Scipii History

To gain power in Rome, one must be powerful, merciless and commanding, while also having the respect and love of the commoners. Military victory helps too.

The tale of the Scipii family reaches its pinnacle in the campaigns of Publius Cornelius Scipio, named 'Scipio Africanus' for his involvement in defeating the barbarian Hannibal in the Second Punic War.

Years after his birth in 236 B.C., he was present in many Roman defeats against Carthage as a soldier. These gave him an undeniable hatred of the Carthaginians, and cause to eliminate them from the Mediterranean. In 210 B.C., he arrived in Hispania as commander of the Roman forces there. At this time, all of southern Hispania was dominated by the Carthaginian foes. Attacking the central supply base, Nova Carthago (New Carthage), he drove the general Hasdrubal, brother of the infamous Hannibal, from Hispania. Unfortunately for the Roman legions, the man escaped across the Pyrenees to regroup with his brother. Nevertheless, this victory, caused in part by the preoccupation of the Carthaginians to deal with revolts in their homeland, gave Scipio plenty of supplies and an excellent harbor which would be used to establish a foothold to Africa.

Scipio wisely foresaw the need to gain allies in Africa that would one day crush Carthage. He managed to persuade two Numidian princes to be his allies, though one married a daughter of a leading Carthaginian and broke off his portion of the alliance. This prince would eventually aid in the Carthaginian defense in Africa.

Around 205 B.C., the highly successful Scipio had been elected a consul in Rome. He returned to Italia, resigning from command of the Hispanic legions. At this time, however, Hannibal was already marching towards Italy.

After securing support for a new campaign in Africa, Scipio left his province of Sicily and sailed for the new continent around 204 B.C. He landed and secured a victory at Campi Magni, which forced Hannibal to recall his troops from Italy and return to Africa. When the two men met, they actually attempted negotiation, but no peaceful outcome could be reach. Scipio crushed the outnumbering forces of Hannibal at the Battle of Zama in 202 B.C. The organized legions of Rome once again defeated the barbarian horde, bringing victory to S.P.Q.R. This incredible victory ended the mainstream of Carthaginian resistance to the conquest of Africa, and placed the title 'Africanus' to the conqueror Scipio of the land.

Peace came over Carthage, and Hannibal returned to power in his now shattered Empire. He chiseled away the corruption of the ruling council of Carthage and began to restore, mildly, its power. He turned the city around so much, in fact, that they could easily meet the tributes demanded by the Roman victors. However, they were frightened by this and demanded that Hannibal completely give up any authority over Carthage. He agreed and went into exile.

As for Scipio, he was to be decorated with many honors, but he refused them and returned to quiet life for an amount of time. However, he was accused of corruption in his later years. Undoubtedly, his belief that he could commune with the gods also added to this opinion of him. It is believed that he died in 183 B.C., the same year in which Hannibal is rumored to have ceased to exist. The men were mortal enemies, but one can only imagine their internal similarities. Both were true misunderstood patriots to their respective countries.

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