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Virgil61

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Everything posted by Virgil61

  1. Virgil61

    The Parthians

    It's one of the great "what ifs" of ancient history in my opinion. Plutarch (if I remember correctly) wrote that he wanted to crush the Parthians, move through Armenia into the land of the Scythians and come back through the Germans to Gaul. Whether he could have succeeded or not, there's no one else I could imagine more capable of it in his era.
  2. Virgil61

    Gaius Julius Caesar

    I'll add that while the National Guard traditionally handles civil disturbances, under Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations, civilian authorities can request the use of active duty military forces to assist them (as in the 1968 riots).
  3. Virgil61

    The Parthians

    Considering the fact that he at least knew of Marius and his tactics vs. Jugertha, and considering his avid use of siege tactics, my guess is he would take a slow and steady approach. Perhaps like Marius constructing fortification in key areas and isolating all important points to eventually scatter and starve the Parthians and their hungery horses. I agree it's a good guess that Caesar would have concentrated on limiting foraging resources for the Parthians. More than anyone I think, Caesar had a sixth sense about using the logistics in his area of to his advantage and the detriment of the enemy. And he was never shy about conducting (and succeeding) at seige warfare either. I would disagree about one thing; slow and study was never his style.
  4. Virgil61

    The Parthians

    I'm not sure if they ever had that idea in their mind, they were more interested in protecting their interests in Armenia; Cassus and Caesar excepted. They were able to successfully defend their frontiers against Parthian incursions, but I think we tend to forget that the Parthians had long periods of peace with Rome as well as treaties that were mutually beneficial. Trajan's attack on Parthia was strated as a direct result of a perceived breach of a treaty over Armenia rather than an intent to conquer A more interesting question, for me at least, is what Julius Caesar would have done had he not been assassinated and conducted his war against Parthia.
  5. Virgil61

    Gaius Julius Caesar

    Felix, would you say that opinion is shared by all your brothers in arms? Lets say hypothetically that Bush claimed that terrorists were running rampant in some American town and it had to be bombed, or some people killed. Would your brothers follow orders without asking questions? What if they were under orders to apprehend rioters or protestors? What if you were asked to fire on protestors? I am not trying to be provocative, I am honestly curious about your opinions on this. I returned from Iraq early last year after a reserve call-up, I spent 9 years at Bragg active duty and keep in close contact with several friends. I don't think many would actively engage in something like the hypothesis he stated [i know it was speculative but Schoomaker is a pretty good leader, he was CDR of USASOC in the 90's when I was on Bragg]. Apprehending rioters and protesters is a completely different issue. This was actually done during the riots in D.C. in 1968 by a brigade of the 82d Airborne.
  6. Virgil61

    Best Roman Emperor

    I think a couple of thing mar his rise and reign. He was rather cold-blooded and manipulative, especially when he was younger; for example having no hesitation (along with Antony and Lepidus) proscribing death for many Romans so that he could deliver their land to Antony's legions. I also think he had no intention of dismantling the Republic or its institutions, but his political manipulations led to a centralization of power that made any reversion to the Republic impossible after his death. He made a grevious error in not giving a vision for a post-Augustan Republican Rome, something I think he would have wanted. A great man none the less, but he loses points for these things.
  7. Virgil61

    Joining The Legions

    If you're in college or have a university close by you might be able to look up: Brunt, P. A., "Conscription and Volunteering in the Roman Imperial Army," Scripta Classica Israelica 1 (1974) 90-115 Brunt is one of the great Roman historians and while I haven't read this article, I'd like to get my hands on it.
  8. Virgil61

    Webpage Layout

    Wow, that flew by me, sorry I missed this post from you. I notice less fatigue on the eyes. Thank you.
  9. Virgil61

    Best Roman Emperor

    I have to agree with Trajan. Really the ideal for what a good emperor should be. While he brought long needed peace to Rome, Augustus' early manipulations aren't to my tastes and of course he was responsible for the end of the Republic although I get the sense that even in the end that wasn't his intent. Next on the list probably Vespasian for his common sense and Marcus Aurelius for his combination of soldier/philosopher virtues, although he loses points for his son's rise to the throne. Some have mentioned Hadrian, but I think the darker aspects of his personality keep him from being at the top of the list. Near best include Diocletian, Constantine the Great and Aurelian.
  10. Virgil61

    Gaius Julius Caesar

    Interesting article I ran across that suggests a step back from the long accepted notion of client-patron relationships in the Republic. Not an endorsement, but it makes for either interesting reading on the subject or an addition to your "more than I'll ever want to know" file. http://www.ucpress.edu/scan/ca-e/172/morst...in-marx.172.pdf
  11. Virgil61

    Probably A Dumb Question...

    You might want to take a look at the Tabula Peutingeriana. It's a medieval copy of a Roman map thought to have been made in the 4th century but using information from older sources. It probably gives a decent idea of the density of towns and cities in the Empire. Edit: It's a bit awkward to figure out at first since the map was made to roll up and therefore distorted. http://www.laputanlogic.com/articles/2004/...-0001-1002.html
  12. Virgil61

    Gaius Julius Caesar

    You're absolutely right Caesar did make the offer and Pompey didn't take it being under the influence of Cato and Co. I can imagine Pompey thinking "...I woulda, I coulda, I shoulda, goddamn Cato..." as he sailed to Egypt after Pharsulus. Actually he was probably thinking he should have run the war his own way and not listened to everyone's pressure to do battle. I agree with you about other Roman generals doing the same [probably even worse] as Caesar. Gauls having a special place in the sack of Rome, Vae Victus and all.
  13. Virgil61

    Empire Or Republic?

    I can thank my parents for my Roman roots, being Italian and all. The Catholic church itself contains many rituals that are thought to have been taken from pagan Roman (as well as Mithriatic customs taken from the legions). I can't really imagine much in military tactics that we've learned from the Romans exclusively; things like concentration of force, flanking, a professional army, etc., were pretty universal to successful militaries. On the other hand engineering, especially civil engineering, was definitily influenced by the Romans. I don't think roads developed to the Roman standard until the mid-20th century. There are a few counties I've lived in where the number of potholes makes you wonder if they've yet to surpass Roman roads. And of course the influence of Roman institutions was a major factor with the founding fathers. I think you're downplaying the Germanic influence- assuming you're posting from the U.S. or a Commonwealth country. Our laws don't use the Civil Law system originally developed by the Romans, but the common law system which was a vestige of the invading Anglo-Saxon tribes. Influenced by Rome certainly, but things like juries, the adversary system, etc., have very Germanic roots. English, classified by linguists as a Germanic language, has less latin terminology if you discount scientific and legal terms that don't have common usage. I believe linguists have determined that the large majority of words used in English in everyday usage are of Anglo-Saxon origin (the way we speak to our family, friends, etc.). For writing and speaking on more complex issues we tend to rely more heavily on words of Latin or Norman origin. I think our culure is more a combination of Germanic and Latin influences with very little Celtic.
  14. Virgil61

    Webpage Layout

    Thanks for replying so quickly. I'm not sure what to suggest exept perhaps a slightly darker background if you use white lettering or black lettering on a light grey or blue background [black on white might be a bit to stark]. If others don't agree I can just deal with it as it is.
  15. Virgil61

    Optimates Or Populares

    "Sir Clive�" with a "smoking jacket"� allegations of "realpolitic." ...and even a pipe to puff. Oh my. Sorry, Virgil, just a T, tennies and cutoffs boy here, perhaps you should check at the mansion next door? Anyway, that was a beautiful and enthusiastic rebuttal, but I am a little confused about what is being rebutted? [puff puff] Let�s see� ] Didn't mean to come off as crotchety as I did, I suppose I should take off the the ol' workers cap myself, red star and all. Although it did seem you were supporting those Optimates, I should have phrased it differently. I wrote it while at work and was jazzed up about a political issue (I work in downtown D.C.). While you're absolutely correct in stating a fact (reality really); what a ruling class must weigh in a sort of political cost-benefit analysis [the push-pull thing], I'm not so sure that acceptance of it as the only route is the way to go. Acknowledgment of it should be encouraged of course (Machiavelli- who's been unfairly maligned for calling a spade a spade- caught on before anyone). I've nothing against elites per se- hell I wish I was in the elite 35% tax bracket- I just don't think they're generally as beneficial. [This conversation leads me to think that back to the old adage that history should be a tool for avoiding the mistakes of the past.] An elite that comes to its position fairly through merit is fine with me, it's the subsequent generation's mechanizations that fix the game so they stay on top that I'm not a fan of, whether it's Rome, Tudor England or the U.S. Short of bloody revolutions, getting fresh blood in often, rather than a long established rule of one class, seems a better route. I'm sometimes not so sure our present day American system is all that good at it, better than most but not optimal (and based on previous posts on Cato, a discussion of our system vis-a-vis the Republic is pretty relevant). And I guess this partially explains my "enthusiastic indignation" especially towards the Republic; idealized, flawed versions of it and it's downfall have been accepted as dogma by many parts of our political society (Cato Institute, National Review, Libertarians, etc.). How many times I've heard the fall of the Republic compared with the U.S. in today's world here in this town I can't keep track of. Perhaps the Romans wouldn't have understood what we were talking about at the same level, but I think both the Gracchi and even Julius Caeser had a sense of it. And I think it was precisely the mis-management of the process by the Optimates that led to the fall of the Republic, although that one may be argued long after we're gone. "I am from the head count" (a big "me too" on that one), I'd forgotten that term. I think I'll use it in a sentence one of these days!
  16. Virgil61

    Empire Or Republic?

    A lot of this idealization of Cato stuff started with Joseph Addison's play " Cato" in 1714 and a series of essays by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon called "Cato's Letters" extolling limited government (around the same period as the play). These were popular among many in England and America, but not exactly historically accurate. These two items heavily influenced the founders and led to the modern view of Cato, especially among present day libertarians. The founding fathers may have thought him a hero, but they were sadly misguided or misinformed in my opinion. Fiscally honest sure, but a stubborn ass who helped bring the republic down by his refusal to compromise. A staunch reactionary who refused, out of personal spite, to award land due veteran's, a hypocrite who contrary to law murdered Roman citizens without trial after the Catiline conspiracy and who attacked Caesar's agrarian reforms of giving public land for the poor to farm. Ironic that it was thought the small farmer was the backbone of Roman success and that the disappearance of them was of no small part due to the senatorial class consolidating hold of them. I think once one divorces the hyperbole and false mythology from his actions, the real Cato comes to light. It ain't pretty. I work three blocks from the "Cato Institute", shake my head and smile every time I pass by.
  17. Virgil61

    The Assassination of Julius Caesar by M. Parenti

    Good review, it spurred me to add mine of the same book from my Amazon reviews. Definitely a marxist interpretation, although one doesn't need to be a marxist to utilize that analysis. In fact I think it's not done enough and Parenti makes what is essentialy an excellent point, not only about Rome but all ancient history; that we see it through the eyes of the winners and those with a vested interest in the telling. Classical history is especially devoid of anything but the "brandy snifter" school, to our great detriment.
  18. Virgil61

    The Assassination of Julius Caesar by M. Parenti

    The Assassination Of Julius Caesar Nominated for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, there is a lot to dissuade the serious reader of Roman history in Michael Parenti's "The Assassination of Julius Caesar". A radical commentator on contemporary society and historical memory, Parenti applies a "Marxian-lite" analysis of the late Republic. In hearing a talk he once gave, one comment he made stands out; "One of the great pleasures of learning history is not the learning it but the unlearning of preconceived notions". To that end he has an axe to grind with historians of the era and, in the first chapter, he names names and takes few prisoners. The effect of all this is to put the reader off a bit. I was taken aback as Parenti railed against the "gentlemen historians" and the class based prism that they have used to interpret the assassination of Caesar.... ...read the full review of The Assassination of Julius Caesar by Michael Parenti
  19. Virgil61

    Optimates Or Populares

    Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it. Such as, for example, when the majority wants to enslave a minority, or perhaps simply to kill it. One needn't look too far to find frightening examples of both. Which is one reason why this life-long greener-than-green liberal found himself siding with the Optimates in this string. Why? Because, by its very nature, a misdirected majority can be far worse than even the most abusive aristocrat. The primary reason is that fully empowered masses have no restraints on their conduct, they usually insist they don't need the aristocracy at all, and often would be happy to elimate it altogether. The exact opposite is true for the aristocrat, for whom the central reality is that its privileges, power and wealth are totally dependent on the continuing control and productive well being of the masses. For the aristocrat, any abuse of power that goes beyond what the masses will tolerate is suicidal. So, for the aristocrat the central question must always be: what is the limit of how much can I get away with? Likewise, if the aristocrat exceeds this limit, the critical question becomes: what must I do, what must I concede, to get the masses back under my control? Thus, for the aristocrat, the genius of the successful use of power becomes an unending game of push and pull, challenge and response. No one played this game with greater skill, and with greater long-term benefit to all, than the Roman senatorial class -- at least until the Gracchi. Thereafter things become dominated less by Populares and Optimates than by Opportunists on both sides. Thus, this Head Count vote for the Optimates. Ok Sir Clive, put the pipe down and take the smoking jacket off! While your explanation seems the height of realpolitik, it's really just apologetics for the expropriation of power by the few and the mass disenfrachisment of the majority. If society is lucky some of that power is directed "for the good of the state", but even if so it is always to the benefit of the aristocracy. The history of the pre-Gracchi Senate isn't just a history of a group embodied with doing good for the benefit of Rome, but also a group for whom a large portion of power was dedicated to adjusting the constitution and laws of Rome to their benefit. After all, what's good for General Motors... Most of those dreaded uprisings from that majority mob you fear are the result of the pressures, burdens and sometimes plain extortions from that aristocratic class. The emerging lawlessness or lack of restraints isn't the act of a group of feral sub-humans (or "misdirected majority") but the result of a lack of institutions or release for popular or factional pressures- institutions, political traditions- you name it- that weren't allowed to take root or were dismantled by that aristocracy. In any event, the frightening examples (of the misdirected majority) you speak of rarely occurred in such simplistic terms. Cambodia and Rhwanda are often spoken of as examples, but any close examination shows they aren't. The two largest revolutions most often pointed by the popular press as resulting in bloodbaths by the "mob" were overdramatized or no such thing. The French and Russian revolutions were expropriated by factions, Jacobins and Bolsheviks respectively, who proceeded to settle scores [though Parisians- the mob- did dispense justice for a time]. The previous noble classes had the luxury of their being born into their positions; their ancestors having solidified it by violence and war, oppression or whatever and then writing the histories that romanticise or justify. The Jacobins and Bolsheviks had the historical misfortune to exist in eras where literacy rates were high and allowed mountains of written documents to become available and a much brighter historical light to shine on them- less of an opportunity for them to be looked upon as the 'noble' optimates are today. To paraphrase a previous statement, the bulk of the Senate's history isn't of a group embodied soley with doing for the benefit of Rome but a group for whom a large function of their positions was dedicated to interpreting the constitution and laws of Rome to their benefit. The lesson here isn't to beware of the "mob" or even of opportunists, but to beware the eventual outcomes resulting from those who cloak their actions in false claims of protecting the Republic or the consitution. Me? Populares of course. (I'm sure you'd a guessed it by now)
  20. Virgil61

    Empire Or Republic?

    I can't disagree more. To quote Monty Python; "Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government", or in Rome's case [with many exceptions] being born into privilege. Think for a moment of the inefficiency of a system where birth, not merit, is the basis for one getting the spare time to wax poetic about astronomy, physics, math or what have you. At the same time the vast majority of the populace lived a fairly hand to mouth existence especially slaves [or serfs or early industrial workers depending on your period] whose lot is even worse. Oligarchies drive down the efficiency of merit or strangle it completely. Not that I don't admire or recognize the brilliance of a Newton, who was "To the manor born" to coin a phrase from Shakespeare's Hamlet. I do understand your point about the contributions of the upper classes, but at the risk of applying contemporary values I can't help but think of the lost efficiencies; how many Newtons did we not get because of that system? Think about our perceptions of Rome. They've been basically framed by the ancient writers like Plutarch, Polybius, et al., part of or writing for the upper classes or by the gentleman scholars of the 18th and 19th centuries with a definite point of view. Poor Romans for whom political and economic power was circumscribed by the Senate are referred contemptously as "the mob". Julius Caesar, ambitous and cynical as he could be, one could postulate wasn't responsible for the fall of the Republic- although one could argue a dictatorship for life was the first step the post was based on precedent and Republican institutions remained functioning. A good argument could be made that the Senate and it's own economic greed and refusal to come to terms with power sharing with the larger populace receives a lot of blame for it's intrangisence. Such a point of view wasn't developed until late last century using a more analytical approach, but still the view of the "brandy snifter" school of Rome from the 18/19th century still holds sway outside historical circles. Even Tom Holland's "Rubicon" which I recently finished, read like an updated version of some landed gentry's view of Rome and fear of that dirty "mob". The artisan guilds formed as economic protection were viewed as "gangs" by many of the gentlemen's school and this was parroted back as such by Holland. Cato a hero of the Republic? My ass, the stubborn mule was as responsible for the fall of the Republic as anyone with his refusal to grant land to veteran's and to compromise power in support of the oligarchical Senate and a constitution that they had long twisted to uphold their own positions. I've rambled on too long and got off topic, but thanks for making the point and triggering my thought process, such as it is. It may not be 100% spot on, but it represents a different angle to look at Rome and an important one to counter the "view from manor" version that's dominated popular Roman study.
  21. I've not been able to access the forums at www.roman-empire.net for quite awhile. Has anyone else experienced this and know what happened? Emails to admin go unanswered.
  22. Virgil61

    Why Did Rome Collapse?

    I think that PerfectimusPrime has the answer that's closest to the truth and closer to the view that some [not all] contemporary historians hold. The civil wars and strife over succession in the 3rd century A.D. [235 and 284] resulted in a dramatic decrease in the quality of the Roman army. Legion versus legion was a particularly brutal affair as many of you know. Decades of nearly constant combat between legions led to fewer veterans to train new troops and resulted in a military formations and tactics that required less skilled legionairres to man the formations. By the 4th century the legions were a shadow of their former selves leading Diocletion to conduct a reform of the army which concentrated on greater numbers rather than quality. Although I've got great respect for "The Decline and Fall..." I put little stock in Gibbon's claim that christianity was the cause. Certainly the pressure from barbarians and economic stagnation contributed, but in the end it was the lack of a decent policy of succession that resulted in the civil wars and the decline in military quality.
  23. Virgil61

    Rome's Biggest Military Disaster

    Although Teutonberg forest can arguably be the greater disaster, Cannae has had the most influence. As late as the first Gulf War Schwarzkopff claimed to have used it as an inspiration.
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