|Map of Carthage empire and Roman empire|
In October 218 B.C., during the Second Punic War, Hannibal had arrived at the Alps. His soldiers are said to have stretched for more than eight miles at the Alps, the foothills of the Roman Empire. Hannibal’s army of 100,000 men would trek and fight 1,500 miles to arrive at the Alps from Spain. Hannibal armies included Numidians, North Africans from an area roughly where Algeria now draws its boundaries. The Numidians were known as master horsemen who could guide their horses with their knees, leaving their hands free to use swords and throw javelins.They had fought attacks from European tribes like the Gauls.
“Why are you afraid?… The greater part of our journey is accomplished. We have surmounted the Pyrenees; we have crossed the Rhone, that mighty river, in spite of the opposition of thousands of Gauls and the fury of the river itself. Now we have the Alps in sight. On the other side of those mountains lies Italy…. Does anyone imagine the Alps to be anything but what they are–lofty mountains. No part of the earth reaches the sky, or is insurmountable to mankind. The Alps produce and support living things. If they are passable by a few men, they are passable to armies.”
“Soldiers! You have now surmounted not only the ramparts of Italy, but also Rome. You are entering friendly country inhabited by people who hate the Romans as much as we do. The rest of the journey will be smooth and downhill, and, after one, or at most a second battle, you will have the citadel and capital of Italy in your possession.”
“Let us now put an end to the great anxiety of the Romans who have thought it too lengthy and too heavy a task to wait for the death of a hated old man.”