The War With Hannibal – Rise Of The Roman Empire


Meets once a week for 8 weeks
4 – 9 learners, ages 13-18

Was it geopolitics or simply bitter hatred that fueled the ancient bloodbaths known as “The Punic Wars”? During this intense face-off between Rome and Carthage, Hannibal rampages across Italy and pushes Rome to the brink of doom. In a stunning display of resiliency, the Romans refuse to buckle under Carthaginian pressure. Instead, they recover, defeat and destroy Carthage, and conquer most of the Mediterranean.



“The war I am about to describe is the most memorable of any that have ever been waged– I mean the war which the Carthaginians, under Hannibal’s leadership, waged with Rome.

No states, no nations ever met in arms greater in strength or richer in resources; these Powers themselves had never before been in so high a state of efficiency or better prepared to stand the strain of a long war; they were no strangers to each other’s tactics after their experience in the first Punic War; and so variable were the fortunes and so doubtful the issue of the war that those who were ultimately victorious were in the earlier stages brought nearest to ruin.

And yet, great as was their strength, the hatred they felt towards each other was almost greater. The Romans were furious with indignation because the vanquished had dared to take the offensive against their conquerors; the Carthaginians bitterly resented what they regarded as the tyrannical and rapacious conduct of Rome.

The prime author of the war was Hamilcar. There was a story widely current that when, after bringing the African War to a close, he was offering sacrifices before transporting his army to Spain, the boy Hannibal, nine years old, was coaxing his father to take him with him, and his father led him up to the altar and made him swear with his hand laid on the victim that as soon as he possibly could he would show himself the enemy of Rome.”

The Punic Wars triggered an era of astonishing human misfortune. Resulting from a mighty power struggle between the military confederation of Rome and the trading empire of Carthage between 264–241 BCE, 218–201 BCE, and 149–146 BCE, the wars were fought over a period of 118 years. Massive man-made devastation on both sides left Rome’s population radically depleted and Carthage razed and erased from the map.

The eventual outcome had far-reaching consequences for the history of the world, namely the ascendancy of the Roman Empire. This course covers the wars and battles, and the stories of the generals and leaders: Hannibal, Fabius Maximus, Scipio Africanus, and his grandson Scipio Aemilianus, who would finally bring down the walls of Carthage. These stories are full of tactical chess and tenacity of each military leader trying to figure out the other side, men trying daring new stratagems never seen before, and realizations that would shake entire populations.

Polyhistoria classes emphasize critical thinking, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. We believe that students learn history best by doing what professional historians do.

(Read more about our approach to history.)

Our approach to academics helps learners view traditional disciplines in unconventional ways. With immersive classes that cross disciplines, learners stretch themselves both within and beyond conventional academic pathways, while small classes encourage close collaboration between learners and instructors. Today, Polyhistoria is the only comprehensive online learning platform teaching in-depth, cutting-edge social science scholarship to teenagers.

(Read more about our teaching philosophy.)

Learning is not a spectator sport. Interaction and intellectual exchanges involving all students and the instructor enrich learning for all. Studying history involves an accumulation of knowledge about the past. But it also requires that we communicate that knowledge to others. You must be ready to share your views in class. A worthwhile course depends upon active participation by all students in class discussions.

The goal here is to advance an intelligent conversation from which we all learn. The most obvious way to do that is to say smart things and say them clearly. But that is not the only meaningful way to participate. Asking a question, connecting something already on the table to another thing, clarifying something that someone else has said, and offering evidence from the text under discussion are also all valuable. Bonus points are awarded for contributions that draw on what others have said. Other things to keep in mind: aim for clarity, keep in mind the value of an amicable classroom environment, and try not to monopolize the conversation.

1) Students’ cameras and microphones must be turned on during the class.
2) This class requires the continuous use of logical thinking & hypothetical reasoning skills to critically and creatively analyze the topics covered in the class. These cognitive functions are generally not sufficiently developed until a student is 13+ years old. Students must have the ability to think critically and logically to analyze the topics covered in the class.

This class is taught with cliffhanger storytelling techniques designed to develop critical thinking skills and initiate lots of learner interaction.

Assignments will be posted on the classroom wall each week for learners who are interested in exploring the topic further and may include reading, researching, and watching videos. It will also include participation in the threaded discussions on the classroom wall.

1 hour per week in class, and an estimated 0 – 1 hour per week outside of class.

Meets once a week for 8 weeks
4 – 9 learners, ages 13-18