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The History of Rome, Books 21-30: The War with Hannibal

(The History of Rome #3)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  3,276 ratings  ·  66 reviews
It is Livy (59 BC-AD 17) who re-creates for us in vivid detail the terrible events of the Second Punic War, down to the Battle of Zama (202 BC). It is Livy who shows us the immense armies of Hannibal, elephants and all, crossing the Alps (still regarded as a near-miraculous feat by historians), the panic as Hannibal approached the gates of Rome, the decimation of the Roman ...more
Paperback, 711 pages
Published July 30th 1972 by Penguin Classics (first published -17)
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Diana Wilder The historian, Polybius, wrote a history of the wars with Carthage. I believe he was friend of Scipio Aemilianus.

Oxford World's Classics has put out…more
The historian, Polybius, wrote a history of the wars with Carthage. I believe he was friend of Scipio Aemilianus.

Oxford World's Classics has put out a new translation by Brian Waterfield.
ISBN-13: 978-0199534708

Harvard University Press did the same at about the same time.
ISBN-13: 978-0674996373

The Oxford book contains all Polybius' 'books' and runs about $13.00 (paperback) ebook is less

The Harvard one is in six installments @ ~$25 per volume hard copy. I don't see an ebook option.


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"Before the next night they would know whether Rome or Carthage was destined to give laws to the nations, for the prize of victory would be not Italy or Africa but the whole world" (p659)

Livy's opinion is clear, the second Punic war, fought for seventeen years between Hannibal in the Carthaginian corner and all comers from the Roman corner, is the monumental epic blockbuster of world history. Rome, the scrappy up-comer, only recently come to dominate Italy, versus Carthage, the great Phoenician
"the Senate forsaw that if one war had ended, another was just beginning."

Now it's the Greeks' turn.

I think the most impressive thing out of this whole ordeal is the system of alliances Rome had implemented. During all those years of war most italian cities stayed loyal to Rome and actively sent troops and aid (which was part of the deal) and if I'm not mistaken, they had to match the same amount of troops the romans raised. So in every roman defeat, there were dead italian allies, same with eac
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: antiquity, owned
This is a surprisingly accessible and gripping history of the Second Punic War (218-201 BC). Livy writes as if he had witnessed everything first hand and avoids routinely just listing dates of events, etc. in favor of an almost fictional-feeling story about this crazy war and the mystery that is Hannibal. If you were ever curious as to why people still talk about this person, this is the place to find out why. There's so many interesting things about the guy; he basically inherited a hatred for ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely fantastic! It took me a long time to get through it as I had to look up so many locations, names and events throughout the reading to keep up. There was a lot of name dropping in this one, of course the greats like Scipio, Hannibal, and Hasdrubal, but I couldn't even begin to list the countless others here and there mentioned and their subsequent relations to each other and events. I think it would take a very vast study to go through this to that extent. It really was a fasc ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, roman

Read this using the Loeb Series:

History of Rome,Volume V, Books 21-22 (Loeb Classical Library No. 233) - Read November 21, 2017
History of Rome, Volume VI, Books 23-25 (Loeb Classical Library No. 355) - Read Read May 5, 2017
History of Rome, Volume VII, Books 26-27 (Loeb Classical Library No. 367) - Read April 10, 2017
History of Rome, Volume VIII, Books 28-30 (Loeb Classical Library No. 381) - Read March 27, 2017
Federico Salinas
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There is no better way of learning about Ancient Rome than to go the historians who lived in it. It will be very surprising to those not accustomed to reading ancient authors how approachable Livy's books are. Livy had a knack for telling a good story, and the ancient practice of re-creating, and in some cases, inventing speeches for key characters to deliver at key moments, is surprisingly effective. In fact, there is much wisdom in such a practice, for through such speeches we get the more sub ...more
Smiley (aka umberto)
In a word, any 'serious' reader of ancient history needs to read Livy, then you'd understand why he's long been admired and seemed to be praised 'to the skies'. I've never wanted to read him, I thought it's Greek to me. It might be so if we were to read his works in Latin, I mean we can follow his wonderful, unthinkable narrative on various theaters of wars and clashes of the leaders' characters excitedly from this fine translation by Aubrey de Selincourt whose style's formidably second to none. ...more
Jun 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Unfortunately, the class war in Rome, so vividly described in the first ten books of Livy, fades to the background in these ten books, which describe Hannibal's near-conquering of Italy and Rome. However, it's quite understandable; some of Rome's greatest statesmen (Marcellus, Africanus, etc.) emerge in this period, and Hannibal's victories, at least at first, are as memorable as Alexander's. Livy is so partisan to the Roman cause, though, that he is caught contradicting Polybius, and even refus ...more
magnanimous romans liberate mediterranean from evil carthage and its robot general from the future, the Hannibal-X1000.
Dec 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
I became a Hannibal fanboy after reading this.
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was absolutely riveted by this book. The period of Roman history covered by Livy comes to technicolor life! I was surprised to find how absorbing this book is, and the beauty of the language itself was so impressive. I enjoyed all aspects of the book - the narrative describing the progression of the war, the long, eloquent speeches, the recounting of the yearly elections in Rome as well as the recurring ominous supernatural events. The book was a time machine, and I was delighted to be able to ...more
This batch of books covers the Roman war with Hannibal (2nd Punic War) 218-201 BC. Livy covers the events in Spain, the Alps, Italy, Sicily, Greece and modern Tunisia and he does it in a way (as long as you don't get dwell on all similar Roman names during their constant elections) that is utterly readable. He does it so well that it might even been exciting! Although I may not be the best judge of that since I read all day whether its exciting or not. This is seriously good stuff and not I have ...more
Aaron Simms
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book a few times and think it's great. It covers the period of the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage. Some great people in the war and it's amazing how Rome lost a generation of young men, but still managed to win in the end. I got to go to Cartagena (i.e. "New Carthage"), Spain a couple years ago and see the location of one of the pivotal battles in the war as the Romans captured the Carthaginian stores there.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I did not read all of this book. However, I did read enough to know that whilst I enjoy Livy, I do not think that I could miss the eruption of Vesuvius in order to read his next page, although I do appreciate the elephant thing.
Zachary Rudolph
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Before the next night they would know whether Rome or Carthage was destined to give laws to the nations, for the prize of victory would be not Italy or Africa but the whole world.”
Joshua Horn
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it
This volume of covers mostly the wars with Hannibal. I read a book on Hannibal (Hannibal: One Man Against Rome by Harold Lamb) that went over most of the information. But for ancient history I find it very useful to dig down to the actual sources, since they are usually relatively slim. It really helps you to see what part of other historian's account are historical fact, and which are their speculations.
Roz  Milner
A huge history of the Second Punic War, Penguin's The War With Hannibal is composed of ten books of Livy's giant history of Rome and covers one of the wildest periods of ancient history.

Although Rome and Carthage had engaged in war earlier in the third century BC, it's the Second Punic War that most are familiar with. And for good reason: it has some of the most compelling personalities of the ancient world commanding armies against each other: Fabius Maximus, Scipio Africanus and, most famous o
Aaron Crofut
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rome, history, classics, war
The Second Punic War was to Rome what the Second World War is to us: the Big One. The two superpowers of the western Mediterranean square off again, brought into conflict by Carthage's push into Spain and Rome's opportunistic conquest of Sardinia, and eventually touched off by Hannibal attacking Saguntum, a Roman ally in Spain. Hannibal crosses the Alps, crushes a number of Roman armies, pushes the Roman state to the very brink...and then fails to make use of his victories. Maharbal's criticism ...more
Diana Wilder
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Good translation of a history book from 2000 years ago

This is a good translation of a history book that through being a history book written a millennium or two ago is now considered stodgy. It is not.

My purchase dealt with the war with Carthage, which is a fascinating period of history. Livy chronicles the war rather well in a year-by-year fashion. The end of each chapter has a section recounting 'fabulous' things that have happened, rather like the scandal sheets you see by the grocery store
Nick Carraway LLC
Jul 10, 2006 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1) ''At this the Roman gathered his toga into a fold and said: 'Here we bring you war and peace. Take whichever you please!' A shout, no less defiant, came back immediately - he could give whichever he pleased. Fabius shook out the fold and said he gave them war. In reply, the Carthaginians to a man declared that they accepted it, and that they would fight it in the spirit in which they were accepting it.''
2) ''The men came together with one translator each, and the armed escorts of both were ke
Julian Meynell
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the fifth book by an ancient historian that I have read. Livy doesn't have the story telling ability of Herodotus, the commitment to historical insight that Tacitus and Thucyides had, nor the gift for gossip of Suetonius. The book is quite long and bogs down a lot.

Having said that, some of it is quite wonderful, such as Livy's ability to convey how much Rome was rattled by Hannibal, the battle of Cannae and numerous other bits and peces. Despite Livy's hostility he cannot help but admir
Estep Nagy
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're a writer, don't trust me that Livy (all of it) is worth reading (and re-reading): trust J.K. Rowling. As I read the Harry Potter books a lot of the names (e.g. Severus) and structural features (e.g. single combat in front of an army) are regular features of Livy. Livy's books are an almost embarrassingly detailed compendium of (specifically masculine) experience, and they give the writer a rich source of reference material for personality types, forms of loyalty and betrayal, even (as ...more
The epic tale of Rome's war with Hannibal, whose army, after descending upon Italy from the north -- crossing the Alps with battle-elephants in tow, roamed the Italian peninsula for 15 years before being recalled to north Africa for the final showdown with Scipio "Africanus." Before the battle, the two legends rode out to meet each other on the plains of Zama in order to discuss the terms of Carthaginian surrender, and perhaps to have the chance to look upon one another for the first time. The n ...more
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, history, latin
The most entertaining and absorbing of the surviving portions of Livy's "Ab Urbe Condita", book XXI in particular, of which I have had the privilege of reading in its entirety in Latin, is a masterpiece of historical storytelling, if not accurate history. Livy is not a sober historian, and he offers little in the way of analysis. Indeed, whenever his account conflicts with that of Polybius', it is best to consider the earlier Greek historian the more accurate telling; where Livy excels then is i ...more
Joseph Settipane
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Hannibal is at the Gates" is an expression still in use today - and this ancient author provides a near contemporaneous account of the Carthagian invasion. Although I am a Romanphile - it is impossible to leave this book without a healthy respect for Hannibal - whose speed and attacks not only change the empire but likely inspired a future Julius Ceasar himself . The account of Cannae is both poignant and horrifying and the terror of waiting for death I'd brought him in detail while the oral tr ...more
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved it! Battles, speeches, and sieges are always exciting to read about, and Livy, my favorite historian, makes it better. He not only describes events but also shows us what is good and honorable and useful in each of the characters, from Scipio Africanus to Hannibal himself. I will hopefully get the chance later to read the rest of the existing collection of his books, but for now I'll enjoy these ten books. This a great read, especially for the reader who likes history, but doesn't like a ...more
Johannes Bertus
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Of all the horrors which in circumstances of this sort historians like to record, not one was omitted: those unhappy people were the victims of every form of lust, cruelty, and inhuman beastliness. Such, then, were the activities of Hannibal during the winter."

Generals move across the land with huge armies, killing a few dozen people here, losing a few hundred soldiers there. All these lives cut short for utterly futile reasons.
May 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
LONG, often very particular, and if you don't know the sites, terms, and names, it can be confusing. HOWEVER, it's a fantastic historical document. I was amazed at the importance of this story, and my lack of knowledge.

Hannibal crosses the Alps with elephants, yes, but that is just the tiniest bit of a beginning. This war lasts nearly 20 years, and almost decimates all of Spain, France, Sicily, and Italy more than once. The armies are immense, and the conflicts are gripping at times.
Jan 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sorcerers
I LOVE this book. I first picked it up because I knew nothing about Hannibal and the elephants and I was curious. But I continued reading it because it seems like every few pages there's some insane superstition/act of gods being described. Like "The Carthaginians attacked and the cows gave birth to stones and it rained frogs so we had a hecatomb blah blah we're totally out of our minds." It's awesome. That's the only reason I finished the book.
Steve Gordon
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Truth, they say, too often comes near to extinction, but is never quite put out. True glory will belong to the man who despises it." - Quintus Fabius Maximus. This book once again proves the point that one ignores the classics at his or her peril. What names! What speeches! What battles! Rome! Gaul! Greece! Africa! Spain! ¡Olé!
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Titus Livius (Patavinus) (64 or 59 BC – AD 17)—known as Livy in English, and Tite-Live in French—was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people – Ab Urbe Condita Libri (Books from the Foundation of the City) – covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional foundation in 753 BC through the reign of Augustus in Livy's own time. He was ...more

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The History of Rome (4 books)
  • The History of Rome, Books 1-5: The Early History of Rome
  • The History of Rome, Books 6-10: Rome and Italy
  • The History of Rome, Books 31-45: Rome and the Mediterranean
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