to be persecuted by Rome, in one form or another, till his death many years later.
Now let's switch to Scipio. His age 24 Year of Revolution contained a major setback, that preceded a bold endeavour, which defined the rest of his life. His was the veritable definition of Life Cycles Theory in action. Firstly tragedy struck his family in 211 BC when both his father Publius Scipio and his uncle Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus were killed in battle in Hispania (Spain) by Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal. At the election of a new Proconsul, for a new army to be sent to Spain, only one candidate put himself forward to the Senate for consideration - Scipio. The reason for this was because it was regarded as a virtual death sentence by others, but Scipio wanted to avenge his family's honour even more than the risks incurred. Again, in spite of his youth, his demeanour and enthusiastic language made so great an impression that he was elected unanimously. So, his crowning achievement was to become a General and a Proconsul and to go after Hannibal's family who were responsible for the death's of his father and uncle. This was to be stage one in his personal war with Hannibal. Not a showdown just yet, more a platform to begin his ultimate quest.
|Scipio Was Elected Proconsul and General of the Roman Army in Hispania|
Can you see for yourselves how Scipio and Hannibal were so similar they were almost the same? Hannibal's father died in battle at Rome's hands, giving him a lifelong mission to avenge this and now Scipio's father had died in battle at Carthage's hands, giving him his lifelong quest. Now to another well recorded moment early in his campaign in Hispania. Because of arguments between the commanders of the three Carthage armies in the region, Scipio was able to make a surprise landing near Carthago Nova (New Carthage), the Carthaginian headquarters, and take it by surprise (still within 211 BC). So already, just at the beginning of his campaign, the tide was turning in his favour. Because of his humanitarian acts towards his prisoners, it caused the locals to perceive Romans as their liberators not their oppressors.
This is exemplified by his release of a beautiful woman who was betrothed to a Celtiberian Chieftain named Allucius. She was returned to him along with the money that had been offered by her parents to ransom her. Allucius soon married her and, in turn, brought his tribe over to support the Roman armies. This event was the subject of a famous painting by Nicholas Poussin called The Continence Of Scipio. It is shown to you below.
|The Continence Of Scipio|
Let's summarise now and show the pivotal, but quite opposite, nature of events in each man's shared Year of Revolution.
At 36 Hannibal suffered a humiliating defeat and loss of prestige within enemy territory (ie. Italia). This led on to other losses and banishments.
At 24 Scipio lost his father in battle, but got himself promoted to Proconsul in Spain and had a surprise victory. This was to lead on to a final victory and further promotion and fame. The victory resulted in gaining much prestige in enemy territory by his humanitarian acts.The essence of this is that for a second time each man had his fate sealed decisively in their shared Year of Revolution. I would still contend that though they did not meet in battle, each man was sealing the mutual fate of the other in separate arenas. Hannibal's loss of Capua meant the tables were turned and he was now a hunted man in Italia. There must have been a sense of unease, that one day in the not too distant future, he would have to decide whether to return to Carthage. Meanwhile Scipio's surprise capture of Carthaginian headquarters in Spain, meant that he was now on his way to drive them back to Africa and then go after his real target - Hannibal.
I'm done now and I won't use this main blog for any further parts of this fascinating story, but if you leave me a positive comment I will do a final post on this. I can almost hear some readers saying :- "...but you can't leave it at this! I want to know how it ended!" Of course you do and it involved a history-making meeting between these two great warriors. What did they have to say to each other? How did the final battle proceed? Yes, it's all a wonderful true story, so stay tuned.
Next month I am going to do a unique analysis of one of the most controversial world leaders of the 20th. Century. I am going to use Life Cycles Theory to delve into some unusual aspects of this very well known event and include a Life Cycles Families element, as well as another 'sworn enemies' encounter. I know you will enjoy it. Till then :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune".