Across the wild Alps

I demens, et saevas curre per Alpes…

(Go, madman, and race across the wild Alps…, Iuvenal)

This has been a while in the making. I’m now finally happy with the lineart. I felt I owed Hannibal an epic, A3 sized crossing-of-the-Alps painting. To be watercoloured.


Whenever I think of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps, I think of the description in the novel by Gisbert Haefs. Pathos? Yes. Muchly. But on the other hand, what achievement in history deserves pathos as much as this one?

“The army turned into a twitching, bleeding body that threatened to fall apart and was held together by one iron band alone. Hannibal. He was everywhere, surveyed everything – from the back of Syros, from horseback, from a rock; where he put one of twenty collapsed men back on his feet, the other nineteen would rise; where he appeared with a handful of nuts, ten half-famished men would march on; where he sat down, a hundred men lying prone would sit up; where he cracked a joke, thirty lifeless men would cast off their despair and go on living; where he slept – but he didn’t sleep. He seemed to need no sleep. Whenever a pass had been taken, the mountain-dwellers fleeing, the army sinking into snow and ice to rest, he called together the commanders, took care of provisions, gave orders to secure the heights, commands for the next day… He was heart and brain and helm and girdle of the twitching and sore body and a god to the warriors; at one point, Hasdrubal the Grey said, “Lucky China. Against him, Alexander’s men wouldn’t have mutinied at the Indus; they’d have kept going.”

Gisbert Haefs, Hannibal. Der Roman Karthagos. (My translation; doesn’t quite capture the poignancy of the original.)

3 thoughts on “Across the wild Alps

  1. Ich sage hier mal nichts zum Bild, sondern warte die Farbige Version ab…. die bestimmt noch atemberaubender wird als die Lineart.

    Aber zu dem Text, den du darunter hast…

    es scheint unglaublich, wozu ein einzelner Mann so viele erschöpfte, frierende, hungrige Menschen bringen kann.
    Aber ohne ihn wären sie wohl auch nicht auf die Idee gekommen, über die Alpen zu gehen…

    Nur eine Sache, ich kann mich natürlich auch irren, da Sprachen nicht ganz meine Stärke sind… aber:
    “Er was everywhere[…]” He? oder gibt es im englischen das Wort “Er”?

    (und wenn ich mit solchen Anmerkungen nerve, dann werde ich in Zukunft schweigen)

    • LOL! Oh Mann, Danke Laura. Da habe ich tatsächlich immer drüber weggelesen!

      Ja, Hannibals Alpenübergang ist einfach eine der ganz großen Wahnsinnstaten der Geschichte, und Hannibals Rolle dabei fasziniert schon seit 2200 Jahren.

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