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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 8th, 2015, 09:02 AM   #21

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[quote=Shalmaneser;2113417]
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Originally Posted by Hyrus View Post
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.
Basically you are just repeating the same old biased Greek accounts regarding the inferiority of Achaemenid military compared to the heroic god like Greeks. Really it sad how most western historians treat their accounts as if it was a religion and sadly they stop using logic and understanding of Achaemenid military.

First of all regarding numbers... All modern none biased historians after acknowledging the military and organization of the Achaemenid Spada can easily disregard the overwhelming and exaggerated numbers of the Persian armies given by Greek accounts.

So yes because the Athenian backed Ionian revolt was suppressed and defeated because Achaemenid only fought peasants and low quality hoplite's. because Achaemenid defeated a combined force of Athenians and Egyptians after the war... oh but im guessing it was because the Egyptians was the reason for their failed revolt, im guessing if it was purely Athenian they would probably kick Persian ass right?...

At Marathon there was no cavalry but even though if you look closely at the center, the native Persian force were actually pushing and holding the lines untill their flanks fled which gave the Athenians victory. Salamis was a brilliant strategical victory for the Athenians and very poor command and choices made from the Persian side thus it is truthful to say Greek had a superior navy. Platea it was all about terrain and also poor command my friend the lack of Persian armor had little effect on why the Persians were defeated. Now the Battle of Thermopylae, unless you want to believe 300 fiction and fairly tales. It was actually a perfect strategical position for the Greeks... but the Immortals made short of the Greek rear and annihilated the entire army when flanked. but leme guess ... your reply would probably just be that Persians were numbered 100.000+ that's why they won. Bro the battle of Canuxa was a clear feign retreat from the Persians , they wanted to isolate the Greeks which clearly was a tactic used by the Achaemenids but Greek eyes only saw Barbarian cowards fleeing away from the all might powerful hoplite.

I will stop here and recommend you reading the following posts one on this forum and the other on TWC forums.

Why did Persia fail do conquer Greece?

http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showt...Conquer-Greece
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Old March 8th, 2015, 01:20 PM   #22

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[QUOTE=Hyrus;2113581][quote=Shalmaneser;2113417]

1) ...At Marathon there was no cavalry but even though if you look closely at the center, the native Persian force were actually pushing and holding the lines untill their flanks fled which gave the Athenians victory.


So, can you explain why did the flanks flee?


2) Platea it was all about terrain and also poor command...


According to the "biased Greek accounts" Mardonios was the only decent commander in the Achaemenid army and this is also recognized by the Greeks. In the first stage, at Platea, Persian archers managed to control the Greeks, but after Mardonios' death the battle was inesorably lost. Do you mean that the death of a single man provoked a defeat as that of Platea? Aren't soldiers trained in order to fight in absence of a commander? Or will we say that the biased Greeks were right and Mardonios was the one and the only valid general in Persia?


3) Basically you are just repeating the same old biased Greek accounts regarding the inferiority of Achaemenid military compared to the heroic god like Greeks. Really it sad how most western historians treat their accounts as if it was a religion and sadly they stop using logic and understanding of Achaemenid military.


I am just quoting the extant primary sources, in many cases written by the same Greeks who fought Achemenians. Can you reinforce your words with other sources or should we just believe what you say?

In absence of other sources the "old biased Greek accounts" are the main documents we have. You can agree or not and this is your choice. But you have to understand that "the clear (!!!) retreat of Tyssaphernes" at Cunaxa is "clear" only for you or for someone liking to dream. And what you say apropos of the other battles have no definitive proof. You have the right to believe and guess what you want, but in any case you have an entire written tradition against you. I can agree (and if you read well my previous post you will see that I already said it) on the numbers, that in some cases could have been exaggerated, but in absence of other documents, the main written sources we can discuss about are the Greek ones.

What it is sure is that Xenophon and the rest of his soldiers never were captured nor killed by the Persians, despite their march of hundreds of kilometers inside the Achaemenid Empire, and I think this cannot be denied by anyone. If you are able to read old Greek, you will read that during Xenophon's march always Persians harassed the Greeks with their arrows, but never they came to a frontal combat. The proof? Xenophon came back to Greece! If Persian infantry was so strong as you say, it would have been very easy for them to completely annihilate the Greeks, while the Greeks themselves were in Achaemenid territory.

Greek troops were the favourite among Achaemenids' mercenaries (only remember Memnon) and I think there was a precise reason for this. And Alexander the Great, who basically used the old phalanx frame (but with a lighter equipment and longer spears), plus some squadrons of cavalry (including the Hetairoi), needed less than 50.000 men to conquest the largest empire in the world. If this occurred, it also was because Alexander, before attacking Persia, had read those... "old biased Greek accounts" you are talking about and he had understood the weakpoints of his opponent.

Whether you can like it or not, the sad reality is that the Achaemenid Empire fell at the first serious attack by the Greeks (as Macedonians and Epirotes are to be considered Greeks too).

Finally, I can say you Nationalism is a bad thing and the main enemy of history. Take example from Kartir who, even if an appassionate defender of Persian prestige, still has a much more objective approach to the problems, relying mainly on sources.

P.S.: I do not study history on forums: I study history on scientific books and original sources...
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Old March 8th, 2015, 03:45 PM   #23

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[quote=Shalmaneser;2113870][QUOTE=Hyrus;2113581]
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Originally Posted by Shalmaneser View Post

1) ...At Marathon there was no cavalry but even though if you look closely at the center, the native Persian force were actually pushing and holding the lines untill their flanks fled which gave the Athenians victory.


So, can you explain why did the flanks flee?


2) Platea it was all about terrain and also poor command...


According to the "biased Greek accounts" Mardonios was the only decent commander in the Achaemenid army and this is also recognized by the Greeks. In the first stage, at Platea, Persian archers managed to control the Greeks, but after Mardonios' death the battle was inesorably lost. Do you mean that the death of a single man provoked a defeat as that of Platea? Aren't soldiers trained in order to fight in absence of a commander? Or will we say that the biased Greeks were right and Mardonios was the one and the only valid general in Persia?


3) Basically you are just repeating the same old biased Greek accounts regarding the inferiority of Achaemenid military compared to the heroic god like Greeks. Really it sad how most western historians treat their accounts as if it was a religion and sadly they stop using logic and understanding of Achaemenid military.


I am just quoting the extant primary sources, in many cases written by the same Greeks who fought Achemenians. Can you reinforce your words with other sources or should we just believe what you say?

In absence of other sources the "old biased Greek accounts" are the main documents we have. You can agree or not and this is your choice. But you have to understand that "the clear (!!!) retreat of Tyssaphernes" at Cunaxa is "clear" only for you or for someone liking to dream. And what you say apropos of the other battles have no definitive proof. You have the right to believe and guess what you want, but in any case you have an entire written tradition against you. I can agree (and if you read well my previous post you will see that I already said it) on the numbers, that in some cases could have been exaggerated, but in absence of other documents, the main written sources we can discuss about are the Greek ones.

What it is sure is that Xenophon and the rest of his soldiers never were captured nor killed by the Persians, despite their march of hundreds of kilometers inside the Achaemenid Empire, and I think this cannot be denied by anyone. If you are able to read old Greek, you will read that during Xenophon's march always Persians harassed the Greeks with their arrows, but never they came to a frontal combat. The proof? Xenophon came back to Greece! If Persian infantry was so strong as you say, it would have been very easy for them to completely annihilate the Greeks, while the Greeks themselves were in Achaemenid territory.

Greek troops were the favourite among Achaemenids' mercenaries (only remember Memnon) and I think there was a precise reason for this. And Alexander the Great, who basically used the old phalanx frame (but with a lighter equipment and longer spears), plus some squadrons of cavalry (including the Hetairoi), needed less than 50.000 men to conquest the largest empire in the world. If this occurred, it also was because Alexander, before attacking Persia, had read those... "old biased Greek accounts" you are talking about and he had understood the weakpoints of his opponent.

Whether you can like it or not, the sad reality is that the Achaemenid Empire fell at the first serious attack by the Greeks (as Macedonians and Epirotes are to be considered Greeks too).

Finally, I can say you Nationalism is a bad thing and the main enemy of history. Take example from Kartir who, even if an appassionate defender of Persian prestige, still has a much more objective approach to the problems, relying mainly on sources.

P.S.: I do not study history on forums: I study history on scientific books and original sources...
1- In Marathon I was trying to clear out the fact that the Achaemenids had capable heavy infantry among their ranks and imperial native army.

2- Poor command or Poor choices made by the commander what I meant is that they failed due to strategical mistakes not due to them simply being inferior.

3- Tissaphernes was western satrap and he would probably be familiar with Greek tactics, feigning retreat is a well known tactic for isolating and skirmishing. Of course Artaxerxes wont risk frontal assault against a phalanx !he already won the battle leaving the mercenaries leaderless without Cyrus, it would gain nothing to attack them. being mercenaries they marched back. and using weakening them by arrows as you said or using some kind of gorilla warfare was actually a smart thing to do so! less Persians dead more Greeks dead. but if you look it from Greek eyes well yes they considered it as a personal glory to see cowardly barbarians fleeing from them before coming in to bow shot .

4- Well yes Western Satraps had to make use of all the resources they have, the King would never leave a capable imperial army in the hands of satraps, so Greek mercenaries were a very good choice they were well equipped and trained probably served better than most of the Asiatic troops in the area.

5- First serious attack? hmm if you say so.

6- you are talking as if I said Achamenid military was invincible lol I never said they were superior nor inferior to Greeks. and this has nothing to do with nationalism I am just stating (in my opinion) a more realistic point of view on why Achamenid armies lost and or won battles against Greek armies before Alexander.

Achamenids have dealt with hoplites and phalanxes before the invasion of main land Greece it was not a shocking new discovery.

Even if we don't have both sides of the story, using logic and questioning the main sources can give us a better and more clear understanding on what happened.

P.S.: If that is your approach on history then I cant argue with you. I personally gain knowledge in every way I can and not restrict my self to traditional sources, like now as we are commenting at this post I am actually learning from you as well. Besides the links I posted have references to historical sources as well you should have looked in them before making up your mind. I think its important to be open minded in history and accept all possibilities because in the end history is never accurate 100%.

Last edited by Hyrus; March 8th, 2015 at 03:50 PM.
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Old March 8th, 2015, 04:31 PM   #24
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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.
256 actually. But my point remains that he ravaged the fortress instead of occupying it, and this demonstrated his lack of long-term interest. Of course Antioch yielded more loot, it was the Roman eastern capital after all.

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264? I thought Odenathus went to Ctesiphon in 262 and 267.
I've seen various dates, but generally historians agree it must have been sometime between 262-266. Odaenathus must have been repelled twice, otherwise I don't see why he would march on Ctesiphon more than once. Either that or his first arrival near Ctesiphon was nothing more than a raid on Shāpur's rear guard during the latter's retreat. It bears mentioning that the primary accounts of Odaenathus' engagements with the Persians are immensely exaggerated by the Romans, and most modern scholars unfortunately take them at face value:

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Part of his baggage train was lost during a raid by Palmyrene Arabs under their sheikh Odenathus. This “minor incident of uncertain date” (Sprengling, pp. 108-109), has been turned by Roman historians and their modern successors (Felix, pp. 809 with literature) into repeated routings of Shapur by an ally of Rome who “if not restoring Rome’s honor did profoundly damage and disgrace” the Persian king (Nöldeke, p. 32 n. 4). But, as Henning (1939, p. 843 [= 1977, p. 621]) has explained: “The transport through the desert of a very great number of prisoners besides the Persian army was a difficult enterprise; the fact that Shapur succeeded in this (as proven by the presence of the provincials in Susiana) shows sufficiently how much the usual accounts of the exploits of Odenathus against the Persians on their desert march are exaggerated.”

SHAPUR I i. History ? Encyclopaedia Iranica
Considering the above, we have to be very careful with the Roman account of the war.

Quote:
But the Sassanids relied on cavalry.
Not entirely.

Quote:
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.
Corbulo is disconnected from the time of Shāpur by centuries. How exactly did the east corrupt the Roman soldiers? I think this view is coming from the Romans themselves who despised and stereotyped the east. Regardless, I'm sure the Romans had managed to address the problem of discipline by the time of the Persian invasion, assuming there was a problem in the first place. Also, the Persians managed to defeat Roman armies numerous times in the span of 427 years, and I don't think this could be attribute to a supposed Roman military weakness.
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Old March 8th, 2015, 05:06 PM   #25
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Comparing both empires at their greatest extents, I would not say that the Sasanid Empire is that smaller.

Click the image to open in full size.
Achaemenid Empire

Click the image to open in full size.
Sasanian Empire
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Old March 8th, 2015, 09:47 PM   #26

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I always love glorious 'flash in the pans' so I will go with Nader Shah and the Afsharids.
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Old March 9th, 2015, 01:42 AM   #27

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It seems that people on this thread tends to mostly focus on military aspects of Achaemenid and Sassanid empires. I was wondering if I could get cultural and economic aspects of these two empires. So I want to make some points. The Achaemenid Empire was culturally rich, who developed many philosophical thoughts, used complex architecture, and utilized many languages. But as Kartir mentioned, the Achaemenids were still young as a Persian civilization. Not to mention that the Achaemenids weren't known for their economic power. The Sassanid Empire, on the other hand, probably had more "developed" and "organized" culture. Its education institutions, such as the Grand School and the Academy of Gundishapur, was better spread. Its libraries also had works by ancient Greek philosophers. Paintings, carpet weaving, sculptures, architectures, and other arts had many original Persian elements with a good number foreign influences. Even after Islamic conquest, a lot its cultures weren't destroyed, but some of them influenced Islamic culture itself! Economically, the Sassanids were known for dominating commerce and trade in the Gulf of Persia, the Red Sea, and the Arabian Sea from their coastal possessions. Their silk production also rivaled China. Furthermore, even though many people addressed their military, I would also like to add some points. While the Achaemenids were successful on acquiring a vast empire on a such a short time, but these were mostly due to the severely weakened enemies and local support. The Sassasnids were able to gain some successes against the Byzantine Empire, especially on early stages. They even went far as besieging Constantinople, the city itself! The Achaemenids indeed showed Persian might, but I think the Sassanids overall displayed the peak Persian power ever shown in history.
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Old March 9th, 2015, 03:15 AM   #28

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Originally Posted by Kartir View Post
256 actually.
I don't think the exact time of Dura's fall is known.

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I've seen various dates, but generally historians agree it must have been sometime between 262-266. Odaenathus must have been repelled twice, otherwise I don't see why he would march on Ctesiphon more than once.
I'm not aware of any battles, which is surprising given how formidable Shapur was just a short time earlier. I don't think Odenathus would've went to Ctesiphon a second, possibly even a third time, had he been bested in battle.

Quote:
Either that or his first arrival near Ctesiphon was nothing more than a raid on Shāpur's rear guard during the latter's retreat.
I think it was too late for that, as Shapur's withdrawal probably occurred by late summer/fall 260. Whereas Odenathus first went Ctesiphon in 262. Shapur apparently didn't anticipate a Roman counterattack of such audacity so soon after his great victory so he must've disbanded his army by 261.


Quote:
It bears mentioning that the primary accounts of Odaenathus' engagements with the Persians are immensely exaggerated by the Romans, and most modern scholars unfortunately take them at face value:
Sure he didn't inflict a major defeat on the Persians as they went home. But the remarkable thing is, considering the power of Shapur in 260, Odenathus should've been demolished for all time in 262--indeed he shouldn't have been able to reach Ctesiphon in the first place. The Persian army must've "evaporated."



Quote:
Not entirely.

But cavalry was their principal arm. I have a book IIRC Rome's enemies, parthians and sassanid Persians, and the infantryman pictured isn't very impressive compared to the cavalrymen.


Quote:
Corbulo is disconnected from the time of Shāpur by centuries.
But like I said, the ineffectiveness of the eastern army was a chronic problem. It recurred in the time of Aurelius and also undoubtedly, Gallus.

Quote:
How exactly did the east corrupt the Roman soldiers?
By exposing them to soft urban life and comforts.

Quote:
Regardless, I'm sure the Romans had managed to address the problem of discipline by the time of the Persian invasion, assuming there was a problem in the first place.
There definitely seems to have been a problem, which persisted, or kept recurring, as late as the third century.


Quote:
Also, the Persians managed to defeat Roman armies numerous times in the span of 427 years, and I don't think this could be attribute to a supposed Roman military weakness.
Parthians and Persians fared best in initial actions against eastern forces, not so well against european legionary reinforcements.

Last edited by starman; March 9th, 2015 at 03:17 AM.
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Old March 9th, 2015, 04:38 AM   #29

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Dear Hyrus,

I totally agree with you when you say that using logic is helpful in absence (but I would say even in presence) of historical sources. And I never denied the fact that Greek sources could be biased: study of history requires open mind as you said.

But, apart of Greek sources, the use of logic lead to the following conclusions:

1) King Dariush ruled over 28 nations whereas Continental Greece was (and still is) one of smallest countries in what is called "Europe". Don't you find logic that Achaemenid armies should have been quite larger than Greek armies?

2) Achaemenids never succeeded in submitting Continental Greeks. If this occurred, this logically means that something did not work in Achaemenids' warfare. Greeks said the main problem was infantry, you say that the main problem was poor command: in any case, the result does not change. I think that Greeks' opinion is reasonable, but I do not pretend to be right.

3) Alexander conquered the Achemenid Empire in few months, whereas the much more organized Romans fought Persians for centuries and never they were able to win definitely Parthians and Sasanids. Do you think that Alexander would have won so easily against Parthians or Sasanids? I do not think so. Hence, the logic conclusion that warfare was not a strongpoint of Achaemenids.

By the way, we do not need to fight for this!!! Warfare or not, just let's think of how wonderful and magnificent the Achaemenid Empire was!!!
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Old March 9th, 2015, 09:15 AM   #30

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It was likely a logistical issue, too large an army in an extremely arid area with poor infrastructure. Remove the Persian fleet (Salamis) and you get practically a total logistics breakdown since shipping across to Greece is no longer possible.
But the Greeks didn't fight if you will remember since their earlier battles were indecisive or defeats and then they retreated down to Corinth while the Persians captured Athens. It was after Salamis that the Persians evacuated Athens and kept only half of their army in Boeotia (which led to their defeat at Plataea).
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