Zama: Hannibal's Impressive Defeat?

Duke Valentino

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,340
Australia
What do you guys think of Zama? Do you think Hannibal lost his touch? Was Scipio simply better? Or both? Was Hannibal's plan viable, or should he have attempted something different? Was his plan impressive?

I've got my own thoughts on the battle, but I'd like to see what others think before I mention anything.

There's really no disagreement on the numbers of both armies, thankfully, so it's purely up to tactics for this discussion.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,870
Cornwall
What do you guys think of Zama? Do you think Hannibal lost his touch? Was Scipio simply better? Or both? Was Hannibal's plan viable, or should he have attempted something different? Was his plan impressive?

I've got my own thoughts on the battle, but I'd like to see what others think before I mention anything.

There's really no disagreement on the numbers of both armies, thankfully, so it's purely up to tactics for this discussion.
Apart from the fact we only have the version of one side. Don't we?
 

Duke Valentino

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,340
Australia
Plus, I think we can actually learn a lot from his only real defeat, his plan for the battle was pretty ingenious as far as I'm aware.
 
Jul 2017
90
Romania
Hannibal's army at Zama was just a shadow of what he had when he first left Spain. If he had at Zama the army from Trebia or Cannae, he would have won. I know they are people on this forum who really think that Scipio won because he was better but that isnt true. Indeed, he was a skilled general, but the greatest enemy of Hannibal was the carthaginian senate. This last battle was lost long before it started.
 

Duke Valentino

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,340
Australia
Hannibal's army at Zama was just a shadow of what he had when he first left Spain. If he had at Zama the army from Trebia or Cannae, he would have won. I know they are people on this forum who really think that Scipio won because he was better but that isnt true. Indeed, he was a skilled general, but the greatest enemy of Hannibal was the carthaginian senate. This last battle was lost long before it started.
I pretty much agree, but even then, Hannibal's Zama was a masterpiece that came that close to winning, only luck beat him in the end, and he got the wrong side of the coin.

From his masterful use of the elephants, to the cavalry strategy, to the use of multiple lines, including extending his front. Pure genius. Too bad in the end he lucked out in just a few minutes, going from winning to losing !

Not to mention his conduct before the battle as well.
 
Jul 2017
90
Romania
Hannibal was a genius. But even if he had won at Zama, Rome would have sent army after army to him, and in the end he would have lost anyway
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,759
Dispargum
Is there any support for this theory? At the beginning of the war, the Roman Army was an amateur and green militia, but fifteen years later those Roman soldiers had become professionalized combat veterans. Hannibal's army, on the other hand, hadn't really improved and in many ways had declined in quality.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,730
I would say Hannibal was outgeneraled in Africa by Scipio though the most destructive things happened prior to Zama. Scipio's diplomacy and the night attack made Hannibal's strategic position hugely weaker and while there was a chance for victory at Zama that wouldn't necessarily have ended Scipio/Roman presence in Africa as a decisive victory was unlikely. Given what Hannibal had to work with when Zama occurred his plan seems to have been really good but the battle was made much more difficult and Carthage on the defensive in their own lands from Scipio's actions prior to the battle.