The world often misunderstands its greatest men while neglecting others entirely. Scipio Africanus, surely the greatest general that Rome produced, suffered both these fates. Today scholars celebrate the importance of Hannibal, even though Scipio defeated the legendary general in the Second Punic War and was the central military figure of his time. In this scholarly and heretofore unmatched military biography of the distinguished Roman soldier, Richard A. Gabriel establishes Scipio’s rightful place in military history as the greater of the two generals.
Before Scipio, few Romans would have dreamed of empire, and Scipio himself would have regarded such an ambition as a danger to his beloved republic. And yet, paradoxically, Scipio’s victories in Spain and Africa enabled Rome to consolidate its hold over Italy and become the dominant power in the western Mediterranean, virtually ensuring a later confrontation with the Greco-Macedonian kingdoms to the east as well as the empire’s expansion into North Africa and the Levant. The Roman imperium was being born, and it was Scipio who had sired it. Gabriel draws upon ancient texts, including those from Livy, Polybius, Diodorus, Silius Italicus, and others, as primary sources and examines all additional material available to the modern scholar in French, German, English, and Italian. His book offers a complete bibliography of all extant sources regarding Scipio’s life. The result is a rich, detailed, and contextual treatment of the life and career of Scipio Africanus, one of Rome’s greatest generals, if not the greatest of them all.
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