The day before the nones

Oct 2015
894
Virginia
The 6th of October (the day before the nones) 105BC saw one of the worst disasters to Roman arms in history, the battle of Arausio. Two Roman armies were cut to pieces by the Cimbri, Teutones and their Gallic auxiliaries on the Rhone River north of modern Orange.
 
Mar 2019
1,801
Kansas
The 6th of October (the day before the nones) 105BC saw one of the worst disasters to Roman arms in history, the battle of Arausio. Two Roman armies were cut to pieces by the Cimbri, Teutones and their Gallic auxiliaries on the Rhone River north of modern Orange.
Brave men lead by idiots. War............war never changes :(
 
Oct 2015
894
Virginia
Quintus Servilius Caepio paid the price (eventually) for his arrogance and insubordination (he had refused to serve under, take orders from, or join his army to that of his superior officer, the consul of 105 Cn Mallius Maximus). Already unpopular because of his jury law (replacing some equites with senators) and under suspicion of having made off with the notorious "Gold of Tolosa"; Servilius was stripped of his imperium and expelled from the senate by vote of the people, prosecuted by a special court looking into the disappearance of the "Gold", and by 103BC was convicted of perduellio (treason) for his role in the disaster. He was driven into exile and his property confiscated, to the ruin of his ancient patrician house.
Servilius' son made to the praetorship in 91 but was killed in 90. His granddaughter Servilia was the mother of Brutus (the assassin) who was adopted into the Servilii in an attempt to restore the family fortunes.

Mallius was also prosecuted for perduellio and forced into exile.
 
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Oct 2018
1,509
Sydney
In terms of manpower lost this was the worst battlefield disaster in Roman history. Only Cannae and (if the Res Gestae Divi Saporis is believed) Barbalissos and Edessa come vaguely close.
 
Oct 2018
1,509
Sydney
Really, for the Romans, the Cimbrian War as a whole was one hell of a crapfest. The defeat at Noreia (112 BC) was comparable to Trebia, Lake Trasimene , Carrhae, Teutoberg Forest and Adrianople in terms of manpower losses, but it was overshadowed by the defeat at Arausio (105 BC). But there was also Silanus' defeat in Narbonese Gaul (109 BC), the defeat by the Tigurini (107 BC), and the defeat at Burdigala (107 BC), which saw the deaths of a consul and ex-consul, and led to the surviving Romans leaving the field 'under the yoke'.
 
Oct 2015
894
Virginia
True enough. The Roman army was having problems fighting Jugurtha at the same time. Was it simply a matter of incompetent commanders? or was there a deeper problem in recruiting and the morale of the troops, and/or political problems within the elite? (viz the Gracchi and Marius).

As an aside, though the disaster was real, there were not 10-12 legions in the battle nor 80,000 "Romans" killed. Each consular army would have consisted of 2 legions (~11,000 citizens), 2 "wings" of allies (~15-22,000 men from Latin colonies and Italian peoples) plus Celtic, Ligurian and Spanish auxiliaries; so each army probably had ~ 35-40,000 men. So the combined armies probably approached the 70-80,000 mentioned in the (fragmentary) sources. And as both armies were overwhelmed fighting with their backs to the river, casualties would have been heavy.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,738
USA
True enough. The Roman army was having problems fighting Jugurtha at the same time. Was it simply a matter of incompetent commanders? or was there a deeper problem in recruiting and the morale of the troops, and/or political problems within the elite? (viz the Gracchi and Marius).

As an aside, though the disaster was real, there were not 10-12 legions in the battle nor 80,000 "Romans" killed. Each consular army would have consisted of 2 legions (~11,000 citizens), 2 "wings" of allies (~15-22,000 men from Latin colonies and Italian peoples) plus Celtic, Ligurian and Spanish auxiliaries; so each army probably had ~ 35-40,000 men. So the combined armies probably approached the 70-80,000 mentioned in the (fragmentary) sources. And as both armies were overwhelmed fighting with their backs to the river, casualties would have been heavy.
Good post, I just wanted to add some more info:

Not all consular armies were equal in size between the Roman and Socii infantry, as Polybius describes that it was normal to double the amount of Socii in them, so two Roman legions to four Socii Ala. A lot of sources stick with the 1:1 ratio but its just as likely it was 1:2 in many situations, as the Socii greatly outnumbered Roman citizen, with some notes I made years ago, in 125-124 BC, when the last census figures recorded were preserved by history (I think these came from Livy), Rome possessed 333,000 male citizens, while in 70 BC, after the Italians were fully enfranchised and distributed into Roman tribes, the number of male citizens grew to 910,000. Based on that population rise, it seems to prove well enough that the Socii always outnumber Rome 1:2, so a 1:1 ratio would actually be unfair to Roman citizens, they'd be serving far too much in war compared to the Socii.

There were instances in Roman history (typically under a dictator, but not always) where double consular armies were raised, such as with the campaign that ended with the battle of Cannae being an example. An army of this size would amount to four Roman legions and four to eight Socii Ala (again, leaning toward the latter), which would mean about 50,000 Romans and Italians. However, since the grand total of combatants for Arausio were described by the various sources seems at around 80,000, its unlikely Q. Mallius Maximus raised a double strength consular army, more likely a standard 1:2 Roman:Socii sized consular army that was joined with a similarly sized consular army levied by Q. Servilius Caepio. So 20,000 Roman, 40,000 Italian infantry and cavalry, which gets us to 60,000 total, but where did the rest come from?

Based on other sources available during the timeframe of the Cimbri War that describe Foederati/Auxiliary (Sallust, Plutarch, Frontinus) they range from Gauls, Ligurians, Thracians, Spanish, and Balearic Islanders. Marius is noted during his consulship and as governor of Gaul to have dismissed the Gallic elements from his army over issues involving trust, the evidence coming from a trick done where sealed letters were issued by Marius to tribal leaders, with instructions not to open until Rome commanded, and then Marius asked for all the sealed letters back early, at which point most had been opened. So likely those same Gallic tribes of the Rhone river area, around Further Gaul, had provided troops for the Arausio campaign. So 10,000 light infantry and cavalry in each army as well, bringing the total Foederati/Auxiliary to 20,000. And now we get 80,000 combatants.

40,000 noncombatants are said to have been killed too, but considering this was two separate consular armies that never actually joined up with one another, 20,000 camp followers each doesn't seem too high either. Discipline and logistical efficiency doesn't seem to have been high, nor imposed by the generals, and it was only under very disciplined commanders who dismissed the majority of the camp followers to streamline their baggage train to remove luxuries like sutlers (professional cooks), washerwomen, personal slaves for anyone who wanted one, etc.
 
Oct 2015
894
Virginia
True. (viz ~'s and 15-22,000 allies). Legions at this date probably numbered ~5200 including eques. Anything more accurate is frustrated by the paucity of the sources. There is only the fragmentary perioichae of Livy which quotes from the lost Valerius Antias (who Livy quotes elsewhere only to criticize his exaggerations), a fragment of the obscure Granius Licinianus (the text of which which is so full of gaps as to be difficult to translate) and passing references in Plutarch, Sallust, Vellius et al.

For what it's worth, I am apparently alone among moderns (post Brunt, DeSanctis, Afzelius, Cantalupi, Hallward et al) in doubting Polybius' eight legions at Cannae (iii,107) and preferring Livy's unnamed alternate sources (xxii,36). I don't see how even Hannibal could annihilate an army twice the size of his own, or how a single army of nearly 90,000 could be commanded, maneuvered or fed with the communications and logistics constraints of the the time - but, who knows?
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,738
USA
For what it's worth, I am apparently alone among moderns (post Brunt, DeSanctis, Afzelius, Cantalupi, Hallward et al) in doubting Polybius' eight legions at Cannae (iii,107) and preferring Livy's unnamed alternate sources (xxii,36). I don't see how even Hannibal could annihilate an army twice the size of his own, or how a single army of nearly 90,000 could be commanded, maneuvered or fed with the communications and logistics constraints of the the time - but, who knows?
Those issues, in bold, were the very reason they lost so badly. They were forced to fight because Hannibal had the initiative when it came to resupply. It was either fight, or retreat. With an army that large, where Rome jumped through so many hurdles to create it in the first place, there is too much political pressure to refuse a set piece battle. And the explanations of how tightly packed the Roman/Socii legions became makes a lot of sense. Numerous sources attest that the Roman style of fighting in the mid Republic required sufficient space to 1) Throw the pila 2) moved forward, backwards, and laterally, similar to a boxer, while fighting with a cut and thrust sword and using a very large shield both offensively and defensively. While bunched up, it would not allow them to throw their pila, nor properly use their swords. Cramped and hit from flanks and rear, without the ability to turn and reform the formation, and its basically Game of Thrones the Battle of the Bastards, which though a horrible battle was still interesting in the crowd dynamics of the press.

 
Oct 2018
1,509
Sydney
On the bright side (from a Roman perspective), the day before the nones of October is also the anniversary of the Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC), Lucullus' epic victory over Tigranes.