Hannibal the Great

Image for Hannibal the GreatNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Episode 5 of 6

Duration: 29 minutes

History and travel series in which three Australian brothers - Danny, Ben and Sam Wood - set out cycling on the trail of Hannibal, the Carthaginian warrior who marched from Spain to Rome at the head of an invading army accompanied by elephants.

With the Alps behind them, the brothers cycle through northern Italy from the fertile Valley of Trebbia, where Hannibal's first defeated the Romans on their home turf, to the rolling hills of Tuscany. They continue on through thick marshes before arriving at Cannae, site of the bloodiest battle of ancient history. On the way, the Woods meet a winemaker called Hannibal, attempt to make a pizza in Naples and have a close shave in Trani.

  • Photo: The Wood Brothers in Italy

    Photo: The Wood Brothers in Italy

    From left to right, Ben, Sam and Danny Wood reach Italy in the penultimate leg of their trek.

  • Quote: Livy, 'The War with Hannibal', Book XII, 51

    "You know, Hannibal, how to win a fight; you do not know how to use your victory."

  • Historical Moment: The Battle of Cannae

    Cannae was Hannibal's greatest victory and Rome's worst defeat. Hannibal's tactics in this clash are still taught in military colleges today. Polybius estimates Hannibal had close to 40,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry versus the Roman force of 80,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry.

    The armies lined up with infantry in the centre and cavalry on the wings. The cavalry clashed on both wings. The Numidian cavalry inflicted heavy casualties on the Roman horsemen on their side and Hasdrubal virtually destroyed the enemy cavalry on his flank. By this time the Romans had forced their way deep into the enemy infantry line and now the heavy African infantry were aligned on their sides. The Africans turned and attacked the flanks of the Roman force and the Carthaginian cavalry returned to attack their rear.

    The Roman infantry was surrounded – Hannibal's 'double envelopment' was complete. The Romans were slaughtered – Polybius estimates that close to 70,000 Romans died at Cannae. This figure stands as the most men ever killed in a single day's battle.

  • The Call of the Wild

    The Call of the Wild

    This programme is part of The Call Of The Wild on BBC Four, a celebration of the great British love affair with the countryside - whatever the weather.

    Go to The Call of the Wild site
  • BBC TV Blog: Cycling from Spain to Italy via the Alps

    BBC TV Blog: Cycling from Spain to Italy via the Alps

    Ben Wood on how he and his brothers came to follow Hannibal's trail by bike, and what happened on the way.

    Read Ben's blog post at the BBC TV blog


Danny Wood
Sam Wood
Ben Wood
Executive Producer
Chris Granlund
Robin Dashwood
Andrea Illescas
Andrea Illescas
Andrea Illescas


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss