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Old February 13th, 2018, 03:32 AM   #1

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How do you rate these four great generals


Sulla
Attila
Pyrrhus
Belisarius

Based on their military capabilities
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Old February 13th, 2018, 09:57 AM   #2
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Belisarius, Sulla, Pyrrhus, Attila
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Old February 13th, 2018, 12:53 PM   #3

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Why no Alexander, Hannibal or Caesar?
Anyways, for that list my order is: Belisarius, Pyrrhus, Sulla, Attila.


Belisarius
Very good, conquered much of middle parts of the former Western Empire for the Eastern Roman Empire, by defeating the Vandals and the Ostrogoths. And defeated the Sassanides and the Bulgars, at least enough to keep them at bay.


Pyrrhus
Good, but his victories where 'Pyrrhic' ... "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined"
He was probably good tactically, but not so good strategically.
Hannibal seems to rank him right after Alexander, but one may wonder that if that was right, because he often lost so many good soldiers in battles that he won. Perhaps if he had been better at tactics, then maybe his victories would not have been so costly.
Strategically that simply meant that all you needed to do, in order to win from him, was to simply keep throwing armies at him (as the Romans did), and then at some point in time his resources (men) would simply run out.
An even bigger issue is that he simply attacked everybody (Romans, Carthaginians, Greeks), so I can see no grand plan, no grand strategy.


Sulla
Good, but he is no Caesar (nor a Marius, who reorganized the Roman army).
He manages to defeat the forces opposing him in the civil war, including those formerly lead by Marius. But he is only capable of doing that after the death of Marius (who IMHO was a greater general than him).
The victorious campaigns by Rome of 107 - 105 BC (against Jugurtha) and 103 - 102 BC (against the Germans) were lead by Marius, not Sulla.
The 90-88 campaign against the Samnites was lead by him, but was only concluded after the Samnites got what they wanted (originally): they became citizens of Rome. I'm not impressed.
The 88-84 BC campaign against Mithrades of Pontus in Greece was successful. But perhaps his biggest success was that he plundered most of the temples that his forces passed by, which helped him to become very rich, which he needed for the civil war
Crafty statesmanship sure, but a great general?


Attila
Ok, but he has this huge empire. Most of which was already there when he became Khan.
In the end he fails to take out the Franks first, the sacking of a few of their cities merely provokes them, and then he fails on the invasion of Gaul. He did send half his army to 'negotiate' with the Franks, so that they would help him, but attacking some of their cities wasn't the brightest idea. They loathed most of their eastern neighbors and only respected the Frisians and the Saxons. So this attempt at intimidation or using force was not so smart.
There is a suggestion that the Franks under Merovech would have fought against Attila anyway because Attila supports a another claimant to (one of) the thrones(s) of the Franks. The Franks are divided and come together when under attack. Attila provided that attack.
Attila's forces collected great plunder in Gaul but didn't occupy and then provoked the Visigoths into joining the Romans and Franks, simply by being a threat, after which his army is defeated by them while trying to leave Gaul with all their plunder (451).
He then invades and plunders Italy but at the same time the Eastern Empire invades his homelands and razes the lightly defended home areas, which forces him to return home (452). He prepares to attack the East again but dies before he can do so (453).
The subjugated German alliance then revolts in 454 and defeats his sons several times, after which these tribes win their independence, halving the Hun empire. One of the sons invades the East again in 468, but is defeated and killed in 469, after which it is all over for the Huns.
So he was a great plunderer, but strategically a lousy general. His tactical effectiveness is unclear, probably not that great (he usually had a huge numeric superiority).

Last edited by Jaap Titulaer; February 13th, 2018 at 01:03 PM.
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Old February 13th, 2018, 05:28 PM   #4
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All are quit overrated, as Jaap Titulaer has pointed out. My ranking would be:

1. Sulla
2. Belisarius
3. Attila
4. Pyrrhus
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Old February 13th, 2018, 05:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaap Titulaer View Post
The 90-88 campaign against the Samnites was lead by him, but was only concluded after the Samnites got what they wanted (originally): they became citizens of Rome. I'm not impressed.
You've got your facts a bit mixed up here. The Social War was fought against a combination of many Italian states, not just the Samnites. Sulla did campaign against the Samnites in 89 BC, which was successful, but his contributions to the war are over-stressed. Other generals like L. Caesar and Strabo (father of Pompey the Great) also contributed heavily to the victory against the insurgents.
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Old February 13th, 2018, 08:07 PM   #6

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Never could see the appeal in Attila, and Pyrrhus has that pseudonym that has passed down that I think explains enough. They weren't bad generals necessarily but I can't see how an argument can really be made for them being anything above average, at best.

Sulla and Belisarius are much better, but still overrated, and honestly neither would make my top 10.

Last edited by nuclearguy165; February 13th, 2018 at 09:11 PM.
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Old February 13th, 2018, 09:17 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaap Titulaer View Post
Why no Alexander, Hannibal or Caesar?
Anyways, for that list my order is: Belisarius, Pyrrhus, Sulla, Attila.
Perhaps because someone else already asked about your stated commanders.

Here are my four rankings.
01. Belisarius
02. Sulla
03. Pyrrhus
04. Attila


Belisarius and Sulla are comparably close to each other with both being in the Top 30 Commanders. While Pyrrhus and Attila are close to each other and neither one reaches the Top 100.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaap Titulaer View Post
Hannibal seems to rank him right after Alexander, but one may wonder that if that was right, because he often lost so many good soldiers in battles that he won.
With Hannibal placing him behind Alexander the Great, you have to wonder... Did Hannibal really study military history? Or did he shoot of names with no serious intent?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaap Titulaer View Post
Good, but he is no Caesar (nor a Marius, who reorganized the Roman army).
I would argue that he was better than Marius (though Marius does up him one in terms of organization).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaap Titulaer View Post
He manages to defeat the forces opposing him in the civil war, including those formerly lead by Marius. But he is only capable of doing that after the death of Marius (who IMHO was a greater general than him).
He does get points for that, but he did have the most experienced army at the time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaap Titulaer View Post
The victorious campaigns by Rome of 107 - 105 BC (against Jugurtha) and 103 - 102 BC (against the Germans) were lead by Marius, not Sulla.
True

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaap Titulaer View Post
The 90-88 campaign against the Samnites was lead by him, but was only concluded after the Samnites got what they wanted (originally): they became citizens of Rome. I'm not impressed.
The 'rebels' had a first good year, then the Romans started taking over the initiative. This war is actually very chaotic when trying to find the order of events.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaap Titulaer View Post
The 88-84 BC campaign against Mithrades of Pontus in Greece was successful. But perhaps his biggest success was that he plundered most of the temples that his forces passed by, which helped him to become very rich, which he needed for the civil war
This was his most impressive campaign.
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Old February 13th, 2018, 10:50 PM   #8
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We don't know if Hannibal actually said that. And even then, he says that he judges generalship on enterprise, hence why Pyrrhus was so high. It wasn't really objective criteria.

Marius is probably better than Sulla on the whole.

Actually, the Romans had already turned the Social War around the end of the first year (90 BC).

Last edited by Duke Valentino; February 13th, 2018 at 10:57 PM.
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