Top 10 Roman Generals (Byzantine allowed)

Feb 2019
540
Thrace
His "win" over Caesar... he had Caesar's army massively outnumbered, and if not for treachery on the part of deserters he would have lost the whole war at Dyrachium. He was a bad commander letting himself get penned up, with hygiene problems and illness spreading fast, and with only a small portion of the army able to evacuate from the sea probably. People like to say Caesar got lucky, but it's basically the reverse. Pompey's whole strategy was dumb, and he was far closer to a final defeat at Dyrachium than Caesar who regrouped and came back to crush Pompey in the next battle. Again, there are whole threads on this subject. You should search them up.
This was the first one I found using the forum's search engine (admittedly didn't look past it)


Apparently Pompey was voted as a superior military genius compared to Robert E Lee and Archduke Charles.

At any rate, while he was overall bested by Caesar as a commander a win over him is an achievement nonetheless. His African, naval and Asian campaigns were also successful. Ancient assessments of his ability are very high; contemporary writers are more moderate but still significantly on the positive side as far as I can tell.

Maybe you can link me to some detailed negative sources regarding his generalship. I admit I'm often unsure about his legacy as well.
 
Sep 2019
68
Vergina
This was the first one I found using the forum's search engine (admittedly didn't look past it)

Apparently Pompey was voted as a superior military genius compared to Robert E Lee and Archduke Charles.

At any rate, while he was overall bested by Caesar as a commander a win over him is an achievement nonetheless. His African, naval and Asian campaigns were also successful. Ancient assessments of his ability are very high; contemporary writers are more moderate but still significantly on the positive side as far as I can tell.

Maybe you can link me to some detailed negative sources regarding his generalship. I admit I'm often unsure about his legacy as well.
I agree with @Caesarmagnus and didn't put Pompey on my list. Though I will note in his favor that he preferred to wait Caesar out rather than fight at Pharsalus, Overall Titus Labienus showed much greater skill on the battlefield and in my opinion was Caesar's top foe. In Gaul, he was instrumental in Caesar's victory at the Sabis River and won the Battle of Lutetia in his own right. During the Civil War he nearly crushed Caesar at Ruspina and Munda was a much closer fought affair than Pharsalus.
 
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Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,640
Australia
This was the first one I found using the forum's search engine (admittedly didn't look past it)


Apparently Pompey was voted as a superior military genius compared to Robert E Lee and Archduke Charles.

At any rate, while he was overall bested by Caesar as a commander a win over him is an achievement nonetheless. His African, naval and Asian campaigns were also successful. Ancient assessments of his ability are very high; contemporary writers are more moderate but still significantly on the positive side as far as I can tell.

Maybe you can link me to some detailed negative sources regarding his generalship. I admit I'm often unsure about his legacy as well.

 
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Aug 2011
189
The Castle Anthrax
Scipio
Julius Caesar
Constantine
Stilicho
Belisarius
Trajan
Aetius
Aurelian
Agrippa
Maximian

I had a hard time with this. I've been trying to avoid this thread given the complexity of comparisons from different ages, circumstances, etc. Additionally, every great general needs a great adversary; however, surely there are a few lurkers whose acumen exceeded the times they lived in. Coming late to the discussion, I also tried to avoid the bias of previous posts. Lastly, I have a soft spot for the guys from humble circumstances who rose to the top by virtue of their successes. I also have a gigantic soft spot for Stilicho for enduring all of the nonsense political pressures, dutiful service, apparent lack of political avarice and of course his martial achievements.
 
Sep 2013
632
Ontario, Canada
Gaius Julius Caesar
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus
Belisarius
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Tiberius
Aurelian
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus
Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus
Trajan
Flavius Aetius

I tried to pick what whom I thought was the best Roman general of his particular time, these individuals certainly stood head-and-shoulders above everyone else in terms of military achievement. The Roman military system just had this... uncanny ability to produce the right kind of military leader at just the right time, and it did so for centuries in uniting the western world.
 
Oct 2018
1,734
Sydney
Scipio
Julius Caesar
Constantine
Stilicho
Belisarius
Trajan
Aetius
Aurelian
Agrippa
Maximian

I had a hard time with this. I've been trying to avoid this thread given the complexity of comparisons from different ages, circumstances, etc. Additionally, every great general needs a great adversary; however, surely there are a few lurkers whose acumen exceeded the times they lived in. Coming late to the discussion, I also tried to avoid the bias of previous posts. Lastly, I have a soft spot for the guys from humble circumstances who rose to the top by virtue of their successes. I also have a gigantic soft spot for Stilicho for enduring all of the nonsense political pressures, dutiful service, apparent lack of political avarice and of course his martial achievements.
I share your respect for non-aristocratic career soldiers-turned-emperors/generalissimos. But for the sake of clarity, does 'Maximian' refer to Maximian Herculius or Galerius Maximian?
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,640
Australia
Gaius Julius Caesar
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus
Belisarius
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Tiberius
Aurelian
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus
Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus
Trajan
Flavius Aetius

I tried to pick what whom I thought was the best Roman general of his particular time, these individuals certainly stood head-and-shoulders above everyone else in terms of military achievement. The Roman military system just had this... uncanny ability to produce the right kind of military leader at just the right time, and it did so for centuries in uniting the western world.
A list that includes Pompey but not Sulla is a list that cannot be taken seriously. Again, I'm not going to critique every name on every list, but that one discrepancy is so obvious it's impossible to let fly. For all I've talked up Paullus he doesn't belong in the top 10 either.