rogueclassicism review: Hannibal the Annihilator

Title: Hannibal the Annihilator

Series: Battles B.C.

Network: History Channel

Capitidicentes (epithets):

  • Richard Gabriel, PhD (Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario)
  • Mark Schwartz, PhD (Anthropology, Grand Valley State University)
  • Steve Weingartner (Author: Chariots Like a Whirlwind:The Saga of Chariotry and Chariot Warfare )
  • Matthew Gonzales (Assistant Professor of Classics, St Anselm College)
  • David George (Director, Institute of Mediterranean Archaeology)

Researchers:

None credited

Official description of episode:

Hannibal’s merciless attacks on Roman soil dealt a near fatal blow to the soon-to-be Empire. Sworn by his father to a blood oath against the Romans, Hannibal of Carthage does the unthinkable… he marches 40 war elephants and a massive army over the Alps to gain an element of surprise. In three key battles–Hannibal uses terrain, intimidation and his iron will to annihilate the Roman Legions, killing every Roman soldier that he possibly can.

Summary:

The program begins in medias res with the Seige of Saguntum, then proceeds to give a good overview of the seeds of that conflict (i.e. Punic War I) and some background to Hannibal (how he came to power and that famous oath) and life in the Carthaginian army. There is a good presentation of Hannibal’s crossing of the Rhone and how Hannibal was pretty much forced to go across the Alps, elephants and all. After a digression on Gallic treachery and the ethnic makeup of Hannibal’s army, we get into the three big battles (i.e Trebia, Trasimene, Cannae).

Comments:

As this is my first review, I should explain that I usually classify television programs about the ancient world into two categories. In the one category are those programs where the producers set things up as a conflict of opinions, usually between an “author” and one or more scholars with “conventional” views. In the other category are programs where no such “conflict” is set up, but the producers try to sensationalize it by focussing on salacious details or some other way (sometimes with good effect, sometimes without). In the case of Hannibal the Annihilator, we have a program which leans toward the latter category, with good effect and very good information. In this case, the ‘sensation’ is caused by making the visuals very 300-like and the comic book influence is also clear in the fonts used on the maps which depict battle formations and the like. That is not to say that it shouldn’t be taken seriously, although more than once I guffawed at the very buff Hannibal riding/walking shirtless through the snow. Outside of that, the information is very good and could be very usefully used to give a decent introduction to Hannibal and Punic War II. There are good comments  by folks who clearly know what they’re talking about on conflicts between commanders and on Hannibal’s military tactics and the graphics are combined in a useful way to explain how the battles unfolded. Definitely worth watching.

8 thoughts on “rogueclassicism review: Hannibal the Annihilator

  1. So it does not bother you at all that Hannibal is evidently now a Negro, although in surviving stone busts and historical records clearly show and record that neither the Cathagenians nor Hannibal himself were negro people, but Semites who migrated to Northern Africa from the Levant.

    Afrocentrists are falsifying history, and th “History” Channel is inventing history by going along with this lie.

  2. I didn’t think they portrayed Hannibal as being specifically of African descent. The actor playing the role (Alexander Castro – erstwhile American Gladiator) as depicted (with the shaved head and 300-like effects) seemed to me to be rather racially ambiguous (he could pass for Semitic or African), which was probably a conscious decision by the producers to deal with the debate you are trying to open.

  3. They would have been most accurate in casting a Spaniard, Lebanese or Syrian as Hannibal because these people came from the same ethnic background. I have a serious problem with the History Channel trying to re-write history it seems too Orwellian to repeat Afrocentrist lies in this way because most people are now educated through programs like this. All attempts should be made for accuracy. Hannibal did not have a shaved head, he had wavy hair, wore a beard and looked very similar to the people of Lebanon today. This can be proven by highly accurate stone statues surviving in the Louvre.

    Portraying him as a sub-saharan African gives people false ideas about history, and lends to the Afrocentrists claims that th Whites stole civilization from the Negro which are pattently false and dangerous because such claims lead to anomousity against whites by negroes.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to review one of these documentaries. I just discovered Bettany Hughes’ documentaries a few weeks ago and have been trying to find other ones that appeal to the ancient world while offering a fair view. Keep it up!

  5. I can’t saw I saw anyone looking like the man playing Hannibal in the two years I lived in Subsaharan Africa.

  6. It matters little if Hannibal was ambiguous looking if his father is depicted clearly as a sub Saharan African. No the video was not very accurate there. You see Hannibal and his father both supposedly battling in Spain and the are both these bald dudes. Nothing like the real depictions of them in coinage.

  7. Well done globally. Very weak on the explanations of what happened on the crossing of the Alps. The battles there were not against “Gauls”, but Ligurian (or celto-ligurian) tribes. First battle was a limited ambush onto the rear guard of the army, then composed mostly of carriage mules : the attackers were motived perhaps by political reasons, but more probably by pure robbery aims. The raid against the attackers place is ignored. The second battle, showed under a snowfall, is not described in that way in the historic texts : the snowfall came one or two days later. The two days rest under the pass, the exhortation of the army in sight of the plains of Italy, the descend with the “landslide”, the crossing of a snow zone, the hard work to pass across a rocky zone, all this isn’t showed. Perhaps the crossing of the Alps, by itself, would have been a subject for a 52″ documentary !

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