In The War with Hannibal, Livy (59 BC-AD 17) chronicles the events of the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage, until the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. He vividly recreates the immense armies of Hannibal, complete with elephants, crossing the Alps; the panic as they approached the gates of Rome; and the decimation of the Roman army at the Battle of Lake Trasimene. Yet it is also the clash of personalities that fascinates Livy, from great debates in the Senate to the historic meeting between Scipio and Hannibal before the decisive battle. Livy never hesitates to introduce both intense drama and moral lessons into his work, and here he brings a turbulent episode in history powerfully to life.
Books VI-X of Livy's monumental work trace Rome's fortunes from its near collapse after defeat by the Gauls in 386 bc to its emergence, in a matter of decades, as the premier power in Italy, having conquered the city-state of Samnium in 293 bc. In this fascinating history, events are described not simply in terms of partisan politics, but through colourful portraits that bring the strengths, weaknesses and motives of leading figures such as the noble statesman Camillus and the corrupt Manlius vividly to life. While Rome's greatest chronicler intended his history to be a memorial to former glory, he also had more didactic aims - hoping that readers of his account could learn from the past ills and virtues of the city.