Roman Legionary Versus Carthaginian Warrior

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
David Campbell
Product / Stock #
CBT 35
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover


Second Punic War 217-206 BC

The peace that followed the First Punic War was shallow and fractious, with the resumption of hostilities in 218 BC- sparked by Carthaginian expansion in Iberia- seeing Rome suffer some of the worst defeats in its entire history. The Carthaginian army was a composite affair, primarily made up of a number of levies from Africa and around the Mediterranean, augmented by mercenaries and allies, and these troops crushed the Roman heavy-infantry maniples in a series of battles across Southern Europe. Improvements made to Rome’s military, however, would see Roman revenge visited on Hannibal in full measure by Scipio, who would beat the Carthagians at their own game and bring the legions to the gates of Carthage itself. In this study, the epic battles at Lake Trasimene (217 BC), Cannae (216 BC) and Ilipa (206 BC) are explored in detail, supported by carefully chosen illustrations and specially commissioned full-color artwork and mapping.

The Book

This looks to be a very thorough overview of this exhausting, intense war between these two armies. The book is broken down into these chapters:

  • Introduction
  • The Opposing Sides: Army Formation/ Infantry/ Calvary/ Morale/ Leadership and Command
  • Lake Trasimene- June 217 BC
  • Cannae- Summer 216 BC
  • Ilipa- 206 BC
  • Analysis: Lake Trasimene/ Cannae/ Ilipa
  • Aftermath
  • Bibliography
  • Index

The first chapter gives an excellent walk-through of how each side was organized-- spending time talking through each side’s formations, infantry, calvary, morale, and leadership and command structures. Interspersed throughout this chapter are excellent artist renditions of soldiers, bas-reliefs of both armies, museum artifacts of weapons and reproduction photos of cavalry saddles and other weapons. The text is informative without being too loaded down with boring facts. It gives you a good sense of what life was like for the soldiers at the time and how they were motivated to fight for their respective sides.

The chapters that represent the major engagements do an excellent job of setting up the engagements by providing an overview of the events leading up to them. From there, the reader is provided with a detailed map keyed with a timeline of the engagement. Accompanying the map is a modern-day photograph of the area of the battle to give a sense of what the soldiers saw and experienced during that time. Mixed into the text describing the actual combat are more drawings and photos of artifacts including swords, helmets and other armor pieces, and period sculptures. The text describing the events of the battle are interesting and laced with references to battle accounts from historians of the time. There are also sidebars that go into more description of important figures in command during the engagements.

The analysis chapters go in depth to explaining how the events leading up to the three engagements covered in the book would set up the inevitable outcomes of each. The author theorizes how the arrogance of the Roman leadership pursuing their enemy into the area of Lake Trasimene led to a near-perfect ambush by Hannibal upon them. The mix of different fighting styles of Hannibal’s Gauls, light horsemen, and other irregulars was provided the perfect opportunity to shine and prevail against a Roman army pinned against the lakeshore. The coverage of the battle at Cannae shows a continuation of the Roman army allowing Hannibal to dictate when, where, and how he would fight. Ilipa shows how the promotion of a new leader in Scipio allowing the Romans to turn the tables on Hannibal’s forces, leading to long-lasting implications that would bring about the chance for Roman vengeance to occur.


This excellent offering by Osprey gives a pretty amazing overview of of the clash between two of the greatest armies on their age. For ancient history buffs, the books provides beautiful maps and renditions of the events occurring during the Second Punic War and allows one to imagine themselves there dealing with the events of the time in a way typical historical references are unable to do. For the modeler, there are excellent drawings of period dress for figure painters to use as a reference. This book really shines through for those who just thoroughly enjoy reading about ancient history and it is for those I heartily recommend it to.

I would like to thank Osprey and IPMS/USA for the review copy and the chance to read it.


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