How Did Hannibal Die?

Here's How the Master of Carthage Kicked the Bucket

Hannibal dies by ingesting poison Image ID: 1623984 Hannibal's death. (c1882)
Hannibal dies by ingesting poison Image ID: 1623984 Hannibal's death. (c1882). NYPL Digital Gallery

Question: How Did Hannibal Die?

Answer: Hannibal Barca, the leader of the Carthaginian forces whose name struck terror in the Romans, survived the Carthaginian surrender at the end of the Second Punic War in 202 B.C. How'd he do so? By galloping off into the sunset, then heading home to Carthage for a career in civil service.

Following the conflict with Carthage, the Romans had asked for Hannibal's surrender.

Instead, Hannibal chose exile.  Can you blame the guy, to be honest? Hannibal lived long enough to help other enemies of Rome, his life-long mission. He hung out in Bithynia, as Juvenal joked in his Satires:

"A conquered man, he flees headlong into exile, and there he sits, a mighty and marvellous suppliant, in the King's antechamber, until it please His Bithynian Majesty to awake!"

When Hannibal was in Bithynia, he helped Rome's enemies try to bring the city down, serving the Bithynian King Prusias as a naval commander.  At one point, Romans visiting Bithynia demanded Hannibal's extradition in 183 B.C. To avoid that, Hannibal first tried to escape, according to Livy:

"When Hannibal was informed that the king's soldiers were in the vestibule, he tried to escape through a postern gate which afforded the most secret means of exit.  He found that this too was closely watched and that guards were posted all round the place."

So stopped committed suicide by ingesting poison. How old was he? Probably in his sixties or seventies. 

"Then, invoking curses on Prusias and his realm and appealing to the gods who guard the rights of hospitality to punish his broken faith, he drained the cup. Such was the close of Hannibal's life."

Hannibal was buried in Libyssa, in Bithynia, according to Eutropius, the De Viris Illustribus (which mentions that Hannibal had kept his poison hidden under a gem on a ring), and Pliny. [Source: "The 'De viris illustribus': Authorship and Date," by Michael M. Sage; Hermes Vol. 108, No. 1 (1980), pp. 83-100.]

-Edited by Carly Silver