236 - 184 BC
Publius Cornelius Scipio, The Elder, was a Roman general who fought the Carthagian armies in Spain and defeated them. Then he invaded Africa from Sicily. This act caused Hannibal to leave Italy and return to Africa to fight Scipio. In 202 BC Scipio defeated Hannibal at Zama. Carthage capitulated and had to surrender her war fleet. For his victory in North Africa Scipio was called Africanus Major.
Until the rise of Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus was Rome's greatest general. His resume is impressive:
216 B.C.- Tribune at Battle of Cannae
213 B.C.- Aedile
210-206 B.C.- Commander of Roman forces in Spain
206 B.C.- Defeated Cathaginians at Battle of Ilipa
205 B.C.- Consul
202 B.C.- Defeated Hannibal at the Battle of Zama (ending the 2nd Punic War) 201 B.C.- Senate confers on him the name "Africanus" in Honor of his conquering of Africa
199 B.C.- Titular head of the Roman sensate and censor
190 B.C.- With brother Lucius Cornelius, victorious at Battle of Magnesia
Utilizing strict discipline and constant training, Scipio molded the Roman army into a finely tuned instrument capable of extending Rome's influence. Scipio himself, thrust into leadership in his mid-twenties is considered a master tactician and strategist who implemented bold and innovative military techniques.
The Battle of Zama marked the end of the Second Punic War. Scipio returned to Rome a hero. As fate would have it, Scipio and his family later fell into some disfavor and he retired to his home in Liternum outside of Rome.
In 205, Scipio ran for consul on the platform that he could defeat Carthage and bring the long war to a close. His success in Spain helped, and he won. He gathered a large army of volunteers and landed in Africa in 204.