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Virgil61

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Everything posted by Virgil61

  1. All true. My military career was spent--or a large part of it was--dedicated to fighting what is now known as COIN (counter-insurgency operations). It's actually the key to the success of what was called "the Surge" in Iraq. It wasn't just the overflow of troops flooding an area, it was keeping units in one place to get to know the locals, establish a trust, know their problems (try and solve them if possible), be an 'honest broker' and so on. Gen Petreaus oversaw the US Army COIN manual (FM 3-24) which has as a sort of guiding principle the thoughts you've posted. Part of the heart and soul of modern COIN strategy which encompass the spirit of your post comes from Petreaus and this guy David Kilcullen.
  2. A general question but for those with a excellent grasp of Latin which translations of a classical author stand out as being among the best or among the worst?
  3. Opinions on the status of Theodore Mommsen, Hans Delbr
  4. Virgil61

    Mommsen, Delbuck and other 19th century historians.

    Wonderful stuff.
  5. Virgil61

    Mommsen, Delbuck and other 19th century historians.

    I think we should all read Gibbon in his entirety [i myself have not, only sections here and there]. If only because he's so influential. We're always on the lookout for something new and fresh what with the pressures of academia and publications.
  6. Virgil61

    Mommsen, Delbuck and other 19th century historians.

    There's the obvious answer that the difference is Plutarch and Herodotus become primary sources in their own right. Not only their subject matter but they become the object of study and a mirror into the thinking of the classical world.
  7. Virgil61

    War on Terror (Roman Style)

    I'm not a great fan of the Patriot Act (amendments) to which I think Harris is alluding to (in 2006). But really most of it wasn't an infringement on any citizen's rights rather just a 'tightening up' or restating of (I think) already existing laws. In short the real 'meat' of the issue are provisions dealing with the quality of evidence--or paucity of it--needed to inquire into a suspect and the ability to monitor incoming calls to the U.S. in a blanket manner. [There's been such scrutiny on this that the FBI had to put into place a fairly narrow set of guidelines to enforce it which is the good thing about the democratic process and a free media; they (the FBI) don't want to give reason to come under anyone's cross-hairs politically or through the media.] To me--an attorney--it seems like a narrow bit of legalese with which Harris hangs his analogous hat on but Maty's answer that it's the larger point of extra-constitutional overreaction that he's reaching for is the crux of it of course. On the other hand I would think Sulla's dictatorship, his march on Rome and abject slaughter of his opponents would register magnitudes above the Pompey issue on the "who shot J.R." scale of blame.
  8. In the pre-Marian army property qualification--how much and so on--played a big role in politics as much as war, tax or citizenship documentation was already in existence. The oath was called the sacramentum in later years towards your general or the emperor instead of Rome. In the Dura-Europos excavation there's surviving documentation showing that oaths were repeated every day during daily muster formation.
  9. Polybius Book VI sec 20 has a short outline of how the Romans he observed enrolled and sorted out the new recruits [barely a generation before Gaius Marius came to prominence]. There are some clues on recruitment methods found on papyrii preserved in the Egyptian desert, remnants of clerical documents from centuries, cohorts & legions. They're outside the scope of pre-Marian recruitment but it may give some insight. Here are some source documents from "The Roman Army 31 BC - AD 337 A Sourcebook" by Brian Campbell; 1 CPL 102, papyrus, Fayum, Egypt, AD 92 Titus Flavius Longus, orderly (optio) of Legion III Cyrenaica, in the century of Arellius (?), made a declaration [and gave as guarantors _ _ _] Fronto, in the century of Pompeius Reg[ _ _ _, and Lucius Longinus] Celer in the century of Cre[ _ _ _], and Lucius Herennius Fuscus, veteran, and stated on oath that he was freeborn and a Roman citizen, and had the right of serving in a legion. Whereupon his guarantors, [ _ _ _ Fronto, and Lucius Longinus Celer, and Lucius Herennius Fuscus, declared on oath by Jupiter] Best and Greatest and the spirit of Emperor Caesar Domitian Augustus, Conqueror of the Germans that [the aforementioned Titus Flavius Longus] was freeborn and a Roman citizen and had the right of serving in a legion. Transacted in the Augustan camp in the winter-quarters of Legion III [ _ _ _], year 17 of Emperor Caesar Domitian Augustus, Conqueror of the Germans, in the consulship of Quintus Volusius Saturninus and Lucius Venuleius Montanus Apronianus. 9 P. Oxy. 1022=Fink RMR 87, papyrus, Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, AD 103 Copy Gaius Minicius Italus sends greetings to his own Celsianus. Give orders that the six recruits approved by me should be included in the roster of the cohort which you command, to take effect from February 19. I have appended their names and distinguishing marks to this letter. Farewell dearest brother. Gaius Veturius Gemellus, age 21, no distinguishing mark Gaius Longinus Priscus, age 22, a scar on left eyebrow Gaius Julius Maximus, age 25, no distinguishing mark [ _ _ _ ] Julius? Secundus, age 20, no distinguishing mark Gaius Julius Saturninus, age 23, a scar on left hand Marcus Antonius Valens, age 22, a scar on right side of forehead. Received February 24, year six of our Emperor Trajan by means of Priscus, aide. I, Avidius Arrianus senior clerk (cornicularius) of the third (or second) cohort of Ituraeans declare that the original letter is in the archives of the cohort. 33 EJ 260=Smallwood GN 279, inscription, Simitthu (Chemtou), Africa, 1st C.AD Lucius Flaminius son of Decimus, of the Arniensis tribe, soldier of Legion III Augusta, century of Julius Longus, chosen in a levy by Marcus Silanus, served nineteen years on garrison duty only to be killed in battle by the enemy in the Philomusian area. He lived dutifully for forty years. He lies here. An equestrian directly appointed to position of centurion (from his tombstone epitaph): 85 ILS 2656=Smallwood NH 294, inscription, Rome, 2nd C.AD To Tiberius Claudius Vitalis, son of Tiberius, of the tribe Galeria, from the rank of Roman eques he received the post of centurion in Legion V Macedonica, was advanced from It looks like--at least in the inscriptions found--for recruits in the Principate it may have been just as common to be enrolled into cohorts as legions. Here's an example; 36 P. Mich. 466, papyrus, Karanis, Egypt, AD 107 Julius Apollinarius to Julius Sabinus his dearest father, very many greetings... ...You will pass on the message to those with Aphrodas, the son of the condiment dealer, that they enrolled me in the cohort at Bostra. It is situated eight days
  10. Virgil61

    How Prosperous were the Romans?

    As an interesting exercise to compare alongside the other data posted here is a graph on coin hoards & warfare in the Republic from an article (pdf) Scheidel co-authored. I think there was a thread on this a year or two ago.
  11. Virgil61

    Psychology of Legionnaries

    While broadly correct do not forget that it was common for aspiring leaders settingout on the military path to read 'military' text books, hich although they have not generally survived in any great detail apart from notably Frontinus 'Strategems' we know existed. They also would probably have had some training from their elders who had done their own period of service whether formally or not either directly or informally including when they went to the baths or just exercised. Let me clarify if it wasn't clear enough that I merely stated that you can use the vocabulary of leadership concepts (which I believe to be timeless and not linked to any era) to describe Roman styles and was not saying that leadership was taught in any form. On the other hand it is certainly possible that up and comers read contemporary military literature that hasn't survived and/or that they observed which centurion/legate/whomever was more competent in his approach to leading his soldiers and learn from it (or learn to avoid it). I think the idea of mentoring say a young equestrian which you allude to is a perfectly valid supposition. I'd be surprised if it was not common, it strikes me as a perfectly "Roman" approach. This is very dangerous.Already many histories including my specialization the French Indochina War, have been distorted as the result of using such "general vocabulary" and concepts to describe things that look similar.Reality is what often seems to resemble modern concepts or defining an ancient word by the modern meaning is often very inaccurate and brings many misconception. In fact History as a whole is being distorted because of using a general vocubulary,comparing similarities between eras without, and using modern terminology to describe concepts in history such as manuever keeping in mind the differences.Read this article on Medieval Warfare(which describes very much the dangers of using modern terms and basically comparing warfare in the past including more recent ones such as the French-Indochina War(especially terms and military concepts) with modern ones without keeping in mind the differences. http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/mcglynn.htm Of all histories I read to date along with the French Indochina War and Medieval Warfare,Roman history(especially Roman warfare) has sufferred the worst distorations and damage from trying to use modern terminology on ancient concepts as though they were the same and comparing modern and past warfare and making analogies between them without keeping the differences of concepts in mind.I feel that as a rule of thumb its best to read specifically into the details of histories or military concepts of the past before making an analogy with modern concepts.Other wise we will be spreading myths and distortions in history(such as the soldiers and general historians who studied the Middle Ages as the link I posted states) and will instead help spread inaccurate and flawed history when discussing this with people unfamiliar with the historical era. "It's d
  12. Virgil61

    Psychology of Legionnaries

    While broadly correct do not forget that it was common for aspiring leaders settingout on the military path to read 'military' text books, hich although they have not generally survived in any great detail apart from notably Frontinus 'Strategems' we know existed. They also would probably have had some training from their elders who had done their own period of service whether formally or not either directly or informally including when they went to the baths or just exercised. Let me clarify if it wasn't clear enough that I merely stated that you can use the vocabulary of leadership concepts (which I believe to be timeless and not linked to any era) to describe Roman styles and was not saying that leadership was taught in any form. On the other hand it is certainly possible that up and comers read contemporary military literature that hasn't survived and/or that they observed which centurion/legate/whomever was more competent in his approach to leading his soldiers and learn from it (or learn to avoid it). I think the idea of mentoring say a young equestrian which you allude to is a perfectly valid supposition. I'd be surprised if it was not common, it strikes me as a perfectly "Roman" approach.
  13. Virgil61

    Psychology of Legionnaries

    1. These were my experiences in war not that of Roman legions that I put out in hopes they might offer insight. I said so at the beginning. 2. What you call 'modern leadership concepts' are not 'modern', they're an observation of human psychology. The 'concepts' are based on observation of human organizations across a wide variety of cultures, eras and workplaces. The subsequent formalization and classification of those observations are what is 'modern'. (In economics supply & demand and government intervention are part of modern economic vocabulary. That doesn't preclude economic historians from successfully using supply & demand or gov't intervention to analyze historical eras that precede their invention.) 3. Bonding with troops is one method of leadership. Julius Caesar wrote a famous set of war dispatches called 'Commentaries' emphasizing to some extent that leader-soldier bonding existed among Romans. From Caesar's own pen (caes.gal.7.19); "with how great loss and the death of how many gallant men the victory would necessarily be purchased: and when he saw them so determined to decline no danger for his renown, that he ought to be considered guilty of the utmost injustice if he did not hold their life dearer than his personal safety." Having thus consoled his soldiers, he leads them back on the same day to the camp, and determined to prepare the other things which were necessary for the siege of the town. Contrast that with Tacitus' account of Corbulo to see the wide range of leadership styles Romans used. Tacitus.Annales Bk 11.19 19. In fact, the terror Corbulo inspired impacted di?erently on our soldiers and the enemy: it meant increased courage for us, but a crushing of the barbarians
  14. I would agree with Virgil61 here but there were also several pro-Punic and possibly even 'uncommited' historians writing about the wars; notably including Silenus of Caleate who accompanied Hannibal for much of his campaign. Even if now lost, these and similar sources could have provided the basis for the Roman writings which have survived. I'd like to take credit for that but it's part of the quote from the Classical Quarterly. What I'd give to read some of those lost works.
  15. Virgil61

    Quotation attributed to Cicero--Fact or Fake?

    Good catch. This is why I buy your books.
  16. Anyone have an idea where this quotation attributed to Cicero can be found? Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions and laughed delightedly at his licentiousness and thought it very superior of him to acquire vast amounts of gold illicitly. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the 'new, wonderful good society' which shall now be Rome's, interpreted to mean 'more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.
  17. Just reread the posts and I overall pretty much agree with everyone on why Hannibal made the right decisions on nor besieging Rome. Can anyone though verify on the claims on Maharbal being a fictional character that never existed?Is is a statement from another thread. Lack of a mention by Polybius does not mean it didn't happen i.e., lack of proof doesn't constitute proof on its own. To be created by Livy--which the author above seems to be implying--would've necessitated a trip across the space-time continuum to an earlier era in Rome's history. Like real soldiers sometimes real historians have their uses; From "Maharbal's Bon Mot: Authenticity and Survival"; Dexter Hoyos; The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 50, No. 2 (2000), pp. 610-614; Cambridge University Press; The oldest versions of the story emphasize the five days (and the hot dinner). Cato the Elder in his Origines had it thus: Igitur dictatorem Karthaginiensium magister equitum monuit: 'Mitte mecum Romam equitatum; diequinti in Capitolio tibi cena cocta erit.' In that censorious historian's normal fashion, the commanders' personal names were left unmentioned. Late in the second century B.C. Coelius Antipater, in his monograph on the Second Punic War, elaborated on this version. Aulus Gellius gives us what Coelius' cavalry chief says: Si vis mihi equitatum dare et ipse cum cetero exercitu me sequi, diequinti Romae in Capitolio curabo tibi cena sit cocta. Coelius' more stylish version in turn looks like the one that Livy so memorably worked up. Cato,a younger contemporary of Hannibal's, could have consulted pro- Carthaginian accounts like those of the general's friends Silenus and Sosylus when composing the later part of his Origines. He may also have spoken with Carthaginians-prisoners during the war, for instance, and former participants and envoys later. There were even Romans in a position to contribute information from the Punic side: L. Cincius Alimentus, praetor in 210, was captured a couple of years later and became well enough acquainted with Hannibal to hold conversations with him on military matters, which he later very properly made use of in his history of Rome (written in Greek). He need not have been the only Roman prisoner of war to make friends with his captors.
  18. Virgil61

    Psychology of Legionnaries

    Hopefully the following gives a little insight. I think you're very close to the mark on this old post. It's the 24/7 nature of the stress that becomes the burden. A simple drive to get mail for your unit might end up ambushed or encountering an IED. Depending on the location a drive through a populated downtown area was one of the most stress-filled occurrences I encountered. More stressful than combat because combat is a known quantity. As a leader you try to control fear by training; go over what happens in an ambush, what happens during an assault, daily weapons maintenance & continuous wpns ranges to keep skills,know how to call in a medivac, know how to call in supporting fire, work on a plan for wounded, and so on. Then you rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. It goes far to build confidence at stem the flight response. I'd venture a guess that an isolated Roman cohort who were under a sustained siege over a period of days or weeks might come closest to having what we'd know today as PTSD. Some soldiers will shoot poorly out of fear or nerves in the first encounters. You've got to keep an eye on your guys to get a feel for who might need extra training or mentoring. Usually works itself out but if not you have to pull that soldier out and work on him. Two more observations. First those soldiers who are beginning to 'crack' under the pressure are best served sent to 'the rear' for a 72 hour break then returned to combat. Based on WWI and II studies those who were sent home for permanently did worse than those returned to combat (who survived). Secondly it's the nature of small groups of younger males to bond and develop a mutual support system. I know this by experience but it isn't brain surgery. PTSD is rarer for those who stay in service among their comrades than it is for those who are separated when returned stateside.
  19. Virgil61

    Gibbon on Roman law

    It might be here if you haven't already found it: Gibbon; The Idea of Roman Jurisprudence
  20. Virgil61

    OBL is dead

    The White House 'mob' was mostly George Washington University students from a few blocks away getting out of the dorms to party. I suspect most of the Times Square mob was a similar mix.
  21. Sorry but I always have to ask; Who fails to realize that ancient armies moved at rates different than a modern mechanized army does? Who fails to realize that ancient armies operated in a different set of circumstances than modern armies? One must be an incredibly dull-witted individual to not be cognizant of these issues. Mechanized armies have only existed since the 20th century, throw in railroads for military use and you've got another half-century. When Theodore Dodge or JFC Fuller--both veterans of non-mechanized armies--wrote about ancient armies they were fully aware of the movement issues. I see this a lot. They're such general statements as to be useless. My question is again; Exactly which modern 'theories' is he applying that are not relevant? A concept like double envelopment used in WWII and Desert Storm at brigade level had its first known success under Hannibal at Cannae. Concentration of force to exploit a tactical weakness on the battlefield was done by Alexander long before Napoleon or von Manstein. Modern US infantry leaders use a formalized concept for planning called METT-T. Mission, Enemy [his capabilities, weaknesses, disposition, etc], Troops available [your troops, strengths, weaknesses, morale, etc], Terrain [cover, obstacles, avenues of approach, etc] and Time available. Is METT-T "modern"? Yes. Did Alexander, Hannibal, JC, utilize similar analysis? Of course. The argument over taking Rome isn't dissimilar to that of taking Moscow during Barbarossa; pros and cons could be argued forever. General strategies of attrition, annihilation or blocking lines of communication for example aren't limited to a particular era. In the end there are military rules of thumb that are universal, those that are localized to a certain time or culture & some that fall somewhere between. Here is a list of Napoleon's maxims LINK. Some can be applied to any era, some to the modern era and a few limited to the Napoleonic era. Historical knowledge and a bit of intelligence is what is needed to apply the analysis. C'mon you think people are that utterly stupid? Carts and infantry are slower than a C-130. We understand the speed of infantry [any light infantry unit doing daily foot patrols in the mountains of Afghanistan could tell you]. Yes air support and logistics capabilities change the complexion but Christ, using a bit of common sense an intelligent person ought to be able to make the mental transition. Again I ask, what "modern" concepts are they applying? Which of them are not applicable to ancient warfare? Hannibal was a lot of things, I don't think a fool was one of them even if he made an error. Hannibal obviously knew how important taking Rome would be but I tend to think he was cognizant of his own weaknesses. When ever I get into chats about pre 20th century warfare with soldiers and theorists, it always gets into like this. Spare me the dismissive know-it-all-ism. I just walked you through a step-by-step process of METT-T as an example of one applicable modern military approach that any competent commander in ancient times would understand immediately, I'm not sure it 'took'. Who are you arguing with that doesn't pay attention to details specific when trying to apply a military analysis? If you're talking about some casual conversations then fine. If you're talking professional historical writings and analysis that's another more serious issue that I challenge you to point out here and post the reference. Again, analyzing Alexander's exploitation of a line's weakness as a 'concentration of force' or the Roman control of the seas cutting off Hannibal from Carthage as an example of cutting off 'lines of communication' are both acceptable applications of modern military theory. Applying Rommel's movement timelines during the North African campaign and comparing them to the Romans isn't an acceptable application. If you agree with this then our disagreements aren't far apart. I [and almost every historian writing or who has written on the subject] takes a middle road that says use common sense and intelligence in applying military analysis. If you're going to make assumptions on modern military methodology it helps your cause if you know your subject. Not having a grasp of the military today leads to misinformation and misunderstandings. It's frankly impossible for you to do a compare and contrast if your basic information is flawed. Most armies still contain a large numbers of infantryman whose primary mood of transportation is still by foot, who conduct training weeks at a time and who still do ruck marches. [spend a month with a 'light' (foot) infantry unit like the 10th Mountain then get back to me on not understanding forced marches and exhaustion.] Most people who can speak intelligently on Caesar's campaigns in Gaul know--in the event they make use of the word "Blitzkrieg"--that it does not entail the same thing as the Germans during Barbarossa. Well you are wrong of course it was pyramidal [by definition even a one-leader-many-minions organization is pyramidal]. The Romans did not bypass human and organizational psychology common to all homo sapiens. You're not arguing with military members or 'theorists' you're arguing with the best Roman military historians now writing (Goldsworthy, Campbell, Southern, etc). You're even arguing with Julius Caesar's descriptions of his junior leaders & Josephus' description of Vespasian's command among others. If they can't convince you along I certainly can't.
  22. Virgil61

    Happy Birthday Ursus

    Belated B-day wishes!
  23. Sorry but I always have to ask; Who fails to realize that ancient armies moved at rates different than a modern mechanized army does? Who fails to realize that ancient armies operated in a different set of circumstances than modern armies? One must be an incredibly dull-witted individual to not be cognizant of these issues. Mechanized armies have only existed since the 20th century, throw in railroads for military use and you've got another half-century. When Theodore Dodge or JFC Fuller--both veterans of non-mechanized armies--wrote about ancient armies they were fully aware of the movement issues. I see this a lot. They're such general statements as to be useless. My question is again; Exactly which modern 'theories' is he applying that are not relevant? A concept like double envelopment used in WWII and Desert Storm at brigade level had its first known success under Hannibal at Cannae. Concentration of force to exploit a tactical weakness on the battlefield was done by Alexander long before Napoleon or von Manstein. Modern US infantry leaders use a formalized concept for planning called METT-T. Mission, Enemy [his capabilities, weaknesses, disposition, etc], Troops available [your troops, strengths, weaknesses, morale, etc], Terrain [cover, obstacles, avenues of approach, etc] and Time available. Is METT-T "modern"? Yes. Did Alexander, Hannibal, JC, utilize similar analysis? Of course. The argument over taking Rome isn't dissimilar to that of taking Moscow during Barbarossa; pros and cons could be argued forever. General strategies of attrition, annihilation or blocking lines of communication for example aren't limited to a particular era. In the end there are military rules of thumb that are universal, those that are localized to a certain time or culture & some that fall somewhere between. Here is a list of Napoleon's maxims LINK. Some can be applied to any era, some to the modern era and a few limited to the Napoleonic era. Historical knowledge and a bit of intelligence is what is needed to apply the analysis. C'mon you think people are that utterly stupid? Carts and infantry are slower than a C-130. We understand the speed of infantry [any light infantry unit doing daily foot patrols in the mountains of Afghanistan could tell you]. Yes air support and logistics capabilities change the complexion but Christ, using a bit of common sense an intelligent person ought to be able to make the mental transition. Again I ask, what "modern" concepts are they applying? Which of them are not applicable to ancient warfare? Hannibal was a lot of things, I don't think a fool was one of them even if he made an error. Hannibal obviously knew how important taking Rome would be but I tend to think he was cognizant of his own weaknesses.
  24. Virgil61

    Quotation attributed to Cicero--Fact or Fake?

    I found the same source. I think you're probably on to something, I'm leaning towards the false attribution theory. Seems to happen a lot on the internet.
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