"Why, Mr. Barca," Dr. Patrick Hunt asks, "did you have to cross the Alps?" Why did he hate the Romans? Why did he have to go around them across the highest mountains in the region? Dr. Hunt takes us from a formative experience in young Hannibal's life, through the religion and culture of the Carthaginians in order to explain. Hannibal was taught to hate the Romans with a religious fervor and induced in believing to be blessed on the mountains.
On the altar of the Carthaginian god Baal, young Hannibal had to swear he would hate the Romans throughout his life. This oath made a great impact, because Hannibal knew, normally he would have been sacrificed to Baal, as was customary. In stead he lived. He also lived as Hannibal, Chani-Baal, the grace of Baal. He lived, as it were, on borrowed time, only on the condition of hating the Romans.
Baal, was supposed to live on a mountain. He was supposed to throw lightning, Barca, Hannibal's family name. So, by the grace of his God, on a life quest to fight the Romans, Hannibal could only feel the intimate connection with Baal. Hence, if Baal was at home in the mountains, so was Hannibal. The Romans, by contrast, a propos, were not, they were plain people. Their weaknes lay from the Alps, and Hannibal felt his strength was there. He had to prove it to bout. And that is why he had to take on the Romans and he had to go the long and hard way, right through the high mountains.
Go and look for these lectures on Hannibal on iTunes U, Stanford.