In 216 B.C.E. at Cannae, in Apulia, one of the ancient world’s bloodiest battles took place. During the Second Punic War, the troops of Carthage led by Hannibal annihilated a Roman army that was at least twice as large. That victory was a tactical masterpiece that continues to be studied in contemporary military academies. A renowned scholar of ancient military history and especially of Hannibal, the author outlines the context within which the battle took place (that is, the invasion of the Italian peninsula by Carthage), analyzes the characteristics of the opposing forces, describes the details of combat, and highlights its consequences for the overall war. One of those consequences was the decisive defeat of the Carthaginians 14 years later at Zama, where the Romans led by Scipio Africanus made the most of the lessons learned at Cannae.
Giovanni Brizzi teaches Ancient Roman History at the University of Bologna.