21.06.

217 BC: Hannibal Massacres Romans

217 BC: Hannibal Massacres Romans
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 21 June 217 BC
  • It is an interesting fact that Hannibal rampaged across Italy for as many as 15 years before the Romans finally managed to push him out. Hannibal’s most frightening weapons were his war elephants.

On this day the famous Battle of Lake Trasimene took place, in which the Carthaginian military commander Hannibal achieved one of the greatest victories over the Roman army in history.

Hannibal’s tactic in this battle is considered to be the most successful military ambush in the history of warfare. The previous year, Hannibal made a spectacular crossing of the Alps, where he led the Carthaginian army from Spain to Italy, practically entering the Roman backyard. The Romans sent an army to stop the advancing Carthaginians. At that time, Rome was a republic headed by two consuls, elected anew each year. The two of them were also the supreme commanders.

In 217 BC, one of the consuls was Gaius Flaminius Nepos, who went with a large force of five legions to stop Hannibal. As a brilliant military strategist, Hannibal set him a trap on this day. Specifically, he camped on the banks of Lake Trasimene (the largest lake in Italy south of the Po River). Since the lake shores were on high ground, Hannibal secretly placed his troops on places he knew that the Romans must pass to get to the Carthaginian camp. The Romans were led into a trap like sheep to the slaughter. Namely, five Roman legions moved towards the Carthaginian camp along the lake shore.

They were then attacked and massacred by the Carthaginians from the surrounding hills. Consul Gaius Flaminius Nepos was killed, as were approximately 15,000 Romans. A stream by the lake was so filled with blood that it changed its color into red. After the victory, Hannibal continued to ravage Italy. It is an interesting fact that Hannibal rampaged across Italy for as many as 15 years before the Romans finally managed to push him out. Hannibal’s most frightening weapons were his war elephants.

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