Hannibal’s brother and … Mayonnaise!

Every now and then I convince myself that that I know quite a bit about ancient history, and then I stumble across something not just new but whiplashingly new. Did you know that the word mayonnaise is named after Hannibal’s youngest brother?

According to Livius, it came about as follows: Hannibal’s brother was named Mago (a common Carthaginian/Punic name), and he

… lives on in a most surprising way. On Menorca, he had founded the city that is still called Port Mahon. The typical local egg sauce that has conquered the world is known as mayonnaise.

And while we’re on the subject of Hannibal’s brothers:

Hasdrubal Barca's head, before the Romans got it

Hasdrubal's head (before Roman cosmetic intervention)

Hasdrubal, who was younger than Hannibal but older than Mago, died valiantly in battle against the Romans as he tried to bring a second invasion army to Italy to support Hannibal.

The Romans cut off his head. Then they marched it to the other end of Italy and catapulted it into Hannibal’s camp. Hannibal, who still did not even know that Hasdrubal had arrived in Italy, last saw his brother’s face …. as it rolled toward him.

So it goes, as Vonnegut would say. But those Romans sure had a way of doing things.


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