In 219 B.C., Hannibal of Carthage led an attack on Saguntum, an
independent city allied with Rome, which sparked the outbreak of
the Second Punic War. He then marched his massive army across the
Pyrenees and Alps into central Italy in what would be remembered as
one of the most famous campaigns in history. After a string of
victories, the most notable coming at Cannae in 216 B.C., Hannibal
had gained a foothold in southern Italy, but declined to mount an
attack on Rome itself. The Romans rebounded, however, driving the
Carthaginians out of Spain and launching an invasion of North
Africa. In 203 B.C., Hannibal abandoned the struggle in Italy to
defend North Africa, and he suffered a devastating defeat at the
hands of Publius Cornelius Scipio at Zama the following year.
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