Watercolour, 2013

Leaving Qart Hadasht

Two stages in Hannibal’s life, 42 years apart.

Leaving Qart Hadasht (I)

237 BC. The First Roman War is over, as is the Mercenary War, which brought Carthage to the brink of destruction. Rome has taken advantage of the beaten opponent’s plight and taken Sardinia and Corsica from it, as well as Sicily. Hannibal doesn’t care about that right now. For the first time in his life, the nine-year-old sees his father for a longer period of time. And not only that; Hamilcar, who until then was little more than a vague hero figure for the boy, has agreed to take him to Spain with him. On board a warship to Iberia, embarking on the adventure of his life, Hannibal can barely believe his luck. He has no eyes for the city he leaves behind; little does he know that it will be 34 years before he sees it again. He is too young for sentimental thoughts. wp_qart-hadasht1_col Leaving Qart Hadasht (II)

195 BC. The Second Roman War is over, and lost. Hannibal, now fifty-one, has managed the considerable feat of saving his city financially, by beating down on corruption and restricting the rights of the nobility. Said nobility fears for its centuries-old power, and the only one they can think of that they might turn to is Rome. His political enemies claim that Hannibal is plotting another war. Several factions in Rome are only too happy to believe these claims, and send a delegation to Carthage. Hannibal knows they will grasp at any opportunity to finally get hold of him, and drag him to the Capitol in triumph. He manages to slip away before Rome can demand his extradition. On board a merchant ship to Tyre, he looks back at his city for what he probably knows will be the last time. wp_qart-hadasht2_col I found myself listening to Ken Theriot’s “Visby” the other day, and while it’s totally about a pacifist Viking and not about a retired Carthaginian general, it really hit a spot…

The world is nothing but a piece of land

And fame and glory fit in the palm of your hand

Death will find me where I am today

And home is ever calling me to stay

Am I weird to feel painfully sorry for a guy who lived 2200 years ago? No, absolutely not.

Pencil versions:

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Unfinished Hannibal sketches

Before the Battle of Cannae, an otherwise unknown officer of Hannibal, by the name of Gisgo, looks over to the Roman battle-line and remarks, visibly worried, how many they are. Hannibal replies: “That’s true, but there is one thing that has escaped your attention.”

“What is that?” asked Gisgo.

“That there’s not a single man over there who is named Gisgo.”

All the surrounding men laughed, Gisgo felt flattered, and the men took courage in the realisation that their commander held their qualities in higher esteem than the sheer numbers of the Romans.
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Abandoned because of bad composition, a creepy blind eye, and because Gisgo looks like Brian.

Though that’s actually an asset…

 

At the end of his life, Hannibal has lost everything. He has lost the war, all his brothers, has been exiled from his home, and has spent the last twelve years of his life trying to find a place that allows him to move things, stirring the kings east of the Mediterranean up against Rome, with increasingly less effect. In his last refuge, in Bithynia, at the edge of the world now ruled by Rome, he finds that the king he has sought refuge with has betrayed him to the Romans, and all the secret entrances of his house are blocked.

His last escape is poison.

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Quick sketch, mainly abandoned because he looked a bit too much like Mandy Patinkin O_o

 

Watercolour, 2013

Confrontation

In the winter of 220/219, things between Rome and Carthage are headed for confrontation.

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Here’s my interpretation on what happened at that meeting, based on the accounts of Roman historians and some corrections by contemporary historians, such as Zimmermann, Seibert, Hoffmann or Christ.

Glossary:

byrsa: “castle”

Carthage: Karchedon in Greek, Carthago in Latin, Qart Hadasht in Punic. To make matters confusing, Qart Hadasht is the Punic name for both Carthage (in Africa) and Carthagena (in Iberia).

Ebro: a river in Spain, agreed on as a border north of which Punic forces are not allowed to cross.

Saguntum, Zakantha in Greek, an Iberian city south of the Ebro.

Torboletes: an Iberian tribe living next to Zakantha.

strategos: Greek for “commander”, the title that Hannibal holds among his Iberian allies.

Messana: modern Messina, a city in Sicily over which the First Punic War broke out. in this text, obviously, from a Carthaginian perspective, it’s called the Roman War.

Confrontation

The Roman delegation, Hannibal was told, had been put up in the byrsa. His brother Hasdrubal told him they had been growing impatient at Hannibal’s prolonged absence, sensing a deliberate slight.

“You told them, I hope, that I had a revolt to put down and couldn’t wait on the needs of a delegation from Rome.”

“Not in such plain words, but… yes. Somehow, they still didn’t seem delighted.”

Hannibal pondered. “Send them word I will receive them in two hours.” That was barely enough time to get cleaned up and presentable, and barely enough time to consider the situation. It did not take much imagination to work out what a Roman delegation was doing here in Qart Hadasht. The quarrels with Zakantha – which the Romans named Saguntum – had escalated over the previous year, as they all had known they must, and the situation had quickly come to the attention of the senate. This, too, had been plain from the start.

“Two hours?” Hasdrubal asked, his eyebrows raised. “They’ll think it another slight.”

“The alternative is receiving them in arms and smelling of horseshit. We’d have a war before dinner.”

***

The Romans did not appreciate the long wait after Hannibal’s arrival, but Qarthalo had finally made them see that the strategos wished to receive his guests in a state that would not cause an international incident all by itself.

Two hours later, Hannibal entered the council room, together with his brothers Hasdrubal and Mago, Qarthalo, who spoke Latin as well as Greek and Punic, and Sosylos, Hannibal’s former tutor and present advisor. The Roman delegation had been studying a large wall painting of the map if Iberia, and turned at their arrival.

Yes, thought Hannibal bitterly, look at it closely. I don’t know about map-makers in Rome, but in Iberia, we know that Zakantha is south of the Ebro. Does that surprise you?

There were four of them; two consuls of the previous two years, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, and Marcus Minucius Rufus, as well as two praetors, Gnaeus Servilius Geminus and Quintus Fulvius Curvus. Fulvius Curvus had lived in Qart Hadasht for ten years as a prisoner during the Roman War and acted as translator for the Romans when needed. Marcellus, a powerful, fleshy man around his fiftieth year, spoke Greek well enough to make translators unnecessary for the most part. He still used Latin names in his speech, pasting the Greek inflections to the Latin words, and Hannibal, deciding to give a little show of education, stuck to Greek. He noted Sosylos hiding a grin as he caught the strategos’ intention. Hannibal wasn’t sure the Romans did, but it was worth it just as a private joke.

“Our allies,“ said Marcellus, after the niceties had been observed,  “are worried about your… ah, activities around their territories.”

“I understand,” Hannibal replied, not batting an eye. “And your allies would be in…?”

“Saguntum,” supplied Rufus. “As you very well know.” He managed to make his Greek sound even harsher than Latin, if that was possible.

“May I remind you, Minucius Rufus,” Hannibal answered, “that Saguntum, or Zakantha, is south of the Ebro. Within the limits your senate so graciously granted my predecessor Hasdrubal.”

“It is a friend of Rome,” said Geminus.

“Is that why Zakantha has attacked my allies this past autumn?” Hannibal demanded. “Because it is a friend of Rome, and feels bolstered by its protection? Or are they so emboldened by the fact that Rome has executed members of the Karchedon-friendly party in the city?”

“Saguntum has reacted to transgressions on the part of Torboletes,” Marcellus said sharply. “The Senate has been called to help settle a dispute in Saguntum. Would Carthago have acted otherwise?”

There it is, Hannibal thought. A second Messana. As we knew it would be when it became clear Rome had suddenly found a new friend south of the Ebro. And just like Messana, Zakantha will be made a bone of contention first and a bridgehead into Iberia second, unless I prevent it.

“Karchedon aids its allies,” Hannibal said pointedly. “Zakantha has moved against my allies, in my territory. I would be a faithless strategos indeed if I left my friends to their fate.”

“Rome will not tolerate it if you threaten one of her friends.”

There, finally. Plain words. He had half-hoped for them. Ten years of Roman interference in Iberia; they had put up with it. His father had reacted with smugness, his brother-in-law with diplomacy. Both had been men over forty; in the eyes of the Romans, equals in terms of age. Here he stood, barely twenty-seven, most of his staff twenty to thirty years younger than the toga-clad dignity on the other side of the room, and they obviously felt he would watch helplessly as they slowly wrested Iberia from his grasp.

Enough was enough. No more smugness, no more diplomacy. “And I will not tolerate it if you threaten mine.”

There was a drawn-out silence in the room, as both sides assessed the meaning of those words.

“You would risk Rome’s goodwill so easily?” Marcellus finally said.

Hannibal head Mago’s sharp intake of breath behind him.

“Rome’s goodwill?” the strategos repeated, very slowly. “Tell me, Marcellus, what exactly constitutes Rome’s goodwill? Is it the theft of foreign colonies, the continued interference in foreign territory, the execution of people supporting Karchedon, or the instigation of aggression against me under my very nose?”

Both Geminus and Rufus  looked to be on the verge of angry words, but Marcellus stayed their retorts with a hand. “Are these the words of Hannibal, or of Carthago?” he asked, his mouth a thin hard line.

There’s the catch. As he very well knows. “In this case, the two are the same.”

Marcellus nodded. “Then Rome will hear the answer of Carthago.”

***

As soon as they had left the room, Rufus gave an incredulous snort. “The whelp thinks himself a conqueror,” he said, immediately reverting to Latin.

Geminus raised an eyebrow. “The whelp has conquered a larger portion of Iberia in less than two years than his predecessor did in eight. If he thinks himself a conqueror, he has good reason for it.”

“Don’t quarrel,” said Marcellus, cutting short Rufus’ reply. “He is young and imprudent; the impetuousness of youth. He will soon find that Rome will not be cowed as easily as Iberian tribes. But it does not do to underestimate him.”

***

Gnaeus Servilius Geminus, Consul 217 BC. Died fighting Hannibal at Cannae in 216 BC.

Marcus Minucius Rufus, Consul 221 BC, magister equitum 217 BC. Died fighting Hannibal at Cannae in 216 BC.

Marcus Claudius Marcellus, Consul 222, 214, 210, and 208 BC. Nicknamed “The Sword of Rome”, fought Hannibal in Italy for several years and conquered Syracuse before he fell in a skirmish against Hannibal’s troops at Venusia in 208.

Some sketches of Roman togas from several views:

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Togas are cool. Sorry Hannibal, but… togas are cool.

(Ignor

Watercolour, 2013

One short winter

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Imilke doesn’t have it easy.

First, her name isn’t even historical. Neither is the son she has with Hannibal. She might well be the figment of the imagination of Silius Italicus, a Roman who wrote a poem named Punica two hundred and fifty years after Hannibal’s death. We are pretty sure that Hannibal married an Iberian nobleman’s daughter, but the rest is left to imagination.

The imagination of most novel or script writers is plain godawful. I’ve by now seen Imilke as a Mary Sue who goes on campaign with her husband and rids his entire army of lice and is then gang-raped to death; as the pupil of Celtic druids who runs around with a handmaiden called Gwen (on campaign, of course); as a brattish diva who travels to Italy after ten years of war all by herself (with a son who, miraculously, is only six),; as a helicopter wife who inspects her husband naked for new wounds whenever they meet; and lastly, as a cold Spanish beauty who hates her Punic husband.

I’m going to do something that’s pretty much never been done before.

In my headcanon, Imilke is a normal woman. Not a druid or a diva. She’s married to a guy whose language she doesn’t speak well, but thankfully, he does well enough in hers. She only sees him briefly over the winter when he’s not campaigning, but whenever they get the chance, they try to make their marriage work, instead of making each other’s lives miserable. She is so much a normal woman of her time that she stays in Iberia while her husband goes to fight a war.

When she gives birth to their son, her husband is away laying siege to Saguntum, and when they meet again, for one brief winter before a war longer than anyone could have feared, they discover something unifying – the ties of a child, and the realisation how frail life can be – in the dangers of childbirth, or a Saguntine spear.

I also think that both she and the boy died soon afterwards, or we would have heard about their fate when Scipio took the city of Cartagena. Possibly, as Silius implies, they boarded a ship to Carthage, but never reached it…

And this is the attitude that makes me unable to turn this stuff into a successful comic. :D

Watercolour, 2013

Faces of war

Marcus Fabius Buteo (in other accounts, Quintus Fabius Maximus – it seems the gentleman in question didn’t want his name associated too clearly with the declaration of war after the effect) arrives in Carthage in late 219 BC, at the head of a Roman delegation. Their goal: Make Carthage either hand over Hannibal, or accept the guilt for war. When the Carthaginian council is neither willing to extradite their general nor to accept the blame for the crisis, Fabius grasps the folds of his toga and shouts, “Here we bring war and peace, choose whichever pleases you.”
The Carthaginians tell him to give them whatever pleases him. He shakes out the toga and declares that he gives them war.

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Following Hannibal’s unexpected arrival in Italy after crossing the Alps, the first full-scale battle is fought only a few weeks later. It was the only battle in Italy in which Hannibal’s elephants played any role – they’d survived the Alps, and some survived the battle, but none but one survived the winter.

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In 216 BC, Rome fielded the vastest army that had ever stood on Italian soil. 86,000 legionaries opposed just over half that number of Hannibal’s army of Africans, Spaniards and Celts. On the plain of Cannae in Apulia, on a wide open field to forestall any Punic treachery or ambush, Rome meant to end the menace from the Carthaginian strategos. They advanced with a massive phalanx, meaning to crush Hannibal’s centre so that his cavalry superiority wouldn’t avail him anything.

Hannibal’s centre slowly retreated before the advancing legions, drawing them into a trap which they didn’t see until Hannibal’s cavalry, having driven off the enemy horse, appeared at their backs.

By nightfall on that 2nd of August, between fifty and seventy thousand Romans lay dead.

Hannibal had fought with the Celtic mercenaries in the centre, knowing that his presence would be needed there most to keep the Celts from routing, leaving his officers to do what had to be done on the rest of the field.

At the end of the day, when after hours of incredible slaughter it became clear just how complete the victory was, he must have thought the war would be over now, that, according to every rule of war of that time, Rome would accept his offer for peace.

Rome didn’t even let his emissaries into the city, determined to fight until it was either reduced to rubble or the war was won.

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More Hannibal

I’m gradually warming to the idea of doing more with this – a Hannibal graphic novel; now that would have been a childhood dream of mine…

I’ve just come back from five days with my parents, which were largely spent drawing. First up, a dump of some sketches – Hannibal in the Alps, an age-up trial of Hannibal at 28 and at 64, an elephant, and a Numidian.

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Hannibal says good-bye to his wife Imilce and child before he leaves for Rome. History never talks of her again and it’s likely that she and the child died before the war ended.

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In the command tent after midnight, Hannibal fine-tunes tactics. (If you’re familiar with ancient warfare, the battle line might look familiar – it is to become the Battle of Cannae. (“I think I’ll move the center forward – that will lure the Romans in…”)

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Hannibal on horseback, on the march to Italy. I’m having an almost indecent amount of fun mixing and matching Greek armour, Iberian saddle and tack, Hellenistic head piece, and Iberian and Punic design elements on clothing.

The scar on his thigh was from the siege of Saguntum.

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Hannibal, 15, sees his first Romans. They come to his father in Spain, demanding to know what the Carthaginians are doing in the country. Hannibal clearly feels this question is none of their business.

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Second Punic War – Reloaded

So, I’m going to do something outrageous. I’m going to leave Tolkien – at least for the time being and a few side projects. You may now say, “Why Hannibal? Where’s all this coming from all of a sudden?”

I’ve been a fan of Hannibal since the late eighties. When I was thirteen to sixteen, I read everything on Hannibal I could get my hands on, and back in the day, I produced probably more Hannibal drawings than all the Tolkien work I have ever done combined. I haven’t revisited him since 1991, but old loves die hard.

I’ve now bought a stack of Osprey books (Punic Wars, Roman legions during the Republican times, Hellenistic armour, Iberian tribes around 220 BC), and I plan to go bonkers with all this. I’m giddy with excitement here.

First sketches of Hannibal, and some armour pieces of the right time period, worn by the peoples that Hannibal came into contact with):

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Ooooooooooo can’t wait to do more…

And by the way, it’s August 2nd – happy 2229th anniversary of the Battle of Cannae!

Some more, from a day later. Getting the right mix of North-African and Eastern-Mediterranean, and groping towards fitting representations of different leaders of Hannibal’s army.