One of the big factors at Cynoscephalae and later at Pydna was the extreme flexibility and how much initiative junior officers had. At Cynoscephalae, the turning point of the battle came when a junior Roman officer saw that one of the halves of the phalanx was still forming up, and immediately sent Roman units against that unready part of the phalanx, routing them, and then crashing down on the rear of the other part of the phalanx that was actually winning against the Romans. At Pydna, Lucius Aemilius Paullus the Roman commander was able to give the general order to exploit the gaps, and let the various unit commanders implement it.
The combination of Roman training combined with the tactical flexibility stood Rome in very good stead for centuries.
As an aside, it is not necessarily the unit, but the commander who knows how to put it to great use that matters. Alexander the Great used an army of which the core was the phalanx to win battles over many, many types of terrain. He knew how to use the phalanx well in combination with calvary and light infantry to devastating effect.
seems for the UK
By the time Rome got around to taking over Greece it wasn't even a contest. It's actually lucky that the Greek states weren't unified into a force powerful enough to be an existential threat to Rome. It would have likely suffered the same fate as Carthage. Instead it essentially got colonized and incorporated into the Roman empire in a way that could be called a co-equal merger. Rome kind of became Greece v2.
History is full of civilizations that fought bravely against invaders and were destroyed. It's also full of examples of civilizations that surrendered and thrived. It's a hard pill to swallow that "cowardly" surrender can often be objectively better than "stubborn" bravery. One of the big facts of history that blew me away.
One old saying around these parts of the world (Romania) can be translated roughly like this: "The bowed head doesn't get cut by the sword", which explains like at least half of our history, seeing as we've never been a major regional power while being surrounded by 3 empires for at least a couple of centuries (the Ottomans, the Russians, the Habsburgs) and we still managed to keep a certain level of autonomy throughout the centuries. The Poles were a little bit more courageous than us and that attitude saw their country split into three.
This is very simplistic way to describe reasons behind partitioning of Poland, which was by then standards very large multiethnic country with borders from Baltic to Black Sea and ability to raise considerable military power to defend its borders in times of need.
Commonwealth's dissolution came from the inside. There was no centralization of power in Poland. King was de-facto figurehead with real power being divided between hundreds of nobles. Everybody else was professionalizing their military, but that was impossible to do in Poland because we were 18th century country that relied on King rallying nobles rallying their bannermen for military. There was no chain of command, grand strategy or even unified arsenal. That was ridiculous but nobles wanted it to stay that way so king or congress could never contest their power. What happened instead was country being partitioned and nobility getting the boot from new rulers that did not tolerate private kingdoms, private armies or having to negotiate with every single noble if they wanted to change something.
- Falstaff the comedic coward in Shakespeare's Henry the Fourth
Sometimes, though, the bowed head gets cut anyway, and surrendering in response to a promise of mercy leads to genocide:
I guess I'd say it's a strat that probably works more often than it doesn't, but your own mileage may vary.
While Nanking was an awful massacre if not genocide, it doesn't have a narrative against the Romanian proverb.
Italy was a back water in 300 bc. with the great political and cultural centres to the east of Greece. What would attract Alexander to Italy?
But why? The East was far more developed. A unified Mediterranean proved to be very profitable for Rome, but it's not clear to me that this future was obvious to anyone.
But it's an interesting thought, much as it's interesting to think of what might have been if Rome had ever fully conquered and incorporated the British Isles and Germania. Perhaps civil wars and power struggles would have torn the empire asunder much sooner, but perhaps Roman urbanism would have taken a stronger hold, preventing rural feudalism from forming. Who knows!
Although it's also interesting to note that Diocletion's reforms are thought to have set the stage for feudalism to begin with, and Roman urbanism was abandoned in many of the places it had taken hold, once the state fell.
At the height of the greek empire, it's pretty much a given that alexander would have easily conquered italy. But there was no real reason to as italy/rome back then wasn't really worth conquering compared to egypt, persia, india... I suspect had alexander lived long enough, he would have move further into india and maybe even into china. Not sure how successful he really would have been, but it's an interesting "what if".
> History is full of civilizations that fought bravely against invaders and were destroyed. It's also full of examples of civilizations that surrendered and thrived. It's a hard pill to swallow that "cowardly" surrender can often be objectively better than "stubborn" bravery.
The most poignant example of this is Catholic Europe and Islamic Khwarezmia when Genghis Khan sent his emissaries to each. The leader of khwarezmia had the emissaries tortured and killed and refused trade relations with genghis khan. The pope "surrendered" to genghis khan and established trade relations with the mongol empire. Khwarezmia got destroyed. Italy/Europe got direct trade with the largest empire in the world and got immensely rich which kicked off the italian renaissance and the rest is history.
Of course there are counterexamples as well like the english stubbornness against the spanish empire ( the destruction of the spanish armada ) and most relevant to us, the american revolution.
The key seems to be, if you are going to be stubborn against a major power, be damned sure you can win.
Just before he died, he was preparing a campaign to the WEST.
Why did you capitalize west? And I'm fairly certain this is not true. The best we know of his immediate plans prior to death was that he wanted to centralize his empire around babylon and then conquer arabia. Not quite "west".
But if you have sources backing your claim, I'd love to see it.
This misspelling is surprisingly frequent with people with a regional UK accent.
That's debatable. The greatest military commander in history was most likely Subutai : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subutai
See also the Mongol invasion when cities either surrendered and became vassals or defended themselves, were sieged, captured and sacked. And sometimes everyone there was killed.
Can't agree more on that. Also digging more into history you can see the Byzantine Empire which was sort of a merge of those 2 civilizations.
Also the situation of slaves was quite fluid: you could be a slave by birth, but you could have been captured in war and conquest or you could have simply failed to pay your debts. Skilled slaves often had the possibility to earn some money and buy back their freedom.
On the other hand, there were also unskilled slaves, often worked to death in mines or fields.
The Romans put up a valiant rearguard action against cultural aggression, what with forbidding permanent theaters, favoring the native blood sports, etc.;-)
Unfortunately, pretty soon all the aristocracy was hiring the pedagogues, watching the shows and reading greek, and that was that.
Umm, reminds me of something. Can't quite put my finger on it.
(Plus, that uncouth Macedonian lout had sprayed a top layer of Hellenism over much of the former Persian empire - that helped a lot too.)
A better translation would be "captured Greece has conquered its savage captor", since that better captures (pun intended) the intended parallel between capta and cepit--both are forms of the same verb. (Also cepit is perfect tense, hence "has conquered".)
The Latin perfect is the equivalent of the English perfect. It's also the equivalent of the English simple past; whether "Greece captured her conquerors" or "Greece has captured her conquerors" is the right translation depends on whether Horace was writing about the past or the present (that is, his past or his present), not on the form of the Latin verb.
Yes, you're right. I still prefer the "has conquered" translation, though, because I think Horace was talking about a condition that was still there in his present, not just what had happened in his past.
I don't think so. "Captor" might be, though, even if "captured" isn't. Another possible translation that doesn't use "captor" would be to swap words around to: "Conquered Greece has captured its savage conqueror". That actually might better match the sense of the original Latin in modern English; the Latin victorem is probably better translated as "conqueror" than "captor".
(Edit: One other more pedantic refinement: "Conquered Greece has captured her savage conqueror." Since the Latin Graecia is feminine, not neuter.)
Might have to do a third time now that I have learned so much more.
Given its 180, 20-30 minute episodes, this should be an indicator of how incredible the podcast is.
The author makes interesting arguments that the area is the center of civilization even in modernity. For example, he argues that the main cause of WWI was British fear of a resurgent Russia taking India from them - not German aggression, as is commonly understood by Eurocentric views of history.
At any rate, the book is full of epic, sweeping battles, the ebb and flow of great cities like Constantinople and Baghdad, the rise and fall of empires. Highly recommended if you like this stuff!
I think it's much more useful to think of a net with connections, with different levels of "zoom out".
For example, you could look at 0CE Rome, and get a good understanding of how the city ran. Zoom out to Italy, and have a good understanding of the 'Centre' of their empire. Zoom out to the entire empire, noticing a second clustering towards Egypt, and how trade flowed to the Parthian empire, into Germania and how there was even a trickle through the Sahara.
Then zoom out again to get an idea of how these all interacted with the other great empires in India and China. And how these were disconnected from the American empires at the time.
The book is also very focused on trade, not just war. And the brilliant goods of the East were the source of great trade.
True, but very informative, as China's borders have grown and shrunk and grown again quite a bit over the centuries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=zdHkY3XYHKA
I need to fact-check that, though. If Fuller is right, it really is a huge twist on the story of early global trade.
History is full of stuff like that. The key difference is that these regions didn’t keep written track and have left only archeology, but in Europe most of that didn’t keep because other people lived on it after wards.
The earliest written accounts about Northern Europe are Christian accounts that were written almost 400 years after the Vikings discovered America. While it’s not incorrect to theorize that there is nothing because there was nothing, it’s important to keep in mind that we still don’t know how Stonehenge was build.
> While it’s not incorrect to theorize that there is nothing because there was nothing, ...
There likely was something. Linguistic evidence from proto-indo-european homeland theories aside, could mean ongoing exchange and exploitation from far away, so no permanent civilization but excursions and outposts.
And if there was something, it is still possible that was removed by conquering religions.
Honestly i can't shake the idea that said game has continued to the present day, only with various players tag teaming in and out over the years.
Ah, yes, an unintersting backwater ...that created objects like this one:
Also: Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Thales of Melitus, Archimedes, Democritus, Ptolemy, Aristotle of course, etc etc.
It's true that the Orient and also Mesoamerica were also civlisational centers, a fact that is not acknowledged in Western history books. But to go from that ommission, to saying that the West (in fact, the entire Old World since it's impossible to separate Greek and Roman history from say Egyptian or Babylonian history) was a "backwater" before Columbus, is simply unhistorical.
It's difficult to know. The OP mentions the "Eeastern Mediterranean basin" as part of the Orient:
>> the Orient (particularly the Eastern Mediterranean basin over to present-day India), not Europe, is the historic center of civilization.
I can't see how that doesn't include Greece, especially Ionia. On the other hand, I can't see how "Europe" excludes Greece, either. The same goes for the Roman Empire, that covered much of both Europe and the Eastern Mediterrannean for a long period.
I think the OP, or perhaps their source, is just confused about what is what, the Orient, Europe, the West etc.
The straight-line cultural connection from northern Europe to classical Greece is mostly a myth, established to sell a sense of importance to the Johnny-come-lately imperialists of Britain, Holland, and Germany. "Europe" is a more modern concept.
Geographically, certainly. Culturally, not at all. The Persian wars (and even Alexander's campaign) were already portrayed as a clash of civilisation by their contemporaries. The difference between one big, monolithic empire vs many agile city-states (a few of them even democratic, to different degrees) was not easy to miss and it becamse a main theme of the interpretations of the Persians' failed campaigns that persists to this day (e.g. - how the Greeks overwhelmed the Persian navy with their smaller, faster, more manoeuverable ships in Salamis etc).
>> "Europe" is a more modern concept.
A lot of this "myth" of continuity comes from the fact that the people who were originally subjugated by Rome ended up seeing themselves as Roman, and proclaimed their proto-nation states to be the legitimate heirs of Rome. Most prominent among them, the Holy Roman Empire (i.e. the origins of modern Germany) and even more so Byzantium, the Eastern Roman Empire, in other words- the Greeks.
Is there a straight-line connection between Rome and modern Greece that goes through Byzantium? A word for "Greek" in the Greek language is, even today, "Romios", which means - Roman. The Turks even called us "Rum".
Is there a straight-line connection between ancient and modern Greece? We call ourselves "Greek" (I'm one obviously) but we speak a significantly changed language, identify with a single nation-state and recognise a montheistic religion as the official state religion.
And yet, who has more of a claim to being "greek" than modern-day Greeks? Turks, maybe, who live in what used to be Ionia? Southern Italians, who live in Magna Grecia and often speak Greek dialects?
How about a connection with Rome? Who can claim to be a descendant of the Romans any more than the speakers of Romance languages? What about the inhabitants of the "land of the Romans" (Romania)?
What I'm trying to say is- modern nation-states are invariably based on a particular reading of ancient history, which, since we're talking about the Old World, is the history of Rome (and to a lesser extent, Greece). The influence of Rome on the identity and culture of the people of Europe, through those "myths" is of such undeniable magnitude that it really ends up constituting a straight-line cultural connection, even when the culture has changed significantly since ancient times (as of course it would). See "What did the Romans do for us".
"Europe" is a modern concept, sure- but it would not have taken off the ground if it hadn't been for the unifying influence of the Roman Empire.
Instead current Romania was named as such just based on the endonym (the name they gave to themselves) of the locals: Romanians. The name of the locals does imply a connection to the Romans, as their descendants, but that's it.
What I'm trying to say is a bit subtle, but basically Romania is a name which acknowledges a fact (the Romanians are descendants of the Romans/Latin speaking populations; not even our greatest enemy, Hungary denies this), not a claim to greatness. So the name is a logical extension of this fact, just like you'd call the land of the Greeks, Greece (or the land of the Albanians, Albania) :)
An Anglo-French alliance was not inevitable; as late as 1894 it was possible to publish a novel in which England, invaded by France and Russia, was rescued by Germany .
"In the European Union, treating World War I as the product of abstract forces like arms races or nationalism is doubtlessly useful in minimizing national animosities.
But unlike the chattering classes, most historians, ever since Fritz Fischer published Germany’s Aims in the First World War (1961), have tended to agree that the major cause of World War I was Imperial Germany’s determination to become a “world power” or superpower by crippling Russia and France in what it hoped would be a brief and decisive war, like the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Following the Archduke’s assassination, Berlin deliberately used the crisis in relations between its satellite Austria-Hungary and Russia’s satellite Serbia as an excuse for a general war that would establish German hegemony from Belgium to Baghdad. World War I started in 1914 for the same reason that World War II started in 1939—a government in Berlin wanted a war, though not the war it ultimately got."
Additionally, Austrian historians claim that Austrian military strategists also surely didn't want the big war but just to attack Serbia which they estimated was already weak enough to be an easy target. Both Germans and Austrians simply (stupidly?) expected much less response from other countries.
It's amazing how much terrain has affected the arc of history.
My "Earth Science" class was structured the same way. We learned about the formation of the solar system, then dinosaurs, then Cro-Magnon Man. Each unit of study was so completely separate from the others chronologically that it never occurred to me to ask "So did Greece and Rome ever have wars?" for the same reason it never did to ask "How did early homonids fight off dinosaurs?". It seemed so obvious at the time that there was no overlap.
Anyway, if I have a point, it's this: never underestimate the inadequacy of the US primary education system.
I _LOVE_ history now. I collect antique history books, just to see how perceptions changed over time. Ken Burns tops hollywood in terms of "# of films watched" by many times over. However, this only started MUCH later in my life when I started to see history as a tool, a way of thinking, of reasoning about the world.
History as it was taught in my early schooling was not only useless, it was utterly counterproductive; As you say: memorizing slabs of rote dates and events not only removed any utility or holistic understanding from the facts (and related time periods), but convinced me that I "hated history" and should avoid the subject like the plague. Arrogantly, I was one of the better students in my high-school, so I can only imagine what the less advantaged crowd felt about those courses, and it doesn't leave me surprised with the "lack of historical context and appreciation" I feel to be pervasive in the American population.
To truncate this rant: History is _so fucking amazing_ when you start to consider it as an interplay of human pathologies, and as a tool for understanding our present. It's such a frustration that our education system doesn't do it justice.
A bare-bones framework, to my older eyes, would teach you to ask about incentives, to look at the zeitgeist of the times, to ask "what's the precedent," and might establish a motivation for this in showing the predictive power of history, or its utility in comprehending current situations. Unfortunately, all of those were long-post-primary-schooling revelations.
While I may not have had the context or appreciation I do now, my schooling did almost nothing to move me in that direction.
By "framework" I meant just the bare outlines of history: Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, then Greece, then Rome, then the Middle Ages, then the Renaissance, then the Industrial Revolution... Having that "outline" put me in a position, later, as I learned more, of seeing how the details fit into the (very coarse) outline, and thereby learning more outline.
What you're asking for is also totally necessary if one wants to understand history as more than just a collection of facts. And I suppose that even in grade school, history would make more sense if you told them that things happened for reasons, they didn't just happen. You'd have to really simplify the reasons, though...
Now that should be interesting, since history is full of so many things that human beings find fascinating. Unfortunately, the educators generally manage to make it boring.
It's not just history. Physicists complain "why would they be interested in physics, when they aren't shown any interesting physics?" Chemistry education research describes precollege chemistry education content as "incoherent", leaving both students and teachers deeply steeped in misconceptions. And so on.
Consider a scale of dysfunction, from rote memorization and regurgitation, through mindless plug-and-chug, towards transferable expertise. The disruption of VR/AR is coming. What if we aimed high?
What might transformatively improved history education look like? Imagine teaching crosscutting concepts that pervade history. "History without X? That's just silly." Migration, for example. What if students, shown any slice of history, could be "ok, this looks familiar, here are some key things to look for"? A veterinary systems understanding, instead of a med student's memorized details.
When one sees a bit of history, it can be fun to reflect, how might this have been described better, with greater insight, simplicity, clarity, and accessibility? ELI5. But beyond the fun, with the tech potential for change building, there's a need for visualizing: what would success look like? Real success. Awesome success. Because we need something that matters to aim for.
I think it started with an obsession with the news, and to understand the news, you need background, history.
I think though, it's difficult to covey all this to a child, or even perhaps a teen, and I doubt there is much interest, outside of the gory details.
Looking back I found parts of history interesting, but I never felt like a had a holistic view of the past. As time has gone on, you piece it all together, bit by bit, place by place and see how it's relevant to today's world. There is a lot to take in, it takes time.
That happens everywhere it's not an American thing ( btw, the article is from an Irish newspaper), there's too much to cover in so little time. But learning shouldn't stop when we graduate, I can't blame school for my adult-life shortcomings, I got the basics and that should be enough IMHO
On the subject of the article, it's definitely not as popular as the punic wars or Caesar's conquest of Gaul, but then again what is?
Then again, you look back at what students and school boys from earlier eras were able to learn and accomplish by the time they were considered men (which by the way was like 16-17 in antiquity), you wonder what the hell our modern education system is doing sometimes.
(Its still reasonable to be annoyed by the way. My personal annoyance is that my school taught a lesson about George Washington Carver which didn't include a discussion of the nitrogen cycle or nitrogen-fixing bacteria.)
Grading people on how well they can remember dates is easy. Did they get the year something happened correct? One point.
Actually requiring students to write something that requires critical analysis makes it a lot harder to grade tests.
Consider yourself fortunate that they were covered at all. In some schools those are taboo subjects, as they conflict with the religious ethos.
Not that Vietnam or the WW II aftermath is at all relevant to modern politics. /s
I had some great high school history teachers who pushed the envelope on diverging from the standard crap. By the time my brother got to high school, those guys retired, and the Global Studies Africa unit consisted of a day about slave hunters and watching Shaka Zulu.
A brief reference to Gandi sufficed as the history of India. One of my brothers' buddies gave a presentation about what they learned that year with a slide that said "Gandi thought that salt cost too much".
I think that a large part of it is that we like to break up the curriculum into little compartments, rather than treating it as a series of interrelated components. There's history to be learned in science, and there's science to be learned in history, for example. But we treat science and history as two completely separate entities.
It seems so fascinating to me that if you focus hard enough to a simple sentence of a modern history book you can uncover battles and kings and strategies and winters and politics.
I've always been curious why they have stagnated so much since and been so... mediocre.
I guess you could say the same about Macedonia and maybe some middle eastern areas if we're looking purely at past greatness, but those two seem to be easier to explain. Greece's impact was more wider, longer, and stronger.
By the time we achieved freedom, we were a backwater too far behind everyone else in Europe to be competitive.
Just a correction - Macedonia was (and is) part of Greece: https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/6265/was-alexand...
it is the next stage of civilizational evolution, look forward to it America :)
If that's the culture of modern greece then that explains a lot in itself. I guess the tentacles of socialism are still strangling Greece and it's legacy has been embedded in their culture .
> We have a good life at low cost
Not to make this political but that lifestyle clearly hasn't exactly been sustainable and has been heavily subsidized externally AND internally. Which will cripple future growth for years to pay for yesterdays misteps.
The fact all economically productive people leave to other places says as much about the anti-business enviornment present in Greece as much as it does about people's lifestyle choices there. No one wants to leave their hometown to make a living or do great things. It's always a consequence of trade-offs (ie, taxation, regulatory sanity, access to talented, hardworking, and educated people, excitement/apathy towards the future of the country, etc).
I wasn't just talking about the modern era though but the last few centuries including the modern century plus...
Sometimes even amazed that events like the Eastern Roman empire repelled Goths from Italy, and even managed to occupy Rome proper, for a few brief years, took place.
Hannibal rated him as up there with Alexander as one of the greatest generals ever.
Not all conflicts are created equal I guess.
And I am not so sure that the manipular style was ineffective in a straight fight. Rome abandoned the phalanx for a reason.
The highlights of education on Greece usually focus on Alexander the Great for a day or two, phalanx, the various figures of Athens, Athens vs. Sparta. Rome usually is some chat about the origin myth, "they were a republic", the Punic Wars, specifically Hannibal, Ceasar, transition to empire, random facts.