A section from
‘A Jedi shall not know hatred, nor fear… nor love.’ from Star Wars Episode II
‘Everything that befell both peoples, the Roman & the Carthaginian, originated from one effective cause - one man & one mind - by which I mean Hannibal.’
- Polybius: The Rise of the Roman Empire, Book IX
LT. COL. JOHN ’HANNIBAL’ SMITH
Comparing the A-Team character with the Carthaginian general
Let's clarify that we're not talking of Hannibal the cannibal from Silence of the Lambs but of Hannibal Barca - the Carthaginian general who put the mighty Roman empire in mortal danger. He is also credited as being one of the foremost thinkers of military strategy.
The essential Hannibal -
1. Took the war to Rome after he crossed the alps (considered extremely tough) with an army (suicidal) including elephants (un-do-able) and a mercenary army (very difficult to control in adverse conditions)
2. Roamed the length and breadth of Rome for fifteen long years decimating legion after legion sent by toga-wearing senators, and ending careers and reputations of many a consul.
3. Was a master of anticipating enemy actions - whether on the battle field or in the senate of Carthage (where he landed up after finally and conclusively being defeated by Scipio Africanus).
4. Made many enemies within the Carthaginian senate because of an anti-corruption drive.
5. Became a mercenary general for any kingdom at odds with Rome
6. Was never captured by Romans. Ended his own life when capture was ultimately unavoidable
The A-Team was a show for boys:
- Things blew up.
- Cigars were smoked.
- Cars were wrecked.
And in this group of hard men the alpha-dog was John Smith aka 'Hannibal' Smith. Lieutenant Colonel to you.
At first sight you'd be forgiven for thinking that the nutcase of the group was H. M. 'Howling Mad' Murdock, but the Lt. Col. gives him a run for his money. Other than leading the A Team, Lt. Col. is a part-time actor taking on roles where his face is covered (because the entire A Team are on the run from the Military Police - for a crime they didn't commit!). And since the A Team is on the run they need to screen their clients, so once againt Lt. Col. dons the role of one 'Mr. Lee who runs a laundromat' to seperate the trojan horses from the needy.
More serious comparisons
- Both Hannibal Barca and Lt. Col. had extensive military experience. Barca was part of his father's unit from the age of eight after swearing hatred for Rome. The Lt. Col. is a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars.
- They are leaders of military men but of diverse backgrounds and expertise. Barca's army consisted of Carthaginian officers, Numidian horsemen, Balearic slingers, Spanish infantry, Warriors of Gaul, discontent Italians and prisoners of war. The Lt. Col. leads BA 'Bad Attitude' Barracus - muscle & ace mechanic, 'Face' - conman and HM 'Howling Mad' Murdock - the pilot.
- Masters of misdirection - Hannibal Barca is clearly the more well-versed with his tactics - getting his pursuers drunk and escaping, deposting stones instead of gold in a temple to fool the priets and lighting the antlers of all the deer in his army on fire to confuse the Romans. The Lt. Col. is a master of disguise.
- Visually Hannibal was distinguished by an eye-patch he was forced to wear after losing an eye in a particularly nasty campaign. The Lt. Col. is always seen wearing black gloves and chomping on a cigar which helps him think.
- Barca and the Lt. Col. have been hunted by superpowers (Roman army & US Military Police) and avoided capture throughout their careers despite operating in their hunter's territory. After most of their career is over they both got some official recognition.
- Needless to say that both were brilliant at employing guerilla tactics that bled the enemy while furhtering their own cause. And Barca and the Lt. Col. had sub-zero nerves that only the most experienced warriors develop. Indeed, the Lt. Col. has a reputation of being somewhat of an adrenaline junkie who loves being 'on the jazz'.
Further Reading on FactBehindFiction.com
The Dogs of War - Frederick Forsyth: A mercenary force is recruited by a mining billionaire to overthrow a government and establish a puppet regime that can let his empire relieve the country of it’s natural resources. This book is much mentioned in Hebditch & Connor’s HOW TO STAGE A MILITARY COUP.
A Biography of Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck of the A-Team: One of the most famous and culturally significant rakes on TV.
Best of the Site
‘Hannibal’ Smith, BA, Face & Murdock
Bombs, explosions & a job ‘well-done’. Cigar, gloves and nerves of steel.
Liam Neeson plays Hannibal Smith in the 2010 A-Team movie.