Rome's Greatest Enemy

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,178
Las Vegas, NV USA
#61
I'd put Hannibal and Brennus above Arminius
Brennus and Hannibal didn't stop the rise of Rome. Arminius stopped Roman expansion into Germany for good. Alaric, Gaiseric, and Odoacre took Rome down and ruled in their place. Attilla was eventually defeated by a coalition but his earlier advances forced German tribes to invade Roman territory.
 
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#62
To what extent do you think the Drinkwater thesis is true?
I haven't read all of his book on the Alemanni, but from what I've read I'm not yet entirely convinced of it. I mean, on some level it's probably true. Roman emperors needed to be militarily successful to avoid getting overthrown/assassinated, and starting wars with Germans is one way to achieve this, as is framing a small incursion as a great victory worthy of the titles Germanicus Maximus, Sarmaticus Maximus, etc. But I think there is some truth to how serious some of these incurions were. The Iuthungi, for instance, were strong enough to inflict a defeat on Aurelian, and the fact that this allowed them to march closer to Rome seems to have caused genuine panic, reflected in the riots of 271. Certainly, that doesn't mean that the Iuthungi could have taken Rome, but their defeat of Aurelian and their march to the Metaurus does seem to suggest that they were a real problem. Likewise, the fact that the Franks raided as far as Spain in the late 250s, the fact that the Goths twice defeated Decius (the second time decisively), the fact that the Goths seized numerous cities, the fact that the Athenians had to rebuild their walls and abandon their city, the fact that there were numerous instances of local initiative against barbarian invaders (Athens, Philippopolis, etc), the fact that walls were being rebuilt, all this points to something that went beyond a manufactured threat.

Edit: There's also the archaeological evidence for economic and societal collapse in Armorica in the late third century, which, one imagines, could be explained in part by Frankish incursions.
 
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Likes: starman
Nov 2014
1,594
Birmingham, UK
#63
I haven't read all of his book on the Alemanni, but from what I've read I'm not yet entirely convinced of it. I mean, on some level it's probably true. Roman emperors needed to be militarily successful to avoid getting overthrown/assassinated, and starting wars with Germans is one way to achieve this, as is framing a small incursion as a great victory worthy of the titles Germanicus Maximus, Sarmaticus Maximus, etc. But I think there is some truth to how serious some of these incurions were. The Iuthungi, for instance, were strong enough to inflict a defeat on Aurelian, and the fact that this allowed them to march closer to Rome seems to have caused genuine panic, reflected in the riots of 271. Certainly, that doesn't mean that the Iuthungi could have taken Rome, but their defeat of Aurelian and their march to the Metaurus does seem to suggest that they were a real problem. Likewise, the fact that the Franks raided as far as Spain in the late 250s, the fact that the Goths twice defeated Decius (the second time decisively), the fact that the Goths seized numerous cities, the fact that the Athenians had to rebuild their walls and abandon their city, the fact that there were numerous instances of local initiative against barbarian invaders (Athens, Philippopolis, etc), the fact that walls were being rebuilt, all this points to something that went beyond a manufactured threat.

Edit: There's also the archaeological evidence for economic and societal collapse in Armorica in the late third century, which, one imagines, could be explained in part by Frankish incursions.
The goths raiding Greece, they're maritime raiders coming from the Black Sea? Which cities did they seize, that's interesting, I was aware of piratical activity and raiding but not to that extent.
 
Aug 2015
1,848
Los Angeles
#64
Brennus and Hannibal didn't stop the rise of Rome. Arminius stopped Roman expansion into Germany for good. Alaric, Gaiseric, and Odoacre took Rome down and ruled in their place. Attilla was eventually defeated by a coalition but his earlier advances forced German tribes to invade Roman territory.
That's why Germanicus wasn't called Germanicus, and that's why Colonia Agrippina and Augusta Treverorum were not out side of Germany for good right?
 
#65
The goths raiding Greece, they're maritime raiders coming from the Black Sea? Which cities did they seize, that's interesting, I was aware of piratical activity and raiding but not to that extent.
Yeah there were Goths from across the Danube who raided the Balkans and Goths/Heruli from the Black Sea shore who raided Greece, the Aegean, Asia, Bithynia, Pontus, Cappadocia and Cilicia. They managed to take a few towns and cities: Athens, Philippopolis, Pityus, Trapezus, Chalcedon, Nicomedia, Nicaea, Cius, Apamea, Prusa. They besieged Thessalonica, albeit unsuccessfully, and Gothic raiders burned the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders. It's notable that the Corinthians rebuilt the Isthmian Wall. The fact that Aurelian decided to abandon Dacia also speaks to a need to rationalize imperial defence against the eastern Germanic peoples.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,178
Las Vegas, NV USA
#66
That's why Germanicus wasn't called Germanicus, and that's why Colonia Agrippina and Augusta Treverorum were not out side of Germany for good right?
Germanicus's ultimate objective was the Vistula. After the Roman defeat the boundary was established on the Rhine in the North and the Limes in the South. It's true areas of modern Germany west of the Rhine remained under Roman rule.. The boundaries of modern Germany were not the same as the Roman conception of Germania from the Rhine to the Vistula.
 
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#67
Regardless of how much significance one wants to attach to Teutoberger Wald (I don't attach a great deal of significance to it, as post 55 shows), I rate Hannibal to be more impressive than Arminius. We're talking Arminius' one victory vs the many victories (incl. Cannae) of Hannibal, a man still lauded as one of history's greatest military minds.
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,178
Las Vegas, NV USA
#68
Regardless of how much significance one wants to attach to Teutoberger Wald (I don't attach a great deal of significance to it, as post 55 shows), I rate Hannibal to be more impressive than Arminius. We're talking Arminius' one victory vs the many victories (incl. Cannae) of Hannibal, a man still lauded as one of history's greatest military minds.
Maybe so but Carthage lost the war and was eventually wiped out. The OP doesn't ask for best military minds but for Rome's worst enemies. To my way of thinking your worst enemies are the ones that ultimately take you down. Teutoberger Wald sent the Romans back to the Rhine where they stayed until the final decline and fall of the Western Empire. If the Romans could have established a frontier on the Vistula, history might have been very different.
 
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starman

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
4,028
Connecticut
#69
Maybe so but Carthage lost the war and was eventually wiped out. The OP doesn't ask for best military minds but for Rome's worst enemies. To my way of thinking your worst enemies are the ones that ultimately take you down. Teutoberger Wald sent the Romans back to Rhine where it stayed until the the final decline and fall of the Western Empire.
Worst enemies are the ones that cause you the most trouble, whether ultimately successful or not. Hannibal caused Rome more trouble than anybody prior to the late Empire. He killed way more Romans and caused far more damage than Hermann the German in 9.
Other worst enemies were Cniva, Attila and Geiseric.
 
#70
Maybe so but Carthage lost the war and was eventually wiped out. The OP doesn't ask for best military minds but for Rome's worst enemies. To my way of thinking your worst enemies are the ones that ultimately take you down. Teutoberger Wald sent the Romans back to the Rhine where they stayed until the final decline and fall of the Western Empire. If the Romans could have established a frontier on the Vistula, history might have been very different.
It certainly does depend on your definition of 'worst enemy', but Hannibal wins on kill-count, on the length of his war against the Romans, on the expenditure/sacrifices that Rome was forced to make to continue fighting him, and on Hannibal's place in Rome's cultural memory.

As for Teutoberger Wald, while it ended possible Augustan plans to settle deeper into German lands (and thus creates an interesting hypothetical), I would argue that Rome's later lack of interest in expanding deeper into Germany cannot be explained by any one defeat.
 

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