Battle of Teutoberg Forest

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Guaporense

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
5,047
Brazil
You give Romanization too much credit, it was a superficial thing. Many other cultures, the Greeks and the Jews, for instance, were virtually untouched by Romanization, even after many centuries of life under the Empire. The Jewish Revolts of the 1st and 2nd Centuries show that it was possible for peoples that had been under the Roman yoke for several centuries to still feel patriotic feelings.
Of course the Greeks were never Romanized! Roman culture was a derivative of Greek culture. The Romans that were Hellenized. Civilization spread from Greece to the rest of the mediterranean and from the mediterranean that it spread to northern Europe. Essentially Gaul and Britain were hellenized. The Greeks living in the Roman Empire in the 1st century considered it as an Hellenic Empire, they considered the civilized world the Hellenic world.

In the 4th century BCE, when classical Greece reached it's apex, the southern third of Italy was fully colonized by Greeks, while the middle part of Italy consisted in the Latin/Etruscan culture, Roman culture is the outcome of a mix of Etruscan and Greek culture. As mediterranean civilization developed and spread, first Italy and north Africa became civilized, then came the rest of the western mediterranean.

And yes, Romanization was very, very deep in Gaul. Overall the Western parts of the Empire were the romanized parts while the eastern parts of the empire were hellenized. But that consisted only of two flavors of the same civilization. The languages of Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, a good chunk of Switzerland and Romania are essentially dialects of Latin. To say that Romanization was superficial is essentially to say that the majority of the population of Western Europe outside Italy didn't speak Latin, of course it couldn't be more wrong as the modern languages of Europe that was under roman control are nearly all derived from Latin. Only English is not derived directly from Latin, but it's Latin influences are deep.
 

Guaporense

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
5,047
Brazil
I just can't agreed with you here, Richard. Even without this battle, I don't see the Romans being able to conquer Germania and seriously Romanize it.
Let's do the math for a moment. The Roman Empire had a population of 70 million people, about 20 million were adult males, 2% of the adult male population of the Roman Empire were in the armed forces, 350,000 in the army and 50,000 in the navy. In the late republic the romans usually had mobilized 13% of the adult male population of Italy in their numerous wars, against Cartage in the second Punic war Rome even mobilized 20% of the adult male population of Italy. Or 10 times the level of mobilization that Rome had under Augustus. At the Reign of Augustus the Roman Empire was in peace and the mediterranean never was safer, as compared to the titanic clashes in the civil wars of the late republic. Augustus maintained a small army for the size of the empire, as Rome didn't need many troops as all powerful states in antiquity were already conquered (i.e. cartage, the Greek city state leagues, the Hellenistic empires, etc) by Rome.

The Roman army was reduced from 50 legions, their size during the civil wars, to 28 legions and military service was made voluntary. This reduced voluntary army was used to protect the borders of the Empire agaisnt the barbarians and Parthia. These threats, however, were only a nuisance, they never were a real threat to the Empire, as accounts from the time say: . Usually Rome kept 7-8 legions on the Rhine to keep the barbarians out, how many legions would have taken to conquer Germania? Clearly a force of 20-30 legions would surely destroy any resistance that they could mount. If the Roman Empire mobilized it's resources for war in the same intensity as the Republic did during the wars that formed the basis for the Roman dominance of the mediterranean, i.e. 13% of the adult male population, that would mean an army of 2,550,000 men, instead of 350,000 men and about 210 legions instead of 28. Giving about 182 extra legions to attack Germania from the historical numbers of the Roman army under Augustus. I don't think that any state in human history from before the 18th century could withstand 182 1st century Roman Legions.

So, why didn't the Romans did it? Conquer Germania? Well, because it would be stupid. The region was too poor and too distant from the main trade routes (in the mediterranean and starting in the Atlantic after the annexation of Gaul and Britain) to be worth conquering. Maybe if civilization reached Germania though the development of commercial networks that the region would become civilized enough to pay the costs of conquest, occupation and administration. It did not however.

So, what's the importance of the battle of teutoburg? It only sent a signal to Rome that they had run out of lands worth conquering. So they retreated to the Rhine. What is it's historical importance? Zero, it didn't change the course of history an inch. It was only one of the many defeats that the Romans suffered from time to time. A natural part of attrition.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,463
Dispargum
Welcome to Historum, Valentinian. You're probably unaware of our policy against resurrecting long dead threads (more than two years old). You are welcome to start a new thread on this topic.
 
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