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Hannibal the great was a Carthaginian military commander around the year 200 B.C. He is thought of as one of the great military leaders of all time, alongside Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and others. There is a story that says as a boy Hannibal begged his father to take him to a war overseas. Hannibal’s father took him to a sacrificial chamber with a roaring fire in the middle, and he held his child over the fire and made him swear that he would never be a friend to Rome. The story says that Hannibal responded, “I swear as soon as age will permit…I will use fire and steel to arrest the destiny of Rome.”

Hannibal did as promised, battling Rome for most of his adult life, and winning many battles. In the battle of Zama, Rome finally conquered Carthage, with Hannibal losing 20,000 troops and 15,000 more were wounded. This was the last battle for Carthage for rule of the Mediterranean, and this loss was the beginning of the end for Hannibal. He lost the respect of his troops, his countrymen, and ended up in exile. When Rome demanded Carthage hand Hannibal over to them for imprisonment, he poisoned himself. His recorded last words were:

“Let us relieve the Romans from the anxiety they have so long experienced, since they think it tries their patience to wait for an old man to die.”

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