Hannibal, Baal, and Rome
Hannibal Barca was one of the greatest Generals of his time. Although his abilities at developing battle strategies were unequaled in his day, the driving forces behind his successes as a general, were not only his superior military ability, but also his feelings of hostility toward the Romans. Because of his ability to plan and organize military campaigns he was able to succeed in crossing thousands of troops across the Alps to invade Italy. Hannibal, son of General Hamilcar Barca, showed hostility toward the Romans due to the fact that he had been indoctrinated in the theology of the Carthaginian god Baal. This indoctrination along with the fact that Rome and Carthage were enemies only served to fuel his hostility and aggression. Baal was the Carthaginian version of a "divine lord and protector", much like Zeus was to the Greeks, and Jupiter to the Romans. Baal, however, had other names, such as Beelzebub, meaning “Lord of the Flies”. Baal was given this dubious title due to the large numbers of flies that were seen to gather in and around his statues, attracted by the foul stench of decay, blood and death. Baal was reputed to be a hard hearted god who ruled with an iron fist. Since Baal was the god of fertility and was responsible for rain and successful crops, the people of Carthage believed that if he were angered he would he would retaliate by bringing famine and destruction to Carthage. It was customary in many places including Carthage to offer blood sacrifices in order to appease the gods. The Carthaginians felt it was necessary to sacrifice their first born son to Baal before the age of ten in order to assure rain and a long and prosperous growing season. The Carthaginians also believed that if something more valuable could be offered to Baal than the sacrifice of a child, then the child's life could be spared. Hamilcar offered Baal something more valuable than his child's life; he offered his child's future,...
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