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View Poll Results: Which Persian Empire Was the Most Prestigous?
Achaemenid Empire 60 60.00%
Parthian Empire 5 5.00%
Sasanian Empire 23 23.00%
Safavid Empire 9 9.00%
Afsharid Empire 1 1.00%
Zand Empire 0 0%
Qajar Empire 0 0%
Pahlavi Empire 0 0%
I can't decide for sure. 2 2.00%
Voters: 100. You may not vote on this poll

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Old March 6th, 2015, 09:04 AM   #11
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Not always. I don't think the Sassanids were necessarily better than the Parthians in that their power fluctuated considerably. They certainly gained prestige under Sapor I but their power soon dissapated. Odenathus reached the area of Ctesiphon just a couple of years after Valerian was taken, and a few years after that. I believe Carus captured Ctesiphon as did Galerius, so that by 300 CE the Romans were actually in a better position in the East than ever before.
Julian was beaten strategically but tactically his forces did quite well. The Sassanids hesitated to take him on in open battle.
Shāpur I spread his forces too thin and was slowed down by booty and deportees, Carus attacked the Empire when Bahrām II and the Persian military were busy dealing with a massive revolt in the east (the territories lost to Carus were restored shortly afterwards), and Galerius had been decisively beaten by the Persians before scoring his victory that led him to Ctesiphon, a victory that was made possible by the Armenian terrain (unfavourable to Persian cavalry) and Narseh's strategic blunder of remaining in Armenia instead of taking the initiative and confronting Galerius in a favourable environment. Not to mention that the Romans had the locals on their side, and they joined the battle, overwhelming the Persians. Julian the Apostate invaded whilst Shāpur II and his army were occupied in Armenia. He was confronted only once before his army was mauled and he himself was killed in Samarra, and it was outside the walls of Ctesiphon. The Battle of Ctesiphon was a major Roman tactical victory, but we can't make a judgement on the entire Sassanid military based on just one battle, can we? Shapur II decision to avoid pitched battle against Julian was wise. Why risk losing men in pitched battle when he could easily shoot the Romans to pieces from a distance? He did shoot them to pieces at Samarra.

I'm not saying the Sassanid army was invincible, no army has ever been, but it was without the shadow of a doubt way much more capable than the Parthian army. It was a professional standing army with an advanced structure and command hierarchy that mastered siege warfare and fielded high-quality infantry and cavalry. It certainly proved itself as a match to the Roman military. The aspect in which the Roman army was superior was manpower. It was easy for the Romans to recover from massive defeats, whereas the Sassanid Persians (just like the Arsacid Parthians before them) were crippled by the loss of large armies, and this was due to the differences between the respective size of population in both empires and the nature of their respective armies. Anyone could be trained to be a legionary or a light cavalryman in the Roman military, but it was difficult for the Persians to replace mounted knights (armour-clad noble horsemen), mounted archers, highly skilled foot archers, and heavy infantry and mountain infantry from northern Iran. That's why Rome sometimes had the strategic upper hand. In spite of these inherent difficulties, the Sassanids did manage to compete and score numerous victories on the strategic scene, unlike the Parthians who had often been on the defensive.

Last edited by Kartir; March 6th, 2015 at 09:53 AM.
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Old March 7th, 2015, 06:26 AM   #12

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Shāpur I spread his forces too thin and was slowed down by booty and deportees,
It's remarkable that after Sapor's big victory in 260, his power seemed to wane. Probably on the basis of his earlier experience, in the time of Gallus, he must've assumed his big victory in 260 destroyed Roman power in the East, so he could take chances, splitting his army into separate raiding groups--which made him vulnerable to Callistus. His army was mauled and driven back, but not destroyed. But just a few years later, on at least two occasions in the 260s, Odenathus was able to reach Ctesiphon, apparently without significant resistance. Pretty strange in light of what had just happened, and suggests Sassanid power ebbed at times for no obvious reason--other than perhaps, resting on laurels....



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Carus attacked the Empire when Bahrām II and the Persian military were busy dealing with a massive revolt in the east
Sure, both sides tended to exploit enemy difficulties to attack. The Sassanids were great at this. They took advantage of Forum Terebronii to launch a massive raid on the Roman East.



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Julian the Apostate invaded whilst Shāpur II and his army were occupied in Armenia. He was confronted only once before his army was mauled and he himself was killed in Samarra,
If memory serves, his personal intervention turned the tide of battle before his death.

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It certainly proved itself as a match to the Roman military.
Its successes probably owed much to the inferiority of Rome's eastern forces.
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Old March 7th, 2015, 07:09 AM   #13
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It's remarkable that after Sapor's big victory in 260, his power seemed to wane. Probably on the basis of his earlier experience, in the time of Gallus, he must've assumed his big victory in 260 destroyed Roman power in the East, so he could take chances, splitting his army into separate raiding groups--which made him vulnerable to Callistus. His army was mauled and driven back, but not destroyed. But just a few years later, on at least two occasions in the 260s, Odenathus was able to reach Ctesiphon, apparently without significant resistance. Pretty strange in light of what had just happened, and suggests Sassanid power ebbed at times for no obvious reason--other than perhaps, resting on laurels....
Shāpur I didn't show any intention of permanently occupying Roman territories, his invasion was just a massive raid. This becomes more evident when considering how he ravaged Dura Europus and took massive amounts of booty and deportees, effectively draining and trashing the Roman east. He spread his forces too thin whilst doing it, and as you pointed out the Romans managed to confront a bunch of raiding parties rather than full armies. After Shāpur realised this he started abandoning the Roman territories and heading for Ctesiphon. Most likely he planned to stash away his booty and settle the deportees that were too cumbersome for his army. He must have also wanted to regroup in the safety of Persian territories and later confront the harassing Romans led by Odaenathus. When the two armies finally met in 264 near Ctesiphon, the Persians managed to score a decisive victory.

Shāpur made a strategic blunder whilst lying waste to the Roman east, nothing more. I don't think it betrays Sassanid military or political weakness.

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Sure, both sides tended to exploit enemy difficulties to attack. The Sassanids were great at this. They took advantage of Forum Terebronii to launch a massive raid on the Roman East.
Yes, both sides were opportunistic. Even the Parthians were sometimes attacked by the Romans during periods of unrest. It was a clever strategy.

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If memory serves, his personal intervention turned the tide of battle before his death.
The battle was actually indecisive, but the Romans suffered heavily, their emperor was killed, and they failed strategically, so you could argue that it was Persian victory.

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Its successes probably owed much to the inferiority of Rome's eastern forces.
I don't think so. The average Roman legionaries were still better than the average Persian infantryman, and they had manpower on their side too. Besides, the Romans managed to score many victories against the Sassanid Persians, and this is an evidence which proves their competence on the battlefield. Both armies were actually quite formidable, and for this reason neither side could ultimately triumph over the other.
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Old March 7th, 2015, 07:49 AM   #14

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I voted for the Achaemenids but the Sassanids and Safavids are also very good contenders. The Sassanids turned Iran into a major power since during the Arsacid (Parthians) period they were more of a regional power and extended Persian culture, Iran was at an apex in a new age. The Safavid legacy on the other hand is still with us, it was one of the greatest eras for Persian art (indeed even Islamic art!). Not to mention that Iran is still Shia which is very much still a factor but started by Ismail Safavi.
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Old March 7th, 2015, 10:27 AM   #15

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Achaemenids ... because the ruins and reliefs in Persepolis alone speak of the most prestigious empire ever existed <3
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Old March 7th, 2015, 11:05 AM   #16

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There are many good reasons in favor of Sasanids, and still I vote Achaemenids.

Achaemenids were able to conquest the respect of Greeks (despite the fact that Greeks were extremely proud of themselves), so that Xenophon went as far as writing a biography of Cyrus and Alexander paid respect to the tomb of Cyrus himself. Indeed, I consider Cyrus the Great one of most "modern" and magnanimous rulers ever existed.

Greeks were impressed by Achaemenid Kings' generosity, tolerance and richness. When the ancient Greek writers use the word "Basileus" in their scripts, they almost always meant the Great King of Persia. Actually, the "Great King" of Persia was the King par excellence.

For the first time in the world, Achaemenid Kings perceived the concept of "Universal Empire" and, in a more general way, they practiced tolerance and refrained from xenophoby. They became a model for Sasanids. Alexander the Great was inspired by the Persian concept of "Universal Empire" when he started his military campaigns.

It is true that their enormous but inhomogenous armies were easily crushed by hoplites' phalanxes. But I like to think that, if they were weak at war, this only means that, basically, they loved peace rather than war. For this reason they disappeared quite early, together with their unmatched and legendary splendor.

Last edited by Shalmaneser; March 7th, 2015 at 11:09 AM.
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Old March 7th, 2015, 01:43 PM   #17

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmaneser View Post
It is true that their enormous but inhomogenous armies were easily crushed by hoplites' phalanxes. But I like to think that, if they were weak at war, this only means that, basically, they loved peace rather than war. For this reason they disappeared quite early, together with their unmatched and legendary splendor.

No relation to the subject but I wouldn't say enormous and neither would I say "crushed" it is a great misconception regarded by many that hoplite's simply crushed the Achaemenid military. there are many occasions where the Persian military force was able to defeat hoplite's and Greek armies excluding Alexander of course , for his fathers army defeated all Greek armies as well as Persians. It was simply a new form of military excellence, A new age.
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Old March 8th, 2015, 03:13 AM   #18

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This becomes more evident when considering how he ravaged Dura Europus and took massive amounts of booty and deportees, effectively draining and trashing the Roman east.

Shapur took Dura Europos around 257 CE but that wasn't a big deal. The sacking of Antioch and Raphanea almost certainly yielded more loot.

Quote:
He must have also wanted to regroup in the safety of Persian territories and later confront the harassing Romans led by Odaenathus. When the two armies finally met in 264 near Ctesiphon, the Persians managed to score a decisive victory.
264? I thought Odenathus went to Ctesiphon in 262 and 267.


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I don't think so. The average Roman legionaries were still better than the average Persian infantryman,
But the Sassanids relied on cavalry.

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Besides, the Romans managed to score many victories against the Sassanid Persians, and this is an evidence which proves their competence on the battlefield.
Sure a number of times the Romans beat the Sassanids or fought them to a draw. But their successes tended to be the work of european legionary reinforcements not local eastern garrisons. The latter were said to have been corrupted by local conditions and in an attempt to remedy this, they got disciplinarians like Corbulo and Cassius in the Parthian period. The need for european reinforcements in the third century wars indicates the problem was chronic.
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Old March 8th, 2015, 03:50 AM   #19

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I chose the Sassanian Empire, though its actually a difficult choice....Achaemenid Empire had more conquered land, and, as much as I recall, none of its kings had to fall back to Rome (like in the case of Khusru Perves of the Sassanids), but I feel the Sassanids were more tested on the military dimension than Achaemenids, as Sassanids faced a powerhouse like Rome. Achaemenids fell quickly to Alexander....

On the intellectual part, I mostly agree with Kartir.....and that's another factor in favor of Sassanids.
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Old March 8th, 2015, 04:42 AM   #20

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[QUOTE=Hyrus;2112933]No relation to the subject but I wouldn't say enormous and neither would I say "crushed" it is a great misconception regarded by many that hoplite's simply crushed the Achaemenid military.




I think that battles such as Marathon, Salamina (naval battle) and Platea do not need any special introduction. Achaemenids won at Thermopylae because of their number and they paid a terrible price for their victory.

It is a fact that the Greeks especially feared Persian archers and for this reason, when coming to a battle, they always tried to shorten their distance from the opponent as soon as possible.

But perhaps the best example is given by the Cunaxa battle (september 401 B.C.). The Achaemenid army was composed by about 900.000 men, according to Xenophon, or 450.000 according to Ctesias. Still, 13.000 Greek mercenaries were able to defeat the left wing led by Tyssaphernes.

This numbers may be more or less exaggerated by obviously biased authors, but the substance of the discourse does not change.

The Greek hoplitic phalanx was more heavily armed than Macedonian phalanx: the panoplia of a Spartan hoplites was heavy up to 40 kg. The success of Macedonians was due to their better mobility and the help provided by some cavalry (generally the cavalry was Macedonian or Thessalic).

But in front of the Greek hoplitai Achaemenid infantry simply had no hope, if not supported by archers or (as during the Parthian/Romans wars) by cataphracts.

Another reason for Achaemenid army's frailness was the multiethnicity of various corps who, as they were speaking different languages, often had problems even in understanding orders. In this way, the various corps were organized not on the basis of their ability or specialization at war, but simply on the basis of their nationality. And this was a serious handicap.
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