Second Punic War Battles > Battle of the Metaurus

Battle of the Metaurus

Punic Wars - Punic Wars Decoration


The Battle of the Metaurus, fought in 207 BC during the Second Punic War, was a pivotal engagement between Roman and Carthaginian forces. Following Hannibal's invasion of Italy and subsequent victories at Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae, the Roman Republic faced a dire situation. Despite these setbacks, Rome continued to resist and rebuild its armies. In 207 BC, the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal Barca, Hannibal's brother, marched from Spain to reinforce Hannibal in Italy. Hasdrubal's army included Spanish, Gallic, and Numidian troops. The Roman consuls for the year were Gaius Claudius Nero and Marcus Livius Salinator. Upon learning of Hasdrubal's approach, they swiftly mobilized their armies to intercept him.

Hasdrubal, unaware of the Roman presence, marched his army along the Via Flaminia towards the Metaurus River in northeastern Italy. Claudius Nero, with his army, moved swiftly to intercept Hasdrubal. Meanwhile, Livius Salinator's army held a blocking position to prevent Hasdrubal from retreating southward. The two Roman armies coordinated their movements to converge on Hasdrubal's forces near the Metaurus River, catching the Carthaginians by surprise.


The battle commenced with a surprise attack by Claudius Nero's forces on the rear of Hasdrubal's army, while Livius Salinator engaged the Carthaginians from the front. The element of surprise, coupled with the ferocity of the Roman assault, threw the Carthaginian ranks into disarray. Hasdrubal attempted to rally his troops but was ultimately overwhelmed by the Roman onslaught. Despite putting up a valiant defense, Hasdrubal's army suffered heavy casualties, and the Carthaginian commander himself was killed in the fighting. The battle lasted for several hours, with the Romans gradually gaining the upper hand as their numerical superiority and tactical advantage began to tell.


The Battle of the Metaurus was a decisive victory for Rome, as it not only eliminated the threat of a Carthaginian invasion from the north but also dealt a severe blow to Carthaginian morale and military strength. Hasdrubal's death on the battlefield marked the end of Carthaginian hopes for a coordinated offensive in Italy and effectively isolated Hannibal's army in the south. The Roman victory at the Metaurus bolstered Roman confidence and paved the way for further Roman successes in the war, ultimately leading to the defeat of Carthage.

The Battle of the Metaurus is considered one of the turning points of the Second Punic War, demonstrating Rome's resilience and determination in the face of adversity. It highlighted the effectiveness of Roman military tactics and leadership in exploiting enemy vulnerabilities and securing decisive victories. Hasdrubal's defeat at the Metaurus underscored the strategic importance of coordination and communication in warfare, as his failure to anticipate the Roman attack proved costly for Carthage.

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