Was Hannibal the greatest battlefield general of antiquity?

Jan 2015
3,293
Australia
Plenty of cities surrendered to Alexander without resistance, how is some armies and nobles defecting to Cyrus a huge deal?
Because in the case of Alexander the cities are surrendering as a result of his successful campaigning (i.e. he's beating the grand army of the place that is surrendering, which said place probably contributed levies to). In the case of Cyrus the nobles and armies defected before the war even began, for their own purposes. Cyrus had just come to the throne, he hadn't done anything to ensure their defections; they just wanted a regime change, and encouraged him to oppose them. Cyrus started out with a chunk of the lands Alexander conquered from the get-go, then more of it joined his side in order to jointly oppose the Median rulers. Alexander had no allies in Persia; he had to conquer these places and win allies for himself through battle.

To take a more extreme case; when there was a handover from one Roman Emperor to the next, often the handover happens as a result of the army and governors siding with one contender over another, and after one battle (or assassination) the provinces all surrender to the new emperor. Would anyone dream of suggesting that the new Emperor conquered the whole Empire? It was already conquered, there was just a civil war and a new emperor overthrew the old order. Cyrus did more than that obviously, but he was winner of a civil conflict effectively. He did not conquer the whole Median Empire, much of it went over to him (or was already his) prior to the war even beginning.
 
Likes: Gvelion
Mar 2012
1,159
Magdeburg
As far as i read, the army of Carthaganians(uh , very hard to spell) was not assembled by Hannibal but the magistrates of Carthage, thus putting Hannibal in strategic disadvantage (basicly he was fighting with bunch of random soldiers that he didn't even know how they functioned).

I would say that had he assembled his on army, and somehow persuaded Numidians to his side, he would defeat Scipio at Zama.
Yeh, sure, his elephant charge was handled well by Romans, but his elephants didn't really play important role in his victories against Rome in Italy anyway. In no means im downgrading Scipio here, but i think people just overrate this battle too much in terms of bad image for Hannibal.
 
Jan 2015
3,293
Australia
We have not one sentence of how he defeated the Scythians, but defeat them he did and it is a most reasonable assumption that he did so with more than a phalanx. But that’s just me, one may argue - something I can’t prove.
You should have just stuck with the second sentence. It's simply wild speculation on your part. More to the point, given what the sources do tell us about his "defeat" of Scythia, it is more likely to have been a raid on a community led by a bandit king.

Scythia referred to a nomadic area larger than Parthia. A self-styled tribal "King" from there could be anything from the leader of 500 armed bandits (and a larger community) to an overlord ruling a collection of larger tribes. The only hint we have at which category the Scythians Phillip fought fell under is the source telling us their village was so poor they had not even gold or silver or valuables for Phillip to loot. That certainly is indicative of the former, not the latter, which means they probably were poorly armed and without any real organization. Phillip didn't even annex their land.
 
Sep 2017
494
United States
As far as i read, the army of Carthaganians(uh , very hard to spell) was not assembled by Hannibal but the magistrates of Carthage, thus putting Hannibal in strategic disadvantage (basicly he was fighting with bunch of random soldiers that he didn't even know how they functioned).

I would say that had he assembled his on army, and somehow persuaded Numidians to his side, he would defeat Scipio at Zama.
Yeh, sure, his elephant charge was handled well by Romans, but his elephants didn't really play important role in his victories against Rome in Italy anyway. In no means im downgrading Scipio here, but i think people just overrate this battle too much in terms of bad image for Hannibal.
But, in turn, where would Hannibal have raised these troops from?

Carthage didn't have many options as it came to manpower. It had a small contingent of native Libyan troops (I believe who operated somewhat like hoplites), civilian levy in emergencies, and a lot of mercenaries and troops like Numidian cavalry (at times, Zama not one of them) and Celtic warriors.

So if he was unhappy with the army provided to him, where would he have actually been able to get the army he wanted? I didn't figure he had much of a choice.
 
Nov 2011
791
The Bluff
So if he was unhappy with the army provided to him, where would he have actually been able to get the army he wanted? I didn't figure he had much of a choice.
No, he had little choice. It's clear he'd have preferred not to fight Zama but, again, no choice. So he was left with the remnants of Mago's army, the recent, hastily raised levies and what remained of his Italian veterans. With these he had to make what amounted to a last stand. Prepared to sacrifice men to tire and eventually entrap the Romans, he failed when Scipio refused to allow his infantry to make the mistake of Cannae: an ill considered and dangerous pursuit of the tiring and fleeing Carthaginian front lines with the hardened veterans awaiting their arrival.
 
Jan 2015
3,293
Australia
Feel free to mention any culture where politics and generalship are not inseparable.
Well a lot of modern polities have an extremely robust separation between the two. There is occasional overlap, but by and large the military generalship employed by 1st world countries is not a matter for political debate. The decisions about whether to fight those wars in the first place are obviously, but in Australia I can't think of a single issue of generalship in a war we were already fighting that has been the subject of serious public debate in some time.

In ancient times though they go hand in hand mostly.
 
Sep 2017
494
United States
Well a lot of modern polities have an extremely robust separation between the two. There is occasional overlap, but by and large the military generalship employed by 1st world countries is not a matter for political debate. The decisions about whether to fight those wars in the first place are obviously, but in Australia I can't think of a single issue of generalship in a war we were already fighting that has been the subject of serious public debate in some time.

In ancient times though they go hand in hand mostly.
You won't see an American general initiate a conquest of Mexico to gain political clout or camp his divisions next to Washington D.C. anytime soon.
 

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