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Excerpt from Martin Daykin’s book: “Circular Walks on the Tuscany Umbria Boader”

The Battle of Lake Trasimeno by Martin Daykin

The Battle of Lake Trasimeno took place on the northern shore of the Lake in 217 BC. It was one of the bloodiest battles (and worst defeats for the Romans) of the second Punic War. The Punic Wars were fought between the Mediterranean super-powers of Rome and Carthage (a city on the coast of what is now Tunisia); they ultimately led to the destruction of Carthage and the dominance of Rome. Carthage was a city founded by the Phoenicians, a people who traded widely around the Mediterranean and who originated from the middle east. The Carthaginian general at Lake Trasimeno was Hannibal. After crossing the Alps, and having won a resounding victory at Trebbia (near Piacenza), his army was marching towards Rome. Hannibal was deliberately laying waste to the countryside and towns that he captured. This tactic was intended to provoke the Romans into a hasty, ill-considered attack. The Roman commander, Caius Flaminius (Caio Flaminio), was advancing south down the Val di Chiana from Arezzo. He thought he was well behind the enemy army and was probably hoping to meet up with reinforcements south of Perugia before facing Hannibal in battle.

Romans were advancing into the ambush. During the night, some of Hannibal’s men had lit fires on the hill near Castel Rigone to give the impression that they were still half a day’s march away. To the right of the marching Romans was the swampy shore of the Lake. The water level was higher than today, roughly equivalent to the route of the road between Tuoro and Terontola. To their left were the slopes hiding Hannibal’s army. This carefully chosen topography meant that once the Roman army had entered the narrow gap between the Lake and hills, there was no escape. To make matters worse, fog blanketed the lake and lower ground, further obscuring the Carthiginians’ presence from the Romans. Without warning, Hannibal attacked the marching Roman columns. They did not have time to organise into battle formation and, for the Romans; it rapidly became a case of every man for himself. Many of the Romans were drowned in the Lake or cut down on the shore, 15,000 were killed for the loss of 1,500 men in Hannibal’s army. It seems likely that several place names in the area have origins resulting from the Battle. Sanguineto, (the place of blood), Ossaia (the place of bones), Sepoltaglia, (the place of tombs), Malpasso (bad pass) and Pian di Marte (Plain of Mars, the Roman God of War). Others claim that Marte is a corruption of martire, Italian for martyr, and refers to the Roman prisoners who were executed there.

Hannibal had in fact deployed his army in the hills above Sanguineto, just to the north–west of Tuoro. From here he could watch and surprise the advancing Roman army. At dawn of 24 June 217 BC, the 52

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The Mag 4  

The Mag is a bi-lingual stage (both in paper and virtual) where artists of every sort can display their work for free. Because historical at...

The Mag 4  

The Mag is a bi-lingual stage (both in paper and virtual) where artists of every sort can display their work for free. Because historical at...

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