I feel Roman History again so question, just how bad was the Republic that lead to Caesar?

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Specter Von Baren:
Something I'm seeing here is talk about how the Senate was corrupt because of being rich and powerful individuals that didn't let others into their fold, but ask this, why is this seen as bad?

Because the interests of such individuals often cuts against the interests of everyone else; their primary interest is in maintaining and expanding their own power over others.

Specter Von Baren:
The majority of people that were poor or even just well enough off to sustain themselves and their family didn't have time to be involved with all these political debates.

Sure. They were producing a surplus for their masters; they were a major source of the massive wealth that accrued to Roman oligarchs.

Specter Von Baren:
Part of the problem with Rome expanding was that the armies had to be run constantly which led to average people with lives back home being unable to look after said home. The same applies to the Senate. And even if the Roman method of education was really poor by our current standards (With much of it being rote memorization of speeches) the poor couldn't afford that education.

Sure. They were too busy producing a surplus for the rich which the rich would use to maintain and expand their power.

Specter Von Baren:
Literacy and education are a luxury that we in our modern world are very fortunate to have and, at least with the USA, be able to give to most of the population. How systems work in older times are not the same as how they work now, everyone should be thinking about what it actually means to be this or that in other time periods. You could read about someone refusing to see a doctor in the middle ages and think they were being stubborn and stupid but there was a time where doctors were much more likely to kill you than any other method of healing someone told you because of poor understanding of the body and lack of knowledge of things like sanitation.

OK, but none of this really gets at the point that the Roman "Republic" eventually collapsed precisely because it allowed certain individuals to enjoy immense power over others such that a few could determine the politics of the entire Mediterranean and Western Europe. Even a wretched oligarchy could be more stable than that.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
So much so that the Roman legion and its tortoise formation is falsely represented on tv as if this thing that could weather common missiles when the truth of the matter is Eastern bowfire routinely punched through it and scythe through forearms of shieldbearing limbs. People mythologizing the actual capabilities of the Roman soldier.

It is extremely doubtful that Parthian bows could reliably penetrate Roman shields - especially not without being at short range and hitting the shield close to perpendicular (the shields being curved, they would likely glance off if hitting an oblique angle). We know from modern reconstructions that a decently made medieval breastplate could probably bounce an English longbow arrow, and longbows tended to have a greater draw weight than Parthian composite bows. If the Parthian archery were really that effective, the battle would have been over after they'd finished firing their arrows: assume every Parthian archer had just 10 arrows on his person, it could flatten the whole Roman army. Yet apparently they shot all their arrows, and all the arrows in their baggage train... and the Romans still weren't beaten.

What's far more likely is simply that the more arrows are shot, the more will penetrate armour / shields, and eventually this will become significant. However, it's still probable that considerably more injuries were from arrows finding gaps in armour and shield cover. For Romans used to fighting in Europe where massed archery wasn't a thing and bows were generally less powerful, this rain of steel is likely to have made a huge impression. This then lent itself readily to exaggeration duly recorded by historians.

The fundamental problem for Rome in the east is that Roman legions were designed to fight in Europe, full of forests and valleys and frequent strategic targets that have to be defended. In a vast, hot, open plain, however, with miles and miles to manoeuver and retreat with a highly mobile harassing force, a ponderous mass of melee infantry isn't the right sort of army. Eventually the Roman military in the east started to use more cavalry and bows, and thus ended routine humilation when they ventured past their borders.

Agema:

It is extremely doubtful that Parthian bows could reliably penetrate Roman shields - especially not without being at short range and hitting the shield close to perpendicular (the shields being curved, they would likely glance off if hitting an oblique angle). We know from modern reconstructions that a decently made medieval breastplate could probably bounce an English longbow arrow, and longbows tended to have a greater draw weight than Parthian composite bows. If the Parthian archery were really that effective, the battle would have been over after they'd finished firing their arrows: assume every Parthian archer had just 10 arrows on his person, it could flatten the whole Roman army. Yet apparently they shot all their arrows, and all the arrows in their baggage train... and the Romans still weren't beaten.

Addendum is arguably exaggerating the draw weight of a Parthian bow, but I don't find it unreasonable to assume that the tips of Parthian arrows could strike through your average Scutum under ideal conditions. Considering that the Roman shield was little more than three layers of wood glued together and covered by leather, it wouldn't be super durable against arrows. With that said, the arrows probably wouldn't go clean through the shield and what little energy it had left would probably not be enough to punch through a human arm, though it might inflict a wound on the arm of the wearer if it struck at an unfortunate place. One has to keep in mind that a medieval breastplate c:a 13th century is made of steel, whereas most shields are basically just wooden sheets.

Agema:
What's far more likely is simply that the more arrows are shot, the more will penetrate armour / shields, and eventually this will become significant. However, it's still probable that considerably more injuries were from arrows finding gaps in armour and shield cover. For Romans used to fighting in Europe where massed archery wasn't a thing and bows were generally less powerful, this rain of steel is likely to have made a huge impression. This then lent itself readily to exaggeration duly recorded by historians.

This really sums it up. Even if the instances of a Parthian arrows penetrating a shield was as rare as one in thousand, it'd still amount to a significant number over a battle where tens of thousands of arrows were unleashed against the Romans. For the survivors, used to being nigh invincible to arrows behind their shields, it'd have a great psychological impact.

Agema:

It is extremely doubtful that Parthian bows could reliably penetrate Roman shields - especially not without being at short range and hitting the shield close to perpendicular (the shields being curved, they would likely glance off if hitting an oblique angle). We know from modern reconstructions that a decently made medieval breastplate could probably bounce an English longbow arrow, and longbows tended to have a greater draw weight than Parthian composite bows. If the Parthian archery were really that effective, the battle would have been over after they'd finished firing their arrows: assume every Parthian archer had just 10 arrows on his person, it could flatten the whole Roman army. Yet apparently they shot all their arrows, and all the arrows in their baggage train... and the Romans still weren't beaten.

Only we have direct historical evidence to suggest precisely that. The power of horse archer skirmishers were that they could routinely harass the Roman heavy infantry at Carrhae at close range before moving and finding a new attack solution. Routinely breaching their cohorted defensive formations as soldiers succumbed to blood loss and fatigue.

The Parthians destroyed and captured (keyword) a Roman force of about 50,000 with 9,000 with almost no casualties to speak of their own. The Roman scutum was lightweight in comparison to other shields they used of their time, precisely because it needed to be moved quickly to allow two ranks of sword and spearmen to thrust forwards towards the enemy. There's stories of Carthaginian heavy infantry punching through it with their falcata. Not chopping, punching through it and tearing it away from a Roman soldier by twisting the blade as it crushed through the wood.

And this wouldn't be the only times Roman armies fell due to an overly heavy composition of heavy infantry to other elements of auxilia and craft.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Only we have direct historical evidence to suggest precisely that.

Some historians said so, but none of that is first hand. Like I said, imagine if one in twenty arrows penetrates a shield: fire enough arrows it starts mounting up, but penetrating a shield is still a low probability event rather than an assumed one.

The arrows do not necessarily do that much damage themselves against reasonably armoured and shielded targets. Archery of this sort is more used to disrupt formations and lower morale in preparation for a melee assault. The testudo was particularly problematic in this regard, as it made the formation deeply unsuited for melee. Let's also bear in mind the Roman army split in an attempt to drive back the harassers, allowing sections to be destroyed piecemeal (with even greater loss of morale) and eventually disintegrating. Inducing this is classic tactics for an army high in horse archers.

The power of horse archer skirmishers were that they could routinely harass the Roman heavy infantry at Carrhae at close range before moving and finding a new attack solution. Routinely breaching their cohorted defensive formations as soldiers succumbed to blood loss and fatigue.

Yes. But no-one's disputing the basic tactics of harassing a force light on missile troops with horse archers backed up by heavy cavalry.

Gethsemani:

Addendum is arguably exaggerating the draw weight of a Parthian bow, but I don't find it unreasonable to assume that the tips of Parthian arrows could strike through your average Scutum under ideal conditions. Considering that the Roman shield was little more than three layers of wood glued together and covered by leather, it wouldn't be super durable against arrows. With that said, the arrows probably wouldn't go clean through the shield and what little energy it had left would probably not be enough to punch through a human arm, though it might inflict a wound on the arm of the wearer if it struck at an unfortunate place. One has to keep in mind that a medieval breastplate c:a 13th century is made of steel, whereas most shields are basically just wooden sheets.

Accepted, although I'd be a little skeptical of the quality of iron and mass produced arrowheads in the ancient era. Arrows also tend to flex and wobble in flight, so often don't hit that true.

Agema:

Some historians said so, but none of that is first hand. Like I said, imagine if one in twenty arrows penetrates a shield: fire enough arrows it starts mounting up, but penetrating a shield is still a low probability event rather than an assumed one.

But we know the late Republic Roman heavy infantry scutum wasn't as if some indomitable thing. It wasn't as if the stronger shields other armies were using. That ultimately a lot of their use was born from siege warfare (the difference between descending arrow fire and direct). The eastern equivalent of the aspis was a heavier shield precisely designed for pitched battle considerations, the scutum by necessity was much more lightweight by total coverage. I'm not saying the scutum was a bad shield or it was ineffective, what it was however was not Hollywood style impenetrable by arrows and javelins/spear throwers.

Their Chinese contemporaries also had 'large shield heavy infantry' (to coin a role) that was kind of like an non arm-borne self propped shield when in position. It acted in a similar role with something kind of like a tortoise formation for siege warfare as well, but they relied on screening and pursuit forces to even maintain in the field. If anything it was superior to the Roman scutum as they were actually metal banded and had special knotched cutsections to feed hooked blades and spears through that would kill cavalry riders, be resistant against charges, and scythe at the legs of horses.

The arrows do not necessarily do that much damage themselves against reasonably armoured and shielded targets. Archery of this sort is more used to disrupt formations and lower morale in preparation for a melee assault. The testudo was particularly problematic in this regard, as it made the formation deeply unsuited for melee. Let's also bear in mind the Roman army split in an attempt to drive back the harassers, allowing sections to be destroyed piecemeal (with even greater loss of morale) and eventually disintegrating. Inducing this is classic tactics for an army high in horse archers.

The Parthians were not going to engage in a pitched battle anyways. They were outnumbered over 5 to 1. The problem of the Tortoise formation when locking men in that position is the shields did not protect the flanks as much as the front, but they could only weather so much direct abuse before their front would fall regardless. Crassus' "strategy" for dealing with the horse archers was literally 'wait till they run out of arrows' ... the only problem with that strategy is Surena had millions, and the Romans couldn't move and defend themselves. Even if they maintained in one position, they were dropping.

It wouldn't have mattered if he had just stayed put... he had but one option, to advance his forces regardless of casualties. Ultimately his son's idea of ruthless pursuit was infinitely better than 'just stay put'.

Yes. But no-one's disputing the basic tactics of harassing a force light on missile troops with horse archers backed up by heavy cavalry.

Right, but the tortoise formation doesn't work on the move. Crassus' idea of waiting for the horse archers to run out of arrows neglected to take into the fact Surena had Bactrian camel trains of arrows being delivered to the front. Each camel capable of carrying 1300 pounds of cargo for 4 days without feed or water.

His forces were just dying sitting still, and without advancing on the enemy camp (where instead of persistent incremental multilevel wounding to outright incapacitation and mortal attack) those camel trains would keep supplying his forces in perpetuity. What the Roman scutum was designed for was siege warfare. It wasn't simply this all purpose magical device that somehow trumped all other shields of their contemporaries.

Repeatedly, throughout Rome's wars, the scutum was found wanting in pitched battle conditions. Often the role of the scutum was purely psychological. It made the soldiers feel relatively safe... but when facing non-Roman and non-Socii troops outside the numerous civil wars where Romans and Socii were often fighting other Romans and Socii, stories where soldiers just sort of bashed their shields together while trying to slip a spear at the enemies' feet and face, it was found wanting when facing professional soldiers of other hostile political entities.

The scutum was a decent shield, but by necessity was far less solid than other conventional devices in its role, and often simply mass produced as when needed as opposed to the less regimented arms productions of other forces. The flipside of this arrangement was that patricians and wealthy Socii could simply buy and outfit entire armies of volunteers (under the Marian reforms) as compared to the relationship between foreign sovereigns and their armies who often relied on caste systems to determine eligibility of training and outfitting.

People often seem to forget that the weapons of the Roman Republic were often inferior to the enemies they were fighting. Iberian blademaking (used to deadly effect as Iberian mercenaries in Carthaginian armies) outclassed Roman arms due to the quality of Spanish iron and the mastery of higher carbon content of their iron production that lead to weapons that could maaintain longer and did not rust or spoil its edge as fast. The Romans, for all their garbage rhetoric of foreigners, are routinely found to be remarking in favour of the foreign arms they found themselves encountering.

Like that Iberian heavy sword that simply tore through that hide and thin wood scutum and blowing them apart. The scutum was terribly weak ... weighing little more than contemporary composite shields that their contemporaries used that covered far less area. The coverage and area denial it allowed came at the cost of rigidity and structural strength to repel piercing and blunt impacts.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
But we know the late Republic Roman heavy infantry scutum wasn't as if some indomitable thing.

Straw man. No-one's arguing that.

The Parthians were not going to engage in a pitched battle anyways.

What's that got to do with anything? No-one's arguing about the intentions and tactics of the Persian army.

The problem of the Tortoise formation when locking men in that position is the shields did not protect the flanks as much as the front, but they could only weather so much direct abuse before their front would fall regardless. Crassus' "strategy" for dealing with the horse archers was literally 'wait till they run out of arrows' ... the only problem with that strategy is Surena had millions, and the Romans couldn't move and defend themselves. Even if they maintained in one position, they were dropping.

It wouldn't have mattered if he had just stayed put... he had but one option, to advance his forces regardless of casualties. Ultimately his son's idea of ruthless pursuit was infinitely better than 'just stay put'.

Yes, the Romans had brought the wrong army, we've already established this. Please stop being patronising by lecturing me about the battle as if I don't already know.

Right, but the tortoise formation doesn't work on the move.

The testudo was conventionally a siege formation to get the troops to the walls with low casualties whilst people on the walls shoot or throw rocks at them. It was barely intended for the battlefield at all.

Repeatedly, throughout Rome's wars, the scutum was found wanting in pitched battle conditions.

Which seems an odd claim, given Roman military innovation and adaptability and that the scutum persisted to around the 3rd century AD.

The scutum went through plenty of modification in its time. You're clearly partly referring to the early scutum used against Carthage over a hundred years previously, which was significantly lighter. The Romans responded to this by increasing the thickness, adding a metal rim, etc. so that by the time of Caesar it was considerably more robust.

"Found wanting" is a very dubious desription. It wasn't a huge and heavy shield that could resist enormous battering from heavy weapons... but it wasn't supposed to be. Such a shield would be slow and exhausting, and be "found wanting" in that respect. It could be the same weight, tougher but smaller, in which case it would provide less coverage and be "found wanting" in that respect. And so on. It's all about trade-offs for what's desired from the equipment to meet the tactics of the force, and evidently the Romans were satisfied with the scutum for a long, long time.

Agema:

Straw man. No-one's arguing that.

Wait a minute, you were.

What's that got to do with anything? No-one's arguing about the intentions and tactics of the Persian army.

Because it adequately displays Romans weren't as if some indomitable military force but rather consistently found itself outmatched by its enemies?

Yes, the Romans had brought the wrong army, we've already established this. Please stop being patronising by lecturing me about the battle as if I don't already know.

It's less they 'brought the wrong army', it's that Romans weren't ecessarily all that skilled at fighting wars beyond beating up their own.

The testudo was conventionally a siege formation to get the troops to the walls with low casualties whilst people on the walls shoot or throw rocks at them. It was barely intended for the battlefield at all.

Right... so what exactly is a 0.3 in. thick hide and wood shield going to stand against arrows and javelins when fired wthin 20 metres directly at them? To put it plainly any real protection it provided came from its semi-cylindrical shape, but then again there's also reasons why people were writing why it didn't seem to help. Their shields were literal plywood.

Which seems an odd claim, given Roman military innovation and adaptability and that the scutum persisted to around the 3rd century AD.

So did the conventional, round heavy aspis-like shield. To the 16th century and beyond. The scutum was cheap, mass-producable, lightweight, easy to throw around for how much coverage it gave, and had a plethora of non-soldier uses. I mean they used to use them getting wagons across difficult terrain. It's easy and cheap costruction made it perfect for outfitting armies on the fly. The scutum's design philosophy is no different than modern arms production for entire armies, that whole; "Made by the lowest bidder to fulfil general purpose on the battlefield."

Its construction meant that a standing army in foreign lands could be cheaply resupplied tofight campaigns, whereas the design philosophy of ancient cultures often predicated the idea of fighting one big battle and carting soldiers and all their gear as reinforcements and scavenging the gear ofdead enemies, instead of just replacement arms that can replace broken and lost gear.

It wasn't even all that unique in the ancient world and other cultures made better scuta than the Roman scutum. As I was saying, the Chinese who also fought a shitload of domestic coflicts and siege warfare had something better precisely because of those experiences.

I mean in the Chinese historiography we have writigs of people usig lacquered heavy wicker and wood shields with metal banding. Fucking lacquered arms for general infantry. That being said, certainly not cheap or mass produceable on the fly and kind of requires every soldier take good care of them. Not throwing them in the mud and lettig wagons use them as makeshift pavement.

The scutum went through plenty of modification in its time. You're clearly partly referring to the early scutum used against Carthage over a hundred years previously, which was significantly lighter. The Romans responded to this by increasing the thickness, adding a metal rim, etc. so that by the time of Caesar it was considerably more robust.

The Battle of Carrhae was not Punic Wars. It was precisely Caesar's time.

"Found wanting" is a very dubious desription. It wasn't a huge and heavy shield that could resist enormous battering from heavy weapons... but it wasn't supposed to be. Such a shield would be slow and exhausting, and be "found wanting" in that respect. It could be the same weight, tougher but smaller, in which case it would provide less coverage and be "found wanting" in that respect. And so on. It's all about trade-offs for what's desired from the equipment to meet the tactics of the force, and evidently the Romans were satisfied with the scutum for a long, long time.

Right but then again the Roman heavy infantry, like all heavy infantry, is about consolidation and area denial. The idea that once it's someplace, it ain't moving very soon. And the Romans routinely sucked at it due to the fact that their arms and armour often sucked in comparison to contemporaries.

What the Romans were really good at was pulling a Crassus and sayig; "Spartacus is tearing the shit out of the locals? Well, here's money, I have an army now." Their design philosophy was fantastically modern in comparison to its slower, less mobile enemies that often had things like sovereign-controlled arms and caste-based systems to draw up soldiers.

How the Romans designed arms reflected this design philosophy. Other people made better shit, the problem is structurally their society and manufacturing processes didn't allow for Roman efficiency.

It took 2-3 years to mastercraft a complete composite recursive bow. Just to prepare the materials, and assign appropriate cadres of masterful labourers making a whole series of parts. So if Romans had built an army with the best gear, it would have taken all through the Third Servile War to have cutting edge horse archers armed with fantastic gear. But the Romans never fought wars like that.

They had neither the desire to treat a good bow as worth its weight or more in gold. They had neither the desire of Iberian swordmakers to create the perfect personal arms for each one of their soldiers as both a status symbol and all-purpose general combat weapon that will not rust or break (as to the limits of their capabilities to produce them).

Basically Romans were a marching force of regimented mediocrity that favoured mass industrial standardization of gear and quick logistics over people taking a legitimate holistic approach to industry and warfare. And as the British Empire, the U.S. AND the Soviets would prove, and basically all late-stage capitalist industry as a whole would prove conclusively, this design philosophy is potent AF.

There might be more secondary effects of arrows. Yes, there is the initial something sharp and pointy is penetrating my body, but it could have caused infection.

Roman's were well versed with treating cuts and bruising, but that doesn't mean a piece of cloth wouldn't have gotten into the wound, and start festering.

The archers may have used some biological elements as well, intentionally or unintentionally. A popular option for archers was to stick the arrows they planned on using in the ground than grabbing a few when it was time to shoot. If there was fecal matter in the area due to animal, or the own soldiers heeding the call of nature, sid bacteria could be used against other humans. Obviously most of the effects would beguine after the battle was over, but it could cripple an army if their soldiers were slowly dying of infection.

saint of m:
There might be more secondary effects of arrows. Yes, there is the initial something sharp and pointy is penetrating my body, but it could have caused infection.

Roman's were well versed with treating cuts and bruising, but that doesn't mean a piece of cloth wouldn't have gotten into the wound, and start festering.

The archers may have used some biological elements as well, intentionally or unintentionally. A popular option for archers was to stick the arrows they planned on using in the ground than grabbing a few when it was time to shoot. If there was fecal matter in the area due to animal, or the own soldiers heeding the call of nature, sid bacteria could be used against other humans. Obviously most of the effects would beguine after the battle was over, but it could cripple an army if their soldiers were slowly dying of infection.

Yeah, but the battle of Carrhae wasn't exactly as if a siege requiring weeks or months. I mean, sure... septicaemia routinely kills soldiers more than the woundings itself... but the Battle of Carrhae was over in a matter of days, and not all soldiers suffer septicaemia when wounded. And while it's true archers used to un/intentionally poison their arrows with biological contaminates due to soldiers being lined up for hours and where else are you going to piss and shit and the fact that archers routinely just buried their arrows head down in the ground in front of them... but for horse archers they specifically were required to use a quiver.

I know Medieval archers often used to contaminate their arrows on pseudo-purpose but I don't think Europeans were precisely in the know that doing as such leads to toxic shock and septicaemia in those injured by their munitions until much later after the Romans (though I could be wrong, I do know some armies used to much later).

I think the most immediate threat is disabling arms so they can't withstand blows and blood loss, for those exposed at the direct front from direct horse archer fire. Once again, plywood shields. They weren't the heavy aspis, and on the move, just like the aspis, it didn't protect the calves and feet... and Romans can't just kneel for an entire battle, regardless.

I mean if you're in a cohort and about to engage the enemy you can't just say; "Look, dude. My shield is literally nailed to my arm. Mind if I duck off to see a medic?"

All good points.

Another issiue, and one that just popped into mind, was this might have been a case of crippling over specialization. What made the tower sheild effective was the fact the enemy could tire themselves against it while the one weilding it was still safe. If your formation shifts to a more jagged outline, it makes it harder for the enemy to hit you but you can still go stabby-stab with your gladius. The enemy would tire out, panic, run, and you could run them down to your heart's delight. Couple this with the Pilum Javalin who's main job was to disable the enemy sheilds, meant the romans were armored and the silly barbarian was not.

Horse archers could probably exploit the main issiue with the tower sheild: Unless one was in the testrudo formation, the defence was all in the front of you. Horse born archers could just, you know, go around you.

saint of m:
All good points.

Another issiue, and one that just popped into mind, was this might have been a case of crippling over specialization. What made the tower sheild effective was the fact the enemy could tire themselves against it while the one weilding it was still safe. If your formation shifts to a more jagged outline, it makes it harder for the enemy to hit you but you can still go stabby-stab with your gladius. The enemy would tire out, panic, run, and you could run them down to your heart's delight. Couple this with the Pilum Javalin who's main job was to disable the enemy sheilds, meant the romans were armored and the silly barbarian was not.

Horse archers could probably exploit the main issiue with the tower sheild: Unless one was in the testrudo formation, the defence was all in the front of you. Horse born archers could just, you know, go around you.

Well pila is also a pretty good example of the continued use of the javelin against shielded heavy infantry for centuries after the fact. It's something they stole from their enemies and standardized. And it had utility in the shieldwall as soldiers from the third rank and further could still assail flanking forces or deep cohorts, or destabilize a shieldwall before a clash. The pila was effective against soldiers using an aspis, so how much do people think it would wreck a scutum? Quarter inch ply and hide verse 4 kilo weighted javelin thrown by a trained soldier.

The pilum's neck was purposely designed that if the head managed to get through the shield, you were more than likely fucked.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Agema:

Straw man. No-one's arguing that.

Wait a minute, you were.

Only in your fevered dreams. I'm merely arguing it would be relatively hard to penetrate with an arrow compared to your descriptions.

Because it adequately displays Romans weren't as if some indomitable military force...

And who was arguing that, except for no-one apparent on this forum?

Although, to be honest, when viewed in toto, they were pretty fucking fantastic, even if it was to a significant degree their ability to build a whole new army rapidly after the last one got trashed.

Right... so what exactly is a 0.3 in. thick hide and wood shield going to stand against arrows and javelins when fired wthin 20 metres directly at them? To put it plainly any real protection it provided came from its semi-cylindrical shape, but then again there's also reasons why people were writing why it didn't seem to help. Their shields were literal plywood.

It did help. If 9000 horse archers fire off all their arrows, plus all the arrows in their supply train, plus extra cartloads of arrows conveyed in ad hoc, and shields are no use then 50,000 legionaries would be crippled or dead several times over. Evidently that was not the case.

The Battle of Carrhae was not Punic Wars. It was precisely Caesar's time.

Do keep up with your own arguments. Whilst you've been disgorging lots of excessive text about how bad you think the scutum was, you've been talking about things like it being mangled by Spanish swords. The records of them being mangled by Spanish swords date from the Punic Wars.

Basically Romans were a marching force of regimented mediocrity that favoured mass industrial standardization of gear and quick logistics over people taking a legitimate holistic approach to industry and warfare. And as the British Empire, the U.S. AND the Soviets would prove, and basically all late-stage capitalist industry as a whole would prove conclusively, this design philosophy is potent AF.

I agree with that the Romans had logistics down to a T and that was a major component of their success. However, I think your under-selling another potent aspect of Roman warfare, which is the professionalised military with drills, discipline and complex organistion.

In practice, there are wildly differing qualities in all nation's production. Most Roman equipment was mediocre, some was good, and a few pieces magnificent... and so it was for everyone else. Your average Persian horse archer has a make-do composite bow with ho-hum arrows just like the average Roman has mass produced armour and weaponry. After that, people with more social status and money have better equipment. Your average Iberian grunt does not have masterpiece of Toledo steel, he has whatever the local blacksmith could bang out at a reasonable price.

Although to what extent sword quality matters that much when most soldiers fought with spears is another matter.

Agema:

Only in your fevered dreams. I'm merely arguing it would be relatively hard to penetrate with an arrow compared to your descriptions.

Relatively hard is meaningless. The fact they routinely did is why the recurve bow and javelins were still being used.

And who was arguing that, except for no-one apparent on this forum?

More to the point, their shields were also shit.

Although, to be honest, when viewed in toto, they were pretty fucking fantastic, even if it was to a significant degree their ability to build a whole new army rapidly after the last one got trashed.

That's because shitty gear is easier to make than good gear. The whole reason why the Romans never developed a real recurve bow force, but relied on mercenaries and auxilia for the role. It takes 3 years to prepare and assemble the parts that go into a Parthian horsebow given to their horse archers. Three years. Each lost bow was like losing more than its weight in gold.

Romans never treated their equipment like that. So it's 'pretty fantastic' in the same way the Soviet Wave Offensive is 'pretty fantastic'. It's 'pretty fantastic' in the same way the U.S. 'Moron Corps' were 'pretty fantastic'.

And look, I'm not saying that's bad. Quantity is a quality all of its own. It's a perfectly viable strategem to mass produce kind of shitty arms if it means getting as many people into the fight as possible. You want that 3-1+ multiplicity over your enemy, and the sooner you can get it the better. As it assists creating in a naturalistic sense force multiplication and diversity of role of your armed forces as sudden influxes of manpower also create the most fertile grounds for diversification and application of realistically coercive threat. Suddenly your other troops are not (or less) concerned with menial duties, it means your more pivotal, professional soldiery have to do less necessary maintenance, the ridiculous stockpiles of arms means less in-field scavenging and arms cannibalism for parts...

The whole reason why Romans got really good at fortification building was simply all the fucking manpower they could dedicate to it and a predication on matching the housing of soldiery to permanent defensive positions they were confident they could hold. Like Hadrian basically surrendering whole swathes of territory because the Iranic forces in the region would have simply butchered them wholesale if they strayed too far from easy logistics.

That being said, the average Roman soldier was a farcry from those growing up in the Steppe military tradition.

Mass producing the PPSh-41 and having 5 submachineguns for every Soviet at Stalingrad basically let them hold on, waiting for months for the major Soviet push and encirclement, and made every contact with Soviets a terrifying rainstorm of bullets the Axis had to deal with and failed.

But clearly you have to accept reality that it comes with concessions.

It did help. If 9000 horse archers fire off all their arrows, plus all the arrows in their supply train, plus extra cartloads of arrows conveyed in ad hoc, and shields are no use then 50,000 legionaries would be crippled or dead several times over. Evidently that was not the case.

Dude, 20,000 dead Roman legionaries, much more captured, for only 38 cataphract casualties. Against a force over 5 times their superior. They literally did as you're saying.... defeat a force many times their size several times over. The sheer capture weight of numbers suggests that even if those shields 'helped' many soldiers were disabled as was common after an arrow penetrated their arm and shoulder.

That's the thing, the tortoise formation required front row to use that otherwise protective space by that semi-cylinrical shape to butt their bodies and arms hard against it to make room beyond and under them. So soldiers would routinely suffer casualties and have their arms disabled by arrow and javelin use, if not outrightly incapacitated or dead. This also happened to soldiers using the aspis.

It's almost as if people would continue using these weapons for a reason, or something...

Do keep up with your own arguments. Whilst you've been disgorging lots of excessive text about how bad you think the scutum was, you've been talking about things like it being mangled by Spanish swords. The records of them being mangled by Spanish swords date from the Punic Wars.

Because it was always a kind of a shitty shield. By design it could not be much more reinforced without also sacrificing its utility. They are, however, easy and cheap to make (comparatively). Especially when you take into account total industrial capability.

I agree with that the Romans had logistics down to a T and that was a major component of their success. However, I think your under-selling another potent aspect of Roman warfare, which is the professionalised military with drills, discipline and complex organistion.

Only they weren't the only cultures to do as such. In fact throughout its history, Romans would be routinely shown to be subpr in both training and equipment.

I want you to consider something. The Parthian shot. Probably the hardest thing to do on horseback. With no stirrups, purely through using your knees, grip your mare or stallion Arabian stock horse, guide it at the canter and gallop, drawing bck a horse bow with a thumb draw, and hit a target 30 metres away that is jogging towards you, from behind you. Now consider the fact that there were 9,000 horse archers, and desite these clustered conditions, with a fucking river they have to navigate while pulling back, and in the chaos of battle, under threat by auxilia, and not a single one was recorded falling from their mount and being killed. That's not to say it didn't happen, but the actual number being so inconsequential it matters not to the historical record and no evidence can be found to say it even did.

Bareback riding is hard enough when training a horse to not get pissy when gripping the mane (and conversely something I was quite proud of being able to teach to horses in a week as a kid working at the stables--horseback hunters and jumpers like it) but fuck that noise if people asked me to ride just with my knees for hours. In orderly formation. With pinpoint manoeuvres and with adroit control and tactical aforethought.

And doing this in combat is some God-tier Jedi force powers shit.

It wasn't simply 'Surena was boss'. The responsibility of such profound professionalism and fighting spirit in the face of a ridiculously large opposition came down to every lieutenant and common soldier being the very best they can be to win the day with such transcendental, incontrovertible victory over a rising superpower.

Romans did not have some monopoly on good training. In fact they were often garbage in comparison to their contemporaries. I mean, wow... they beat up some infighting, tribalistic Gallic shepherds with clubs and axes. Stop the presses--an empire taking advantage of a group of 'underdeveloped' or decaying, fractious body politic and using tthat basis of exploitation to materially enrich itself into an expansionistic military society? Pfffhhh, surely not!

Not exactly another empire. It's almost as if they were routinely bad at that.

It's almost as if they were terminally city-sheltered people who got free food, and spent one third of their days (if citizenry) not working and enjoying some festival or public holiday were somehow inadequate compared with people who were routinely travelling guards and merchant retinues who traversed across harsh deserts and mountains living on a much healthier diet. People who knew how to survive the landlocked wild frontiers without a useful Medit. and conveniently having an empire within a few weeks of its coastline, and the Persians having ridiculous distances between major towns and available shelter who fought not because of some maladjusted idea of personal glory but out of a duty to their people's sovereignty...

I agree... Romans were 'professional' and 'disciplined' and 'organized'... but compared to who? Their neighbours or other empires that would ultimately outlive them and be tacitly more important on the world stage and a holistic idea of world history?

The discourse of 'Romans being special' is pretty much institutionalized racism and Western gaze-y AF.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Relatively hard is meaningless. The fact they routinely did is why the recurve bow and javelins were still being used.

Yes, they fired probably hundreds of thousands of arrows in a battle from the suggested narrative, and some penetrated scutums. Although frankly, as I already said, the vast majority did their damage by finding gaps in the shields and armour.

That's because shitty gear is easier to make than good gear. The whole reason why the Romans never developed a real recurve bow force, but relied on mercenaries and auxilia for the role. It takes 3 years to prepare and assemble the parts that go into a Parthian horsebow given to their horse archers. Three years. Each lost bow was like losing more than its weight in gold.

Oh for heaven's sake, what a load of utter crap - it's like listening to some katana fanboi who thinks Japanese swords could cut through plate armour and concrete pillars.

Europeans didn't use composite bows because Europe is often wet and humid, which tends to cause composite bows to weaken and fall apart. Composite bows were relatively costly compared to a simpler selfbow, but it is obviously absurd that composite bows would be that expensive, because they would be so hopelessly uneconomical. It takes months (not years) to make a composite bow, but the vast majority of that is waiting around while stuff happens like glue drying. In terms of total time the bowyer has to physically work on it, it's not dissimilar from the time it would take a blacksmith to make a decent sword.

Dude... for only 38 cataphract casualties. Against a force over 5 times their superior.

Are you seriously taking the casualty reports of ancient battles at face value, particularly something as absurdly precise as 38?

They literally did as you're saying.... defeat a force many times their size several times over. The sheer capture weight of numbers suggests that even if those shields 'helped' many soldiers were disabled as was common after an arrow penetrated their arm and shoulder.

Yes, they defeated a much larger force - but not by turning them into human pincushions.

The details of the battle show the initial phase where the horse archers harrassed the infantry, with the cataphracts opportunistically charging when the legionaries were disordered or protecting themselves from arrows; the point being the legionaries could not protect themselves from being shot at AND assaulted. This was extremely demoralising and frustrating.

Thus, in trouble, the Romans then released cavalry and some auxilia to attempt to drive off the horse archers, except they were met by the cataphracts which (as elite troops and very heavily armoured) completely outmatched the lighter Gallic cavalry in close combat. Never mind that as this Roman force had advanced out of the support of the rest of the Roman army, the horse archers surrounded it from the flanks and rear, and it's goodnight Vienna for them.

Realising how hopeless the situation was, Crassus then withdrew, except the Roman legionaries managed to get split up into two formations which could then be defeated in detail. The Parthians also killed the Roman commanders when they met to discuss terms, so a huge chunk of the Roman army still intact was effectively leaderless (never mind in extremely low morale considering the previous day) and simply fled.

Thus in the main action itself, the Romans probably lost under 10,000 killed, wounded and captured. A huge proportion of of these were the thousands of cavalry destroyed in the futile attempt to relieve the infantry, or legionary victims of cataphract charges earlier. The remainder withdrew from the battlefield in some order, but subsequently disintegrated due to lack of command and collapsed morale.

The long and short of all this is that it is not remotely consistent with a narrative of an unending hail of arrows blasting through shitty shields as if they were paper. Otherwise we'd have a battle report of a Roman army that never managed to withdraw in order, because they'd all have died where they stood, full of arrows.

I want you to consider something. The Parthian shot.

I considered it 30 fucking years ago, thanks, and you're not introducing me to anything new. You're just being patronising again.

I agree... Romans were 'professional' and 'disciplined' and 'organized'... but compared to who?

I note with some amusement your attempt to effectively dismiss all the Iberians, Celts, Germans, Dacians, (etc.) as apparently not counting when we assess that. Firstly, they do all count. Secondly, we've enough evidence these days to believe the conventional stereotype of rough barbarism is in many cases a Roman myth, and they were often more complex and civilised than Roman historians credited.

Comparing to places like Carthage, Greece / Macedonian states, etc. the Roman army seems generally capable of superior battlefield manoeuverability - often small scale readjustments of troops to meet local tactical needs. One can also consider that Parthian / Persian armies mostly consisted of large quantities of fairly ill-trained and ill-equipped spearmen / bowmen. The better trained cataphracts and horse archers were a famous but modest proportion of their military forces.

Their neighbours or other empires that would ultimately outlive them...

There isn't a single neighbouring polity of late Republican Rome that outlasts the Roman Empire. Various peoples do (e.g. Germanic tribes, Berbers), but no states.

...and be tacitly more important on the world stage and a holistic idea of world history? The discourse of 'Romans being special' is pretty much institutionalized racism and Western gaze-y AF.

The Romans are very special indeed in the context of Western history. And even more special in the context of a thread on Roman history, so you can get off that high horse right now.

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It takes 3 years to prepare and assemble the parts that go into a Parthian horsebow given to their horse archers. Three years. Each lost bow was like losing more than its weight in gold.

This is overly pedantic, and false, hogwash. The time consuming process in making a composite bow is curing the wood and sinew, particularly the latter is a drawn out process. However, curing wood and sinew doesn't take 3 years but closer to one and it is not a process that requires a lot of human work hours. All you need to do is find a decent spot to let the wood and sinew dry out to appropriate condition and leave it there with only occasional check ups. This can also be done industrially, you don't have to dry the sinews one by one in some artisanal microbowyer fashion. Once wood and sinew are appropriately cured, it is a fairly quick process to assemble the bow itself. That wood, sinew and bone were staple materials of antique societies also meant that composite bows were made from common, readily available materials too, materials that in a pinch could be acquired from pretty much any village, city or nomadic tribe in the area.

If you make a similar comparison to a Roman Legionary, you'd find that the production time for their armor and weapons was also several months or even years, since you'd have to start the manufacturing comparison the moment some miner hacked away a piece of iron ore in a mine, all the way through refining the iron, transporting it to the smith and finally the short process of forging the refined iron into a blade.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Romans never treated their equipment like that. So it's 'pretty fantastic' in the same way the Soviet Wave Offensive is 'pretty fantastic'. It's 'pretty fantastic' in the same way the U.S. 'Moron Corps' were 'pretty fantastic'.

Yet a Lorica Segmentata (or Hamata) was, by all standards of the time, a pretty expensive piece of equipment. In a time when a majority of non-noble combatants had to make due with cloth, leather or hide armor (and maybe some light bronze or iron armor details) and a spear, the Romans outfitted their average soldier with a full iron chainmail or banded armor and pauldrons and an iron sword. A Parthian composite bow was not cheap, but a Roman legionary was lavishly equipped by the standards of the time. So the fact that the Romans could afford to consider their armors and swords disposable just goes to show how efficient the Roman military system was. I mean, that you even call Roman equipment bad is sort of laughable when you consider the average equipment of their opponents in the time period.

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That being said, the average Roman soldier was a farcry from those growing up in the Steppe military tradition.

In the sense that neither tradition is comparable, sure. The Roman soldier was trained to fight in hilly and forested terrain where close infantry formations had huge advantages and where discipline and cohesion were important contributors to victory. A Parthian rider was drilled in a military tradition that focused on fighting mounted on endless steppes or deserts where light horse archers could rule the day by focusing on individual skill and initiative to elude the enemy. These are not comparable. Had the Parthians ever shown up in Western Europe they'd have faced the same disaster as the Romans did, because they would not be able to function in the hills of Italy or the forests of France.

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Dude, 20,000 dead Roman legionaries, much more captured, for only 38 cataphract casualties. Against a force over 5 times their superior. They literally did as you're saying.... defeat a force many times their size several times over. The sheer capture weight of numbers suggests that even if those shields 'helped' many soldiers were disabled as was common after an arrow penetrated their arm and shoulder.

Moving goalposts. Since all 50,000 didn't die and the Parthians expended what has to be hundreds of thousands of arrows over the course of the battle, the Scutum can't have been reliably penetrated. At least not unless the Parthians were terrible, terrible archers (and since you've already argued their military superiority, let's not go there). And considering that the majority of casualties in any battle of antiquity came from the winner chasing down fleeing enemies, it doesn't necessarily say anything about Parthian horse archery at all, except that it clearly outperformed a Roman force that had done one of the worst strategic mistakes in all of history. The Romans essentially marched straight into a trap of their own making, onto a battlefield where they could leverage none of their strengths while letting the enemy leverage all of their strengths uncontested.

Similarly, the large number of prisoners says nothing of their state, it is only a reflection on the simple reality that a Roman legionary on foot can't outrun a Parthian mounted on a horse. Since everyone since the introduction of horseback riding in warfare has used cavalry to run down fleeing enemies, this shouldn't even have to be spelled out. The Roman Legionaries couldn't flee the field because they were the less mobile force, hence many of them ended up dead or prisoners.

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So soldiers would routinely suffer casualties and have their arms disabled by arrow and javelin use, if not outrightly incapacitated or dead. This also happened to soldiers using the aspis.

I just want to check, at this point, that you realize that an arrow and a javelin are two entirely different weapons and have quite the disparity in the force they deliver onto the target, right? As in, a javelin produces massively more force then an arrow due to its greater weight and thus they are not comparable in terms of penetrative power.

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Because it was always a kind of a shitty shield. By design it could not be much more reinforced without also sacrificing its utility. They are, however, easy and cheap to make (comparatively). Especially when you take into account total industrial capability.

I'm curious if you could name a more effective shield of the era. Not an essay, just name a shield produced by a contemporary of the early Roman Empire that was better in the role intended for the Scutum.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
The discourse of 'Romans being special' is pretty much institutionalized racism and Western gaze-y AF.

You mean as apart from your Orientalism Mystique of making the Parthians out to be living Gods on horseback with weapons so advanced that you could buy a Kingdom for the price of one? See, two can play the game of just mindlessly insulting the others position.

Gethsemani:

This is overly pedantic, and false, hogwash. The time consuming process in making a composite bow is curing the wood and sinew, particularly the latter is a drawn out process. However, curing wood and sinew doesn't take 3 years but closer to one and it is not a process that requires a lot of human work hours.

Assuming you have cured animal glue. The problem is producing it required precise conditions to allow the materials to bond in the first place and these materials spoiled if stored longterm. People is the Eastern tradition often made their own bows assuming sufficiently skilled, but mass producing them for a war effort was a multi-year endeavour unless one wishes to compromise the weapon without proper humidity and with pisspoor materiel.

Yet a Lorica Segmentata (or Hamata) was, by all standards of the time, a pretty expensive piece of equipment.

Only most soldiers weren't outfitted with the segmentata. Most Roman soldiers at Carrhae wore chain (the hamata). Which was not only cheaper to make, but ultimately easier to wear as well and an all-around better option for what Roman heavy infantry were meant to do.

Also something Celts wore that the Romans stole it from them, so...?

Moreover, Iranic peoples also used chainmail. Their horse archers didn't, they wore reinforced leather over their regular clothes because something like the hamata doesn't allow the same freedom of movement.

The armour their cataphracts wore were intimidating to the Romans. Surena on the moment of battle managed to unnerve the Romans assembled when his cataphracts came wearing common cowls, and disrobed them infront of the amassed Romans to reveal polished, full bodied heavy scale plating and donned face occulting plate helmets.

The Romans had never seen anything like it and had thoroughly underestimated the potency of the Parthian forces. In short they shit themselves despite their overwhelming numbers.

The funny thing is King Orodes had overestimated his Roman opponents. After all, Parthia and Rome had a treaty agreement and Orodes had watched from afar Caesar and Pompey's performances on the battlefield. He thought the Roman force bearing down upon them were somehow these legendary Roman warriors he heard so much about.

The force composition of Surena's detachment were simply that to harass and try to deay Roman forces while Orodes dealt with the Armenians. So Surena didn't even have heavy infantry on the field for a reason, and was ordered simply to harass and inflict minor skirmishes on advancing Roman forces.

The fact that Surena had basically handwaved that off and just decided to drive off the Roman intruders speaks to the capabilities of Rome's contemporaries. The whole reason why Surena had thousands of camels was to supply his forces as they tactically withdraw all the way back and not lose excessive horses or men on their constant rearguard actions, waiting for Parthia's heavy infantry to reunite with his forces and fight a conventional pitched battle sometime later down the track.

In the sense that neither tradition is comparable, sure. The Roman soldier was trained to fight in hilly and forested terrain where close infantry formations had huge advantages and where discipline and cohesion were important contributors to victory. A Parthian rider was drilled in a military tradition that focused on fighting mounted on endless steppes or deserts where light horse archers could rule the day by focusing on individual skill and initiative to elude the enemy. These are not comparable. Had the Parthians ever shown up in Western Europe they'd have faced the same disaster as the Romans did, because they would not be able to function in the hills of Italy or the forests of France.

The Roman soldier barely received 4 months of training (and only often a month's training with arms they would be given post-Marian reforms). The difference is Parthian soldiers were often house organized and lead by a minor nobilty class. This ensured that people had a vested interest in seeing everyone of their soldiers perform and train constantly, and cultivated a sense of honour born by how well one's soldiers (often siblings, cousins, and close friendly relations) performed on the battlefield as if a reflection of one's personal esteem.

This had its own problems, but given that it birthed a class of soldier intimately familiar with how the people around them fought, how they control their mount, and an assurance of everyone's personal ability it created a unit with the capability to perform precise manoeuvres in combat that allowed things like the Parthian shot to be devastatingly effective.

Moving goalposts. Since all 50,000 didn't die...

Inconsequetial, nobody is legitimately expecting 10,000 battlewearied soldiers and mounts could legitimately corral and detain 20,000 routed enemy soldiers. Moreover many of those soldiers were withdrawn prior the battle's conclusion, and attempting to corral them may have over-exteded Surena's forces. It would be like giving the enemy the chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Crassus had effectively abandonned an entire legion's worth of troops to effectively cover its withdrawal, so it's not as if Surena could just ignore these soldiers.

Moreover, Surena couldn't have pursued much further without running into enemy territory. And 10,000 tired mounts and soldiers does not an invasion make. Funnily enough, while the defeat Surena dished out is probably the greatest defeat anybody could ever dread experience to suffer... ultimately if Surena listened to his king and waited for Parthia's infantry, while Romans were deeper into Parthian turf, you would have had that 50,000+ dead and captured result.

Besides, of those 20,000 soldiers unaccounted for, Longinus only managed to stagger into Syria with a pittance of survivors. So they either were lost in the chaos, died from crippled logistics, or simply harassed by skirmishers all the way back. Many battles did not simply end with total casualties one way or another.

So while the historiography sells the idea that Orodes II was 'jealous' of Surena, I'm pretty sure there were other reasons why Surena lost his head. As that surviving general would prove a headache and he would have been dead if Surena had lured him further inland allowing Orodes II to encircle any survivors or simply allow the land to claim them as soldiers marched without provisions.

Similarly, the large number of prisoners says nothing of their state, it is only a reflection on the simple reality that a Roman legionary on foot can't outrun a Parthian mounted on a horse.

But the Parthians didn't just run. They routinely engaged in melee charging Roman cohorts. It's almost as if they wore heavy scale and barding for their horse for a reason... Moreover, this assumes Surena didn't have a camp with his 1,000 camels delivering supplies as the fight was being waged. Cavalry weren't good simply because 'they can outrun infantry'. Their horses get tired, their riders get tired, they need feed and water and access to munitions. Unless you want a mount that has roughly a few hours of high exertion and then just graze or get lethargic, you're going to need high calorie feed and water.

I just want to check, at this point, that you realize that an arrow and a javelin are two entirely different weapons.

Yes. I just want to check whether you actually knew that the discussion was that shields weren't Hollywood style nonsense and that there's historical evidence to suggest that the soldiers behind them were frequently injured even if hiding behind them from proectile weapons?

I'm curious if you could name a more effective shield of the era.

Easy, Chinese lacquered shields of the Warring States era. Roughly 200 years prior Caesar. They even had their own rectangular siege shield used by Chu soldiers as cities and permanent fortifications were routine sites of battle. Same semi-cylidrical shape. Multiple layers of lacquering to provide phenomenal protection against chopping action weapons as the lacquering process gave each of their shields a strong crystalline-like coating, and they are so structurally and chemically sound as to be fairly solid antiquities to this day (assuming they were stored in a dry tomb).

You mean as apart from your Orientalism Mystique of making the Parthians out to be living Gods on horseback with weapons so advanced that you could buy a Kingdom for the price of one? See, two can play the game of just mindlessly insulting the others position.

Yeah, no. I never said Persians were gods. Point to me where I said that before running your keyboard. What I argued was Romans weren't that special. That nebulous critique of 'Romans were organized and professional' somehow makes them special in history when clearly the same thing could be routinely said about their major contemporaries. I appreciate the Parthian shot because I know horses, but I know for a fact that the odds of me being able to do it would reflect a ridiculous amount of training and practice. To do so in formation and under stress is appreciable to me and more than enough proof Romans didn't have a monopoly on good training in comparison.

Certainly not 4 months of basic a legionary goes through would even begin to cover. I'm willing to accept that my general incompetency with archery is not a universally shared trait, but then again I'm also willing to bet that 1 month of actual arms training isn't suitable to be really good at anything.

Try to stay on target.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Assuming you have cured animal glue. The problem is producing it required precise conditions to allow the materials to bond in the first place and these materials spoiled if stored longterm. People is the Eastern tradition often made their own bows assuming sufficiently skilled, but mass producing them for a war effort was a multi-year endeavour unless one wishes to compromise the weapon without proper humidity and with pisspoor materiel.

Glue was a staple product. Also, I do hope you realize yourself just how inane the "made it themselves"-argument is. Are you saying that all 9,000 horse archers at Carrhae had made their own composite bow? An advanced weapon that requires exact manufacture to be effective? The people who made most composite bows were professional bowyers and even in Parthia that meant early industrial set-ups were these bows were mass produced. Just like Roman arms.

Because you do realize that outfitting a whole legion of some 5,000 men was also a multi-year endeavor, right? So the argument is still pointless, because any well-outfitted combatant in antiquity will be wearing expensive gear. The difference is that the Parthians only outfitted their nobility and their private warrior retinues (the mounted warriors) lavishly, their main armies still consisted of more or less forced peasants with a shield and spear. Meanwhile, the Romans provided everyone with a metal armor and a sword.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Only most soldiers weren't outfitted with the segmentata. Most Roman soldiers at Carrhae wore chain (the hamata). Which was not only cheaper to make, but ultimately easier to wear as well and an all-around better option for what Roman heavy infantry were meant to do.

Also something Celts wore that the Romans stole it from them, so...?

You know, this doesn't disprove my argument. Both the Hamata and Segmentata were metal armors, even if the Hamata was cheaper it was still an armor far above the price range of most warriors of antiquity. The average Parthian would not go into battle with metal armor, nor a sword. And that's my point, that a Roman legionary in the 1st century BC was lavishly equipped, on par with the nobility of other peoples or nations of the time.

Let me remind you that your initial argument was that Roman equipment was mediocre crap. My point is that it might be "mediocre" compared to the expensive masterpieces of a tribal warlord or a Parthian noble, but that is also a bad use of the word mediocre as a Hamata was still an excellent armor compared to anything else your average frontline soldier would receive at the time. Comparing the standard equipment of a Roman legionary to the best a Parthian or Celtic noble could acquire is disingenuous to the extreme.

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The armour their cataphracts wore were intimidating to the Romans. Surena on the moment of battle managed to unnerve the Romans assembled when his cataphracts came wearing common cowls, and disrobed them infront of the amassed Romans to reveal polished, full bodied heavy scale plating and donned face occulting plate helmets.

Irrelevant to the argument. Once again, for absolute clarity since you've been moving the goalposts here: Cataphracts were elite soldiers. A roman legionary was the go to soldier of Rome. Of course the heavy cavalry composed mainly of noble sons will be more lavishly equipped, but it doesn't say anything about the quality of the Roman equipment.

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The Roman soldier barely received 4 months of training (and only often a month's training with arms they would be given post-Marian reforms).

And served continually for 25 years. That meant a lot of on the job training.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
The difference is Parthian soldiers were often house organized and lead by a minor nobilty class. This ensured that people had a vested interest in seeing everyone of their soldiers perform and train constantly, and cultivated a sense of honour born by how well one's soldiers (often siblings, cousins, and close friendly relations) performed on the battlefield as if a reflection of one's personal esteem.

This is true for the mounted warriors of Parthia, absolutely. But you know what most of Parthia's armies were composed of? Peasant levies. Untrained peasant levies armed with a spear and a shield (or a bow) and maybe an armor and helmet if they were lucky. That's what you need to compare the legionary to. Because Rome could raise 50,000 professional soldiers for a venture into Parthia, Parthia could amass 9,000 actual trained warriors and a crap ton of peasants with spears.

Compared to the average combatant of the era, a Roman legionary was incredibly professional. That for-life warrior nobility were better is correct but irrelevant to the argument, in just the same way that their superior armor is irrelevant to the argument about equipment. You've made repeated claims about the mediocrity of Roman legions but you base this entirely on comparing them to the absolute warrior elites of the time and not the average opponent a Legionary would be facing.

I'm not saying that Legionaries are Gods of War, I am saying that they were well-equipped professional soldiers in a time when the average warrior was a dude who received informal weapon training since childhood and very little tactical training or discipline, armed with a spear and shield and maybe some sort of armor if they could afford it. In that comparison the Legionary doesn't come off as mediocre.

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Inconsequetial, nobody is legitimately expecting 10,000 battlewearied soldiers and mounts could legitimately corral and detain 20,000 routed enemy soldiers. Moreover many of those soldiers were withdrawn prior the battle's conclusion, and attempting to corral them may have over-exteded Surena's forces. It would be like giving the enemy the chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Bullshit. Having a smaller cavalry force run down routing enemies was a go to tactic of the time and would be for the next 1900 years. Are you seriously trying to tell me that Surena would see fleeing legionaries, the perfect time to inflict massive losses on the enemy and go "Nah, let the boys rest, they've earned it"?

Never mind that Surena actually had his forces pursue the retreating Romans all throughout the night. Which makes this particular argument of yours especially disingenuous, because you are going against well-established historical events so you can win an argument on the internet.

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Moreover, Surena couldn't have pursued much further without running into enemy territory.

Exactly how far do you think I meant when I said chase down? Because we are, literally, talking on the very battlefield, a tactical move, not some strategic movement covering dozens of miles. To me, knowing this is like the basics of understanding warfare in antiquity, so I'm just trying to gauge if you've been spewing hot air all this time or if you're willfully misrepresenting my argument.

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But the Parthians didn't just run. They routinely engaged in melee charging Roman cohorts. It's almost as if they wore heavy scale and barding for their horse for a reason...

Semantics. Agema has already explained why the combination of horse archers and heavy cavalry charging is disastrous and I saw no point in making the paragraph I wrote longer by being anal about getting all the details rights.

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Moreover, this assumes Surena didn't have a camp with his 1,000 camels delivering supplies as the fight was being waged. Cavalry weren't good simply because 'they can outrun infantry'. Their horses get tired, their riders get tired, they need feed and water and access to munitions. Unless you want a mount that has roughly a few hours of high exertion and then just graze or get lethargic, you're going to need high calorie feed and water.

Relevant how? You do realize that you're just reinforcing my point here, right? That because Surena had an extreme advantage in tactical mobility, he could literally engage whenever and however he wanted and then pull his troops back to rest and refit while the Romans were engaged in a constant battle of attrition that they had no way to get out of. Your paragraph here is reinforcing exactly what I said about the Parthians being able to outmaneuver the legionaries in an utterly extreme fashion.

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Yes. I just want to check whether you actually knew that the discussion was that shields weren't Hollywood style nonsense and that there's historical evidence to suggest that the soldiers behind them were frequently injured even if hiding behind them from proectile weapons?

Cute, but have you read my previous posts? My very first post in this thread was me responding to Agema to point out exactly this.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Easy, Chinese lacquered shields of the Warring States era.

So to get to a better shield you have to go to a technically more advanced set of states on the other side of the world. I think we can thus safely conclude that the Scutum, despite your insistence on its terribleness, was not really a bad shield by contemporary standards. Once again you've done this thing of calling Roman equipment bad or mediocre and then picking a counter-example that's the very top of the line of the area and not something that a Roman legionary might actually face routinely on the field of battle.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Yeah, no. I never said Persians were gods. Point to me where I said that before running your keyboard.

#woosh. Also, Pot. Kettle. Black. My entire point with that ad hominem was to point out that you resorted to just blanket insulting Agema's (and mine) position by ascribing to us things we haven't written. Apparently you didn't like it when I did it to you.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
What I argued was Romans weren't that special.

And you haven't done a very good job of it. Making an ad hominem to somehow make your point more clear is both bad rhetoric and not actually helpful.

The issue of Rome vs the Parthians is a fairly easily resolved one. The Parthians had great initial success against Crassus and Anthony but later Rome because increasingly dominant against them. The Persian capitol Ctispotion was sacked by Roman troops numerous time.

But Rome being the definite example of an empire is definitely something unique to the west and factually wrong. Rome's legacy on the world is vast and its extremely long lifespawn is unique but during its existence Rome was not all powerful. The Romans were the peers of the Han dynasty at best and not at all their superior and while they became dominant over the Parthians it must also be mentioned that the Sassanid empire that came after the Parthians were a much larger threat that not only defended itself from Rome but often pierced deeply in Roman lands, sacked their cities and defeated their emperors. The Sassanids even came within a hairs grasp of toppling the Eastern Roman empire for good.

Hades:
The issue of Rome vs the Parthians is a fairly easily resolved one. The Parthians had great initial success against Crassus and Anthony but later Rome because increasingly dominant against them. The Persian capitol Ctispotion was sacked by Roman troops numerous time.

The Parthians had a lot of other internal and external problems than Rome and arguably the reason for their eventual collapse have little to do with an increised performance of the Romans.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Yeah, no. I never said Persians were gods. Point to me where I said that before running your keyboard.

I think what you're not getting here is that Gethsemani's deliberately done unto you as you have been doing unto others. As you don't appreciate your arguments being mischaracterised as straw man exaggerations, you shouldn't do that to us.

Assuming you have cured animal glue. The problem is producing it required precise conditions to allow the materials to bond in the first place and these materials spoiled if stored longterm.

The materials to make a composite bow were available almost anywhere in the world inhabited, and composite bow construction was widespread across vast tracts of Asia, from Turkey to Korea (plus some use in India, Europe, etc.). They were around ~2000 years prior to the Parthians, in a time of far less trade, organisation, civilisation, etc. So no, it's really was not that tricky or expensive.

Only most soldiers weren't outfitted with the segmentata. Most Roman soldiers at Carrhae wore chain (the hamata). Which was not only cheaper to make, but ultimately easier to wear as well and an all-around better option for what Roman heavy infantry were meant to do.

Right. Stop there for a moment. Whether banded or chain, that sort of metal armour is expensive. Chain is cheaper: but even then how time consuming do think it is to prepare all that wire, then for all of it to be cut, shaped, and connected? It would take one blacksmith in the region of two months of daily labour to make a suit of chainmail in that era. Think how that impacts the cost, and how much effort and time it might take to kit out a 5000-strong legion.

Now also consider this was the basic kit of a basic grunt for Rome. But there isn't another state within thousands of miles that would have that sort of equipment for basic troops. The Greek/Macedonian phalangites were often largely unarmoured except maybe things like greaves, or perhaps had cloth/leather breastplates. The Celts and Germans again would be cloth, leather or fur. Most of the Parthian army were infantry levies unlikely to have any armour at all. Sure, the nobles and some elite troops would be better equipped, but they're a small proportion of the military.

Thus you can call Roman armour mediocre all you like, but it's still a fuckload more expensive and effective than what a legionary's average opponent would have: which would be anywhere from nothing to thick clothing.

Gethsemani:
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Glue was a staple product. Also, I do hope you realize yourself just how inane the "made it themselves"-argument is. Are you saying that all 9,000 horse archers at Carrhae had made their own composite bow? An advanced weapon that requires exact manufacture to be effective? The people who made most composite bows were professional bowyers and even in Parthia that meant early industrial set-ups were these bows were mass produced. Just like Roman arms.

Well, those horse archers had their bows before the battle. I'm sure some of them did? I think it's reasonable a bowyer might become a soldier ad might kow morethan just how to make them, but use them in hunting and battle conditions.

Because you do realize that outfitting a whole legion of some 5,000 men was also a multi-year endeavor, right?

More so they relied on cheap surpluses of equipment. Like Crassus proved raising 70,000 soldiers in a year and a half.

You know, this doesn't disprove my argument. Both the Hamata and Segmentata were metal armors, even if the Hamata was cheaper it was still an armor far above the price range of most warriors of antiquity. The average Parthian would not go into battle with metal armor, nor a sword. And that's my point, that a Roman legionary in the 1st century BC was lavishly equipped, on par with the nobility of other peoples or nations of the time.

Who cares? Metal armour wasn't uncommon (you know, Iranic armies and even Celtibarbarian tribes wore it) and the hamata wasn't even unique to Roman armies. So no, they weren't 'lavishly equipped'. The hamata wasn't special, nor was the Roman hamata even all that advanced in comparison to major competitors. People routinely wore better stuff.

Let me remind you that your initial argument was that Roman equipment was mediocre crap. My point is that it might be "mediocre" compared to the expensive masterpieces of a tribal warlord or a Parthian noble, but that is also a bad use of the word mediocre as a Hamata was still an excellent armor compared to anything else your average frontline soldier would receive at the time. Comparing the standard equipment of a Roman legionary to the best a Parthian or Celtic noble could acquire is disingenuous to the extreme.

Okay, so if they were so fantastic pieces of structurally and chemically sound armour and arms, why exactly does so little of it survive? Why is it the historical sources routinely tell us Romans routinely stole ideas from their competitors and often remarked as being amazed by the quality and outfitting of foreign forces? The difference between Roman stuff and something like the Iberian falcata is I can still pick up the latter. To this day you can sharpen and cut someone up with many specimens of them discovered.

The only hard proof we have that Romans used a rectangular siege shield was found in 15 different pieces.

Even then only for a few centuries before they changed their design cosiderably to more practical arms designed for protecting against raiders attacking their outlying outposts. They needed something that might have a half-life longer than a battle, and as their logistical and industrial capacities to wage war were dismantled. So more durable arms, less upkeep.

Parthian cataphracts weren't nobles. They were houses of soldiers in a similar sense of fashion to heraldic knight chapters. They were led by nobles from those same houses. So these weren't shiny, terrifyingly heavily armoured nobles coming to a fight. These were entire extended families, friends and bondsmen of nobles who were all terrifyingly heavily armoured, professional soldiers who routed and pretty much destroyed a force of 50,000 Romans and auxilia... All without heavy Parthian infantry and sustaining little casualties.

Irrelevant to the argument...

How so and stay on target, please? After all, clearly their armour was better than anything the Romans had. It's almost as if the psychological tactic was done for a reason. To make it clear, no Roman armour of any of its constituent forces compared.

And served continually for 25 years. That meant a lot of on the job training.

So fucking what? What, as opposed to any other soldier out there? What, you think other empires didn't have professional soldiers that were required to keep their armour clean, fight off raiders, train constantly?

You think Parthian soldiers just got thrown equipment without proving they could use it? Full bodied scale and plate armour and barding for your horse is a pretty big concession to make for soldiers without training. Training ostensibly costs nothing in comparison to the cost of them just losing battles and materiel in devastating losses.

This is true for the mounted warriors of Parthia, absolutely. But you know what most of Parthia's armies were composed of? Peasant levies. Untrained peasant levies armed with a spear and a shield (or a bow) and maybe an armor and helmet if they were lucky. That's what you need to compare the legionary to. Because Rome could raise 50,000 professional soldiers for a venture into Parthia, Parthia could amass 9,000 actual trained warriors and a crap ton of peasants with spears.

Actually Parthia had 30,000 heavy infantry personally protecting King Orodes II in his Armenian campaign that was hoping to deal with them and isolate Romans from support. For starters Surena had a force of 10,000. It wasn't even all of their cavalry. And Romans also had auxilia and mercenaries.

Parthia was also a much less populous empire. So yes... Romans routinely enjoyed a manpower advantage against all of its enemies. But clearly that doesn't exactly bode well for your argument that they were somehow these magically great warriors that were just great and totally owe nothing to the scores of Socii and foreign mercenaries and its total industrial capacities to wage unceasing wars.

It's almost as if when the Romans began losing that advantage every 'barbarian' north of them decided to take parts of Rome as a trophy...

Compared to the average combatant of the era, a Roman legionary was incredibly professional.

Proof please. Common historical record suggests no, they weren't.

Even up until late Republic Romans routinely found pissed off natives giving them a run for their money.

That for-life warrior nobility were better is correct but irrelevant to the argument, in just the same way that their superior armor is irrelevant to the argument about equipment. You've made repeated claims about the mediocrity of Roman legions but you base this entirely on comparing them to the absolute warrior elites of the time and not the average opponent a Legionary would be facing.

No, I'm literally comparing them to their major contemporaries. In any historical era. Romans were really good at kicking the shit out of miniscule, fractious powers... not exactly good at taking on empires. Rome's rise to power had more to do with timing and geostrategy than anything else, and that is precisely the historical consensus.

The whole reason why the Roman Empire couldn't extend much further than two weeks past the Med. is obvious. Roman strength was not by its military but by its logistics and industrialization. It was easy for Romans to plant armies on a coastline, and the Med. was basically the hub of numerous populations and resources it could exploit. If it wasn't for an Egypt, Rome couldn't have been as prosperous as it was. And Egypt was always going to be an easy thing to exploit for the Romans.

Egyptian grain basically allowed the city its prestige and population growth. Slavery empowered by numerous wars and territorial expansions against inferior forces meant that there were no end to the slaves they could use in tandem with Gracchian grain doling to allow Romans not to work half the year.

It was easy for Romans to build fortifications and roads through gross total manpower and materiel they could access. And the Roman grain dole always allowed a steady river of people into its legions with the Marian reforms.

Roman soldiers were more a force of engineering and geostrategic use of resources than how good it was at thrusting a sword or spear at someone. It was a different idea of soldier. It was a labourer belonging to such large formations that would build sturdy camps with extended fortifications wherever it marched, and burn it down solely to deny other forces using them once they left.

This is how Caesar basically beat everybody he came in contact with on his Northern expedition. Not having soldiers who can stab things very well, soldiers that could throw up fortifications at a breathtaking rate. And if your argument was 'Roman soldiers were amazing combat engineers' I would agree. What they weren't were simply amazing soldiers as if could do no wrong. Their contemporaries routinely had an equipment and skill advantage on the battlefield. That is demonstrably true in any historical era you look at the Roman Empire.

Caesar almost died at the hands of the Nervii, who by all accounts were better soldiers than the Roman Legionary, who had fantastic discipline, who had good arms, and were defeated only because of other Gallic tribes Caesar effectively bought over to his side. If the Gallic tribes were united, his campaign would have ended long before.

And if Caesar fell at Belgae we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

I'm not saying that Legionaries are Gods of War, I am saying that they were well-equipped professional soldiers in a time when the average warrior was a dude who received informal weapon training...

And you'd be wrong. Roman soldiers had been given a month of actual arms training and actually spent most of their time marching or building their camps when on manouevres. The Romans weren't all that creative either, most (all) of their weapon designs pilferred by enemies they faced and routinely only triumphed over through sheer weight of numbers and gross industrialization and logistics.

Other cultures had professional soldiers.

So much so the primary arms of the Roman soldier, the gladius, was a knock-off brand of Iberian designs, and weren't even as good due to differing practices of ironworking. The gladius wasn't even that good a version of the Iberian swords they made, as the falcata was all around better... but also more difficult to make. So the Romans didn't bother trying. Why bother when the average number of people a Roman legionary would kill in battle was zero.

I mean they have to have a sword, but what's the point of making one really good sword when you can make ten 'okay' swords? Romans used bone hilts for a reason. They're easy to make and replace. They didn't expect the sword to last longer than the soldier using it. Most cultures that treated swords as if a family relic use all metal and exhaustively impressioned hilts with finger guards, or etched leather binds designed to be replaced decades down the track, or they use replacement, fine weavings of different types of cloth and bandage that soldiers would have to redo after each battle. Romans didn't. They didn't treat weapons like that.

Roman ironworking was so terribly basic that if they were coated in blood they wouldn't survive to see that soldier's son using them. Chemically unsound, even when cleaned after battle. Which is precisely why Romans did not develop the Celtic or Iberian 'storied weapon fairytale' tradition. Roman weapons did not survive their active service, and it's why unlike that Iberian falcata that you can somewhat use today there are few surviving Roman weaponry in decent knick regardless of their storage and regardless of their sheer weight of production.

It makes for nice Celtic, Chinese, Greek, Persian or Japanese style 'storied weaponry' fairytale tradition due to that focus on good personal arms... but not exactly practical if it means smaller armies or improvised weaponry for peasants.

The armament changes of Romans of the late 3rd Century onwards grew out of the knowledge that they don't have that logistical or mass industrial capacity anymore. Which is why you actually see longer personal arms and better gear as the Western Roman Empire began to break up. You start seeing better designed weapons were actually required to last longer, be more durable, make the most of fewer native soldiers they have.

In that comparison the Legionary doesn't come off as mediocre.

Right, but legitimately were not exceptional qualities at all. Romans learnt more from their enemies than the other way around.

Notably the super heavy cavalry they observed Parthians using against them lead to the creation of heavier armour for their own mounted forces. Because the Roman answer to anything was simply copypasta.

Bullshit. Having a smaller cavalry force run down routing enemies was a go to tactic of the time and would be for the next 1900 years. Are you seriously trying to tell me that Surena would see fleeing legionaries, the perfect time to inflict massive losses on the enemy and go "Nah, let the boys rest, they've earned it"?

Well clearly you have no fucking idea what you're talking about. Name me one campaign where cavalry (not chariots) legitimately outpace infantry en masse and on the march without supplies? infantry actually outdistance cavalry on the march when marching on their own steam (as legionaries were expected to do). This is particularly so when it's harsh terrain. As the same terrain infantry can move across possibly three men abreast is terrain you might need to dismount and guide your horses one at a time across.

So much so the devastating clash with Parthian cataphracts and horse archers lead to them using new tactics of implementing terrain unsuitable for Parthian cavalry. Either using terrain or creating own forms of area denial tactics suitable to the limitations of cavalry mobility.

The benefit of horses comes from delivering heavy shock troops to battle and carrying gear, or tactical manoeuvres on the battlefield. Not long distance without carrying adequate supplies.

The battle required many horses and men to fight over 24 hours. Which means their mounts would be exhausted and require high calorie feed and additional water to lower the potentiality of colic and dehydration as the horses try to process that calorie intake over nominally grazing.

An exhausted horse without rest, water or feed can take you maybe 20 miles in that day? It will also become lethargic without feed and water awaiting you, or transported with you. And it would be impossible to fight upon it immediately afterwards. Moreover he would have been meeting fortified camps on tired mounts with tired soldiery.

The best Surena could do is allow skirmishers to harass. Which he did, killing or disrupting the retreat of a further 12,000 enemy soldiers to be lost while marching back to Syria. He could not detain or corral them under his own steam. His horses would have died or become lethargic. Surena's camels were there to supply his cavalry force while they tactically withdraw, basically for a whole bunch of rearguard actions as he withdrew into fresh supplies and forced the Romans to expend their own... it would have been insufficient to mount an invasion without accompanying infantry and camel trains.

Using heavy cavalry requires planned execution. You give a human consistent rations of 2 loaves of bread aand some fat with 6 hours of sleep, they can under weight of gear do a loaded march of 32 miles a day and still be able to fight effectively. And a fit soldier can do this for weeks, often taking supplies with them on the move. You can force march super heavy cavalry for about 30 miles, and you had best get that horse feed and water or else it will not deliver you much further.

Roman legionaries under weight of gear were required to march 20 miles in five hours, and we still use such metrics to gauge a soldier's fitness today. It's considered a hoistic measurement of the infantry's fitness and multiple militaries around still have 'stomps' of loaded marches of infantry to gauge their soldier's wellbeing and maintain readiness. Push comes to shove a Roman legionary, much like current infantry, can and are routinely asked to do more.

Problem with cavalry is there's only so much lucerne, oats, molasses and water you can carry with you. And ideally none if you can rather rely on wagons which over aggregate speeds and weight, will be slower than the infantry guarding it. Particulary over difficult terrain.

Heavy cavalry were hard things to fit into a force and doubly so in terms of logistics. Whch is precisely why Romans didn't have a heavy cavalry role in their forces right up until Parthians kicked their arse and advertized just how useful they are. And just like with everything else, they stole it and only then started to actually develop sophisticated cavalry tactics within their military doctrines.

The Roman auxilia were given sickles and that was effectively the only way they managed to integrate cavalry with their forces was by the infantry providing fodder for cavalry contingents. Basically tying their marching speeds 1 to 1, and ultimately decreasing their total distances they could hypothetically cover. The huge disparity between marching speeds of cavalry versus conventional infantry were examined more indepth during the U.S. Civil War. Under regular loaded marches, by the 4th day the infantry is waiting for the cavalry. And these are light cavalry. Not heavily armoured dudes and horse barding. Horses have needs, and humans are remarkably capable creatures if fit and in their prime.

So for Roman infantry with provisions who have hours in advance of tired cavalry who require additional provisions, outrunning them is easy... and pursuing them with their cataphracts into unknown territory and likely camp fortifications would be suicide.

Moreover, why the fuck would he want to? Basically Longinus survived with a pitiful force of soldiers by the end of it and Surena had accomplished all of his objectives and then some without it costing anything of real import. If anything, the sight of haggard, exhausted, retreating Roman soldiery hiding from retaliation within a foreign province observing their fall from grace and missing their Aquilas was probably a psychological win on its own.

If a whole bunch of legions just disappeared, that would be frightening... but retreating Romans with their tails between their legs, stripped of any honour, is a humiliation that would not be forgotten. And Surena was all about the humiliation of Romans.

Never mind that Surena actually had his forces pursue the retreating Romans all throughout the night. Which makes this particular argument of yours especially disingenuous, because you are going against well-established historical events so you can win an argument on the internet.

For a night. A horse will not survive the fight over two days without feed and water. He used rested skirmishers to harass Romans after the battle, but without accompanying infantry and prepared supplies, he could not risk running into Roman reinforcements or fortifications. He basically achieved everything you criticised him not doing by not risking his forces unnecessarily and by using rested light skirmishers rather than his victorious (and precious) cataphracts and achieved the same effect.

So how is that not organized, professional, and trained? Why? Because he didn't win how you would want him to win? Moreover how does it not adequately display how Roman soldiers were routinely inept compared to their major contemporaries? Do you have a legitimate criticism of Surena?

I mean I do. That if he had led Romans further along and reunited with King Orodes II, they would have been able to perform a TPK of Romans... but then again that's armchair general nonsense, and it also is irrelevant to the argument.

Exactly how far do you think I meant when I said chase down? Because we are, literally, talking on the very battlefield, a tactical move, not some strategic movement covering dozens of miles. To me, knowing this is like the basics of understanding warfare in antiquity, so I'm just trying to gauge if you've been spewing hot air all this time or if you're willfully misrepresenting my argument.

Misrepresenting your argument where, exactly? Do you conduct yourself this way all the time?

Addendum_Forthcoming:
The whole reason why the Roman Empire couldn't extend much further than two weeks past the Med. is obvious.

Yes, it was uneconomical. Lots of hard work and expense for very little tax return.

Roman soldiers were more a force of engineering and geostrategic use of resources than how good it was at thrusting a sword or spear at someone.
...
This is how Caesar basically beat everybody he came in contact with...

This comment can only come from someone who has just ignored the plentiful evidence of all the battles the Romans won. The Romans won lots and lots of pitched battles. Against the Gauls, Germans, Carthaginians, Macedonian/Greek states, various eastern states, etc.

I mean, shit, you want to say blah blah blah "Caesar almost died", but leave out the fact that the Roman army was completely surprised whilst building camp, and yet still managed to form up, hold the line and counterattack to win victory. That sort of thing is exactly the sort of demonstration of how good they were.

Other cultures had professional soldiers.

And were they all professionals, or just what was basically the royal guard?

Why bother when the average number of people a Roman legionary would kill in battle was zero.

It's hard to know exactly how to take this. Technically true, and yet simultaneously utterly worthless.

Casualties are normally only a modest fraction of the total army size, and fatalities nearly always only a fraction (maybe ~1/3rd) of casualties. It's true of every army that's ever set foot on the planet that, rounded to the nearest integer, each soldier would kill an average of zero enemies per battle. This tells us nothing whatsoever useful about equipment.

I mean they have to have a sword, but what's the point of making one really good sword when you can make ten 'okay' swords?

Again, vacuously true.

You need to equip 50,000 troops, of course they're not all going to have a masterpiece work such as an aristocrat would. That's so obvious it hurts. Just like a Gallic brave doesn't have as good a sword as a Gallic noble. And, lest you've forgotten, people in the era overwhelmingly used spears. The Greeks and Macedonians. The Persians. The Gauls. The Carthaginians. Rome is just about the only state that mostly uses the sword; the other being the Spanish, although even then it is suggested many heavy infantry fought more like hoplites (i.e. with spears).

And a spear is considerably cheaper than a cheap sword.

Well clearly you have no fucking idea what you're talking about.

No, it's you who has completely lost it.

Post after post you've put here, they're like reading a student exam paper where the student has no idea what the answer to the questions are, so spews everything they can think of on topics vaguely relating to the question in the hope some of it scrapes some marks. Although at least they don't do it with so much arrogance.

In order to make any of your insultingly bad bullshit stick, you've waffled some meaningless garbage about long-term marching speed which is worth nothing at all as it's not relevant. Then you've made this completely illogical assumption Gethsemani proposed Surena would pursue with the cataphracts, out of literally nowhere. As if Surena doesn't have those much remarked upon horse archers, which - let me remind you - ride horses, and thus meet the criteria of Gethsemani's cavalry for pursuit.

Commenting on Agema: it als couldn't extend much further than it did because it reached its limits. Expansion was no longer making them the riches previous campaigns had made, and was more taxing more ways than one.

The Romans also won lots of battles because they learned and adapted. They went to a professional army to deal with the shortcomings of the previous recruitment methods (I.E. Only land owning citizens, which by definition, were always limited). They also took different weapons and fighting styles as they found them and improved upon them.

The Pilum was taken from the Northern Barbarians like the Gauls, and improved it by the signature long narrow pole of metal; a pole that would slide easier through enemy shields, making it hard to kill to move. And if the enemy were to try and remove the javelin to throw it back at the Romans (because its a throwing spear, it can be THROWN back) it would bend or snap, making it useless to the enemy.

The bows were now compound, made from horn and other materials and now had a stronger punch and longer range.

And The Ballista. Giant crossbows that took a handful of men to operate. Like any ordnance weapons, it was best against city walls or blocks of men, but still could go through ranks of men like a knife through warm butter. They improved upon this by making the smaller and more maneuverable Scorpion that still packed a punch but needed less to work with.

Roman generals and politicians were also highly trained. Generals lead from the front, and anyone not competent enough to either lead their men successfully or garner their love and respect usually didn't last very long.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
More so they relied on cheap surpluses of equipment. Like Crassus proved raising 70,000 soldiers in a year and a half.

Are you seriously suggesting that Rome, a nation in antiquity that's not in any way post-scarcity would just produce weapons and arms for the hell of it? What Rome did that few other nations of the time did was that it reached a size where it could maintain a serious industrial size weapons and arms production. This does not tell us anything about the quality of their arms however. Only that they had a huge demand for them.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Who cares? Metal armour wasn't uncommon (you know, Iranic armies and even Celtibarbarian tribes wore it) and the hamata wasn't even unique to Roman armies. So no, they weren't 'lavishly equipped'. The hamata wasn't special, nor was the Roman hamata even all that advanced in comparison to major competitors. People routinely wore better stuff.

I will note that you've left out the main crux of both mine and Agema's argument, which isn't that metal armor was unknown outside of Rome. The crux is that the average warrior of any other nation or tribe would show up with the equivalent of leather or cloth armor, while every Roman soldier got a metal armor as standard. You keep doing this weird dick measuring about the relative quality of the metal armor, which is utterly irrelevant when one side has 50,000 dudes in metal armor and the other has maybe 5,000 out of 50,000 in similar (if slightly better) armor.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Parthian cataphracts weren't nobles. They were houses of soldiers in a similar sense of fashion to heraldic knight chapters. They were led by nobles from those same houses. So these weren't shiny, terrifyingly heavily armoured nobles coming to a fight. These were entire extended families, friends and bondsmen of nobles who were all terrifyingly heavily armoured, professional soldiers who routed and pretty much destroyed a force of 50,000 Romans and auxilia... All without heavy Parthian infantry and sustaining little casualties.

This fits cleanly under my definition of "warrior retinue". And once again it doesn't matter that "all" of them are heavily armed when they get outnumbered 50 to 1 by average legionaries. Legionaries who are equipped in similar fashion to the average warrior retinue of most nations, Parthia being an exception due to their focus on mounted warfare, but far superior to the average levy or brave force that Romans faced. You keep banging this drum, but it is irrelevant to actually challenging the argument I and Agema are making.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
So fucking what? What, as opposed to any other soldier out there? What, you think other empires didn't have professional soldiers that were required to keep their armour clean, fight off raiders, train constantly?

To the same extent as Rome in that time period? No. Rome is exceptional in its era in that it created a professional military that was the basis for all its military might. Everyone else, literally everyone else, used a core of warrior retinues, warrior lodges, royal/chieftain bodyguards and noble warrior class as the hard core of their fighting power and supplemented that with peasant levies, tribal braves and other untrained part-time warriors with minimal equipment.

I can't tell if you honestly don't understand the argument, despite having it repeated to you several times, or if you're being disingenuous in a feeble attempt to argue personal incredulity.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Proof please. Common historical record suggests no, they weren't.

I mean, you are absolutely free to argue that a levied Parthian peasant or Celtic tribal brave was somehow better trained, more disciplined and all around a more professional warrior then a Roman Legionary serving 25 years of military service. Despite what you seem to think, the average combatant in Antiquity or even Parthia 50 BC wasn't a Cathrapract, but a peasant with a spear and a shield who had been pressed into temporary military service. So go ahead, make that argument.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Other cultures had professional soldiers.

You'll note that I've never disputed this. I've only pointed out that they were a small portion of other cultures fighting forces, whereas Rome's entire fighting force was comprised of professional soldiers. I'm sure you can see the difference.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Right, but legitimately were not exceptional qualities at all. Romans learnt more from their enemies than the other way around.

Irrelevant to the argument. One might in fact argue, as saint of m does, that it is a plus for the Romans that they could adapt their military organization to absorb the best parts of their enemies. So make this argument if you will, but realize that it is essentially an argument in favor of Rome. Because all it tells us is that the Romans weren't bound by tradition but actively seeking to field the best military force they could.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Well clearly you have no fucking idea what you're talking about. Name me one campaign where cavalry (not chariots) legitimately outpace infantry en masse and on the march without supplies?

Irrelevant to my argument of chasing someone off the field. Also borderline insulting since I even specified that I was talking of the tactical maneuver of chasing, not a strategic maneuver. As you told me: Read what I said before you run your keyboard.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
For a night. A horse will not survive the fight over two days without feed and water.

Which I never said. In fact, if you had read my post fully you'd understand that I pointed out that the Parthians chased throughout the night because that's an exceptionally long time to chase in terms of Antiquity battles. The average chasing phase would be a few hours tops, before the losing side had departed the field. Surena chased well past the initial battlefield. Do keep up and respond to what I actually write instead of making these weird tangents that has no bearing on the argument at hand.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Misrepresenting your argument where, exactly? Do you conduct yourself this way all the time?

Do you? Just look at this particular post of mine, I can count to at least three times when you've misrepresented my argument (or deeply misunderstood it where others seem to get it fine).

Gethsemani:

Are you seriously suggesting that Rome, a nation in antiquity that's not in any way post-scarcity would just produce weapons and arms for the hell of it? What Rome did that few other nations of the time did was that it reached a size where it could maintain a serious industrial size weapons and arms production. This does not tell us anything about the quality of their arms however. Only that they had a huge demand for them.

Absolutely not... well, sort of. Prior Crassus there were a solid three decades of war, and there was routine materiel being produced due to the Hispanic campaigns with Pompey. But moreso that Roman armies were not clearly multi-year expenditures. He did, in fact, raise a mighty force in a year and a half through simply his wealth and prestige to do so.

I will note that you've left out the main crux of both mine and Agema's argument, which isn't that metal armor was unknown outside of Rome. The crux is that the average warrior of any other nation or tribe would show up with the equivalent of leather or cloth armor, while every Roman soldier got a metal armor as standard. You keep doing this weird dick measuring about the relative quality of the metal armor, which is utterly irrelevant when one side has 50,000 dudes in metal armor and the other has maybe 5,000 out of 50,000 in similar (if slightly better) armor.

It wasn't 'slightly better' however. The hstorical consensus is the Romans hadn't seen anything like it and inspired them to try to replicate it. Also not all soldiers wore the hamata. You seem to be neglecting all those Socii and mercenaries who still wore no armour at all like their Persian counterparts.

So it wasn't '50,000 dudes in armour' ... maybe about 28-30,000 (about 7 legions with cavalry and other aux). And that metal armour wasn't all that good. Also the hamata was only worn by wealthier soldiers. Most soldiers wore a leather cuirass and a single greave.

Because most soldiers were not front rank fighters so it was pointless.

Their cavalry wore little to nothing but their tunics... because horse riding is surprisingly uncomfortable, hot, and tough. When I was working at the stables as an afterschool and weekend job, my thighs and arse would be raw by the next day at school. That was only 5-6 hours and 12 hours working with horses on weekends when I was young teen. Australian Light Horse soldiers got a good loading ontop for a reason. To be fair, I was the one in the saddle gentling/breaking horses in to get used to gunfire while mounted and we can already assume these are trained mounts... but simply trotting about is also tiring on riders after hours on end.

Horse riding is surprisingly hard on you when you start talking entire shifts rather than pleasure riding.

So they wore pretty much what Iranic horse archer forces did for a reason. The difference is horse archers have good reasons not to be burdened by heavier armour, and something like cataphracts are going to be people with serious cred in the ancient world.

This fits cleanly under my definition of "warrior retinue". And once again it doesn't matter that "all" of them are heavily armed when they get outnumbered 50 to 1 by average legionaries. Legionaries who are equipped in similar fashion to the average warrior retinue of most nations, Parthia being an exception due to their focus on mounted warfare, but far superior to the average levy or brave force that Romans faced. You keep banging this drum, but it is irrelevant to actually challenging the argument I and Agema are making.

You've made no argument beyond pretending Romans were somehow better soldiers than their contemporaries. Nebulous commentary. I'm calling garbage. Persians were clearly better trained, better equipped, and clearly better soldiers more eager to fight.

The cataphract contingent was only 1,000 cavalry in that force of ten thousand cavalry. As pivotal as it was, it wasn't the ace in the hole. The importance of Carrhae is recognizing how Roman doctrines failed it. How the war Romans wanted to fight would not be sufficient for war that it would inevitably fight against probably its largest immediate competitor. Iranic-centred cultures that would consistently deny Roman gains in perpetuity.

It's also a good example of how diverse and prolific Iranic military doctrines were. 200 years before you had the over-reliance on chariots, and by Carrhae their military structure had fundmentally been changed by the Parthian Empire. These were professional armies who were no less evolving in a manner and direction that was remarkably professional, dynamic and modern in that it could easily form detachments on the fly through complex leadership hierarchies, and precise in that their actions on the battlefield signal everyone of their regiments had exact understanding on how to engage the threat.

To the same extent as Rome in that time period? No. Rome is exceptional in its era in that it created a professional military that was the basis for all its military might.

That would be false. For the same reasons as above. Just because you say something doesn't make it true. Actually back up your argument with examples. Clearly they weren't the only professional soldiers on the block, and quite clearly that professionalism was not the basis of their 'military might', at least not in a conventional sense of people being trained and outfitted better than others. I would have argued things like its military engineering. As on the battlefield, it is routinely remarked Romans were kind of shit.

The most remarkable thing about Roman soldiers (specifically Legionary) is they often carried shovels on their person into combat and spent 90% of their time studying how to make good fortifications and roads rather than actually being decent soldiers. If the argument is Roman Legionary (specifically) was a brand new idea of soldier, I'd agree. Decent soldiers they were not.

First one has to define what a professional military force is. The critique as you use it now could describe innumerable military forces we currently see in the world. They treat soldiery as a career, and are lead by a professional soldiery caste. But Romans already fail this critique, as Crassus was not a professional soldier himself. Sure he fought a couple of rebellions, but he was a businessman first and foremost. Basically a billionaire with the legal capacity to raise armies.

It'd be like Bill Gates funding a massive mercenary force, installing himself as Grand marshal, and calling it a 'professional military' of 'Microsoftesia'.

It would, infact, be less conventionally 'professional' than even a smaller military force of a nation invaded by 'Microsoftesia' forced to perform asymmetrical warfare due to the overwhelming number and resources of Microsoftesia. Wouldn't you agree?

Not every commander was an 'Socii class made good' like Pompey. Pompey was quite iterally the last Roman general that was a commander not by simply wealth, but because he had proven himself. Who had a lifetime's experience of soldiery. Arguably Caesar edges him out but only well and truly after the Triumvirate stopped being a thing.

He was also a spoilt brat.

I can't tell if you honestly don't understand the argument, despite having it repeated to you several times, or if you're being disingenuous in a feeble attempt to argue personal incredulity.

Yeah, see, if I responded like this I'd get slapped with a warning. So much so I have to take a day out before bothering to respond. First of all, if you want me to take you at your word how about if you at least define some terms first.

What exactly are you arguing? So far it seems to be some nebulous commentary of 'professionalism' ... okay, how were Roman (Legionary) soldiers 'professional'? Because they weren't better trained (we know this by historical reference of their training regimen), routinely shown to be worse equipped, and they were often lead by wealthy patricians rather than actual commanders that would fight on behalf of Rome.

So how about we start there?

What was so 'professional' about the Legionary? It wasn't better trained than any other heavy infantry role in the ancient world. In fact it was kind of routinely shown to be garbage in the face of other heavy infantry soldiers of the ancient world. It was certainly 'organized' but then again, apparently not organized enough to defeat many of its opposition. Often relying on simple weight of soldiers to persevere and triumph.

I mean Caesar had a reason inflating the numbers of Nervii he faced by a multiplication of four. As almost getting killed and losing an entire campaign because about 15,000 natives decided to ambush his arse and somehow take him completely unawares and take his forces by surprise, and his only savng grace being other Gallic tribes assisting, isn't a good look.

The fact that it took 179 years to put down a Celtiberian insurgency?

I mean tell me the metrics here. A pissed off Spartacus managed to ravage the Socii everywhere South of Rome for years on end, and the only real answer to that was Rome relying on wealthy patricians essentially buying mercenaries and armies and recalling Rome's only decent general of the era, Pompey, back from the frontiers--and crushing it with overwhelming manpower and materiel.

Hollywood has basically tarnished Pompey's reputation as a glory hound who simply swept in for the kill, but a realistic interpretation of the Third Servile War is they still needed a Pompey to crush the dissent. Basically before Pompey, the only notably decent commander Rome could actually rely on was Sulla. Due the thoroughly unprofessional relationship of Roman soldiers to the State, Sulla had to be recalled from the Mithridatic Wars to put down a full scale Marian rebellion.

Sulla was winning and he had to be recalled and mobilize his forces elsewhere because there was yet another civil war a-brewing between pissed off commanders and soldiers solely rallying to whoever was paying them. Yet another civil war by fractious military commanders who swore no allegiance to Rome, but purely whoever was putting coin in their pocket.

Sound professional and organized to you? It doesn't to me. It sounds like a clusterfuck ripe to be demonstrated in how inadequate is was on the battlefield. And guess what? It was. Routinely.

So define your terms.

I mean, you are absolutely free to argue that a levied Parthian peasant or Celtic tribal brave was somehow better trained, more disciplined and all around a more professional warrior then a Roman Legionary serving 25 years of military service. Despite what you seem to think, the average combatant in Antiquity or even Parthia 50 BC wasn't a Cathrapract, but a peasant with a spear and a shield who had been pressed into temporary military service. So go ahead, make that argument.

Wait, spears are bad now? You do understand that not everyone in the Roman armies were Legionaries, right? Roman armies used fucking spears. Roman Legionaries often favoured the spear so much one of the design prerequisites of the pila was capacity as a hand-to-hand weapon (which they often used it as). Spears are amazing. They're fast, they're long, you can throw some versions, they basically facecheck everything on the battlefield, and they allow multiple ranks of soldiers to fight. Spears simply kill shit faster than swords, are quicker to wound, are more certain to inflict a mortal blow, and are also capable of delivering more focussed energy to a target upon impact... Spears are great.

The whole reason (and historical use) of things like the zweihander was as a short spear. Gripping the blade by the second quillion and maneuvering to thrust towards your enemy in tight confines. So turning swords into spears.

So no ragging on the spear. It was the definitive weapon for every warrior of every skill to learn to use and fight against for a reason, and Hollywood is garbage.

Okay, so we don't have exact information on 1st Century BCE Parthian infantry forces, but we do have information on Parthian light and medium infantry soldiers of the early Hellenistic era.

They used a spear, sword (often front ranks and commanders), plated thyreos shield (or heavy wattled shield depending on role), javelins, and quilted leather armour. We also know they were considered the primary bulwark of the Parthian forces as King Orodes II marched his light and heavy infantry in Armenia, and was seeking to beat his rivals there and reunite wth Surena's forces further south.

So I would like to know where you're getting this 'peasants' from. They were recruited from Parthian regime cities. And the keyword is recruited. It was a job that came with coin from Parthian regime city taxation. There were also the Daylami heavy infantry, who used massive shields of heavy slatted wood, though I can't recall if they were part of Orodes' forces. I think they were latter Iranic empires.

They were certainly better equipped than the average Roman army Socii.

The Sassanians used levied soldiers, but that is approximatey 300 years after Carrhae and still didn't form the mainstay of their forces.

Irrelevant to the argument. One might in fact argue, as saint of m does, that it is a plus for the Romans that they could adapt their military organization to absorb the best parts of their enemies. So make this argument if you will, but realize that it is essentially an argument in favor of Rome. Because all it tells us is that the Romans weren't bound by tradition but actively seeking to field the best military force they could.

It's not hard to improve on basic training.

Irrelevant to my argument of chasing someone off the field. Also borderline insulting since I even specified that I was talking of the tactical maneuver of chasing, not a strategic maneuver. As you told me: Read what I said before you run your keyboard.

Okay, my argument was from what I recall of the historical record, Crassus had withdrawn much of his forces from the field and had abandaonned many of the rank and fle at the front. So Surena could not over-extend his forces, norignore those soldiers still in the field. He had a much smaller force and could not afford to do so to corral them.

You went on a tirade screaming about that's what cavalry do, ignoring the fact that these soldiers had likely already been on the march for hours before Surena could completely consolidate the field. So they would have had miles on him before he could even organizehis forces once more to pursue them.

Is most of the Arguments here a case of comparing apples to Orenges, because this sounds like a case of Soldiers vs Warriors.

Warriors fought for their own honor, and while they may work well as a team they largly are out for their own reputation.

Soldiers fight for the warrior next to them, and work best as a team.

Would the arms and armor also be more standardized with one army and not the other, thus allowing more wiggle room in quality?

saint of m:
Is most of the Arguments here a case of comparing apples to Orenges, because this sounds like a case of Soldiers vs Warriors.

No, the arguments here are Addendum Forthcoming trying some sort of iconoclastic, revisionist bullshit full of inaccuracy.

I mean, for instance, he's going on about the Socii, relating to a battle decades after Socii had ceased to exist because they had been made full citizens of the Roman empire. It's basically 10% drivel with 90% irrelevant padding, the latter to just give the impression of some sort of knowledge.

And then there's all the non-stop, straw man nonsense. We got onto spears because of talking about the expense of Roman equipment (swords beng considerably more expensive than spears). And then, out of precisely nowhere, Gethsemani is accused of calling spears shit: an opinion which exists absolutely nowhere in her responses, but provides a springboard for another huge and useless rant. What the fuck is anyone supposed to do with that sort of arguing?

Agema:

saint of m:
Is most of the Arguments here a case of comparing apples to Orenges, because this sounds like a case of Soldiers vs Warriors.

No, the arguments here are Addendum Forthcoming trying some sort of iconoclastic, revisionist bullshit full of inaccuracy.

I mean, for instance, he's going on about the Socii, relating to a battle decades after Socii had ceased to exist because they had been made full citizens of the Roman empire. It's basically 10% drivel with 90% irrelevant padding, the latter to just give the impression of some sort of knowledge.

And then there's all the non-stop, straw man nonsense. We got onto spears because of talking about the expense of Roman equipment (swords beng considerably more expensive than spears). And then, out of precisely nowhere, Gethsemani is accused of calling spears shit: an opinion which exists absolutely nowhere in her responses, but provides a springboard for another huge and useless rant. What the fuck is anyone supposed to do with that sort of arguing?

For what it is worth, i agree.

Agema:

saint of m:
Is most of the Arguments here a case of comparing apples to Orenges, because this sounds like a case of Soldiers vs Warriors.

No, the arguments here are Addendum Forthcoming trying some sort of iconoclastic, revisionist bullshit full of inaccuracy.

I mean, for instance, he's going on about the Socii, relating to a battle decades after Socii had ceased to exist because they had been made full citizens of the Roman empire. It's basically 10% drivel with 90% irrelevant padding, the latter to just give the impression of some sort of knowledge.

And then there's all the non-stop, straw man nonsense. We got onto spears because of talking about the expense of Roman equipment (swords beng considerably more expensive than spears). And then, out of precisely nowhere, Gethsemani is accused of calling spears shit: an opinion which exists absolutely nowhere in her responses, but provides a springboard for another huge and useless rant. What the fuck is anyone supposed to do with that sort of arguing?

Oh, fuck right off. Point me where either of you have actually put forth a cogent argument. One piece of historical evidence. One. What I'm saying is not 'revisionist bullshit' ... It's a bit fucking rich to say I'm the one pulling out strawmen when I'm the only one actually going into detail. Ad hominin garbage I'd get slapped with a warning for. Gethsemani pulls out bullshit of '50,000 dudes in metal armour' ... it's bullshit.

At best about half of them did. At best.

See, that's your actual fucking revisionism right there, but rather than recognize that mistake you pretend like the person pointing out that's nonsense is somehow wrong.

Romans used spears and shields. Kind of relevant if the background of your criticism is soldiers using spears and shield with the vague allusion to 'that's bad'.

saint of m:
Is most of the Arguments here a case of comparing apples to Orenges, because this sounds like a case of Soldiers vs Warriors.

Warriors fought for their own honor, and while they may work well as a team they largly are out for their own reputation.

Soldiers fight for the warrior next to them, and work best as a team.

Would the arms and armor also be more standardized with one army and not the other, thus allowing more wiggle room in quality?

Well the nebulous argument of 'professional' is kind of the point. Romans (much like their Socii) received very little training on the whole, and as we examine from historical records regmented training is not exactly a foreign concept to numerous contemporaries of it.

Crassus' invasion of Parthia was basically the ultimate notch on the bed mantle. He was jealous over Caesar's (embellished) actions in the north and Pompey's lifelong military achievements. The important thing to consider about the Parthian conflict was that it was Rome had a treaty with Parthia. And Crassus broke it regardless of the Senate and the heated disagreement he faced in so doing.

It was ultimately the biggest clusterfuck in Roman history. But what made this particularly galling was the fact that these weren't just some tribals up North. This was another empire. A less populous empire, to be sure, but an empire no less.

It's kind of important to note that the Parthians had stadardized equipment. It was often regionally-centred however. There are geographical reasons why different soldiers from different parts of the Parthian Empire used different gear... and a lot of that had to do with what they could reasonably resource.

For example, how Daylami heavy infantry were equipped, which reflects the resources they were most used to manufacturing with. So entire cadres of variably skilled, equipped soldiery on the basis of geographical capacity to industrialize a war effort. Which has pros and cons. As there's good evidence that Iranic people were an industrious lot and were pretty skilled on the whole of managing the disparate cultures that made up their uniquely different peoples they banded together into a whole.

There is a world and wealth of difference between Western Iranic population centres and their Eastern population centres. If you look at topography and unique economies, there were reasons why the empires of the East were a pluralistic bunch of religions, traders, laws, and industry. And the topography alone guarantees a wealth of different military doctrines.

And various Iranic empires often reflected this bewildering array into their militaries. It's not just hot desert. It's cold deserts, massive mountain ranges, humid forested valleys, Steppe country, arid grassland, flood plains... going further abroad from these broad environmental extremes individual peoples lived and fought in, you have a melting pot of different cultures routinely influencing cultures as the natural conduit between East and West. And bringing these two together the Parthian and latter Iranic Empires had always had a diversity of people with a diversity of materiel that was resourced, but problematically required extensive and predominantly land travel-based transport of goods to unite its multifaceted aspects.

So naturally this was problematic if you required every soldier from all corners of your empire to adopt a singular expression of coercive threat. It would probably harm your efforts to try as fighting on grassland is different than fighting in mountain ranges, flood plains, or in forests.

There is a reason Orodes predicated his attack into Armenia with the infantry and allowed Surena an all cavalry force that Surena could supply with thousands of Bactrian camels.

The central problem I have is typically viewing Parthian soldiers from the Western gaze, when ultimately that Western gaze is pretty fucking wrong to begin with as patently made clear above. Parthian soldiers trained. They weren't 'peasant armies'. They were recruited by the regime, trained, given some pretty good shit '''peasants''' wouldn't be able to afford if they were '''peasants''', and depending on where you came from would largely dictate your arms. Which is neither good or bad on its own.

Basically when we think 'Roman armies' we think post-Marian, Hollywood nonsense. But nonsense is just that.

It's not really a case of soldiers vs. warriors... though there was a real element in Roman forces of the late Republic of 'doing it for the auctoritas'.

The Parthian soldiers fighting basically on two fronts by the invasion of Crassus were ultimately fighting for the Parthian Empire. The whole reason why Crassus was there was simply because he was greedy for a military win to call his own, treaty or not. They certainly weren't 'doing it for Rome'.

Roman armies were a hotchpotch of mercenaries, vassal state soldiers, and Roman citizenry. So while Roman mass standardization of gear is technically accurate, I would argue that in a way it was often more varied than many of its opposition. For good or ill.

Like if we include the Armenian cavalry that Crassus pilferred in addition to his own, in tandem with Gallic cavalry, Crassus actually could of had roughly 11-12,000 trained mounts and cavalrymen by the time he entered Parthian territory. So in terms of trained horses and riders alone, he numerically held an advantage...

We know Crassus entered Syria with 4,000 'Italian' cavalry, and we know his son procured 1,000 Gallic cavalry in turn and entered Syria with them. So that leaves a deficit of roughly 6-7,000 cavalry by the time of Carrhae. The only argument as to why this wasn't apparent could be those horses simply died as Crassus decided to take a more direct desert route rather than travelling through then Roman-allied Armenia.

About the only reasoning we can come up with was he simply didn't want to. Maybe it was have diluted his pride if his naysayers had running commentary how Armenians were responsible for his victory? Who the fuck knows what was going through Crassus' head.

So that should kind of tell you something about Roman 'organization'... it's almost as if you don't trust billionaire oligarchs whose only merits to command were how many denarii in his coinpurse, or something...

The fact of the matter is those Armenian cavalry would have meant more than any amount of legionary he could populate the field with and so from start to finish, despite being given literally everything Crassus needed to win, simply gave it all away.

And the thing is it's important not to be Captain Hindsight about this. Surena wasn't ordered to directly confront the Roman invasion, so the battle itself wasn't a sure thing. He was ordered to harass and detain them with rearguard actions until reuniting with Orodes' own forces dealt with the Armenians who themselves had about 40,000 possible soldiers that could hypothetically check Parthian forces in Armenia.

Surena decided not to, but rather check the Roman advance then and there. Which was his prerogative as a Parthian Spahbed at the front.

So not only were there a numerical disadvantage Surena faced, but a numerical disadvantage Orodes faced, and if Crassus was facing any other general but Surena, it would have been a series of rearguard fights all the way to Ctesiphon. So, where the fuck is that vaunted 'Professionalism, organization and training'? There were clearly deficits in all three.

Including a basic failure of leadership, restraint, strategic thought, and intelligence on the enemy.

The literature recounts how the Romans simply got spooked by the number of drums Surena beat, and the simple fact that the Parthians decided to set up camp in order to illustrate their willingness to fight. So these weren't disciplined Roman soldiery otherwise certain in their victory, and as far as we can tell, the Parthian soldiers were more than confident about outcomes from day 1. And that should inform us about the level of discipline and capability they displayed.

There are structural aspects to these demonstrable problems that continually get displayed and continue to plague Roman forces throughout antiquity. Only some of which were resolved by Imperial era politics.

Not to point out the bleeding obvious, this wouldn't simply be a singular event.... rather Rome would suffer a second disastrous campaign against Parthia despite once more having a ridiculous numerical advantage as part of a much larger coalition. But here we are fucking pretending the Parthian soldiery couldn't match their Roman contemporaries because reasons apparently and apparently its wrong to point out the basics of 'results matter'.

Antony's Armenian Triumph is like the ultimate expression of butthurt in history... Nuh uh! I didn't suffer a crushing defeat losing 50+ thousand soldiers against a numerically inferior enemy! The real war was beating up an ally who helped us fight the Parthians! In this sense, we were totally successful. Give me my fucking parade!

Comedy.... gold.

Almost as if those Parthians were actually 'professional, organized and trained'... but hey, why come up with cogent arguments and historical evidence when you can just accuse someone of 'historical revisionism' for using actual historical events that happened and prove Roman inadequacy in the field?

Addendum_Forthcoming:
At best about half of them did. At best.

7 legions; That should be ~35,000, maybe up to ~40,000, troops with metal armour. After that, 4000 light troops and 4000 cavalry. The 4000 light troops obviously won't have had metal armour, but some of the cavalry will. So we're actually talking probably about three quarters, or close to 90% of those expected to engage in hand-to-hand combat.

Romans used spears and shields. Kind of relevant if the background of your criticism is soldiers using spears and shield with the vague allusion to 'that's bad'.

No-one's arguing that, for fuck's fucking sakes. No-one has ventured an opinion "spears are bad".

Spears are cheap.

This with relevance to the fact you keep going on about how shit Roman swords are. Swords were expensive, and thus normally the weapon of the wealthy and elites. However, the Romans were an exception, and mass-produced swords as the basic arm of their heavy infantry. Other nations had basic troops that overwhelmingly used spears. Their swords tended to be the weapons of their wealthy and elites, who will have spent a lot more money on them. The sword of a Roman noble, however, who will have paid more for quality, was probably every bit as good as noble of any other realm. Thus an argument that boils down the swords of the Parthian nobility being better than the swords of Roman grunts is nothing but a pointless truism.

The above however is a sub-strand of a wider argument: that being how well Romans were equipped. Comparing a basic Roman soldier - a legionary - against their equivalents: basic Seleucid phalangites, Gaulish or Dacian warriors, etc. You can only come to the conclusion that the legionary is exceptionally well and expensively equipped - because they even have stuff like metal armour at all. It might not be expertly crafted, but it's better than cloth or leather.

Was an individual legionary amazing at combat 1-on-1? Probably not. But that's underselling that Roman skill at arms was not based on individual brilliance, it was based on co-ordinated, co-operative work, which has always been a plus for every military, ever. This is at the level of individual troops, where soldiers were much more likely to work effectively with the people standing next to them in a battle line, and also the organisational system with centuries, maniples and so on which meant Roman armies were highly effective at mid-battle manoeuvering - adjusting depth of the line, changing facing, responding to circumstance, etc.

Go back to the time of Hannibal, we see countless times Roman infantry often outperform their opponents - even in the battles they lost. Hannibal won with ambushes, or by driving off the poor quality Roman cavalry and surrounding his opponent even as his infantry was being pushed back. The Romans proved adept at beating the Gauls, the post-Alexandrian successor states, places like Pontus, etc. - and they did so with plentiful victories on the battlefield. It is a testament to their quality. Sometimes they did so just by holding the line until their opponents tired and fractured than driving through and cutting them down. Who cares? That's still a testament to quality.

When it gets to Germany and Parthia the Romans stumble - in large part because they are fighting in adverse terrain and (in the case of Carrhae) totally unfamiliar forms of warfare where their traditional techniques were less well suited. The Romans held the border against the Germans for centuries. Let's remember that the Parthians were vastly less successful campaigning anywhere in Rome's normal stomping grounds - only transiently successful when exploiting civil wars, often allied with rebel Romans. This is therefore not evidence of the Romans being mediocre at warfare: it's more a "horses for courses" issue of military forces being suited to the environment they operate, as Mesopotamia is nothing like southern France. Eventually even then, 150 years later the Romans mashed the Parthians very handily indeed. The Romans learnt and won - the Parthians didn't. That says a lot, too.

Gethsemani:
To the same extent as Rome in that time period? No. Rome is exceptional in its era in that it created a professional military that was the basis for all its military might. Everyone else, literally everyone else, used a core of warrior retinues, warrior lodges, royal/chieftain bodyguards and noble warrior class as the hard core of their fighting power and supplemented that with peasant levies, tribal braves and other untrained part-time warriors with minimal equipment.

Er, do you mean after the Successor kingdoms stopped being powers, or had they lost their Macedonian systems of warfare by then? I'd thought at least some of them retained Alexander-style professional armies, but I could be wrong about that.

Most Roman armies were loyal to their general more than the Republic/Empire. Its why they didn't kill Ceasar when he made himself the first dictator for life. Previously Dictators in Rome were something in an emergency case, and would last 6 month of ultimate authority before they willingly gave up the rights, knowing they could never have that position again.

While tech and tactics they were superior to their neighbors, often takeing some elements of them that made them good (armor from Celts, Bows from the huns, Javalins from the Germans, Balistas from the Greeks) and improved upon them, they were still a group of warriors following a cheiften. A well drilled, and a well disaplined army, another key to sucess, but that still had the band of warriors following who's first loyalty was to a cheif officer none the less.

Thaluikhain:

Er, do you mean after the Successor kingdoms stopped being powers, or had they lost their Macedonian systems of warfare by then? I'd thought at least some of them retained Alexander-style professional armies, but I could be wrong about that.

Alexander did not have a professional army. The elite hypaspist infantry (later called argyraspids) and companion cavalry were probably professionals, or as close as makes no difference. However, after that, he had the usual forms of citizen soldiery of the Greek / Macedonian states plus whatever militia or tribal warrior types common to the region and era: Macedonian phalangites and cavalry, Greek hoplites and peltasts, south Balkan light infantry, Thessalian cavalry, etc. and so on more as the empire expanded.

The successor states had to all intents the same model. A royal guard of infantry and cavalry, plus a core of phalangites (Greek/Macedonian settlers), supplemented by whatever other infantry and cavalry were typical to the area their empire was in. The Seleucids, for instance, having taken over the Persian part of the post-Alexandrian empire, had particularly strong cavalry forces that fought in typical Persian/Parthian styles.

The Antigonid Macedonians and Seleucids were conquered still with this system, although the Seleucids had evidently started re-equipping their infantry from phalangites into Roman-style legionaries towards the end. The Ptolemaic Egyptian military system had problems with a far smaller Greek population to support the core. By the time the Romans were in the area it had completely collapsed and the Egyptian army was basically just a load of mercenaries.

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