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Best Instructional Videos: Rome, Early Republic to Battle of Cannae

Roman civilization existed for 12 centuries, and we’re moving from the early days of the Roman Republic through the Punic Wars in this collection of the best educational videos the Internet has to offer on this period. We leave off at Rome's famous loss to Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae. (For earlier history, see Best Instructional Videos: Rome from Beginning to Republic.)

For each video, we include a description and grade level. We also note the video’s capacity for engagement (“cool factor”).

The Roman Republic: A Very Short Introduction

Source:  Oxford Academic (Oxford University Press)

Grade level:  6 through 12

Run time:  2:47

Description:  Listen to a brief yet concise description from author David M. Gwynn to get a feel for the Roman Republic leading up to its collapse. This ranges from its run of civil wars in its early days to its lasting influence on Western culture.

Cool factor:  There’s not much in the way of visual stimulation here, but sophisticated and colorful language complement the excellent information.

Viewing questions: 1) How did the Roman Republic fall apart? Why? 2) With what leader did the Roman Republic die? 3) With what leader was the Roman Empire born?


Extra History 01 - The Punic Wars

Source:  Extra Credits

Grade level:  6 through 12

Run time:  9:12 

Description:  Showing a clear connection between the present and the past while setting up the events of the Punic Wars, this fun, animated video will keep students’ attention and provide a few laughs, too.

Cool factor:  Funny, captivating and to-the-point, this video kicks off an excellent series on the Punic Wars. (See if students are paying enough attention to catch the typo (Caesar’s name is misspelled) less than one minute in!)

Viewing questions: 1) Who were the two largest powers in the Mediterranean Sea at the time of the First Punic War? 2) List a few ways in which the Punic Wars have continued to shape history. 3) What caused the First Punic War? Explain using details from the video. 4) Who ties the First and Second Punic Wars together? Why and how did he do this? 5) What’s the popular story behind this General’s death?


Extra History 02 - The Second Punic War Begins

Source:  Extra Credits

Grade level:  6 through 12

Run time:  11:05 

Description:  Adding information about Roman politics and the power of blood oaths in any given family line, this video takes viewers through the roller coaster of revenge that drove the Second Punic War.

Cool factor:  This engaging video series continues, hitting its stride.

Viewing questions:  1) In what year did the Second Punic War start? Why? 2) What was the title for the two men who functioned as the Head of State within the structure of Roman politics? What powers did they have? What qualified someone to reach this office? Who were they at this time? 3) Across what location does Hannibal infamously move his massive army? How many men did he start with? How many did he end with? 4) Who is the prominent Roman commander opposing Hannibal during much of the Second Punic War? In what battle is he gravely wounded? Who rescues him? Who is Rome’s other commander? 5) What was Carthage’s “monster” of war?


Extra History 03 - The Second Punic War Rages On

Source:  Extra Credits

Grade level:  6 through 12

Run time:  12:38 

Description:  Learning the “dangers of Roman politics” and the reality of travel and battle conditions for military men of the day helps bring to life the Second Punic War. This video covers all of that and more—showing battle routes, talking strategies and discussing the immediate and lingering results.

Cool factor:  There’s never a dull moment here. Extra Credit’s journey through the Punic Wars intensifies even further as viewers follow Hannibal of Carthage through his war on Rome.

Viewing questions:  1) What happens in Rome during the winter of 216 B.C.? How do the results of this event display the danger of Roman politics? 2) Describe Hannibal’s second famous crossing of treacherous terrain. What life-changing event happens to Hannibal during this journey? 3) To what method of leadership does Rome turn after suffering multiple defeats at the hands of Hannibal and his troops? Under the Roman Republic, what did the leader under this title do after six months of holding office? Whom does Rome choose for this position? 4) For what military strategy is Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator famous? 5) How did Rome “destroy the office of dictator forever” during this time? What is the context behind the video using the word “destroy?” 6) Explain the tactical details that made the 216 B.C. Battle of Cannae so famous. Why did Hannibal’s strategy work out so well? From where was Hannibal fighting during this battle? 7) With how many troops did Rome start at the beginning of the Battle of Cannae? With how many troops did Rome end?


If you like this resource, then you’ll enjoy the lesson “What can the U.S. learn from ancient Rome?” from ListenCurrent. 


Last updated 2/11/2015


Article by Jason Cunningham, EducationWorld Social Media Editor

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