Philip II of Macedon: Best Captain/General Europe Ever Produced?

Jul 2017
2,186
Australia
Ok, I'm going to skip the part where I explain how academia works to produce different theories (because I already did that),
or the fact that you know other academics hold opposing views because the guy whose dogma you were championing early in this thread holds the opposite view to large armies being able to exist. I'm also going to skip your obvious 180 position shifts as regards this issue.
You're obviously referring to Delbruck, and embarrassing yourself in the process, because you're just claiming that Delbruck says every army in antiquity was considerably smaller, or, in other words, pulling fiction out of your ass. Delbruck has multiple chapters dealing exclusively with the Romans and their ability to out-do other peoples through sheer mobilisation potential. That the Romans could levy and maintain over 100,000 men was never even questioned by Delbruck; rather he argues that the Romans were extremely unique in history in relation to its structure and mobilisation potential - one that other states like Carthage or Pontus could not match. In fact, Rome's mobilisation rate of adult males during the Second Punic War wasn't matched until the industrial era. Delbruck notes that many of the wars Rome fought and won were not only through brilliant generalship, but also because of Rome's ability to continuously levy replacements for their field armies, the prime example being of course the Second Punic War.

You've also based your out-of-your-ass assumption on the idea that the 300 cohorts were insta-full strength. You clearly aren't familiar with modern works on the Roman army during this period.

Instead I'm going to focus on why as critical students of history we should not treat Vetellius claims seriously (again):
No one is claiming that all scholars corroborate with each other, though ironically this is the case for this particular issue as will be discussed further below.

1) He's regarded as a bad source (look it up); inconsistent, with poor chronologies that don't work, not even a proper historian by ancient standards, etc.
I can't find anything referring to him as a 'bad source', an excerpt from livius.org:

For a very long time, Paterculus has been regarded as a mere flatterer and a poor historian. This is not untrue, but it is possible to stress this point too much. He did his best. His rejection of the Varronian chronology proves that he understood that Caesar and Augustus had tried to manipulate the past - which is more than we can say of modern historians who follow Varro's propaganda [...] Finally, it is unfair to say that Paterculus was a bad historian. It is true, he did not consult archives, and it is also true that his analysis runs less deep than that of an author like Tacitus. But these are not the standards to be applied. The ancients thought that a historian had to have first-hand experience with politics and warfare, ought to have interviewed the main actors of his story, and should have visited the countries he was describing. From this point of view, the only one that mattered in Antiquity, Velleius Paterculus was the perfect historian.

His account of the civil war is also very consistent with Appian's and Orosius', which makes it hard to argue that he should be rejected completely. Despite claims or concerns of exaggeration, Paterculus was a military man, something Plutarch and Appian weren't.

2) None of the other sources even hint at such an army size. There is talk of a legion here, a legion there, several thousand joining, 600 dying on either side in an engagement, etc.
3) The army size makes no logical sense for a number of reasons: [deleted]
This is where people start to laugh uncontrollably; a rant fueled by the complete refusal to acknowledge anything more than your own biased readings of Appian. This is just amateur at its finest, and demonstrates a clear lack of knowledge and use of huge assumptions in an attempt to discredit the opponent. I know, it's hard not to see 300 cohorts as insta-500 or 600 strong - Plutarch, your favorite "objective" historian, usually translates a legion from his sources as 6,000 men, automatically assuming full strength.

Hence, when they say that a general had x thousand men, we generally find that x is a multiple of 5,000 or 6,000, and that they are merely giving us the number of legions converted into the number of men on the dubious assumption that the legions were at nominal strength; for instance, Orosius' statement that Pompey took 30,000 men to Spain in 77 means that he had 5 or 6 legions (p. 471).

The proof of this is the fact that some of the estimates cited above (where the number of legions is known from other evidence) are incorrect. Thus the 2 legions which Cicero commanded in Cilkia are described by him as weak and were amalgamated in 49 by Pompey into a single legion, though the average strength of a legion in his army was not much over 4,000; plainly then, they did not number 12,000 in 51.

Brunt, 489.

There's simply multiple instances were Plutarch, Appian, Orosius and others calculate troops based on applying a standard legion number of 5,000 or 6,000 to the number of legions - it's a common practice among the sources. However, as Brunt notes on the same page, Plutarch is generally more accurate when talking about cohorts, which should be taken into consideration. Furthermore, I think you'd benefit from reading this:

There is a revealing passage in Sallust's Catititta about the method of forming legions employed by Catiline, who was an experienced officer, and doubtless followed the usual practice, 'Catilina . . . duas legionea inatituit; cohortis pro numero complet Deinde, ut quisque voluntarius aut ex sociis (I) in castra venerat, aequaliter distribuerat, ac brevi spatio legionea numero hominum expleverat, cum initio non amplius duobua milibus habuisset.'* Though initially he had only 2,000 men, he formed them into 2 legions and filled up the ranks as more recruits came in. The first step was evidently to organize the cadre of a legion; its ultimate size depended on the success of the levy and the time allowed for it. It is probable that this method had been adopted in the civil wars of 90-89 and 83-81; officers were appointed to raise legions in various localities, but the strength of their leglons would vary with the progress of recruitment.

Brunt, 688.

This is especially true for the Social War and civil wars, where cohorts and legions would have been recruited on the fly and filled as the war progressed. This is further corroborated by Konrad:

vast numbers of Italians, newly enfranchised, were ready and willing to serve in Cinna's army; Velleius' figure (2.20.4) of more than three hundred cohorts seems not so exaggerated if it is understood that most of these were small local units of volunteers. Italian towns provided supplies and funds, and more Romans of standing left the City to join Cinna, thus adding respect and political support (Appian 66.302.).

Konrad, C. F.. Plutarch's Sertorius: A Historical Commentary, 65.

You clearly just want to imagine every cohort and every legion at a paper strength, when historians know that this was almost never the case. You make the same mistake with the civil war of 49, with Pompey having so many cohorts or legions in Italy, assuming of course that not only his veteran legions but also the newly formed cohorts were at nominal or close to nominal strength. In fact the two veteran legions were closer to 4,000 each, and the new recruited cohorts could hardly have been close to full. I recommend you actually read Brunt and upgrade your library before attempting to ridicule them or downgrade their massive research and scholarly achievement on the basis that YOU want to imagine everything at paper strengths. Velleius said that 300 cohorts were raised by the Cinnan party? They must all be full strength! Such nonsense! Pompey had 30 cohorts in northern Italy, that's 3 legions! That's 15,000 men! etc. etc. Cohorts didn't have a set standard strength, rather the recruitment officers and generals would form cohorts and legions, and fill them accordingly depending on how the levy went. Different sources clearly had different ideas of what a cohort consisted of, or what the standard legion number was. This is clearly obvious in how Plutarch, Appian and others go about calculating these strengths. Most of the time they take the number of legions that their source informs them of and multiply it by a multiple of their choosing, and there's various examples of this happening. There was no infallible uber Imperial record of every war and every army and how strong each legion was at various instances during wars. As Konrad points out, for example, the number of 120,000 footmen for the Sertorian War is clearly a multiple of 6,000, or 20 legions. Plutarch probably went through his sources, counted 20 legions or something close to that (he may have rounded up from an odd number of legions, for example) and simply multiplied it by the full nominal strength of a legion - 6,000 - which he does regularly when only given number of legions.
 
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Jan 2015
3,291
Australia
It's become largely pointless replying to you, as I explained, however I will note a few things that may benefit other readers in my selective reply of your selective reply.

Plutarch, your favorite "objective" historian, usually translates a legion from his sources as 6,000 men, automatically assuming full strength.
Ok. Firstly, a legion from republican times was 5000 men strong. Not 6000. NOT 6000. I must have corrected you on this point dozens of times across half a dozen threads, yet you still continue to make this mistake over and over.

Sometimes sources refer to the make up of legions, sometimes they don't, but to claim that you (or anyone) will apply "an estimate" to these figures is highly problematic. It's based on nothing but speculation most of the time, albeit (sometimes) informed speculation. This is doubly problematic when the sources actually do specify the numbers. That's a general comment, not one aimed at the particular situation of Pompey.

As far as the situation of Pompey goes; if we take Orosius seriously, in conjunction with the other sources who are frankly more reputable than him, then it's rather hard to believe Pompey could have had less than 6 legions. The casualties, as I already noted in depth, would have made it impossible for him to field a viable army with a smaller army than 30,000 men (because the casualties are almost all given in numerical terms, not "a legion here, a legion there"). For me there isn't much of a conundrum, because I tend not to take Orosius too seriously anyway (and only give the 30,000 men figure credence because he cites another source directly as supporting that figure, and because such a figure fits with everything else about the war; the casualties, the events after the war, etc), but I'm not sure I see the relevance in any event. You've lost your train of thought and are now rambling about tangential points that don't support what was actually in dispute.

What was in dispute was your contradictory attitude to sources, and how you choose to believe diametrically opposed accounts depending on what suits your position at any given time. This has been pointed out explicitly numerous times. When we first discussed this you said Memnon was the best source. Then you dropped him for Appian, when you realized he actually supported Plutarch on the essentials. Once you realized he supported Plutarch too, you abandoned him, and now mock people as "Appian whores", as though Appian isn't regarded as one of the best and most reliable sources for the period. It's the same attitude for the other figures I cited in my earlier posts. You just recently supported Cinna's apparent ability to muster 30 legions almost instantly, based off a weak source, yet you were crowing at how unbelievable it was that Cinna had a mere 20 legions ready to fight Sulla at the start of the war 3+ years later. Your contradictory position shifts, which you never acknowledge, make debating with you pointless. You've already moved mostly to my position on most of these issues, you're just pretending you haven't because you're too proud to do so.
 
Jul 2017
2,186
Australia
It's become largely pointless replying to you, as I explained, however I will note a few things that may benefit other readers in my selective reply of your selective reply.

Ok. Firstly, a legion from republican times was 5000 men strong. Not 6000. NOT 6000. I must have corrected you on this point dozens of times across half a dozen threads, yet you still continue to make this mistake over and over.

Sometimes sources refer to the make up of legions, sometimes they don't, but to claim that you (or anyone) will apply "an estimate" to these figures is highly problematic. It's based on nothing but speculation most of the time, albeit (sometimes) informed speculation. This is doubly problematic when the sources actually do specify the numbers. That's a general comment, not one aimed at the particular situation of Pompey.

As far as the situation of Pompey goes; if we take Orosius seriously, in conjunction with the other sources who are frankly more reputable than him, then it's rather hard to believe Pompey could have had less than 6 legions. The casualties, as I already noted in depth, would have made it impossible for him to field a viable army with a smaller army than 30,000 men (because the casualties are almost all given in numerical terms, not "a legion here, a legion there"). For me there isn't much of a conundrum, because I tend not to take Orosius too seriously anyway (and only give the 30,000 men figure credence because he cites another source directly as supporting that figure, and because such a figure fits with everything else about the war; the casualties, the events after the war, etc), but I'm not sure I see the relevance in any event. You've lost your train of thought and are now rambling about tangential points that don't support what was actually in dispute.

What was in dispute was your contradictory attitude to sources, and how you choose to believe diametrically opposed accounts depending on what suits your position at any given time. This has been pointed out explicitly numerous times. When we first discussed this you said Memnon was the best source. Then you dropped him for Appian, when you realized he actually supported Plutarch on the essentials. Once you realized he supported Plutarch too, you abandoned him, and now mock people as "Appian whores", as though Appian isn't regarded as one of the best and most reliable sources for the period. It's the same attitude for the other figures I cited in my earlier posts. You just recently supported Cinna's apparent ability to muster 30 legions almost instantly, based off a weak source, yet you were crowing at how unbelievable it was that Cinna had a mere 20 legions ready to fight Sulla at the start of the war 3+ years later. Your contradictory position shifts, which you never acknowledge, make debating with you pointless. You've already moved mostly to my position on most of these issues, you're just pretending you haven't because you're too proud to do so.
You really have no integrity left do you?

Let me rephrase: Plutarch typically transcribes legions at what he thinks is a nominal strength, i.e. 6,000. It's a very simple concept to understand, just as Appian usually describes a legion as 5,000. Clearly, their sources said "one legion" and so they just write that down as 5,000 or 6,000 men UNLESS they are given specific cohorts or something like that. This is a well known fact among people who actually study Plutarch's methods, and even Appian's, not some crackpot theory that I'm pulling out of my ass.

you just recently supported Cinna's apparent ability to muster 30 legions almost instantly, based off a weak source,
Did you even literally read what I wrote? Like did you actually do anything more than scan it? Brunt and Konrad said that these cohorts would not be full strength, because cohorts aren't recruited at full strength. It would be an estimate of the number of COHORTS in existence on Cinna's side, including local volunteer units. Brunt literally gives a fragment from Sallust of how men were recruited, with 2,000 recruits being split into two separate legions and then filled.

Like I must be taking crazy pills.

Me: "these cohorts would not be "instant" recruited, nor full strength."
Caesarmagnus: "HAHA look at this guy claiming that Cinna raised 300 full cohorts out of his ass! LMFAO ROFL"
Me: "again, these would represent a variety of smaller units, and two academics also agree. One has a book which is THE book for tracking manpower in the late republic, frequently referenced in late republican military works. The other is a guy who has a freakin book on Plutarch's Sertorius which contains the original Greek text."
Caesarmagnus: "but how did Cinna have 30 full legions?"

....

You're just running around in circles. I say that x and y scholars find V's claim reasonable in context, then your reply by strawmanning my argument "You just recently supported Cinna's apparent ability to muster 30 legions almost instantly". Seriously dude, go back and actually read what I wrote.
 
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Jan 2015
3,291
Australia
The quote provided from Sallust in no way claims that to be usual practice. Sure, you might start the process of building a legion by recruiting this class of men and that class of men, but there's little reason to think Rome was in the habit of sending weak legions off to war. It's just in this instance Catalina was in rebellion and didn't have the time or luxury of proper recruiting methods. There were doubtless times legions were understrength (or overstrength), but we can't just claim this legion or that legion was "probably understrength" based on pure guesswork, and in defiance of the actual sources. This is an aside to an aside though, because the actual source you cite for the specific case in dispute is a guy who "estimates" the 30 legions to be "120,000" men. Like I said, I don't approve of just making up estimates like this and passing them off as sourced; but it's irrelevant to the point I was making about you being utterly inconsistent. This is because (read carefully now); the guy you're agreeing with, and citing in favour of your argument, is postulating a 120,000 strong army, and even at full strength a 200 cohort army would only be 100,000. You sneered at the idea that the initial army, later enlarged, was 100,000... yet apparently you agree with the idea Cinna had 120,000 men 3 years earlier, which he'd recruited in no time flat?! Never mind that the actual source says 30 legions (or 150,000), the point is your interpretation of the sources is (as always) based purely on what argument you want to make. When you thought Appian supported you, he was the best source. When you realized he didn't, other people were "Appian whores". When it suited your argument, Mithridates men were professional and properly armed soldiers. When it didn't they were "merely rabble conscripts with spears". When it suited you, the claim of a 200 cohort army awaiting Sulla in Italy was a ludicrous exaggeration. Now that you're trying to hype up Pompey Strabo, etc, you're telling us Cinna had 120,000 men over 3 years prior to his war with Sulla. How can that be? How can Cinna have had 120,000 men (more than 200 full cohorts) back then, yet have been struggling to field 100,000+ men as his initial base army after spending over 3 years recruiting in preparation for Sulla's return? Beyond not serious.
 
Nov 2011
790
The Bluff
Ok. Firstly, a legion from republican times was 5000 men strong. Not 6000. NOT 6000. I must have corrected you on this point dozens of times across half a dozen threads, yet you still continue to make this mistake over and over.
Not always. Numbers varied depending upon demands and availability:

Livy, 29.24.14: Having said he would transport these legions to Africa, he inspected the soldiers one by one, and leaving those whom he believed to be unfit, he substituted for them men whom he had brought with him from Italy, and recruited the legions to such an extent that each had six thousand two hundred infantry4 and three hundred cavalry.
Livy, 34.1.2: The hastati of the legion, numbering 2000 men, were ordered to follow him at a distance of one mile
Livy, 43.12.4: for Macedonia, 6000 Roman infantry and 6000 raised from the Latin allies, 250 Roman and 300 allied cavalry. The old soldiers were discharged, so that for each of the Roman legions there were not more than 6000 infantry and 300 cavalry.
There are more, but that should suffice.
 
Jul 2017
2,186
Australia
There are certainly more, especially during the late republican era. A good instance of Plutarch transcribing legions at full strength is when he numbers Cicero's two legions at 12,000 - a paper strength, when in fact Pompey had the two amalgamated shortly afterward because together they formed a legion in themselves. There's plenty of examples of Plutarch doing this. Quite a few scholars now agree that the legion didn't REALLY have a set number of soldiers, but rather they were determined according to the situation.
 

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