Hannibal: Rule of the Carthaginians in Africa and Europe

Hannibal's celebrated feat in crossing the Alps with war elephants passed into European legend: 
detail of a fresco by Jacopo Ripanda, ca. 1510, Capitoline Museums, Rome. 

Put Hannibal in the scales: how many pounds will that peerless 

General mark up today? This is the man for whom Africa

Was too small a continent, though it stretched from the surf-beaten

Ocean shores of Morocco east to the stormy Nile,

To tribal Ethiopia, and new elephants’ habitats.

Now Spain swells his empire, now he surmounts

The Pyrenees. Nature sets in his path

High Alpine passes, blizzards of snow: but he splits

The very rocks asunder, moves mountains with vinegar.

Now Italy is his, yet still he forces on:

‘We have accomplished nothing,’ he cries,’ till we have stormed

The gates of Rome, till our Carthaginian standard

Is set in the City’s heart.’ A fine sight it must have been,

Fit subject for caricature — the one-eyed commander

Perched on his monstrous beast! Alas, alas for glory,

What an end was here: the defeat, the ignominious

Headlong flight into exile, everyone gawping at

The once-mighty Hannibal turned humble hanger-on,

Sitting outside the door of a petty Eastern despot

Till His Majesty deign to wake. No sword, no spear,

No battle-flung stone was to snuff the fiery spirit

That once had wrecked a world: those crushing defeats,

Those rivers of spilt blood were all wiped out by a

Ring, a poisoned ring. On, on, you madman, drive

Over your savage Alps, to thrill young schoolboys

And supply a theme for speech-day recitations!

-- Juvenal, Satire X, lines 147-67 (Translated by Peter Green)

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