Pyrrhus and Hannibal: What Great Enemies Taught Rome

I’ve had a lot of fun reworking two of my old university essays so far on this blog, one on the South African War and one on the foreign policy of John Diefenbaker. I’m pleased to say they are among my most popular posts so far, and so I’d like to continue posting content like this from time to time.

As I’ve mentioned before, I know anything I put up on the internet is free for someone to use for their own devices, so I’ve taken out the footnotes and bibliography, rendering my essay much less useful to anyone looking for a quick copy and paste. My old homework really isn’t meant to be an academic shortcut for today’s students, but if anyone wants to use it as a good introduction to the subject material available at your library, I’m happy to help.

Today’s essay is about the greatest non-barbarian enemies of the Roman Republic, and what they contributed to the eventual success of the state they sought and failed to subdue through force of arms. If memory serves, it received a very high grade indeed. I also had a lot of fun writing it. Enjoy!

Pyrrhus and Hannibal

What Great Enemies Taught Rome

Pyrrhus and Hannibal were the two single greatest threats to the Free Republic of Rome. They invaded Italy, smashed consular armies, turned vassal city-states against their Roman overlords, and killed thousands of legionnaires in the service of the Senate and People of Rome. Despite victory after devastating victory, they accomplished nothing. They could not defeat Rome, nor even leave her humbled. These two men whose aim was to destroy Rome became some of her greatest builders; they taught the Romans that even a total tactical defeat meant nothing strategically as long as Rome was prepared to endure.

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The South African War: The First Total War of the 20th Century

I came across this old university essay the other day, and I thought it blog-worthy (after a few minor edits, corrections, and of course a healthy contribution of pictures). I already have one post about the Boer War on this blog. You can find it here.

I’m aware that anything I put up on the internet is free for someone to appropriate, so –in the interest of academic integrity– I’ve taken out the footnotes and bibliography. That’s not to say any students reading this aren’t welcome to use this essay as either a source or perhaps as a jumping off point to go to their libraries and find the monographs that support my arguments. For non-students reading this blog, I invite you to enjoy something I put a lot of time and effort into, once upon a time. My opinion wasn’t spoon fed to me in class. My thesis and the research to support it were arrived at through my own efforts. If memory serves, I got a mark in the high 80s or low 90s.

The South African War (1899-1902)

The First Total War of the Twentieth Century

The South African War was the last gasp of British Imperial Jingoism and the first whisper of the fall that was to come.

The British Empire had never been more powerful than at the outset of hostilities in 1899. Military experts expected the battle-hardened British army, tempered by a hundred years of such colonial wars, to brush aside the Boers with no more effort than any of the other malcontents of the Pax Britannia had required. By the end of the war in 1902 the days of Britain’s assured world dominance were over. The eventual victory had never been in doubt, but the duration of the war had seen the sun begin to set on the Union Jack. The Empire buried the Boers under the strategic assets of Time, Money, and Manpower –all of which Britain had and the Boers did not– but the Boers’ guerilla tactics were an effective stalemate to Britain’s resources.

It took total war on behalf of the British in the form of destroying civilian homesteads and relocating an entire population to concentration camps to bring the war to an end. Still, it was with stubborn pride that illiterate ranchers had humbled the giant before the world.
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