Skip to comments.How did Trajan succeed in subduing Parthia where Mark Antony failed?
Posted on 11/14/2005 10:09:55 AM PST by SunkenCiv
Building a stable bridge of boats across a fast-flowing mountain stream must have been no easy matter, especially under fire from an enemy army assembled on the far side. 'But Trajan had a great abundance of ships and soldiers' enough apparently to distract the barbarians while the bridge was flung across. Once a bridgehead was established, enemy resistance collapsed, and a large tract of territory fell into the hands of the Romans, though it is not clear whether one or two campaigns were required. The new province of Assyria included Gordiene, Adiabene and the Kirkuk region.
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....bu...but what about the SALAMI part..??!!!!!
Me can't wait!
They had Reggie Bush!!!!!!
Let's ask Squantos, her was there!
He said he just subdued Parthia again last week!
Too many variables to really know the answer at this point, but an interesting take.
In a totally unrelated issue, I just learned that the USA Network TV miniseries, Attila (2001), starred Scots actor Gerard Butler of "Phantom of the Opera" (2004 film & DVD). Since I'm entranced by his performance as the Phantom, now I have to track down a copy of "Attila" which I remember seeing several times on cable in years past.
Trajan was right at the end of his life when he did it, and his successor Hadrian withdrew from the Gulf just a year or three after the conquest of the province "Mesopotamia". Trajan had it goin' on, that's how he did it. :') Anthony had a real problem hittin' the sauce, and botched his attempt.
Hadrian had to be talked out of abandoning Dacia (Trajan's finest piece of imperialism, and regarded as the all-time peak of the Roman Empire, economically), but did pull back from Scotland along with Mesopotamia. Hadrian also spent a lot of cash building a cult of Antinoos, one of the boys Hadrian liked to, uh, romance, after Antinoos drowned in the Nile (got chomped by a hippo, or somethin').
I guess that was an unnecessary aside, eh? ;')
I watched that a few years ago (DVD from the library) and it was okay. Attila is grossly overrated IMO, and a few things in the movie were completely over the top not true. But it is entertaining, and due to filming in eastern Europe, there were large numbers of extras, and in battle scenes the extras are digitally multiplied.
I enjoyed seeing Powers Boothe in that production, he always gives a quality performance. He's done a lot of interesting roles over the years (for ex., Jim Jones).
Interestingly, the Scots were one of the only European cultures that the Romans couldn't conquer. Hadrian finally pulled back, essentially said "Nothing up there is worth another Roman life" and built a wall to keep the Scots at bay.
He was probably right.:-)
The Romans could have conquered them, easily, and Ireland too, but were too busy with problems on the continent. Augustus had cut the size of the Roman army in half after the civil wars were over (from 56 regular legions to 28, plus the Praetorian Guard), adding instead about the same number of auxiliary legions to co-opt the conquered areas into the empire. Earlier empires did the same thing (I'm thinking as an example, Herodotus' list of participants in the Persian invasion force).
Another problem was that Caesar, upon conquering Gaul, had conducted what nowadays would be termed a genocide. The lower population of Roman Gaul was an invitation to people further east. And when the climate cooled, people from Central Asia came down the steppes, just as others had before during earlier coolings.
Also, the hardest areas for Rome to conquer and hold seem to have been forested.
Could've, would've, should've. :-)
Serverus attempted to subdue them by genocide, ordering every man woman and child killed, but that failed. So the two walls were built across the island to separate them from civilization.
Yeah, the Romans did the best they could. ;') United lowland Scotland with Arabia.
Antony was a fine commander, but he was no Caesar. Had the latter lived to carry out the invasion of Parthia, it probably would have ended in Roman victory.
Trajan, while failing at Hatra, had done much to at least stabilize the Roman hold on Mesopotamia, chiefly through the efforts of his great lieutenant Lucius Quietus.
Its a shame that the sources for Trjan's Parthian War are so poor, but I must say that I am a bit puzzled by the assertions of some modern historians that Trajan left the area a broken, defeated man. I don't think such a man would have been planning to resume the war in 117 had he not felt that victory was in his grasp. Only his rapidly declining health prevented this new campaign, and he probably died thinking that Hadrian would honor his wishes and complete the war (if indeed he chose Hadrian to succeed him that is).
The Romans were lucky that the Parthians lacked the strength to seriously capitalize on the defeats of Crassus and Antony, while the Parthians were lucky that perhaps the greatest Roman general of all -- Caesar -- was assassinated before he could avenge Crassus, and that perhaps the most powerful emperor of all -- Trajan -- began his campaign as a relatively old man. They were also lucky that the plague ravaged the victorious army of Cassius Avidius, who had won a resounding victory on behalf of Marcus Aurelius in the year 165, thus possibly saving the Parthians from a full-scale invasion of Media.
I wish the Romans had thought the entire Arabian peninsula (well, the coasts) worth conquering. Mohammed's ancestors (one or more of them) might have gotten whacked, and that would have had a positive impact throughout history.
"Antony was a fine commander, but he was no Caesar."
Quite agree. He was a real combat leader, but took direction more capably than giving it, IMO. And of course, it didn't help that he was more and more just a drunk. He had less political sense than Octavian, and remained far from Rome most of the time. Had he succeeded in Parthia, Octavian might have been a minor footnote today. :') Of course, it's just as likely that, had Antony succeeded in Parthia, he would have continued to unravel, Octavian would have been unwilling to relinquish power, continued to scheme, war would have come anyway...
Alexander the Great was making preparations to conquer Arabia shortly before his death.
As to the Romans, I've read that Augustus was going to send his adopted son (and grandson by blood) Gaius on some sort of Arabian/Oriental campaign, but the one source I've read this is quite vague, so I don't know if it was meant to be against the Parthians (which seems a bit doubtful sense Augustus had demanded and received a favorable peace from them yrs earlier) or into the Arabian peninsula. Or it could have been intended for a more modest slice of Arabia, like the one one his legates failed to take and which Trajan finally did absorb into the empire. But whatever the plans were, they ended with Gaius' death.
Who knows how history would have been altered, but certainly its a shame that a united, powerful Roman Empire did not last long enough to face the successors of Mohammad. At the very least, they probably could have stopped the spread of Islam to the West.
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