31 July 2008
A Satyrical summary of the Punic Wars: part 2
...Punic War No.2
...Proud and eager for new territories the Carthaginians conquered Spain. Rome lay just on the other side of the Alps, a temptation too much for Carthage's newest general Hannibal. (Legend says that Hannibal's father made him swear as a boy to always be Rome's enemy)
...Carthage was just getting over paying her fines for the last war, and feeling that sigh of relief and "what shall we do with the money now" syndrome, when Hannibal marched over the Alps with 60,000 men. (Oops, I guess we know were the money went) Carthage's brilliant and daring general invaded the country side around Rome, gathering some 20,000 Gauls into his army. He was such a great general that none could defeat him, during the whole time he stayed in Italy he lost not a single battle. Eventually the Romans fled to their well fortified city and waited for the next generation to grow up and become a new army. (Yes, that's how bad things had gotten)
...Then one day Rome got smart. "Why don't we sail around the peninsula and attack Spain which lies nearly defenseless in Hannibal's absence?" (I say give that guy a medal or something for coming up with such an obvious alternative to doing nothing) So they sailed around to Spain and did to Carthage what Carthage was doing to Rome, terrorized the countryside and forced the citizens to flee for safety in the cities. Soon Carthage itself was under threat.
...On a chessboard the situation would look something like this. Each opponent has outmaneuvered the other and crawled right up next to the king, they are both in check. (Impossible I know, but indulge me) Now one of them has the first move, it is his turn next. If that one is intelligent and lucky he has a piece which can put his opponents king in checkmate and free his king from check at the same time. (Difficult I know) Of course following the rules of chess strictly, your options are probably few or non existent. In fact this situation could only occur if one or both were grossly ignorant, misinformed or unobservant.
...But Rome and Carthage were fighting in real life, they did not need to bow to the rules of chess. If Carthage had been smart she would have ordered Hannibal to attack Rome, which was much weaker than she because of being under siege longer, and perhaps the war would have ended differently. Instead Carthage's fat politicians overreacted in fear and sent for Hannibal to return. So Hannibal lost a golden opportunity to invade Rome; and returned to Carthage where the Roman army was beaten off.
...Not to be outdone, Rome sailed to Spain and captured all of Carthage's territories there. Soon they became the major power of the Mediterranean. A big threat to Carthage, formerly mistress of the seas.
...Thus the double implications of loyalty to ones government officials were publicly displayed. A glaring example which simply screams "help me" from the pages of history. (Alas, we cannot see the future and tell when treason will be loyalty, or loyalty treason) By obeying the summons Hannibal saved himself from a traitors execution, but his choice sealed the death of Carthage along with his own. One day he would die an ignoble untimely death at his own hands. The same could be said of Carthage in a way.