How many legions and equivalents at Zama?

#41
Which in no way argues for a reduction of 10,000 in the Roman numbers. Appian also gives Scipio "about 23,00 infantry".
.
"We" know nothing of the sort; you "know". Suggesting Appian knew so little as to leave out the alae is ludicrous. Appian, like Livy and Polybios, are working from sources, almost all lost to us. These sources all give details, including numbers. It is a matter of choice as Livy (29.25.1-4) makes as plain as the nose on your face (which you ignore to your benefit):
.
A person minus confirmation bias might note Appian's figures in that lot amongst the others. Note they are not exhaustive. As for Appian's figures, you really can't pick and choose, though you seem wedded to the habit.
.
The argument from silence. Always looks good. Polybios is lacunose in the extreme regarding Scipio's African campaign. Provide some decent evidence, that is something other than speculation or what you "know" Polybios would definitely have stated when he did not.

You have decided this battle did not take the course the sources have told us. On that basis you now replace source evidence with speculation while dismissing what testimony we have on the basis it does not suit your view. I remain wholly unconvinced.
First of all, apologies for the editing of your reply. Haven't got the hang of the format yet. Only the first line appeared when I clicked reply.

Second, I could more easily state that this battle never happened. There are no eyewitness accounts and next to no archaeology. The only hard evidence suggests that the stated punitive post battle terms imposed on Carthage were false. I do personally think the battle happened, but no court would uphold my belief.

Not all sources are decent. I have a keen interest in 'King Arthur', and far more has been written on this individual in the c500 years after his 'reign' than on Zama. Polybius and Appian differ greatly on their accounts of the battle, so are clearly using different sources. Appian appears to use Punica for inspiration, a less than reliable account. Appians numbers also appear dodgy, as stated above. That said, he has accidentally stated that 10 legions could have been transported to Africa, when his stated numbers are much lower.

That really only leaves us Polybius, and a figure of 10 legions of foot, is more than probable given the available information imho.
 
Nov 2011
792
The Bluff
#42
First of all, apologies for the editing of your reply. Haven't got the hang of the format yet. Only the first line appeared when I clicked reply.
As demonstrated by my last post: learning to use an iPad...

Second, I could more easily state that this battle never happened. There are no eyewitness accounts and next to no archaeology. The only hard evidence suggests that the stated punitive post battle terms imposed on Carthage were false. I do personally think the battle happened, but no court would uphold my belief.


That really only leaves us Polybius, and a figure of 10 legions of foot, is more than probable given the available information imho.
As to your legions, rubbish. Provide evidence, not speculation; something you've yet to do.

Yes, I know you don't believe this battle "really" happened and that you dismiss the source tradition - even Polybios who is, according to you, a "Roman cypher". That leaves you to write your own history as you are doing. It likely belongs on another forum.... alternate history or Armchair General perhaps...
 
#45
As demonstrated by my last post: learning to use an iPad...



As to your legions, rubbish. Provide evidence, not speculation; something you've yet to do.

Yes, I know you don't believe this battle "really" happened and that you dismiss the source tradition - even Polybios who is, according to you, a "Roman cypher". That leaves you to write your own history as you are doing. It likely belongs on another forum.... alternate history or Armchair General perhaps...
There is no evidence that would stand up in court for any account of Zama, and that includes the most reliable source - Polybius.

Armchair General has long since lost its position as best forums in history. It's why I'm here talking about history and not there talking about politics.

40 transports per legion appears the norm, whether you like it or not. Therefore 400 transports equals 10 legions equivalent whether you like it ot not. That the numbers of Hastati probably equaled, perhaps even outnumbered the mercenaries is more than possible, and certainly likely, given Polybius's account. The fact that Scipios army outnumbered Hannibals is also likely. However, this does not make Scipio an inferior general.

When talking about a battle against an enemy general who was on the doorstep of Rome for over a decade, and unbeaten in the field, if the pro Scipio author knew his sponsors were outnumbered he would have said so. His sponsors would have demanded it. Hannibal was certainly outnumbered.

Scipio should be praised for what he actually achieved. He turned up on the Carthaginian doorstep with a larger, and better equipped army than most of the natives could deal with. He then charmed the locals into providing him with the one asset he truly lacked - cavalry, which allowed him to field from about half of his opponents equivalents to about double that. He wasn't the tactical genius many thought he was. He was better, a true logistician.
 
Nov 2011
792
The Bluff
#46
There is no evidence that would stand up in court for any account of Zama, and that includes the most reliable source - Polybius.
Except that history is no court of law I'm afraid. We work with few imperfect sources; sources that the vagaries of preservation have fortunately left us. Ignoring or dismissing them is a dangerous practice

There40 transports per legion appears the norm, whether you like it or not. Therefore 400 transports equals 10 legions equivalent whether you like it ot not. That the numbers of Hastati probably equaled, perhaps even outnumbered the mercenaries is more than possible, and certainly likely, given Polybius's account.
Scipio scraped together his transports from around Sicily. Nothing suggests these were fit for purpose troop transports; they were what he could requisition. Legionaries likely replaced amphorae or fishing nets. Just like what he scraped together from Italy. Appian is to be junked because of his unreliability and "Boy's Own" narrative yet, on transports, he is rolled gold. It is clear from Livy, who'd access to much we've lost due to the fortunes of source preservation, that there was much exaggeration in the Roman tradition regarding Scipio's numbers and departure from Sicily. To be expected given the substantial result: the defeat of Rome's great enemy in his backyard. You would appear to be on the side of those Roman annalists.

The great pity is that Polybios is severely lacunose regarding this campaign. It is a fair bet that Livy's hard number of 6,200 per legion (and ala) come from the Megalopolitan given the matter of fact way it was reported.

ThereArmchair General has long since lost its position as best forums in history. It's why I'm here talking about history and not there talking about politics.
True enough. That and the last thread on this becoming an echo chamber. Welcome to the place (not that it is mine): as I've attempted to explain to another, you most certainly are not someone's "second account".
 
#47
We really can't attach significance to the fact that Polybius does not mention a number inferiority. As Salamina has pointed out a couple of times, his account of the African campaign is incomplete, like most of his Histories. Also, i hope you're not suggesting that we deny the historicity of the peace terms imposed on Carthage because of the harbour. That would be rash. The accounts make clear that Carthage did end up paying a fifty-year indemnity and there is no evidence for elephants being used by Carthage during the Third Punic War. Rather, the harbour, secluded behind the mercantile harbour, could be evidence that Carthage secretly sought to build up their naval strength in spite of the peace terms, or alternatively, as some archaeologists have argued, there is material evidence to think that the harbour predates the peace treaty, and rather dates to the late third century B.C. Maybe I missed your point, but the existence of the harbour doesn't seem a good enough reason to reject literary testimony on the peace terms. Yes, a court of law might be sceptical, but the standards of legal practice can't be applied to history due to the different quality of evidence. Otherwise, there can be no legitimate study of historical events.
 
#48
We really can't attach significance to the fact that Polybius does not mention a number inferiority. As Salamina has pointed out a couple of times, his account of the African campaign is incomplete, like most of his Histories. Also, i hope you're not suggesting that we deny the historicity of the peace terms imposed on Carthage because of the harbour. That would be rash. The accounts make clear that Carthage did end up paying a fifty-year indemnity and there is no evidence for elephants being used by Carthage during the Third Punic War. Rather, the harbour, secluded behind the mercantile harbour, could be evidence that Carthage secretly sought to build up their naval strength in spite of the peace terms, or alternatively, as some archaeologists have argued, there is material evidence to think that the harbour predates the peace treaty, and rather dates to the late third century B.C. Maybe I missed your point, but the existence of the harbour doesn't seem a good enough reason to reject literary testimony on the peace terms. Yes, a court of law might be sceptical, but the standards of legal practice can't be applied to history due to the different quality of evidence. Otherwise, there can be no legitimate study of historical events.
We can deny the historicity of the terms imposed upon Carthage because Rome won, and wrote the histories. This does not necessarily mean that the terms were not as stated, just that they certainly be considered suspect.

There is no evidence of elephants used in the 3rd Punic War. By the mid 2nd century, the means of countering said beasts were well known. Further, unless Carthage was willing to pay for a source of expensive equipment they would not need to use for over half a century, the laws of supply and demand would suggest no elephants would be available in 146BC.

Polybius was writing about why Rome eventually won. If Scipio was outnumbered, Polybius would have said so to prove his point.
 
#49
Except that history is no court of law I'm afraid. We work with few imperfect sources; sources that the vagaries of preservation have fortunately left us. Ignoring or dismissing them is a dangerous practice
Neither of us really knows what happened. The sources are limited, and are actually often best ignored. My interest in King Arthur has proven that most historic sources can be dodgy, and opinions based upon them are suspect. Zama is no different, except we have even fewer sources, albeit with one more probably decent source.
Scipio scraped together his transports from around Sicily. Nothing suggests these were fit for purpose troop transports; they were what he could requisition. Legionaries likely replaced amphorae or fishing nets. Just like what he scraped together from Italy. Appian is to be junked because of his unreliability and "Boy's Own" narrative yet, on transports, he is rolled gold. It is clear from Livy, who'd access to much we've lost due to the fortunes of source preservation, that there was much exaggeration in the Roman tradition regarding Scipio's numbers and departure from Sicily. To be expected given the substantial result: the defeat of Rome's great enemy in his backyard. You would appear to be on the side of those Roman annalists.
What you appear to be suggesting is a reverse Dunkirk, where an army commandeers a motley collection of boats to invade a continent. I wonder if you are being serious?
The great pity is that Polybios is severely lacunose regarding this campaign. It is a fair bet that Livy's hard number of 6,200 per legion (and ala) come from the Megalopolitan given the matter of fact way it was reported.
I totally disagree. Polybius had every reason to include troop numbers if it served his purpose. He did not.

True enough. That and the last thread on this becoming an echo chamber. Welcome to the place (not that it is mine): as I've attempted to explain to another, you most certainly are not someone's "second account".
I loved that forum, and stuck by it long after it went completely downhill. One of the reasons I really enjoyed that forum was that everyone was civil, and politics was simply a nasty little corner. I was not alone in stating that it would destroy the forum, but was ignored with the others.

OTOH, the real reason I stayed was that, I had beliefs in three opinions completely destroyed. One was the strategic bombing of Germany in WW2. A 2nd was Operation Sealion. The 3rd was King Arthur. Three different people crushed and stamped upon what I considered fact. Unfortunately, I don't think there are enough facts available to change my opinion about Zama. All the relevant works suggest 40 ships per legion, and that means 10 legions equivalent at Zama, at least concerning foot.

As for Scipio's tactical ability, we can consider it suspect. His first battle was a failure, held up by lights on a hill, while Hasdrubals army carried on its march to attempt to support his brother. It is possible, maybe probable, that his initiative surprised the defenders, but the fact remains that he failed to stop Hannibal being reinforced. Where Scipio shines is at a level above the tactical capabilty. He turned up in Africa, not only with a better trained and larger army than his enemy, but having charmed enough of the locals into supplying troops in the one area he lacked. That was where Scipio's genius lay.
 
#50
We can deny the historicity of the terms imposed upon Carthage because Rome won, and wrote the histories. This does not necessarily mean that the terms were not as stated, just that they certainly be considered suspect.

There is no evidence of elephants used in the 3rd Punic War. By the mid 2nd century, the means of countering said beasts were well known. Further, unless Carthage was willing to pay for a source of expensive equipment they would not need to use for over half a century, the laws of supply and demand would suggest no elephants would be available in 146BC.

Polybius was writing about why Rome eventually won. If Scipio was outnumbered, Polybius would have said so to prove his point.
No, you're again ignoring the fact that polybius' account is lacunose. Polybius was also not the uncritical Roman mouthpiece that you seem to think he was. He often criticizes Roman propaganda and tries to be as even-handed and critical as possible in the Thucididean tradition. As for Livy, he draws upon Polybius to no small degree. So to dismiss their testimony without any other strong reasoning because 'Roman bias' is bad history and would be instantly dismissed as such by any ancient history department (I say this as someone who works for an ancient history department; university of Sydney). As for your claims about elephants, they aren't true. The Numidians continued to use elephants in their own army and as auxiliaries for the Romans. We see this in the Numantine war, the Jugurthine war and the Battle of Thapsus. So, clearly there was still a market for war elephants, and clearly the Romans recognized their value. This is to say nothing of their continued use by the Seleucids. Elephants continued to be a powerful weapon as long as the latest batch of cavalry had no experience in dealing with them, and were sufficiently effective in India to continue to be used until the 18th century. Therefore, to think that Carthage was no longer using elephants for any reason other than the peace terms is without good reason.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Dentatus

Similar History Discussions