Rome's Greatest Enemy

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,312
Las Vegas, NV USA
#71
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.
Well, it's just my opinion but I'd rather deal with difficulties if I ultimately win rather than lose.
 
Nov 2014
1,610
Birmingham, UK
#72
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.
thanks- any good books on this? they took Athens? crikey.
 
Nov 2014
1,610
Birmingham, UK
#73
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.
how so? i don't see the overstretched 5thC Roman army, given its commitments elsewhere, being able to defend a Vistula frontier any better than they defended the Rhine frontier.
 
#74
thanks- any good books on this? they took Athens? crikey.
Aurelian and the Third Century by Alaric Watson is a great read (although it's out-dated on monetary policy). It discusses the troubles of the third century in a very lucid way.

The contemporary historian Dexippus was actually an Athenian general who helped defend the Attic countryside against the Goths using hit-and-run tactics.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,312
Las Vegas, NV USA
#75
how so? i don't see the overstretched 5thC Roman army, given its commitments elsewhere, being able to defend a Vistula frontier any better than they defended the Rhine frontier.
It is speculative but the Romans were willing to make the effort. Rather than being invaded by German tribes fleeing the Huns, Rome would have the German tribes within their borders. In fact the Franks actually had later settled inside the Empire in the west. The extra manpower might have been enough to stop the Huns, Alans and other potential invaders on the Vistula frontier.
 
Nov 2014
1,610
Birmingham, UK
#76
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..
by the way, the level of operational mobility and 'logistics' required for this always impresses me. I wish there were sources available as to the organisation/etc of these large-scale raiders. it seems comparable to that of the Scandinavian raiders in Europe in the 9thC>
 
#77
by the way, the level of operational mobility and 'logistics' required for this always impresses me. I wish there were sources available as to the organisation/etc of these large-scale raiders. it seems comparable to that of the Scandinavian raiders in Europe in the 9thC>
Oh definitely. It must have been more advanced than is popularly assumed. I certainly wish we knew more about it.
 
Nov 2014
1,610
Birmingham, UK
#78
Oh definitely. It must have been more advanced than is popularly assumed. I certainly wish we knew more about it.
apart from anything else, even being able to make a cursory siege of somewhere like Athens or Trapezus is a pretty serious undertaking, mandating a level of centralised control (a single Reik/warband leader- although is such an undertaking too big for a mere 'warband'?), organisation and/or cooperation, at least some logistical organisation. it almost seems strange that the seaborn goths seem to almost disappear (from the historical record), next appearing when fleeing from the huns?
 
#79
apart from anything else, even being able to make a cursory siege of somewhere like Athens or Trapezus is a pretty serious undertaking, mandating a level of centralised control (a single Reik/warband leader- although is such an undertaking too big for a mere 'warband'?), organisation and/or cooperation, at least some logistical organisation. it almost seems strange that the seaborn goths seem to almost disappear (from the historical record), next appearing when fleeing from the huns?
Yeah their last recorded third-century appearance is in 276, when they're raiding Asia Minor yet again and are defeated by Tacitus. Tacitus is then assassinated, and rather than finished off the invaders, his successor Florian marches to Cilicia to confront Probus, who had usurped against him. I guess fleeing the Huns is indeed their next appearance. I'd never considered that before, but their lack of recorded appearance between those two events does seem pretty strange.

Incidentally, this is the best description of one of the third-century sieges, described by the contemporary Dexippus (Skythica, BNJ 100 fragm. 27). The Goths, whom Dexippus calls Scythians, captured Philippopolis in 250, but they approached it again in the late 260s, and this is describing the failed siege that followed:

'The Scythians attacked it and laid siege to it because it was so old and important. They conducted the war as follows: holding their shields above their heads to give themselves some cover from missile attack, they encircled the city, looking to see where the walls were thin enough to be breeched or low enough to be scaled by ladders. The first attack consisted of skirmishing and arrow shot, but the defenders had the advantage of elevation and prevailed wherever the enemy attacked. Next, building themselves ladders and siege engines, they renewed the attack on the city. The siege engines were square and built of wood, somewhat like cages. Stretching skins over them to protect themselves against arrows, they attacked the gates, hurling their spears before them, using wheels and handspikes to move the engines into position. Some of the attackers brought up wooden rams, iron clad to prevent them shattering on impact, and tried to smash through the wall. Others put ladders against the wall. Some of these ladders were stuck up hard against the wall, while others were extended from the lower ones by runners. In an attack they would run them up using ropes fastened to the tops of the ladders and lay them against the walls once they were level with the top. Some of the attackers brought wooden towers up to the wall on wheels, and upon reaching the walls they laid down bridges so that they could cross from the towers to the tops of the walls on an even level. Their supply of siege machines was abundant. Even so, the Thracians successfully defended against every one of them: some of the engines they smashed to pieces, along with the men in them, with rocks as big as wagons, others they burned to the ground with torches, brimstone and burning pitch. They rolled beams at an angle and rocks down the ladders, so that both the shields of the attackers and the ladders were shattered upon impact by the shock. Once the enemy realized that their siege engines had done them no good they became despondant. Deliberating on how they should now conduct the war they decided to pile up a high mound of earth against the city so that they could fight their enemy at an equal level. This is what they did. They collected timber from all the nearby buildings and, protected by their shields in front of them they inserted it into the ditch upright and parallel wherever possible. Once they had done this they threw dirt and all kinds of wooden stuff into the space between the two sides of the ditch. In this way they were able to increase the size of the mound quickly. Seeing what was being done, and that the mound was becoming a counter-fortification against them, the Thrakians fashioned wooden beams to which they attached planks and constructed extensions that projected high above the fortifications. In addition to this they devised the following plan. During the night, at a secluded spot, they lowered by rope from the wall a man who was both brave and noble, giving him a burning torch and a jar full of pitch, brimstone and other combustables to set fire to the mound. And indeed he set fire to the beams supporting the mound and when the whole mass went up in flames the mound collapsed. Since the Scythians were doing so badly, they decided to kill any pack animals that were useless and those of the prisoners who were either sick or old. They threw the bodies into the ditch and piled wood on top. Three days later the bodies had swollen so much that they caused the mound to rise considerably. The Thracians cut a hole in the wall the size of a small postern gate and through this they spent the night sapping the mound. So, now that they were completely out of ideas, the Scythians decided to leave, and thus their siege ended.'
 
Nov 2014
1,610
Birmingham, UK
#80
Yeah their last recorded third-century appearance is in 276, when they're raiding Asia Minor yet again and are defeated by Tacitus. Tacitus is then assassinated, and rather than finished off the invaders, his successor Florian marches to Cilicia to confront Probus, who had usurped against him. I guess fleeing the Huns is indeed their next appearance. I'd never considered that before, but their lack of recorded appearance between those two events does seem pretty strange.

Incidentally, this is the best description of one of the third-century sieges, described by the contemporary Dexippus (Skythica, BNJ 100 fragm. 27). The Goths, whom Dexippus calls Scythians, captured Philippopolis in 250, but they approached it again in the late 260s, and this is describing the failed siege that followed:

'The Scythians attacked it and laid siege to it because it was so old and important. They conducted the war as follows: holding their shields above their heads to give themselves some cover from missile attack, they encircled the city, looking to see where the walls were thin enough to be breeched or low enough to be scaled by ladders. The first attack consisted of skirmishing and arrow shot, but the defenders had the advantage of elevation and prevailed wherever the enemy attacked. Next, building themselves ladders and siege engines, they renewed the attack on the city. The siege engines were square and built of wood, somewhat like cages. Stretching skins over them to protect themselves against arrows, they attacked the gates, hurling their spears before them, using wheels and handspikes to move the engines into position. Some of the attackers brought up wooden rams, iron clad to prevent them shattering on impact, and tried to smash through the wall. Others put ladders against the wall. Some of these ladders were stuck up hard against the wall, while others were extended from the lower ones by runners. In an attack they would run them up using ropes fastened to the tops of the ladders and lay them against the walls once they were level with the top. Some of the attackers brought wooden towers up to the wall on wheels, and upon reaching the walls they laid down bridges so that they could cross from the towers to the tops of the walls on an even level. Their supply of siege machines was abundant. Even so, the Thracians successfully defended against every one of them: some of the engines they smashed to pieces, along with the men in them, with rocks as big as wagons, others they burned to the ground with torches, brimstone and burning pitch. They rolled beams at an angle and rocks down the ladders, so that both the shields of the attackers and the ladders were shattered upon impact by the shock. Once the enemy realized that their siege engines had done them no good they became despondant. Deliberating on how they should now conduct the war they decided to pile up a high mound of earth against the city so that they could fight their enemy at an equal level. This is what they did. They collected timber from all the nearby buildings and, protected by their shields in front of them they inserted it into the ditch upright and parallel wherever possible. Once they had done this they threw dirt and all kinds of wooden stuff into the space between the two sides of the ditch. In this way they were able to increase the size of the mound quickly. Seeing what was being done, and that the mound was becoming a counter-fortification against them, the Thrakians fashioned wooden beams to which they attached planks and constructed extensions that projected high above the fortifications. In addition to this they devised the following plan. During the night, at a secluded spot, they lowered by rope from the wall a man who was both brave and noble, giving him a burning torch and a jar full of pitch, brimstone and other combustables to set fire to the mound. And indeed he set fire to the beams supporting the mound and when the whole mass went up in flames the mound collapsed. Since the Scythians were doing so badly, they decided to kill any pack animals that were useless and those of the prisoners who were either sick or old. They threw the bodies into the ditch and piled wood on top. Three days later the bodies had swollen so much that they caused the mound to rise considerably. The Thracians cut a hole in the wall the size of a small postern gate and through this they spent the night sapping the mound. So, now that they were completely out of ideas, the Scythians decided to leave, and thus their siege ended.'
siege engines? this just gets better. why can't these useless ******* have learned to write??!!

I guess fleeing the Huns is indeed their next appearance. I'd never considered that before, but their lack of recorded appearance between those two events does seem pretty strange

I'm really no expert, so they could well appear and I'm just unaware of it. but these maritime raiders spreading terror across the black sea and Aegean somehow became (a century later) landlocked refugees fleeing from the huns, from the little i know. given what they were doing in the 3rdC I'm slightly surprised their escape from the huns wasn't made by sea, with an attempt to relocate (maybe in Anatolia, even?)
 

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