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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 9:35 pm 
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Hi:

Here is a notion (not entirely new) that takes rather a dim view of the Romans from "The Enemies Of Rome; Philip Matyzak-Preface":

"There is now an alternative view, which suggests that Rome became the only civilization in the Mediterrananean area by destroying half a dozen others---------"

"In the third century before Christ, when our story begins, there were a number of different, lively and competing cultures scattered about the Mediterranean. In the East, the Macedonian conquest of Asia Minor Mino had created an exotic mix of western Greek ideas-----and an ancient Persian Culture"

"These were Romanized by a savage conquest" . The book is good, but omits two of Rome's most savage enemies: Mithridates V of Pontus (the self proclaimed successor to the Hellenistic Empire) and Phyrrus the Macedonian who fought the Roman Republic to a standstill and might have destroyed it in 281 BC.

Of course this view begs the question. Many Empires preceded and followed the age of Roman Conquest.

In the very end, perhaps because of a new plague and years of Gothic and Teutonic pillaging, as well as an equally destructive reconquest of most of the Peninsula by forces under the Basileus Justinian and his General Belisarius, there remained little worth reconquering by the time Attila reached Nothern Italy.

Fear of the plague, the prosect of slim pickings inorder to feed his enormous herd of cavalry mounts and remounts seem to have affected Attila's judgement more than any appeals from an obscure chief priest.

It should be noted that the Persian Empire destroyed many nations under Cyrus the Great (the Medeian culture comes to mind).

Note that Israel's greatest victory in the time of antiquity was the throwing of of the "succesor' Empire of the Seleucids by the Maccabees.

In modern times we see: The Spanish Empire, The Seljuk Empire, The Austro Hungarian Empire, The Russian Empire, The British Empire, The "Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere" , 2 French Imperial States, and the Ottoman Empire.

This last not only crushed Byzantine/Christian Civilization----but destroyed many of antiquities most beautiful treasures.

However, the author maintains that:"----when Rome failed, there was no civilization to take its place-------had Rome not riumphed so thoroughly----the Dark Ages need never have happened"

The Arab Conquests obliterated opposing religions and Cultures and its expansion was only halted in Southern France by the forces of a successor Empire, that of the Empire of the Franks, which itself displaced any remnants of Romano/Gallic civilization.

I understand that to comment on this is a bit of a struggle, but I am interested to hear any thoughts.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:03 pm 
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I agree, this notion is not new at all and from what I have read was the normal method of operations throughout ancient history, and as you show, well into the 1900-2000s (Turkish genocide of Armenians, Rwanda, Dafur, both Muslims and Serbs, etc.), though on a smaller scale, as we are now "more civilized". :roll: Besides, the Romans absorbed most peoples they conquered (Greeks, Jews, North Africans, etc).

Secondly, the Dark Ages were not as "dark" as the term implies. Western civilization continued to progress, though in political fragmentation. Also, most people completely ignore the Orthodox Christian East which did much better at that time than it's petty Western "brothers", until the 14-1500s when the Turks sacked Constantinople.

Lastly, there has been so much research and analysis of the Roman Republic/Empire that there is really nothing new. So modern researchers write politically correct articles and books damning the whole lot. You can only imagine the subject matter that pretends to be research. It's absurd.

The following book sums it all up, though its focus is on the Ancient Greeks:

Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization
US:
http://www.amazon.com/Greek-Ways-Created-Western-Civilization/dp/1893554570/ref=sr_1_7/104-1035339-3534360?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1181159818&sr=1-7

UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Greek-Ways-Created-Western-Civilization/dp/1893554570/ref=sr_1_1/202-5365051-4638219?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1181160129&sr=8-1

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 Post subject: Well Said
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:39 pm 
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HI Dale:

Glad to have your input.

I have been wading through a number of writings on the Empire.

Some say the Empire started its fall after the Teutoberger Wald defeat.

Everybody seems to know when the final slide began.

Early Christians may have indeed viewed the Empire as the Beast.

Mithridate VI of Pontus may indeed have viewed himself as the heir to Hellenistic enlightenment.

However, his actions, at times, were far from even remotely being attributable to Alexander's possible wish for an enlightened Hellenistic world.

In Milesia, formerly Greek City states on the Aegean coast in the Time of the First Persian Empire (oh yes, just the first I think) had made welcome to Italian and Roman 'infiltration'.

Well, at least that's how Mithridates saw it.

In keeping with that line of thought, he savagely ordered the slaughter of all Italiians and Romans in Greece and Milesia.

80,000 men women and children were killed. It is rather doubtful that these were other than they wished to be, settlers and traders.

The "incident" was named "Vespers" by the Romans, meaning, of course, the time of day the massacre started, early evening. I am sure you know this is also the name for the Roman Catholic Priesthood's required prayers at that time, many centuries later.

Of course the Romans never forgot or forgave this rather large blot on the record of Hellenitiistic Enlightenment.

Nor would I.

In his pride and arrogance Mithridates handed the Romans a cassus belli which might not have arisen as they had other pots in the fire in 85 BC.

Nonetheless Appian says: 'the Cannui-(one tribe (?)) "killed first the children under the eyes of their mothers, and then the Mothers, and their husbands after them. By the way they acted it was plain that the people of the province were not driven only by their fear of Mithridates, but by hatred of the Romans' (Appian Mithridatica 4(21))

As you say, this is a manifestation of they way thing were run in the time, but the slaughter of so many Civilians in a day might well be unmatched until the 20th Century.

Matyszak does point to many things happening that would destroy the Roman Republic that were initiated by the drain on traditional sources of manpower for the Legions. The Legions then were made up of Roman and Italian citizens who could provide their own arms amd equipment.

This source was ultimately destroyed by the massive loss of agriculturaly involved citizens to the Legions--in a manner similar to the effects of the present 'stop loss' program in the US military.

Later, indeed, Augustus revised the Roman Army's method of recruting and it is said his intention was to be sure that the Legions would no longer be recruited in Italy.

More later. I have to read all the materials you linked up.

Thanks.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:26 pm 
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A voice from the past, John. How goes it?

While Rome tended to dominate and to supplant the cultures of the peoples that it overcame, I am not all that certain that you can say that it destroyed them. In Britain, for instance, Rome overlayed a veneer of Roman urban civilization onto the basically rural Celtic culture that they conquered in the period 43 CE to about 85 CE but they never really destroyed it. The hillforts remained and, when the government became too oppressive during the later Dominate Period, say from Theodosius on, the urban areas begin to show signs of decay as the people began to retreat into the countryside to get away from the tax collectors and the army recruiting squads. From what I have read, similar things were happening in France and there was even a simmering rebellion by the peasant classes as the oppression got ever worse. Look up the term baucadae sometime.

And, if you look at the barbarian invasions, they did not so much throw down the Roman government as they interposed their own local local powers between the Emperors and the people, at least in the West. In Britain, it was a bit different as the invaders were conducting a form of ethnic cleansing, but in the rest of Weastern Europe, they merely wanted in on the goodies that the Empire provided. Alaric and his Goths had been mercenaries in the pay of Rome until the Emperor stupidly refused to pay them the wages that they had earned and that was when they marched on Rome and sacked it in 410 CE. And before that, they had been subjected to terrible brutality by the Romans when they fled famine and Hunnic terror across the Danube in the latter 4th Century. THe Franks, Burgundians, Goths, Vandals, and others on the Continent all were trying to maintain the broken system so that they could benefit from it. It was only when it became terribly apparent to all that it was irredeemably broken in 476 CE that the Goths finally tossed out the last Roman Emperor in the West. Even then, the kingdoms that eventually rose did so upon the foundations laid by the Romans and the early invaders in their efforts to maintain Roman society.

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 Post subject: Hi Hugh--Fine Addition
PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:43 pm 
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Hi Hugh:
Good to hear from you again and I must say that I do, pretty much, agree with you.

Even VAlens defeat was (or the War was) a result of Roman/Byzantine perceived perfidy in allowing Goths to cross peacfully into the Empire.

Legend has it that the agreement failed because although Valens had agreed to it, border troops would not let the Ostrogoths in question pass into the Empire with their arms.

Personally, I think that Valen 'felt he could take them' armed or not. Valens army was strong and only errors in judgement, I feel, caused the defeat at Adrianople.

As an aside, the battle(s) that finally put 'paid' to any true Empire in the East were in 1037 (Manzikert) and 1457 (Constantinople).

Nonetheless, the Byzantines proved to be as tough and resilient as their main group of recruits, the Isaurian mountaineers. When the recruiting areas were lost, the empire was doomed--but, it took another few hundred years.

Crusader victory at Dorylaeum against the Seljuks certainly put Turkish minds on other problems as did the Ottoman's sometimes bloody absorbtion of Seljuk territories.

Islamic internal conflicts delayed the eventual fall of Constantinople until the 15th century as noted by Dale.

Nor was this the only distraction for the Islamic world, which nearly saw its own destruction at the hands of the Mongols which they called "Kwaresm'. This name is actually the name of a vast turko-islamic state which spanned large areas in and around present day Afghanistan.

One of the city states of Kwaresm had had Mongol embassadors killed, Not a survival trait, and Temujism re adjusted his own schedule of conquest to deal with them.

It has been argued that Temujin also had other irons in the fire and could not or did not want the trade routes that passed thru Kwaresm disrupted.

In either event Kwaresm's bringing down the wrath of Temujin prematurely was a fatal error for milllions.

Perhaps if Temujin's military destruction of kwaresm had even been merely delayed, Subotai may not have chosen to invade after Temujin's death and the resultant struggle for power.

J

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Last edited by JOHN THURSTON on Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:35 pm 
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May I suggest a couple of books to you? The first is The Complete Roman Army by Adrian Goldswothy, Amazon price: $13.58
This is a fantastic book. It presents the Roman Army in a light that I have never before seen. Among other things, it presents the Romans as a people who fought their wars "to the knife" or to the destruction or absolute subjugation of their opponents. This was in a world of the Successor Kingdoms to Alexander where the various kings would send their professional mercenary armies out to fight set-piece battles and then retire to negotiate terms for the winners. This does explain much about why Hannibal never actually cut Rome down when he had the chance after Cannae. It was not in his culture to do so, he was waiting for Rome to come to the negotiating table like a civilized state. Good luck!! He got Publius Cornelius Scipio invading Africa and the head his brother, Hasdrubal, tossed into his camp instead. There are other equally good books by Goldsworthy.

Another is Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland, Amazon price: $10.20. This is less a military history of the Civil Wars than a political history of the period of Roman history from the time of the Brothers Gracchi to the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE where Octavian and Agrippa beat Antony and Cleopatra, leaving Octavian to become the First Man (Princips) of Rome. Octavian may have been a sneaky bastard compared to Marcus Antonius but he was a political genius who put his great uncle, Caius Julius Caesar, in the shade for political smarts. The book charts the careers of the Gracchi, Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey, Caesar, Antony, Octavian, and the assassins of Caesar. It is both political and somewhat gossipy. It is also a very good read. Holland's latest is also a very good read: Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West which charts the rise of the Persian Empire and the rise of Athens and Sparta and then brings them into their collision. I will tell you that Holland does not paint the Spartans nearly so prettily as the film, "300," does nor are his Persians anywhere near as dastardly. For the record, Sparta was a totalitarian state of the first water and that needs to be remembered. Yes, it was very instrumental in saving Western Civilization, but we need to not glorify them.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:18 am 
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Hi Hugh:

Yes. Sparta had two kinged totalitarism that managed to beat the Persian at Platea and eventually beat Athens.

If not for Athens 'Syracusian' adventure, the outcome of the Peloponesian war might well have been different.

Despite being a sea power at heart, Athens could not really even defend the city itself after the loss of 50,000 Hoplites to Syracuse. Syracuse was being advised by Spartan Generals, if memory serves.

I will try and get the works you reccommended asap. they would seem to be right down my alley. In turn I recommend "Pillars of Fire" and "Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" (Barker) an Osprey puiblication.

Osprey has published 'Man at Arms" books regarding most periods of the Roman Army.

J

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 2:18 pm 
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I have virtually all of the Osprey books regarding the Romans and their enemies. Osprey has a habit or rereleasing them under different titles, so one must be a bit cautious when buying them.

I have read Gates of Fire and hear rumors of it being made into a movie. I hope that the film will hold true tot he book as the book is excellent.

On Athens and the Pelopennesian War, you must remember that not only had Athens lost those men at Syracuse but she had also lost a huge number in an epidemic od some sickness that swept the crowded city while everyone was inside the walls fleeing the Spartans. Actually, the 50,000 lost at Syracuse was not a fatal loss, after all Rome lost some 60,000 at Cannae and that was on top of its recent losses at the Trebia and at Lake Trasimene. Rome was able to field another army within a short while.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 6:44 pm 
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Here are three more books that you might find interesting:
Warfare in the Classical World: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons, Warriors and Warfare in the Ancient Civilisations of Greece and Rome by John Gibson Warry (Paperback - Oct 1995) Amazon's Price: $19.77
This is a bit dated by now, but it is a superbly written and illustrated history of warfare from the period of the Persian Wars up through Attila the Hun and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. But take care to buy the illustrated version as there is a non-illustrated version out there. I have found hardbound copies for sale at Barnes and Noble on their remaindered tables for less than $10.

Greece and Rome at War by Peter Connolly (Hardcover - Jan 1, 2006 Amazon's Price: $32.97 Peter Connolly is one of the leading archaeologists/historians of the ancient Greek & Roman periods. He is the one who put bas relief carvings together with remains found in archaeological digs at Roman military sites to come up with the horned Roman saddle that allowed the Romans to have shock cavalry without stirrups, something that many modern military theorists believed to be impossible despite the history of Alexander the Great and his cavalry. Connolly is also a superb artist at least on a par with the late lamented Angus McBride of Osprey. This book has a wealth of illustrated detail about the Greek and Roman military that simply cannot be equalled elsewhere.

Roman Military Equipment: From The Punic Wars To The Fall Of Rome by M. C. Bishop and J. C. N. Coulston (Paperback - Jun 20, 2006) Amazon's Price: $37.20
This is THE definitive work on the subject. If you are interested in the equippage of the Roman army, from its tunicae and caligae to its pila, gladii, and spathae, by way of its armors and other defensive gear, then this is the book for you. Mike Bishop moderates the Roman Military Equipment Studies group that puts out the Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies, a periodic publishing of papers by historians in the field such as Connolly, Bishop, Junkelmann, Keppie, Coulston, and Ann Hyland among many others. I have the 2nd edition of the book and I use it regularly.

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 Post subject: Thanks Hugh
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2007 3:41 pm 
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I admit your scholarship in Roman military matters exceeds mine. However, somebody's scholarship into nearly any area exceedsm ine, so I will not let this daunt me.

I will get this tremendious book you mentioned.

I have just squeezed my way past buying 3 more Osprey Publications-so it may be a while.

As an aside, i did not mean to place a methodolgy of sword forging on the apparent interpretation of Excalibur.

(EX--out of, latin, calibre-Arabic-mold or form) It is certainly true that going back to Mycenaen times that a bronze sword as keen as steel could be made through methods that may have seemed similiar to 'folded forging".

But, the ancients did not have the huge 'drop forges' of the industrial era, and, although it is a near certainty that final forminng of a sword had to be accomplishished via impressive forging skills, the material to be forged was probably made up of cast billets (ingots) of an appropriate size.

I think the "Gim" I have may have, for example, been forged from a single narrow billet of streel.

the billets themselves were probably carefully chosen as to size and the triple forging lent the edge incredible sharpness. However, the core of most Gims and Katana (the back of the katana perhaps as well as the core) remained relatively soft (and relative is truly a propos) so that the sword retained decent flexibility. Were an entire word to be cystallized (bronze) or folded forged to the edges high 'brittlenes" (frisability?) a weapon would surel snap rather easily.

Kust a thought. I will, again, try and research in the area.

I had a French made shotgun going back to just post damascus barrel days, and it was marked "Assieres Fondu".

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