Crisis Committee – The Second Punic War The Second Punic War was a long, wearisome war fought between the rising power house that was Rome, and the mighty economic Carthage. Both of these states, located within the Mediterranean, were fighting a bitter power struggle which they had also done decades before. This war included the historical Hannibal, the extremely intelligent general of the Carthage army. Though the Carthaginians obviously have the under hand by having the great mind of Hannibal to lead its army, series of events occur which allow Rome to triumph, and leads Carthage to its own demise. One of the Romans that would contribute to Rome’s miraculous victory was Marcus Minucius Rufus. Though he died early into the war, Marcus Minucius Rufus was very influential during the first years of the Second Punic War.
Marcus Minucius Rufus was an important Roman in the Second Punic War, especially during the time which this crisis begins, in 218 BCE. A few years prior, in 221 BCE, Minucius held one of the two positions of consuls of Rome. The consuls, essentially being the heads of state, were positions which controlled enormous amounts of power in Roman political society. Therefore, having held this position made Minucius recognizable and powerful amongst the other dominant leaders in Rome. However, though being a consul is significant, Minucius is mainly known for his role as Magister Equitum, which we was appointed in 217 BCE (a year after the war began) by the dictator at the time, Quintus Fabius Maximus. The role of Magister Equitum or “Master of the Horse” basically made Minucius the second-in-command to Fabius. During that same year, Mincius lead a successful attack against the Carthaginians, which was notably recognized by the Roman people, who demanded that Minucius be made co-dictator to Fabius. However, this appointment did not last long; shortly after, during the battle of Geronium, Minucius’s life was saved by Fabius, which resuled in Minucius accepting his true position and becoming completely loyal to Fabuis. Although his appointment of these positions follows the initiation of the Second Punic War, Minucius still plays an important and notable role during the time period.
During the entire war, Rome’s only firm policy was, at all cost, to prevent Carthage from regaining power after their victory over Hispania. Though both Minucius and Fabius shared Rome’s policy, they had completely different tactics of achieving it. According to the Roman historian, T. Livy, Minucius was “aggressive and headstrong master of horse”, and favoured a very powerful and insistent military strategy, his hopes being to hit Hannibal with full force. Whereas Fabius preferred the idea to delay and erode Hannibal’s will to go on. These ideas are complete opposites of one another, which resulted in internal political tension and conflicts. In order to resolve problems, Minucius would support the idea of having equal power to the dictator Fabius. This would allow him to be able to respond to the current crisis at hand in a manner which he would deem appropriate.
In response to the crisis, Minucius would believe that going to Saguntum’s aid, and attacking Hannibal would be the most logical, politically correct solution. According to the Treaty of Lutatius; the peace treaty that ended the First Punic War, Carthage has already broken this agreement. Polybius, the Roman historian who lived during the time of which the crisis occurs, states within The Complete Histories of Polybius that “the allies of either party are to be secure from attack by the other”. Hannibal has violated this treaty by attacking Saguntum, a recognized Roman ally. The treaty also states that “the Carthaginians shall not cross the Ebro in arms”. Saguntum is only located 100 miles away from the Ebro River, and it is also known that there are Carthaginian soldiers located north of the river.Though it is apparent why Rome should attack Hannibal now, some might disagree with the logistics of it. However, in 218 BCE, the year which the crisis takes place, the numbers all point in Rome’s favour. Rome has the superior navy, which due to location, is a very beneficial advantage. Having control over the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and some island close to the coast of Hispana can be used to its full potential and out numbers the Carthaginian’s navy more than 2 to 1. Although Hannibal has 40 000 troops located at Saguntum, Rome already has 20 000 troops located in Spain, and are no match for the 50 000 soldiers distributed amongst the main islands and Italy.
In conclusion, attacking Hannibal now would be the best solution. Not only would Minucius whole heartedly support this, Rome would have great chances of winning. It would be much better to defeat Hannibal now, before he acquires more land and alliances which would result in over whelming power that Carthage would regain.