This paper offers a reconstruction of the events leading up to the battle of Zama, in 202 BCE. The writings of pro-Roman historians, especially Polybius, an employee of the Cornelian family, and Livy, a patriotic propagandist, tend to exaggerate the importance of Publius Cornelius Scipio’s generalship at Zama and the preceding conflicts. Gaps and contradictions in the Roman accounts, together with an understanding of psychological factors, such as the need to compensate for the Roman humiliation at Cannae, plus a stress on internal consistency, allow for a reconstruction of the decisive engagement at Zama. Masinissa, much more than Scipio, emerges as the key protagonist of the Roman victory, in a battle that Hannibal’s tactical genius could have won despite the inferior quality and numbers of his army. The implications and long-term effects of the battle of Zama are discussed.
|Keywords:||Punic Wars, Hannibal Barca, Masinissa, Publius Cornelius Scipio, Cannae, Zama|
Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Kearney, USA
University of Nebraska-Kearney, USA
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