Scipio Africanus

(Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus)

234–149 BC

Scipio Africanus was the greatest Roman general of the Punic Wars, and the only Roman consul who was able to decisively defeat Hannibal. He fought under his uncle and father during the early years of the Second Punic War, and was present at the battles of Ticinus, Trebia, and Cannae. He then followed his father to Spain, and there distinguished himself as both a general, and as a capable leader. He was elected proconsul of Spain in 211 B.C., and by 209 B.C. had conquered New Carthage. There is a famous story told of a beautiful maiden who was brought to him after a great battle. Instead of taking her for himself he returned her to her family and fiancÚ, thereby winning himself a reputation for justice and mercy among the Spanish population. He subdued all of Carthage's Spanish empire, and then returned to Rome, to help drive Hannibal out of Italy. He was elected Consul in 205 B.C., intending to take the war to Africa, in order to force Hannibal out of his mountain stronghold in southern Italy, but he encountered great resistance from his enemies in the Senate. He finally prevailed in his plans, and the Roman victory at the battle of Zama finally brought the Second Punic War to a close.

The Scipios were a controversial family, and had many powerful enemies, including Cato the Censor. Scipio Africanus was a man of culture, who could speak and write Greek fluently, and was an excellent orator. His political enemies despised his luxurious habits, and accused him of bribery and other misdeeds during the wars in the East against Antiochus III. He eventually retired to the country, nearly ruined by his enemies. His daughter was Cornelia, mother of the famous Gracchi.

Key events during the life of Scipio Africanus:

218 BC
Fought under his father at Ticinus.
216 BC
Survived the battle of Cannae.
211 BC
Elected to proconsulship in Spain, upon the death of his father and uncle.
209 BC
Conquered New Carthage—established reputation as a great general.
205 BC
Elected consul. Tried to go to Africa, but prevented by enemies in Rome.
204 BC
Went to Africa, and allied with Numidians against Carthage.
202 BC
Hannibal returned to Africa to fight Scipio at the battle of Zama.
183 BC
Retired to the country outside Rome.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Scipio  in  Hannibal  by  Jacob Abbott
Early History of Spain  in  The Romance of Spanish History  by  John S.C. Abbott
From the Beginning  in  A Child's History of Spain  by  John Bonner
Hannibal's Last Battle  in  Helmet and Spear  by  Alfred J. Church
Of Scipio Aemilianus Africanus in  Stories from Roman History  by  Lena Dalkeith
Inventor Archimedes  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Scipio Africanus  in  Famous Men of Rome  by  John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland
Scipio  in  Back Matter  by  books/horne/soldiers/_back.html
Capture of New Carthage  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
How Hannibal Fought and Died  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris
End of Carthage  in  On the Shores of the Great Sea  by  M. B. Synge

Image Links

Bust of Scipio
 in Stories from Ancient Rome

Scipio Yields the Spanish Princess to her Lover
 in Greatest Nations - Rome

Scipio Africanus
 in Back Matter

Generosity of Scipio
 in Back Matter

His progress was as that of a king.
 in The Story of Rome

Short Biography
Cato (the censor) Roman censor, urged destruction of Carthage before third Punic War.
Hannibal Carthaginian general, invaded and laid waste to Italy for sixteen years.
Marcellus Besieged Syracuse during the second Punic War, but the ingenious war weapons of Archimedes frustrated the Romans.
Hasdrubal Barca Fought against Scipios in Spain; killed after he crossed the Alps to aid Hannibal.