Early in the spring of 218 BC Hannibal assembled a Carthaginian army of 90,000 foot, 12,000 horse and 37 elephants, to attack the Romans on their own Territory. His plan was to cross the Mediterranean Sea and then march through the Iberian peninsular and (Transalpine) Gaul, then cross the Alps, into Cisalpine Gaul (modern Northern Italy), conquering not only Gaul, Etruria, and the other provinces, but Rome itself.
Once he crossed the river Iberus, his troubles began. The tribes there fought with him for every inch of the way, and when he came to the foot of the the Pyrenees ( Pirenčus, Pirineus, Pyrénées) the fourth part of his army had been killed. At the sight of the snow-topped Pyrenees mountains 11,000 soldiers refused to go further. Hannibal, reasoning that unwilling soldiers make bad fighters told them to leave if they wanted, and off they went. Leaving about 20,000 troops with his brother Hasdrubal, Hannibal left Spain ahead of the Roman army he knew would be arriving. Hannibal marched on with the remainder of his army over the Pyrenees, through what is now the Languedoc, recruiting reinforcements from Celtic tribes as he went. The route taken by Hannibal probably broadly corresponds to the Via Domatia later built by the Romans, running from (modern) Italy to (modern) Spain, and to the modern A9 highway, "La Languedocienne", National Road 112. Hannibal's route continued onto the Alps, which he crossed by a route that seemed so difficult that it was not even guarded. He went on the further success, but, disasterously, never got round to attacking Rome itself. For more information visit another website on the Second Punic War in a new window.