Hannibal in Italy (Aníbal en Italia)
Despite the casualties of men and elephants suffered during the tough crossing of the Alps, Hannibal reached Italy with an army strong enough to crush their enemies. After the first battles in the Piedmont, he soon made it without much difficulty to the valley of the Po, thus securing his position in the north of Italy. During his advance, some towns surrendered without combat and his arrival was even willingly accepted according to the inscription.
Hannibal the protector
This is the way in which the action of this tapestry takes place. With no reference at all to military confrontation, the Carthaginian general, mounted and surrounded by several warriors, raises his arm as a sign of protection in front of the citizens, who are coming out of their town — the wall can be seen on the side — and begging for Hannibal’s favour. An elder carries the keys to the city, offering them to the invader, while other men clasp their hands, and two kneeled women and a child beg more for protection than for piety, since nothing shows confrontation but only agreement.
No so magnanimous for the Romans
Defeated in several battles, the Romans started to devise several strategies, including discrediting the invaders. Whereas he wanted to appear magnanimous, his enemies were eager to prove him otherwise. A Roman tale was spread in which Carthaginians were portrayed as unreliable, impious and capable of all manners of horror. Obviously, the Romans wanted to offset the adherence of some towns to Hannibal, such as that of Capua, close to Naples, which turned itself to the invader in 217 BC.
True to the represented scene, the Latin inscription says: ITALIA EXVLTABAT OVANS PLAVSVQ[V]E FRE[ME]BAT / ADVENTU ANIBAL TVRBAQ[V]E LETA RVIT (Italy bursting with emotion upon Hannibal’s arrival, quaked with applaud and the mob kneeled happily).
Series The History of Hannibal
Third tapestry of those preserved
Models Anonymous master of the Netherlands
Manufacture Brussels’ workshops, c. 1570
Fabric Wool and silk, 6,5/7 warps per cm
Size 340 x 336 cm
Location Cathedral of Zamora
Origin In the cathedral since the 17th century
On display Cathedral Museum