Second Punic War Battles > Battle of Ager Falernus

Battle of Ager Falernus

Punic Wars - Punic Wars Decoration


The Battle of Ager Falernus, also known as the Battle of Tifata, was a significant engagement during the Second Punic War that took place in 217 BC between the forces of the Roman Republic led by the consuls Gaius Flaminius and Gnaeus Servilius Geminus, and the Carthaginian army under the command of Hannibal Barca. After crossing the Alps with his army, Hannibal invaded Italy, aiming to challenge Roman dominance and secure alliances with Rome's Italian allies. The Roman Senate dispatched two consular armies to confront Hannibal and halt his advance. Consul Gaius Flaminius commanded one of these armies, while Consul Gnaeus Servilius Geminus led the other.


Roman Army: The Roman force consisted of two consular armies, each comprising Roman legions and allied troops. The combined strength of the Roman forces is estimated to be around 40,000 to 50,000 soldiers.

Carthaginian Army: Hannibal's army included a mix of Carthaginian soldiers, Iberian mercenaries, Gauls, and Numidian cavalry. The exact size of Hannibal's force is uncertain but is believed to be around 40,000 to 50,000 troops.


The Roman consular armies advanced to confront Hannibal near Ager Falernus (the Falernian Plain). Hannibal, aware of the Roman approach, positioned his army strategically on the slopes of Mount Tifata, overlooking the plain. Hannibal devised a cunning strategy to lure the Romans into a trap. He sent a detachment of Numidian cavalry to provoke the Roman vanguard, drawing them deeper into the trap. As the Roman vanguard advanced, they fell into Hannibal's trap.

The Carthaginian army, concealed on the slopes of Mount Tifata, launched a surprise attack on the Roman flank and rear, catching them off guard. The Roman legions, taken by surprise and outnumbered, found themselves in a desperate struggle against Hannibal's forces. Despite their best efforts, they struggled to maintain cohesion and were subjected to relentless attacks from all sides. Realizing the dire situation, the Roman commanders ordered a retreat in an attempt to salvage what remained of their forces. However, the Carthaginians pursued the retreating Romans, inflicting heavy casualties and disrupting their formations.

The Battle of Ager Falernus ended in a decisive victory for Hannibal. The Roman consular armies suffered heavy losses, including the death of Consul Gaius Flaminius. It was one of the early setbacks for the Romans in the Second Punic War. The defeat at Ager Falernus highlighted the formidable challenge posed by Hannibal and his innovative tactics. It also underscored the need for the Romans to adapt their strategies to counter Hannibal's unconventional warfare. The loss at Ager Falernus allowed Hannibal to consolidate his control over southern Italy and weakened Roman morale. It also encouraged further defections from Rome's Italian allies to Hannibal's side.


The Battle of Ager Falernus showcased Hannibal's tactical genius and ability to outmaneuver his opponents, setting the stage for future engagements in the war. The defeat at Ager Falernus prompted the Romans to reassess their military strategies and tactics, leading to the adoption of more cautious and defensive approaches in subsequent battles. The Battle of Ager Falernus was a significant engagement early in the Second Punic War, resulting in a decisive victory for Hannibal and his Carthaginian forces. It demonstrated Hannibal's tactical brilliance and underscored the challenges faced by the Roman Republic in confronting him on the battlefield.

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