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Virgil61

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Everything posted by Virgil61

  1. Virgil61

    Why was Caesar a great general?

    This might account for Caesar's inferiority in Gaul, but not the campaigns in Greece and Africa. In both those cases there was an enemy naval presence which Alexander's quartermasters didn't have to deal with. I recall him fretting over his ships being caught in Ruspina. Wasn't the consul who had crap poured over his head--begins with a B--giving his supply line fits in the Adriatic? And remember in Greece Pompeii had the advantage of inferior lines--support base and supply lines to his immediate rear. In the end I wouldn't say Caesar was better or even the equal of Alexander logistically, but that they were dealing with drastically different issues of enemy and terrain that makes comparisons not so clear cut. I'd add that with Alexander of course we're dealing with the gold standard of generalship in the ancient world. Freidrich? Oh, ok, not him.
  2. Virgil61

    Why was Caesar a great general?

    I've never read it, but I know it's a seminal work in the field. I'll seek it out, theres' also The Logistics of the Roman Army at War which seems to have started as a PhD dissertation. There's no question that Alexander had a monumental task before him logistically. But, in commenting on this and MPC's post I'd put forth the following for discussion; Alexander's quartermasters task was made easier by the sea routes paralleling much of his expedition east and by those routes being uncontested, neither of which were replicated in Caesar's case. Even then his logistics weren't perfect, if I recall at least one poor quartermaster was put to death when supplies didn't arrive in time. Caesar and Alexander had drastically different terrain (and naval) factors which count in measuring their logistical differences.
  3. Virgil61

    Rome And Usa.

    Don't Americans work more hours and receive less vacations than almost all other industrial nations. One average I believe American workers work three hours more a week than other G8 nations, which in the aggregate of millions of workers adds up. But there's more to it than that. American workers still have the highest productivity rate of the major industrial powers, in other words in one hour of work they produce something like .3% more than other G8 workers which again adds up in the aggregate in a huge economy like the U.S.'s. The Chinese have a lot of issues ahead of them. The urban/rural divide is pretty vast if the literature is to be believed and there are major social and infrastructure problems that need to be focused on. They are also facing a demographic crunch in the next 20 years. Because of their 'one child' policy birth rates fell. Now that generation is heading towards retirement and there are fewer workers left to replace or support them. This has major economic and social consequences. I think it was Deutsche Bank that recently did a study high-lighting the fact that if they don't address this then China's long-term growth may slow. I'm not so sure we've become complacent. The US economy has outperformed the major EU powers and Japan on average in the last twenty years. GNP per capita and real wages have increased faster than theirs and a steady population growth--higher than other first world countries--guarantees a steady labor pool and consumer base. That doesn't mean there aren't problems to be addressed, but other countries would kill to trade their 'issues' for ours. I'm more concerned about the bottom 20% of the population. I'm not by nature anti-immigrant or anti-Mexican but the vast influx of illegal aliens is pushing wages at the lower end of the spectrum down artificially. Working people need to make a living wage and benefit from economic growth via those wages.
  4. Virgil61

    Why was Caesar a great general?

    I take a contrarian position on this topic. I highly doubt that logistical problems were confined to Caesar's army. The reason we know so much about it is that he wrote of the issue. Even now if you looked at a typical US Army Brigade commander's day in Iraq a large portion of it is devoted to logistics of some kind. If we put forth that Caesar had some sort of atypical problem with logistics then how do we deal with the logistics of Hannibal's twenty year stay in Italy? He had no supply line available and lived on the fat of the land with or without the support of the locals. Do we use the same criticism of the barbarian armies of the 5th century that moved across the Western empire? We don't have Trajan's account of ops in Dacia, or that of hardly any other commander of Roman troops. Keep in mind that if you're moving through unfriendly territory with say 50,000 men do we really think that there were daily or weekly log trains of hundreds of wagons filled with 'corn' supplying these legions? Trajan's column is instructive. It portrays the legion's soldiers as building fortifications and conducting supply operations. It was chiseled by artists who must have been in the legions or, probably, had been advised as to what to depict. And it depicts not battles generally, but the movement of troops, building fortifications and supply issues; those things that take up a soldier's and commander's time. I think we're making the same mistake as the British archaeologist who's looked at Trajan's column and determined that the legion's had become nothing more than military engineers by his rule not understanding that actual fighting is a small token of an army's problems. We know of Caesar's problem because logistics is a commander's issue and, importantly, he was the only commander whose extended first-person account of long-term operations we have.
  5. Virgil61

    Why was Caesar a great general?

    Was it Marius or Sulla who should be credited for the campaign against Jugurtha? Of course they were at each others throats for years over that question. Anyway, Marius was in North Africa for over two years while Caesar's presence was a matter of a few months. Different objectives of course and I'm not sure if they're comparable. At Ruspina Caesar's men (30 cohorts, mostly newly raised) were on a foraging expedition and the two rather small armies came upon each other. Caesar was almost without cavalry or archers vs. Labienus' Numidians. Interestingly Fuller and Goldsworthy have written in (I think) dramatically different tones about Ruspina. Fuller considers it a narrower escape than his jumping into the Great Harbour at Alexandria while Goldsworthy calls it a setback and can barely bring himself to call Ruspina a battle. (Fuller is at pg 270 in the Da Capo press printing and Goldsworthy at the top of pg 459.)
  6. Virgil61

    Why was Caesar a great general?

    It's these leadership abilities combined with a sense of confidence (his and his soldier's), a choice to make sacrifices for speed and his willingness to take the risks that makes him a great commander. Those strengths are often his greatest weaknesses; call it a trade-off in the matrix of military operations. Whatever his drawbacks the bottom line is that his opponents made more mistakes than JC did.
  7. Out of scientific and historical curiosity I've recently conducted some serious research into the physical traits of present day Italians that might be of some interest to some vis-a-vis traits in ancient Italy. Here are the results of my inquiry (then click on 'Le 101 finaliste di Salsomaggiore' in the upper right hand corner) along with a map showing their respective regions. The results, I think most will agree, are very interesting. [Edited to update correct link]
  8. Virgil61

    Firefox 2

    Thanks, I know about the memory leak problem. I've read on Mozilla forums that some users have had similar problems to mine but no solution's been offered.
  9. Virgil61

    Firefox 2

    I'm using XP. FF works the majority of the time, but after prolonged usage it begins to 'hang' and I've noticed that my computer runs slower.
  10. Virgil61

    Firefox 2

    Yes, twice. It could just be in conflict with something on my computer, unfortunately I have no idea what.
  11. Virgil61

    March Madness

    Tournament's over for me.
  12. Virgil61

    March 07 Essay Entry

    I honestly believe that it could be the simple contrast of a competitive Republic versus a Principate in which advancement was only gained by the goodwill of the Princeps. As distasteful as that may seem to us now, we have to remember that the wars of Marius/Sulla and Octavian/Antony had been seen as factional rivalries, and once there was one man in control, promising an end to all the strife, the exhausted populace fell for it. (What is really interesting is why?) Whatever Republican facade Augustus may have hid behind, he was very firmly in control of the state. It is what I have always believed, Cato - but I would certainly welcome other views and arguments. It was anathema to Cicero to conceive of one supreme ruler - it went against everything he believed in. Augustus had been brought up with Julius as a 'role model', so the idea was not so alien to him. But you are right - a discussion on how the populace saw the merits of peace and a halt to imperial expansion would be fascinating. You may be on to something. It just may be that the answer to MPC's question is that it is a measure of Augustus' control that he was able to 'manage' such expectations. Governors like Cornelius Gallus who got carried away with self-promotion in Egypt or generals such as Crassus' grandson who expected a triumph and a spolia opima (those who got 'to big for their britches' as they say) seem to have simply disappeared from public life. Whatever else he was, he was an extremely competent politician. Karl Rove might even learn a trick or two from our Octavian.
  13. Virgil61

    March Madness

    Tar Heels lost a ten point lead to Georgetown and choked in overtime. Maybe next year.
  14. Virgil61

    History Writing Contest

    Congrats to Augusta and to all who took the time to enter!
  15. Virgil61

    March Madness

    Normally, job security precludes me from answering that question (especially when my alma mater Michigan plays my employer and arch-rival OSU)... [/url]. Ouch, that is a touchy situation, Big Ten fans are rabid. One of my best friends got her PhD at UNC; a school her grandfather, father and mother all went to. One of the buildings is named after an ancestor as as is one of the streets on campus. 'Tar Heel born' as they say. She got two offers, one at Catholic and one nearby. She took the one nearby and now works at...Duke ('it' and UNC are only 9 miles apart). She struggles. I'll check out those brackets.
  16. Virgil61

    March Madness

    Carolina beats USC. Looked like the Trojans were gonna blow us out but the Heels outpaced them. Ohio State v Tar Heels tomorrow. MPC not an OSU fan I take it?
  17. Virgil61

    Who killed the Republic?

    Frankly they all had some culpability in the Republic's demise but weren't the underlying cause. Somewhere during the growth of the Republic its institutions began to fail in dealing with the internal political dynamics and stresses. If the Gracchi, Marius, Sulla, etc., even JC, were never born others would have taken their places in the list.
  18. Virgil61

    March Madness

    Yeah they did, but the Heels pulled it out at the end. Heels just had a deeper bench rotating their guys as much as they did it wore MSU out. That Neitzel is a heck of a player. Looks like it's USC-Carolina next week. NCAA March Madness
  19. Virgil61

    March Madness

    I enjoyed that game myself! E. Kentucky scared me for a minute when they came back from 20 points and got within 4 of the Heels. They're in Winston-Salem for Michigan St., almost like a home game. EDIT: In case anyone is interested you can watch the games online at the CBS sports page. Go halfway down the page to NCAA March Madness on Demand.
  20. This might add to the debate, or not. I'd posted this a few months back: Myths of British Ancestry Excerpt: Everything you know about British and Irish ancestry is wrong. Our ancestors were Basques, not Celts. The Celts were not wiped out by the Anglo-Saxons, in fact neither had much impact on the genetic stock of these islands
  21. Virgil61

    Democracy in the Empire

    Graffiti at both Pompeii and Herculaneum show that, at least at the urban level, elections were still ongoing well into the Principate in Italy. Additionally I remember reading about excavations in Spain that revealed a constitutional template of sorts for local governance and elections, dated I think to the 1st or 2d centuries AD. I recall Peter Heather indicating that under Diocletian local officials became to the central Imperial government. The result of this being less involvement to curry favor by the more influential locals; could this be an indication that perhaps this need to curry local favor may mean civic elections had continued into the early 4th century? My best guess is these civic elections during the Principate were mostly confined to Western Europe in cities more heavily populated by Roman settlers, at least at first, and perhaps Greece. Any commentary, or better yet, studies that address the issue of democracy in cities during the empire?
  22. The question could easily be turned on its head and stated as such: Since the Romans were generally more 'democratic' in their individual political make-up why did they submit themselves to discipline more so than a person under the authoritarian rule of an Eastern King? I think using the client relationship is reading far too much into it. Sometimes the answer is far simpler; Early Romans fought a lot and learned the lessons of discipline; pickets who fell asleep led to surprise attacks, formations who stuck it out had a far higher rate of survival or even success, formations who fled led to incredible losses and so on. Sometimes we want to make nice theories about issues that are fairly straightforward. I'm far more inclined to say that the Romans, through hard fought experience, hit on the formula for success. I'm not saying that there may be no input from the client/patron system, but I'd argue it isn't terribly relevant. The Romans found an common-sense organizational training approach that worked (they were like that). To illustrate the point in its extreme, it's a bit like asking how the client/patron system influenced the Roman approach to engineering arches.
  23. Virgil61

    Democracy in the Empire

    I think it might be important to note that some rudimentary elements of democracy endured for generations under the Principate, at least at the local level in the West--Italy, Spain, Greece, perhaps Gaul--outside of Rome. I suspect it wasn't always pretty nor a purely democratic--local politics, factionalism, even feuds and all--but the indications are that it was fairly resilient as a form of urban governance. That it took economic upheaval in the 4th century under the Dominate to bring it to an end might be instructive (or not), but it's certainly interesting. I'd like to have found some literature focusing on the topic, even a dissertation, but no luck so far. I think there were some economic reasons (inflation) for the difficulty in tax collection in the 4th century if I recall Heather (I'll have to dig him up) that led to fewer people wanting the position. I remember he also made a salient point that once appointed rather than elected fewer and fewer civic projects occurred in urban areas since there was really no point in the new officials currying favor with the locals.
  24. Virgil61

    Happy Birthday to M. Porcius Cato!

    Happy 34th MPC! GJC also sends his regards.
  25. I'd seriously challenge the idea that the client/patron relationship had anything but a tangential influence on discipline. The client/patron relationship seems to be a factor in many societies, not all of which produced disciplined armies. The world has never lived in fear of a Latin American army to use a more contemporary example. And, as MPC stated, the Spartans with a vastly different society produced disciplined armies. The idea that you imbue soldiers with a determination to hold their formation or strictly follow orders seems more the outcome of the hard won experience of constant warfare, something the early Romans had a substantial history of. The same goes for training, something discipline is useless without, and that the clientelae institution doesn't explain. What it would explain it is a Roman Army structure where clients led their own groups into battle, something more akin to say what the Gallic and German clans and tribes may have done. Polybius gives a fine example of an army organization during a large call up of citizens who gather at a certain hour on the parade ground (though by this time it may have been centuries in the making). The several tribunes each pick four men at a time, much like we would a softball team, until they are all assigned. Not something that lends to a clientelae relationship in the smaller group sense at least.
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