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Posts posted by Tobias

  1. I believe that Australians to this day harbour a secret fear that we're going to be invaded by Asian hordes, overrun and destroyed. To this effect, we like the idea of having a big friend in the general vicinity, or willing to come running if we are in trouble. George W. Bush was somewhat respected over here for a time, because he seemed to be an immediate personification of that big friend. Besides, him and our then-Prime Minister became mates! :P


    As such, our diggers are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's just as hated over here now as he seems to be over there. And yet, although Iraq was "Vietnamised", there seems to be little or no similar outcry against Afghanistan, even though we went there first. Curious...


    Still, We're a little worried about Obama. Will he be our friend lol?

  2. Now that I disagree with. He may have subdued the gauls, but it was the Roman administration as a whole that made it a loyal province afterward and that wasn't Caesars doing. Plus, the Gauls were something less than the fearless warrior of old and without leaders as capable as Vercongetorix, weren't willing to rebel. But then, eventually they did. The Gallic Empire for instance, and though I accept the Gauls had little choice in the matter, they didn't protest at the rebel leadership


    Well, perhaps you're right in that regard Caldrail. He certainly laid the foundations for a damn faithful province though lol!

  3. Hindsight is always the great tool of the revisionist. It never ceases to amaze me that as the years go on, so we come up with more and more slants on history. Fair enough, Caesar may have exaggerated somewhat (as is a common practice of humanity), but i see no reason to go overboard and say that Caesar kicked the bejesus out of a group of peoples he outnumbered 2 to 1. In "adding" to history, we invariably take away from it. Where Caesar says he was outnumbered, he was outnumbered. Perhaps just not quite as much as he said he was.


    I think it can be taken as given that patience was not one of Gaius Julius Caesar's virtues. Uxellodunum was an example of this. This Gallic oppidum continued to defy Rome even after the Battle of Alesia, hoping to wait out Caesar's term as Governor. By this stage, it's pretty obvious that Caesar was a bit more than angry at the continued defiance of the Gauls, personified by Uxellodunum, even after everything that had happened during the Gallic Wars, including Alesia. He took the oppidum, and amputated the hands of many of the defenders. He allowed them to live, however, and scattered them throughout Gaul as a warning.


    I personally believe that he genuinely believed in what he was doing in Gaul. He believed he had solid reason to be in Gaul. He believed he had the right to be waging war on the peoples of Gaul, in the name of Rome. He believed that the people of Gaul would benefit from Romanisation. He may even have initially employed his famous metaphorical "open hand", that he had used before and would use again, on the Gauls. Yet, when they continued to defy him, when they broke agreements, peace treaties and alliances, time and again, his own patience also broke. He employed the closed fist. He could pursue his goals with with the generosity, peaceful means and mercy that was Caesar. He came to pursue his goals with the cold ruthlessness and calculating genius that was also Caesar. And he made Gaul one of the most faithful provinces of Rome for several Centuries.


    I believe that historical hindsight makes it easy for us to brand Caesar a politically motivated butcher, making him little different from the many other ambitious power-seekers of Rome at the time. I'm very quickly losing patience myself with revisionist history, itself closely related to that bane of our existence, political correctness!


    Anyway, time to put the soapbox away...

  4. As far as Pre-Roman battles are concerned, I would be interested to witness the Echelon formation of the Thebans against the Spartans at Leuctra, which was a battle which pretty much marked the beginning of the end of Spartan power in Greece.


    As for Roman battles, I would dearly like to see the cunning and strategy of Marius at Aquae Sextiae, the undeniable greatness of Caesar at Alesia and Pharsalus; one of the terrible slogging matches of twilight Western Rome at Chalons, under Aetius against the Huns; Heraclius' victory at Nineveh, one of of Rome's last laughs against Persia; and one of the last great victories of New Rome under Basil II "The Bulgar-Slayer", the Battle of Kleidion against the Bulgars.

  5. Gaius Marius' reforms were necessary in the face of the various threats from Gaul and Germania, which were not exaggerated. Rome suffered some heavy losses in this time, including the Battle of Noreia in 113 B.C, where supposedly well over 100 000 Roman soldiers were lost; a battle near Burdigala in 107 B.C where Lucius Cassius Longinus was defeated and himself killed against the Tigurini, with the remnants of his army saved by agreeing to "Pass under the Yoke" (an ultimate humiliation); and of course, the infamous Battle of Arausio, where Quintus Servilius Caepio refused to co-operate with Gnaeus Mallius, and doomed both of them to ignominious defeat and almost 100 000 casualties. The Cimbri and Teutones obviously planned to head down Italy, along with some Gallic tribes they'd gathered to their cause. They numbered (at least) in the hundreds of thousands.


    There were only so many men in Italy at this time that met the old recruitment criteria. This group was already exhausted from the heavy losses of previous years, therefore Rome couldn't raise enough men to meet the threat head on because of the rigid criteria. It was therefore common sense to employ the Capite Censi, an abundant source of manpower, at the cost of the state. It also allowed Marius to standardise supplies, a training regimen and better organise the legions themselves into more manageable units.


    It is true that Marius' reforms did lead to armies more loyal to the General then the State. This was, however, merely a reflection of the ailing condition of the Roman Republic at this time. The city-state mentality still persisted in what had become quite an extensive sphere of influence. Had the traditional power-brokers of the Republic opened their eyes wide enough to see this, they would probably have come up with this idea on their own. As it was, it required a full-scale barbarian invasion, a series of catastrophic defeats and a Novo Homus to wake 'em up. As it was, it was still resisted. The State should have made the changes, and retained the loyalty of their soldiers. Their conservative nature prevented this, and hugely ambitious men, some excluded from power themselves but determined to wield it, gained the loyalty of the soldiers instead.

  6. I believe Marius was a much needed infusion of new blood into Rome. At the time, Rome was a state that had attained contact with (If not influence over or direct control over) much of the ancient world, and yet still retained the laws, traditions and mentality of a small city-state. I believe there are few greater testaments to his abilities then the fact that he managed to reform the Roman military, a central pivot of Roman society, without going the way of the Brothers Gracchi at the hands of the conservatives who believed the Capite Censi had nothing to offer Rome except children, and who would certainly not fight as well as the traditional landed soldiers who provided their own arms, armour and supplies!


    On the reverse of the Denarius, however, is the fact that he can be said to have begun the practice of having "personal" or "client" armies that had more loyalty to the General then the state, which would become an endemic feature of the many civil wars to rock Rome over the coming times.


    Colleen McCullough suggests that Marius suffered from several strokes in his lifetime, and yet continued on. I wonder if this is true, or has any basis of fact?

  7. Is it available in Australia yet mate? If it is, I'll definitely buy a copy, as the history of the Later Eastern Roman Empire is my personal equal favourite time of Roman history (along with the late Republic/Early Principate)! I might even knock together a little review on it, for consideration by the powers that be on UNRV.

  8. I have a great admiration for Belisarius; An amazingly skilled General, and he certainly held true to the maxim "Semper Fidelis". I often wonder what would have happened had Belisarius followed through on his acceptance of the Ostrogoth's offer to make him the Emperor of the West, rather then merely using it to gain entrance to Ravenna. Could have been a clash of the titans between the East and the West, Belisarius vs Justinian!

  9. That's one of the factors that led to the downfall of the Eastern Roman Empire as well. Once the Hyperperon was debased to 7 parts gold in 12 in 1282 AD, the Venetians minted their own gold coin, the Ducat, which replaced the Hyperperon as the gold standard of Christendom. Thus, Constantinople went broke pretty quickly, and as such, the remnants of the Empire were torn apart by Serbs, Turks and the Italian trading cities such as Venice. That said, it took a bit less then 200 years before the fall.


    Obviously Augustus saw where paying huge cash bonuses to the legions would lead; it always amazes me how people think that just because time has passed, the lessons of the past no longer apply, hence why history is doomed to repeat itself, such as in the 3rd century A.D.

  10. And I think that the Byzantine emperors didn't start using the official term "Emperor of the Romans" until after Charlemagne.


    It all seemed to begin (or end, depending upon your perspective) during the Lombard invasion of Italy. After Ravenna fell to the Lombards in 751, Pope Zachary, the de facto ruler of Rome at the time, sought assistance from the Franks rather then from Constantinople (who were so tied up with Arabs, Slavs and various other enemies that they couldn't help anyway). Zachary supported one Pepin of the Franks in his bid for the Frankish crown, who reciprocated by kicking the Lombards out of the Papal state. It is interesting to note that this small pocket of territory, however, still acknowledged the sovereignty of the Emperor in Constantinople over them.


    Later, the next Pope, Stephen, gave the title of Patrician to Pepin, something which no doubt usurped the perogatives of the Emperor, but there wasn't much he could do about it. Pepin continued to beat the Lombards in Northern Italy, and when Emperor Constantine V demanded he return the territory to it's rightful owners, Pepin gave it to the Pope instead, creating the Patrimonium Petri. From there on, it was all downhill. After 772, Papal Bulls no longer bore the Emperor's name. When Pepin's son and heir came along (Charles the Great), he conquered the Lombard Kingdom, along with much of continental Western Europe, and the Papal States become a Frankish protectorate. The final blow came in 800, when Pope Leo III anointed him something to the effect of "Emperor governing the Roman Empire". The Eastern Empire of course ignored this, but eventually were forced by Charlemagne's military pressure in the Adriatic and Southern Italy to acknowledge him as "Emperor of the Franks" in 812. They of course reserved the rights to the title "Emperor of the Romans" for themselves, and introduced this inscription onto their coinage.

  11. Perhaps the institution of the "Dominate" can be blamed for the apparent reliance on single, trusted retainers. Aurelian brought in the Dominate in order to strengthen the institution of the Emperor who, no matter how great, was still in human incarnation. The system of the Tetrarchy instituted by Diocletian to assure a stable succession of Emperors led, perhaps inevitably, to civil war amoungst the many Augustus's, Caesar's and their heirs and pretenders. Civil war was something which an Emperor obviously could not have, and as such, power was ever more withdrawn into an exclusive cabal (and it wasn't exactly shared by everyone during the preceding years, as we all know). History is full of examples of what happens when the individual considers themself to be the institution i.e. Alexander the Great. The individual will die. The institution, or ideal, will live on.


    At any rate, it's all pretty much as Sonic and Caldrail describe. The Emperor become more and more important, with many varied duties such as holding court for days on end :), and as such could only allow those he trusted (or thought he could trust) to discharge the duties he had no time (or inclination) for. It was only a matter of time before people come to realise where the real power in the Empire lay, and the rest, as they always say, is history.

  12. That's inexact; those people considered themselves ROMANS, just as the western Europeans did at least up to 800, and absolutely all other countries did up to Constantinople's last day. And for a good reason; there's no discontinuity in the Imperial succession line, at least up to Alexios V.


    You're quite right, of course. The inhabitants of the later Eastern Empire never stopped considering themselves Romans. I seem to recall that about the time of Charlemagne, they either revived or introduced the inscription of "Emperor of the Romans" on their coinage, in order to emphasise their legitimacy as Romans over Charlemagne, who was anointed as "Emperor governing the Roman Empire" by Pope Leo III. This would have been very useful to Charlemagne, for the title would have given him a certain amount of more...i don't know if credibility is the right word, but maybe weight (for want of a better term) in his diplomatic efforts. And of course, there were still people in the southern Balkans and on the coasts of Anatolia, who still called themselves Romans (Rhomaioi) in the 20th century.


    However, I would be wary...


    That was sort of my point - i didn't word it very well i find :)

  13. That was of course an extraordinary post and we entirely agree, but what I was actually meaning by "did they ever have a chance?" is if as British subjects the Australians (and New Zealanders) did really ever had the chance of "easily dismissing" that war as "European" and "irrelevant" to them.


    Of course we did. Australia was not necessarily obliged to fight Britain's wars; we were an essentially autonomous federated Commonwealth by the time World War I started - what was known as a Dominion of the Empire, as opposed to a Crown Colony. Although then (as we do today), we acknowledged the Monarch of Great Britain as our head of state, the powers of the Monarch in Australia are quite theoretical and limited, and usually only used in consultation with the Government of Australia of the day. The Governor-General of Australia at the time we declared war, The Right Hon. Thomas Denman, could not have "ordered" us to march to the aid of the Motherland with colours flying and bands playing. However, out of a sense of obligation, honour, maybe a touch of what we here call "mateship" on a much larger scale and a desire for adventure, the 1st A.I.F, an entirely volunteer force, was raised to fight, after the Australian Prime Minister Joseph Cook declared war on Germany. Out of 331 814 recruits, 61 859 were killed. We chose to fight. As Andrew Fisher said, we swore to defend the Empire to the last man and the last shilling.


    Perhaps there was a touch of naivety there. If we had gone along a different colonial path i.e. that of the United States, we could have rebelled against our "Colonial Overlords" and declared ourselves an officially independent country, and distanced ourselves from the war. Instead, we felt ourselves bound to give something back to the land from which we were born. It was a different time; a time when one could do what one thought was honourable. I think we have no right whatsoever to go anywhere near denigrating what the men and women of their respective nations fought for. There aren't many WWI veterans left. But here in Australia at least, we try to keep alive the ideals that they fought for. Australia could have chosen not to fight. But to the people of that day, that choice was not a choice at all.


    Last year, for my Higher School Certificate, i wrote a semi-thesis on the development of arms from the first "hand gonnes" until WWII, and the changing strategic and tactical mentality that went along with it. From what I researched and reasoned, one can see so many similar patterns, and one can almost say that World War I, if not necessary, was inevitable. If i could find it, i'd start a topic on it lol :)

  14. Rome was a society that grew on the back of military conquest.


    Caldrail has hit the nail right on the head here. It's a point that has been well attested to throughout history; a civilisation that has no competition will atrophy. It's sort of like the saying "It's not the destination, but the journey that matters". Once Rome had no real rivals, the civilisation became blas

  15. Delete all except "noble cause". What was so noble about the Great War? I think it was one of the most unnecessary and gratuitously destructive wars ever fought by foolish mankind.


    I didn't exactly mean it in the light of a "noble cause"...but as Rose Tattoo said; "There comes a time when every man must fight".


    Defining the Second World War as unnecessary is becoming all the rage lately, and it shows a profound—bordering on disturbing—ignorance of events leading up to the war. The war was great because of what was at stake, and the level of sacrifices men were willing to make—and that men made—to stop a vicious, fascist, genocidal axis from conquering the known world.


    I'm afraid we were talking about the First World War old chap :D, but revisionists have taken to denouncing the Great War as unnecessary as well...


    At any rate, let's go back to influential people...i didn't meant to start another argument irrelevant to the topic lol, so let's agree to disagree.

  16. Just so you know, the gallipoli campaign was a miserable failure, and sacrificing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people to "create a national identity" in my opinion is just making yourself look like an idiot. Military accomplishments are often overshadowed by the fact that the use of force is moving humanity as a whole backwards, and no doubt eventually will cause our end.


    Antiochus III


    So that i don't appear hypocritical by wandering into another "contentious subject" irrelevant to the topic, i won't say anything apart from saying that i was taking an objective approach to Churchill; Gallipoli was a stuff up, and you're not telling me, an Australian, anything new when you say that the campaign was a failure. However, the performance of the Australian soldiers (along with the New Zealanders and other soldiers of the Commonwealth) was exemplary in a hopeless situation, especially considering that Australia had never fought a war as a nation before (unless you count the Boer War, which had started before the federation of Australia). The ANZAC forces displayed incredible courage, stamina and what we call "mateship", in a situation when they were landed on the wrong beach, which was a few metres wide, backing onto an almost sheer hill face. Even after all the stuff-ups, the campaign came within inches of being a total success in the first few days, but the incredible ability of the Turkish commander, Mustapha Kemal Attaturk, and the guts and determination of the Turkish soldiers prevented this. Thus, we admit that Churchill's plan was a failure - but that it gave us the chance to find ourselves as a nation.


    It's all very well to revise and distort history by looking at it like you did Antiochus. But the fact is, one of the most important parts of our National identity stems from the fact that it was a failure - but that the Australians and New Zealanders showed what they were made of nonetheless. We tested ourselves, and did not find ourselves lacking, despite the adversity. The cream of Australia's population did not hesitate, but immediately volunteered to fight a war on the other side of the world, which we could just as easily have dismissed as a "European war, irrelevant to us". As far as a national identity is concerned, I'd rather have one that shows we are loyal to our brothers and willing to fight for an ideal, rather then one that shows us as disloyal cowards.


    So much for remaining objective lol!

  17. Moving away from a subject guaranteed to cause argument and back to the topic....


    I note that Winston Churchill hasn't had a look in; for one, he came up with the idea for a military campaign that would help create a national identity for Australia (Gallipoli). He wrote an extensive history of the English-Speaking peoples in a way that sounds more like a good story then monotone history (in my opinion - the four volumes are great reads). He fought and won one of the most terrible conflicts of the 20th century (obviously not single-handedly, but you get my point), and also could be said to have laid the basis for the Cold War by countenancing Stalin. He certainly influenced the shape of Europe for years, and his words will last for ages to come. Definitely someone worthy of consideration, in my book.


    An influential woman to consider is Zenobia - it would take a ballsy woman to take control of the Roman East!

  18. Caesar's siege engineer, Mamurra, was very accommodating (or so Catullus says).


    So was King Nicomedes IV Philapator of Bithynia, if we are to start sinking to that level...;)


    I'll admit that I have a considerable admiration for Caesar, and I'll also admit that Colleen McCullough did much to facilitate this admiration. I believe Caesar's military ability was not overrated, and that he was also an orator, writer and legal draftsman up there with (and perhaps beyond) Cicero himself. His Achilles' Heel, to me, was his complete and utter devotion to his dignitas. McCullough suggests that he firmly believed in the concept that his and every man's dignitas was also Rome's dignitas, and as such strove to the utmost all his life to increase it. Perhaps this is somewhat naive, but i don't like to assume the worst about people. This almost fanatic zeal made him incapable of the sort of compromise that would see his dignitas decreased, even a little. Maybe if he was more subtle, less obviously aiming for greatness, he would not have attracted the jealousy of his peers. This was the way of Augustus I believe.


    A post earlier stated that Caesar wasn't a good politician. To me, to be a "good politician", and all that being a "good politician" entails, is not something to boast about ;)


    Was Caesar the greatest Roman figure? I don't think any one man can be declared Rome's greatest figure. As Caesar himself may (or may not) have believed, he was just one of the passing figures in the ongoing pageant that was the Glory of Rome. No doubt he was one of the greatest parts. But not the greatest. No one Roman can claim that title, in my opinion. Each great Roman had to face the unique context of their own time, and times change, as do the people.

  19. The people of the Later Roman Empire always considered themselves "Romans". By that stage, it can probably be surmised that the original ethnic stereotype of the "typical Roman" had been lost, and to them, the term Roman now referred to them; not surprising considering the swing of the seat of power from West to East. Even as late as the 20th century, individuals in certain parts of Greece still called themselves "Rhomaioi"


    If you will allow me to be slightly pedantic, the Later Roman Empire was never known as the "Byzantine Empire" at any point during it's existence. It was only after the fall of Constantinople - and after more than a hundred years at that - that a German chap named Hieronymus Wolf compiled his work called Corpus Historiae Byzantinae, which was in 1557. After that, various French writers and historians made the term popular, and in order to define the Empire as opposed to the modern state of Greece, the term really took off.


    Here is a website that might give you another insight into the difference (or the similarities) between the time periods.

  20. Thanks very much mates. Sorry I've taken so abysmally long to reply, but things have been super hectic for me lately...and i'm barely 18 lol! If this is how hectic things are when i'm 18, i wonder who hectic things will be later?


    Anyway, thanks very much again. I hope to be able to contribute to the site more in the future.

  21. Greece as it is today is more closely akin to the Later Eastern Romans than it is to the Ancient Greeks, or the Hellenes. As has been said, the Greek people still called themselves Romans as recently as the early 20th Century. I daresay their recovered independence from the Ottoman Empire went a long way towards stoking patriotic fervour, and, as they no longer possessed the city that would have given them some link to Rome (Istanbul, or Constantinople), they may prefer to identify with the ancient Hellenes that inhabited their land.


    Still, the Romans considered themselves as "The Enlightened Ones", and the Later Eastern Roman Empire certainly preserved much of the old Roman Knowledge, so the people of Greece certainly might call themselves "Hellenes" in the sense that they are descended from the Romans, who gained much of their culture from the Ancient Greeks and preserved it. That is perhaps stretching it a bit, considering the many invasions and settlements of Greece over the years, but in all fairness, it is stretching things further still for the Greek people to consider themselves direct kin to the Ancient Hellenes. It is similar to a hypothetical case of a person of, say, Anglo-Saxon descent, living in Modern Day Britain claiming relationship with the Ancient Britons, who were Celtic on the whole.