Publius Cornelius Scipio

Historical SignificanceEdit

Publius Cornelius Scipio was born in 236 BC and died in 183 BC, and he was one of Rome's greatest generals and was the only commander to beat Hannibal the Great in battle (Fonner). Scipio was the the reason that let Rome win the Second Punic War against Carthage. Without Scipio Hannibal would have probably never been beat and Rome would have fallen to Carthage. Without Scipio Hannibal's brother Hastrubal most likely would have made it to Hannibal with siege engines and Rome would have been taken by the Carthaginians.


Early LifeEdit

Scipio Africanus had a father of the same name, who was elected consul in 218 BC (Fonner). The younger Scipio, who was about eighteen, went with his father on a confrontation with Hannibal near the Ticinus River in Northern Italy. The elder Scipio charged in with his troops and was wounded in battle and surrounded by Carthaginians. Scipio rallied up his troops and broke through the Carthaginian lines to save his father (Fonner). The older Scipio saw Spain as the only way to win the war with Carthage. As soon as his injuries were healed he left for Spain to join his brother Gnaeus Scipio. By 211 BC both Scipios were killed in Spain during battles in Baettis Valley. After hearing of the deaths of the Scipios the Senate elcted the young Scipio proconsul when he was twenty-five. He left Rome with 10,000 infantry and 1,000 to join up with the 9,000 legionaries holding the line at the river Ebro (Fonner).

Scipio in SpainEdit

When Scipio arrived in Spain he began making a few changes and improvements to his army. He started training his soldies with tactics that he had learned from studying Hannibal's battles. Scipio also experimented with a new smaller unit of infantry which allowed for better movement and flexibility of the legion on the battlefield (Fonner). He then gave all of his soldiers shorter spanish swords called


the gladius hispaniensis.

In 210 BC Scipio crossed the river Ebro with 25,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry, he left Marcus Silanus behind to watch the river with 3,500 men (Fonner). With his men Scipio marched 325 miles to New Cathage in seven days, when they arrived Scipio realized that he couldn't take the city from the front. So he took his men through a swamp on the landward side of New Carthage, which was luckily on low tide so they were able to go through (Fonner). The city was taken by suprise and the survivors were forced to retreat back to a military base called Gades.

A year later he attacked Hastrubal Barca, Hannibal's younger brother, near Baecula. Scipio once again showing how good of a general he was; he put his light troops in the middle of his formation with his heavy force on the flanks. This caused the middle to collapse and and the flanks to surround the Carthaginian army(Fonner). Hastrubal escaped and fled with the remainder of his army that wasn't killed to try and join his brother in Italy, on his way he was intercepted by the Romans. He was killed and his head was thrown in Hannibal's camp. Scipio finished his campaign in 206 BC at the battle of Ilipia where he crushed the last Carthaginian resistance and captured Gades(Fonner).

Scipio vs. HannibalEdit

Scipio went back to Rome a hero and was elected into Consulship in 205 BC. As soon as he got into office he attempted to get the Senate to allow him to invade Cartharginian territory in Northern Africa. The Senate was reluctent but they eventually agreed to give him Sicily as a base of operations (Fonner). While Scipio was preparing for his campaign he sent Gaius Laelius to Africa to ask two Numidian chiefs, Syphax and Massinissa, for alliance with Rome. The request was declined by both of the cheifs originally but after Scipio defeated Syphax in 204 BC, Massinissa decided to join forces with Rome(Fonner). Carthage started to panick and wanted peace but when Hannibal returned aand tlaked them out of it by saying he could win.

In 202 BC Scipio and his army met with Massinissa near Zama. Hannibal sent spies to Zama but were captured by Scipio's men, but instead of killing them Scipio gave them a guided tour of the

Battle of Zama

camp. Hannibal was impressed by the Scipio and arranged to meet him(Fonner). They failed to negotiate a peaceful settlement because of the many years the two nations had been fighting each other. On the battlefield Scipio arranged his army in the classic Roman with one slight change open columns in between his soliers masked buy a solid front line. They were flanked by Roman cavalry on the left and Numidian cavalry on the right(Fonner). Hannibal arranged his men in three lines,the first line consisted of 12,000 Ligurian, Celtic, and Moorish mercenaries as well as eighty elephants. The second line was all native Carthaginians, and the third line was his troops from the campaign in Italy(Fonner). Hannibal began by sending in the elephants but the Romans blew bgles when they got close, the elephants got scared and ran back into Hannibal's cavalry on the left flank. The elephants that were not scared by the bugles passed through the columns opened up in the Roman ranks(Fonner). The Roman and Numidian cavalries charged and drove nack the remaining Carthaginian cavalry. The Romans charged and the two armies met but the Roman discipline and skill soon outmatched the Carthaginina mercenaries. The allied cavalry also came around and behind the Carthaginians and it became slaughter, 20,000 Carthaginians were killed and Rome only lost 1,500 men(Fonner). Scipio gave Hannibal mercy becuase he was no longer a threat.

Later LifeEdit

Publius Cornelius Scipio returned to Rome once again a hero he had successful beaten the greatest threat that Rome had very faced. Hannibal was defeated and the war was over, Rome had won. Scipio became the frist Roman General to be named after the territory that he had conquered; Scipio Africanus Rome's greatest general(Fonner). He married a women named Amelia and they had a daughter who later would be the mother of the Gracchus brothers( Although later in his life he came into conflict with the traditional Roman party because of his love for Greek customs, literature and art. Scipio was called to the Senate to face corruption charges but he never went. He retired to his estate outside of Liternum and died complaining of the ungratefulness of Rome(Fonner).


Fonner, Dr. Kent. "After avidly studying the tactics of Hannibal, Scipio Africanus eventually bested his Carthaginian adversary. ." History-World. Military History Magazine, Mar 1994. Web. 19 Dec 2010. <>.

" Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major Biography." BookRags. Encyclopedia Of World Biography, n.d. Web. 19 Dec 2010. <>.

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