The Glory That Was Rome: A Book on the Roman Army

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The Glory That Was Rome: A Book on the Roman Army

Postby Hugh » Mon Jan 27, 2003 11:41 pm

I have the pleasure of falling back on what brought me here in the first place, ancient, and especially Roman, military history. I am in the process of reading an excellent book on the subject of the development of the Roman Army from the Bronze Age through the collapse of the Western Empire in 476 CE. It is called Roman Warfare, by Adrian Goldsworthy, and it is a wonderfully balanced discussion of the evolution of the Roman Army from a conscript city militia to the extremely professional army that we all think of that followed Caius Julius Caesar into Gaul and thence to rule the world as well as that of the Early Principate, especially as depicted on Trajan's Column, down to the pits of the Third Century Crisis then back up to the heights of the Dominate period beginning with Diocletian, and finally back down into the depths following Adrianople in 378 CE. The author very nicely handles the debates that have raged over the nature of and the men responsible for such transitions as the Camillan Reforms and the Marian Reforms. All in all, an excellent effort and well worth the price of $13.45 that Barnes & Noble asks. BTW, John, please do not buy it, I am sending you one. Let me know if you are still at your old address, please.

I have the pleasure of recommending another book, but I cannot afford to send anyone copies of this one. It is The Late Roman Army, by Pat Southern and Karen R. Dixon, Hardcover, July 1996, Our Price & List Price: $45.00, Reader's Advantage Price: $42.75. At these prices, the book is only for the hard-core Romanophile, but it is excellent as far as I can see. I only got my copy on Saturday, 1/25/03, so I haven't really had time to digest it yet, or even to read most of it, really. The chapter that I did read on "Equipment" was really quite well done, with copious illustrations and detailed explanations. Obviously, the other chapters are not so extensively illustrated, nor need they be, but they are still equally detailed. If you are truely interested in this somewhat esoteric subject, I cannot recommend this book enough.
Trying to Walk in the Light, Hugh
1 John 1:5
Hugh
 
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Postby JOHN THURSTON » Mon Mar 17, 2003 8:22 pm

Hi Hugh:

Adrianople and the situation around it is a heartbreat, probably was a de fact death blow to "real Empire".

I has been said that this loss caused the Empire to Stop defending Lands, Territory, people and its honor, I suppose.

Thereafter, the "Empire" appeared to act only to preserve its Army and its capital.

Everything else was superfluos to them,.

Eventually the loss of recruiting areas for loyal types, such as the hardy Isaarian Mountaineers, left the Byzantines without those "that fight best only for a flag" {T. Clancy)

Still things limped along in the West, at least unttil the Murder of Aetius after Chalons.

It seemed to me that there was no "next battle" to 'defend Rome".

These are just thoughts and I would like your input.

John
"All Enlightenment Gratefully Accepted"
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Postby Hugh » Mon Mar 24, 2003 9:10 pm

John, you are most likely right, but you also need to take into account that, from the very beginning, the Empire was nothing more than a military dictatorship. It this fact was ever in doubt, the assassination of Claigula by the Praetorian Guard and their acclamation of Claudius as Emperor without even so much as a nod towards the Senate should have proven the point. And it that didn't, then 69 CE, the "Year of the Four Emperors" certainly should have. The point here is that, as things progressed, the common citizens in the provinces AND in Rome had less and less interest in the Empire, seeing it only as this rapacious parasite that conscripted their young men to fight in the interminable civil wars and stole their wealth to feed the incessant needs of the military and the court in Constantinople. There is a book that you might find quite interesting, The Decline and Fall of Roman Britain, by Neil Faulkner, listing for $29.99, Amazon has it for $20.99. It is the one from which I get the theory that the Empire was not overthrown, but collapsed in on itself when it could no longer support itself. At some point, most of the people of Western Europe simply stopped living in the urbanized Romanized areas and returned to their traditional farms, making it most difficult for the Empire to collect taxes or to conscript their sons since they weren't so easily located any longer.

Combine that with the terrible losses at Adrianople and the stupidity shown by the judicial murders of Stilicho and then Aetius, the best leaders that the Western Empire had, and it is clear why the Western Empire collapsed.
Trying to Walk in the Light, Hugh
1 John 1:5
Hugh
 
Posts: 595
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2000 6:01 am
Location: Virginia

I agree

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Sat Sep 23, 2006 8:58 pm

Hugh

Thanks for you post.

I beleive I have "Roman Warfare". I will revisit it.

It should be noted that despite Caligula, Commodus and those of the "years of four emporer", the emporers still, to the people. represented SPQR.

When the people stopped believing that----and realized that they were, in effect, disenfranchised, I assume they would not 'sign up" for a stint in the Legions. When, exactly that was, I don't know. In the West perhaps around 400 AD as Aetius could not have fought at Chalons without his "Gothic Allies".

Many emporers such as Vespasian, Titus, Marcus Aurelias, Hardrian were the consummate soldiers.


The Emporer Decius and his son were killed and left to rot at Forum Trebii by the Goths/

Hadrian never spent a day in Rome, he spent his entire reign on horseback and communicated heavily with his "Dear Marcus" whom he chose quite carefully as successor.

Most of the Emporer's, I think, noted in Suetonius' "The Twelve Caesars" believed in Rome.

At the time of Julian, Rome was no longer Defensible and the Emporer and the Capital were behind the swanps in Ravenna.

Nevertheless, Julian retook Strasbourg from the Teutons and managed to invade Parthia. (a bad career move on his part)

I cannot remember whom I actually consider the last emporer. He was written about by Jenning who also aithoured "Aztec".

Sorry to be so long too respond to your Post.



JT
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