Hannibal's Dynasty: Power and Politics in the Western Mediterranean, 247-183 BC

Hannibal's Dynasty: Power and Politics in the Western Mediterranean, 247-183 BC

Hannibal's Dynasty: Power and Politics in the Western Mediterranean, 247-183 BC

Hannibal's Dynasty: Power and Politics in the Western Mediterranean, 247-183 BC


Accessible and enlightening, Hannibal's Dynasty provides the full story of Carthage's achievement, going beyond the usual focus on Hannibal and military matters alone to look at a wide range of political and diplomatic issues too.Dexter Hoyos shows how the aristocratic Barcid family won dominance in the free republic of Carthage, and how they exploited family connections to lead Carthage to greatness at home and abroad.For students of Hannibal, his dynasty and his legacy - this is the book to read.


Hannibal is the only Carthaginian who is still a household name. As leader of the Carthaginians and their empire in the Second Punic War from 218 to 201 BC, he made it touch and go whether they or the Romans would come to dominate the Mediterranean west, and after that, more or less inevitably, the east. He belonged to a remarkable family. Had the Carthaginians won the war and changed the course of ancient history, the victory would have been due in great part to Hannibal and his kinsmen, who had rebuilt Carthaginian power after its catastrophic defeat in 241 at Roman hands.

In taking his city to its most extensive and eventful level of power Hannibal was the third, the greatest and the last of a republican ruling dynasty. His father Hamilcar, nicknamed Barca (hence the convenient family sobriquet Barcid) came to prominence in 247, the year Hannibal his eldest son was born. Hamilcar and his son-in-law Hasdrubal preceded Hannibal between 237 and 221 as effective rulers of Carthage and creators of a land empire that replaced—and outdid—the city’s lost island possessions. Hannibal built on their base.

How the Barcids’ dominance was founded and how maintained, what each leader in turn aimed to achieve with it, what they actually accomplished, and how and why Barcid supremacy in the end collapsed—and then staged a brief revival—are the themes of this study. The theme involves politics, international relations, strategy and geography, for the Barcid generals were not only Carthage’s de facto leaders of government but her official commanders-in-chief, and the two rôles were bound closely together.

The Carthaginian state had enjoyed success before, but never on the Barcid scale or with the potential to change all of ancient history. This achievement was the more remarkable as Hamilcar and his successors, uniquely in Punic history, exercised decades of dominance not from their home city but from hundreds of miles away, first in Spain and then in Italy. Hamilcar’s adroit handling of the war against rebel mercenaries and subject Libyans in North Africa, from 241 to 237, made him supreme in Punic affairs, and his successes in Spain followed by Hasdrubal’s consolidation cemented the Barcid supremacy. Yet they and then Hannibal were not military dictators: all three . . .

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