Tiberius vs Belisarius vs Alcibiades

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  • Tiberius

    Votes: 5 55.6%
  • Belisarius

    Votes: 3 33.3%
  • Alcibiades

    Votes: 1 11.1%

  • Total voters
    9

Mangekyou

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
7,968
UK
1) Tiberius - Strategically brilliant, Tactically aware, aware of the conditions of his troops and won some exceptionally hard ward for the Romans in difficult terrain and against difficult opponnts. Underrated still even today.

2) Belisarius - A very good all around commander. Good tactician. Had the luck needed at times to win some great victories, but also had the bad luck where his men were indisciplined at times in wanting to fight too much. He and Tiberius were on a similar level tactically, with Belisarius maybe slightly ahead, but strategically, Tiberius was far superior, imo.

3) Alcibiades - An excellent offensive commander and was very bold. Its possible that the invasion of Sicily would've been an Athenian victory if he had've been in charge. However, sometimes he could be too bold, and didn't really think defensively (at least in comparison to the others). It's close between him and Belisarius, but Belisarius was more astute in his choice of battlefield strategy, whilst alcibiades, whilst extremely bold, didn't always think about the overall picture.
 
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Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,959
Blachernai
Lessons learned from Belisarios:
1. Logistics matter.
2. Always bring your pet historian on campaign.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,959
Blachernai
Please elaborate?
Virtually all the detail of Belisarios's campaigns are known through Procopius, who treated the general rather sympathetically in his works. I won't deny that Belisarios was certainly capable, but it does help one's reputation to have along someone in your entourage to leave a detailed, positive account for posterity. Rather, I wonder how many other late Roman generals we do not know about because they didn't have a Procopius to write of their deeds. Procopius was a very good historian by ancient standards - one can lump him with Thucydides, Polybios, and Ammianus where military matters are concerned, but the size and importance of his work has affected our understanding of Justinian's wars. For example, only recently did Alexander Sarantis argue (persuasively, in my view) that Belisarios' invasion of Italy was a rearguard action and that the entire goal of the campaign was to expel the Goths from the northwestern Balkans. Belisarios' army was small and mobile not because that's all Justinian could afford to commit, but rather because the heavy fighting took place in Illyricum. Yet no Procopius accompanied Mundus on that campaign, and while we have extensive detail about the various sieges of Rome, we know very little about what actually seems to have been the main event.
 
May 2019
255
Salt Lake City, Utah
Strategy: Tiberius, Belisarius, Alcibiades
Operational: Belisarius, Tiberius, Alcibiades
Tactics: Alcibiades, toss up Tiberius Belisarius
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,008
Cornwall
Virtually all the detail of Belisarios's campaigns are known through Procopius, who treated the general rather sympathetically in his works. I won't deny that Belisarios was certainly capable, but it does help one's reputation to have along someone in your entourage to leave a detailed, positive account for posterity. Rather, I wonder how many other late Roman generals we do not know about because they didn't have a Procopius to write of their deeds. Procopius was a very good historian by ancient standards - one can lump him with Thucydides, Polybios, and Ammianus where military matters are concerned, but the size and importance of his work has affected our understanding of Justinian's wars. For example, only recently did Alexander Sarantis argue (persuasively, in my view) that Belisarios' invasion of Italy was a rearguard action and that the entire goal of the campaign was to expel the Goths from the northwestern Balkans. Belisarios' army was small and mobile not because that's all Justinian could afford to commit, but rather because the heavy fighting took place in Illyricum. Yet no Procopius accompanied Mundus on that campaign, and while we have extensive detail about the various sieges of Rome, we know very little about what actually seems to have been the main event.
But at least he was more in the vicinity than most of our sources!

I'm just embarking on this, which you might have a view on:

Hispania y Bizancio: Una relación desconocida: Amazon.co.uk: Margarita Vallejo Girvés: 9788446029601: Books (Hispania y Bizancio, una relacion desconocida)

It's about the Justinian invasion of Hispania and Visigothic/Bizantine relations in general (a fairly virgin subject as I can gather). I've only really read the introductory/histriography chapters yet, but the 'stretch' of Justinian is becoming clear and the reasons:

1) The immediate Mauri rebellion of North Africa, which seems to have never really stopped throughout Byzantine rule and longer. I'm sure, being someone who saw himself bringing light to all us dark souls, Justinian never really planned for that.
2) The Ostrogoth king surrendered and went to retire in Byzantium, Gelimer-style, so they elected another. Then it happened again! And still the Ostrogoths carried on.
3) On top of this he seems to have left Hispania alone - except for some brief jostling over Vandal possibly-Vandal Ceuta for the best part of 20 years. Partly because of the above but also because, in the messy world of Visigothic monarchies and politics, Teudis was the only stable beacon in the period between Vouille and the advent of Leovigildo. Justinian may have wanted to wait for the inevitable mess after the death of Teudis - who was of course Ostrogothic by inheritance but seems to have avoided getting too involved in the Vandal or Ostrogothic wars maybe (?) to avoid antagonising Justinian.

It seems quite interesting so I'm hoping to finish it fairly soon and maybe post a thread or two. It's been a while!
 
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Sep 2013
648
Ontario, Canada
Tiberius scored vital military victories in the Alps, Pannonia, and Germania, and even recovered missing Roman eagles lost at Carrhae from Parthia in 20 BCE. He was astute enough to use diplomacy to achieve his aims, but almost unbeatable when made to use the Legions. Celebrating two Triumphs and an Ovation, Tiberius was one of the best Generals Rome ever produced. He even made for a pretty good Emperor. His consolidation of the Empire following the policies of Augustus ensured that it would be a lasting one. Had he died ten years or so into his reign, before he fled to Capri, then he probably would've been far better remembered.

Justinian was blessed to be surrounded by talent and energy especially in the form of his general Belisarius, the military commander of the Byzantine Empire. He rose to note after stunning victories against the Sassanids early in his career, and also crushed the Nika riots threatening Justinian's legitimacy. His recovery of Africa from the Vandals led to what is considered to be the last Roman Triumph, though done in Constantinople and ended prostrated before the Emperor himself. He was also able to take Italy, and then to retake it when it was lost after he was called to handle trouble on the Persian frontier. I believe Belisarius to be head-and-shoulders the best general of the entire 6th century, with Narses running a close second.

Alcibiades was experienced and able, and very much in demand for his military services. He was a full-fledged Athenian general from a very young age, something like 30 years old. He fought with and against everyone: the Athenians, the Spartans, even the Persians, his most notable victories coming at Abydos and Cyzicus. But his proposed Sicily campaign was the beginning of the end of the Athenian Empire. They poured so much manpower and resources into that defeat that they became unable to overcome their adversaries back in Greece. As suggested by Mangekyou, I wonder how things would've turned out had he been allowed to lead Athens to a victory in Sicily, which he was more than capable of. Talent aside, his character was such that, of the three here, he's the one I would most like to have a beer with.
 
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