Ab Urbe Condita XXI – Karthagon Hannibal Lähtee Sotaan

Karthagon Hannibal Lähtee Sotaan is Finnish translation of 21st book of Ab Urbe Condita, a massive history of Rome written by Titus Livius. It covers bits of Hannibal’s childhood (around 228 BC), but concentrates mostly on time from just before the attack to Saguntum and beginning of the 2nd Punic war, until Hannibal’s winter campaign in Italy. Timespan is fairly short (around one year), but there’s more than enough action in the book.

Livius writes compelling and believable story of warlord Hannibal, who as a youth, made a vow of newer keep Rome as his friend. This charismatic leader gathers a strong army and marches all the way from Hispania to Italy, famously crossing the Alps and causes all kinds of havoc at Italy. It was interesting to read how he manages to keep his army of multiple cultures together and press them forward even in the most dire moments. No wonder Romans were alarmed as he showed up and started looting and pillaging country side. The book doesn’t detail whole 2nd Punic War, but just the beginning of it. In order to read the whole story, one needs to read books XXI to XXX. Sadly only XXI and XXII have been translated into Finnish at this point. Battle of the Trebia is covered in more detail than other battles in the book. This is understandable as it’s quite interesting and clearly shows cunning mind of Hannibal.

The translation is top notch. It’s rather liberal and long sentences of Livius has been broken into multiple shorter ones. Authors explain at the forward that this was made, so that the text would be easier to read and enjoy. I for one, liked this decision. Compared to the Rooman Synty, the text is much more fluent and not archaic sounding at all. Extensive footnotes offered me lost of nice historical tidbits that enhanced my reading experience.

In addition to the extensive footnotes, there’s nice foreward giving info on state of the world at the beginning of the book, its author and his sources and methods. As if all that isn’t enough, there’s complete Ab Urbe Condita XXI in Latin. As I don’t understand Latin, this part the book was useless to me, but for a person who knows the language, it might be interesting to read and compare with the translation. Finally there’s little chapter at the end giving a brief outline of how events would unfold in the future.

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