You can certainly say that, for this particular period, the Roman army hardly ever suffered defeat. Their numbers, organization, discipline and tactics ensured that they were considerably more formidable than the northern barbarians and Parthians of the time. But their superiority initially came about during the middle republic, and even during the Third Century Crisis Roman armies were usually victorious. While famous defeats like Cannae and Teutoberg Forest capture our fascination (in part because the underdogs won), actual defeats came few and far between.Was the Roman Army from Trajan to Septimus Severus that best army in the world, qualitatively speaking?
In other words, the Roman army was better than its opponents, right? Are you trying to say they were *not* as good because they could beat everyone? Doesn't that make them the best?I would not say so. At least it is hard to judge. There were no real enemies of a similar weight to fight against during this period of time.
Having all the advantages makes your army better than the enemy, right? Though the historical record does not seem to support the idea that the Dacian Wars were a walkover, by any means.The Parthians and later Sassanids, despite having a rather civilised organisatorical and technical niveau comparable to the Romans, were nevertheless not of the same strength and warfare was mostly local or at best regional. It was also a phase of weakness for the Parthians, so the Romans in the east were golden. The Romans under Trajan won with relative ease in the two Dacian Wars, but it was a very uneven fight, with nearly all advantages on the Roman side.
Again, no one was suggesting they were invincible, and here you say they won in the end. So, the Roman army was BETTER. That's how they won.On the other hand the Romans had some difficulties in the Marcomannic Wars albeit being victorious in the end. Hardly the picture of the very best army of the world, in my opinion.
Huh, that doesn't seem to agree with what I've heard--the army was at its largest in the 3rd century, with state-issued equipment from centralized factories, and training and discipline continued. That was the *height* of the empire, not its collapse. BUT that's not the era I know the best!From then on all went down, slowly but constantly. The fall of the Roman Empire started in the second half of the 2nd c. AD, so if you want such strange competitions I would set the timeframe of Roman superiority from let's say 15 BC to 150 AD, although I rank the mid to late republic higher than the empire military, not per soldier but as a whole.
Right, the Romans were militarily superior, or at least equal, along their whole border. Along with that, what other neighboring or nearby nation or culture was able to maintain a full-time standing army of that size, with continuous patrols and instant response to threats along thousands of miles of frontier? Anyone?As said and luckily for the Romans real bad foes after about 70 AD were rare, being later the Sassanids and the growing Germanic confederations. But for a long time the Romans could fare well with an army more able to patrol and skirmish and deal with smaller, less trained and less well equipped adversaries.
So, in spite of the fact that the only real threat to the Roman army was another Roman army, and that they were able to build and maintain a huge empire for several centuries, you're convinced that army was pretty pathetic. Okayyyy....The worst for for the Romans were the Romans themselves, killing the empire with civil wars. Civil wars were not new, there had been a lot and bad ones, but the frequency of wars, the terrible and unsuccessful trials of the emperors to keep rivals and civil wars away by changing and weakening important structures, coupled with population loss, loss of wealth and loss of "Roman spirit" (a very subjective view of course) took it's toll. In the end we have the impressive Roman army of the late antiquity, said by it's fans to be bigger and more professional then ever before, however sadly we don't see them act sucessfully in the results.
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