Trajan's conquest of Parthia

May 2012
321
Heaven
#21
Really?Have you see distance between Messene(Maysan),exact in and Balochistani and Palmyran(border of Roman before Trajan):
Maysan - > Jiwani(Pakistan,Indus valley in Roman texts): 1616.86 km in straight flight,around 2100 km by sea distance.Normal Roman(not battleship) run from 111 - 222 km/day so after seized Iraq,India was only 14 - 18 days,even 10 days with good condition from fleet of Trajan.I don't think he is enough fearful for only 2 weeks on the sea.
Maysan - > Ar Raqqah(Roman border in Osroene before Trajan) : 877.16 km in straight line,around 1600 km by boat.Is it so near Roman?
 
#22
Really?Have you see distance between Messene(Maysan),exact in and Balochistani and Palmyran(border of Roman before Trajan):
Maysan - > Jiwani(Pakistan,Indus valley in Roman texts): 1616.86 km in straight flight,around 2100 km by sea distance.Normal Roman(not battleship) run from 111 - 222 km/day so after seized Iraq,India was only 14 - 18 days,even 10 days with good condition from fleet of Trajan.I don't think he is enough fearful for only 2 weeks on the sea.
Maysan - > Ar Raqqah(Roman border in Osroene before Trajan) : 877.16 km in straight line,around 1600 km by boat.Is it so near Roman?
I'm not saying that it was too far for Trajan to travel, but if we take Eutropius' 'border of India' to mean the border of the Indus Valley - and bear in mind, 'India' could refer to a number of places that we don't today regard as the Indian Subcontinent, as Kirialax pointed out - but if we do take Eutropius to mean the Indus Valley, then he is leaving unmentioned many regions between the Indus Valley and the other places that he names. In other words, he would be saying 'Trajan campaigned through Mesopotamia and Messene (which is just east of Mesopotamia), and then, with an unexplained jump in distance, ended up on the borders of India. This unexplained jump in distance suggests to me that he does not mean the Indian Subcontinent, but rather some Persian Gulf region.

I should also mention that the scholar H. W. Bird has argued that the emperor Valens, who commissioned Eutropius to write his history, wanted him to encourage an aggressive policy towards the Persians. If true, one might expect Eutropius to exaggerate Rome's successes in the east.
 
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Mar 2012
2,351
#23
John Malalias is not the best source, but he seems to be quoting Arrian's now lost Parthica. It appears that Trajan may have initially wanted to conquer Parthia, but recognized the difficulty of swallowing after he had taken the bite:


Trajan left Antoch the Great, and started war against the Persians. He conquered them completely in this way. Hearing that there was a quarrel between Sanantoukios, emperor of the Persians, and his cousin Parthamaspates (274), the emperor Trajan sent a message to Parthamaspates and offered him a bribe, promising to give him the empire of the Persians if he would become his ally. Parthamaspates accepted the bribe and came over to Trajan at night. Taking him and his troops on his side, the most sacred Trajan set out against Sanantoukios, emperor of the Persians. Many Persians fell and he captured Sanantoukios as he fled, and put him to death. Trajan made the man Parthamaspates, son of Orodes, Emperor of the Persians in his place in accordance with agreements, and those Persians who survived prostrated themselves. Emperor Trajan wrote to the Senate "This country is so immeasurably vast and separated from Rome by an incalculable distance that we cannot administer it, but let us grant them an emperor subject to Roman power." The Senate wrote back to him from Rome to do whatever he wished and considered what was in the best interests of the Roman empire. Parthamaspates reigned over the Persians. The most learned Arrian the chronicler composed an account of the war and the most sacred Trajan's victory over the Persians; he investigated this an wrote it all down accurately.



Dio, however, indeed found it to be a vanity campaign:

Next he made a campaign against the Armenians and Parthians on the pretext that the Armenian king had obtained his diadem, not at his hands, but from the Parthian king, though his real reason was a desire to win renown.
 
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Jan 2015
3,538
Australia
#24
It's not so much Rome couldn't administer it, it's simply that territory so far from Rome's centropole would require certain things to administer:
1) More resources devoted to the military
2) Commanders in the Parthian territories who had authority to act independently over a long period of time.

These two factors create problems that basically kill the idea as being worthwhile. Firstly, Parthia isn't bringing in enough extra revenue to justify the additional costs. All the trade that comes through Parthia gets to Rome eventually anyway, or often bypasses Parthia completely via sea trade routes with Egypt. So the financial benefit of annexing it is nil. Looting it on the other hand might be quite profitable, which Rome did a bunch of times. Parthia is, on the whole, a pretty arid place; full of sweltering rocks and deserts, and unpleasant mountains, despite the odd bit of fertile land. It's not a big revenue generator for Rome. Rome would probably also need to wage a long term, near genocidal war in order to subdue the place sufficiently; which is costly, and will probably involve bringing in alot of settlers. I'm sure this was doable, but why do it? Usually the idea was for Rome to take over lands that had strategic worth, or eliminated border threats, and Romanise them. The problem with places like Germany or Parthia is it doesn't minimize the threat. If you Romanise Parthia, there's a bunch of other potential threats to the East; at a certain point expanding Eastwards doesn't do anything to improve your security, rather it just stretches your resources even further to defend lands that provide negligible benefit to you.

The biggest reason though is that given communications, etc, you need to give a wholly independent command of these lands to a highly competent commander (or commanders) who will have to act on their own initiative. It's too far away to message back to Rome for authorization for most military actions that might be needed. If Alexander the Great had tried to conquer the West he'd have had the same issue eventually, or his heirs would have. As such you're giving a base of operations and a large army to someone who might decide to try and depose you in the future. That's a crazy plan. It's also exactly what happened when Alexander's generals split his Empire between them; they immediately started warring with each other. It might have worked better in the days of the Republic, but in the Empire it would have been far too dangerous for the Emperor to give autonomous power in this way.
 
Mar 2019
52
Belgium
#25
I think that romans had no many interest into conquering Parthian/sassanid empire. Romans invaded western Persian land in order to secure their far eastern frontier in the Middle East. Look at the population of the Parthian empire. In the 1th century AD, the Persian population was around 5 000 000 (Roman Empire population was 60 000 000). The Persian lands outside of the Euphrates area were not very urbanised.
 
May 2015
274
villa of Lucullus
#26
I think the Romans might have been better served to pull back so they were not involved in constant wars with Parthia. If they didn't plan on conquering Parthia it might have made sense to try to find some way to reduce conflicts so they don't squander money and lives on countless Parthian/Sassanid wars that failed to accomplish anything.
 
Jan 2015
3,538
Australia
#27
If you need to pay for an army anyway, and you want the army to stay sufficiently experienced and battle ready, then some smash and grab raids in Parthia (like Trajan’s basically) make alot of sense. You get loot to help pay for the army you’re already paying for, win prestige, and blood your troops more.
 
#28
Yeah, if you're a Roman emperor you essentially want to be fighting wars. If loot is on the menu, the troops will be on-board, and they will respect any successes won by the emperor. Wars in the east were particularly appealing because a) the east was associated with wealth, and b) a Roman emperor, by defeating Persians/Parthians, would be able to openly compete with the military record of Alexander the Great as well as other successful Roman emperors who had fought the Persians. For example, scholarship argues that Galerius' victory over the Persians was compared with those of Alexander, Trajan and Severus.

As for the third century, it was also a military and ideological necessity. From the 220s to 260s, and again in the 290s, the Persians made a number of notable attacks on Rome's eastern provinces and allies, and inflicted several key defeats. By the 260s one emperor had been killed, another captured, Antioch twice sacked, three armies destroyed, fortresses destroyed, one emperor had agreed to a humiliating treaty, and Palmyra had taken matters into its own hands. Emperors had to protect their subjects and allies, and by the time of Carus in the 280s and Galerius in the 290s, there was probably a great desire to redeem past embarrassments.
 
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