Hannibal’s oath (Juramento de Aníbal)
This scene is taken from a tale by Livy and shows a sacrifice before a god of war, in which Hannibal participates as a young warrior. He brandishes his sword and swears to combat the Romans, whose decline he foretells, as noted in a Latin inscription. In the foreground, to the left and also brandishing a sword, appears his father Hamilcar Barca, a leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War and conqueror of part of the south of Spain. Meanwhile, a boy and a woman prepare fruits as an offering for the ritual.
Eternal hatred to Romans
In the mid-3rd century BC, the two Mediterranean powers fought the First Punic War. The Carthaginians, commanded by Hamilcar, were eventually defeated by the Romans. However, Carthage was not destroyed and managed to enlarge its dominions in Iberia, always seeking revenge on its enemy. This hatred towards the Romans is made apparent in the scene of this tapestry, in which Hannibal swears to put an end to them, encouraged by his father. According to Livy, the young man asked his father to take him to war, which Hamilcar Barca granted only once he made him swear eternal hatred to the Romans.
The banner placed on the top part reads: OMNIA DISSIDYS FACIAM O[MN]IAPLENA TVMVLTV / HANNIBAL ORE REFERT: DEIERAT IN LATIOS (Hannibal said: I will bring about their decline through hostility, and swore against the Latins).
Rich coloring and weaver’s mark
The rich original colouring of the tapestry has been barely lost, either in the scene or in the border. As in the other pieces in the series, the mark of Brussels – B▼B – appears to the left on the lower selvage; the weaver’s mark is visible on the right end.
Series The History of Hannibal
First tapestry in the series
Cartoons anonymous master of the Netherlands
Manufacture Brussels’ workshops, c. 1570
Fabric Wool and silk, 6,5/7 warps per cm
Size 349 x 335 cm
Location Cathedral of Zamora
Origin In the cathedral since the 17th c.
On display Cathedral Museum