The Sword and Shield of Rome

Jan 2008
18,733
Chile, Santiago
#1
I've been re-reading recently about the Punic Wars, and thouht I'd start up a thread about a number of perhaps underservedly forgotten generals.

The Second Punic War is pretty much dominated by the formidable reputation of Hannibal Barca, the only other name brought up often being that of Scipio Africanus, as Rome's greatest general in the war.

Scipio may have been the greatest Roman commander of the war, but he was certainly not the only one, and he only gained prominence in the final years. Prior to that, Rome's greatest defenders were Fabius Maximus "Cunefactor" - "the delayor", also known as "The Shield of Rome", noted for his "Fabian Strategy" and Marcus Marcellus, known as "The Sword of Rome", whom Hannibal later attested to as being the greatest of all his Roman opponents, putting him above even the mighty Scipio. Also notable should be the name of Gaius Claudius Nero; the distinguished ancesstor of the infamous Emperor, who destroyed the army of Hasbudral Barca after he crossed the Alps to reinforce his brother, bringing about the first great Roman victory of the war, and causing Hannibal to remark upon seeing his brother's head "I see here the fate of Carthage".

Discuss these, and any other generals of the period, or even of later or earlier times whose names might have achieved more recognition but for Scipio's prominence as Rome's defender against Hannibal.
 
Jan 2008
18,733
Chile, Santiago
#4
Fabius was a better general than Hannibal, operationally and strategically. He was the architect of Hannibal's eventual defeat
Well, I certainly recieved a response.

Fabius was a great general, but while I am of the opinion that some of the commanders of the 2nd Punic War have been severely underrated, I'd draw the line at calling him better than Hannibal. Operationally, I'd place Hannibal as clear in the lead - his only let-down was his siege-craft. And strategically he was also extremely good - attested to by his survival in the South of Italy for a good 12 years.

Ironic, how we can end up arguing against our own assertions (or thereabouts).

Also, define Hannibal's "eventual defeat". Hannibal was finally defeated by Scipio in Africa, despite the fact that Fabius had been one of the opponents of an African invasion. In Italy, I have been of the mind that Hannibal's "eventual defeat" came about when Hasbudral's army was annihilated.
 
#5
Junius Pera is understated in history. I think his decision to open the Roman recruitment to classes never before recruited from was a major factor in the Roman recovery after Cannae - those who were in debt were freed from their obligations, non land owners were recruited and even slaves were freed on the proviso they joined the Roman army.

Fabius was probably the most influentual architect for Roman victory in the Second Punic War. The poet Ennius describes him as ‘the man who singly saved the state by patience’.
 
Jan 2008
18,733
Chile, Santiago
#6
I think that perhaps the biggest loser, reputation wise, out of the 2nd Punic War would be Varro - the unfortunate Consul who lead the Roman army at Cannae. He doesn't seem to be nearly as incompetent as he is made out to be - he comes off as quite competent, nothing extraordinary, but still not the dunce some take him as.
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,339
U.K.
#7
I think that perhaps the biggest loser, reputation wise, out of the 2nd Punic War would be Varro - the unfortunate Consul who lead the Roman army at Cannae. He doesn't seem to be nearly as incompetent as he is made out to be - he comes off as quite competent, nothing extraordinary, but still not the dunce some take him as.
When you look at Trebbia and Trasemene, a portion of Roman troops broke through and 'escaped'. The Romans drew the conclusion that if you overwhelmed the Carthaginian centre, you could defeat Hannibal, a reasonable view except that Hannibal probably used Trebbia as a blueprint for his Cannae manouvre.
 
Jan 2008
18,733
Chile, Santiago
#9
My own Top 5 list runs:

1: Julius Caesar

2: Gaius Marius

3: Scipio Africanus

4: Pompey the Great

5: Cornelius Sulla/Lucius Licinius Lucullus (I consider Lucullus to have been the better tactician, but Sulla was the better leader).

Below them come Fabius and Marcellus.
 
Nov 2009
315
#10
My own Top 5 list runs:

1: Julius Caesar

2: Gaius Marius

3: Scipio Africanus

4: Pompey the Great

5: Cornelius Sulla/Lucius Licinius Lucullus (I consider Lucullus to have been the better tactician, but Sulla was the better leader).

Below them come Fabius and Marcellus.


Sad list. All but one of those talents concentrated in 1 century B.C. It looks like dictatorship sacked genius out of Romans.

Whom we might consider as great commanders of Imperial period? Corbulon, Tiberius, Germanic, Trajan, Aurelian?
 

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