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Conan

Inaccurate claim in the Military sections of this web site

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No, but the circumstances might. The huns were warriors by birth. It was their culture to fight and expected of them. They did so for status, peer pressure, and for the sheer fun of it. A roman soldier of the professional era fought by vocation. He had chosen to earn a living as a soldier of Rome. A volunteer for a war isn't necessarily a professional, but if he chooses to remain in the army after the war is over and everyone else goes home, then I would say he is. A professional chooses to serve, others serve because they must. Its all a bit of a grey area really and I suppose it depends on your viewpoint.

 

You're dealing with a real world situation here involving service and pay and these things are changeable according to situation. However you might like defining things precisely you won't reach an exact solution. At the end of the day when you join an army for a wage you assume a professional status as opposed to someone who responds to a national emergency and does his bit for Rome.

Gratiam habeo for your patience.

If you don't mind, I would like to make another couple of questions :)

 

Do you know if the service conditions of the soldiers of the following armies would have been enough to qualify them as professionals?

 

- Carthaginians (under Hannibal).

 

- Macedonians (after Alexander).

 

- Parthians (under Surena).

 

- Sassanids.

 

- Jewish (under Herod the Great).

 

Thanks in advance.

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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Do you know if the service conditions of the soldiers of the following armies would have been enough to qualify them as professionals?

 

- Carthaginians (under Hannibal)

Many of hannibals troops were mercenaries. Such men are often regarded as professionals (most often by themselves) but tend to be an undisciplined untrustworthy lot. That said, the army of Carthage relied on such men so there must have been a certain level of professionalism present.

 

- Macedonians (after Alexander).

Don't know. But after Alexander the phalanx was in decline if not gone surely? Since the greek hoplite was responsible for buying his gear in a very wealth orientated democratic fashion, they were the soldiers they could afford to be. I don't know of any standing army and therefore it they were an example of a levied army, responding to situations rather than sat in a barracks waiting for orders?

 

- Parthians (under Surena).

Don't know. Given the large numbers of tribal archers though, I suspect many fought for cultural reasons rather than pay, but I'm happy to be put straight on that.

 

- Sassanids.

Now the sassanids had evolved a sort of pre-medieval fuedal society. I don't know the specifics of their organisation but I suspect they served their lords in much the same way, out of obligation. Thats not professionalism, its a cultural bias toward service. Perhaps another forum member might know more?

 

- Jewish (under Herod the Great).

By and large, no. I'm not aware of any standing army in Judaea and therefore this would fall in the category of troops levied for a campaign?

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The Huns didn't necessarily garrison, nor did they routinely fortify, nor as far as I know were they paid a "salary", but they were certainly not temporary levies. Is a tribal army professional? Probably not in the strictest sense, but we also know they employed mercenaries and acted as such themselves.

 

And what about the Carthaginian army during the Punic Wars?

 

Yes, professional, but not necessarily in the same sense as the Romans. Carthage's army were not levies but recruited and paid troops who were assigned to specific regions and tasks, though that assignment was temporary. They are often identified as mercenary, but the bulk of these "mercenaries" were recruited from within Carthaginian controlled regions. They were perhaps more akin to later Roman auxilia than mercenaries.

 

However, allow me to clarify what I mean by the garrison concept in establishing the legions as a professional army. While many ancient armies would be professional in the sense that they were trained paid soldiers with uniform military structure, Rome was among the first to truly develop a permanent standing army with static points of assignment. Perhaps surprisingly, I'm suggesting a much later period than what we might be thinking.

 

It's not until after the civil wars and the reforms of Augustus and the evolution of the Caesarian/Antonian legions that my criteria really takes hold. It's at this point where legions were permanent forces and not temporary levies (even if earlier armies were clearly professional by training, discipline, standardization. Think Scipio, Marius, etc.). I'm focused on when the legions themselves became permanent entities (ie Legio II Augusta, Legio III Gallica, Legio IV Macedonica, etc.) that continued to exist with a continuing and defined task/assignment while replenishing existing units with new recruits when veterans retired, rather than retiring an entire legion and levying an entirely new army for a different task.

 

Perhaps my concept doesn't quite conform to the traditional sense of what a professional army was, but I hope that clarifies my thought process. Of course, I'm open to opposing points of view.

I agree with you, and I would add something into your reflexion, that is the organized and formal transfer of knowledge inside the army. Everytime an army mustered before the time of Augustus it had to start from scratch and even if some men had the army as only professional occupation the army herself was not professional because it did not keep a permanent structure.

 

In fact I usually try to divide armies between five categories :

 

- tribal : the army is simply the levy of the men of age for making war with one's neighbours or make a raid

- cast tribal : the soldiers are a separate group inside the society and are seen as such by insiders and outsiders. Gauls are a good example

- Civic : the army is the organized levy of the men of age but there is no permanent standing force ( with the possible exception of a youth training unit as the Athenian ephebes ). The Greeks of the 5th century are a good example of this type.

- Mercenary : the army is raised as needed from men who have made war their buisness and fight for a pay. They might be individuals or group mercenaries, under leadership of their own officers but under the supreme command of a man sent by their employer. Carthage's army is a good example, as is Sicily's army in the 4th B.C.

- Professional : a permanent structure where the men are trained regularly and where the knowledge is passed in an organized way through the ranks, with a command corp also made of men who do that on an exclusive basis. Sparta and the Imperial Legion are two examples.

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- Professional : a permanent structure where the men are trained regularly and where the knowledge is passed in an organized way through the ranks, with a command corp also made of men who do that on an exclusive basis. Sparta and the Imperial Legion are two examples.

Was the athenian navy of the Delian League professional?

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Good question. I think it was, at least up to the Sicilian disaster and despite other catastrophic losses like the Egyption expedition. Pericles shows in his discourses there was a lot of training and all evidences points in my eye to a trained group of ship officers with a lot of expedition and a course inside the ranks for the ships officers even if the captain of the ship was not a professional ( since he was the man who paid for the warship but does not seem to have been the man who directed it in naval operations ). Still one has to note that a good part of the rowers were mercenaries and the boarding party was often made of civic levies.

 

The Athenian fleet would not achieve such a level of professionalism again until the age of Demosthene and would then dissolve to only keep a small core of ships for local patrols. The rhodian fleet of the 3rd and second centuries could also have achieved professional status.

Edited by Bryaxis Hecatee

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- Professional : a permanent structure where the men are trained regularly and where the knowledge is passed in an organized way through the ranks, with a command corp also made of men who do that on an exclusive basis. Sparta and the Imperial Legion are two examples.

Was the athenian navy of the Delian League professional?

 

The rowers at Salamina were levies drawn from the lowest class of citizens - tetes. The boarding parties were hoplites - also levy, while the officers were elected officials. The rich people that were taxed for the building of the ships had just a symbolic function.

During the existance of the Delian League, Athens was, almost, all the time in war and that gave the levy a more permanent caracter, including payment, but this does not make them proffesional. A bit like the armies of the Late Republic. The season for naval operations was rather short and the crews were disbanded for the winter even in times of war. The marines, naval hoplites, became a permanent, standing force that can be seen as profesional.

Long wars and wars fought far away made levies more permanent and proffesional.

 

As I pointed in another thread, Rome must have had permanent forces of some sort by the time of the Pyrrhic War because the reason for this war was the presence of roman garrisons in the greek cities of the Bay of Tarent.

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Not necessarily true. The garrisons were there to offset an external military threat but that does not mean the threat was permanent. However, it is true the men were already in arms before they were sent there.

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