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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:34 PM   #31
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NO please.. anything but indoctrinate me with propaganda O_O

Pen, may I ask if you have Skype?
I would love to talk to you, I am a novice, who literally within the last hour understood that people like Scipio, Pompey, Cicero etc was Consuls, republicans and not emperors, for that was Augustus onwards... hehe

I am really looking for a second hand Historian's (I think it's called that) book on the early republic right through to the mid-late empire.

My university teacher who went to Cambridge reccomended that Suetonius' 'The Twelve Caesars' was the best book for the 200 year time period, but it's first hand:
I think I like the idea of a Historian contextualising, making opinions, evaluating/judging in hindsight aswell, especially for such a huge time period. I have still yet to find a series that can satisfy my desires for this huge time period. It will also help me develop my skills as a young aspiring historian, and it feels more comfortable.. hehe

Also, I'm always open for politics (in the republic, as I understand that the senate were undermined during the empire, due to the degree of imperium the emporer had) and lifestyle (for various: slaves, citizens, soldiers, politicians, merchants, 'dodgy' - pirates? '

*Edit - I understand that there is less context etc in Vegetius' book, but in modern books there's 300 pages, 3 times the amoung of Vegitius', I fail to understand (maybe due to my ignorance, as this book experience, along with the ancient world in detail is new to me) how there is 200 pages on context, and maybe opinions - but I might be, and probably am wrong, I'm sure the extra 200 pages comes from something else right? Surely it can't be more in depth than Vegetius' work, as historians just use Vegetius' work to write THEIR OWN work and thus it's just a regurgitation.
I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply that modern works on the subject only regurgitate vegetius. My meaning of the word 'context' was pretty broad.
In your first post, you seemed to mostly be interested in the army; the weapons, tactics, etc. Since you now seem to be interesting in, well, everything about Rome, my feelings are different. Vegetius will not give you any politics, society, anything like that.
Suetonius is an entirely different animal. He is thought to have been very biased in his views, and his history reflects that. He was very friendly to the senatorial class, and any emperor who neglected the senate was painted as a demon in his history. Many of them may indeed have been quite nasty, but it's hard to know the real story, because he has motive to make them look as bad as possible.
So, in this case, you might want to go straight to a modern history, which will compare and contrast the sources, and try to separate fact from fiction.
This is also true for vegetius, but vegetius was only writing a how-to manual, and his motive was to get it right, while trying not to insult the emperor, and while being humble. It's very to-the-point. It reads like: 'this is how you do it, this is how it's done.'
A historian has a tough job, because they have to use sources that might deliberately falsify a lot of information. Still, these sources are often times the best sources, flaws and all. Suetonius is a perfect example; while you shouldn't believe everything he says, without him we wouldn't know nearly as much as we do.
Btw, I didn't mean caesar's narrative was propaganda for you. It was for his contemporaries.
Anyway, I like to study by subject, i.e., economy, society, politics, military, travel, religion, culture, law, etc.
For a start, though, you're probably better off doing the series that kirialax recommended, the routledge series, i mean, but you'll want that period between the punic wars and caesar (264 - 44), too.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:54 PM   #32
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I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply that modern works on the subject only regurgitate vegetius. My meaning of the word 'context' was pretty broad.
In your first post, you seemed to mostly be interested in the army; the weapons, tactics, etc. Since you now seem to be interesting in, well, everything about Rome, my feelings are different. Vegetius will not give you any politics, society, anything like that.
Suetonius is an entirely different animal. He is thought to have been very biased in his views, and his history reflects that. He was very friendly to the senatorial class, and any emperor who neglected the senate was painted as a demon in his history. Many of them may indeed have been quite nasty, but it's hard to know the real story, because he has motive to make them look as bad as possible.
So, in this case, you might want to go straight to a modern history, which will compare and contrast the sources, and try to separate fact from fiction.
This is also true for vegetius, but vegetius was only writing a how-to manual, and his motive was to get it right, while trying not to insult the emperor, and while being humble. It's very to-the-point. It reads like: 'this is how you do it, this is how it's done.'
A historian has a tough job, because they have to use sources that might deliberately falsify a lot of information. Still, these sources are often times the best sources, flaws and all. Suetonius is a perfect example; while you shouldn't believe everything he says, without him we wouldn't know nearly as much as we do.
Btw, I didn't mean caesar's narrative was propaganda for you. It was for his contemporaries.
Anyway, I like to study by subject, i.e., economy, society, politics, military, travel, religion, culture, law, etc.
For a start, though, you're probably better off doing the series that kirialax recommended, the routledge series, i mean, but you'll want that period between the punic wars and caesar (264 - 44), too.
I thought you'd be able to deduce that I was joking!
Hmmm, I will order some more books on the topic of military - strategies/tactics/units/weapons/armour etc - modern books!

Are there any modern book/s you can reccomend that are good for this area, perhaps choose one out of my list, I am rather indecisive! xD

I will also read Suetonius - Twelve Caesars, but not before I read the punic wars and the barbaric war, and other parts of the republic.

I shall be taking a look at the early routledge book's content page, and seeing if it has the nessercary information!
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 04:22 PM   #33

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scholars can't make their minds up about which parts of it are real and which parts are ideal for the same reason they can't do so for any of the other writers you mentioned. Almost all of the material Vegetius had access to is now gone. Go back and look at jedi's first post. What he's looking for is Vegetius. You do him a disservice by trying to steer him away from the text.
Am I allowed to post the table of contents for it?
I am helping jedi by warning him about the danger of Vegetius. Yes, it's exactly the sort of thing he wants to read, but beginning with Vegetius is not going to help him understand the Roman army if any particular period because Vegetius isn't describing the army of a particular time. Of course all the sources are biased and problematic, and scholars wrangle over the details. Military manuals, on the other hand, are supposed to be an idealized version of how the army functions and are usually taken to have at least a fairly close resemblance to the army from other sources. Vegetius is so idealized and prefers to pick pieces from all over the place, resulting in a bit of a jumbled mess that doesn't give us a very clear picture of the Roman army, early or late.

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You recommended he look at what the romans themselves said about the subject, then you recommended he start with caesar, whose Bello Gallico was intended as propaganda. Then you say one the the most purely academic works on the subject is idealized. Is that what you're saying?
Of course Caesar is propaganda. And so is Josephus. So is Sallust. So is Arrianus. When you find that perfectly objective and accurate take on the Roman army from antiquity let me know. I'd be interested in demonstrating that it's a fake.

Another book to keep your eye open for. It's not the most exciting read, but it does cover a lot of ground and has the advantage of being a regularly used college textbook, meaning that you can find it for cheap.

Amazon.com: The Romans: From Village to Empire (9780195118766): Mary T. Boatwright, Daniel J. Gargola, Richard J. A. Talbert: Books
Amazon.com: The Romans: From Village to Empire (9780195118766): Mary T. Boatwright, Daniel J. Gargola, Richard J. A. Talbert: Books

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Old November 24th, 2012, 07:37 AM   #34
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I am helping jedi by warning him about the danger of Vegetius. Yes, it's exactly the sort of thing he wants to read, but beginning with Vegetius is not going to help him understand the Roman army if any particular period because Vegetius isn't describing the army of a particular time. Of course all the sources are biased and problematic, and scholars wrangle over the details. Military manuals, on the other hand, are supposed to be an idealized version of how the army functions and are usually taken to have at least a fairly close resemblance to the army from other sources. Vegetius is so idealized and prefers to pick pieces from all over the place, resulting in a bit of a jumbled mess that doesn't give us a very clear picture of the Roman army, early or late.



Of course Caesar is propaganda. And so is Josephus. So is Sallust. So is Arrianus. When you find that perfectly objective and accurate take on the Roman army from antiquity let me know. I'd be interested in demonstrating that it's a fake.

Another book to keep your eye open for. It's not the most exciting read, but it does cover a lot of ground and has the advantage of being a regularly used college textbook, meaning that you can find it for cheap.

Amazon.com: The Romans: From Village to Empire (9780195118766): Mary T. Boatwright, Daniel J. Gargola, Richard J. A. Talbert: Books
I see, if it's not very interesting that's definitely a deterrent xD

My book: On Roman Military Matters arrived today, along with Legionary, The Roman Soldier's Manual (Unofficial)

Do any of these books provide what I am looking for in terms of Military? (strategies, tactics, weapons, armour, unit types)

From the first few pages, Vegetius' seems like an instruction manual on how to look for, recruit, train (so far) the Roman military to make it as successful as it was during the republic, and how to manage troops if they're undisciplined, formations, units (elephants and cavalry) weapons (spears) - but, I'm not sure if it's just me but it doesn't seem to have a sufficient breadth or depth that I would get from a second hand source. However, it is still an interesting read and I am enjoying it so far

But maybe you could find me a second hand source of (strategies, tactics, weapons, armour, unit types) - the ultimate god book of the Military hehe (whether it's multiple books on the early and later republic and empire or a total book that covers it all) - this is more realistic than an overview of the whole republic and the whole empire lol, as it's much more specific and achievable.

* I skimmed through the unofficial manual - it has some weapons and armour etc, but it's only really of a legionary, and there isn't much tactics within it. However it appears to be a fun and exciting read!

Last edited by JediArron; November 24th, 2012 at 08:02 AM.
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Old November 24th, 2012, 11:17 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Kirialax View Post
I am helping jedi by warning him about the danger of Vegetius. Yes, it's exactly the sort of thing he wants to read, but beginning with Vegetius is not going to help him understand the Roman army if any particular period because Vegetius isn't describing the army of a particular time. Of course all the sources are biased and problematic, and scholars wrangle over the details. Military manuals, on the other hand, are supposed to be an idealized version of how the army functions and are usually taken to have at least a fairly close resemblance to the army from other sources. Vegetius is so idealized and prefers to pick pieces from all over the place, resulting in a bit of a jumbled mess that doesn't give us a very clear picture of the Roman army, early or late.



Of course Caesar is propaganda. And so is Josephus. So is Sallust. So is Arrianus. When you find that perfectly objective and accurate take on the Roman army from antiquity let me know. I'd be interested in demonstrating that it's a fake.

Another book to keep your eye open for. It's not the most exciting read, but it does cover a lot of ground and has the advantage of being a regularly used college textbook, meaning that you can find it for cheap.

Amazon.com: The Romans: From Village to Empire (9780195118766): Mary T. Boatwright, Daniel J. Gargola, Richard J. A. Talbert: Books
But why reject vegetius if you're recommending those other writers? I think it's a bit of a double standard. I'd say vegetius will give him a better idea of the workings of the army than those other authors will. If you're going to reject all the roman writers, that's fine, but you should be consistent. Everything for which you ripped vegetius more than applies to those other writers you recommended, like none of them had those same dangers.

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Vegetius is so idealized and prefers to pick pieces from all over the place, resulting in a bit of a jumbled mess that doesn't give us a very clear picture of the Roman army, early or late.
This is a ridiculous thing to say. Most of vegetius is pretty basic. How to train, how to drill, what weapons were used, and how they were used, what kind of recruits to look for, how to march, how to build a camp, what type of terrain to favor... Sure, in his day the army had become lazy in comparison to what it was in Trajan's time, but the roman army did do these things. Yes, he explained how to build an ideal camp, but they did build those camps. Ideally, the soldier would drill by stabbing a wooden pole with a practice sword, but that's how they drilled. Sure, discussing tactics is always idealized, and never really turns out quite as planned, but he tells you that; he says it becomes a gamble once the action starts. Sure, he talks about position of the flanks, and the shape of the main body, and all of this is idealized, but he's not explaining every possible way the battle can go down, he's explaining what a general thinks about and tries to prepare for and focus on before the chaos starts. Any military manual you ever read does the exact same thing: it tells you the important things to look out for, then it says that the chaos never goes as planned. But, tactics aside, the manual, when it is simply describing the elements of the army, it's pretty good. The soldier on the front line tried to stay behind the shield of the guy next to him as he reached over and stabbed with his gladius at the weak points of the enemy in front of him. But no, that's too idealized. We can't assume they used a gladius, or shields, for that matter, or that they stabbed, or that they walked up to the enemy. What if they only had spears? What if they forgot their digging tools, and they couldn't make a camp? What if the ditch they dug sometimes ended up being only 8 feet instead of 9? What if the practice swords they trained with were only 1.56 times the weight of their real sword? Does he still give you a pretty good idea of what was involved? Yes, he does.

Of course, there's always the chance that some of the elements he thought existed at a certain time were really developed later, and he's projecting them further back than he should, but I really don't think he does as much of this as you would want us to believe.
The fact remains: he is still the best source for information on the make-up of the army.
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Old November 24th, 2012, 11:38 AM   #36
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I thought you'd be able to deduce that I was joking!
Hmmm, I will order some more books on the topic of military - strategies/tactics/units/weapons/armour etc - modern books!

Are there any modern book/s you can reccomend that are good for this area, perhaps choose one out of my list, I am rather indecisive! xD

I will also read Suetonius - Twelve Caesars, but not before I read the punic wars and the barbaric war, and other parts of the republic.

I shall be taking a look at the early routledge book's content page, and seeing if it has the nessercary information!
I didn't really think you were worried about being indoctrinated... lol
But, I did think there was a small possibility you would think I meant he was trying to shape his image for future peoples, so I had to clarify that he was doing it for the benefit of his contemporaries. Just in case, I had to make sure.
Anyway, not important.

Most any recent work you get should be pretty good. What you'll find is that, depending on the time period in question, the realities will be a lot more or less clear. Anything you read about rome before the punic wars you have to take with a grain of salt, but the book you read should tell you that. Much of what came before caesar and augustus is pretty hazy. Then, into the imperial period, it clears up quite a bit. Then, once the chaos starts in the 3rd century, things get hazy again. Then, in the 300's things clear up again for about a century, but many of the sources begin to be christian sources, and those, while very important, can be purposefully misleading. Christians wanted people to believe certain things because they had something to gain. Then, in the 400's eastern rome's sources stay fairly solid, but the western aristocratic sources start to drop off, and you're left with primarily the christian view. this continues for a long, long time.

Whatever you choose, I'm sure it will be a good thing for you. You can always just read another book
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Old November 25th, 2012, 02:35 AM   #37
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I didn't really think you were worried about being indoctrinated... lol
But, I did think there was a small possibility you would think I meant he was trying to shape his image for future peoples, so I had to clarify that he was doing it for the benefit of his contemporaries. Just in case, I had to make sure.
Anyway, not important.

Most any recent work you get should be pretty good. What you'll find is that, depending on the time period in question, the realities will be a lot more or less clear. Anything you read about rome before the punic wars you have to take with a grain of salt, but the book you read should tell you that. Much of what came before caesar and augustus is pretty hazy. Then, into the imperial period, it clears up quite a bit. Then, once the chaos starts in the 3rd century, things get hazy again. Then, in the 300's things clear up again for about a century, but many of the sources begin to be christian sources, and those, while very important, can be purposefully misleading. Christians wanted people to believe certain things because they had something to gain. Then, in the 400's eastern rome's sources stay fairly solid, but the western aristocratic sources start to drop off, and you're left with primarily the christian view. this continues for a long, long time.

Whatever you choose, I'm sure it will be a good thing for you. You can always just read another book
I've read the first chapter of Vegetius, you were right, it's not tedious, it's quite exciting to be familiarised with factions and unit types I love and know from Rome: Total War!

I understand that he goes into weapons (from what I've read) and strategies (later on) - how will this compare to a modern day historian's book on the same topics - would their be a more depth of this period, or would it be the same information, and Vegetius' book is all there was to offer as he is one of the only remaining primary sources on Roman Military?

Like, although Vegetius talks about slingers, and them being derived from the inhabitants of the Belaric Islands, and the Romans (and infact almost all Ancient Factions) adapting the slings, I doubt Vegetius talks about the use and effectiveness of Cantribian circle used by the Cantabri tribes, which Rome adopted after the Cantribrian wars.

I doubht that Vegetius mentions that 'The tactic was usually employed against infantry and bowmen. The constant movement of the horsemen gave them an advantage against the less mobile infantry and made them harder to target by the enemy's missile troops. The maneuver was designed to harass and taunt the enemy forces, disrupt close formations and often draw part, or all, of the enemy forces into a disorganized or premature charge. This was commonly used against enemy infantry, especially heavily armed and armored slow moving forces such as the legions of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire.

The advantages of the Cantabrian circle is that the mounted archers do not have to make a perfect circle, allowing them to keep their distance from the enemy. The slower moving infantry have little to no hope of catching the mounted archers, putting them at a distinct disadvantage.
The Cantabrian circle is similar to other cavalry maneuvers such as the caracole and the Parthian shot.'

- Source Wikipedia

That is also something I am looking for, I think it gives you a better idea, and I am not sure if Vegetius mentions all of the Roman tactics later in his book, but I think you understand what I'm looking for now, and when I select a book I don't want to buy one that is merely a regurgitation of Vegetius
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Old November 25th, 2012, 07:42 AM   #38
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I've read the first chapter of Vegetius, you were right, it's not tedious, it's quite exciting to be familiarised with factions and unit types I love and know from Rome: Total War!

I understand that he goes into weapons (from what I've read) and strategies (later on) - how will this compare to a modern day historian's book on the same topics - would their be a more depth of this period, or would it be the same information, and Vegetius' book is all there was to offer as he is one of the only remaining primary sources on Roman Military?

Like, although Vegetius talks about slingers, and them being derived from the inhabitants of the Belaric Islands, and the Romans (and infact almost all Ancient Factions) adapting the slings, I doubt Vegetius talks about the use and effectiveness of Cantribian circle used by the Cantabri tribes, which Rome adopted after the Cantribrian wars.

I doubht that Vegetius mentions that 'The tactic was usually employed against infantry and bowmen. The constant movement of the horsemen gave them an advantage against the less mobile infantry and made them harder to target by the enemy's missile troops. The maneuver was designed to harass and taunt the enemy forces, disrupt close formations and often draw part, or all, of the enemy forces into a disorganized or premature charge. This was commonly used against enemy infantry, especially heavily armed and armored slow moving forces such as the legions of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire.

The advantages of the Cantabrian circle is that the mounted archers do not have to make a perfect circle, allowing them to keep their distance from the enemy. The slower moving infantry have little to no hope of catching the mounted archers, putting them at a distinct disadvantage.
The Cantabrian circle is similar to other cavalry maneuvers such as the caracole and the Parthian shot.'

- Source Wikipedia

That is also something I am looking for, I think it gives you a better idea, and I am not sure if Vegetius mentions all of the Roman tactics later in his book, but I think you understand what I'm looking for now, and when I select a book I don't want to buy one that is merely a regurgitation of Vegetius
no, vegetius is just a start. everything you read will expand your knowledge. You'll always have more to discover until the day you die.
It sounds like you are interested in more than just roman tactics, too. Rome had a really hard time against mounted archer armies, and roman sources do mention these difficulties. Find some books on ancient warfare, medieval warfare, etc, etc. You'll come across things like you mentioned, and you'll then go looking for information on that topic. It's a constant discovery. The more you read, the more you'll find that you want to read. Just go with the stuff you have so far, then you'll have a better idea of where you want to go next
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Old November 25th, 2012, 01:15 PM   #39
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no, vegetius is just a start. everything you read will expand your knowledge. You'll always have more to discover until the day you die.
It sounds like you are interested in more than just roman tactics, too. Rome had a really hard time against mounted archer armies, and roman sources do mention these difficulties. Find some books on ancient warfare, medieval warfare, etc, etc. You'll come across things like you mentioned, and you'll then go looking for information on that topic. It's a constant discovery. The more you read, the more you'll find that you want to read. Just go with the stuff you have so far, then you'll have a better idea of where you want to go next
YAY Pen

I will inbox you
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