Most underrated ancient Military?

The message is seriously flawed in its logic or lack thereof. Much as with the legions at Zama thread, you simply ignore what we have and invent your own. Which is not to say that Caesar should be taken as the pillar of virtuous and accurate commentary that his Historum hagiographer, constantly hereabouts, would have him. I can only point you to the cogent posts of Olleus and DiocletionIsBetterThanYou. They say it all really. For this and the other thread.
In this particular case it is clear that both of GJC's invasions of Britain failed as a military campaign. We know this because Rome didn't successfully invade until 43AD, around a century later. The fact that many people cannot comprehend this proves that the British 'army' at that time employed the better strategy, thus underrated as a military.

However, GJC almost certainly made social, political and economic inroads into Britain for Romes benefit. By the time of the actual successful invasion of Britain, it is clear that Rome had local allies, who knew which way the wind was blowing. As an example, the docklands at London were built before the invasion, around 39AD iirc.

I do get facts wrong, but not in this case. As far as a military campaign is concerned, GJC lost, and thus the British are underrated.
 
But what if you're taking for granted Caesar's motivations? I don't know much about this topic, but you're very set on this idea that Caesar wanted to conquer Britain and failed, and yet other users have contended that this was not Caesar's motivation. Maybe he did want to conquer Britain, but maybe he wanted to undertake a quick profitable foray into Britain without an intention to hold territory. The latter would have still won Caesar prestige and his soldiers loot, without the need to actually attempt to conquer and hold the island (and all that that entails). Another way you can look at the gap in time between Caesar and Claudius is the matter of distance and perceived lack of profitability. Perhaps the Romans did not see Britain as a profitable enough venture compared to, say, the Near East. Claudius was a somewhat unpopular emperor who would have benefited from cultivating an image of military legitimacy. By his time, Britain had become a more appealing option since, as you point out, the Romans had become more familiar with the politics of the island and its resources. But this is not to say that Caesar had earlier failed to conquer the island. As users in this forum have suggested, perhaps he never tried.
 
Jan 2015
3,366
Australia
But what if you're taking for granted Caesar's motivations? I don't know much about this topic, but you're very set on this idea that Caesar wanted to conquer Britain and failed, and yet other users have contended that this was not Caesar's motivation. Maybe he did want to conquer Britain, but maybe he wanted to undertake a quick profitable foray into Britain without an intention to hold territory. The latter would have still won Caesar prestige and his soldiers loot, without the need to actually attempt to conquer and hold the island (and all that that entails). Another way you can look at the gap in time between Caesar and Claudius is the matter of distance and perceived lack of profitability. Perhaps the Romans did not see Britain as a profitable enough venture compared to, say, the Near East. Claudius was a somewhat unpopular emperor who would have benefited from cultivating an image of military legitimacy. By his time, Britain had become a more appealing option since, as you point out, the Romans had become more familiar with the politics of the island and its resources. But this is not to say that Caesar had earlier failed to conquer the island. As users in this forum have suggested, perhaps he never tried.
That's certainly the tenor of Caesar's commentaries on the matter. He does not speak of being forced out or give any hint that he failed in his objectives. Any such belief comes entirely from the imagination of others, as do the invented assertions about his campaign that demonstrate said account to not be serious and not to have read Caesar's writings on the matter. Caesar defeated various German tribes multiple times, and a tribe from the Swiss, yet he never tried to annex their lands. Perhaps they were secretly the most underrated and we can conjure an invented history of how they drove him away so he dared not follow them (*rolls eyes*). Many Roman generals, and other generals, did not annex the lands of foes they defeated for sound policy reasons. It does not follow that they "failed" in their objectives.
 
That's certainly the tenor of Caesar's commentaries on the matter. He does not speak of being forced out or give any hint that he failed in his objectives. Any such belief comes entirely from the imagination of others, as do the invented assertions about his campaign that demonstrate said account to not be serious and not to have read Caesar's writings on the matter. Caesar defeated various German tribes multiple times, and a tribe from the Swiss, yet he never tried to annex their lands. Perhaps they were secretly the most underrated and we can conjure an invented history of how they drove him away so he dared not follow them (*rolls eyes*). Many Roman generals, and other generals, did not annex the lands of foes they defeated for sound policy reasons. It does not follow that they "failed" in their objectives.
As someone who has read the commentaries, what does Caesar say he was doing? Were the expeditions punitive, reconnaissance, a combination?
 
But what if you're taking for granted Caesar's motivations? I don't know much about this topic, but you're very set on this idea that Caesar wanted to conquer Britain and failed, and yet other users have contended that this was not Caesar's motivation. Maybe he did want to conquer Britain, but maybe he wanted to undertake a quick profitable foray into Britain without an intention to hold territory. The latter would have still won Caesar prestige and his soldiers loot, without the need to actually attempt to conquer and hold the island (and all that that entails). Another way you can look at the gap in time between Caesar and Claudius is the matter of distance and perceived lack of profitability. Perhaps the Romans did not see Britain as a profitable enough venture compared to, say, the Near East. Claudius was a somewhat unpopular emperor who would have benefited from cultivating an image of military legitimacy. By his time, Britain had become a more appealing option since, as you point out, the Romans had become more familiar with the politics of the island and its resources. But this is not to say that Caesar had earlier failed to conquer the island. As users in this forum have suggested, perhaps he never tried.
GJC wrote he wanted a reconnaissance in force, and notes that Britain has few resources in its interior. His stated motivation is not profit, nor did he make much, if any. What he does say is the the moon, tides, weather etc etc defeated him, not the enemy. Some may take this stance at face value, I don't.

Caesar • Gallic War — Book IV
Caesar • Gallic War — Book V, chs. 1‑25
 
Jan 2015
3,366
Australia
As someone who has read the commentaries, what does Caesar say he was doing? Were the expeditions punitive, reconnaissance, a combination?
Caesar doesn't indicate any more interest in annexing the place than he had in annexing the German or Swish tribes. They supported his enemies, so he went over to both see their lands and raid. It seems very similar to the logic behind his crossing the Rhine; good PR, send a message to your enemies and give them a scare, etc, but not designed to be permanent. Caesar would have known he lacked the forces to conquer Britain as a whole while being in the middle of a military campaign in Gaul, and it doesn't seem he tried to do so at all. Moreover, he only left after inflicting various defeats on them, receiving various surrenders, and getting some hostages and tribute (which may or may not have continued to be paid, but whatever). His words are pretty clear on the matter. Only people with an agenda substitute the actual record with their imagination. He didn't try to annex Switzerland after defeating the Helvetti. Does it logically follow they were the secretly underrated military of their day? Utter nonsense.
 
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Caesar doesn't indicate any more interest in annexing the place than he had in annexing the German or Swish tribes. They supported his enemies, so he went over to both see their lands and raid. It seems very similar to the logic behind his crossing the Rhine; good PR, send a message to your enemies and give them a scare, etc, but not designed to be permanent. Caesar would have known he lacked the forces to conquer Britain as a whole while being in the middle of a military campaign in Gaul, and it doesn't seem he tried to do so at all. Moreover, he only left after inflicting various defeats on them, receiving various surrenders, and getting some hostages and tribute (which may or may not have continued to be paid, but whatever). His words are pretty clear on the matter.
If it were a single raid, as was against the Germanics I would agree with you. The fact that he had to attempt the invasion twice means otherwise. In addition, he did not invade for profit, in his own words, the locals were simply hunters, and lived off meat and milk, wearing skins. They also had very little in the way of mineral wealth according to GJC, tin being found in only small amounts there.
Only people with an agenda substitute the actual record with their imagination. He didn't try to annex Switzerland after defeating the Helvetti. Does it logically follow they were the secretly underrated military of their day? Utter nonsense.
Please tell me what my agenda is, because it's secret enough I don't know what it is :p.

During GJC's period the 'British' military was good enough to repulse GJC. A hundred years later it was not, due to different circumstances. Everything needs to be taken in context. The 'British' and Helvetti were two different beasts, just as, for example, the Persians and Greeks were. The same type of warfare was practiced by each of the later two entities in the 2 centuries or so before Alexander. The Persians relied on cavalry, the Greeks heavy infantry. Cavalry proved superior during the Ionian revolt, but failed in Greece itself. Similar entities can first succeed and then fail, or vice versa, depending on time and place. The same is true for the British. When they did try a straight stand up fight at Watling Street they were destroyed. They should have kept to the raiding tactics of their predecessors.
 
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Mar 2018
522
UK
What he does say is the the moon, tides, weather etc etc defeated him, not the enemy. Some may take this stance at face value, I don't.
So you don't buy his reasons for why he left Briton. Fair enough. However, just because you reject that it was the moon/tides/weather, doesn't imply that it was the enemy. It could be the political situation in Rome, the military situation in Gaul, that his men were fed up of the Island, that he missed his mistress back home or literally a million other reasons. It is absurd to conclude it was the enemy just because you believe Caesar lied about it being the weather.

This is not just the common problem of "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" but something more like "rejection of evidence is not evidence of the opposite".
 

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