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Hannibal's Oath: The Life and Wars of Rome's Greatest Enemy

Evening Program with Book Signing

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1L0181

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Detail from a fresco of Hannibal Crossing the Alps, ca. 1510 (Capitoline Museum, Rome)

In the spring of 218 B.C., Hannibal and his army of 90,000 foot soldiers, 12,000 cavalry, and 37 elephants prepared to leave New Carthage in southeastern Spain to undertake a seemingly impossible mission. His goal was to cross the Alps and surprise Rome with an attack from the north, in an attempt to break the republic’s hold on Italy.

In the 1,000 miles that separated the army from their destination, they faced hostile tribes, steep and exposed climbs, severe weather conditions, and starvation. Although thousands of men lost their lives in this quest—more than in any of the battles that followed—their general’s leadership abilities and strategic foresight ensured the success of their mission. By crossing the Alps with an entire army, Hannibal secured his name in history.

Drawing on his new biography, Hannibal’s Oath: The Life and Wars of Rome’s Greatest Enemy (Da Capo Press), historian John Prevas tells the story of one of the foremost military leaders of the ancient world, from his childhood oath to the god Baal that he would always be an enemy to Rome to his death in exile, where he refused to be caught alive by his sworn foe. Prevas brings to life the places and battlefields where Hannibal made history, like the Spanish fortress of Saguntum, where Hannibal successfully led his first siege and started the war against Rome; the Apulian town of Cannae, where Hannibal’s army crushed the Romans in what is now taught in service academies as an example of the “perfect victory”; and the battlefield of Zama, where the previously undefeated general lost the war and marked the beginning of Rome’s rise as a world power, changing the course of history.

Join Prevas as he discusses Hannibal’s extraordinary character in the context of his legendary success and ultimate failure, and the events that made the Carthaginian general a larger-than-life figure.

Copies of Hannibal’s Oath are available for purchase and signing.


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)