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Topic Subject:Roman army VS Crusader army
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-26-12 09:40 AM EDT (US)         
So who would be the winner if a Roman army of the 1st century AD fought an 12th century Western European army in a pitched battle? I propose two examples: Vespasians army during the First Roman-Jewish war and Richard's I army at the battle of Arsuf.

I believe that Richard's army would prevail, as there were many knights in his army and he had more sophisticated weapons, e.g. the crossbow. These two could defeat the Roman army, even though it was 60,000 men strong, because the true elites were the 16,000 legionaries, as the rest were allied and auxiliary troops... What do you think?

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
AuthorReplies:
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-26-12 10:41 AM EDT (US)     1 / 46       
Twelve hundred knights would indeed be a powerful force, but three legions and auxiliaries? Depends on the weaponry of the auxiliaries and the skill of the commander, to be honest.

The Imperial legions would still be using pila and scuta. The crossbows might penetrate that, so it would be up to the Roman auxiliaries- cavalry comes to mind- to harry them away and protect the legionaries. The pila of the legionaries would wreak bloody havoc against the kinghts and against the infantry, and the discipline of the legions was far stronger than that of the medieval footman, so I give the foot battle to the Romans. If they manage to hound the ground-pounders away, and hem in the knights, those knights become very tall footmen and therafter toast.

If the knights retain their freedom of movement and avoid being swamped by the infantry, they might survive, but with the loss of the infantry, the battle can no longer be won.

I give the Romans the edge in that one.

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[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-26-2012 @ 12:59 PM).]

Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-26-12 10:53 AM EDT (US)     2 / 46       
You're right Terikel about the legions, but since the war was fought before Vespasian's reforms in the military, the auxiliaries where probably of local origin, which means limited cavalry. In addition, there were about 1,000 Turcopoles in the battle (Horse archers) and the total cavalry force was 5,000 men. I think that the infantry could hold the legion long enough for the cavalry to smash on the flank or rear of the legions. BTW, the Parthians had 1,000 cataphracts in Carrhae too, but defeated a larger number of legionaries... The size could make a difference, though (60,000 Romans and 30,000 crusaders).

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
ShieldWall
Ashigaru
posted 10-26-12 11:38 AM EDT (US)     3 / 46       
I'd expect the Crusaders to win by a mile. Richard I was a better general than most of that time, which for the Romans is a pity because I think only their superior organisation and discipline could save them. That and the tendency of hot-headed crusaders to do something stupid.

The example of Carrhae is important because that shows how well the Romans of that era (okay Vespasian was a century later) could stand up to heavy cavalry. They couldn't. The Parthians simply charged through them repeatedly. Unless the Roman infantry are equipped with spears, you'd have to back the Knights to do exactly the same and for the Crusader infantry to pile into the gaps they made. If it was a straight infantry slugging match though, I'd back the Romans. Discipline, good armour, big shields and short swords count for a lot.

Would all of this stand up to crossbows though? Interesting question. Well the Parthian horse archers made a horrid mess of Crassus at Carrhae, and crossbows are much more powerful weapons. I don't know if they would penetrate a Roman shield, but if the arrows of the horse archers found a way through then so would the crossbow bolts. They would certainly penetrate armour.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-26-12 01:05 PM EDT (US)     4 / 46       
Crusader knights weren't cataphracts, though. Most were armored in mail, with the horse being more or less exposed. Pila would wreak bloody havoc among them.

Parthian cataphracts were like little tanks- armored in thick scales from top to hoof- horse included. Pila would not be nearly as effective, as proven. Plus the Romans were bouncing in and out of testudo according to one account I read, which would make them immensely susceptible to heavy cavalry charges.

Again, it would come down to the two commanders and how they employ what they have. Both were good, and with Vespasianus having 60.000 mixed troops, with Richard only 7.000, I still give the edge to the Romans- if they can hem in the knights and remove their freedom of movement. A knight who cannot charge is soon a dead knight.

EDIT: Oh, and I forgot the legionary artillery. Scorpions could penetrate both horse and mailed rider and maybe even the one behind as well. The onager used by the XVI Gallica at Bedriacum in 69 AD was reputed to be a colossal machine "capable of smashing down whole ranks". Middle Age artillery was pretty effective in sieges, but not on a battlefield until the later Middle Ages, thus giving the Romans the means to reach out and touch a knight or two to precipitate a headstrong knightly charge.

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[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-26-2012 @ 01:08 PM).]

Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-26-12 02:55 PM EDT (US)     5 / 46       
with Richard only 7,000
You must mean 30,000. In addition, field artillery such as scorpions and catapults were more effective against infantry than cavalry, as it is more mobile.

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-26-12 03:40 PM EDT (US)     6 / 46       
My source (wiki) says 8.000, and the text specifies 12 units of 100 knights each.

By the way, scorpions would not be as effective against moving horsemen, but being a ballistic, direct-fire weapon, they would not be totally ineffetive either. And if they got a volley off while the knights were motionless.... Ouch!

Also, reading through the text again, Richard was having a hell of a time due to the Turkish arrows killing the horses. Surena at Carrhae did not have that problem. I think the pila would prove more effective against the unarmored Crusader horses than the armored cataphracti.

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Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-26-12 04:07 PM EDT (US)     7 / 46       
According to another article in the same wiki, the army Philip II left bahind was at least 10,000 strong. IIRC, Richard set off with 8,000 crusaders from England... Anyway, I think that a sudden charge without order, such as the one in the battle of Arsuf, would be ill-fated due to the discipline of the Roman legions. However, wouldn't the Crusaders use their own onagers and springalds? In addition, the crossbows would massacre the Romans...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Pitt
Daimyo
posted 10-26-12 08:08 PM EDT (US)     8 / 46       
Unless the Romans had a dribbling idiot for a general, ceteris paribus they would outlast the crusaders.

Don't knock the auxiliaries; though many were lightly equipped, many were also equipped like Roman legionaries. They were tough enough to fight in the main battle.

Julius Agricola fought Mons Graupius with his auxiliaries, for example, because he wanted to minimise official 'Roman' casualties.
The example of Carrhae is important because that shows how well the Romans of that era (okay Vespasian was a century later) could stand up to heavy cavalry. They couldn't. The Parthians simply charged through them repeatedly.
That's not how the battle went. So long as the Roman infantry stayed in formation and in good order, the Parthians stayed away. Horses aren't stupid and won't generally charge into a densely packed body of men, whether they're holding spears in front of them or not.

The Roman infantry held together quite well at Carrhae, despite their small Gallic cavalry auxiliary contingent being lured into a trap and wiped out. The Parthians had brought a massive supply train of arrows with them and simply wore the Romans down during the battle and retreat.

Cassius managed to extract some troops in good order. Marc Antony managed the same after he had to abort his Parthian campaign when his supply train and artillery were captured.

Publius Ventidius defeated a large scale Parthian invasion of Syria with little difficulty. Roman armies had earlier repeatedly trounced the cavalry-heavy armies of Pontus and Armenia.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
Agrippa 271
Ashigaru
posted 10-26-12 10:27 PM EDT (US)     9 / 46       
Given the massive difference in the size of the armies, and the Roman's field artillery, I'd certainly give the advantage to the Romans. Their organization and discipline was vastly superior, so I'd say that it would come down to the generals. If it was an English army from a century later however, I think that the longbow men would have devastated the Romans.

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel

[This message has been edited by Agrippa 271 (edited 10-26-2012 @ 10:28 PM).]

Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-27-12 00:36 AM EDT (US)     10 / 46       
IMO, Pitt, the auxiliaries available to Vespasian would have probably been mostly light infantry, armed like the Jewish rebels he faced. There could also be some units of Syrian archers and some cavalry. This invasion was mounted before Vespasian's reform in auxiliary deployment, so the auxiliaries consisted mainly by local units. In addition, I suspect that the number of allied troops was much higher than the auxiliaries...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Pitt
Daimyo
posted 10-27-12 09:16 AM EDT (US)     11 / 46       
Bear with me; this is going to be a long post.

You can't simply assume what the composition of Vespasian's army was, for reasons I explain below. At any rate, the hard core of the army would be enough to hold it together. Vespasian had three seasoned legions in his army (Tacitus, The Histories, II.4).

Lucius Licinius Lucullus only had about two legions and 1,000 light infantry and cavalry when he trounced King Tigranes at Tigranocerta. Supposedly, Tigranes had 55,000 cavalry, 17,000 of which were cataphracts (Plutarch, Lucullus, 26-27); the numbers are clearly exaggerated, but Lucullus undoubtedly was outnumbered).

Caesar, with an army composed of many of his lesser experienced legionaries and a mere 400 cavalrymen, defeated Titus Labienus's far larger army at Ruspina, despite having been encircled.

Vespasian was no slouch when it came to military matters.

The Histories II.5:

Vespasian was a born soldier, accustomed to march at the head of his troops, to choose the place where they should camp, and to harry the enemy day and night by his generalship and, if occasion required, by personal combat, content with whatever rations were available and dressed much the same as a private soldier. In short, if one excepts his meanness in money matters, he was a worthy successor to the commanders of old.


His reforms to the army were basically an attempt to improve stability, not fighting power. Shuffling auxiliaries around so they weren't in their home provinces seems to have been common enough before, but Vespasian apparently elevated it to a policy. It had little to do with their fighting capacity, but rather their reliability when no legions were in that province.

Auxiliaries came in many forms. There were specialised units such as slingers and archers, cavalry, and mixed infantry-cavalry units, but there were also a great many heavy infantry cohorts who fought alongside the legions.
Julio-Claudian auxiliaries

Significant development of the auxilia appears to have taken place during the rule of the emperor Claudius (41–54 AD).

A minimum term of service of 25 years was established, at the end of which the retiring auxiliary soldier, and all his children, were awarded Roman citizenship.[40] This is deduced from the fact that the first known Roman military diplomas date from the time of Claudius. This was a folding bronze tablet engraved with the details of the soldier's service record, which he could use to prove his citizenship.[41] Claudius also decreed that prefects of auxiliary regiments must all be of equestrian rank, thus excluding centurions from such commands.[40] The fact that auxiliary commanders were now all of the same social rank as most tribuni militum, (military tribunes, a legion's senior staff officers, all of whom only one, the tribunus laticlavius, was of the higher senatorial rank), probably indicates that auxilia now enjoyed greater prestige. Indigenous chiefs continued to command some auxiliary regiments, and were probably granted equestrian rank for the purpose. It is also likely that auxiliary pay was standardised at this time, but we only have estimates for the Julio-Claudian period.[40]

Auxiliary uniform, armour, weapons and equipment were probably standardised by the end of the Julio-Claudian period. Auxiliary equipment was broadly similar to that of the legions (see Section 2.1 below for possible differences in armour). By 68 AD, there was little difference between most auxiliary infantry and their legionary counterparts in equipment, training and fighting capability. The main difference was that auxilia contained combat cavalry, both heavy and light, and other specialized units that legions lacked.[42]
Auxiliary cohorts were permanent units of the Roman army. There was no permanent higher unit organisation for them however, so auxilia cohorts and alae could, unlike legionary cohorts, be sent hither and yon without concern for parent units.

A. Goldsworthy, Roman Warfare (London: Cassell, 2003), p. 127:

The auxilia provided a more flexible and cheaper supplement to legionary numbers. They also supplied the army with some troop types in which the legions were especially deficient, in particular supplying large numbers of very good quality cavalry. Auxiliary infantry also included units of archers and contingents of slingers, but the traditional view that auxiliary foot were lighter equipped amd fought in looser order than the legions is mistaken. The typical auxiliary infantryman wore scale or mail armour of similar weight to a legionary cuirass and a bronze helmet, carried a flat, oval shield and was armed with a gladius and a javelin or spear. This is not the equipment of a nimble skirmisher. There may have been a few cohorts with lighter equipment who fought as skirmishers, but we have no direct evidence for this. The vast majority of auxiliary cohorts fought in close order in a way not markedly different from legionaries.


Regardless, a number of lighter troops would also have been quite useful to Vespasian, giving him the capacity to engage beyond hand-to-hand or pila-throwing distance.

Vespasian's army

Josephus (The Jewish War III.4) gives Vespasian's strength as three legions (the Fifth, Tenth and Fifteenth), ten cohorts of 1,000 infantry each, 13 mixed cohorts of 600 infantry and 120 cavalry, and six independent cavalry units.1 In addition, regional client kingdoms provided a total of 8,000 infantry, most of whom were archers, and another 4,000 cavalry. Josephus gives a total of 60,000 men. Of that, approximately 15,000 would be Roman legionaries and, with the auxiliaries, there would be almost 30,000 professional soldiers in the infantry.

With the 120 cavalrymen attached to each legion and those from the cohors equitatae there would be 1,920 professional cavalrymen. I don't know what size each of the six cavalry units he refers to were though. He could mean anything between a turma of 30 men to an ala milliaria of 720 men. The total could be between 2,100 to 6,420 (which seems too high). My guess is that it refers to an ala quingenaria of 480 men, making 2,880 men, and a total of 4,800.2

Then add the allied contingent of 8,000 archers and another 4,000 cavalry.

1 Oddly, the figures for the infantry don't match up with the standard model for auxiliary units. It appears to be based on the (erroneous) assumption that a Roman century contained 100 men. Correcting for this, the new totals match the standard model. I've revised down Josephus's figures to account for it. The cavalry figures meet the model perfectly.

Josephus's total of 60,000 doesn't add up with the totals of the contingents he lists. I make it at about 46,000, excluding the six cavalry units, which can't possibly have amounted to 14,000 men. Perhaps the error is in the translation I'm using?

2Suetonius says that when Vespasian was sent to Judaea, a further 2 legions, 10 cohorts and 8 alae of cavalry were sent there too (Vespasian, 4). Eight alae could equal either 3,840 or 5,760 cavalrymen, depending on the type of ala. Tacitus (Histories V.1) says that Titus, in his march on Jerusalem, had 8 alae also.


Richard's army

I have no idea how large it was. I've seen figures that say as high as 85,000, which is palpably absurd. The problem is that chroniclers were, shall we say... unreliable, when it came to numbers. The wikipedia figure doesn't have a direct source cited. Nor does the Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi, which is one of the main sources for the course of the battle.

This book, which has a good description of the course of the battle from page 25 on, suggests about 10,000 infantry (spearmen and crossbowmen) and 2,000 cavalry.

I also liked this quote:

... their infantry drawn up in front of the horsemen stood as firm as a wall, and every soldier wore a gambeson [padded jacket] and mail hauberks so thick and strong that our arrows had no effect. I saw soldiers with from one to ten arrows sticking in them, still trudging along in their ranks.


The horses were getting killed off pretty quickly though.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-27-12 11:06 AM EDT (US)     12 / 46       
According to a calculation I made taking into account Josephus' Greek text at the Perseus Project, Vespasian's army consisted of: 15,500 legionaries, 17,800 infantry auxilia, 3,500 allied archers and 7,120 cavalrymen both allied and auxiliary, including the 120 cavalrymen accompanying each legion. This makes a total of about 44,000 men.

In addition, I'm not inclined to believe that Richard's army consisted of just 12,000 men, as it contained the remnants of Frederick Barbarossa's army (not more than 800 in my opinion), the entire force Richard brought with him, a few hundred crusaders left behind by Philip, some Turkopoles and men from the army of the kingdom of Jerusalem, including the knights Templar and the Hospitallers. I'm more inclined towards an army of 20,000-25,000 men...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.

[This message has been edited by Alex_the_bold (edited 10-27-2012 @ 11:07 AM).]

Pitt
Daimyo
posted 10-27-12 06:08 PM EDT (US)     13 / 46       
According to a calculation I made taking into account Josephus' Greek text at the Perseus Project, Vespasian's army consisted of: 15,500 legionaries, 17,800 infantry auxilia, 3,500 allied archers and 7,120 cavalrymen both allied and auxiliary, including the 120 cavalrymen accompanying each legion. This makes a total of about 44,000 men.
How did you arrive at these figures?

Three explanations for Josephus's disparity in numbers spring to mind.

1. Josephus was mathematically illiterate. This seems improbable, given the way he survived the suicide of his Jewish contingent.

2. Josephus was exaggerating Vespasian's numbers. This is possible but, given his flattery of Vespasian, overstating the size of his army doesn't seem natural. It might justify Josephus in saying that Jewish resistance was pointless however.

3. Josephus didn't list auxiliaries and allied troops that were already in Judaea before Vespasian arrived and Titus brought reinforcements. This seems plausible.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

[This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 10-27-2012 @ 10:28 PM).]

Agrippa 271
Ashigaru
posted 10-28-12 00:26 AM EDT (US)     14 / 46       
2. Josephus was exaggerating Vespasian's numbers. This is possible but, given his flattery of Vespasian, overstating the size of his army doesn't seem natural. It might justify Josephus in saying that Jewish resistance was pointless however.
Do you mean exaggerate as in understate, or overstate? I'm pretty sure you mean that it was overstate, but if he was flattering Vespasian he would have made it seem he had a smaller army, or at least so in would think.

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
Pitt
Daimyo
posted 10-28-12 01:18 AM EDT (US)     15 / 46       
Exaggerate can only ever mean enlarging or overstating.

That reasoning is exactly why I said overstating Vespasian's numbers would not seem natural.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-28-12 01:53 AM EDT (US)     16 / 46       
How did you arrive at these figures?
Josephu lists the troops brought by Titus as the following: Two legions, which along with Vespasian's own legion make up for a total of 15,900 men, including 360 cavalry (1 legion= approximately 5300 men). Ten cohorts with 1,000 footmen and 120 cavalry each. Thirteen cohorts with 600 footmen and 120 cavalrymen each. 3000 infantry (mostly archers) and 3000 cavalrymen from the three allied kings (Antiochus, Agrippa, Sohemus). 1000 horsemen and 500 archers from king Malchus of Arabia. That makes a total of about 44,000 men.

However, I believe your theory of Josephus not listing the already existing auxiliaries in Judea to be right.

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Pitt
Daimyo
posted 10-28-12 06:40 AM EDT (US)     17 / 46       
I see. We're working off different interpretations of the text. I'm reading it through the filter of Roman military structures and you're reading it more literally.

This is the English translation I'm working from:
... Titus .... took with him those forces he was sent for, and marching with great expedition, he came suddenly to Ptolemais, and there finding his father, together with the two legions, the fifth and the tenth, which were the most eminent legions of all, he joined them to that fifteenth legion which was with his father; eighteen cohorts followed these legions; there came also five cohorts from Cesarea, with one troop of horsemen, and five other troops of horsemen from Syria. Now these ten cohorts had severally a thousand footmen, but the other thirteen cohorts had no more than six hundred footmen apiece, with a hundred and twenty horsemen. There were also a considerable number of auxiliaries got together, that came from the kings Antiochus, and Agrippa, and Sohemus, each of them contributing one thousand footmen that were archers, and a thousand horsemen. Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of which were archers; so that the whole army, including the auxiliaries sent by the kings, as well horsemen as footmen, when all were united together, amounted to sixty thousand, besides the servants...
This has 5,000 footmen (mostly archers) from Malchus, not 500. Your calculations for cavalry also omit the six 'troops' of cavalry (1 from Caesarea and 5 from Syria).

Legionaries

Assuming that the legions were at their full establishment, the figure you give for legionaries is about right. My rounding down to about 5,000 legionaries is a reflection of the fact that few active military units are actually at 100% of their nominal organisation.

Cavalry
Now these ten cohorts had severally a thousand footmen, but the other thirteen cohorts had no more than six hundred footmen apiece, with a hundred and twenty horsemen.
I believe the 120 horsemen belong only to each of the thirteen mixed cohorts. It is, perhaps, not felicitously expressed, but had there been horsemen in every cohort it would have been simpler to say so.

The organisation of auxiliary units also militates against there being 120 horsemen in the ten larger cohorts.

The thirteen smaller cohorts are clearly mixed cohorts, identifiable as the cohors equitata quingenaria, which had six centuries of infantry and 120 horsemen.

There were mixed cohorts of about 1,000 men, cohors equitata milliaria, with ten centuries of infantrymen, but they had 240 horsemen, not 120. That half their organic cavalry complement would be split off and left behind is unlikely, given the fracturing of unit cohesion and administrative nuisance that would create. Not to mention that the extra cavalry would have been very useful for Vespasian.

Altogether, the above strongly suggests that the 120 horsemen were only part of the 13 mixed cohorts. Hence my sum of 1,560, rather than 2,760, auxiliary cavalry from these mixed units.

The six independent cavalry units (presumably standard alae of 480 men each, i.e. 2,880) balance out this over-estimate. This is how I reached my figure of 4,800 legionary and auxiliary cavalry.

Auxiliary infantry

Regarding the '1,000 footmen' and '600 footmen plus cavalry' cohorts, this seems to be a mistake on Josephus's part.

Roman centuries of the Principate had 80 men in them, not 100. This was the case in both the legions and the auxiliaries. I suggest this as an explanation for why Josephus refers to cohorts of 1,000 men, when a ten century cohort (cohors milliaria) would only have had 800.

This also seems likely because the six century and 120 horsemen cohort that Josephus appears to have been referring to was a standard auxilia unit, the cohors equitata quingenaria, and we know its composition. But, rather than having 600 infantrymen, it had 480 instead.

This gives a total of 14,240 auxiliary infantry in the 23 cohorts listed by Josephus. Altogether, the standard 'line infantry' (if we can forgive the anachronism) was about 30,000 men.

Artillery

The use of artillery on the battlefield was incredibly rare, if not non-existant, in the earlier mediaeval period. Artillery was used for sieges, not carted around already assembled and ready for action. (Field battles were also quite rare at this time. Richard I, in a ten year reign where he was almost continuously at war, took part in only two or three large-scale battles).


K. Nossov, Ancient and Medieval Siege Weapons (Staplehurst: Spellmount, 2006), pp. 50 and 184:

In the [earlier] Middle Ages, throwing machines were used only at sieges. Field artillery as had existed in the Roman army was no more...



Whatever the size of Richard's army, for the sake of argument let's say 25,000 men, of whom most would be infantry, it would be in trouble if somehow it and/or Vespasian's army were temporally transported and fought each other.

Saladin's army was unbalanced, and apparently had more cavalry than infantry, meaning it couldn't easily deal with the disciplined Crusader infantry, behind which the knights were sheltering. Despite this, knights were losing horses to arrows at a rate severe enough to raise concerns over whether they would be able to charge when the time came.

Vespasian's army, by contrast, was relatively well balanced. Ignoring the missing 14,000 or so troops, it had about 30,000 legionary and auxiliary infantry and 4,800 cavalry. On top of that, there were 8,000 allied infantry, most of whom were archers, and 4,000 allied cavalry. That represents a very powerful force.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

[This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 10-28-2012 @ 06:56 AM).]

Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-28-12 07:50 AM EDT (US)     18 / 46       
I guess you're right, Pitt. It would be impossible for Richard's army to defeat Vespasian's excellent fighting machine, even though I still doubt the quality of the auxiliary infantry and the potential of the cavalry against the heavy knights...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Thompsoncs
Ashigaru
posted 10-28-12 01:55 PM EDT (US)     19 / 46       
I would vote for rome. Medieval infantry generally would be no match for a roman army. Many medieval soldiers would be happy to have leather armor, a shield and helmet, whereas romans of vespasian's period were very well equiped, and I'd say the Roman army was at its peak of power around that time.

Medieval cavalry could do some serious damage, but as mentioned before, horses dont like charging prepared lines of men. And the Romans had plenty of cavalry and light infantry to screen their flanks. By the time the knights would have defeated those (if they could even do that) the main line would have been routed by the romans.

Crossbows are great weapons against armor, but romans also had good shields. I doubt a crossbowbolt could go all the way through a roman shield and roman armor and still kill the man. Besides, I dont know that many battles that were decided by missile fire (possible examples could be Agincourt, Crezy and Carrhae, but those were all archers, not crossbowmen).

[This message has been edited by Thompsoncs (edited 10-28-2012 @ 01:55 PM).]

Cancer of the Head
Ashigaru
(id: say1988)
posted 10-28-12 03:25 PM EDT (US)     20 / 46       
Barring a massive disparity in numbers, leadership and/or a huge positional advantage in favour of the Romans they would lose. Fiver hundred to a thousand years development of weapons, armour, and tactics are an enormous advantage.

[This message has been edited by Cancer of the Head (edited 10-28-2012 @ 03:26 PM).]

Agrippa 271
Ashigaru
posted 10-28-12 03:58 PM EDT (US)     21 / 46       
The Roman's standard equipment was far, far superior to that of the standard equipment of the Crusader army. Even considering that the Crusaders had access to far superior steel, there was a massive gap between how well the knights were equipped and how well the rest of their army was equipped. The fact is, the Romans had across the board superior weapons, discipline, training, and tactics, never mind the numbers to back it up. The Crusaders had a few thousand knights who weren't as well equipped (in terms of really heavy armor) as cataphracts, whom were regularly defeated by the Romans in battle. All they have is better weapons, and stirrups. So, bigger army, better overall equipment, better discipline, and better tactics against well armed and fairly well armored knights, and vastly inferior infantry. The crossbows were probably not enough. And that's not even considering the Roman artillery.

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
Thompsoncs
Ashigaru
posted 10-28-12 05:45 PM EDT (US)     22 / 46       
Indeed. A medieval knight might be better protected than a roman soldier, but romans have a high standard of equipment across their army, whereas the average equipment of medieval soldiers is far below that.

Still, romans will have a hard time facing a medieval cavalry-lance charge. Taking the knights down once their momentum is lost will be easy enough. But the knights armor might be hard to penetrate for roman swords. But contrary to medieval peasant/levy armies, romans will not rout at first contact with knights and will eventually overcome them I expect.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-29-12 03:23 AM EDT (US)     23 / 46       
The knights would get one good charge in, and then it is over for them. The Romans of that era were very pragmatic- they would see a heavily-armored (which means a guy wearing several dozen kilos of steel) fellow atop an unarmored horse and take out the horse. Then, if the heavily-armored man managed to regain his feet (not an easy feat), simply have the rear-rankers pummel him into submission/unconciousness with shields and sword hilts while the front-rankers go about killing more.

Lances were but spears, though longer. They are not good in close combat. Nor were Roman gladii good in ranged combat. But in close ranks (1 meter between men) the scutum/gladius was very effective. Medieval spearmen were not of the same level as the phalangites of Macedon and Greece, whom earlier Romans had destroyed. I doubt these would fare better- much was gained in a thousand years of progress, but much was lost as well.

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[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 10-29-2012 @ 04:34 AM).]

Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-29-12 07:39 AM EDT (US)     24 / 46       
However, medieval knights also carried smaller weapons, such as swords, maces, axes, even shortswords and war hammers. In addition, Romans didn't generaly fare well against heavy cavalry charging (Andrianople). If the knights were bogged down, though, they would be decimated...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Thompsoncs
Ashigaru
posted 10-29-12 10:34 AM EDT (US)     25 / 46       
At around 14:30,[citation needed] the Roman troops arrived in disorder, exhausted and dehydrated, facing the Gothic camp that had been set up on the top of a hill. The Goths, except for their cavalry, took position in front of their wagon circle,[citation needed] inside of which were their families and possessions. Fritigern's objective was to delay the Romans, in order to give enough time for the Gothic cavalry to return. The fields were burnt by the Goths to delay and harass the Romans with smoke, and negotiations began for an exchange of hostages. The negotiations exasperated the Roman soldiers who seemed to hold the stronger position, but they gained precious time for Fritigern.
The long term implications of the battle of Adrianople have often been overstated, with many Twentieth Century writers repeating Sir Charles Oman's idea[26] that the battle represented a turning point in military history, with heavy cavalry triumphing over Roman infantry and ushering in the age of the Medieval knight. This outdated idea was overturned by T.S Burns in a ground-breaking article in 1973.[27] Burns shows that the Gothic army's cavalry arm was actually fairly small, that Valens would actually have had more cavalry and that while the role of Fritigern's cavalry was critical to his victory, the battle was a mainly infantry versus infantry affair. The Medieval knight was not to rise for several centuries after Adrianople. It is also often stated that the defeat at Adrianople led to changes in the composition of the late Roman Army and an increase in the use of cavalry. In fact, this process had been going on in the Roman Army long before AD 378, with cavalry increasing its role and status in the Army from at least the time of the Emperor Gallienus (AD 253 to 260).
Besides these quotes, dont forget that the roman army had changed a lot since the days of vespasian. Its function had changed, its composition had changed and its equipment had changed. Also, I wouldn't compare Valens to Vespasian when it comes to military command.
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 10-29-12 11:35 AM EDT (US)     26 / 46       
The situation concerning the Roman Army by the time of Valens had changed as well, forcing its evolution. Prime among these were the financial crises, waning manpower, and constant civil wars draining strength away from the borders.

In short, generals on the border had to do more with less, and while the men were demanding (or granted) more pay, that money had to come from somewhere. The doctrine of elastic defense, with border posts giving the early warning and the fast-moving legions responding, was born of necessity. In order to move quickly, the late legions were lighter-armed than their predecessors, the pila were replaced with plumbata or spears, and the sword lengthened, meaning the units now fought with much more room between them- room an enemy could come into. These were no longer the legions of the early Empire- in either weaponry, armor, or tactics. Only the logistical portion of the military still functioned as in the earlier times.

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Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-29-12 05:50 PM EDT (US)     27 / 46       
The battle of Adrianople is nothing more than an example of what a massive cavalry charge would do against the javelin-sword armed legionaries, both early and late ones. They couldn't just defeat cavalry charging without field artillery or cavalry of their own...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.

[This message has been edited by Alex_the_bold (edited 10-29-2012 @ 05:51 PM).]

Agrippa 271
Ashigaru
posted 10-29-12 06:01 PM EDT (US)     28 / 46       
Actually, at the battle of Pharsalus, Caesar's Tenth Legion beat back Pompey's cavalry charge that was intended to turn Caesar's line by using their javelins almost like bayonets, slashing at the horses. I'd give you the actual quote right now, but dinner is in a minute. I'm not sure how heavily armed the cavalry was, but it does show that the legionnaires were not helpless.

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
Vasta
Ashigaru
posted 10-29-12 07:57 PM EDT (US)     29 / 46       
Just a few notes on source criticism.

Josephus was supposedly working with Vespasian (and I think Titus', if he did them) commentarii, for what it's worth. Presumably Tacitus would have had them as well.

From when I did work on Josephus, I seem to recall that many don't trust his numbers, but that could be mistaken. Tacitus' numbering is also likewise questionable, at least if we're considering the army that sacked Jerusalem, since that's in the missing portions of H.

Also, the Caesar passage is BC 3.93... but I don't see anything about using the pila as spears. I'll take a look around there more later... Maybe it's from Lucan?
Agrippa 271
Ashigaru
posted 10-29-12 10:41 PM EDT (US)     30 / 46       
I was actually referring to a modern biography by Philip Freeman. I don't know where he got the source, but his biography on Caesar is spectacular in my opinion. Its been a while since I've read it, so it might be my memory's rusty and I described it poorly. I'll see if I can find it when I have some time. Sorry for any confusion.

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
Vasta
Ashigaru
posted 10-29-12 11:17 PM EDT (US)     31 / 46       
Meh, I'm torn on Freeman. I respect his desire to make Classics more mainstream, but I feel like he makes too many compromises. His new translation of Commentariolum Petitionis has some huge issues with it, and I was particularly rubbed wrong by his Op-Ed in the NYT where he very much misread Cicero on Pompey (http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/the-attack-ad-pompeii-style/).

Check his source, but be wary. That bit isn't in the BC as far as I can tell, which means it could come from Plutarch, Suetonius, or even Lucan. Don't get me wrong, I love Lucan, because he is clearly the Roman equivalent of Metal, but I wouldn't use him for a historical resource.
Alex_the_Bold
Ashigaru
posted 10-30-12 00:19 AM EDT (US)     32 / 46       
From when I did work on Josephus, I seem to recall that many don't trust his numbers
This is true for nearly every ancient source...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Pitt
Daimyo
posted 10-30-12 02:47 AM EDT (US)     33 / 46       
To a certain extent, but given Roman organisation one would assume that the general should have a rough idea of the size of his own army. Understating the size of your own army to make yourself look better can't be ruled out, but numbers are more of an issue when it comes to the supposed size of foreign forces and, notoriously, lopsided casualty figures.

The most obvious example is Herodotus' tally of Xerxes' army, which adds up to around 1,000,000 men. Delbrück demonstrated long ago that the size of such an army marching in column would be such that the rearguard would not have left the Persian capital by the time its vanguard reached the Hellespont.

Historians' concerns with Josephus' tally of Vespasian's army largely relate to his calculation of the size of the cohorts which, frankly, don't match our other evidence, however flimsy it is. As I mentioned earlier, it's probably the result of Josephus just adding up individual unit sizes and then arriving at a total, but that he got the unit sizes wrong.

G.L. Cheesman, in The Auxilia of the Roman Army (Oxford: Clarendon, 1914), p. 28, questioned Josephus' figures and came to the same conclusion. It is the simplest explanation; the alternatives are that the units had been reinforced beyond their normal size, or that the auxilia were not yet completely standardised. The first seems most likely.

Cheesman, of course, has his own assumptions with which subsequent scholars have disagreed.

Tacitus in The Histories V.1 gives Titus' forces in AD 70 as the following:
  • the three legions of Vespasian's command, the Fifth, Tenth and Fifteenth
  • the Twelfth legion, sent from Syria
  • detachments from the Third and Twenty-second legions
  • 20 cohorts of infantry
  • 8 alae of cavalry
  • whatever Agrippa, Sohaemus and Antiochus brought with them
  • levies of Arabs

    With this he advanced towards Jerusalem. And then Tacitus gives us a strange digression on the Jews and their possible origins (from Crete, or Ethiopia, or Egyptians suffering from disease who were expelled...). It is rather a pity that his description of the siege has been lost.

    That bit [pila as bayonets] isn't in the BC as far as I can tell, which means it could come from Plutarch, Suetonius, or even Lucan.
    It's from Plutarch's Life of Caesar.

    (Rex Warner's translation for Penguin)
    [45] ...And now Pompey's cavalry rode up on the flank in a proud array and deployed their squadrons in order to encircle Caesar's right wing. Before they could charge, the cohorts which Caesar had posted behind him ran forward and, instead of hurling their javelins, as they usually did, or even thrusting at the thighs and legs of the enemy, aimed at their eyes and stabbed upwards at their faces


    Caesar merely says that the cohorts from his fourth line "ran swiftly to the attack" and "charged at Pompey's cavalry with such force that none of them could hold ground". Rather reminiscent of Lucullus at Tigranocerta, though at Pharsalus the Pompeians at least had the excuse of having been in action against Caesar's cavalry first.

    "Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

    [This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 10-30-2012 @ 05:34 AM).]

  • Pitt
    Daimyo
    posted 10-30-12 05:18 AM EDT (US)     34 / 46       
    Re Adrianople, the only description of the battle is Ammianus Marcellinus. He doesn't give numbers for either Valens' army or the Goths, and the narrative gives us a barebones account of what happened.

    The only total he gives is an estimate by Valens' scouts that the Goths numbered 10,000. Ammianus states that this was inaccurate, but that it made Valens think he could win a victory without waiting for the reinforcements Gratian was bringing from the western empire.

    What little description we have is the basics. Valens army came across the Gothic wagon circle and began to deploy, but two units on the right attacked and precipitated a general engagement before the deployment on the left was complete. Nevertheless, the Roman left made good progress.

    Then it was taken by surprise in a sudden strike by the returning Gothic and Alan cavalry, which had been out foraging. The Roman cavalry was dispersed.

    Ammianus Marcellinus, Book 31, Ch 13:
    Then the opposing lines came into collision like ships of war and pushed each other to and fro, heaving under the reciprocal motion like the waves of the sea. Our left wing penetrated as far as the very waggons, and would have gone further if it had received any support, but it was abandoned by the rest of the cavalry, and under pressure of numbers gave way and collapsed like a broken dyke. This left the infantry unprotected and so closely huddled together that a man could hardly wield his sword or draw back his arm once he had stretched it out. Dust rose in such clouds as to hide the sky, which rang with frightful shouts...

    ... In this mutual slaughter so many were laid low that the field was covered with the bodies of the slain...

    ... The sun, which was high in the sky ... scorched the Romans, who were weak from hunger, parched with thirst, and weighed down by the burden of their armour. Finally, our line gave way under the overpowering pressure of the barbarians...


    Clearly there was a protracted infantry battle, which the Romans lost, rather than a simple charge by heavy cavalry which broke the Roman lines.

    Ammianus says it was a great disaster like Cannae (after all, the eastern empire's field army, painstakingly assembled, had been destroyed), with two-thirds of the army killed.

    Peter Heather (The Fall of the Roman Empire. A New History (London: Pan, 2006), p. 181) suggests that Valens' army was probably in the order of 15,000 men, which would account for Valens' belief he could inflict an easy defeat on 10,000 Goths without waiting for Gratian. Heather reckons that the Goths may have enjoyed a slight numerical advantage.

    A. Goldsworthy, The Fall of the West (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009), p. 259:

    Most modern estimates put both the Roman and Gothic armies around the 15,000 mark, so that some 10,000 Roman soldiers are thought to have died. Once again, the figures are plausible but entirely conjectural. We do not know how many of the [35] tribunes who died commanded units – but then, since we do not know how big such regiments were, let alone whether they were present in their entirety or merely as detachments, this would not tell us anything definite. Nor do we know how many tribunes commanding units survived e battle. Clearly, Valens felt confident that his army could deal with a force of 10,000 Goths – presumably all warriors, though Ammianus is not specific. Once again we are left to guess at whether this would have meant having parity or a numerical advantage. Julian was supposed to have beaten an army of Alamanni almost three times larger than his own force at Strasbourg [13,000 Romans vs a supposed 35,000].


    Roman field armies were generally smaller now than in the earlier Principate or Republic. Valens had to come to a hurried peace with the Persians in order to transfer enough troops to the Balkans to form his field army.

    It seems Valens lost at Adrianople because of his own eagerness and bad luck. In 377 an outnumbered Roman force (made up in part of reinforcements from the west under Ricimer/Richomeres etc) had fought the Goths to a draw at Ad Salices.

    "Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

    [This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 10-30-2012 @ 05:34 AM).]

    Vasta
    Ashigaru
    posted 10-30-12 10:49 AM EDT (US)     35 / 46       
    (Sorry, waiting for some duct work to be done at my new house and so I don't have a proper keyboard to work with. Quoting will be awkward.)

    For Josephus and numbers, yes, all ancient writers are suspect, but Josephus is particularly problematic. It is, of course, always good to keep in mind the fact that the ancient historians had a very different idea of truth than we do, and rhetorical invention and manipulation is a fundamental aspect of their writing. Every one should read Woodman's Rhetoric In Classical Historiography on the topic, it's excellent. For a lesser but more accessible treatment, check out Batstone's article "Why Latin Historiography?" in the Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians.

    Per the pila as javelins, hm. I'd rate Caesar before Plutarch in military narrative, though Caesar certainly has his rhetorical tropes and can't necessary be automatically accepted. I would wonder where Plutarch got his version: I think it's Livy. Then where does Livy come from? Some Pompeian version of events? His own rhetorical adaptation of Caesar? The similarities to Lucullus suggest that it could be rhetorical (adapted from Sallust who may have used Lucullus' own commentarii?).
    Pitt
    Daimyo
    posted 10-30-12 08:06 PM EDT (US)     36 / 46       
    Livy was writing within living memory of Pharsalus. He could just have asked someone. But Plutarch's source could well be Asinius Pollio's lost history (either directly or via Livy).

    Both Plutarch (in his biographies of both Pompey and Caesar) and Appian explicitly cite Asinius Pollio for the casualties. Pollio was present at the battle (Plutarch, Pompey 72; Appian, Civil Wars II.82).

    Appian has a similar story of pila being used as spears against cavalry at II.78, but he also has what must have been a misunderstanding at II.79, where Pompey's infantry use the pila as thrusting spears against the attacking Caesarian infantry (cf Plutarch's Caesar 44).

    It is always possible that Appian was simply following and embellishing Caesar's and Plutarch's account of the battle, and hasn't referred to Pollio's at all. However, he does earlier refer to the doings of Pollio in Africa, information which isn't in Caesar's BC. Of course, it might have been in Livy.

    On the whole, I'm inclined to think that, although we obviously can't be certain, Plutarch probably got that bit from Pollio. Appian's mistake at II.79, where he says the Pompeian infantry stood their ground and used their spears, and Plutarch's statement that the infantry were ordered to hold their ground and wait till Caesar's men were within pila range can readily be seen as different interpretations of the same text. It is always possible that Appian just copied Plutarch, but it seems more likely that it would be different interpretations of the same source.


    Plutarch's account of Tigranocerta suggests that Lucullus' men never actually came in physical contact with the Armenian cataphracts, so it's not an exact comparison, but it's impossible to be definitive.
    Every one should read Woodman's Rhetoric In Classical Historiography on the topic, it's excellent. For a lesser but more accessible treatment, check out Batstone's article "Why Latin Historiography?" in the Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians.
    The short volume on the Latin historians that I quoted from here (Woodman is one of the authors) should also be a good introduction to the problems with ancient historians.

    "Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

    [This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 10-30-2012 @ 08:26 PM).]

    Vasta
    Ashigaru
    posted 10-30-12 11:49 PM EDT (US)     37 / 46       
    I never really get the sense that Livy did oral history. However, who knows what the end of Livy was like? He could've completely switched over to a crazy Sallustian style.

    And Pollio, I always forget about Pollio. It is entirely plausible that he was a major source for the battle - and Pollio did take particular relish in criticizing Caesar's narrative.

    I feel like Pollio is the Holy Grail of Latin historiography, elevated into sainthood because Syme thought he was cool, despite the fact that we have essentially nothing. Pollio's history of the civil war is everything we always wanted it to be, ripping apart everyone involved, with fine style and Tacitean characterization.

    I suspect Pollio is more like Gallus. Praised by all the famous Augustan poets, first patron of the movement, and, once a few of lines of his poetry were found they were... well, pretty crappy. If Pollio ever does show up, there might be a lot of disappointment.

    Now, the rest of Sallust's Histories...

    I digress.

    Pitt, that Latin Historians book by Woodman and Kraus is fantastic. I regularly use it as a starting point, and the Sallust article is currently the best recent treatment of the author in English.

    I'd still suggest looking at RICH, because while Kraus and Woodman gives an excellent overview of the various authors, the framework of modern scholarly understanding of the Roman historians is built in the older book, especially the chapter on Cicero's famous discussion of historiography in De Oratore.

    Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled discussion now that it has been mildly derailed.
    Pitt
    Daimyo
    posted 10-31-12 04:35 AM EDT (US)     38 / 46       
    When reading the few fragments we have of Sallust's Histories I felt rather cheated that we didn't have the rest of it.

    Unfortunately, it seems most unlikely that any more lost works will be discovered.

    "Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
    Vasta
    Ashigaru
    posted 10-31-12 12:32 PM EDT (US)     39 / 46       
    We can always dream, right? Periodically, I have that exact dream, where a passage with the very quotation I need for my dissertation is magically recovered hidden in some scholiast.

    Yeah, the Histories are pretty great, and you can tell why it was considered a masterpiece. If you have the opportunity, track down McGushin's 2-volume English translation and commentary. It's the most easily available full edition of the Histories, though it strangely lacks a Latin text, so you have to make due with the old Maurenbrecher edition and track down what new fragments have been discovered since the early 1900s.

    The REAL one you want to find is an Italian edition by Funari (1996, I think). It's the most up-to-date and complete Latin collection, with a very good Italian commentary... however, it seems like there were only a dozen copies printed, because I can not get a hold of it. Even when I was at the American Academy in Rome, they couldn't get a copy! If you live in Europe, maybe you'll have better luck?

    There is hope though - Loeb is coming out with a brand new two-volume Sallust edition. The monographs and the Pseudosallustiana will be in volume one, and a complete Histories edition in the second. In September, I had lunch with JT Ramsey, the editor/translator of the new Loeb, and he was submitting the manuscript of the first volume in the next few days, but the Histories still had work to be done (even he couldn't get Funari). Fun fact though, I actually helped some of his translation in the Jugurtha. When you read Jug. 59, you're seeing my mild input.
    Agrippa 271
    Ashigaru
    posted 10-31-12 03:51 PM EDT (US)     40 / 46       
    Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled discussion now that it has been mildly derailed.
    Actually, I kind of enjoy watching people who are way bigger history buffs than me just go on and on about all kinds of sources I've never read (aside from a little of Livy) Its entertaining.

    Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
    "Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
    Vasta
    Ashigaru
    posted 11-01-12 00:23 AM EDT (US)     41 / 46       
    Oh it's all just schooling. I hadn't read most of this until I got to graduate school, and even then, you don't have any time until you get finished with coursework and reach your qualifying exams.

    Seriously though, you should read as much as you can. Almost everything is available online, if you can get through the stodgy translations (which are often closer to the original language anyway).

    I recommend starting here: http://ryanfb.github.com/loebolus/ Every single free domain Loeb is here collected in PDF format. I use it constantly because its a free edition with the original text. Obviously you still want to use an OCT or a Teubner if they're available when you do real work, but these are great.

    and don't just read the historiography, you'll be doing yourself a disservice. Read the oratory and the philosophy and the poetry. I recommend checking out Lucan as soon as you can. Under Nero, wrote an epic poem about Caesar and Pompey. It's brilliant, and bloody, and downright insane - and never finished it because he was caught in a plot against Nero and killed himself, all before the age of 25.
    Pitt
    Daimyo
    posted 11-01-12 05:28 AM EDT (US)     42 / 46       
    Even when I was at the American Academy in Rome, they couldn't get a copy! If you live in Europe, maybe you'll have better luck?
    I'm down in the Antipodes, so the odds of me finding one would be rather slim I think.
    Oh it's all just schooling. I hadn't read most of this until I got to graduate school, and even then, you don't have any time until you get finished with coursework and reach your qualifying exams.
    I really only began reading classics when I started university; prior to then I'd mostly read military history (and Asterix). I started reading the ancient histories, on the principle that I might as well see where modern historians were getting their information. I think I started with that worthy gossip columnist Suetonius, then Plutarch, Caesar and Tacitus and so on.

    There were three reasonably well-stocked bookstores within short walking distance of the campus. In gaps between lectures and tutorials I'd often wander over and browse. I still haven't finished (or even started) somewhere between a quarter and one third of the books I bought in that time.
    Almost everything is available online, if you can get through the stodgy translations (which are often closer to the original language anyway).

    I recommend starting here: http://ryanfb.github.com/loebolus/ Every single free domain Loeb is here collected in PDF format.
    That's actually quite helpful at the moment. The only Loeb I had was Caesar's Gallic War.

    I've finally got around to reading Peter Green's (third) translation of Juvenal, and a more literal version makes for a good comparison. Green, in an effort to make the English text more readily comprehensible and to avoid extensive commentary, has added what he calls 'silent glosses' into the text.

    It makes it easier to read, but its updated language leaves me the impression that I'm not always reading Juvenal. On the other hand, some of the more literal translations (including the Loeb by G.G Ramsay, one of the volumes I've just downloaded from the link you gave) are "toned down to meet modern taste" and Green seems to capture the meaning better, as even my reach-for-a-dictionary-every-second-word Latin can pick up.

    "Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

    [This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 11-01-2012 @ 09:26 AM).]

    Alex_the_Bold
    Ashigaru
    posted 11-01-12 08:18 AM EDT (US)     43 / 46       
    Unfortunately, there are very few publishers of Latin literature here in Greece, so I read the ancient Greek writers and the Latin literature available online

    Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
    Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
    Agrippa 271
    Ashigaru
    posted 11-01-12 05:04 PM EDT (US)     44 / 46       
    Thanks for the link, but I doubt I'll get a chance to read it much, I'm pretty busy as is. I do a couple of extra-curriculars, and I'm in all Honors and AP classes, so I'm pretty busy.

    Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
    "Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
    Vasta
    Ashigaru
    posted 11-01-12 10:33 PM EDT (US)     45 / 46       
    Get ready for later... you'll dream about how easy those Honors and AP classes will seem in comparison.

    As for the translation style, it's a bit weird when you get to the old versions of say a Juvenal or a Martial. A bunch of the Martial poems in the old Loebs are actually translated into Italian instead of English, because apparently if you know Italian, you can read masturbation jokes... What's particularly amusing is that often times, it's the same word in Latin, Italian, and English, so it's not like they're hiding anything.

    Some of the Greek novels, like Daphnis and Chloe, translate the sex scenes in Latin. Quite fun. You should all try to read at least one Greek novel... they're certainly something.
    Agrippa 271
    Ashigaru
    posted 11-01-12 10:40 PM EDT (US)     46 / 46       
    O_o

    I'll keep that in mind

    Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
    "Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
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