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L. Quintus Sertorius

The Cause That Lacked Naught But A Cause

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Could it be because Caesar promoted on ability rather than social position, was capable of communicating with his soldiers on their level, led by example, shared rather than hoarded, was one of the most successful military leaders of ALL time, etc....?

 

Granting this characterization or not (and I certainly don't), it doesn't matter. Men were bound by the sacrumentum to follow their commander's orders, and that's exactly what happened. Caesar could have been the descendent of Venus or the son of a whore, and they'd still have followed him lest they be strung up on a cross. It's that simple.

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Could it be because Caesar promoted on ability rather than social position, was capable of communicating with his soldiers on their level, led by example, shared rather than hoarded, was one of the most successful military leaders of ALL time, etc....?

 

Granting this characterization or not (and I certainly don't), it doesn't matter. Men were bound by the sacrumentum to follow their commander's orders, and that's exactly what happened. Caesar could have been the descendent of Venus or the son of a whore, and they'd still have followed him lest they be strung up on a cross. It's that simple.

 

Somehow, I don't think that the sacramentum alone was enough to compel Caesar's soldiers to follow him into Italy. After all, a half century before this, Sulla's entire officer corps save Lucius Licinius Lucullus refused to follow him in an unprecedented and thoroughly illegal attack on the urbs Romae.

 

I don't recall them being crucified for not obeying his orders, though I'm sure he fought against them in later stages of the civil war.

 

But perhaps, just perhaps, loyalty to the Republic was not as frail as we assume it to be. However, this only makes the complicity of Caesar's soldiers more reprehensible.

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There was also the factor of demobilization/service reward which were, at this stage of the game, tied with the 'success' of the commander. Had Caesar been removed, prosecuted, whatever, the chances of their receiving such was slim due to senate obstinacy. Caesar's consulship included the legislation to award and settle Pompey's veterans. If you were a legionary who had given 10+ years of service who would you hitch your wagon to?

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Somehow, I don't think that the sacramentum alone was enough to compel Caesar's soldiers to follow him into Italy. After all, a half century before this, Sulla's entire officer corps save Lucius Licinius Lucullus refused to follow him in an unprecedented and thoroughly illegal attack on the urbs Romae.

True, but the soldiers, the real target of that oath, followed and supported Sulla enthusiastically, they even stimulated him. Quoting MPC once more (well, in fact it's Plutarch) they stoned to death the military tribunes sent by the Senate under Marius' influence.

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Somehow, I don't think that the sacramentum alone was enough to compel Caesar's soldiers to follow him into Italy. After all, a half century before this, Sulla's entire officer corps save Lucius Licinius Lucullus refused to follow him in an unprecedented and thoroughly illegal attack on the urbs Romae.

 

This would be an important consideration if officers were required to take the sacramentum, but I'm not sure that they were. I'm guessing this explains why officers deserted both Sulla and Caesar, whereas the troops did not.

 

The slightly more interesting question is whether Legio XIII would have deserted Caesar had he met resistance from Pompey immediately. Presumably the weak resistance from Ahenobarbus did much to convince Legio XIII that they were safer under Caesar's command than under the consuls'. After this point, there was really no turning back--the Rubicon was (quite literally) crossed.

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The only mistake that Marius made in his reorganisation was to allow the cult of personality to take precedence. To him, it was a perfectly acceptable means of ensuring loyalty of the army on campaign. Remember that ancient armies did not have the logisitics and communications that we take for granted today. They built some great roads (for the ease of military and governmental communication, not the public) and they had clever signalling systems, but that just isn't the same as being able to radio HQ and tell them there's a problem and could they help please.

 

A commander in the field must be able to tell his men to stand and fight. His men must risk their lives in hand to hand combat with real, sharp blades at his request. Battles can be dangerous places. Lethal ones too. Therefore, the leadership qualities of an ancient commander are essential to inspire and control his men. Therefore it was logical that the legions swore an oath of obedience, and that the commander assumed the role Rome's representative.

Someone should have told that to Scipio in Zama or Paulus in Pydna.

 

Why?

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The material from Frontinus and Livy both suggest that legates were not administered the sacramentum, which makes sense since it evolved from the voluntary oath not to break formation. With officers needing to move from formation, there would be no reason for the tribunes to have officers take this oath.

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That makes much more sense - it's telling, then, how effective Caesar's officer recruitment policy was. He brought up men who would literally follow him anywhere - even the gates of their own city.

 

That said, it's also probable that since they had been brought up through the ranks, the officers were more Italian than Roman.

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The only mistake that Marius made in his reorganisation was to allow the cult of personality to take precedence. To him, it was a perfectly acceptable means of ensuring loyalty of the army on campaign. Remember that ancient armies did not have the logisitics and communications that we take for granted today. They built some great roads (for the ease of military and governmental communication, not the public) and they had clever signalling systems, but that just isn't the same as being able to radio HQ and tell them there's a problem and could they help please.

 

A commander in the field must be able to tell his men to stand and fight. His men must risk their lives in hand to hand combat with real, sharp blades at his request. Battles can be dangerous places. Lethal ones too. Therefore, the leadership qualities of an ancient commander are essential to inspire and control his men. Therefore it was logical that the legions swore an oath of obedience, and that the commander assumed the role Rome's representative.

Someone should have told that to Scipio in Zama or Paulus in Pydna.

 

Why?

The Roman Republic conquered the Mediterranean world long before the Marian reforms; the logistical and communication problems that you mentioned were clearly solved in some other way.

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That makes much more sense - it's telling, then, how effective Caesar's officer recruitment policy was. He brought up men who would literally follow him anywhere - even the gates of their own city.

 

That said, it's also probable that since they had been brought up through the ranks, the officers were more Italian than Roman.

If the Sacramentum thesis is right, it doesn't matter if the chief was Caesar, Sulla or any other general; the soldiers simply had to obey at risk of their lives.

Apparently, the strength of this oath took precedence over any other allegiance, even to the Senate itself.

Until anyone of us gets evidence that overrules such statements, we have to accept them.

If that

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That makes much more sense - it's telling, then, how effective Caesar's officer recruitment policy was. He brought up men who would literally follow him anywhere - even the gates of their own city.

 

That said, it's also probable that since they had been brought up through the ranks, the officers were more Italian than Roman.

If the Sacramentum thesis is right, it doesn't matter if the chief was Caesar, Sulla or any other general; the soldiers simply had to obey at risk of their lives.

Apparently, the strength of this oath took precedence over any other allegiance, even to the Senate itself.

Until anyone of us gets evidence that overrules such statements, we have to accept them.

If that

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I was actually referring to the willingness of his officers to follow him into Civil War - they were not bound by the sacramentum.

Sorry, my mistake.

Apparently there were some notorious exceptions, like T. Labienus. It's interesting that even if he brought some 3,700 soldiers with him to the republican side, they were mainly Gallic and German cavalry

Anyway, there is some evidence of considerable desertion from both sides, depending on the ostensible odds (ie, from Caesar after Dyrrhachium and to Caesar after Pharsalus). Presumably, oaths were required from each side.

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The only mistake that Marius made in his reorganisation was to allow the cult of personality to take precedence. To him, it was a perfectly acceptable means of ensuring loyalty of the army on campaign. Remember that ancient armies did not have the logisitics and communications that we take for granted today. They built some great roads (for the ease of military and governmental communication, not the public) and they had clever signalling systems, but that just isn't the same as being able to radio HQ and tell them there's a problem and could they help please.

 

A commander in the field must be able to tell his men to stand and fight. His men must risk their lives in hand to hand combat with real, sharp blades at his request. Battles can be dangerous places. Lethal ones too. Therefore, the leadership qualities of an ancient commander are essential to inspire and control his men. Therefore it was logical that the legions swore an oath of obedience, and that the commander assumed the role Rome's representative.

Someone should have told that to Scipio in Zama or Paulus in Pydna.

 

Why?

The Roman Republic conquered the Mediterranean world long before the Marian reforms; the logistical and communication problems that you mentioned were clearly solved in some other way.

No, the logisitics and communications were more or less the same. Its true that logisitics became the roman forte, but the marian reforms didn't change that aspect of roman warfare for the simple reason there wasn't the technological advances to do so. They did become better at it, more organised, but that was down to experiment and experience, not one politicians decree. Also, it must be remembered that some commanders are better able to inspire their men and have a more intuitive grasp of strategy and tactics. Scipio I understand was one of Rome's better generals. Notice his victory took place at the end of the war, as very often the better commanders rise from the background to replace the failures of the more politically inspired choice of commander who is given command at the start. This ability also impinges on logistics and communications as well as the battlefield, and it may well be that some earlier commanders were better communicators than those in laters periods for instance.

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That said, it's also probable that since they had been brought up through the ranks, the officers were more Italian than Roman.

 

Is this true? Which of Caesar's legates were with him when he crossed the Rubicon?

 

When he left for Gaul, he had perhaps 10: Labienus, Balbus, Mamurra, Vatinius, Q. Pedius, S. Sulpicius Galba, Q. Titurius Sabinus, L. Aurunculus Cotta, P. Crassus, and D. Junius Brutus. Not exactly a group of battle-hardened Italian veterans--probably none had any more experience fighting than Caesar himself, so you couldn't exactly say that they had risen through the ranks. How much had this changed by 49?

 

Also, of the defections from Caesar that we do know, 100% were Italian, so it's not clear how much that variable helps Caesar. Actually, "100%" is misleading--we only know of one certain defection from Caesar--Labienus, from Picenum. Of the half dozen or so military tribunes and 60 centurions with Caesar in 49, we have no idea how many left Caesar, let alone how many were Italian.

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That said, it's also probable that since they had been brought up through the ranks, the officers were more Italian than Roman.

 

Is this true? Which of Caesar's legates were with him when he crossed the Rubicon?

 

When he left for Gaul, he had perhaps 10: Labienus, Balbus, Mamurra, Vatinius, Q. Pedius, S. Sulpicius Galba, Q. Titurius Sabinus, L. Aurunculus Cotta, P. Crassus, and D. Junius Brutus. Not exactly a group of battle-hardened Italian veterans--probably none had any more experience fighting than Caesar himself, so you couldn't exactly say that they had risen through the ranks. How much had this changed by 49?

 

Also, of the defections from Caesar that we do know, 100% were Italian, so it's not clear how much that variable helps Caesar. Actually, "100%" is misleading--we only know of one certain defection from Caesar--Labienus, from Picenum. Of the half dozen or so military tribunes and 60 centurions with Caesar in 49, we have no idea how many left Caesar, let alone how many were Italian.

 

Agreed, the legates probably were not more Italian than Roman - but the centurions (NCO's, as Adrian Goldsworthy as called them) certainly were. One of Caesar's favored promotions was that of a valorous legionary to the centuriate.

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