Do you believe Caesar performed the march to Hispania in 27 days?

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,009
Sydney
Crikey. Thats a crazy distance, man. Wonder how much weight you lost. I guess you're not the type who's into the gym, hefting iron & stuff, building up beef & bulk, for sure.
the first time I was overweight and with no training whatsoever , lost 21kg
the second time I was fitter and only lost 15kg ,
I was eating a lot too
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,767
Caesar pulled off the great Julian Calender Reform in 46 BC. As a consequence that year had all of fifteen months. So, if he was marching to Spain under those circumstances what might look like 27 days might have been rather a lot leisurely, since he had extra time to get things done.
 
Jan 2014
1,749
Portugal
Romans get extra stamina points in Hispania...
Livy tell us that Scipio during 2nd Punic War, marched from Ebro to Nova Cartago (roughly 320 miles) in 7 days. 45 miles/day average.
 
Oct 2015
899
Virginia
As JM says, that's 45 miles a day for 7 days with no stops, and is not bloody likely for an army of 26,500 with horses, mules and baggage (Livy xxvi.42)
 
Oct 2015
899
Virginia
Livy xxvi.42 says:

" No one knew of his intended march except Gaius Laelius, who was sent around with the fleet and instructed to regulate the pace of his vessels so he might enter the harbor at the same time as the army showed itself. Seven days after leaving the Ebro the land and sea forces reached New Carthage simultaneously. The Roman camp was fixed opposite the north side of the city..."

Polybius x.7 says:

"...he now gave secret orders to Gaius Laelius to sail to that city (New Carthage) - it was Laelius alone, as I have said, who was aware of the project- while he himself with his land forces marched rapidly against it. He had about 25,000 infantry and 2,500 horse. Arriving on the seventh day he camped north of the city."

Livy clearly took his account from Polybius. What are we to make of this? I for one don't believe physics, geography, logistics or biology was different then, or that Roman peasants were supermen. Do you think maybe Polybius got it a little wrong, or that maybe his source exaggerated a little and Polybius was a bit too credulous? or that he just uncritically passed on what the source told him "per maxima gloriam Scipionis"?
 
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fascinating

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,377
There are ultrafit people around who could do 45 miles a day for 7 days, but an army of thousands doing that, while carrying equipment, is surely not possible (that would be nearly 4 miles an hour for 12 hours a day). Could it be that Polybius saying "arriving on the seventh day" he meant the day of the month, and Livy misinterpreted it?
 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,054
Italy, Lago Maggiore
It's not impossible to cover 45 miles in a day marching. The problem is to do it for 7 days with military equipment in a historical age when the battles got decided by the body [today a tired soldier can sit down to use a rifle gun, in the legions only a few legionaries had artillery to use sitting down ... ballista, scorpio ... a tired bowman, for example, is not that useful].

Now, Romans had a wide and nice network of streets to facilitate the movements of the legions, but this didn't allow them to go beyond realistic limits. Romans were pragmatic, they usually did what was possible without exaggerating.

So, probably, also in this case, someone made a bit of confusion.
 
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May 2017
198
Monterrey
There are ultrafit people around who could do 45 miles a day for 7 days, but an army of thousands doing that, while carrying equipment, is surely not possible (that would be nearly 4 miles an hour for 12 hours a day). Could it be that Polybius saying "arriving on the seventh day" he meant the day of the month, and Livy misinterpreted it?
Ultrafit people can do more than that. A Finnish ultrarunner just completed and won, a 5100-kilometre trek in the USA. It took him 47 days to cover the distance(about 108 km per day). Obviously, again, not possible with equipment, and obviously this dude is at the top of the game.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,009
Sydney
The Sydney to Melbourne ultra marathon is a 875-kilometer (544 mi), five-day event
it was particularly notable for having been won in 1983 by Cliff Young a 61 year old potato farmer in 5d 15h 04m

the road to himself , support vehicle , special diet , he crossed the line pretty beaten up and it took him a month to recover