History: Actual, Fictional and Legendary discussion

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message 1: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (last edited Mar 05, 2010 08:19PM) (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
We could most likely have a month long discussion focused on the Roman Army by itself. Generally speaking, what separated the Roman Army in Imperial times from all other armies contemporary and past?

The Roman Army reached its peak at about AD 250. What conditions created the changes that lost the Army its near invincibility?

What caused Roman generals to change from their reliance on the infantry to cavalry starting in the fourth century AD?

What tactics were most effective in fighting the Germanic and Frankish Tribes?

The Persian Armies?

The Turks and the Arabs?

How was discipline maintained in the Army in the early years of the Empire.

How about later? Why did it change?

What was the role of the Roman Navy?

Why were the Romans so good at siege-craft?

Why did the Army become so much more important in the Empire than it was during the Republic?

Why did the Army become so political as the Empire continued?

What qualities of Roman thinking and behavior created an Army that built and maintained what was perhaps the greatest Empire in the History of the world?


message 2: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) I'll answer the question about the discipline. According to Gibbon, the punishments given for disobedience and cowardice were very severe and impossible to avoid.

The centurions were authorized to chastise with blows and the generals had a right to punish with death. It had become a maxim of Roman discipline: a good soldier should dread his officers far more than the enemy.

Neverthless, the Army did pay attention to the well-being of the soldiers. For instance, regular pay, gifts and a stated recompense were provided.

As to the qualities of Roman Army...I think their biggest legacy to the world in general is their discipline, sound organization, and flexible ways in conducting wars. They seemed to be able to launch any type of battles and succeeded. And of course their technologies in weaponry.


message 3: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
Silvana wrote: "I'll answer the question about the discipline. According to Gibbon, the punishments given for disobedience and cowardice were very severe and impossible to avoid.

The centurions were authorized t..."


They certainly seemed to learn from their mistakes. Often the process required the slaughter of entire armies to drive the lesson home.

The discipline in the Army was not that far removed from discipline in the home or in society in general where execution was the punishment for what today are considered minor offenses.

Augustus created the first standing army in Rome. One of the biggest benefits was the promise of a plot of land when the soldier retired. Such land was often taken from the inhabitants of a conquered territory.

I totally agree that the power of the Roman Army was due to discipline and fighting as units rather than individuals.

In my opinion, their biggest technological advantage was in armoring every soldier.


message 4: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 310 comments Mod
Well, not the slaughter of an entire army for discipline; only decimation. And that was quite brutal enough.


message 5: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
I didn't mean they slaughtered an entire army for discipline but rather that they learned from their defeats such as at Cannae, where 70,000 Romans lost their lives.

Decimation or the execution of one out of every ten soldiers was only used in cases of extreme cowardice, I believe.


message 6: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (last edited Mar 30, 2010 09:34AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 310 comments Mod
Yep. That's my impression.


message 7: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) Susanna wrote: "Well, not the slaughter of an entire army for discipline; only decimation. And that was quite brutal enough."

Ah decimation! Had this been done during the republic period?

I know Julius Caesar did some decimation when his troops were rebelling against him during his campaign in the civil war against Pompey. At that time decimation was regarded to be a barbaric sentence.


message 8: by Silvana (last edited Jul 02, 2010 01:10AM) (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) Ed wrote: "Why did the Army become so much more important in the Empire than it was during the Republic?

Why did the Army become so political as the Empire continued?
"


I don't know much about the comparison on the importance of the Army during the Republic and the Empire but what I do know that the Army (the Legions) were important because they served as the main tools for legitimize a ruler.

During the Republic era, the Army was used by the aristocratic families to fight amongst each other in their pursuit of power in the senate, etc. During the Empire era, the Army was again used as pawns, first of all by Octavian (first using Caesar's former legionnaires), then Vespasian (he was even proclaimed as emperor by the army in Egypt and Judea) and so on.


message 9: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 310 comments Mod
Crassus decimated in 71 BC, for poor performance against Spartacus, I believe.


message 10: by Ed, Chief Curmudgeon (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 622 comments Mod
Silvana wrote: "Ed wrote: "Why did the Army become so much more important in the Empire than it was during the Republic?

Why did the Army become so political as the Empire continued?
"

I don't know much about th..."


Right on Silvana. The Army in the Republic was called up for specific reasons or was the private responsibility of its General. Octavius created a standing army which could be used at the whim of the emperor.


message 11: by Mcginnis (new)

Mcginnis | 2 comments Ed wrote: "Silvana wrote: "Ed wrote: "Why did the Army become so much more important in the Empire than it was during the Republic?

Why did the Army become so political as the Empire continued?
"

I don't kn..."

This sounds quite reasonable. I used to search for some short audio stories about the Roman army on Youtube and used a YouTube to mp3 converter to download them to my iPod. It was pretty educational to listen to those tracks.


message 12: by Mcginnis (new)

Mcginnis | 2 comments Very interesting subject for discussion you have chosen. I really enjoyed the post and the conversation below.

DOC to PDF


message 13: by Caroline (new)

Caroline | 1 comments I don't even... :D
Well, I know that my comment is not related to any book. not yet a book, I guess.
But I really loved the performance of the Roman history showed in one of the episodes of the british TV series 'Doctor Who' season five, I believe. The last centurion and the girl who waited too long. So romantic.
http://vobplayer.org/ vob player


message 14: by Flint (new)

Flint (Flint82) | 2 comments I've read this book, and want to say that the narration is good and what is more important very detailed and informative.
Thank you | convert wma to mp3


message 15: by Elisabeth (new)

Elisabeth Storrs This thread is an old one but I thought I might add something. The major reform of the army of Republican times was implemented by Marius in 107BC when he removed the requirement that a soldier could only serve if he held property. At that time the 'head count' or proletariat were dissatisfied with their inability to be granted public land and hence were a source of continual discontent and possible revolt. Marius offered public land in return for permanent service. These soldiers came to be known as 'Marius' Mules'. This reform also increased the pool of men available for service thereby strengthening Rome's ability to fight all its enemies.


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