Rome's Greatest General?

Who was Rome's Greatest General?


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    248
Jul 2018
539
Hong Kong
Whether in extent or scale of military campaigns, none of the other Roman generals is comparable with Julius Caesar, who suffered only two major defeats (52 BC Gergovia, 48 BC Dyrrhachium) in his entire military life spanning from Spain to the Western Asia, from Britain to the North Africa in geography, and from 58 BC to 45 BC almost consecutive at war for every year. And for the aforementioned two defeats, he successfully pulled off for both of them and made a comeback ended up with the decisive victory over his two formidable foes (Vercingetorix, Pompey) respectively.

Rather in rhetorics (for winning the heart of soldiers), discipline control, tactics, charisma, willpower, crisis management, he was the top-classed among the great military commanders. That's why he was the best.
 
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Aug 2015
1,952
Los Angeles
They faced a number of those, though.
Wouldn't one argue that what Fabian preserved was the most vital? In the future generations, Rome had room to maneuver after losing the home territory, but Hannibal was fighting Rome before she could have gotten to a position to do that. Like Hadrian can say yah I don't like these territories and Gallienus could withstand the lost of the West & the East (even though I argue the East remain Roman it was essentially lost to Gallienus personally) and Rome itself would be captured by barbarians, Rome could go on because there were other places to call home. Had Hannibal won, Rome would have just been a middling republic in Italy. I would say Fabian's preservation of the republic was probably one of the most dramatic yet anti-climatic moments of the Roman world.
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,640
Australia
I'd say Rome had a lot of those existential threat moments though. Hannibal was far from the only one. The Germans, Mithridates, the Social War, etc. That's just 3 in Marius lifetime. Losing any of those wars would have led to the likely existential collapse of Rome.
 

Mangekyou

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
7,963
UK
Wouldn't one argue that what Fabian preserved was the most vital? In the future generations, Rome had room to maneuver after losing the home territory, but Hannibal was fighting Rome before she could have gotten to a position to do that. Like Hadrian can say yah I don't like these territories and Gallienus could withstand the lost of the West & the East (even though I argue the East remain Roman it was essentially lost to Gallienus personally) and Rome itself would be captured by barbarians, Rome could go on because there were other places to call home. Had Hannibal won, Rome would have just been a middling republic in Italy. I would say Fabian's preservation of the republic was probably one of the most dramatic yet anti-climatic moments of the Roman world.

You could argue it was important because it took place during the mid-republic as Rome was starting to flex more, I agree there.

Rome also wasn't as willing to barter land for time, as they were at times in the empire. I also agree there.

Rome faced those sorts of threats from the Gauls of Brennus in the early-republic, and they faced those sorts of threats in the mid-late imperial times which were just as threatening. Marcus Aurelius, Gallienus, Aurelian, Probus, all had to withstand barbarian assaults that could've potentially doomed Rome. Rome also faced a threat during the social war, as the Samnites pressed hard.

In terms of Fabius, his policy was the correct way of fighting someone like Hannibal, as much as the strategy was despised, but Marcellus was also important in stretching Hannibal at times and I don't think Rome would've collapsed, even if Fabius didn't take that policy, given that Hannibal never sieged Rome, and was spreading himself thin around the peninsular.
 
Aug 2015
1,952
Los Angeles
I'd say Rome had a lot of those existential threat moments though. Hannibal was far from the only one. The Germans, Mithridates, the Social War, etc. That's just 3 in Marius lifetime. Losing any of those wars would have led to the likely existential collapse of Rome.
I don't think the Germans or Mithridates would be an existential threat, the Germans were just roaming around and wasn't really strategically capable of doing much. Mithridates was more interested in the eastern parts of Rome. I don't know if he was interested on the idea of marching on Rome itself.

But you are right, had Social War end the other way, it would have been the same effect as had Hannibal march on Rome and forced a capitulation.
 
Aug 2015
1,952
Los Angeles
You could argue it was important because it took place during the mid-republic as Rome was starting to flex more, I agree there.

Rome also wasn't as willing to barter land for time, as they were at times in the empire. I also agree there.

Rome faced those sorts of threats from the Gauls of Brennus in the early-republic, and they faced those sorts of threats in the mid-late imperial times which were just as threatening. Marcus Aurelius, Gallienus, Aurelian, Probus, all had to withstand barbarian assaults that could've potentially doomed Rome. Rome also faced a threat during the social war, as the Samnites pressed hard.

In terms of Fabius, his policy was the correct way of fighting someone like Hannibal, as much as the strategy was despised, but Marcellus was also important in stretching Hannibal at times and I don't think Rome would've collapsed, even if Fabius didn't take that policy, given that Hannibal never sieged Rome, and was spreading himself thin around the peninsular.
I always felt the reason why Hannibal didn't march on Rome was because there were still tons of armies around Rome. At least in my mind, Hannibal did not march on Rome for the strategic reason that he may not be able to defeat these armies that are still around Rome if he were in one place. Had the Romans fought Hannibal continuously after Cannae, and losing armies after armies, the strategic condition which prevents Hannibal from marching on Rome would disappear.
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,640
Australia
I don't think the Germans or Mithridates would be an existential threat, the Germans were just roaming around and wasn't really strategically capable of doing much. Mithridates was more interested in the eastern parts of Rome. I don't know if he was interested on the idea of marching on Rome itself.

But you are right, had Social War end the other way, it would have been the same effect as had Hannibal march on Rome and forced a capitulation.
Yeh, don't agree. The Germans were roaming for years, yes. But by the time Marius took command it was full steam ahead to ravage Italy. They were engaged in a co-ordinated multi-pronged attack into Italy. At that point, Rome would have been finished if Marius lost. It would basically be like the huns sacking Rome.

Mithridates didn't expand all the way from Pontus to Greece just to stop there. He was all in on a war with Rome. You don't just think you can massacre 150,000 civilians from Rome and get away with it. Even in his old age, fighting Pompey, he supposedly wanted to launch a surprise attack on Rome over the Carnic alps! Once he had Greece, it would have been Rome next. He and Tigranes had a world domination scheme, which included gobbling up every country to the East/West respectively.
 

Mangekyou

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
7,963
UK
I always felt the reason why Hannibal didn't march on Rome was because there were still tons of armies around Rome. At least in my mind, Hannibal did not march on Rome for the strategic reason that he may not be able to defeat these armies that are still around Rome if he were in one place. Had the Romans fought Hannibal continuously after Cannae, and losing armies after armies, the strategic condition which prevents Hannibal from marching on Rome would disappear.

I think with him having secured a crushing victory at Cannae, the time would've right to pressure Rome itself. At the very least it would've forced the Romans to defend a central point. At that point in the war Hannibal wouldn't have Hannibal was still on the ascendancy against Rome and Rome' strategy of denying him the opportunity to destroy their armies in battle and dragging the war into attrition hadn't took root yet.

Without more clearer evidence, we will never understand completely the reasoning of Hannibal refusing to march on the capital. Its all conjecture.