Harry C. Rol

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2015

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Classics, Philosophy, and Religion

First Advisor

Pitts, Angela

Second Advisor

Vasey, Craig R.

Major or Concentration



This thesis addresses the question of why Hannibal Barca suffered such a decisive defeat at the hands of Scipio Africanus in the Battle of Zama. I begin by conducting a thorough analysis of the two ancient sources that have provided us with the bulk of what is known about the battle and the events leading up to it. My analysis of them primarily concerns itself with determining how objective and trustworthy these accounts are, and as such how much faith can be placed in the details they provide. Using these sources, I then proceed to examine the events leading up to the Battle of Zama itself, specifically Scipio's campaign in North Africa and how his strategic decisions and maneuvers ultimately forced Hannibal to return to North Africa and confront him. I then conduct an analysis of the battle itself and each general's tactical performance. Before drawing my own conclusions as to why Hannibal lost, I review the texts of scholars who have also written on the subject to determine what they believe were the factors responsible for Hannibal's defeat, categorizing them into two major schools of thought. Finally, I choose one side and then add my own contributions as to why Scipio Africanus triumphed in the end.

Included in

Classics Commons