Opublikowane: 2023-08-291

Silenus of Kale Akte and the propaganda process of building Hannibal’s image

Miron Wolny
Echa Przeszłości


The article examines the role of Greek historian Silenus in building a strategic narrative about the Second Punic War (218–201 BCE) and Hannibal’s image for the needs of political propaganda. Historical annals composed by Lucius Coelius Antipater, a Roman jurist and historian, provide an interesting framework for drawing conclusions about Silenus’ work. An analysis of formal and substantive principles in Coelius’ annals supports the identification of similarities in both authors’ works and the modifications introduced by the Roman historian. Silenus was tasked with building a historical narrative in support of Carthage, and he resorted to various literary devices to paint a positive image of the Carthaginian general. These propaganda measures incorporated religious elements, as evidenced by two events described in Cicero’s De divinatione: Hannibal’s dream at the beginning of the invasion in the Apennine Mountains, and the general’s stay in Capo Colonna towards the end of the Italian campaign. These episodes were clearly derived from Silenus’ works, which suggests that Hannibal resorted to various tools to build his political image. In addition to formal references to Hellenic literature, Hannibal’s propagandist relied also on the language of communication derived from a “hieratic” approach to glorifying own achievements and Middle Eastern traditions. The aim of these literary manipulations was to convince the readers that the worlds of gods and humans are entangled, and that political and military leaders are endowed with miraculous powers that enable them to rise to victory. Coelius introduced some modifications to Silenus’ original work, possibly with the intent of concealing his attempts at portraying Hannibal as a Carthaginian leader with divine status.

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Zasady cytowania

Wolny, M. (2023). Silenus of Kale Akte and the propaganda process of building Hannibal’s image. Echa Przeszłości, (XXIV/1), 11–25. https://doi.org/10.31648/ep.9293

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