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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 9th, 2015, 12:02 PM   #31
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I go for Parthians. Now Achaemids had an advantage because their enemies were weak while Sassanids came at a time when Roman empire itself was divided into western and eastern halves. To me the Parthians maximised their potential much more. Despite having several weaknesses they survived and gave a strong fight to the Romans. This too at a time when Rome was strong and in its peak unlike the weakening Byzantines or a divided Greece in case of Achaemids.

To me the Parthians are the ones who allowed Persia to remain independent between the two big empires and still maintain an identity and continuity. Remember both Achaemids and Sassanians eventually fell to outsiders. The Parthians could never be vanquished fully by on outside empire but were wiped out due to revolts within. This itself showed their strength in holding fort against foreign aggression.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 02:38 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Shalmaneser View Post
2) Achaemenids never succeeded in submitting Continental Greeks.
Submitting?? Or subduing?


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) 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.
A key difference is that Rome couldn't focus on the East to anywhere near the same degree since it had far flung possessions to the west, which faced a strong possibility of barbarian attack.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 02:49 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by greatstreetwarrior View Post
Now Achaemids had an advantage because their enemies were weak while Sassanids came at a time when Roman empire itself was divided into western and eastern halves.
That wasn't true, on a continuing basis, for the first century and a half (or more) of the Sassanian period.



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To me the Parthians maximised their potential much more. Despite having several weaknesses they survived and gave a strong fight to the Romans. This too at a time when Rome was strong and in its peak unlike the weakening Byzantines or a divided Greece in case of Achaemids.
The Parthians fared best during the late republic but the Empire generally mastered them pretty well. In just the second century, Ctesiphon fell to the Roman armies three times. Parthian forces won an impressive initial victory in 161 but, after licking the eastern legions into shape, Cassius routed them in 165-66. And they were scarcely able to resist the advances of Trajan and Severus. Regarding your argument, the ironic thing is, the fall of parthia probably owed something to dissatisfaction with its record by the third century.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 04:21 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by starman View Post
I don't think the exact time of Dura's fall is known.
256 is the usual date given by historians.

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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.
I have certainly read somewhere that Odaenathus was decisively defeated by Shāpur I outside Ctesiphon. According to Roman sources Odaenathus reached the walls of Ctesiphon twice, but why twice? Again, either he was repelled twice or his first arrival was nothing more than a raid after which he came back to the city only to be decisively defeated by the Persians. Whether the first raid was on Shāpur's rear guard rather than minor settlements around Ctesiphon is of little importance I believe.

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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.
Yes, my mistake.

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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.

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."
Indeed, this episode of the war is really strange. Perhaps Shāpur was satisfied with the overall result of his massive raid and lost interest in warfare altogether, or maybe he didn't anticipate Odaenathus' bold move as you pointed out. I've read somewhere that he was losing his vigour due to his old age. Who knows. The Persian account is silent on this, and the Roman ones are very exaggerated and biased, so we can only guess.

Quote:
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.
I haven't read that title, but I wouldn't regard Osprey as academic anyway. Their works aren't sourced and some of their plates are speculative and suffer from artistic liberty, and as such I would take them with a grain of salt.

Cavalry was indeed a principal arm of the Sassanid military, but so was the infantry. They successfully utilised combined arms tactics on the battlefield, and that was what made them much more capable and dangerous than their Parthian predecessors. It is actually proven by primary sources as well as archaeology that their infantry were high-quality, properly armed and armoured. Check out what Ammianus Marcellinus has to say about them, I'm too lazy to dig up his exact quotes.

Bellow is a drawing of a Sassanid helmet excavated at Dura Europos. I guess the rest of the armour was as fine as the helmet:

Click the image to open in full size.

We have to keep in mind though that the Sassanid infantry varied in quality. The paighan militia were the ones who were low quality and basically recruited to bolster the number of troops. Other Sassanid infantrymen were much better in terms of skill and equipment.

Quote:
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.

There definitely seems to have been a problem, which persisted, or kept recurring, as late as the third century.

Parthians and Persians fared best in initial actions against eastern forces, not so well against european legionary reinforcements.
The armies of Gordian III and Valerian that were defeated by the Persians were actually European. The Roman troops that later repelled the Persian raiding parties of Shāpur I were eastern troops according to the primary sources which state that these men rallied to Ballista/Odaenathus after being defeated by the Persians all over Syria. They were remnants of the vanquished Roman eastern forces. Your argument actually goes contrary to the evidence, it was the other way around: the European legion led by two emperors were decisively defeated whereas the eastern ones successfully managed to regroup under Ballista/Odaenathus and deal with the isolated Persian raiding parties. With that having been said, I don't think the Roman discipline problem was a crucial factor in the Roman-Persian wars.

Last edited by Kartir; March 10th, 2015 at 04:25 AM.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 05:45 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Kartir View Post
256 is the usual date given by historians.
257 may be as good. Odenathus may have gotten special powers in 258 in response to Dura's fall, probably not much earlier.


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I have certainly read somewhere that Odaenathus was decisively defeated by Shāpur I outside Ctesiphon.
Source? Is it in The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars 226-363? I have that book but I'm often lazy too. But it's supposed to include all the original source material so, if it should be there if it occurred, or was at least claimed by somebody.


Quote:
According to Roman sources Odaenathus reached the walls of Ctesiphon twice, but why twice? Again, either he was repelled twice or his first arrival was nothing more than a raid after which he came back to the city only to be decisively defeated by the Persians.
I think what happened was that Gallienus kept getting on Odenathus's back to put pressure on Persia to free his old man. Hence the repeated advances to Ctesiphon. IIRC Zosimus says there were three, the last in 267(?).


Quote:
Indeed, this episode of the war is really strange. Perhaps Shāpur was satisfied with the overall result of his massive raid and lost interest in warfare altogether, or maybe he didn't anticipate Odaenathus' bold move as you pointed out. I've read somewhere that he was losing his vigour due to his old age.
Yeah I read that too, but IIRC only in reference to Shapur's inaction during the Aurelian-Palmyra fighting years later. He couldn't have been that far gone already by 262. No doubt part of the problem was the lack of a standing Sassanid army or much of one. Once those guys were dismissed with their plunder they probably preferred to rest on their laurels and enjoy it.



Quote:
I haven't read that title, but I wouldn't regard Osprey as academic anyway. Their works aren't sourced and some of their plates are speculative and suffer from artistic liberty
And some goofs like the depiction of fourth century Roman troops wearing lorica segmentata. Still, I like those books.


Quote:
The armies of Gordian III and Valerian that were defeated by the Persians were actually European.
True but european reinforcements still repeatedly restored the situation after initial failures by local forces. Gordian III's troops won at Rheisena and even Meshike was probably a tactical draw--as was Alexander's battle c 233 CE.



Quote:
The Roman troops that later repelled the Persian raiding parties of Shāpur I were eastern troops according to the primary sources which state that these men rallied to Ballista/Odaenathus after being defeated by the Persians all over Syria. They were remnants of the vanquished Roman eastern forces. Your argument actually goes contrary to the evidence, it was the other way around: the European legion led by two emperors were decisively defeated whereas the eastern ones successfully managed to regroup under Ballista/Odaenathus and deal with the isolated Persian raiding parties.
Right, but it was a heck of a lot easier to deal with raiding parties than properly organized armies deployed for battle. I don't think Gordian III's army was decisively defeated even if he was mortally wounded. Probably the worst defeat was suffered (by eastern forces) in the time of Gallus.


Quote:
With that having been said, I don't think the Roman discipline problem was a crucial factor in the Roman-Persian wars.

The failures around the start of wars in Alexander Severus's time (c 231), c 241 and again under Gallus suggest that eastern forces still had the same issues that plagued them in the first and second centuries, requiring disciplinarians like Corbulo and Cassius.

Last edited by starman; March 10th, 2015 at 05:52 AM.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 06:41 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by starman View Post
257 may be as good. Odenathus may have gotten special powers in 258 in response to Dura's fall, probably not much earlier.
Did he go berserk on the Persians?

Quote:
Source? Is it in The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars 226-363? I have that book but I'm often lazy too. But it's supposed to include all the original source material so, if it should be there if it occurred, or was at least claimed by somebody.
I think it was an article somewhere. Not really sure. Yes I have that book on my computer too, really awesome for those interested in primary sources.

Quote:
I think what happened was that Gallienus kept getting on Odenathus's back to put pressure on Persia to free his old man. Hence the repeated advances to Ctesiphon. IIRC Zosimus says there were three, the last in 267(?).
The old man Valerian? Yes of course I agree. But I'm sceptical about the claim that Odaenathus reached Ctesiphon more than twice. To be perfectly honest, we can't even be sure whether or not he reached the capital twice. The contradictory nature of the sources from both sides and the lack of some kind of archaeological evidence makes the task of verifying the Roman claims about Odaenathus's exploits really difficult.

Quote:
No doubt part of the problem was the lack of a standing Sassanid army or much of one. Once those guys were dismissed with their plunder they probably preferred to rest on their laurels and enjoy it.
Yes, that's a possibility.

Quote:
And some goofs like the depiction of fourth century Roman troops wearing lorica segmentata. Still, I like those books.
Osprey titles are generally good, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't rely entirely on them.

Quote:
True but european reinforcements still repeatedly restored the situation after initial failures by local forces. Gordian III's troops won at Rheisena and even Meshike was probably a tactical draw--as was Alexander's battle c 233 CE.

Right, but it was a heck of a lot easier to deal with raiding parties than properly organized armies deployed for battle. I don't think Gordian III's army was decisively defeated even if he was mortally wounded. Probably the worst defeat was suffered (by eastern forces) in the time of Gallus.

The failures around the start of wars in Alexander Severus's time (c 231), c 241 and again under Gallus suggest that eastern forces still had the same issues that plagued them in the first and second centuries, requiring disciplinarians like Corbulo and Cassius.
I freely admit I'm not as knowledgeable about the Roman army as I'm with the Persian, so I have no more counter-arguments to your point to be honest. I shall do more research before I draw a conclusion regarding this specific issue.

By the way, I appreciate your demeanour and open-mindedness. Considering my recent encounters with certain Roman fanboys, I find your attitude refreshing.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 12:20 PM   #37

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Originally Posted by Shalmaneser View Post
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!!!
1- Of course the difference might have been bigger but not as big as ancient sources claim.

2-Obviously. But the Achaemenids did manage to rule over some Greeks as well and also repel some Greek attacks from mainland Greece. The Achaemenids also defeated the Lydians in which Herodotus clears that they fought in a way very close to the Greeks

3- Do not take Alexander as an examples, his fathers army basically destroyed everything that was Greek. As you said before he studied the Achaemenids knowing every weakness. It was a dawn of a new age. also you must note that it was not a piece of cake for Alexander there are many factors other than his infantry that led to the obliteration of Persians. If I remember correctly I believe that Arrian mentioned that Persian infantry was able to break through the Macedonian phalanx in Gaugamela. I personally believe it was the excellence of the Macedonian cavalry that won the day.

The Parthians and Sassanids were also in a more advance age, an evolution of Iranian armies! Just like Alexnader and his newly enhanced and evolved Hellenic/Macedonian army. This is how old empires fall and new empires rise.

I was never fighting man, I personally was learning from you and experiencing new idea's . if we fight over ancient history then I don't think we deserve to be living in the 21st century lol

Although I wouldn't mind going back in time
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Old March 11th, 2015, 03:36 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Kartir View Post
Did he go berserk on the Persians?
Around 257 Valerian went back west to help deal with the crises there. I assume Valerian's temporary absence, coupled with the fall of Dura, caused the "promotion" of Odenathus.



Quote:
I think it was an article somewhere. Not really sure. Yes I have that book on my computer too, really awesome for those interested in primary sources.
I have the actual hard copy book, but it's in the basement with a bunch of others. I'll have to dig it out.



Quote:
The old man Valerian?
Sure.

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Yes of course I agree. But I'm sceptical about the claim that Odaenathus reached Ctesiphon more than twice. To be perfectly honest, we can't even be sure whether or not he reached the capital twice. The contradictory nature of the sources from both sides and the lack of some kind of archaeological evidence makes the task of verifying the Roman claims about Odaenathus's exploits really difficult.
Generally the whole period is problematic. In the wake of defeats, the Romans resorted to propaganda and silence. It can be tough to figure out what really happened.



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Osprey titles are generally good, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't rely entirely on them.
Right.

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By the way, I appreciate your demeanour and open-mindedness. Considering my recent encounters with certain Roman fanboys, I find your attitude refreshing.
Thank you.
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Old March 11th, 2015, 06:24 AM   #39
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I just found and consulted the book. Unless I overlooked it, there's no reference to any Persian victory over Odaenathus near Ctesiphon in the 260s. Source after source mentions Odaenathus's advance(es) to Ctesiphon (he is said to have recaptured Nisibis etc prior to that). I didn't see any mention of a defeat. On page 75, Zosimus indicates Odaenathus went to Ctesiphon twice. I must've been confused about one thing. Previously I thought most writers said he went there twice. In fact as far as I can see, most historians mention just one such advance.
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Old March 12th, 2015, 06:08 AM   #40

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[quote=starman;2115411]Submitting?? Or subduing?



A key difference is that Rome couldn't focus on the East to anywhere near the same degree since it had far flung possessions to the west, which faced a strong possibility of barbarian attack.


1) Oooopss!!! Subduing, of course!!! Thanks!!!

2) I think this is an old fashioned theory. Roman governors of the various provinces actually had a great autonomy in managing war affairs, independently from the situation in other borders. To give only one example, Crassus used his own authority (as governor of Syria) in order to attack Parthia, despite Caesar's engagement in Gallia.

No, I think the main reason was Parthians' different concept of war. As an "offspring" of steppe nomads (their original name was "Aparni"), Parthians succeeded in adopting a type of combat able to optimize the collaboration between archery and cavalry. In particular, the mounted archers (hyppotoxotai) were quite a new kind of enemy for Romans, whereas the other military "novelty" represented by cataphracts (who certainly used the famous, big horses of Nisa in Margiana) forced Romans to even modify their arms and armors. Cicero (ad familiares, IX, 25, 1, clearly says: contra equitem Parthum... ullam armaturam...).

In this way, the old lorica hamata is substituted by the lorica segmentata, the old pilum is made heavier and the use of lead-made sling bullets has a significant increase.

Moreover, above all Sasanids also improved their skill in sieges: the remains of the agger Sasanids used at Dura Europos (if I remember well) are quite eloquent.

Last edited by Shalmaneser; March 12th, 2015 at 06:12 AM.
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