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Philosophy The study of fundamental questions: the nature of reality, the justification of belief, and the conduct of life.

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  #101  
Old 12-21-2017, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ward-Perkins

In responding to Persian might in the 3rd century, the Romans had created a brittle frontier system extending for thousands of miles. All civilians behind that line were unarmed, and their towns and cities were unwalled. It was a full generation (430CE) after the initial trans-Rhine and Italian Gothic invasions that civilians were, by imperial edict, permitted to carry weapons. It's worth pointing out that the era between Pompey's suppression of the pirates in the mid-first century BCE and the fall of Carthage to the Vandals in 439CE is the longest period of Mediterranean safety in its history. Thus professionalization of security in the empire, and its reallocation to face its most grave danger (the Sassanids), had left huge economically-productive areas to prosper... but they were also extremely vulnerable to even casual predation.
Reading through Procopius of Caesarea's history of Vandalic War, I can see that the great barbarian conqueror Genseric (of whom it has been written that he was more responsible for the downfall of Western Roman Empire than any other individual actor) committed the same mistake, making it easier for Eastern Roman forces to take back North Africa from the Vandals. What goes around comes around, as Procopius philosophically observed:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16765...Nanchor_26_III

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Afterwards Gizeric devised the following scheme. He tore down the walls of all the cities in Libya except Carthage, so that neither the Libyans themselves, espousing the cause of the Romans, might have a strong base from which to begin a rebellion, nor those sent by the emperor have any ground for hoping to capture a city and by establishing a garrison in it to make trouble for the Vandals. Now at that time it seemed that he had counselled well and had ensured prosperity for the Vandals in the safest possible manner; but in later times when these cities, being without walls, were captured by Belisarius all the more easily and with less exertion, Gizeric was then condemned to suffer much ridicule, and that which for the time he considered wise counsel turned out for him to be folly. For as fortunes change, men are always accustomed to change with them their judgments regarding what has been planned in the past.
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  #102  
Old 12-21-2017, 05:48 PM
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As you've mentioned, the earlier Romans would not have been so weak. But considering that in a sense the Roman Empire continued undeniably by anyone to exist until 1453 AD, and some would say 1917 or longer, then that weakness wasn't due to Christianity.
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  #103  
Old 12-22-2017, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Pablo
It's not about offence or defence per se, it's about where the battle is actually fought - it was fought in Italy itself, hence that's why the second Punic war is the only war where Roman standing army (for a time) went over 150K men.

Not to mention that the other underlying assumption - that Romans had reserves while the Greeks did not - is incorrect. Greeks also had their own "militia" same as Romans and they relied on the mercenaries no more than the Romans did who had 4 Socii for each roman soldier.

Had the Greeks ever succeeded in establishing an Empire (or had Alexander Macedonian survived/lived long enough to establish a dynasty) Rome would have probably found Greece to be more than a match. In fact if Alexander's empire survived, Rome would have probably fallen to Greeks, not the other way round.

The Romans also had significant troop numbers simultaneously in other theaters, including Sicily and Spain, and defensive strategies require less manpower. However, I don't disagree that it was obviously easier to field larger forces in Italy.

The Carthaginians relied upon an almost exclusively polyglot mercenary force (the rebellion of these forces after the first Punic War was only put down with great difficulty and allowed the seizure of Sardinia notwithstanding the treaty).

Re the outcome had Alexander survived to establish a dynasty, the Roman system (particularly with the innovations established by Scipio) always seemed to fare very well against the Greek phalanx although the Greek system seems to have devolved to be less flexible than it originally was under Alexander.
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