- May 2016
It's because we get all these threads on guys like Viriathus or Arminius who were trivial figures, yet to read the threads you'd never know it based on some of the people posting.
For instance, when George Duby wrote “The Knight, the Lady and the Priest”, where those characters, often unnamed, trivial?
For a Historian that studies the Iberian Proto-History, or more specifically the Lusitanians, was Viriathus trivial?
Ancient and even modern writers would disagree. While nobody ever claimed they were great conquerors or anything of sorts, both are universally portrayed as heroes worthy of admiration in subsequent literature.
Being heroic, or admirable, is not the same as being historically significant. Sometimes in history class you see these names getting mentioned disproportionately to anything they did, and you're wondering "why are we spending all this time on these trivial figures". Ned Kelly would be an Australian example. This guy is one of the ancient Roman examples. He's a stupendously unimportant person for the most part, but he is constantly brought up in these threads as some great enemy of Rome when he was a historical footnote.
If he had lived, nothing would have changed. Eventually Rome would have gotten serious and sent better generals with larger armies, and this guy would have been crushed.
Rome fought wars in Spain for literal centuries against natives, ditto other places. Rome lost engagements to locals all the time. There is nothing to really mark this guy out except he was written about more.
First you state that Rome fought in Spain, or more correctly in the Iberian Peninsula, for centuries, than you state that the Romans wrote more about this “guy”.
Well. Historians when write history, write about what they, with their knowledge and bias, consider relevant, important. So it is curious that those historians wrote more about this character in the peninsula than about any other, for centuries.
You scoff at my claim, but the lives of Caesar and Pompey cover a 62 year period that includes Jugurtha, Mithridates, Cleopatra, Vercingetorix, Tigranes, Orgetorix, Ariovistus, the chief of the Cimbri, the chief of the Teutones, all the Italian generals of the Social War, Sertorius, the Parthian generals, along with may other notable Kings and Chiefs of different Gallic Kingdoms who rebelled and fought wars with some success during this period. Heck, even Spartacus, as overrated as he is, did more and was more of a threat to Rome. I don't doubt I could provide more names, but those names off the top of my head should highlight my point.
So we have 6 or 7 names! The rest are unnamed generals/war leaders.
Anyway Jugurtha is a nice reference, and even if he was a prince, later a king of a established kingdom, while Viriathus wasn’t, I think we can trace some parallels.
How many victories had Cleopatra against the Romans?
How many victories, how many Legions Vercingetorix defeated? I need your help here, about him and about the other names you mentioned. After all you are comparing them.
About Spartacus being “more of a threat to Rome”, maybe that was because he raised a rebellion almost at the gates of Rome, and not in the Iberian Peninsula, and menaced the Roman social structure, after all the slaves also slept often in the houses of their masters, don’t you think?
And I have to get to this:
Can you tell me how you rate a historian character? I know how to rate a student, with objective criteria, but I don’t have objective criteria to rate a historical character, so I need your help here.