Doing the Hannibal Haul

Posted by Barry Strauss under on August 2, 2011

During the recent backing and forthing over the Federal debt, did you ever wish that somebody would walk into the room and turn off the sound system?

Well, two thousand years ago, Hannibal turned that wish into reality. The year was 202 B.C.E. and the great Carthaginian general had just lost the last major battle of his country’s long war with Rome. On his advice, the Carthaginian government sued for peace. Rome’s terms were harsh but they could have been worse – they let Carthage survive. Rome did not always extend that courtesy.

Imagine Hannibal’s surprise, then, when he went to a meeting of the Carthaginian Senate and heard a speaker denounce the proposed treaty. Hannibal was shocked. Nobody knew better than he that the country had no choice but to accept defeat. And he had to say so.

Hannibal had spent his whole life since the age of nine – nearly 40 years – in military camps. He didn’t know about the niceties of parliamentary procedure and he didn’t care. So, he walked up to the podium and hauled the speaker off.

It was an outrage. The Senators protested. Hannibal apologized but he made his point. The treaty passed.

Now, to come back to the present day and that wish I started this piece off with: Hannibal is no role model. Hands off our politicians, even if they steer for the rocks. But I wouldn’t mind having the sound system turned off now and then.

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