Major Battles of the Roman Republic

by Charles Kang

During the second punic war, Hannibal (a general of Carthage) marched from Spain, to Gaul, over the Alps, and into Italy: The heart of the Roman Republic. There, he wrought havoc across the land for many years, but never attacked rome itself. However, he did deal a large amount of damage to Rome by drawing its allies away. At around this time, a Roman Consul by the name of Fabius Macimus came to power, and was able to keep Hannibal out. He did this by engaging in numerous small skirmishes, attacking Hannibal's supply lines, and never committing to a major battle. It seemed like Hannibal was weakening, but the romans were not patient enough to continue using this strategy. They elected two consuls who promised to push Hannibal out of Rome. At 215 BC, two roman armies and their allies were (totalling 70,000 men) were ready to fight Hannibal. This resulted in the Battle of Cannae. Although Hannibal was outnumbered, he decided to fight. The Battle of Cannae "backfired", with a roman defeat and a loss of up to twenty five thousand men.

Aftermath of Cannae

The defeat at Cannae crippled the roman military, and caused the romans to fear Hannibal and cultivated an unwillingless to engage in major battles with him (the next major battle was over a decade later, at Zama).

The Battle of Zama

Although Hannibal was in Italy, there were other combat fronts. Rome was fighting Carthage in Spain. At around this time, a man by the name of Scipio was elected to the position of Consul in 205 BC, by promising to defeat Carthage. He landed his army in Africa in 204 BC. Carthage panicked, and called Hannibal back. Hannibal was unable to arrive back until 202 BC, where he quickly gathered resources and pulled together new forces. Scipio and Hannibal met at the battle of Zama. Both sides were evenly matched (in terms of manpower). Scipio had a considerably more powerful force of calvalry, but Hannibal had elephants. Scipio won the battle, using the same strategy that Hannibal used to defeat Rome earlier at The Battle of Canae.

Aftermath of Zama

The roman victory at Zama weakened The Empire of Carthage so much that Hannibal reccommended surrender to Carthage. After Carthage surrendered, Rome controlled much of the Medditerranean, and had no major enemies left.

The Battle of Actium

      Following Caesars death on March 15, 44 BC., Marc Antony emerged as Rome's predominant leader. However, his power was nowhere near absolute. Octavian (Caesar's nephew and adopted son) did not like this. He claimed a right to power, and Antony and the Senate tolerated this, thinking they could use him. Using his adopted father's name, Octavian was able to raise an army, gaining much power. Together, Octavian and Antony ruled for 10 years, until 33 BC. In 33 BC., they began to break apart. Antony divorced his sister in order to mary Cleopatra. This angered Octavian, who set out to destroy both Antony and Cleopatra. Antony and Octavian met at Actium. Feeling Octavian was winning, Cleopatra and Antony fled to Egypt. When Octavian finally arrived at Alexandria, both Antony and Cleopatra commited suicide. Following their deaths, Octavian was in control. He was later named Augustus, or Great One.

Aftermath of Actium

After the Battle of Actium, the Roman Republic was no longer a republic, rather it was an empire ruled by a single man. There were no very major battles, and an era of peace called the Pax Romana ensued. Pax Romana literally means Peace of Rome.

Map of the Roman Empire

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