Why did Tacitus considered Arminius to be undefeated?

Feb 2019
611
Thrace
Arminius, without doubt Germania's liberator, who challenged the Roman people not in its beginnings like other kings and leaders, but in the peak of its empire; in battles with changing success, undefeated in the war.

What about the Battle of Idistaviso and the Battle of the Angrivarian Wall? Was Arminius not a commander in these battles, and weren't the outcomes in both cases Roman victories?
 
Feb 2011
1,142
Scotland
That's a curious quote. What are the book and chapter numbers?
From Annales Book II, 88-
"88 1 I find from contemporary authors, who were members of the senate, that a letter was read in the curia from the Chattan chief Adgandestrius, promising the death of Arminius, if poison were sent to do the work; to which the reply went back that "it was not by treason nor in the dark but openly and in arms that the Roman people took vengeance on their foes": a high saying intended to place Tiberius on a level with the old commanders who prohibited, and disclosed, the offer to poison King Pyrrhus. Arminius himself, encouraged by the gradual retirement of the Romans and the expulsion of Maroboduus, began to aim at kingship, and found himself in conflict with the independent temper of his countrymen. He was attacked by arms, and, while defending himself with chequered results, fell by the treachery of his relatives. Undoubtedly the liberator of Germany; a man who, not in its infancy as captains and kings before him, but in the high noon of its sovereignty, threw down the challenge to the Roman nation, in battle with ambiguous results, in war without defeat; he completed thirty-seven years of life, twelve of power,101 and to this day is sung in tribal lays, though he is an unknown being to Greek historians, who admire only the history of Greece, and receives less than his due from us of Rome, who glorify the ancient days and show little concern for our own."

LacusCurtius • Tacitus, Annals — Book II Chapters 47‑88

So he is referring to the outcome of the war, specifically mentioning Arminius' 'ambiguous' results in individual battles.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2018
1,833
Sydney
From Annales Book II, 88-
"88 1 I find from contemporary authors, who were members of the senate, that a letter was read in the curia from the Chattan chief Adgandestrius, promising the death of Arminius, if poison were sent to do the work; to which the reply went back that "it was not by treason nor in the dark but openly and in arms that the Roman people took vengeance on their foes": a high saying intended to place Tiberius on a level with the old commanders who prohibited, and disclosed, the offer to poison King Pyrrhus. Arminius himself, encouraged by the gradual retirement of the Romans and the expulsion of Maroboduus, began to aim at kingship, and found himself in conflict with the independent temper of his countrymen. He was attacked by arms, and, while defending himself with chequered results, fell by the treachery of his relatives. Undoubtedly the liberator of Germany; a man who, not in its infancy as captains and kings before him, but in the high noon of its sovereignty, threw down the challenge to the Roman nation, in battle with ambiguous results, in war without defeat; he completed thirty-seven years of life, twelve of power,101 and to this day is sung in tribal lays, though he is an unknown being to Greek historians, who admire only the history of Greece, and receives less than his due from us of Rome, who glorify the ancient days and show little concern for our own."

LacusCurtius • Tacitus, Annals — Book II Chapters 47‑88

So he is referring to the outcome of the war, specifically mentioning Arminius' 'ambiguous' results in individual battles.
Thanks. So it seems that what he is saying is, yes Arminius didn't always win his battles, but Rome never managed to finish him off. Rather, it was treachery in a German-on-German struggle that ended his life. Incidentally, I enjoy the shots fired at fellow Romans and Greeks.
 
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Feb 2019
611
Thrace
Could he be hinting that the Battle of Idistaviso and the Battle of the Angrivarian Wall were draws instead of outright Roman victories?
 
Feb 2011
1,142
Scotland
Could he be hinting that the Battle of Idistaviso and the Battle of the Angrivarian Wall were draws instead of outright Roman victories?
I don't think so. In looking at the overall 'battle scoreboard' Arminius won 1, at Teutoberger Wald but lost 2 at Idistaviso and Angrivarii Boundary, drew at Pontes. As Tacitus said, these are 'ambiguous' - a mixture of results. But as Rome relinquished Trans-Rhenate Germany in the end, he may be deemed to have won the war.