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Late Emperor

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  1. Hi, I've wondered if Diocletianus can be considered the main guilty for the fall of the Roman Empire due to his soviet-style economic reforms wich turned the Empire in an ancient USSR destroying its semi-capitalist economy. Am I right or the economic decline had started much earlier than him and was unstoppable when Diocletianus rised to power?
  2. I've a question: was the Roman Army of the christian era less brutal against enemy civilians than during the pagan centuries? Any source of comparison?
  3. Hi, what you think about Antoninus Pius? Reading his biography, it seems that he was a saint in a roman world where the average individual was like Tony Soprano but it seems difficult to believe to me. Was he really so peaceful and enlightened or he actually committed some roman-style atrocities in his public and private life? Is it also really true that he always ruled without never leaving Rome and visiting the border provices?
  4. Why the roman military abandoned the traditional roman shield used in republican and early imperial times to adopt the germanic rounded shield typical of the late imperial army? What where the advantages of this kind of shield?
  5. Late Emperor

    The Illyrian Emperors

    I'm skeptic about it: IMHO since the romans (patrician senators) had completely lost the control of their empire by the IIIrd century, they could only bow down to the "barrack emperors" (military commanders) which had the army on their side, even if these emperors were just semi-barbarian romanized provincials that the senators despised. The comtempt was probably mutual among some of these military commanders: Diocletianus had no qualms about moving the imperial capital from Rome to the provinces and later the balcanic Costantine the Great built Costantinoples as Nova Roma (New Rome). I doubt that there was no desire to further marginalize the old roman senatorial class among the reasons for moving the imperial capital away from Rome.
  6. Hi, I've wondered why the romans didn't incorporate elephants in their legions after defeating Carthage in the Second Punic War. War Elephants could be defeated but still they were (especially if armoured) fearsome war machines, real ancient tanks which could charge and smash enemy infantry and work as mobile towers for archers or scorpio artillery. Is there a reason that suggested the romans to not use them? Did the romans tried to employ them in some legions but gave up?
  7. True but they had felt worse shocks in republican times against carthage and always fought back. It seems to me that it was abandoned because of Tiberius' conservative attitude about roman borders which decided to settle the limes on the very defensible Rhine river: his followers probably just realized that Germany wasn't worth the effort to conquer it (like Ireland). IMHO Tacitus in Germania describes very well how the romans viewed Germany: as a useless place. Augustus was a good emperor but trying to colonize the forested and swampy germany wasn't a great idea and it wouldn't have been (economicaally speaking) even if the germanics had been more peaceful since it wasn't a land dotted with "cities" and semi-civilized people like Gaul.
  8. Late Emperor

    Christian Era Roman army brutality

    I was actually interested in brutality against civilians after conquest/surrender rather than brutality against enemy soldiers. I asked if christianity tamed roman military brutality against civilians because the bishop Ambrose excommunicated Theodosius after the massacre of Thessalonica, punishing him for that atrocity: I wondered if following emperors and military commanders were afraid of being excommunicated if they exceeded in brutality against civilian populations.
  9. Hi,I've a question. Why the romans didn't conquer the Emerald Island? Was it too well defended? Or was it too resourceless (from a roman point of view)?
  10. Late Emperor

    How the Irish Saved Classical Civilization

    Ludovicus, as I pointed out in my previous post, the arabs had access to classical culture by conquering the eastern roman territories in middle east and egypt: it means that without the eastern roman empire surviving the germanic invasions and fall of the west in the Vth and VIth centuries, the arabs would have found very few of classical civilization because a lot would have been lost. While it's true that important scientific advances were made by medieval muslims this has less to do with the saving classic civilization and more to do with their own scientific effort and it doesn't mean that most of classic culture was saved by them. In the following article it explain that the byzantine contribute to the revival of classic studies in Europe wasn't secondary at all (although exagerated by past scholars) and shows how few of the classic heritage was still unknown in Europe in the XVth century. http://www.the-orb.net/encyclop/late/laterbyz/harris-ren.html THE SCHOLARS Thus the Greek emigres who reached Italy during the fifteenth century were by no means all scholars: they ranged from exiled royalty to carpenters and mercenaries. Yet there can be no doubt that some of them played an important part in spreading a knowledge of the classical Greek language and ancient Greek literature in Italy. There was a good reason for this: reading classical Greek and even composing in the same style were an integral part of Byzantine higher education. Whereas in the West secular education had tended to die out in the early Middle Ages, in Byzantium it was sustained. In each generation, those who took their education beyond the age of fourteen would be instructed in the works of the ancient Greek poets, historians, dramatists and philosophers. Thus any educated Byzantine in the imperial service would have had a knowledge of these works which would have been the envy of many educated Italians, who were now starting to take an interest in ancient Greek literature (Constantinides, 1-2). Manuel Chrysoloras arrived in Italy at the end of the fourteenth century. He came not as a teacher or a scholar, but as an envoy of the Byzantine emperor, charged with negotiating western assistance for the beleaguered empire. In 1391, however, while staying in Venice, he gave some lessons in Greek to a certain Roberto Rossi, who then passed an enthusiastic account of his teacher to Coluccio Salutati (1331-1406), the Chancellor of Florence. So impressed was Salutati that he decided to secure Chrysoloras's services, and in 1396 invited him to teach grammar and Greek literature at University of Florence. Chrysoloras only occupied this post between 1397 and 1400, but in that period had a tremendous effect. Among his pupils were numbered some of the foremost figures of the revival of Greek studies in renaissance Italy, including Guarino da Verona (1374-1460) and Pallas Strozzi (1372-1462). Chrysoloras was not the only one to receive such a welcome. When George Gemistos Plethon attended the Council of Florence in 1439, his lectures on the differences between the work of Plato and Aristotle were eagerly received and prompted the later comment of Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) that Plethon had brought the spirit of Plato from the Byzantine empire to Italy (Thompson, 78; Setton, 57-8; Brown, 389-90; Woodhouse, 171-88). The success of Chrysoloras and Plethon cannot have gone unnoticed by other members of the Byzantine ruling classes, eager to escape to the West, and others were soon following in his footsteps. John Argyropoulos, an official in the service of one of the rulers of the Byzantine Morea, was sent to Italy in 1456 on a diplomatic mission. He too was offered the chance to teach in Florence and he accepted with alacrity, remaining in Italy until his death in 1487. Other cities also attracted Byzantines to teach Greek: Theodore Gaza of Thessalonica taught at Ferrara, Naples and Rome, Demetrius Chalkondyles of Athens at Padua, Florence and Milan (Geanakoplos, Constantinople and the West, 72-87, 91-113; Geanakoplos, 'The discourse', 118-44; Harris, Greek Emigres, pp. 122-3). Of no less importance than the teaching activity of these individuals, however, were their translations from Greek into Latin. Early in the fifteenth century, Manuel Chrysoloras co-operated with Uberto Decembrio (d.1427) to produce a Latin version of Plato's Republic, and in Rome the process of translation was specifically encouraged by Popes Nicholas V (1447-55) and Sixtus IV (1471-84). Under papal patronage, George of Trebizond produced Latin versions of Plato's Laws and, together with Theodore Gaza, of a large part of the Aristotelian corpus. The availability of these texts in Latin opened them up to a much wider readership (Monfasani, Collectio, 698-754; Geanakoplos, Constantinople and the West, 79-82; Wilson, 76-8; Setton, 78-80). THE DEBATE OVER PLATO In addition to teaching and translating, the Byzantine scholars were also at the centre of the debate over the merits and meaning of works of the ancient Greek philosophers, particularly those of Plato. Unavailable in western Europe for most of the Middle Ages, Plato's works were now much more accessible thanks to the Latin translations of Manuel Chrysoloras, George of Trebizond and others. Renaissance Italy was particularly receptive to the ideas of Plato because political attitudes had been changing during the fifteenth century, as interest in the values which had been used to underpin the traditional concept of citizenship declined. In the past, the highest duty of the citizen had been considered to be that of involving himself in civic affairs, a notion that is prominent is the works of Cicero and Aristotle. Now a life of contemplative withdrawal and disengagement from political life was coming to be seen as praiseworthy. Politics were to be left rather to those who had been educated to pursue them, among whom the ruler or the prince was paramount. It is no coincidence that the later fifteenth century saw the writing of numerous `mirrors of princes', such as Niccol
  11. Late Emperor

    Polybius on brutality of Roman army

    It can be said for every age of history. Apart their reasons ad looking at history neutrally, they weren't more brutal than soviets, allies, japanese. They were sons of a more brutal age than ours. This is a case where simpathy overcomes fair judgement: the romans were brutal mass killers because they were the cruelest bastards in a world of cruel bastards. The romans were ferocious too: a rebellion would be usually countered with a massacre and don't forget that the romans turned slavery into an enormous industry of sufference and death for tens of millions people. Hmmm, weren't the conquests of Gaul and Dacia made through giant ethnic massacres like the WW2 Hitlerian eastward expansion? The romans built their civilization on a mountain of corpses, enormous numbers of slaves and infinite sufference for the conquered people. They were cool but not nice guys.
  12. Late Emperor

    How the Irish Saved Classical Civilization

    The Arabs discovered ancient culture by conquering most byzantine territories and dealing culturally with the surviving Byzantine Empire. The survival of ancient culture in Early and High Medieval Europe happened also thanks to the Catholic Church that saved and copied the ancient sources in the medieval abbeys spreaded throughout the continent. The european rediscovery of the ancient culture started in late medieval Italy thanks to those byzantine refugees (which left the Balkans and Anatolia since the XIVth century) which started to teach and spread it in their new motherland (which at the same time was opening the first universities). It seems to me that while the contribute of the Arabs in transfering to us the greek-roman culture can't be discarded, it has become overrated for PC reasons.
  13. Late Emperor

    Greatest Roman Figure??

    Caesar made the empire territorialy by enlarging it a lot and turning it from a mediterranean civilization to a truly western european one with the conquest of Gaul: without him, western european civilization which was built by the germanics above the roman one, would not have existed. He made the empire politically starting the one-man rule of the following centuries and giving birth (involuntarily) to the idea of Empire which remained alive in Europe for all its history (even influencing far away people like the russians and their Tsars). In the millennias after his death, he has become the symbol of Rome in popular world culture and this qualifies him as its greatest son.
  14. They had fought succesfully in Germany under Germanicus, few years after Teutoburg, defeating Arminius himself. Since Teutoburg was actually an a series of ambushes against an undeployed roman army marching in a forest rather than a real battle, then I guess that the successful Germanicus' campaign restored roman military confidence against the germanics.
  15. Late Emperor

    Mutiny In The Ranks

    Isn't this true also for modern armies?
  16. Late Emperor

    Legionaries fighting "expediti"

    Fighting armoured in Italy, Spain or Greece during summer would have been exhausting too.
  17. Late Emperor

    Line relief system

    Can't the re-enactors simulate if this relief system was practical or not by clashing in large numbers and beating violently each other shields with the false swords?
  18. Late Emperor

    Mutiny In The Ranks

    If the article is correct, then IMHO the Roman Army from the Marian to the Diocletian reform could be compared to the WW2 Soviet Army: superpowerful and unstoppable thanks to its enormous numbers and fierce stubborness but of mediocre quality, kept running through brutal discipline and ready to turn in a horde of looters once discipline was relaxed by commanders in occupied territories.
  19. Late Emperor

    The Problem with 'Roman' Games

    I'd really like a game similar to Morrowind and Oblivion, set in the Roman Republic/Empire. (Without wizarda, monsters, etc... of course).
  20. Late Emperor

    The great Hannibal according to history channel

    There's a big difference between inaccuracy and completely twisting history: if a WW2 documentary depicted Roosevelt as a native-american, Hitler like a blonde tall norwegian and Stalin as a mongol with moustaches, then people that actually know how they looked like, would likely complain and rightly so.
  21. Late Emperor

    The great Hannibal according to history channel

    In this case they should call their show: Fictionary Channel.
  22. Late Emperor

    Why Rome didn't conquer Ireland?

    AFAIK the Roman Empire had an area of influence around its borders: the territories near roman borders were like imperial protectorates (The Kingdom of Armenia, the foederati germanic tribes, ecc...). Ireland could have been a roman protectorate too.
  23. . . . and as if by magic, this thread appears. I guess my swiss knife would not impress them. I will take a bar of soap with me: that will impress the romans for sure.
  24. Late Emperor

    Line relief system

    I see: in few words the romans lost their ability to draw good pre-battle plans and the ability of their centurions to execute them correctly. This means that the early and high imperial armies had actually a significant training necessary to fight successfully. A further question: if the roman centuries had to fight autonomously, following the battle plan, due to lack of efficient communication between the units on the battlefield and between the units and the general, then why the medieval byzantine army, heir of the late imperial army, allegedly was very capable to coordinate in "real time" infantry units, cavalry archers and heavy cavalry operating on the battlefield? Did they develope an efficient signaling system in order to overcome the tactical limits of the classic roman army?
  25. The sassanids actually launched a few massive attacks against the Romans in IVth century but after checking I agree that they mostly launched small raids against the imperial borders. I guess that also Julian's defeat against them was due not only to his poor leadership but also the decline of the army tactical ability.