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dianamt54

Greatest Roman Figure??

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I think that Arminius actually needs to be mentioned as well (Augustus gave him citizenship). Yes, he betrayed the empire and inflicted one of its worst defeats, but I think that this was good in the long term for Rome. Had Germania been conquered, Roman forces would have been spread more thinly than ever over a territory that was farther and farther from the Italian core. Because of this, Germany might have remained largely un-Romanized like Britain. No, the Romans wouldn't have had to deal with Germanic invasions, but they would have been exposed to other peoples such as Central Asian horsemen who were arguably far more dangerous than the Germanics. This could have overstretched the empire and may have caused it to collapse far earlier than it did. And this collapse may not have been the gradual and largely peaceful, non-disruptive crumbling of the fifth century, but a complete annihilation on the scale of what happened to Babylon. So, by kicking Rome out of Germany, Arminius forced it into a shape that was far more manageable and easier to defend.

You definitely have a point, I agree that Augustuses 28 Legions were already stretched and so taking Germania would not have been a very good idea. However if they did take it and Romanise it then they would have quite a lot of strong Axillary troops to recruit. But I don't think he was the Greatest Roman figure.

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I think that Arminius actually needs to be mentioned as well (Augustus gave him citizenship). Yes, he betrayed the empire and inflicted one of its worst defeats, but I think that this was good in the long term for Rome. Had Germania been conquered, Roman forces would have been spread more thinly than ever over a territory that was farther and farther from the Italian core. Because of this, Germany might have remained largely un-Romanized like Britain. No, the Romans wouldn't have had to deal with Germanic invasions, but they would have been exposed to other peoples such as Central Asian horsemen who were arguably far more dangerous than the Germanics. This could have overstretched the empire and may have caused it to collapse far earlier than it did. And this collapse may not have been the gradual and largely peaceful, non-disruptive crumbling of the fifth century, but a complete annihilation on the scale of what happened to Babylon. So, by kicking Rome out of Germany, Arminius forced it into a shape that was far more manageable and easier to defend.

You definitely have a point, I agree that Augustuses 28 Legions were already stretched and so taking Germania would not have been a very good idea. However if they did take it and Romanise it then they would have quite a lot of strong Axillary troops to recruit. But I don't think he was the Greatest Roman figure.

That's a very fair point about the recruitment of auxiliaries. Additionally, in not gaining control of Germania, the Empire was left with basically the long Rhine-Danube line as its border which came under immense pressure from the 4th century onwards.

 

So much might have been achieved if the Antonine Emperors had been able to capitalise on Trajan's conquest of Dacia and push the border north. If that boundary had started at say, the mouth of the Elbe and run South-East to Dacia, the Northern frontier would have been shorter, more manageable and easier to defend.

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I think that Arminius actually needs to be mentioned as well (Augustus gave him citizenship). Yes, he betrayed the empire and inflicted one of its worst defeats, but I think that this was good in the long term for Rome. Had Germania been conquered, Roman forces would have been spread more thinly than ever over a territory that was farther and farther from the Italian core. Because of this, Germany might have remained largely un-Romanized like Britain. No, the Romans wouldn't have had to deal with Germanic invasions, but they would have been exposed to other peoples such as Central Asian horsemen who were arguably far more dangerous than the Germanics. This could have overstretched the empire and may have caused it to collapse far earlier than it did. And this collapse may not have been the gradual and largely peaceful, non-disruptive crumbling of the fifth century, but a complete annihilation on the scale of what happened to Babylon. So, by kicking Rome out of Germany, Arminius forced it into a shape that was far more manageable and easier to defend.

You definitely have a point, I agree that Augustuses 28 Legions were already stretched and so taking Germania would not have been a very good idea. However if they did take it and Romanise it then they would have quite a lot of strong Axillary troops to recruit. But I don't think he was the Greatest Roman figure.

That's a very fair point about the recruitment of auxiliaries. Additionally, in not gaining control of Germania, the Empire was left with basically the long Rhine-Danube line as its border which came under immense pressure from the 4th century onwards.

 

So much might have been achieved if the Antonine Emperors had been able to capitalise on Trajan's conquest of Dacia and push the border north. If that boundary had started at say, the mouth of the Elbe and run South-East to Dacia, the Northern frontier would have been shorter, more manageable and easier to defend.

I agree, if they had reached and garrisoned the Elba it would have been easier by far to defend the frontier from attack. It would also have given the Romans a bigger influence in Central Europe and give them better trade routes.

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I think that Arminius actually needs to be mentioned as well (Augustus gave him citizenship). Yes, he betrayed the empire and inflicted one of its worst defeats, but I think that this was good in the long term for Rome. Had Germania been conquered, Roman forces would have been spread more thinly than ever over a territory that was farther and farther from the Italian core. Because of this, Germany might have remained largely un-Romanized like Britain. No, the Romans wouldn't have had to deal with Germanic invasions, but they would have been exposed to other peoples such as Central Asian horsemen who were arguably far more dangerous than the Germanics. This could have overstretched the empire and may have caused it to collapse far earlier than it did. And this collapse may not have been the gradual and largely peaceful, non-disruptive crumbling of the fifth century, but a complete annihilation on the scale of what happened to Babylon. So, by kicking Rome out of Germany, Arminius forced it into a shape that was far more manageable and easier to defend.

Now this was really unexpected, to say the least; under the same standard, Ho-Chi-Min may arguably be considered the Greatest French figure, as he saved France from keeping Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos...

 

Seriously, the Arminius Roman citizenship was a cleaver observation, because it was not mentioned by most of our sources (ie, Tacitus, Florus, Dio); Velleius seems to be the only one aware of it; in fact, he wrote that Arminius (and his father) even reached Equestrian status.

 

At first sight, a case against Arminius and Sigimer's citizenship seems possible, because in addition to the silence of so many sources:

- as far as I know, nowhere were their tria nomina mentioned (ie, "Gaius Julius Arminius");

- Sigimer and other family members retained the Germanic names.

- Arminius' wife Thusnelda and son Thumelicus were carried to Germanicus' triumph (Strabo), a treatment hardly expected for even traitorous quirites.

- Besides, Thumelicus might have been enslaved and died as a gladiator (however, I haven't been able so far to find the classical sources of that version).

 

On the other hand, Vellius' testimony is hard to ignore, because his passage is the closest we get to a primary source account; Velleius reportedly met both Arminius and Varus.

Edited by sylla

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Terrific thread here...sorry if I'm jumping in way late.

 

I have a couple of thoughts, however.

 

The Question: What is the definition of "greatest"? It's impossible to say in the context of this conversation. Most popular? Most impactful? "Best"? The world of sports has a notion of an MVP - Most Valuable Player. Generally this means the best overall player of a given sport. However the specific definition, or rule, when votes are cast for such an award define MVP as "the player most valuable to his team". I always try to think in terms of this: what would team A have done if MVP Candidate So-and-So hadn't played for them this season. Often times it's pretty clear that if an MVP candidate was on a team, that team would've sucked gladiuses. More often than not, votes are cast on a much broader and vague set of conditions.

 

1. Caesar was a game changer. He was the catalyst for a new Rome and you can't deny the impact he had. I'm a hockey fan, so I'll go with that flow for a moment. Before Bobby Orr played in the NHL, defensemen didn't score. They might've score a few here and there, but by and large, their job was to prevent goals, not to score; stop the other team and get the puck up to your offense. But Bobby Orr changed that perspective forever. Every team now HAS to have a defenseman or two that can pitch in with goals here and there...AND stop the other team from scoring. Caesar changed the landscape for Rome and in that context you can make a real strong argument than he was the Greatest Roman Figure.

Question: What if Caesar had not existed? Would a different general have recast what an Emperor is? Sulla served in a similar role shortly before Caesar's rise, but clearly didn't have the lasting impact of Caesar.

 

2. Caesar changed the rules of the game, but left well before the new rules were established. Augustus had to pick up those pieces and remake what had been undone. He was the first player of the game of which Caesar changed the rules. His rise to the top is arguably more fantastic than Caesars and his legacy is more foundational than what Caesar was able to do during his short time at the top. Augustus' famous quote is that he started with a city of brick and left with a city of marble. The marbleized city of Rome is one of the most foundational images of the Empire.

Question: What if Augustus had not existed? Or what if Mark Antony had beaten Augustus at the Battle of Actium? I doubt Mark Antony (and Cleopatra?) would've ruled the same way as Augustus (and Livia?). Would a different ruler have established as solid of a presence as Augustus, or recast how the Roman government should run?

 

3. In terms of longest lasting impact, I think you could make an argument for Hadrian. He's considered learned, worldly, artistic, sensitive and he stabilized the Empire. While Caesars' and Augustus' lasting impacts can fill volumes and speak to governing philosophies and strategies, Hadrian left the world ever-lasting monuments to the Empire: Pantheon, Hadrian's Wall, Hadrian's Villa, and a seemingly never-ending list of monuments and buildings not just in Rome, but all across the great expanse of the Empire.

Question: What if Hadrian had not existed? Surely there would still be monuments, they'd just be different. But perhaps not quite as pervasive or long lasting. Other Emperors certainly built monuments and often to themselves, but it dosen't seem that any did quite in the expansive way that Hadrian did.

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I think that Arminius actually needs to be mentioned as well (Augustus gave him citizenship). Yes, he betrayed the empire and inflicted one of its worst defeats, but I think that this was good in the long term for Rome. Had Germania been conquered, Roman forces would have been spread more thinly than ever over a territory that was farther and farther from the Italian core. Because of this, Germany might have remained largely un-Romanized like Britain. No, the Romans wouldn't have had to deal with Germanic invasions, but they would have been exposed to other peoples such as Central Asian horsemen who were arguably far more dangerous than the Germanics. This could have overstretched the empire and may have caused it to collapse far earlier than it did. And this collapse may not have been the gradual and largely peaceful, non-disruptive crumbling of the fifth century, but a complete annihilation on the scale of what happened to Babylon. So, by kicking Rome out of Germany, Arminius forced it into a shape that was far more manageable and easier to defend.

 

You are missing the point entirely. The greatest Roman figure has to be ROMAN. Additionally, your argument is not well-founded. If it was a deleterious to Roman power to conquer places then their empire would have never been. Also, you are arguing that the destruction of 3 legions was actually good for the Romans??

 

ATG

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Caesar certainly is the most famous Roman ever among the general populace, and a gifted man in his own right. But most famous isn't necessarily the greatest. As far as political organization, Augustus and Constantine set the tenor for the early and later empires, respectively. It is hard to think of more far reaching political visionaries.

 

To be fair to Caesar though, Augustus and Constantine had much a longer time at the top to be able to shape the republic/empire into how they thought it should have been. Caesar had his own idea's and ambitions for the future of Rome but unfortunately he was unable to fulfill them.

 

As for the greatest Roman figure?? That's debatable, we will always argue the for's and against's of that question, but he is most certainly the greatest known Roman figure. I think that's something that we can all certainly agree on.

 

 

 

 

I'd have to say Julius Caesar. For me, he is the embodiment of Ancient Rome. He rose up from his humble beginnings, and MADE his name. He embodied drive, dignity, ambition, and the might of the Roman Army. People are mystified by him because he was larger than life. He was loved by all. His infamous murder probably helped too but I think that it was mostly him in it of itself that made him great. He was all about his image and made sure that the public saw him as a great man which is the image that has been passed down to us through history.

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Caesar certainly is the most famous Roman ever among the general populace, and a gifted man in his own right. But most famous isn't necessarily the greatest. As far as political organization, Augustus and Constantine set the tenor for the early and later empires, respectively. It is hard to think of more far reaching political visionaries.

 

To be fair to Caesar though, Augustus and Constantine had much a longer time at the top to be able to shape the republic/empire into how they thought it should have been. Caesar had his own idea's and ambitions for the future of Rome but unfortunately he was unable to fulfill them.

 

As for the greatest Roman figure?? That's debatable, we will always argue the for's and against's of that question, but he is most certainly the greatest known Roman figure. I think that's something that we can all certainly agree on.

 

 

 

 

I'd have to say Julius Caesar. For me, he is the embodiment of Ancient Rome. He rose up from his humble beginnings, and MADE his name. He embodied drive, dignity, ambition, and the might of the Roman Army. People are mystified by him because he was larger than life. He was loved by all. His infamous murder probably helped too but I think that it was mostly him in it of itself that made him great. He was all about his image and made sure that the public saw him as a great man which is the image that has been passed down to us through history.

 

If we are talking about Roman subjects regardless of social position, the foremost "Roman" would certainly be a Galilean carpenter with a God complex (who might have been entirely a figment of fiction). As for Roman emperors, commanders and similar, Constantine is the only one who have had any impact after the fall of the Empire. Augustus come second, but his achievements did not outlast the Empire.

 

As for the 20th century person who have had the greatest impact on the world political landscape, I would say it would be Adolf Hitler. He basically destroyed European imperialism by trying to forge the ultimate European empire and gave both the USA and the USSR to rise to superpower position. His fall meant the fall of political reaction. Since 1945, open racism, classism and imperialism have been discredited.

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I think that Arminius actually needs to be mentioned as well (Augustus gave him citizenship). Yes, he betrayed the empire and inflicted one of its worst defeats, but I think that this was good in the long term for Rome. Had Germania been conquered, Roman forces would have been spread more thinly than ever over a territory that was farther and farther from the Italian core. Because of this, Germany might have remained largely un-Romanized like Britain. No, the Romans wouldn't have had to deal with Germanic invasions, but they would have been exposed to other peoples such as Central Asian horsemen who were arguably far more dangerous than the Germanics. This could have overstretched the empire and may have caused it to collapse far earlier than it did. And this collapse may not have been the gradual and largely peaceful, non-disruptive crumbling of the fifth century, but a complete annihilation on the scale of what happened to Babylon. So, by kicking Rome out of Germany, Arminius forced it into a shape that was far more manageable and easier to defend.

You definitely have a point, I agree that Augustuses 28 Legions were already stretched and so taking Germania would not have been a very good idea. However if they did take it and Romanise it then they would have quite a lot of strong Axillary troops to recruit. But I don't think he was the Greatest Roman figure.

 

On the contrary. If Germania had been pacified and romanised, the Roman borders would actually have been shortened, thus ultimately improving the Roman economy and logistical situation. The huge mistake in my opinion was the constant attempts to take Parthia. If the Romans had pressed on to Indus, their borders would have been truly unholdable.

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On the contrary. If Germania had been pacified and romanised, the Roman borders would actually have been shortened, thus ultimately improving the Roman economy and logistical situation. The huge mistake in my opinion was the constant attempts to take Parthia. If the Romans had pressed on to Indus, their borders would have been truly unholdable.

Yes, IF.

 

I do not believe those legions should ever have been sent on campaign with Rome's military strength so low. Those three legions should never have gone on campaign in the first place, because as we saw, they needed heavy axillary support in Germania. I think the entire campaign was doomed, especially since they were lead by such a naive commander. The fact the Romans before the battle were in such a long column was just asking for trouble.

 

But yes, I agree that if they had succeeded, it would have been better. But it was obvious they would not succeed (in my opinion).

 

~I agree with that. The desert was not the best position for a Roman army, as it was too open for the Parthian tactics of attack. If Rome has gone further into the East, I am certain it would have only lead to ruin. Carrhae shows us that even the strongest Roman army can be defeated relatively easily in the east.

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On the contrary. If Germania had been pacified and romanised, the Roman borders would actually have been shortened, thus ultimately improving the Roman economy and logistical situation. The huge mistake in my opinion was the constant attempts to take Parthia. If the Romans had pressed on to Indus, their borders would have been truly unholdable.

Yes, IF.

 

I do not believe those legions should ever have been sent on campaign with Rome's military strength so low. Those three legions should never have gone on campaign in the first place, because as we saw, they needed heavy axillary support in Germania. I think the entire campaign was doomed, especially since they were lead by such a naive commander. The fact the Romans before the battle were in such a long column was just asking for trouble.

 

But yes, I agree that if they had succeeded, it would have been better. But it was obvious they would not succeed (in my opinion).

 

~I agree with that. The desert was not the best position for a Roman army, as it was too open for the Parthian tactics of attack. If Rome has gone further into the East, I am certain it would have only lead to ruin. Carrhae shows us that even the strongest Roman army can be defeated relatively easily in the east.

 

In fact Rome pretty much conquered Germania with Germanicus campaign, it was just that the emperor, for diferent resons, call it back. It was a land with little importance for romans i think, mostly swamps and forest, no infrastructure, no cities, no fortreses, no rich gold or silver mines, no significant agriculture land, and, at that point in history, no strategic value either. The investments to make there a province will be way to huge compared with benefits.

Romans controled however the area thru client rulers, a much cheaper way of control and even in III century AD (a bad century for empire) they was able to send the legions deep in northern Germania to punish the rebel tribes.

 

Traian i think was the only one in position to conquer Parthia, but fortunately he was too old at that moment, and died during campaign (a heart attack i think, he was ill)

 

About the answer on topic, i think that yes, first and most known is Iulius Caesar, even if i like more Scipio Africanus and strangely, i am interested in Catilina too. It was interesting if Caesar wouldnt be killed and he make that expeditions against Parthia and Dacia (not sure in which order), both of them being pretty strong too. Traian manage to conquer big parts of them, but i am not sure Caesar might have the same succes, with his fantastic battle plan in MEsopotamia and around the Black Sea

Edited by diegis

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Caesar made the empire territorialy by enlarging it a lot and turning it from a mediterranean civilization to a truly western european one with the conquest of Gaul: without him, western european civilization which was built by the germanics above the roman one, would not have existed.

 

He made the empire politically starting the one-man rule of the following centuries and giving birth (involuntarily) to the idea of Empire which remained alive in Europe for all its history (even influencing far away people like the russians and their Tsars).

 

In the millennias after his death, he has become the symbol of Rome in popular world culture and this qualifies him as its greatest son.

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