Second Punic War Battles > Battle of Lake Trasimene

Battle of Lake Trasimene

Punic Wars - Punic Wars Decoration


The Battle of Lake Trasimene took place on June 24, 217 BC, during the Second Punic War. It was a major engagement between the Roman Republic, led by Consul Gaius Flaminius, and the Carthaginian forces of Hannibal Barca. After crossing the Alps into Italy, Hannibal sought to confront the Roman Republic on its own territory to weaken its resolve and gain allies among Rome's Italian allies. Gaius Flaminius, one of the Roman consuls for the year 217 BC, was tasked with stopping Hannibal's advance towards Rome.

Hannibal's forces ambushed the Romans near Lake Trasimene (located in modern-day Umbria, Italy). The Carthaginians positioned themselves strategically, utilizing the natural terrain and the element of surprise to their advantage. Hannibal's army concealed themselves in the hills overlooking the northern shore of Lake Trasimene, while the bulk of the Roman army marched along the narrow road that ran between the lake and the hills.


As the Roman army advanced along the road, they fell into Hannibal's trap. The Carthaginians unleashed a surprise attack, with Hannibal leading the assault personally. The Romans, caught off guard and unable to maneuver effectively in the narrow terrain, were thrown into disarray. Many were killed or captured, while others drowned in the lake as they attempted to flee. The Carthaginians inflicted heavy casualties on the Romans, and the battle quickly turned into a rout. Gaius Flaminius himself was killed in the fighting.


The Battle of Lake Trasimene was a resounding victory for Hannibal and a devastating defeat for the Romans. Estimates of Roman casualties vary, but it is believed that tens of thousands were killed or captured. The defeat at Lake Trasimene shocked Rome and raised fears of Hannibal's invincibility. It marked a low point for the Roman Republic in the early stages of the Second Punic War.

The Battle of Lake Trasimene demonstrated Hannibal's tactical genius and his ability to outmaneuver and defeat larger Roman forces. The Roman defeat at Lake Trasimene underscored the need for new strategies and commanders to counter Hannibal's unconventional tactics and maintain Roman control over Italy.

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