By Jean Marie Carey

The 24th day of June is an important one in Roman imperial history.

In 217 BCE, the Romans, led by Gaius Flaminius, were ambushed and defeated by Hannibal at the Battle of Lake Trasimene. Because of his ability and charisma, Hannibal became a legendary leader, including being greatly admired by the Romans themselves.

Hannibal (247–183) held military commands from youth, and following his father Hamilcar Barca’s precocity became general and leader of Carthage and Punic Spain in 221.He swiftly extended Carthaginian control north of the Tagus River — prompting the Romans to call on him, in effect, to abandon warfare. Hannibal did not await attack in Spain, but marched with a large army to famously cross the Alps and invade Italy.

Hostilities continued with many casualties on both sides, with the Romans slowly reversing Hannibal’s early successes. Hannibal eventually retreated, and spent the rest of his life in the east, first with Antiochos III Megas, who made poor use of him in a disastrous war with Rome (192–188), then in Armenia, and, finally, in Bithynia, a small and rich Greek kingdom in northwestern Asia Minor. Still hounded by the Romans, he took poison in his Bithynian villa in 183. Hannibal’s diplomatic and military miscalculations are often underestimated, yet it remains a fascinating question whether he could indeed have won the war with Rome, and what would have been the future for him, Carthage, and the world, if he had.

Also, in 109 Emperor Trajan inaugurated the Aqua Traiana, an aqueduct that channels water from Lake Bracciano, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north-west of Rome. The aqueduct was refurbished in the 16thCentury, and, like many Roman aqueducts, is still intact today.

Reference: Dexter Hoyos, (2012). “Hannibal.” In The Encyclopedia of Ancient History(eds R. S. Bagnall, K. Brodersen, C. B. Champion, A. Erskine and S. R. Huebner). doi:10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah19089

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Hannibal Recognizing Head of Hasdrubal, (detail inset) 1696-1770. Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien.

Masters of the School of Marcantonio Raimondi, Scipio and Hannibal, 1541 and Antonio Tempesta, Hannibal Crossing the Rhône River, 1555-1630. The Illustrated Bartsch. Vol. 28, Italian Masters of the Sixteenth Century. Retrospective conversion of The Illustrated Bartsch (Abaris Books) by ARTstor Inc. Photograph copyright of the Warburg Institute, University of London.

Aqua Paola (Aqua Traiana), early 2ndCentury; rebuilt by Carlo Maderno and Domenico Fontana, architechts, c. 1607. View along the Via Aurelia. John A. Pinto Collection, Princeton University, Department of Art and Archaeology.

Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla, Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae: Portraits of the Emperors from Julius Caesar to Rudolf II. Published by: Claudio Duchetti, 1582. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Further Reading: Serge Lancel. Hannibal. Malden, Mass., Blackwell, 1998. 

James E. Packer. The Forum of Trajan in Rome: A Study of the Monuments in Brief. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 

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