In 219 B.C., Hannibal of Carthage led an attack on Saguntum, an independent city allied with Rome, which sparked the outbreak of the Second Punic War. He then marched his massive army across the Pyrenees and Alps into central Italy in what would be remembered as one of the most famous campaigns in history. After a string of victories, the most notable coming at Cannae in 216 B.C., Hannibal had gained a foothold in southern Italy, but declined to mount an attack on Rome itself. The Romans rebounded, however, driving the Carthaginians out of Spain and launching an invasion of North Africa. In 203 B.C., Hannibal abandoned the struggle in Italy to defend North Africa, and he suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Publius Cornelius Scipio at Zama the following year. Though the treaty concluding the Second Punic War put an end to Carthage’s status as an imperial power, Hannibal continued to pursue his lifelong dream of destroying Rome up until his death in 183 B.C.
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