Map of the Battle of Metaurus (207 BCE) | Student Handouts
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Battle of Metaurus (207 BCE)
Battle of Metaurus (June 22, 207 BC)
Map of the Battle of the Metaurus: Part of the Punic Wars between ancient Carthage and Rome. Roman army and Hasdrubal's army. June 22, 207 B.C.E. Click here to enlarge this image.

The Battle of the Metaurus was a crucial battle fought in 207 BC during the Second Punic War between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian forces led by Hannibal. It took place near the Metaurus River in northeastern Italy.

Background: The Second Punic War was a conflict between Rome and Carthage, led by the renowned Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca. Hannibal had famously crossed the Alps to invade Italy and had won several significant battles, including the Battle of Cannae.

Causes: Rome, despite suffering defeats, was determined to defeat Hannibal. The Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio (Scipio Africanus) devised a plan to cut off Hannibal's supply lines and reinforcements. One part of this strategy involved engaging the Carthaginians in Italy.

Forces: Roman forces were led by the consul Gaius Claudius Nero, who had been instructed by Scipio to bring his army to confront Hannibal. Hannibal commanded the Carthaginian forces, which included his battle-hardened veterans but were numerically inferior to the Romans.

The Battle:
  • The two armies met near the Metaurus River. The Romans had a numerical advantage, as Nero's troops reinforced the existing Roman army.
  • The battle began with a clash between the cavalry forces. Nero then launched a surprise attack on the Carthaginian rear while Hannibal was engaging the Roman front.
  • The Carthaginian army was caught off guard and found itself sandwiched between the Roman forces. This maneuver disrupted Hannibal's usual tactics, which relied on the disciplined coordination of his troops.
  • The Romans gained the upper hand, and Hannibal's army suffered heavy casualties. The Carthaginians were defeated, and many of their soldiers, including Hannibal, fled the battlefield.
  • The Battle of the Metaurus was a decisive Roman victory. Hannibal's hopes of defeating Rome were severely diminished after this defeat.
  • While Hannibal managed to escape and continued to fight in Italy for a few more years, his army was significantly weakened, and he could not muster the strength for another large-scale confrontation.
  • The battle marked a turning point in the Second Punic War. Rome gained the upper hand, and with further victories in Spain and North Africa, they ultimately forced Carthage to sue for peace in 201 BC, effectively ending the war.
The Battle of the Metaurus played a crucial role in the ultimate Roman victory in the Second Punic War. It demonstrated the tactical and strategic prowess of the Roman commanders and significantly weakened Hannibal's military capabilities, setting the stage for Rome's eventual success in the conflict.
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