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sylla

Caesar or Scipio: who was the best general?

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If the accounts of Polybius and Livy are so unreliable, where are or whose are the utterly reliable accounts that say that Hasdrubal left Spain which such a large army? You have an opinion that I do respect about the sub-text of Polybius'. Whilst I do understand why that is, there is no evidence whatsoever that your alternative interpretations of events are true. You have used your powers of reason to arrive at your conclusions, but those conclusions are not truths that can be based on pure reason - a priori. They are not either a posteriori truths; they are postulations.

 

Otherwise, I totally agree with you assessment of PCS. I only differ in as much as the accounts of why, for example, he needed five years in Spain can be explained by the existing consensus. This does nor mean that I am not being analytical and I can recognise sycophancy when I see it, but there's a limit by where the flattery ends a reasonable accounts begin.

There are two false-dilemma fallacies here.

First, you want me to either absolutely accept or absolutely reject Polybius & Livy.

Second, you want me to blindly accept Polybius & Livy just because I have no better alternative sources.

 

Plainly, absolutely no source should be blindly or uncritically accepted (unless of course we are debating religious dogma).

Livy and Polybius are actually excellent sources. The evidence on Hasdrubal's army obviously came from them and analogous Classical sources (e.g. Appian). I'm just trying to read them critically, just with a minimum of critical rationalism, the same as any science is expected to analyze any evidence.

 

I just pointed out the inherent unreliability of two specific points of our sources.

It's extremely hard to explain why Africanus' conquest of Punic Spain required so many years if his army was never defeated, or to describe Hasdrubal's army as an utterly defeated force when it invaded Italy in 207 BC.

If you can satisfactorily explain those facts, be my guest.

I don't expect you to accept anything "blindly" at all. I am merely suggesting that the consensus - because I can not find any well regarded scholar who does not hold with that consensus - may be the best guess and without new a posteriori analysis could be the most accurate account. We simply can not know what the truth is from the distant past in many cases.

 

If Polybius was in some way a propogandist of the Scipione clan, then the material on Caesar must be taken in the context of his greatest fan: one Caius Iulius Caesar. I would suspect that his "Commentarius" should be at least subject to as much if not more scrutiny than the history of Polybius.

 

I understand you pointing out that if you have no alternative sources then you should still remain critical of those available. Of course you should. However, there is a long standing and overbearing obsession on your part, in particular with Polybian accounts of Scipio Africanus. Everybody knows about the relationship between the Scipiones and Polybius. If I were to accept your points about the amount of time PCS spent in Spain, then you should accept the possibility that the consensus might be true. We simply can not prove things either way. However, I will repeat that I am afraid that I will accept the view of Adrian Goldsworthy etc. that Scipio's campaigns happened as documented - with a decent critical overview.

 

It is therefore important if you so decry the Polybian accounts, that you have an alternative source, contemporary or otherwise. My major problem is your assertion that there must have been Punic victories during the campaign of PCS in Spain. Why? It is in your idiolect a bare assertion. No well regarded scholar has focussed on this possibility with any degree of seriousness. That is not to say that everybody accepts everything at face value, but more that the fundamental descriptions are reasonably accurate.

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We have already been here before

I don't expect you to accept anything "blindly" at all. I am merely suggesting that the consensus - because I can not find any well regarded scholar who does not hold with that consensus - may be the best guess and without new a posteriori analysis could be the most accurate account. We simply can not know what the truth is from the distant past in many cases.
I'm sure that with some patience we would be able to find some people prestigious enough for you stating something more or less analogous to my points; however, that would be equally entirely irrelevant then as now.

This is not religion or a competition of prestige; this is exclusively a matter of logic and evidence; arguments from authority alone are just fallacies; period.

If your "consensus" is so absolute, I'm sure you will have no problem in quoting their argumentation, even if you were not able to deduce such kind of arguments by yourself.

If Polybius was in some way a propogandist of the Scipione clan, then the material on Caesar must be taken in the context of his greatest fan: one Caius Iulius Caesar. I would suspect that his "Commentarius" should be at least subject to as much if not more scrutiny than the history of Polybius.
But of course. That has in fact been the case here; UNRV members (including me) have posted far more scrutiny on Caesar than on Africanus Major.
I understand you pointing out that if you have no alternative sources then you should still remain critical of those available. Of course you should. However, there is a long standing and overbearing obsession on your part, in particular with Polybian accounts of Scipio Africanus. Everybody knows about the relationship between the Scipiones and Polybius. If I were to accept your points about the amount of time PCS spent in Spain, then you should accept the possibility that the consensus might be true. We simply can not prove things either way. However, I will repeat that I am afraid that I will accept the view of Adrian Goldsworthy etc. that Scipio's campaigns happened as documented - with a decent critical overview.
Again, we are looking here for something more than just prestige.

Rest assured that my "obsession" includes all sources. That is critical rationalism; that's the way scientific knowledge is expected to be found; by testing the falsifiability of the research hypothesis. Please read some works of Karl Popper.

Besides, your idea of "consensus" is utterly distorted; i.e. consensus would mean here that the majority of relevant scholars explained in an alternative way the internal inconsistencies that I have pointed out, not that they simply ignored the issue.

Consensus is simply not established by default; if the majority of scholars didn't deal with such issue, there is no consensus at all; period.

And for the record; for the mere nature of truth, we systematically have to consider the possibility of alternative explanations, including what you miscall "consensus" here; again, try to read some Popper.

Additionally, you are still abusing from false dilemma fallacies; we don't have to 100% accept or 100% reject Polybius, Livy or any other Classical source; all of them are a mixture of exact and inexact information. If such information is not analyzed critically, then it is simply either blindly accepted or blindly rejected; simple as that.

It is therefore important if you so decry the Polybian accounts, that you have an alternative source, contemporary or otherwise. My major problem is your assertion that there must have been Punic victories during the campaign of PCS in Spain. Why? It is in your idiolect a bare assertion. No well regarded scholar has focussed on this possibility with any degree of seriousness. That is not to say that everybody accepts everything at face value, but more that the fundamental descriptions are reasonably accurate.
Sorry, but if you qualify the term "bare assertion" as "my idiolect", that simply means that you have not even tried to search it in the web; just ckeck it out on any list of fallacies.

In any case, you are well aware that both points are not bare assertions, simply because you were here when I explained their rationale more than once.

Here we go again, now a little bit deeper:

 

- If Africanus Major was never defeated in his campaigns in Spain, why did he required five full years to conquer the Spanish Punic territory? A far shorter period should have been required. Using Caesar as a comparison, the undefeated dictator required only some months for conquering the far more extensive Roman Spain in 49 B.C.

(Pleaso note that I never stated that "there must have been Punic victories during the campaign of PCS in Spain"; I just pointed out an obvious inconsistency).

 

- If Hasdrubal Barca was really utterly defeated by Scipio more than once, how was he able to invade Italy with tens of thousands of Punic soldiers, an army BTW strong enough for requiring both consular armies for being neutralized?

 

Amazing as it sounds, by their own nature internal inconsistencies (like these examples) require only internal evidence for being documented, and not necessarily alternative evidence; otherwise, they would be "external inconsistencies".

 

Please share with us some examples of the explanations given by your "consensus" for such anomalies.

 

Alternatively, you can also try to explain them by yourself, using only evidence and logic this time, without the unrequired (and useless) help of the fame of any big name; that would be serious.

Edited by sylla

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Well i think Caesar was the best, hw won several battles against overwelmling (spell??) odds, aoften because exelent diplomatic and kindness to the people.

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Well i think Caesar was the best, hw won several battles against overwelmling (spell??) odds, aoften because exelent diplomatic and kindness to the people.

 

Of all of Caesar's battles, Pharsalus gets the most attention. Outnumbered in both cavalry and infantry, he cleverly used reserve cohorts to counter his opponent's superiority in cavalry. Actually not very original, Sulla used similar maneuvers at Chaeronea II.

 

What Scipio did was much more impressive, turned the tables on Rome's previously unbeatable foe.

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