Life of Viriathus - timeline

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,889
Portugal
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.
I don’t know much about Arminius, but according to you what is a “trivial figure”? And who decides if a figure is “trivial”? And these questions that I am making to you are not trivial, since they doom history since history exists.

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.
Any historical character of this kind, a war leader, has quite usually three different faces, one given by the historiography, other by the modern academia, and a third one by the mystified character build by a collective memory and often quite underlined by nationalisms. Usually the last face is the one that mostly sees these characters as “heroes worthy of admiration”.

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.
More than Ned Kelly, less than hundreds of other Roman foes.
Comparing a tribal leader that faced a foreign invasion and fought against it with some success to a criminal popularized by pop history is particularly odd. Don’t know much about Ned Kelly, but I would compare him with “Zé do Telhado” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/José_do_Telhado) or maybe with Jaime el Barbudo (Jaime el Barbudo - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre – in Spanish), if you want peninsular equivalents. War leaders like Viriathus (or Arminius) that fought a foreign invasion would be more comparable to the Aboriginal leaders in the Australian frontier wars, maybe you can help me with a name of a leader there, if you want a fair comparison to your country’s history.

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.
“If”… all the sentence and reasoning after that word is speculative.

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.
Now… you have a paradox there!

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.
We have quite a salad of names there! I guess you want to fill quickly that 20-30 list if names. And even a Roman: Sertorius! If we include Sertorius we can also include Caesar and Pompey, after all both fought against Romans.

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:

Heck, even Spartacus, as overrated as he is
Who considers Spartacus overrated? You? I think you are a serious threat to Moody's and Standard & Poor's.

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.
 
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Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
That was a very non-serious reply. You didn't even count the names I provided (which would be 11 names, plus all the Social War generals of whom there are easily 10 plus, plus multiple Parthian commanders, plus a dozen or more Gallic leaders I could likely name). That's basically in the ball park of 20-30 already man.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,889
Portugal
That was a very non-serious reply. You didn't even count the names I provided (which would be 11 names, plus all the Social War generals of whom there are easily 10 plus, plus multiple Parthian commanders, plus a dozen or more Gallic leaders I could likely name). That's basically in the ball park of 20-30 already man.
You want to focus on the counting? I would prefer that you would answer to the questions that I made to you.

About counting names, you named:

Jugurtha, Mithridates, Cleopatra, Vercingetorix, Tigranes, Orgetorix, Ariovistus,…Sertorius…Spartacus
I can count 9 names. Please correct me if I am wrong or if I miss some.

Since we are talking about a “handful of enemies punished the Romans as much as Viriathus did” (Frank81’s words on post #18). Since Sertorius was Roman and I am in doubt about the punishments that Cleopatra gave to the Romans, I mentioned 6 or 7. Now I state 7 if you want precision from my part, so sorry for saying 6 or 7. It is 7. My apologies.

About those 7 (or even go for the 8 if you want to include Cleopatra), I made you some questions, since I don’t know in details the punishments that they gave to the Romans. About the unnamed you can always attribute them names.

If these numbers are incorrect please correct them, but don’t accuse me for a non-serious reply.

But you even state 20 or 30 names, even if you didn’t reach the number that you stated, all the other questions that I made to you are far more relevant than a parade of names. So please be serious.
 
Oct 2018
1,522
Sydney
In defense of Caesarmagnus, yes he did not specify the names of the Cimbrian and Teuton leaders, but it's misguided to use that against his argument. Boiorix and Teutobod inflicted the largest defeat on a Roman army in their history if we measure defeats by alleged manpower loss (the battle of Arausio, not to mention the battle of Noreia).
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,889
Portugal
In defense of Caesarmagnus, yes he did not specify the names of the Cimbrian and Teuton leaders, but it's misguided to use that against his argument. Boiorix and Teutobod inflicted the largest defeat on a Roman army in their history if we measure defeats by alleged manpower loss (the battle of Arausio, not to mention the battle of Noreia).
I don’t have doubts that the Cimbri and Teuton migration were a threat to Rome, and thanks for sharing the names of their commanders, I confess that I didn’t knew, I would had to search for it.

I also think that in a thread like this a parade of 20 or 30 names will appear. Even much more than that if we include Romans involved in the Civil Wars, like Sertorius. What I don’t find serious, since such a word was invoked, is stating that he gave 11 names, and “That’s basically in the ball park of 20-30 already man”. If we want to be precise. And precision is relevant in Human and Social Sciences. Thus my apologies for stating 6 or 7. I should had been precise to avoid a numbers war.

But above all, more than parading 20 or 30 names, the main theme of Caesarmagnus posts here was the “rating” of historical figures and what is “trivial” and what is not “trivial” in History and in this context of Rome’s history. And how any other unnamed war leader in the Iberian Peninsula is equally relevant to Viriathus.

And unfortunately he didn’t answer to those questions.

Because labelling things as trivial, relevant, non-important is how we construct history, our historical discourse, and it is how we reveal our knowledge, our perspective and our bias.
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
If you think Viriathus was a greater threat to Rome than Cleopatra, because he had some ok showings against a few 2-3 legion armies, you need to rethink how you're measuring importance. Politically at the least Cleopatra was a far more important figure than Viriathus. I think her importance is overstated, but this is a low bar. Sertorius was a threat to Rome, even if he was a Roman himself; excluding him, when he was warring on Rome in favour of the Spanish people, seems a bit misguided
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
11 specific names, plus a shorthand reference to a dozen and more others, is clearly "in the ballpark" of 20-30. You want me to name all the notable Social War commanders, or some of the notable Parthian generals, etc? Obviously importance is subjective, but I've explained pretty clearly why I don't much care for the importance of Viriathus.
 
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Feb 2019
475
Thrace
Again, I don't know if any historian claimed Viriathus profoundly shaped subsequent Roman history. They either highlight his heroic features or his clever use of hit-and-run tactics. Otherwise, there's no "overrating" going on.
 
Feb 2019
475
Thrace
And how is Spartacus overrated? Having in such a short time an immense impact on the Republic, starting from the condition of a mere slave, is worthy of all the praise he gets as far as I'm concerned.