The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Sunday, September 14, 2008

How Long did it take?

What do I know about Hannibal and Carthage?
Well, more than I knew in high school. When I first heard about this project a year ago, I did some cursory research on the Internet. Then I got a research packet from Matt Wayne, who was story editor at the time. Pretty standard research stuff, fairly straight on some aspects of his life, more
loosey-goosey with others. Clearly, a commitment to quality, and a real attempt to compile a time-line of critical events in his life. The Vin Diesel project is exhaustively researched, and this one spins off of that one.

The most controversial aspect of the project is the degree of Africanization. As there is no known portrait of Hannibal that can be verified to have been made from a living subject, there is room for discussion--and I'm perfectly aware that the majority estimation of his genetics would say "Phoenecian" which is actually kinda close to Hebrew. But this ain't the History Channel, and if John Wayne can play Ghengis Khan, I fail to be swayed by righteous indignation that Hannibal is presented as carrying African genetics. Call it a slight alternate history if you want.

I'm burying myself in research now, but the primary concern is mythology, not New York Times accuracy toward events that took place thousands of years ago. That said, just for giggles, does anyone out there know how long it took Hannibal to cross the Alps? I do. Just wanted to see the opinions out there...

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By the way: the "Obama Waffles" thing is pretty edgy satire (clever, defensible, but bordering on bad taste) with the exception of the top of the box: Obama in an Arab headdress, with the sign: "point toward Mecca for tastier waffles" which is clearly meant to encourage the asinine belief that Obama is a Muslim. That DOES take it over the line, in my mind.

11 comments:

Steve Perry said...

Up and down? It was about three weeks, wasn't it?

Lost most of his elephants, and supposedly those were of an extinct African species that weren't all that large, compared to the ones around now.

We just had a baby elephant born at the PDX zoo, much concern because the momma nearly stomped him to death during the birth. He's fine now, and her motherly instincts have kicked in.

Zoos are both a blessing and a curse ...

AlanL said...

I can't offer any specialist knowledge, but I remember as a kid hugely enjoying, and being educated by, Victorian novelist G.A. Henty's *The Young Carthaginian*. Available for free on Proejct Gutenberg - http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/5128 - and might be worth checking out.

... which I just did, and the very first page kicks off with a description of an ethnically diverse Carthaginian army - Numidian and Nubian black African troops, Iberians, Greek mercenaries, "Phoenecian" Carthaginians as you said - people from all over North Africa and the Med. Which may well have been how it actually was, and interesting that that was the Victoria perspective. (Not unlike, I suppose, the Army of India, with troops from all over Britain and the Subcontinent)

Kami said...

Thanks for making me look up the journey over the Alps! I'm glad I didn't post my guesstimate--it was embarrassingly too long.

For the curious, check out livius.org. They appear to have good information on all kinds of things historical.

Brian Dunbar said...

That said, just for giggles, does anyone out there know how long it took Hannibal to cross the Alps?

For some reason I want to say '3 months'.

Steven Barnes said...

It was 16 days. Interesting, huh?

Brian Dunbar said...

It was 16 days. Interesting, huh?

I wonder - not knowing much about it - if the pace was set by lack of fodder for his horses and elephants. If there wasn't any grazing they'd need to hump along so they didn't starve to death.

I'm always impressed by what people could do in 'ye olde days when they had to.

Anonymous said...

I think I recall reading in Will Durant's Story of Civilization, Volume 3: Caesar and Christ, that the main pacesetter and obstacle hindering Hannibal's Alpine crossing was the treacherous icy high mountain passes, which proved fatal for most of his elephants and many of his troops. Consider the legions of ponderous pachyderms and armor-burdened soldiers from tropical climes bewildered and demoralized by their first confrontations with snow, bitter cold and high altitude perils. Imagine elephants and men skidding on high glaciers and plummeting to their deaths, with the terrifying shrieks and bellows of the doomed reverberating through the Alpine valleys. Other times the trumpeting trunks loosened snow ridges which unleashed avalanches that smothered hundreds. Amazingly, the terrified, fatigued and frost-bitten ranks survived to descend upon the Roman Heartland and inflict defeat and death that nearly brought the Empire to its end centuries before the Visigoths Consider that the force that enabled the Carthaginians to surmount the Alps and crush Scipio's legions was likely the military genius and indomitable will of Hannibal, whose quest to avenge Roman injustice kindled a blaze within their souls that ice couldn't quench and steel and valor just barely did.

B Woodson said...

don't know much about Hannibal, but his spiritual descendant and partial namesake was Amilcar Cabral, a Guinea-Bissau revolutionary leader. if you get the book Warriors At Work you'll get the best detail about the most thorough and effective african revolutionary (well, ever)

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