Trajan's conquest of Parthia

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,904
Blachernai
My second-century AD Roman history is pretty poor, but do we know what Trajan's intention was when he set on his Parthian campaign? Did he make a coherent effort to occupy Parthian territory and install Roman or friendly administration? I ask this because from a rather "zoomed-out" perspective Trajan's campaign does not seem all that different from the various other Roman conquests of Ctesiphon. Avidius Cassus, Carus, Septimius Severus, and Galerius all occupied the capital and then returned home. Others went and did not succeed: Valerian, Gordian III. Constantine was allegedly planning to go against Persia when he died, and Julian did so unsuccessfully. In the later cases, big Roman armies marched deep into Iraq, smashed things up, and went home. Was Trajan the beginning of this, or was he really planning on occupying these lands?
 

Maki

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Jan 2017
3,792
Republika Srpska
Well, he installed his own candidate on the Parthian throne, so I assume he didn't plan to outright annex Parthia.
 

cachibatches

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,355
Supposedly Trajan lamented that he was too old to push onto India, so maybe it can be inferred that he dreamed that his conquests would be a springboard for someone else doing so.
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,658
Australia
Well, he installed his own candidate on the Parthian throne, so I assume he didn't plan to outright annex Parthia.
Basically this. Rome generally didn't have a lot of interest in occupying Parthia. The costs outweighed the benefits, thus it was a bad investment. Trajan wasn't really an except to that. Even if he did intend to go campaigning to India, he'd still have had to abandon these lands afterwards because to hold them would have required a total restructure of the Empire (in a way that was too risky too).
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
Supposedly Trajan lamented that he was too old to push onto India, so maybe it can be inferred that he dreamed that his conquests would be a springboard for someone else doing so.
Damn, what amazing history it would have made to have Rome’s greatest Imperial conqueror fighting campaigns all the way into India. I’m disappointed it didn’t happen, from the perspective of a purely military interest.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,904
Blachernai
Well, he installed his own candidate on the Parthian throne, so I assume he didn't plan to outright annex Parthia.
Is this different than Maurikios installing Khusro II on the throne?
 

Maki

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Jan 2017
3,792
Republika Srpska
Is this different than Maurikios installing Khusro II on the throne?
Eh...somewhat. Parthamaspates' hold on the throne was pretty tenuous so I assume Trajan expected him to be completely dependent on Rome. Khosrow's position was much stronger.
 
May 2012
322
Heaven
Damn, what amazing history it would have made to have Rome’s greatest Imperial conqueror fighting campaigns all the way into India. I’m disappointed it didn’t happen, from the perspective of a purely military interest.
In fact,some author like Eutropius said that Trajan captured some place in India.History Augusta didn't record about this campain but it wrote that Hyrcania(Kushan) became a vassal king of Roman after Trajan's campain.
 
Oct 2018
1,867
Sydney
My second-century AD Roman history is pretty poor, but do we know what Trajan's intention was when he set on his Parthian campaign? Did he make a coherent effort to occupy Parthian territory and install Roman or friendly administration? I ask this because from a rather "zoomed-out" perspective Trajan's campaign does not seem all that different from the various other Roman conquests of Ctesiphon. Avidius Cassus, Carus, Septimius Severus, and Galerius all occupied the capital and then returned home. Others went and did not succeed: Valerian, Gordian III. Constantine was allegedly planning to go against Persia when he died, and Julian did so unsuccessfully. In the later cases, big Roman armies marched deep into Iraq, smashed things up, and went home. Was Trajan the beginning of this, or was he really planning on occupying these lands?
A part of me does wonder how many of the emperors/commanders of the third century really did take Ctesiphon, in the sense that it almost seems like a trope. During the third century, every person who invaded the Persian Empire, we're effectively told, took Ctesiphon. I don't know, it makes me suspicious. I get that Ctesiphon wasn't a great distant from Roman lands, but Julian failed to take it, and how many times could the Sassanian regime suffer the sack of Ctesiphon? We're talking the 260s, the 280s and the 290s. Then again, the post-Shapur Sassanian empire of the late third century was fairly unstable. Maybe the sacks of Ctesiphon help to explain that fact.

In the same way, I'm a bit suspicious when we're told that Ballista, Odaenathus and Galerius all captured the harems of Persian kings. One wonders if this is influenced by the example of Alexander capturing the female relatives of Darius.
 
Oct 2018
1,867
Sydney
Actually, having just quickly skimmed the sources, while it is claimed in the sources that Odaenathus and Carus took Ctesiphon, that Galerius took the city is modern speculation with little backing it up.