Rome's Greatest Enemy

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,212
#91
I've wondered why Rome invaded Germany (east of the Rhine) in the first place. Did they have prescient ideas about the advantages of a border on the Vistula? In post 75 I discussed an alternative history if Rome had conquered Germania Magna and were able to rely on the Germans to help fight the Huns, Alans etc on the Vistula frontier. The Empire might have survived much longer. There would have been no Germans fleeing the Huns and invading Roman territory. Attila was later defeated by a Roman-German coalition.
It was because two aggressive Germanic tribes were causing trouble in newly conquered Gaul. The garrison of the 5th Legion under Marcus Lollius was attacked and heavily defeated, leading to a punitive expedition to settle the score. However, the troops did not return but quartered in certain areas over winter and remained as occupiers. Augustus eventually sent Publius Varus to settle the areas without official annexation. Varus thought the Germans were behaving themselves and would sooner or later see the benefits of Roman law. In fact they were deeply upset about the imposition of Roman culture and taxation, which Arminius, a tribal dignitary with experience of Roman service used to inspire a rebellion leading to the military disaster in the Teutoberg.

Recent archaeology has shown the advanced stage of colonisation of the two Germanian regions described by Augustus, all of which was abandoned when the 17th, 18th, and 19th legions were annihilated in ad9. Although Rome never made any great inroads to Germania afterward, they made use of inter-tribal diplomacy and punitive expeditions to maintain security, though as time wore the empire became less manipulative and more defensive, allied to increasing tribal cooperation and familiarity with Roman warfare, and not least, awareness of Roman prosperity.
 
Apr 2017
138
Bayreuth
#93
It was because two aggressive Germanic tribes were causing trouble in newly conquered Gaul. The garrison of the 5th Legion under Marcus Lollius was attacked and heavily defeated, leading to a punitive expedition to settle the score. However, the troops did not return but quartered in certain areas over winter and remained as occupiers. Augustus eventually sent Publius Varus to settle the areas without official annexation. (...)
That is an interesting thesis and how do we explain that Gaul and the regions Varus went into are 100s of miles way from each other?
You just wrote – because Malaysia attacked Thailand the US went to Australia to explain Malaysians in Australia to stop that.
I can not follow that logic. Specifically if you are aware about the colonization on Germanic turf, that is geographically between this.

I've wondered why Rome invaded Germany (east of the Rhine) in the first place. Did they have prescient ideas about the advantages of a border on the Vistula? In post 75 I discussed an alternative history if Rome had conquered Germania Magna and were able to rely on the Germans to help fight the Huns, Alans etc on the Vistula frontier. The Empire might have survived much longer. There would have been no Germans fleeing the Huns and invading Roman territory. Attila was later defeated by a Roman-German coalition.
Because of the threat by the Suebi. That is a little bit misleading if you do not know the names.
You are familiar with Goth, Huns, Langobards, Vandals, Alemanni and what they did to Rome later?

That are all Suebi. That is what Rome saw as a threat to South-East and West Europe.

It is a similar situation they were familiar with from Gaul.
You have allies in the south – a grey-zone in the middle and in the north is ruling a Suebi/ in Gaul his name was Ariovist.

Now what the Romans did was divide and conquer. Instead of making a deal with Ariovist, you make a deal with the second biggest leader and support him to become No.1.
The next Roman strategy is to go where the food is at. So you secure the food resources first.
Carthage was the same thing.
The regions Rome took in Africa from Carthage were the second biggest food supplies after Egypt.
So secure the food and then strike.

In Europe we do have the Suebi (Mid-East-Europe) and the second biggest player are the Saxons (you know as Cherusci, Bructeri, Chauci etc. in North-Middle-Europe).
The Saxons sit on food. The meat industry in Europe is still coming from there. So if next time you hear Saxons you think Midwest USA.
With allied Saxons you support the second biggest player in Germania to become No.1.
While he provides the food you can bring in the man-power.
The Romans calculated they would require 30% of their forces to beat and hold (that is the important part) the Suebi lands. But not just 30% - PLUS Saxons with more German allies.

That is why Teuteburg was the most important event for Europe in the antiquity.
Because as the Saxons turned against Rome – you have a geo-political outcome when another party dictated Rome where its borders were.

From that moment on: You can not run a supply line from France to Poland and you do not have the man-power, as now you require more than 30%, while you have no intel why they did that.
Did the Saxons now allied up with the Suebi? Are they coming now westward?
That is why Rome fell into panic mode first.

That was like as if NATO forces would suddenly turn around and shoot at US-Americans, because they want to be Old World people.
Then you would go, too: WTH are we at war now with Asia, Africa and Europe?

It took some time till they understood that is a civil war going on. So they sent in Germanicus.
But Germanicus campaign was a disaster again. He lost 50% of his troops before even reaching Arminius and had to refill them with German guys.
Then they had that stand off – the Romans said: We beat Arminius – but that beaten Arminius then took down the Suebi leadership.
So the guy (his name was Marbod) who would have been your biggest enemy, suddenly ends up as your ally without land, troops and support in Rome.

And the situation you have at hand now – may not overshadow the situation that was before:

The threat is still real. The Langobards, Vandals, Alemanni etc. are not gone. They still exist, but how do you want to get to them now without the food and support?

That guys here who think Cathago, Parthia etc. that are the real threats, because that hicks from the woods are just a bunch of Neanderthals and the Romans crushed them over and over – are in best company with Roman conservatives of 100 AD.
That ignorance lead to the fall of Rome. Tacitus dedicated a whole paragraph on that, that goes:
"What you do there – is ignoring the threat and pretend that it does not exist. That threat is still real."
And to that wanna be campaigns he said: "How many times do you have to defeat the Germans till they are defeated?"

We deal with the same problems today. We do have politicians that do not dare to act, because it could result into a loss of popularity – what results into that they do not act at all, while being totally aware of a problem While on the other hand you do have conservatives – that pretend that everything is all right, based on semantics and wishful-thinking.
Only because you believe you are the greatest does not mean you are. You have to convince the boys from the Baltic Sea that you are the greatest – because if they do not believe it – they will come and they came.

200-300 AD that guys stood in Rome and nobody could prevent them from doing so.

That is why the Romans had to deescalate along the Roman border on the Rhine and hope for that these guys do not move west. That is why they withdrew, built the limes and the Germanic populations ran on exceptions all the time.

While it is not just decadence, there are pragmatic problems:
You can not take guys from Southern Europe, Africa and Asia and drop them into Germania. How do you want to sell this to them?
And even if you can convince them – who is going to hold that land for you and provides you with food?
How do you want to advertise to people in Spain that Lower Saxony is the best place to be at?
You need Lower Saxony on your side to do any further campaign into the east.
You could try to change the system. That is what the Franks did. They went – we do not culture colonize. But now sell that to a Roman.
Specifically a conservative. Explain to a US-American conservative that your economy does not work on a global scale and you need to change it. Good luck.
That is the same thing. Such a fundamental change it would have been.

So the situation is absolutely unsolvable for them and they basically run on the mercy of that Germanic guys do stay where they are. What they did not and exactly that happened what they tried to prevent in the first place.
From Caesar on they were not incompetent and saw crystal clear the problems that existed, but as long winter is not coming... you can pretend that there is no problem and that is what they did. From Augustus to 300 AD. So long you can hold out.

And that is something we modern people could learn from that situation and the Romans here: Take climate. Take the Brexit. Take our Muslim crisis. Globalization.

We all know the problems, but 90% of the time we pretend they do not exist or have good excuses why we can not change. And if we go on with that – it is just a question of time till that problems reach us on that level that there is no way anymore to pretend they do not exist and then the outcome is extremely unpredictable.
Every Roman general who paraded around between 9 AD and 300 AD by having beaten the Germans, with all the supporters of him who stood on the parade and clapped their hands – that guy you should take out of his grave and show him a map today.
That guy is more responsible for the fall of Rome than Attila.

Every Roman guy who stood up and said: We can not change.
That are the guys who are responsible for the fall of Rome, they pretended to love so much, while actually they loved their status quo they wanted to protect and gave a flip for Rome.

That whole action to go east of the Rhine – is an action to prevent a problem, before it gets to you.

The comparisons done sometimes to Julius Caesar's campaigns in Gaul are not the same thing. Rome had no necessity to go to Belgium and annoy the hell out of Belgians.
Same for Britain To go onto Britain is an outcome to not get into Germania.
Here – was a necessity, because there were power-players sitting in Europe, who were able to become a problem and they became a problem.

You want to loose against Egyptians, Greece, Carthaginians – but you do not want to loose against the guys north of you – because they run not on the same ideology you do.
What we do have now at hand: Roman law/German law; Roman warfare/German warfare; everything in Europe is German or Roman or a mix.
To prevent this, they went east of the Rhine.

(...)
Sure, Teutoberg was a large setback and a shock to Rome for sure, but in the long term it did not have a massive impact. It may have curbed ambitions to do to Germania what was done to Gaul, but it didn't stop the Romans from crushing the Germans multiple times later. It did not cause a huge manpower shortage that affected the entire empire greatly, nor did it threaten any large or significant population center, much less Rome itself. No large-scale civil strife or economic collapse followed.
And that is the unimportant impact of Teuteburg: The fall of the Roman Empire, by the guys they saw as their biggest threat and were absolutely right about it.
 
Likes: Spartakus X
#94
Surely the Huns have to be number 1?

Carthage close 2nd possibly even no1, also to answer this question with any substance we should be nailing down some sort of time period at least within a 300 year span.

The Romans of 150 BC were a very different animal to Romans of 350 AD.
 

Theodoric

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,679
#95
Rome’s greatest enemy was probably Constantinople. In the last stages of the Empire , Constantinople was instrumental in manipulating the downfall of the economy - and even invaded the West under Justinian. Afterward, in the Middle Ages, Constantinople was constantly at odds with Rome - especially when Charlemagne crowned himself Emperor, as well as the Great Schism and the fourth crusade.
 
Sep 2017
695
United States
#96
Surely the Huns have to be number 1?

Carthage close 2nd possibly even no1, also to answer this question with any substance we should be nailing down some sort of time period at least within a 300 year span.

The Romans of 150 BC were a very different animal to Romans of 350 AD.
I don't think the Huns are number 1. It was the emigrating Germans the Huns caused to migrate that were pretty destructive, but the Huns themselves didn't do a huge amount of damage. The WRE even defeated Attila. The ERE lost to the Huns, but inflicted some pretty heavy casualties on them as well.

Carthage made enough of a historic and psychological impact on the Romans to still be considered their greatest rival today. Carthage was the Phoenician equivalent to Rome in a sense; two growing oligarchies with powerful generals fighting to grow their empire's dominance in the Mediterranean.

The Huns did a lot of harm indirectly and some harm directly, but weren't the mortal enemy. The Huns are more remembered for Mulan than for their invasion of the Roman Empire.
 
Sep 2017
695
United States
#97
And that is the unimportant impact of Teuteburg: The fall of the Roman Empire, by the guys they saw as their biggest threat and were absolutely right about it.
The Germans would eventually become the biggest enemy to Rome, but post-Teutoberg, they weren't that terrible of a threat. Perhaps Teutoberg curbed colonial ambitions, but if it was Rome's top goal to conquer Germania, they would've tried again.

The Romans womped on the Germans for another 200 years, inflicting some pretty heavy defeats on them. It wasn't until the Germans got stronger- and the Romans weaker- that they were finally able to cause serious damage to the Empire.
 
Apr 2017
138
Bayreuth
#98
The Germans would eventually become the biggest enemy to Rome, but post-Teutoberg, they weren't that terrible of a threat. Perhaps Teutoberg curbed colonial ambitions, but if it was Rome's top goal to conquer Germania, they would've tried again.
Hi Spike, I start to see a pattern here.
I explained this above. Then tell me how you do this as a Roman.

So you put extreme resources to start a military campaign into Germania – there are whole cities based on that till today in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France.
So much resources they put into that to "womp" onto the Suebi.

You calculate 30% of your forces you will require plus your allied Franks/and Saxons, that will supply you.
Now the Saxons bailed out and the Franks are not united and kill another 25% of your forces, while the other Franks help you to take revenge on the Saxons.

In all of that no Suebi is involved. They are still there as a force.

So you put a lot of resources in for nothing. Thousands of your people are dead. You lost multiple legions against your allies and even had to give up land, because you could not hold it.

Now:
You still require 30% of your people to jump on the Suebi, while now you have no allies, means every resource, every supply you require must come from your own pocket. Your allies just switched sides.

What you suggest is to repeat the same mistake while being in worse conditions.

"The Romans should have been more incompetent, then the Germans would be no threat for them past Teuteburg."
That is your argument.

The Romans womped on the Germans for another 200 years, inflicting some pretty heavy defeats on them. It wasn't until the Germans got stronger- and the Romans weaker- that they were finally able to cause serious damage to the Empire.
Yeah. Do you know why?
Because that Germanic sub-cultures jumped on them and they were already a problem. The moment the power-houses came – it was game over.
As I said before: You are in best company here with all the guys who are responsible for the fall of Rome.
"We defeated the sub-cultures – so we can win – we have no problem." That is what you argue.

Till suddenly the big players are coming.
That is why I would highly recommend to listen to what that Tacitus said. As this was a very clever guy.

Because you do not control, if you have to put forces on the border. The guys on the other side of the border are in control, if you have to do this.
Above - you argue that you would repeat one mistake (in theory) – and that threat you look away from till the disaster knocks on your door and your explenation is now: That there is a gym in Poland you go to to level up.

There is no gym in Poland. The guys from Poland only just showed up.
And you already have problems with their sub-cultures. The Markomanni are a sub-culture of the Alemanni.
That is why they can come back at you over and over and over again. You need to defeat the Alemanni. And that Alemanni are one sub-culture of the Suebi. Means they can unite with others based on that similarity.

That is the threat. Not some Cherusci or Marsii. That is New Jersey. I can defeat 2000 times New Jersey - they are still part of the "yankee-culture" (here Saxons) that is part of the "US-American culture" (here Germans).
And if I do already have problems with the guys from New Jersey - what do you think is gonna happen - if suddenly California+Texas+Washington shows up, with guys from Florida joining forces for a time being and call themselves: The Pacific Boys (+Florida).
And all my former friends from Penn-State to Kansas show me the middle-finger and nailed before my Europeans onto trees.
How should I sell this to my guys in France or Italy or England that tree-nailing people of Kansas can be part of my European Empire here and are ready for civilization. That guys in Europe do have a culture.^^ If I tell them that you in the US began to nail people onto trees - they will go: We always told you so! They are beyond help!^^

That is exact the same thing here no matter from which perception you approach that problem in "Project Germania". :)
 
Sep 2017
695
United States
#99
Hi Spike, I start to see a pattern here.
I explained this above. Then tell me how you do this as a Roman.

So you put extreme resources to start a military campaign into Germania – there are whole cities based on that till today in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France.
So much resources they put into that to "womp" onto the Suebi.

You calculate 30% of your forces you will require plus your allied Franks/and Saxons, that will supply you.
Now the Saxons bailed out and the Franks are not united and kill another 25% of your forces, while the other Franks help you to take revenge on the Saxons.

In all of that no Suebi is involved. They are still there as a force.

So you put a lot of resources in for nothing. Thousands of your people are dead. You lost multiple legions against your allies and even had to give up land, because you could not hold it.

Now:
You still require 30% of your people to jump on the Suebi, while now you have no allies, means every resource, every supply you require must come from your own pocket. Your allies just switched sides.

What you suggest is to repeat the same mistake while being in worse conditions.

"The Romans should have been more incompetent, then the Germans would be no threat for them past Teuteburg."
That is your argument.



Yeah. Do you know why?
Because that Germanic sub-cultures jumped on them and they were already a problem. The moment the power-houses came – it was game over.
As I said before: You are in best company here with all the guys who are responsible for the fall of Rome.
"We defeated the sub-cultures – so we can win – we have no problem." That is what you argue.

Till suddenly the big players are coming.
That is why I would highly recommend to listen to what that Tacitus said. As this was a very clever guy.

Because you do not control, if you have to put forces on the border. The guys on the other side of the border are in control, if you have to do this.
Above - you argue that you would repeat one mistake (in theory) – and that threat you look away from till the disaster knocks on your door and your explenation is now: That there is a gym in Poland you go to to level up.

There is no gym in Poland. The guys from Poland only just showed up.
And you already have problems with their sub-cultures. The Markomanni are a sub-culture of the Alemanni.
That is why they can come back at you over and over and over again. You need to defeat the Alemanni. And that Alemanni are one sub-culture of the Suebi. Means they can unite with others based on that similarity.

That is the threat. Not some Cherusci or Marsii. That is New Jersey. I can defeat 2000 times New Jersey - they are still part of the "yankee-culture" (here Saxons) that is part of the "US-American culture" (here Germans).
And if I do already have problems with the guys from New Jersey - what do you think is gonna happen - if suddenly California+Texas+Washington shows up, with guys from Florida joining forces for a time being and call themselves: The Pacific Boys (+Florida).
And all my former friends from Penn-State to Kansas show me the middle-finger and nailed before my Europeans onto trees.
How should I sell this to my guys in France or Italy or England that tree-nailing people of Kansas can be part of my European Empire here and are ready for civilization. That guys in Europe do have a culture.^^ If I tell them that you in the US began to nail people onto trees - they will go: We always told you so! They are beyond help!^^

That is exact the same thing here no matter from which perception you approach that problem in "Project Germania". :)
All I’m saying is that Roman ambitions were defeated in Germania, but they weren’t high enough priority to pursue.

The Germans dealt the death blow to the WRE and some nasty blows to the ERE. But, the biggest reason they were able to do this was because of internal rot; as I and many others have said, the biggest foe the Romans faced were themselves.
 

Theodoric

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,679
Actually, there were a variety of specific reasons various Germanic peoples were able to defeat the Romans. Part of it is that at certain points in history, they were literally Roman soldiers. Many times it is the result of a civil war. Other times Germanic troops were defending the Empire from other Germanic invaders or Steppe people(including the Huns).

But there were more examples of Germanic soldiers were actually defending the Roman Empire. But yeah, if you are specifically talking about Rome all the way to the 15th century, then Constantinople was it’s longest term and most destructive rival. In the 13th century, the Roman Catholics defeated the Byzantine Greek East.

It might be fair to say the Greeks were Rome’s largest rivals, if we include 8th century BC to 15th century AD.
 

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