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Everything posted by Virgil61

  1. Virgil61

    What's the last book you read?

    Just finished "The Sparrow", a 'literary' sci-fi I'd call it, about contact with a less advanced civilization. It's about a group of Jesuit priests and laypeople on a funded exploration of a planet where radio transmissions of songs were received from. Very well written with ruminations about theology and how initial cultural contact can lead to tragic misunderstandings.
  2. Virgil61

    The Landmark Series

    The Landmark series is excellent. I think they're the gold standard for their particular translations simply because the accompanying notes, maps, appendixes along with the old-fashioned dates w/comment in the margins are all done so well. Very thoughtfully put together. Some advice; spend the extra money for the hardcover I found the one paperback I have isn't as durable and very prone to getting misshapen. Absolutely can't wait for Caesar's Commentaries and Polybius' Histories to come out. Strangely they don't have Livy in the works.
  3. Well there is evidence given by several classical archaeologists put forth in the classical journal Britannia where they speculate on two finds at two Roman army digs. These were found along with saddle and shield covers at the Flavian army site near Carlisle with a very similar cover (suggesting some commonality of design) found at a site in The Netherlands (Vechten). They were made for double-sided drums rather than the 'drummer boy' type. Two similar items found in two Roman military camps suggest they were used by some legions at some time but of course don't give up for what. I think the Britannia issue is from the 90s, I have it somewhere.
  4. Virgil61

    Commentaries on the Gallic wars

    A very good map since it gives topographical information which helps make some sense of the campaign routes and perhaps even of some of the decision making by JC. EDIT: Might be nice to add the map url. Gaul Map
  5. Virgil61

    When did they stop being legions?

    Good point, but even Zosimus' spent time praising some units and their efficacy in warfare. Sebastianus came from Gaul and presumably Zosimus' recounting is based on a comparison between the legions S was used to and what he saw in Constantinople. S's statement isn't really an indictment of the Roman army of that period as a whole but certainly a major slam on Valens' army specifically and an acknowledgement that there was a variation of quality in the legions.
  6. Virgil61

    Could Boudicca have turned the tables at Mancetter?

    Concise, and to the point. With a possibly winning strategy, that may have been Sun Tzu's advice rather than my more complex one. I like it!!! Here we go again with the modernization of past armies. No way is Boudica's army an Army in the Modern Sense. No denying that. Please bear in mind however that neither the Roman Legions were an army at all in the modern sense. He's not said anything about modernization he questioned whether they--the Brits--were an army in the 'real sense' (do they approach the Oxford or Webster's definition? Yes they seem to.) and he said the Romans were more professional, in fact they were professionals (i.e. full-time employment as soldiers). Neither is 'modernization' they are description.
  7. Virgil61

    Could Boudicca have turned the tables at Mancetter?

    He was born in 56 AD so it's entirely possible he spoke with veterans of that war though the 100k enemy figure is a bit suspect. Of course a fishing story is much better if the fish in question is size of VW bus though in this case there is a lot of subtext to the whole thing; patriotism, barbarian savagery, etc.
  8. Virgil61

    What's the last book you read?

    Life by Keith Richards & James Fox The most enjoyable read I've had in years. Read it if you love Rock n Roll. Did you know Keith Richards used to do drugs?
  9. Virgil61

    Steve Jobs RIP

    I'll just add here that changing the world isn't the same as being a nice person. The Gandhi essay is a fantastic example of his commentary outside his novelistic writings. He's a saint of sorts to the right because of his reaction to Stalinism via 1984 & Animal Farm, but his essays and earlier novels on life in Burma and the streets of Paris are outstanding stuff. It's a pity they are overlooked by the mainstream reader. Many people forget he was an avowed socialist until his death who rejected tyranny and oppression no matter who delivered it, because of that he was critical of many on the left. I've have two books of his essays [that now I can't seem to find!] and several of his novels. He was a fantastic commentator on his era. Homage to Catalonia is one of the greatest war memoirs of all time I think.
  10. Virgil61

    We're going to beat the legions

    The Swiss did train more often than one thinks. Most of the pikemen were from the same village or valley and spent their lives drilling next to each other. The amount of time spent training seems to have been more consistent under the Swiss being an annual requirement whereas the Greek citizen phalanxes were done on a need to fight basis (certainly with some differences like Sparta). At least early on I believe they would train with each man in the same place & each square in the same place in the battle line. Their order of march was kept the same in all campaigns if I remember correctly. That sort of consistency probably contributed to their efficiency on the field and in movement. The Swiss citizen armies had formations somewhat similar to the Greeks but their discipline seems to have been more along the lines of a well trained Roman citizen-legion of the Republic. In 1444 a force of 1500 Swiss confronted a 20,000 man French army and fought a battle where they were eventually killed almost to the last man without wavering. Mods please ban this poster.
  11. Man, that's a lot of questions. I recently reread Tacitus' Annals (the new Woodward translation) but I think even then and even here on UNRV someone would have to take a bit of time to review the sources on that one (and they probably are). Not sure if the other tribes were all in revolt but Suetonius did march from Mona/Anglesey through what Tacitus called a hostile (hostes-Latin, Italian--ostile) population. Boudicca had several tribes under her leadership at Watling Street and Suetonius' victory is said to have put an end to uprisings so I'd say the indication is that if there were any other hot-spots they weren't that big. Boudica didn't need to be lured by anything but the presence of his army. They wanted to get rid of the Romans--according to Dio (not as good a source as T) they were almost in a frenzy about it--and as long as that army is there Romans aren't leaving. The IInd's Praefectus Castorum committed suicide (he's the one who ignored the calls for help) apparently it's said it was because he deprived his soldiers of a part in the victory, or that's the story. I wouldn't be surprised if it was due to shame as much as anything else, those guys were usually life-long veterans who climbed up the ranks. Cerealis was somehow related to Vespasian. One of our posters--Maty--has written a biography of him, he's probably the guy you'd want to talk to. Rumor is he also enjoyed pouring milk over his breakfast hence...
  12. Virgil61


    Well sort of, I guess I wasn't clear enough, I was merely posting some non-important addenda about modern saluting. In the American army saluting takes place only outdoors the exceptions being inside with headgear/weapon or (formally) reporting to a superior. Secondly it is a respectful greeting but required to be given from lower to higher rank and to be returned by the senior officer receiving it. I've taken the following from my copy of Sara Phang's 2008 sociological study of the Roman army Roman Military Service; Ideologies of Discipline in the Late Republic and Early Principate. Did the soldiers greet their of?cers with the
  13. Virgil61

    A Post-EU World?

    Isn't its nickname the Torygraph? I suspect the article is just a dust up for attention, positing an extreme view to make a point perhaps. It takes as over-dramatic a view of the contraction in gov't spending as the right's meltdown over the national debt here in the U.S. One trick used to scare everyone is the total debt $ when the correct tool is debt ratio (% of debt to gdp). Fourteen Trillion followed by a dramatic ticker adding debt per second makes people crap their pants here in a way that say calling it a debt ratio of 1 to 1 doesn't. The debt here and abroad is manageable--revenue from 5 years of 3+% growth has been projected to pay down much of the American debt (almost half is from one off spending from the mortgage crisis; Tarp, other bail outs, the bump in spending to boost the economy a couple of years back) but that sort of sane talk among economists gets lost in the political battles. But governments often over-correct in response to pressures which I think is happening in some European countries. A longer range plan is discarded for one with more tangible immediate results, unfortunately one of those results might be an economic downturn because the plug was pulled too early. This article is a response to that reaction, just as, if not more extreme. As for China they've got a rendezvous with the market. The low-wages that are responsible for the economic rise of its economy are coming to an end and there is a contraction in the work force as this generation ages (the next generational cohort is something like 15% smaller in number). They're working like crazy to keep their currency down but it will eventually have to float like everyone else. Once it does their products will be more expensive and the export market will lose clients.
  14. Virgil61


    Those other Romano-Greeks--the Byzantines--continued a system of organized medical knowledge. There are several treatises by Byzantine physicians which added to previous medical knowledge, per 'cutting edge' care in say the 9th century Constantinople was probably where you'd find the highest level of care. I think there are a couple of books out there that argue monasteries developed an infirmary system that improved on practices of antiquity. One thing the medieval era in Europe did have going for it is that the university systems being developed also began to issue medical degrees. Crude of course, but at least there developed a system of training given to budding physicians and that system was in place to transmit knowledge when better standards of care existed. I read recently that circa 1380 or so Florence had 60 university trained physicians for a population of 120,000 and after the Black Death the number was 52 per 42,000. There's a morbid joke in there somewhere.
  15. Virgil61


    One of the characteristics of modern military salutes not usually understood by civilians is that it isn't a servile formality vis-a-vis lower to higher rank. The salute is to be returned by the ranking officer. Failure to return a properly given salute is a military no-no and frankly insulting. I have personally witnessed high ranking officers being corrected by NCOs for not returning a salute either to themselves or to lower enlisted ranks. There's of course no proof of it among the Romans though returning a salute would be a perfectly Roman thing for a good commander to do and fits in with a general trend of good leadership exhibited by many (of course not all) good military leaders throughout the history of Western armies. As an aside a peculiarities in the American army is there is no saluting permitted unless one is wearing a weapon (then headgear is worn) or reporting to an officer (often for something bad). This is an outgrowth of the old Army when paymasters would travel around and pay troops accompanied by armed escorts.
  16. Virgil61

    Best books on the Roman Legions?

    Good resource, eye-opening inscriptions from all over the empire all in one volume; papyrri remains, etc., in the soldier's own words. On some levels soldiering remains the same; morning formations, work details, discharges, importance of date of enlistment/rank, spending one's career in several different units (legions here) and so on. Good stuff. Great list. I own all but the Watson and Maty works. The last is in my Amazon cart for triple points for when I make my come-from-behind Amazon challenge move. The Roman Army at War is a necessary read, mistakes and all, in my opinion. Its logical sequence is the standard for this type of thing, it does need is a good updating. For years I've had an aversion to the Osprey series as being only as good for bathroom reading. I've come to like the Essential History series, it has some good stuff on things like the Punic War, Caesar's Gallic War, etc. and Osprey in general has some decent biographies (I have the Hannibal & Caesar volumes, they are excellent for a serious beginner) along with stuff on tactics and sieges. The Theodore Dodge books on Hannibal and Caesar are still readable and written with the eye of a soldier, they're free online & great for an ebook reader like a Kindle.
  17. I'm going straight to bourbon.
  18. Virgil61

    Legacy of Mussolini?

    Big subject, but I hardly think the new deal was all about pump priming. That didn't really take until WW2 anyway. Early pump priming effectiveness was offset by witch hunting punishment of business to sate populist yobs, smothering regulation, and bloat of the public sector. Although FDR was against public unions, he layed the groundwork for that being the logical conclusion for the developed world where (as in Greece) the public sector owns the citizens instead of vice versa. I'll admit it's an oversimplification of course but pump-priming by the government certainly is a core element of the ND, Keynesian economics is nothing if not that. [EDIT: I'll add that priming the pump has been a description of the New Deal from high school through grad school. They don't do that anymore? ] As many economists have stated the economy was on the mend until the opposition gained control of spending in Congress and tightened the fiscal noose around '37 causing things to get worse again. A solid majority of economic historians and economists (aggregated) don't believe the gov't made the Great Depression worse. LINK That whole argument ('government made the depression worse') has been a recent phenomena that I think panders to groups eager for justifications against government interference in contemporary society. There is speculation not evidence that regulation constricted growth circa the mid-30s or that scattered anti-business policies around some states significantly effected it either. The 'bloat' of the public sector; dams, roads and other construction was what was pushing demand, that was the point of it all. The post 1940 boom due to war production is Keynesian economics on steroids. The post-war economy was able to soak up production of those industries who could make the switch to civilian/consumer goods to answer the pent-up demand. But whatever the merits of our arguments on the effectiveness of gov't involvement in the depression calling it akin or a fellow traveler to Fascism couldn't be more wrong IMHO.
  19. Virgil61

    Constantine's Christianity

    Have you spoken with your advisor (assuming you have one)?
  20. Virgil61

    Legacy of Mussolini?

    Many of my relatives and their neighbors were anti-fascists, so my opinion of Mussolini is not impartial. Their region of Italy was one of the last to fall to his rule (Parma-Reggio Emilia). Mine fished and farmed in Abruzzo, I don't think they gave a damn one way or the other. Grandfather ended up in a POW camp in Scotland and wasn't released until 1947 or so. Apparently POWs weren't given the first priority in transport! So were many anti-communists, Henry Ford, JP Morgan's partner Thomas Lament, Calvin Coolidge's old friend and avid supporter Frank Stearn, and on and on. Fortune magazine, owned by an anti-Roosevelt and ardent anti-communist life-long Henry Luce, devoted an issue to Mussolini. The point is of course those were different times and many now put forth slanted versions of history to justify contemporary beliefs.
  21. Because soldiering was also greatly bound up in Roman politics. The same classes who made up the various ranks had corresponding political standing to decide political questions as well. In the end its probable that there was an avoidance of allowing the head count to participate in battle as much for political rationale as anything. I suspect the fear was any allowance of the head count to participate in battle might lead them to a greater share of corresponding political power. The problems of serving soldiers, what happens to their farms and land in general becomes one of the major themes in the late Republic.
  22. Virgil61

    It's AD 455 all over again!!

    Whoops, sorry Kosmo missed your post.