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Everything posted by sylla

  1. Just for the record; the title naturally refers to CJ Caesar the dictator and PC Scipio Africanus Major. For Sir Liddell Hart, Scipio would have been the best; it
  2. sylla

    Birthday Hails to Doc of Love!

    Happy Birthday in any language that you master, Doc
  3. Kosmo is right; from the perpective of a notable Christian ruler like Theodosius, the Olympic games were just outdated pagan rites.
  4. sylla

    Hellenism and Its Discontents

    An Hellenistic power had occupied Palestine (Judea) since 332 BC; however, the Jews didn't rebel until 167 BC. Hellenism and Judaism had therefore coexisted peacefully for 165 years; where were the purported
  5. sylla

    Towns of the Roman Empire

    Being aware of its obvious limitations as a source, I think some valuable information on this issue may be obtained from the Italian version of Wikipedia.
  6. I agree I think most of us essentially agree; IMHO the point is that Adrianople was just another brick on the wall; it was a symptom, not the disease(s); the diseases came from long ago. As Kosmo pointed out, the Goths and other Barbarians had already crushed the legions and even killed emperors before; as Barca pointed out, the casualties were moderate even for the Eastern half of the Empire alone. As Ward-Perkins pointed out, the defeat was in the Eas, not the West (by a ling shot). The sack of Rome in 410 was in no way a direct consequence of a remote battle in the Balkans 32 years before; that would be like attributing the innasion of the Afrika Korps to Egypt in 1942 to the German East African campaign of 1918 (admittedly, the latter was a lapse of only 24 years!) The symptom was not so much the defeat itself, but the lack of s definitive retribution, i.e. the utter annihilation of the Goths, irrespectively of the Hunnic factor; that was the real evidence for the long standing diseases of the Empire.
  7. sylla

    Regarding the Gladius

    An interesting question. Short answer? Maybe.
  8. Never never ever has History been black & white. If by the battle of 394 you mean Frigidus, that battle was an internal conflict between a Roman usurper and a Roman Emperor (the latter won, by far the most common outcome), analogous to literally hundreds of them across centuries of the Roman Imperial history. It was certainly not a conflict between Empires, not any more than let say Severus vs Niger at Issus; the contenders were just political factions, not regional movements for autonomy. In fact, Theodosius and many of his best units were themselves "westerners". Mr. Ward-Perkins compared the performance of both halves of the Empire against external enemies; all internal conflicts were necessarily "overlooked" for the reasons stated above; I would think his balance couldn't have been more eloquent. In any case, the relevant point for our present topic is that the bulk of (if not all) the negative impact of Adrianople was over the Eastern, not the Western half; it couldn't have been in any other way.
  9. I was able to find only one (however, "Crispio" seems to have been used here as a nomen): CIL 09, 01515 Province: Apulia et Calabria / Regio II Place: Pago Veiano / Pagus Veianus D(is) M(anibus) / C(aio) Crispio / Apro vixit / bien(n)io me(n)se(s) V / Crispia Silene / mater ben(e)
  10. No evidence will ever be enough for some people; however, for any people that still prefer just the quoting from authorities instead of directly using the available evidence and logic, let me quote something relevant for this topic from an authority that excels in using both evidence & logic: " Certainly any theory that the East was always much stronger than the West is demolished by the fact that it was the eastern field army that was defeated and massacred at Hadrianopolis in 378. This defeat provoked a profound and immediate eastern crisis: the Balkans were devastated; Constantinople itself was threatened (though saved by the presence of some Arab troops); and Gothic soldiers within the Roman army were slaughtered as a precautionary measure. The loss with all its equipment of perhaps two-thirds of the eastern field army took years of expenditure and effort to repair. Indeed, until the Goths under Alaric entered Italy in 401, it was the eastern emperors, not the western, who occasionally needed military help from the other half of the empire (in 377, 378, 381, 395, and 397).
  11. sylla

    Regarding the Gladius

    What you're describing sounds more like the xiphos, which would go along with the later upgrade to the gladius. The earlies Gladius was the Mainz type, which was widest at the hilt, and had a long tapering point. The later Pompeii type had parallel edges. Regardless of the shape, what made the gladius special was the quality of the steel, which allowed it to maintain a very sharp edge. Yes, I think you are right. The Aes Graves were, of course, Italian and the images would be of swords used by Roman and Latin infantrymen, but they do conform to the Xiphos in appearance. There are also images on specifically Roman bronze bar coinage showing swords of the type described above, which are as you pointed out Greek in design. Those are contemporary for the Pyrrhic War and suggest that the Gladius Hispaniensis had not yet been adopted. Please ignore my comment about these being similar in design and application. I can only postulate that whereas the sword was the Hoplite's secondary weapon; for the Roman it was primary. Although they had not, in all probability, adopted the Hispaniensis at this point, they had made the transition from phalanx to manipular battle order and it is my belief therefore that the weapons would have been used in the same way. Can you post the image (or a link to) of the relevant Aes Grave? I'm not sure if such currency was still minted at the II century BC. The Gladius Hispaniensis (Spanish or not) and related short swords were extremely useful in Roman hands not so much for any intrinsic superiority, but because it far better fitted close quarters combat (ergo, the Roman manipular tactics) than the Spatha and related long swords; for one-to-one duels, the latter would presumably have been still superior to the former. On the material of the Roman swords, there is a famous passage from Polybius, comparing the Roman with the Gallic swords at the victory of Flaminius over the Insubres in 223 BC: " The Romans are thought to have managed matters very skilfully in this battle, their tribunes having instructed them how they should fight, both as individuals and collectively. For they had observed from former battles that Gauls in general are most formidable and spirited in their first onslaught, 3 while still fresh, and that, from the way their swords are made, as has been already explained, only the first cut takes effect; after this they at once assume the shape of a strigil, being so much bent both length-wise and side-wise that unless the men are given leisure to rest them on the ground and set them straight with the foot, the second blow is quite ineffectual. The tribunes therefore distributed among the front lines the spears of the triarii who were stationed behind them, ordering them to use their swords instead only after the spears were done with. They then drew up opposite the Celts in order of battle and engaged. Upon the Gauls slashing first at the spears and making their swords unserviceable the Romans came to close quarters, having rendered the enemy helpless by depriving them of the power of raising their hands and cutting, which is the peculiar and only stroke of the Gauls, as their swords have no points. The Romans, on the contrary, instead of slashing continued to thrust with their swords which did not bend, the points being very effective. Thus, striking one blow after another on the breast or face, they slew the greater part of their adversaries. This was solely due to the foresight of the tribunes,.. " However please note that the preserved Celtic swords don't fit such description; they don't bend so easily and their iron (or sometime steel) is often as good as that of the Romans. There's an ongoing unsettled controversy on theuse of steel by Romans and other Classical nations; the consensus still seems to be that such steel was accidentally and not deliberately made; even at the time of Pliny Major, Romans seems to still have plenty of misconceptions regarding metallurgy. In any case, Pliny stated the best steel was imported from Parthia and Scythia; next to that, the famous ferum Noricum was the best one. It seems the Romans had a regular trade with that region since the I century BC.
  12. Talking for me, I have no particular interest in making anyone cranky, how clever may anyone think either of us is or a moderate status. From now on, if Caldrail ever wants to ask me anything, he should have to PM me; I
  13. Rest assured of that; as Mal said, a valuable resource indeed; thanks. Maybe we should try a specific forum for Latin inscriptions.
  14. Glad to see you are not ignoring the Hunnic factor any more. It seems that like the sharks, the Huns were powerful, not stupid; even the most powerful predators (or warriors) tend to attack when their prey is more vulnerable, for obvious reasons. Admittedly, had the Huns been predominantly stupid, the outcome of the Romans against them may have been different. In any case, for any Empire as large as the Roman, fighting in more than one front at the same time was the rule, not the exception; that was arguably the main reason why the Roman Empire stopped growing in the first place. In the sense that you imply (i.e. facing a single isolated enemy without the need of protecting any other border) the Romans were virtually never "at full strength". (Regarding your original question for this thread, that was BTW exactly the main reason why the annihilation of 15,000-20,000 men at Adrianople was so painful for an Empire with an army reportedly of no less than 400,000 ) Now, also regarding Adrianople, Ward-Perkins immediately previous statement: "...it was impossible to fight successfully on more than one front at a time ..." ... seems like a good explanation for the end of that Gothic War (376-382) too. Why must the Romans have simultaneously faced so powerful enemies like the Goths and the Huns? Using one of them against the other (as it actually happened) seemed like a far more wise strategy.
  15. That's what you might consider a "what if" scenario. Theodosius proably would have preferred to eliminate the Gothic threat if he had the manpower to do so, but many of his new recruits proved to be unreliable. At that time the Romans didn't have much direct contact with the Huns. Later in the 5th century there were direct conflicts, and the Romans necessarily had to use the Visigoths as allies, but by that time the regular Roman army had been diminished. What if Gratian had fought a pitched battle with Fritigen right after Adrianople. Certainly a big risk. A loss would have given the Visigoths a free hand in the West, but a victory against them was not out of the question. The Goths must have been weakened somewhat after Adrianople, and not fully recovered. Years later, Stlicho pulled away many of the troops guarding the border zones in order to confront Alaric, who was becoming a troublemaker. He was able to defeat him on more than one occasion, indicating that the regular Roman army was still a formidable force. Somehow the borders still remained somewhat intact for a while. If the Gothic threat within the empire had been eliminated, I suggest that it would have been easier for the Romans to maintain their border defences, and they would have had more control and determination in their eventual conflicts with the Huns. You're right, it is a "what-if", as Theodosius and his men certainly didn't choose your direct approach. That Theodosius didn't have to wait to directly confront (and in all likelihood be crushed by) the Huns that were immediately behind the Goths to perceive the magnitude of the risk is a good evidence of his prudence. Not that he had to be a genius for that; if half the Gothic troops that had been so utterly routed by the Huns had been enough for so absolutely defeating the Roman army at Adrianople, the required logic was really not that hard. If as it happened the Huns were eventually able to remain essentially undefeated and conquer immense territories in spite of facing both Goths and Romans at full strength, it seems that Theodosius was absolutely right; the direct approach of simultaneously facing both Goths & Huns at full strength would have been unnecessarily and even absurdly dangerous. But of course, that's just my educated guess. Anyway, your direct approach was indeed just a "what-if". So it seems this is a far as we can go with our available evidence, unless you have some other ideas about the Hunnic factor.
  16. sylla


    Thanks, Albert... what a wonderful Xmas gift . That said, I must admit Agrippa is still my favorite (a better model, maybe).
  17. sylla

    Merry Christmas!

    Glad to know such thing is still possible in these polite Happy Holidays' times... God Jul, K! And a good ol' Merry Christmas for everyone!
  18. We have already been here before I'm sure that with some patience we would be able to find some people prestigious enough for you stating something more or less analogous to my points; however, that would be equally entirely irrelevant then as now.This is not religion or a competition of prestige; this is exclusively a matter of logic and evidence; arguments from authority alone are just fallacies; period. If your "consensus" is so absolute, I'm sure you will have no problem in quoting their argumentation, even if you were not able to deduce such kind of arguments by yourself. But of course. That has in fact been the case here; UNRV members (including me) have posted far more scrutiny on Caesar than on Africanus Major. Again, we are looking here for something more than just prestige.Rest assured that my "obsession" includes all sources. That is critical rationalism; that's the way scientific knowledge is expected to be found; by testing the falsifiability of the research hypothesis. Please read some works of Karl Popper. Besides, your idea of "consensus" is utterly distorted; i.e. consensus would mean here that the majority of relevant scholars explained in an alternative way the internal inconsistencies that I have pointed out, not that they simply ignored the issue. Consensus is simply not established by default; if the majority of scholars didn't deal with such issue, there is no consensus at all; period. And for the record; for the mere nature of truth, we systematically have to consider the possibility of alternative explanations, including what you miscall "consensus" here; again, try to read some Popper. Additionally, you are still abusing from false dilemma fallacies; we don't have to 100% accept or 100% reject Polybius, Livy or any other Classical source; all of them are a mixture of exact and inexact information. If such information is not analyzed critically, then it is simply either blindly accepted or blindly rejected; simple as that. Sorry, but if you qualify the term "bare assertion" as "my idiolect", that simply means that you have not even tried to search it in the web; just ckeck it out on any list of fallacies.In any case, you are well aware that both points are not bare assertions, simply because you were here when I explained their rationale more than once. Here we go again, now a little bit deeper: - If Africanus Major was never defeated in his campaigns in Spain, why did he required five full years to conquer the Spanish Punic territory? A far shorter period should have been required. Using Caesar as a comparison, the undefeated dictator required only some months for conquering the far more extensive Roman Spain in 49 B.C. (Pleaso note that I never stated that "there must have been Punic victories during the campaign of PCS in Spain"; I just pointed out an obvious inconsistency). - If Hasdrubal Barca was really utterly defeated by Scipio more than once, how was he able to invade Italy with tens of thousands of Punic soldiers, an army BTW strong enough for requiring both consular armies for being neutralized? Amazing as it sounds, by their own nature internal inconsistencies (like these examples) require only internal evidence for being documented, and not necessarily alternative evidence; otherwise, they would be "external inconsistencies". Please share with us some examples of the explanations given by your "consensus" for such anomalies. Alternatively, you can also try to explain them by yourself, using only evidence and logic this time, without the unrequired (and useless) help of the fame of any big name; that would be serious.
  19. Maybe, or maybe not.The article is just dogmatic Christian apologetics; any Roman Christian act was good because it was done by a Christian. Historical facts were deliberately distorted; the Olympic games (and the Akademia, and the vestal fire, and all religious practices from Pagans, Arians and Jews) were forbidden not for the violence of the Pankration (which was in any case no Christian business) but because they were religious practices not from the Nicean Christianity; period. Theodosius himself never denied his religious motivations; in any case, he had no problem with many violent manifestations against Pagan, Jews and heretics, and even against the orthodox Christians, like the famous massacre of Thessalonika.
  20. sylla

    Sol Invictus

    Me too; my impression (just that) is that the Christian-Pagan road worked finely multiple times in both ways.
  21. No surprise there. The success of the post-PW II legions against the Helenistic kingdoms can be attributed to their use of the Gladius Hispaniensis more so than to their manipular formations. The Gladius was a romanized version of the HispanoIberian sword or Falcata. The Romans must have recognized the value of those swords when they fought the Iberians. Hannibal brought Iberian mercenaries to Italy, and it is possible that his African Infantry may have carried a similar sword. The way that this post appears is a little mixed up. Either way, the Gladius Hispaniensis was not a derivation of the Falcata. The Falcata was derived from the Greek Kopis and differed greatly in design and application. The Falcata was a single edged weapon designed to slash down with a heavy blow that would horrifically split a helmet- and head - in two. The Gladius Hispaniensis was a short stabbing sword possibly adopted by the Romans after encountering the weapon in Punic War I in the hands of the Celtiberians or possibly well before in the conflicts with the Celts in the 4th century BCE. Far as I know, the exact origin of the gladius Hispaniensis is still disputed, even if it was Spanish at all.In any case, as MS aptly described, the gladius was at the end of the day just another nice short sword, not black magic. If it was so effective, it was arguably exactly because of the way it was used under Roman manipular tactics. Tactics and weapons were here clearly no alternative of each other, but simply strictly complementary. The performance of the Iberian armies was indeed surprising after reading their description as sub-optimal soldiers by some of our Romanophile sources. It's evident that such good performance can't be explained just by the use of the gladius: First, even if it was really Spanish, it's clear that most Iberians didn't use it. The Iberians were literally hundreds of tribes and groups, and their weapons were definitively not uniform. Second: again, the gladius was not magic; far as I'm aware, no Iberian army ever used the manipular tactics that made the gladius so effective in Roman hands.
  22. There are two false-dilemma fallacies here. First, you want me to either absolutely accept or absolutely reject Polybius & Livy. Second, you want me to blindly accept Polybius & Livy just because I have no better alternative sources. Plainly, absolutely no source should be blindly or uncritically accepted (unless of course we are debating religious dogma). Livy and Polybius are actually excellent sources. The evidence on Hasdrubal's army obviously came from them and analogous Classical sources (e.g. Appian). I'm just trying to read them critically, just with a minimum of critical rationalism, the same as any science is expected to analyze any evidence. I just pointed out the inherent unreliability of two specific points of our sources. It's extremely hard to explain why Africanus' conquest of Punic Spain required so many years if his army was never defeated, or to describe Hasdrubal's army as an utterly defeated force when it invaded Italy in 207 BC. If you can satisfactorily explain those facts, be my guest.