Thursday, October 20, 2005

Comparing Strategies of the 2d Punic War: Rome?s Strategic Victory Over the Tactical/Operational Genius, Hannibal Barca

By LTC James Parker, U.S. Army War College

A close examination of the 2d Punic War reveals many lessons at the strategic level of war that endure to this day. Hannibal and Carthage failed when their inherent strategic weakness was confronted by the more robust and resilient Rome. Roman strategy effectively combined all elements of national power into a coherent, war winning strategy. A national strategy should be directed at the enemy?s strategic center of gravity.

In both opponents the strategic center of gravity was the political will of the respective governments, the Roman Senate and the Carthaginian oligarchy. Rome successfully attacked the Carthaginian center of gravity while the Carthaginians pursued a more peripheral strategy aimed at the allies of Rome. Carthaginian strategy focused almost solely on its military strategy, committed to war with Rome by a general unable to muster the strategic resources to win. Carthage never effectively employed its naval forces in concert with its land forces.

Hannibal?s successes point out the importance of training and experience in senior leaders. The strategic assumptions of a campaign plan must be valid for that plan to succeed. Hannibal?s campaign was based on the invalid assumption that Rome?s allies would defect following defeat of Roman armies in the field. Finally successful campaigns consist of operations linked in space and time. Rome succeeded in linking their widely separated operations in Italy, Sicily, Greece, Iberia, and eventually North Africa. This paper looks at the 2d Punic War at the strategic level and attempts to answer question of why one of the ?great captains? of military history failed so completely.

Image Note: Miniature produced by Jim Dero.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Attack On Vetera

The Attack On Vetera: "The besieged were torn between heroism and degradation by the conflicting claims of loyalty and hunger. While they hesitated, all normal and emergency rations gave out. They had by now consumed the mules, horses and other animals which a desperate plight compels men to use as food, however unclean and revolting. Finally they were reduced to tearing up shrubs, roots and the blades of grass growing between the stones - a striking lesson in the meaning of privation and endurance.
But at long last they spoiled their splendid record by a dishonorable conclusion, sending envoys to Civilis to plead for life - not that the request was entertained until they had taken an oath of allegiance to the Gallic empire. Then Civilis, after stipulating that he should dispose of the camp as plunder, appointed overseers to see that the money, sutlers and baggage were left behind, and to marshal the departing garrison as it marched out, destitute. About 8 kilometers from Vetera, the Germans ambushed the unsuspecting column of men. The toughest fighters fell in their tracks, and many others in scattered flight, while the rest made good their retreat to the camp.
It is true that Civilis protested, and loudly blamed the Germans for what he described as a criminal breach of faith. But our sources do not make it clear whether this was mere hypocrisy or whether Civilis was really incapable of restraining his ferocious allies. After plundering the camp, they tossed firebrands into it, and all those who had survived the battle perished in the flames."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Cypriots in the Roman Army

When Cyprus was incorporated into the Imperium Romanum in 30 BC, the island became a potential recruiting-ground for the Roman army, and military service a potential career for male Cypriots. Two classes of fighting men made up the Roman army. The legions were composed of citizen soldiers and recruited among holders of the Roman franchise, while the auxilia were recruited from non-citizens but received Roman citizenship when they were discharged after twenty-five years' service. To date, no legionaries of Cypriot background have been found in the literary or epigraphical record, but an auxiliary cohort of Cypriots saw service in Romania and the Black Sea region.

After the battle of Actium and the military reforms of Augustus, auxilia came to play a significant role in the Roman army, especially in the north-west border provinces. Previously, auxiliary units had been of varying size; now they were divided into cavalry alae and infantry cohortes of c. 500 men, each cohort subdivided into 6 eighty-man centuriae. Under Augustus, auxiliaries generally served in the area where they had been recruited,[1] often as ethnic units under their own commanders. This policy was gradually abandoned[2] and completely reversed after a series of mutinies and separatist uprisings that shook the Rhine frontier in AD 68-69: cohorts were henceforth stationed outside their area of origin and vacancies filled by local recruitment. By the second century, the auxiliary units had lost much of their ethnic character, but retained their traditional appellations.[3]

Until the mid-first century AD, Roman policy in the Black Sea was based on indirect control of the shores through client-kings. In 61, Scythian forces were besieging Chersonesos (Sevastopol) in the western Crimea, but Kotys, ruler of the Bosporan Kingdom in the eastern Crimea, was unable or unwilling to come to the aid of Chersonesos, and his Roman masters had to intervene directly. An expeditionary force under the command of Ti. Plautius Silvanus, legate of Moesia, forced the Scythians to abandon the siege.[4] Subsequently, Roman control of the Bosporan Kingdom was tightened, and the kingdom of Pontos was made a Roman province. When the expeditionary force returned to its bases in Moesia, a sizeable contingent?according to Josephus, 3,000 men and 40 ships[5]?stayed behind to safeguard Roman interests. Guard duty on the frontier was a typical task for auxiliary units, and it may well be in this context that a unit of Cypriot auxiliaries was raised: Greek-speaking and familiar with the sea, Cypriots were well suited for garrison duty in the northern Black Sea ports.

A generation later, around AD 85, Moesia itself was attacked by Decebalus. Rome was forced to divert forces from the Black Sea coast to the central Balkans.[6] The participation of a Cyprian cohort in the Dacian wars has long been known from a military diploma dated February 110,[7] recording the granting of Roman citizenship and other privileges to veterans of the Dacian wars.[8] A similar diploma, dated to October 109 and found at Ranovac in north-eastern Serbia, was published in 1987.[9] Both diplomas list a number of units, veterans of which benefit from the emperor's decree, and in each list, the cohors IIII Cypria c(ivium) R(omanorum) appears

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 to offer indepth information about the production of sets, costumes and props for popular "Rome" miniseries

I'm really enjoying HBO's miniseries "Rome" that portrays inhabitants of a realistically gritty, thriving city of the ancient world. I was excited to see this announcement that an indepth look at the production of costumes, set pieces and props was going to be provided on their accompanying website

"Coming soon to, a look at the elaborate costumes, set pieces and props authentically recreated for Rome, including lushly painted murals, sumptuous gowns, beautiful crests and detailed daggers, entire streets of blown glass, even ornately displayed Roman meals of snails and feathered birds. Go behind-the-scenes for a close-up look at the rich tapestry that made up the backdrop of Rome. "

Monday, October 03, 2005

Complications of Marriage in the Roman Empire

I've just finished reading "Course of Honour" by Lindsey Davis. For some reason I was under the impression that a Roman male citizen could marry a freedwoman and that manumitting a female slave was commonly done for this purpose. However, in Davis' book, Antonia Caenis could not marry Vespasian, even after she was freed, because he was a senator. I wondered about this but found this reference describing the points of Justinian's law to support her research:

A Senator cannot marry a freedwoman except with imperial permission. The daughter, grand-daughter, great-granddaughter of a Senator cannot marry a freedman or an actor. Justinian relaxed this rule briefly but then changed his mind and reinstated it. (Since Justinian reinstated this law, it must have already been in existence at the time of his reign)

A patron cannot marry a freedwoman against her will, unless he manumitted her for the purpose of marriage.

I was also interested to note that this reference points out that:

If a wife absents herself for three days every year she will remain in the power of her father (or other male kinsman) rather than fall under the authority of her husband. Normally a father or brother could be counted on to be more benevolent and were certainly more remote. This marriage ?without manus? was the norm throughout the time of the Empire.

A daughter married "with manus" passed into the power of her husband. Such a marriage was quite rare, however, and daughters usually remained in the power of their birth family. (Note: this meant that any property the wife owned outside of her dowry and prenuptial donation remained in her family. Her husband administered the dowry and prenuptial donation and was certainly the "head of the house" on a day to day basis.

Things apparently really got complicated if you were a Roman in Alexandria:

Marriage and inheritance. Alexandria, 2nd cent. A.D. (Berlin papyrus 1210. Tr. J.G. Winter. G)
The idiologus, the chief financial officer of Roman Egypt, administered the imperial account, which consisted of funds acquired form means of than taxation (fines and confiscations, for example). The papyrus from which these extracts are taken contains a summary of the rules by which the idiologus carried out his duties. This document reveals fiscal oppressions not only of women but of an entire province.

6. An Alexandrian, having no children by his wife, may not bequeath to her more than one quarter of his estate; if he does have children by her, her share may not exceed those of each son.
23. It is not permitted to Romans to marry their sisters or their aunts; it is permitted in the case of the daughter of brothers. [The idiologus] Pardalas, however, confiscated the property when brothers and sisters married.

24. After death, the fiscus [40] takes the dowry given by a Roman woman over 50 to a Roman man under 60.

26. And when a Latina [41] over 50 gives something to one over 60 it is likewise confiscated.

27. What is inherited by a Roman of 60 years, who was neither child nor wife, is confiscated. If he have a wife but no children and register himself, the half is conceded to him.

28. If a woman is 50 years old, she does not inherit; if she is younger and has three children, she inherits;[42] but if she is a freedwoman, she inherits if she has four children.

29. A free-born Roman woman who has an estate of 20,000 sesterces, so long as she is unmarried, pays a hundredth part annually; and a freedwoman who has an estate of 20,000 sesterces pays the same until she marries.

30. The inheritances left to Roman women possessing 50,000 sesterces, who are unmarried and childless, are confiscated.

31. It is permitted a Roman woman to leave her husband a tenth of her property; if she leaves more, it is confiscated.

32. Romans who have more than 100,000 sesterces, and are unmarried and childless, do not inherit; those who have less, do.

33. It is not permitted to a Roman woman to dispose of her property by will without a stipulated clause of the so-called coemptio fiduciaria. [43] A legacy by a Roman woman to a Roman woman who is a minor is confiscated.

38. The children of a woman who is a citizen of Alexandria and an Egyptian man remains Egyptians, but inherit from both parents.

39. When a Roman man or a Roman woman marries a citizen of Alexandria or an Egyptian, without knowledge (of the true status), the children follow the lower class.

46. To Roman men and citizens of Alexandria who married Egyptian women without knowledge (of their true status) it was granted, in addition to freedom from responsibility, also that the children follow the father's station.

52. It is permitted Roman men to marry Egyptian women.

53. Egyptian women married to ex-soldiers come under the clause of misrepresentation if they characterise themselves in business transactions as Roman women.

54. Ursus [44] did not allow an ex-soldier's daughter who had become a Roman citizen to inherit from her mother if the latter was an Egyptian.