Category Archives: Battles & Wars

Romans in the Netherlands: The 450 Year Occupation

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

When one thinks of the Imperium Rōmānum (Roman Empire) typically it is the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. However, the Empire was so much more stretching farther Northern Europe and even into the Near East.

Today we venture northward as we explore the Romans in the Netherlands!

The history of Holland has roots in Rome.

The Netherlands, also known informally as Holland, is a densely populated country in Western Europe. It is the main constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

A landscape where it is uncertain where the sea ends and land begins.

The European portion of the Netherlands borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, sharing maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

During the Gallic Wars, the area south of the Oude Rijn and west of the Rhine was conquered by Roman forces under Julius Caesar from 57 BC to 53 BC. Caesar describes 2 main tribes living in what is now the southern Netherlands: the Menapii and the Eburones.

The Limes Germanicus

The Rhine became fixed as Rome’s northern frontier around AD 12. Notable towns, such as Nijmegen and Voorburg, would arise along the Limes Germanicus.

At first part of Gallia Belgica, the area south of the Limes became part of the Roman Provincia (Province) of Germania Inferior. The area to the north of the Rhine, inhabited by the Frisii, remained outside Roman rule (but not its presence and control), while the border tribes Batavi and Cananefates served in the Equites Romani (Roman Cavalry).

The Batavi rose against the Romans in the Batavian rebellion of AD 69, but were eventually defeated. The Batavi later merged with other tribes into the confederation of the Salian Franks, whose identity emerged at the first half of the 3rd Century.

Human bones from the Roman occupation era of the Netherlands.

Salian Franks appear in Roman texts as both allies and enemies. The Salian Franks were forced by the confederation of the Saxons from the east to move over the Rhine into Roman territory in the 4th Century.

The Frisii were initially won over by Drusus, suggesting a Roman suzerainty was imposed by Augustus on the coastal areas north of the Rhine river. Over the course of time the Frisii would fight the Romans in concert with other Germanic tribes, and finally be relocated in Flanders and disappeared from recorded history as of 296 AD.

Reconstruction of a Roman watch tower near Fectio.

Some believe the disappearance was due to deteriorating climate conditions, while others believe the Frisii were probably forced to resettle within Roman territory as Laeti around the same time. In any event, coastal lands remained largely unpopulated for the next couple of centuries.

For around 450 years, from around 55 BC to around 410 AD, the southern part of the Netherlands was integrated into the Roman Empire. During this time the Romans in the Netherlands had an enormous influence on the lives and culture of the people who lived in the Netherlands at the time and (indirectly) on the generations that followed.

Julius Caesar leads his troops through Gaul.

During the Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar established the principle that this river, which runs through the Netherlands, defined a natural boundary between Gaul and Germania Magna. But the Rhine was not a strong border, and Caesar made it clear that there was a part of Belgic Gaul where many of the local tribes were Germani Cisrhenani.

When Caesar arrived, various tribes were in the area of the Netherlands, residing in the inhabitable higher parts, especially in the east and south. These tribes did not leave behind written records, so all the information known about them during this pre-Roman period is based on what the Romans and Greeks wrote about them.

A rough map showing tribes mentioned by Caesar in his account of the Gallic Wars.

Caesar himself, in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico, wrote in detail only about the southern area which he conquered. Tribes who he described as living in what is now the Netherlands were the Menapii (a Belgic tribe who stretched from the Flemish coast, through the south of the river deltas, and as far as the modern German border), the Eburones (the largest of the Germani Cisrhenani group, whose territory stretched covered a large area between the rivers Maas and Rhine), and the smaller Ambivariti (perhaps part of the Eburones or Menapii, who Caesar mentions in passing as living west of the Maas).

In the delta itself, Caesar makes a passing comment about the Insula Batavorum (Island of the Batavi) in the Rhine, without discussing who lived there. Later, in imperial times, a tribe called the Batavi became very important in this region.

This shows the rough positions of tribes known in the Netherlands during the Roman Empire.

Other tribes who eventually inhabited the Gaulish islands in the delta during Roman times are mentioned by Pliny the Elder include: the Cananefates, whom Tacitus says were similar to the Batavians in their ancestry, living in what is today the province of South Holland; the Frisii, who inhabited a major part of the modern Netherlands; the Chauci, whose main territory was the North Sea coast of Germany, bordering the Frisii on their east; the Frisiabones, who Pliny also counted as a people living in Gallia Belgica, perhaps stretching into Gelderland and South Holland; the Marsacii, who Tacitus refers to as neighbors of the Batavi, who probably inhabited what is today the province of Zeeland; and the Sturii, who are not known from any other sources, but are thought to have lived near modern Zeeland or South Holland.

As mentioned above, the northern Netherlands, above the Old Rhine, was dominated by the Frisii, with perhaps a small penetration of Chauci. While this area was not officially part of the empire for any long periods, military conscription and other impositions were made for long periods upon the Frisii.

Relief showing a vallus (170 AD).

In the south of the Netherlands the Texuandri inhabited most of North Brabant. The modern province of Limburg, with the Maas running through it, appears to have been inhabited by (from north to south) the Baetasii, the Catualini, the Sunuci and the Tungri.

About 38 BC, a pro-Roman faction of the Chatti (a Germanic tribe located east of the Rhine) was settled by Agrippa in an area south of the Rhine, now thought to be the Betuwe area. They took on the name of the people already living there, the Batavians.

Batavian culture was influenced by the Roman one, resulting among other things in Roman-style temples such as the one in Elst, dedicated to local gods. Also, the trade flourished with the salt used in the Roman Empire being from the North Sea with remains found across the whole of the Empire.

The Conspiracy of Julius Civilis, by Rembrandt (1661).

However, this did not prevent the Batavian Rebellion of AD 69, a very successful revolt under the leadership of Batavian Gaius Julius Civilis. Forty castella were burnt down because the Romans violated the rights of the Batavian leaders by taking young Batavians as their slaves.

Other Roman soldiers (like those in Xanten and the auxiliary troops of Batavians and Cananefates from the legions of Vitellius) joined the revolt, which split the northern part of the Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army). In April of AD 70, Vespasianus sent a few Legions to stop the revolt.

Their commander, Petilius Cerialis, eventually defeated the Batavians and started negotiations with Civilis on his home ground, somewhere between the Waal and the Maas near what the Batavians probably called Batavodurum. During their stay in Germania Inferior, the Romans established several towns and military forts in the Netherlands along the Limes Germanicus with.

Public scene at the Valkenburg Castrum.

More notable towns include Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum (modern Nijmegen), Forum Hadriani (Voorburg), Flevum (modern Velsen), Lugdunum Batavorum (Brittenburg at modern Katwijk aan Zee), Praetorium Agrippinae (at modern Valkenburg), Traiectum (in modern Utrecht), Colonia Ulpia Trajana (in modern Xanten, Germany), Coriovallum (in modern Heerlen), Nigrum Pullum (modern Zwammerdam), Ceuclum (modern Cuijk), and Trajectum ad Mosam (modern Maastricht).

Franks appear in Roman texts as both allies and enemies. Around 310, the Franks had the region of the Scheldt river (present day west Flanders and southwest Netherlands) under control, and were raiding the Channel, disrupting transportation to Roman Britannia. Roman forces pacified the region, but did not expel the Franks, who continued to be feared as pirates along the shores at least until the time of Julian the Apostate (AD 358), when Salian Franks were granted to settle as foederati in Toxandria, according to Ammianus Marcellinus.

Frankish invasions of the 5th Century.

At the beginning of the 5th Century, the Franks became the most important ethnic group in the region, just before the Fall of the Western Roman Empire.

We hope that you enjoyed today’s journey to a region previously unknown to us to be occupied by the Romans. If nothing else, we just reiterated the fact that the extent of Rome touched far and wide.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Colebrander, Bernard. Limes Atlas. Rotterdam, 2005.

Lucius Cassius Dio. Book LIV, Ch 32.

Lendering, Jona, “Germania Inferior”. Livius.org.

Roffelsen, Cees. “History of the Netherlands: The Roman Occupation (57 BC – 406 AD)”. Medium.com, 16 October 2016.

Roymans, Nico. Ethnic Identity and Imperial Power. The Batavians in the Early Roman Empire.

Cornelius Tacitus. Germany and its Tribes.

Porolissum: A Military Camp in Roman Dacia

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Many of you may not know that I am trying to be a teacher for Grades 4-8. I really want History (obviously) but would enjoy Language Arts as well.

That being said, for the past month I have been studying for my certification exam. That leaves only 1 more test to take before I can become a certified teacher here in Texas.

Today we bring you brand new content as we head to Roman Dacia and uncover Porolissum!

Porolissum was an Ancient Roman city in Dacia. Established as a military camp in AD 106 during Trajan’s Dacian Wars, the city quickly grew through trade with the native Dacians and became the capital of the Provincia (Province) Dacia Porolissensis in AD 124.

The site is one of the largest and best-preserved archaeological sites in modern-day Romania. It is almost 5 miles away from the modern city of Zalău, in Jac village, Creaca Commune, Sălaj County.

On the Limes Daci (Dacian Frontier Boundary) in the north-west of Romania, in the center of Porolissum, an underground building was discovered in 1984. From the excavations thereafter we have come to discover a once healthy Roman castrum (fort).

Roman Legionaries at Porolissum Fest

In AD 106, at the beginning of his Second Dacian War, Emperor Trajan established a military stronghold at the site to defend the main passageway through the Carpathian Mountains. The castrum, initially built of wood on stone foundations, was garrisoned with 5,000 Auxilia (Auxiliary) troops transferred from HispaniaGallia and Britannia.

Set on the Pomet Hill and the adjacent Citera Hill, the earliest phase of occupation consisted of the administrative headquarters, military barracks, and storage facilities constructed in timber. A massive defensive system surrounding the city was fabricated in a series of concentric rings consisting of earthen mounds, ditches, and wooden palisades.

Reconstruction of Porolissum

The name Porolissum appears to be Dacian in origin, and was thought to be an already established village. However, archaeologists have not been able to uncover any evidence of a Dacian settlement preceding the Roman fort.

In the following decades, possibly under the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the castrum was enlarged and rebuilt in stone. A Canaba, a civilian settlement developed around the military center, was also added at this point.

Altar dedicating Porolissum

In AD 124 when Hadrian created the new province Dacia Porolissensis, named for the now sizable city, Porolissum became the administrative center of the province. Under Emperor Septimius Severus, the city was granted municipium status, allowing its leaders and merchants to act independently.

Although the Romans withdrew from Dacia around AD 271 under Aurelian, Porolissum may have been gradually abandoned in the course of the 260’s. Evidence from the excavations and research is still being conducted to prove this.

Even though the city was founded as a military center in the middle of a war, the garrison of Porolissum seems to have lived in peaceful coexistence with their Dacian neighbors. Several Dacian villages that were apparently founded after the city of Porolissum have been uncovered by archaeologists on the surrounding hills.

There are also some inscriptions mentioning city officials with Romano-Dacian names. This would indicate a close cooperation on a political level.

The temple of Nemesis

The sanctuary of Porolissum was built in the 2nd Century AD. Probably it was a place of worship of other deities, it seems that the primary deity would have been Nemesis (goddess of justice, fortune and destiny).

Said to influence the fate of those who frequently faced death and danger, Nemesis was especially worshiped by Legionarii (Legionaries) and gladiators. The goddess was also closely linked to world of amphitheaters, and due to this places of worship dedicated to Nemesis are near amphitheaters or even embedded in the building.

The amphitheater (157 AD)

The amphitheater of Porolissum was built as a wood structure during the reign of Hadrian. Later, in 157 AD, it had been rebuilt in stone.

The aim of the teaching excavation has been the careful clearing of the building and clarification of its function. All work has been integrated into an international university community of interest of teachers and students, composed of archaeologists, architects, archaeobotographers, restorers and surveyors.

ERASMUS supports the work within an intensive program, whereby it is possible to bring together students of different disciplines and to provide them with an in-depth, interdisciplinary education for archaeological field work.

The temple of Liber Pater

Limited archaeological work at Porolissum began in the 19th Century, but it was not until 1977 when Romanian archaeologists began larger-scale, systematic excavations. The excavations by a number of teams have uncovered remnants of both the military installations and the civilian city, including public baths, a customs house, a Templum (Temple) to Liber Pater, an amphitheatre, Insulae consisting of 4 buildings, and a number of houses.

The Porta Praetoria (Main Gate) of the stone fortress has been rebuilt. A joint American-Romanian team, the Porolissum Forum Project, excavated an area of the civilian settlement from 2004-2011 but the team confirmed that while this area served a public function, it was not necessarily a forum.

The rebuilt Praetorian Gate (Porta Praetoria)

In the 1980s, Nicolae Gudea carried out extensive investigations in the Roman fort, which had previously been known by excavations at the fortifications and the headquarters building. Gudea clarified the building structures, and came across an underground building west of the staff building.

The finds from the then discovered cellar were very unusual for a simple building: statuette fragments, inscription fragments and wall plastering were indicative of a construction with a special function. It seemed possible that it was a meeting room for followers of the Mithras cult.

In 2008, a new project was set up to examine in detail the building and to clarify the architecture, age and function. Before the excavation, the area was surveyed and used geophysics.

The temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus Dolichenus

After the protective building was erected and a surveying network was installed, 4 sections were created, in which participants participated in international teams. Here, all the excavation steps, such as large-scale and fine earthworks, surveying, the graphic, photographic and written documentation of the findings and the expert collection of finds were learned.

Architecture students and study students measured the building’s own buildings, and the restoration of the restoration ensured fragile materials. All participants were encouraged to work in the other working groups in order to gain practical insights into the post-biodiversity.

Roman road leading to Porolissum

The excavations have shown that the floor of the building has been preserved approximately 13 feet below the present surface. It consists of carefully laid-out brick slabs.

The walls of the walls, which are up to 5.6 feet upright, are curved in the upper part and probably have supports for a wooden roof structure. Since there are no traces of a roofing tile, despite the good judgment, the question of roofing is still open.

With the southernmost section, the south end of the basement building could be reached, so that its total expansion of 18 x 72 feet (inside) is now fixed. In the interior, massive rubble layers were again found from the collapse of the stone walls of the building and its neighboring building.

It was confirmed that the floor was made of interlocked brick slabs. On the south side of the building a clay pipe was discovered, which had been laid across the southern wall.

As in the previous year, parallel to the excavation, a survey was made, in which ceramics were washed, sighted, registered, drawn and photographed, and small finds were restored and documented. In addition, soil samples from the interior of the building were used for palaeobotanical investigations, the samples were slurried and paleobotanic residues were sorted out.

Excavation of the fort’s Headquarters

In 2011, the final state of the investigations in the underground building located west of the Principia (Fort Headquarters) was recorded in a 3D laser scanner. The start of construction of the 24.6 x 82 feet plant is made possible by a building sacrifice, consisting of a play stone, an iron object (perhaps a trowel), a half bovine mandible and 3 coins that have a terminus post quem in the reign of Antoninus Pius.

The cistern with a well-connected well to the south was rebuilt several times, and may not have been used continuously as water storage. This is indicated by various, not water-resistant, plasterings of the room.

Dacian combatants at Porolissum Fest

In the filling, which fell into the building immediately after its task, there were plenty of ceramic vessels, above all drinking utensils, as well as numerous round-cut ceramic pieces, which were to be interpreted as playing stones in the context of glass and leg sketches as well as 2 dice. The found material, which is characteristic of Tabernae, probably comes from a space above the water storage.

From 2006 until 2011, another project, “Necropolis Porolissensis”, was running focused on the cemetery of the municipium Porolissum, on the spot known as “Ursoies”. From 2008 to 2011 a Romanian-German-Hungarian team was excavating an underground-building in the center of the castle, probably a water cistern.

In 2015, archaeologists from Zalău County Museum unearthed a stone sarcophagus containing skeletal remains of a young person. The sarcophagus is unusual because it was not found in the cemetery, rather it was discovered by chance during restoration of another part of the ruins.

Magura Moigrad as seen from Porolissum.

The limestone lid has carvings that were common in Roman times. A hole in the lid suggests that the grave was robbed in antiquity.

A contemporary use of “Polissum” is the primary setting of Gunpowder Empire, a science fiction novel by Harry Turtledove, set in Dacia Province. It is unclear whether the name change is a mistake or a deliberate obfuscation.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure and look forward to having you back again soon. Be sure to keep track of us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Gudea, N. Dacia: A Roman province between the Carpathians and the Black Sea. Mainz, 2006).

Gudea, N.; Tamba, D. “Sanctuaries and Military in Porolissum”. Proceedings of the XIXth International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies held in Pécs, Hungary, September 2003.

Schütte, Gudmund. “Ptolemy’s maps of northern Europe, a reconstruction of the prototypes”. The Royal Danish Geographical Society, 1917.

Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites – Entry for Porolissum.

Romanian-German-Hungarian excavation inside the castle

Porolissum Forum Project

How Did The Romans Beat The Greek?- Legions Vs Phalanx, Gladius Vs Sarissa

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Whenever we have the opportunity to watch a video about something from Ancient Rome, we jump at the opportunity. If it has the ability to showcase anything regarding Ancient Greece versus the Romans in a military capacity, well that’s just icing on the cake.

Today we get that opportunity as we explore How Did The Romans Beat The Greek?- Legions Vs Phalanx, Gladius Vs Sarissa!

Roman Legion on the march

Ancient Rome was originally an Italic settlement dating from the 8th Century BC that grew into the city of Rome, and which subsequently gave its name to the Empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilization the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants and covering 1.9 million square miles at its height in AD 117.

Ancient Roman civilization has contributed to modern government, law, politics, engineering, art, literature, architecture, technology, warfare, religion, language and society. Rome professionalized and expanded its military and created a system of government called Res Publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France.

 

Rome achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and viae (roads). The construction of large monuments, palaces, and public facilities was perfected under Roman rule as well.

Augustus and his Legions

By the end of the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic) in 27 BC, Rome had conquered the lands around the Mediterranean and beyond. Its domain extended from the Atlantic to Arabia and from the mouth of the Rhine to North Africa.

The Roman Empire emerged with the end of the Republic and the dictatorship of Augustus Caesar. In 92 BC, the initial war against Parthia would spark 721 years of Roman-Persian Wars.

Rome, Parthia and Seleucid Empire in 200 BC.

It would become the longest conflict in human history, and have major lasting effects and consequences for both empires. Under Trajan, the Roman Empire reached its territorial peak.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey and look forward to having you back again soon. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Battle of Mount Vesuvius: Spartacus and the Slave Revolt

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

There are several events, and people, from Ancient Rome that have inspired literary works or film adaptations about them. The average person on the street is likely to know of Julius Caesar and his assassination, Mark Antony and Cleopatra, Nero and the Great Fire of Rome, or the Punic Wars.

Due to a movie and a TV series made about him, a former slave by the name of Spartacus has joined the ranks of those from the past still intriguing us in the present. We have even reviewed the various seasons of the show (Blood and Sand, Gods of the Arena, Vengeance, and War of the Damned).

Today let us take a closer look at what made this former slave live in infamy as we uncover the Battle of Mount Vesuvius!

Engraving of the Battle at Mount Vesuvius

The Battle of Vesuvius was the initial conflict of the Third Servile War, known as The Gladiator War and The War of Spartacus by Plutarch. This encounter pitted escaped slaves against a military force specifically dispatched by Rome to deal with the rebellion.

When the Roman forces, led by the Praetor Gaius Claudius Glaber, besieged the group of escaped slaves on Mount Vesuvius. Spartacus’s men adopted unusual tactics, rappelled down the steeper cliff face opposite the Roman forces, flanking and defeating them.

The Gladiator Mosaic at the Galleria Borghese.

In the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic) of the 1st Century, gladiatorial games were one of the more popular forms of entertainment. In order to supply gladiators for the contests, several ludi (training schools) were established throughout Italy. In these schools, prisoners of war and condemned criminals (all considered slaves by the Romans) were taught the skills required to fight to the death in gladiatorial games.

In 73 BC, a group of some 200 gladiators in the Capuan school owned by Lentulus Batiatus plotted an escape. When their plot was betrayed, a force of about 70 men seized kitchen implements, fought their way free from the school, and seized several wagons of gladiatorial weapons and armor.

Spartacus

Once free, the escaped gladiators chose leaders from their number, selecting 2 Gallic slaves, Crixus and Oenomaus, along with Spartacus, who was said either to be a Thracian auxiliary from the Roman Legions later condemned to slavery or a captive taken by the Legions. There is some question as to Spartacus’s nationality, however, as a Thraex was a type of gladiator in Rome, so the title Thracian may simply refer to the style of gladiatorial combat in which he was trained.

As the revolt and raids were occurring in Campania (the vacation region of the rich and influential in Rome), the revolt quickly came to the attention of Roman authorities. They initially viewed the revolt as more a major crime wave than an armed rebellion.

However, later that year, Rome dispatched military force to put down the rebellion. Praetor Glaber hastily gathered a Roman force of 3,000 men, not as Legions but as a militia for the Romans did not consider this a war yet.

While the slaves lacked military training, Spartacus’ forces displayed ingenuity in their use of available local materials, and in their use of clever, unorthodox tactics when facing the disciplined Roman armies. In response to Glaber’s siege, Spartacus’ men made ropes and ladders from vines and trees growing on the slopes of Vesuvius and used them to rappel down the cliffs on the side of the mountain opposite Glaber’s forces.

A view of Vesuvius, as seen from Pompeii, is much different now than it was during the Spartacus revolt.

They moved around the base of Vesuvius, outflanked the army, and annihilated Glaber’s men. Glaber then marched straight to Vesuvius and set up a camp on the slope, blocking Spartacus in.

With the only known route down the mountain blocked, Glaber was content to relax and wait out a siege and use starvation as a weapon. Spartacus had other ideas.

The men gathered vines and collected all the rope they had. With this, they quietly rappelled down the previously inaccessible cliffs and gathered on the opposite side of the mountain to Glaber’s camp and perhaps lower as well.

Glaber was so confident in the hopelessness of Spartacus’ position that he seems to have neglected much in the way of scouting or setting up watches as the slaves immediately stormed the Roman camp and began slaughtering everyone. What was supposed to be a simple victory for the small Roman force turned into a massacre as few men escaped alive.

Glaber’s fate is unknown at this point. He may have been killed in this battle or he is simply left out of the remainder of the tale, a show of how inconsequential the Romans viewed this thrown together force.

The initial movements of Roman and Slave forces from the Capuan revolt up to and including the winter of 73–72 BC.

These escaped slaves were able to defeat the small force of troops sent after them from Capua, and equip themselves with captured military equipment as well as their gladiatorial weapons. Sources are somewhat contradictory on the order of events immediately following the escape, but they generally agree that this band of escaped gladiators plundered the region surrounding Capua, recruited many other slaves into their ranks, and eventually retired to a more defensible position on Mount Vesuvius.

Another expedition, this time under the Praetor Publius Varinius, was then dispatched against Spartacus. For some reason, Varinius seems to have split his forces under the command of his subordinates Furius and Lucius Cossinius.

Plutarch mentions that Furius commanded some 2,000 men. Neither the strength of the remaining forces, nor whether the expedition was composed of militia or Legions, appears to be known though.

These new Roman forces were also defeated by the army of escaped slaves. Cossinius was killed, Varinius was nearly captured, and the equipment of the armies was seized by the slaves.

The victories of the rebel slaves did not come without a cost. At some time during these events Oenomaus was lost, presumably in battle, and is not mentioned further in the histories.

After the battle of Mount Vesuvius, word spread of Spartacus’ victory against the Romans and this eventually reached the ears of many slaves in Italy.

With these successes, more and more slaves flocked to the Spartacan forces, as did many herdsmen and shepherds of the region. When all was said and done, these combined ranks swelled to some 70,000.

The rebel slaves spent the winter of 73–72 BC training, arming, and equipping their new recruits. The rebels also expanded their raiding territory to include the towns of NolaNuceriaThurii, and of Metapontum.

Bust of Marcus Licinius Crassus

Eventually, a large, professional Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army) was raised to defeat Spartacus who was seen as the ultimate annoyance to the Romans, and a downright nightmare to those in southern Italy. The slave army tried desperately to secure passage to Sicily but their plans backfired and they were eventually forced to face the Roman Army under Marcus Licinius Crassus.

Spartacus’ rebellion was essentially doomed from the start, he had no hope of sustained success against professional soldiers and he was deep in Roman territory. Yet we still remember his name today, largely due to his string of shocking successes beginning on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.

The Death of Spartacus by Hermann Vogel

Though the life and death of Spartacus remains covered in mystery, legend, and speculation, the historical truths & legacy of the Spartacus War is a testament to the history of slavery and the desire for people everywhere to attain liberty and justice, whatever the cost may be. This is why Spartacus remains a symbol of freedom and revenge, as well as an icon of warfare & military history in the ancient ages.

Crassus attained his total revenge in the end. Justice for the Cohortes (Cohorts) and Roman citizens killed by the gladiators and slaves was achieved. Spartacus avoided punishment, death by crucifixion through his death in battle.

The rebels fought valiantly at the Battle of the Silarius River, but were soundly defeated. All of the rounded up survivors were crucified along the Via Appia (Appian Way) leading to Rome as a stern reminder of what happened to rebellious slaves.

Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus’ followers on the road between Rome and Capua (1878 painting by Fyodor Bronnikov).

The might of Rome, at least at this time, was not to be challenged. Everyone in Roman Society had a place to fill, and the rebels of Spartacus were ultimately reminded of theirs.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey. Maybe you were even inspired to go visit the volcano battle scene, or even just watch a TV show or movie about a former gladiator.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Mclaughlin, William. “Battle of Mount Vesuvius, Spartacus and his men rappelling down a mountain”. War History Online, 25 April 2016.

Shaw, Brent D. Spartacus and the servile wars: a brief history with documents. Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. ISBN 0-312-23703-0.

Spartacus’ War: The Great Roman Gladiator Revolt, 73-71 BC”. The Warfare Historian, 10 July 2012.

“Third Servile War (73-71 BC).” Commands & Colors Ancients.

Warfare of Classical Antiquity: Republican Fleet Tactics (Roman Navy)

Ahoy and welcome to Rome Across Europe!

The Roman Fleet landing on the coast of Britain for the Emperor Claudius’ invasion, earning the title Classis Britannica.

Throughout our time here we have covered various battles and the expansion of Rome from city-state to Empire. During our travels, we have relied upon the Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army) to carry the load of Rome’s development and expansion.

The Romans were late to the naval game but soon dominated the Mediterranean. If you care to dive into more depth on Rome’s maritime force, check out The Roman Navy: Unsung Champion of the Ancient Seas.

Today THFE Productions helps us set sail and explore the weapons and tactics employed by the Roman Navy!

We appreciate THFE Productions for their hard work and efforts in creating this wonderful visual presentation. Gratias for stopping by and we hope you join us on further adventures.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Trajan’s Dacian Wars: Stretching the Borders of the Roman Empire

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If there’s something that can get us going it’s warfare. Military campaigns are what made Rome and, eventually, the Roman Empire.

Most of Rome’s greatest Generals and Emperors are remembered by history due to their success on the battlefield. This leads us to today’s adventure.

Following the Viae (Roman Roads) laid down by troops on the move, today we venture to join Trajan’s Dacian Wars!

Fiery battle scene between the Romans and Dacians (detail from Trajan’s Column).

Not to be confused with Domitian’s Dacian War (86–87 AD), the focus of these 2 military campaigns (101–102, 105–106) were during the rule of Emperor Trajan. Just like the earlier war under Domitian, the wars under Trajan were between Rome and Dacia.

The focus of Trajan’s conflicts were the constant Dacian threat on the Provincia (Roman Province) of Moesia. Just in case Trajan needed another reason to fight the Dacians, he could justify the war by saying a Roman victory would increase resources and the economy of the Roman Empire (which Rome was in desperate need of).

Since the reign of Burebista, widely considered to be the greatest Dacian king (82–44 BC) the Dacians had represented a threat for the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar himself had even drawn up a plan to launch a campaign against Dacia.

Panorama of the site on which the Battle of Histria took place.

An area north of Macedonia and Greece and east of the Danube, Dacia had been on the Roman agenda since before the days of Caesar when they defeated the Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army) at the Battle of Histria. The threat was reduced when dynastic struggles in Dacia led to a division into 4 or 5 independently governed tribal states after Burebista’s death in 44 BC.

Augustus later came into conflict with Dacia after they sent envoys offering their support against Mark Antony in exchange for requests, the nature of which have not been recorded. Augustus rejected the offer and Dacia put in their lot with Antony.

In 29 BC, Augustus sent several punitive expeditions into Dacia led by Marcus Licinius Crassus Dives (grandson of the famed Marcus Licinius Crassus who put down the Spartacus slave rebellion and of the First Triumvirate with Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompey) that inflicted heavy casualties and apparently killed 3 of their 5 kings. Although Dacian raids into Pannonia and Moesia continued for several years despite the defeat, the threat of Dacia had effectively ended.

Then, after 116 years of relative peace along the Roman frontier, in the winter of 85 AD to 86 AD the army of King Duras led by general Diurpaneus swarmed over the Danube the Roman Province of Moesia. Former Consul and present Roman Governor of Moesia, Oppius Sabinus, was killed during the attack.

Outline of the Roman Empire with the Provinces of Moesia Inferior (right) and Moesia Superior (left) highlighted.

The Dacians pillaged Moesia and initially defeated the Roman forces that Emperor Domitian sent against them. Emperor Domitian then led Legions into the ravaged province and reorganized the possession into Moesia Inferior and Moesia Superior, planning an attack into Dacia for the next campaign season.

With the arrival of fresh Legions in 87 AD, Domitian began what became the First Dacian War. General Diurpaneus sent an envoy to Domitian offering peace.

Romans don’t take too kindly to their countrymen being mistreated by foreigners, so that Dacian envoy sent requesting peace was immediately rejected on all grounds. He was probably lucky to leave Domitian’s alive.

Romans building a bridge on boats over the Danube.

The Praefectus Praetorio (Praetorian Prefect) Cornelius Fuscus hurriedly built a bridge on boats and rushed across the Danube into Dacia with 5 or 6 Legions. The Roman Army was ambushed and defeated at the First Battle of Tapae by Diurpaneus who was later renamed Decebalus (Dacian for “the Brave”) and who, as a consequence, was chosen to be the new king.

Fuscus was killed and the Legions lost their Aquilae (Eagle Standards), adding to the humiliation. However, in AD 88 the Roman offensive once more continued.

The Roman Army, this time under the command of Tettius Julianus, defeated the Dacians at the outlying Dacian fortress of Sarmizegetusa and at Tapae, near the current village of Bucova. After this defeat at the Battle of Tapae in AD 88, king Decebalus asked Domitian again for peace and was again refused.

Domitian’s Dacian War

Throughout most of the 1st Century AD, Roman policy dictated that threats from neighboring nations and provinces were to be contained promptly. The peace treaty following the First Battle of Tapae, followed by an indecisive and costly Roman victory on the same ground a year later, was unfavorable for the Empire.

Later Domitian accepted the offer, which led to the establishment of a truce between the Roman Republic and Dacia. This change of heart has been thought to be due to his Legions being needed along the Rhine to put down the revolt of Lucius Antonius Saturninus, the Roman Governor of Germania Superior who had allied with the MarcomanniQuadi and Yazgulyams against Domitian.

Statue of Decebalus (Deva, Romania).

Following the peace of 89 AD, Decebalus became a client of Rome, with acceptance of Decebalus as king (Rex Amicas). He received a lump sum of money, annual financial stipends, and craftsmen in trades devoted to both peace and war, and war machines to defend the Empire’s borders.

The craftsmen were used by the Dacians to upgrade their own defenses, while Decebalus continued to quietly oppose Rome. Some historians believe this was an unfavorable peace and that it might have led to Domitian’s assassination in September 96 AD.

Rome had been suffering economic difficulties largely brought on by military campaigns throughout Europe and in part due to a low gold content in Roman money as directed by Emperor Nero. Confirmed rumors of Dacian gold and other valuable trade resources inflamed the conflict, as did the Dacian’s defiant behavior, as they were “bowed and unbroken”.

Carpatian gold mines

Researchers estimate that Dacia had rich resources of iron and copper, and were prolific metal workers. A large percentage of the general Dacian population, not just the nobility like in Hispania and Gallia, owned swords.

This turn of events greatly reduced Rome’s military advantage over the Dacians. On top of that, Dacia sported 250,000 potential combatants or enough force to possibly invade Rome itself.

Dacia was allied to several of its neighbors and on friendly terms with others that Rome considered enemies. Rome had no concrete defense policy and would not have been able to sustain a war of defense.

Statue of Trajan carved from Luna and Proconessian marble in 2nd Century AD (Ostia Museum).

As such, the new Emperor Trajan, himself an experienced soldier and tactician, began preparing for war. He recommenced hostilities commence against Dacia, and even went so far as to withdraw troops from other borders leaving them dangerously undermanned.

After gaining the Senate’s blessing for war, by 101 Trajan was ready to advance on Dacia. This was a war in which the Roman military’s ingenuity and engineering were well demonstrated.

The Roman offensive was spearheaded by 2 columns of Legions, marching straight to the heart of Dacia, burning towns and villages en route. Following an uncertain number of battles, the Romans under Trajan defeated the Dacian king Decebalus in the Second Battle of Tapae in 101 AD.

With Trajan’s troops pressing towards the Dacian capital Sarmizegetusa Regia, in 102 AD Decebalus once more sought terms with Rome. The war had concluded with an important Roman victory.

Ruins of Trajan’s Bridge

A bridge, later known as Trajan’s Bridge, was constructed across the Danube at Drobeta to assist with the Legionaries’ advance. This bridge, probably the biggest at that time and for centuries to come, was designed by Apollodorus of Damascus and was meant to help the Roman Army advance faster in Dacia since the peace was actually lost by the Roman Empire.

According to the peace terms, Decebalus got technical and military reinforcement from the Romans in order to create a powerful allied zone against the dangerous possible expeditions from the northern and eastern territories by hostile migrating peoples. The resources were instead once again used to rebuild Dacian fortresses and strengthen their military.

Roman soldiers defending a fort against attack by the Dacians (detail from Trajan’s Column).

Following the first war, Decebalus complied with Rome for a time, but was soon inciting revolt among tribes against them and pillaging Roman colonies across the Danube. Soon thereafter Decebalus turned against the Romans once again and attacked Roman Castra (Fort) again in AD 105.

True to his intrepid and optimistic nature, Trajan rallied his forces in AD 105 for another war. Like the initial conflict, the next war involved several skirmishes that proved costly to the Roman military.

Faced with large numbers of allied tribes, Rome’s Legions struggled to attain a decisive victory resulting in a new temporary peace. In response Trajan again marched into Dacia, besieging the Dacian capital in the Siege of Sarmizegetusa, and annihilating it in the summer of AD 106 with the participation of the Legio II Adiutrix and Legio IV Flavia Felix and a detachment (vexillatio) from Legio VI Ferrata.

Decebalus fled, but was followed by the Equites Romani (Roman Cavalry) and committed suicide rather than submit. Thanks to the treason of a confidant of the Dacian king, Bicilis, the Romans found Decebalus’s treasure in the river of Sargesia/Sargetia (a fortune estimated at 364,865 lbs of gold and 729,730 lbs of silver).

The conclusion of the Dacian Wars marked a triumph for Rome and its Armies. Trajan announced 123 days of celebrations throughout the Empire.

Denarius issued by Trajan to celebrate the winning of the Dacian Wars.

Dacia’s rich gold mines were secured and it is estimated that Dacia then contributed 700 million Denarii per annum to the Roman economy, providing finance for Rome’s future campaigns and assisting with the rapid expansion of Roman towns throughout Europe.

The remains of the mining activities are still visible, especially at Roșia Montană. One hundred thousand male slaves were sent back to Rome to help discourage future revolts.

Map of routes used during the Dacian Wars.

If that were not enough, Legio XIII Gemina and Legio V Macedonica were permanently posted in Dacia. The conquered half (southern) of Dacia was annexed, becoming a province while the northern part remained free but never formed a state.

The dual wars were notable victories in Rome’s extensive expansionist campaigns, gaining Trajan the people’s admiration and support. The conclusion of the Dacian Wars marked the beginning of a period of sustained growth and relative peace in Rome.

Trajan began extensive building projects and was so prolific in claiming credit that he was given the nickname Ivy. Trajan became an honorable civil leader, improving Rome’s civic infrastructure, thereby paving the way for internal growth and reinforcement of the Empire as a whole.

The extent of the Roman Empire under Trajan (117 AD).

With Dacia quelled, Trajan later invaded the Parthian empire to the east, his conquests expanding the Roman Empire to its greatest extent. Rome’s borders in the east were indirectly governed through a system of client states for some time. This lead to less direct campaigning than in the west during this period.

We hope you enjoyed today’s campaign and look forward to having you back again. Be sure to stop by soon for you never know where or when we’ll be headed.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Goldsworthy, Adrian. In The Name of Rome. Orion, 2004. ISBN 978-0753817896.

Luttwak, Edward N. The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century AD to the Third. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976. ISBN 9780801818639.

Matyszak, Philip. The Enemies of Rome: From Hannibal to Attila the Hun. Thames & Hudson, 2004. ISBN 978-0500251249.

Schmitz, Michael. The Dacian Threat, 101-106 AD. Caeros Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-9758445-0-4.

“Assorted Imperial Battle Descriptions”De Imperatoribus Romanis.

Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy: Making the Roman Republic

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Throughout history there is one thing that is common across almost every populated continent, there are those that have an abundance of wealth and there are those who significantly lack it. Having recently explored the rise of the common people against the nobility (Conflict of the Orders: Plebeians versus Patricians) and celebrated the flight of a king (Regifugium: Celebrating the Flight of a King), we thought it only right to finish off the monarchy of Rome.

That is why today we are going to take a final look at the Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy!

A 16th Century painting by Sandro Botticelli, depicting the rape of Lucretia and the subsequent uprising.

The Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy was a political revolution in Ancient Rome in around 509 BC. It resulted in the expulsion of the last King of RomeLucius Tarquinius Superbus, and the establishment of the Res Publica Romana (Roman Republic).

The History of Rome held that 7 Kings of Rome reigned from the establishment of the city in 753 BC by Romulus up to the reign, and expulsion, of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus aka Tarquin.

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, aka Tarquin, the last Roman King.

The accuracy, however, of this account has been doubted by modern historians. What does appear to be accepted is that: 1) there was a monarchy and 2) the last King, Tarquin, was expelled upon the founding of the Republic in the late 6th Century BC.

Tarquin was the son of Rome’s 5th King, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. In around 535 BC Tarquin, together with his wife Tullia Minor (a daughter of the then King Servius Tullius) arranged the murder of Servius, and for Tarquin to become ruler in his stead.

Despite various military victories, Tarquin became an unpopular sovereign. He refused to bury his predecessor, then he put to death a number of the leading Senators whom he suspected of remaining loyal to Servius (one of whom was the brother of Lucius Junius Brutus).

Roman Senate in an uproar.

By not replacing the slain Senators, and not consulting the Senate on all matters of government, Tarquin diminished both its size and authority. In another break with tradition, Tarquin judged capital criminal cases without advice of counsellors, thereby creating fear among those who might think to oppose him.

Having supposedly engaged in treachery with the Foedus Latinum (Latin League), around 510 BC, Tarquin went to war with the Rutuli. At that time according to Livy, the Rutuli were a very wealthy nation and Tarquin was keen to obtain the spoils that would come with victory over the Rutuli in order, in part, to soften the anger of his subjects.

Tarquin unsuccessfully sought to take the Rutulian capital Ardea by storm, and later began an extensive siege of the city. The Roman histories tell that while King Tarquin was away on campaign, his son Sextus Tarquinius was sent on a military errand to Collatia.

Sextus was received with great hospitality at the Governor’s mansion, home of Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, son of the king’s nephew, Arruns Tarquinius, former Governor of Collatia and originator of the Tarquinii Collatini. Lucius’ wife, Lucretia, daughter of Praefectus (Prefect) Spurius Lucretius, made sure that Tarquin’s son was treated as the son of a king should, even though her husband was away at the siege.

Titian’s “Tarquin and Lucretia” (1571).

At night Sextus entered Lucretia’s bedroom by stealth, quietly going around the slaves who were sleeping at her door. When she awakened, Sextus identified himself and offered her 2 choices: she could submit to his sexual advances and become his wife and future queen; or he would kill her and a slave and place the bodies together, then claim he had caught her having adulterous sex with said slave.

The next day Lucretia dressed in black and weeping went to her father’s house in Rome and cast herself down in the suppliant’s position (embracing the knees). Asked to explain herself, Lucretia insisted on first summoning witnesses to verify her story.

After disclosing the rape, Lucretia called on various Roman noblemen for vengeance. While the men debated on how to proceed, Lucretia drew a concealed dagger and stabbed herself in the heart.

Statue of Brutus holding Lucretia while swearing the oath and holding the knife.

According to legend, Tribunus Celerum Lucius Junius Brutus grabbed the dagger from Lucretia’s breast after her death and immediately shouted for the overthrow of the Tarquins. The people of Rome were summoned to the Forum Romanum (Roman Forum) and spurred by Brutus to rise up against the monarch.

Brutus revealed that his pose as fool was a sham designed to protect him against an evil king. He leveled a number of charges against the king and his family: the outrage against Lucretia (whom everyone could see on the dais), the king’s tyranny, the forced labor of the Plēbēs in the ditches and sewers of Rome.

He pointed out that Tarquin had come to rule by the murder of Servius Tullius, his wife’s father, next-to-the-last King of Rome. He “solemnly invoked the gods as the avengers of murdered parents.”

The king’s wife, Tullia, was in fact in Rome and probably was a witness to the proceedings from her palace near the Forum. Seeing herself the target of so much animosity she fled from the palace in fear of her life and proceeded to the camp at Ardea.

Brutus opened a debate on the form of government Rome ought to have; there were many speakers (all Patricians). In summation he proposed the banishment of the Tarquins from all the territories of Rome and appointment of an interrex to nominate new magistrates and conduct an election of ratification.

They had decided on a republican form of government with 2 Cōnsulēs in place of a king executing the will of a Patrician Senate. This was a temporary measure until they could consider the details more carefully.

Brutus renounced all right to the throne. In subsequent years the powers of the king were divided among various elected magistracies.

A final vote of the curiae carried the interim constitution. Lucretius was swiftly elected interrex (he was Prefect of the city anyway).

Lucretius proposed Brutus and Collatinus as the initial 2 Cōnsulēs and that choice was ratified by the Curiae. Needing to acquire the assent of the population as a whole they paraded Lucretia’s body through the streets, summoning the Plebeians to legal assembly in the Forum Romanum.

Once there they heard a further speech by Brutus. It began:

Inasmuch as Tarquin neither obtained the sovereignty in accordance with our ancestral customs and laws, nor, since he obtained it — in whatever manner he got it — has he been exercising it in an honorable or kingly manner, but has surpassed in insolence and lawlessness all the tyrants the world ever saw, we patricians met together and resolved to deprive him of his power, a thing we ought to have done long ago, but are doing now when a favorable opportunity has offered. And we have called you together, plebeians, in order to declare our own decision and then ask for your assistance in achieving liberty for our country….

A general election was held, and the final vote was in favor of a Roman Republic. The monarchy was at an end, even while Lucretia was still displayed in the Forum.

The Roman noblemen, led by Brutus, obtained the support of both the Pātriciī (Roman Aristocracy) and the Plēbēs (Common People) to expel the King and his family and to institute a republic. Leaving Lucretius in command of the city, Brutus proceeded with a group of militia to the Exercitus Romanus (Roman Army) then camped at Ardea.

The King, who had been with the Army, heard of developments at Rome, and left the camp for the city before Brutus’ arrival. The soldiers who had been with Tarquin received Brutus as a hero, and the king’s sons were expelled from the camp.

Meanwhile back in Rome, the King was refused entry into the city and was forced to flee with his family into exile. Tarquin and his 2 eldest sons, Titus and Arruns, went into exile at Caere.

That uprising resulted in the exile or Regifugium, after a reign of 25 years of Tarquin and his family. The Roman Republic was then established with Brutus and Collatinus (both related by blood to Rome’s 5th King Lucius Tarquinius Priscus) as the original Cōnsulēs.

According to Livy, Brutus’ first act after the expulsion of Tarquin was to bring the people to swear an oath never to allow any man again to be king in Rome.

Omnium primum avidum novae libertatis populum, ne postmodum flecti precibus aut donis regiis posset, iure iurando adegit neminem Romae passuros regnare.

First of all, by swearing an oath that they would suffer no man to rule Rome, it forced the people, desirous of a new liberty, not to be thereafter swayed by the entreaties or bribes of kings.

This is, fundamentally, a restatement of the “private oath” sworn by the conspirators to overthrow the monarchy:

Per hunc… castissimum ante regiam iniuriam sanguinem iuro, vosque, di, testes facio me L. Tarquinium Superbum cum scelerata coniuge et omni liberorum stirpe ferro igni quacumque dehinc vi possim exsecuturum, nec illos nec alium quemquam regnare Romae passurum.

By this guiltless blood before the kingly injustice I swear – you and the gods as my witnesses – I make myself the one who will prosecute, by what force I am able, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus along with his wicked wife and the whole house of his freeborn children by sword, by fire, by any means hence, so that neither they nor any one else be suffered to rule Rome.

Brutus also replenished the number of Senators to 300 from the principal men of the Equites. The new Consuls also created a new office of Rex Sacrorum to carry out the religious duties that had previously been performed by the kings.

Brutus in the Forum denouncing Collatinus as a traitor who delighted in war and the profits of tyranny.

The Roman people loathed the name and family of the exiled King Tarquin. It was taken to such an extent that the Consul Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus was forced to resign from his office and go into exile.

After his exile, Tarquin made a number of attempts to regain the throne. At first, he sent ambassadors to the Senate to request the return of his family’s personal effects, which had been seized in the coup.

In secret, while the Senate debated his request, the ambassadors met with and subverted a number of the leading men of Rome to the royal cause, in the Tarquinian conspiracy. The conspirators included 2 of Brutus’ brothers-in-law, and his 2 sons Titus and Tiberius. The conspiracy was discovered, and the conspirators executed.

“The Lictors Bring Home the Sons of Brutus” by Jacques-Louis David (1784).

Although the Senate had initially agreed to Tarquin’s request for a return of his family’s effects, the decision was reconsidered and revoked after the discovery of the conspiracy. The royal property was instead given over to be plundered by the Roman populace.

Tarquin’s next attempted to regain Rome by force of arms. He began by gaining the support of the cities of Veii and Tarquinii, recalling to the former their regular losses of war and land to the Roman state, and to the latter his family ties.

Model version of the Battle of Silva Arsia.

The armies of the 2 cities were led by Tarquin against Rome in the Battle of Silva Arsia, with the king commanding the Etruscan infantry. Although the result initially appeared uncertain, the Romans were victorious.

The Roman victory wasn’t without its own perils for both Brutus (the Consul) and Arruns (the King’s son) were killed in the battle.

Another attempt by Tarquin relied on military support from Lars Porsenna, king of Clusium. The war led to the siege of Rome, and finally a peace treaty leaving Tarquin unable to regain the Roman throne.

Castor and Pollux fighting at the Battle of Lake Regillus, 1880 illustration by John Reinhard Weguelin.

Tarquin and his family left Clusium, and instead sought refuge in Tusculum with his son-in-law Octavius Mamilius. In about 496 BC, Tarquin and his son Titus fought with Mamilius and the Latin League against Rome, but lost, at the Battle of Lake Regillus where Mamilius perished.

Once more Tarquin was forced to flee, and he took refuge with the tyrant of Cumae, Aristodemus. It was there, in Cumae, in 495 BC that Rome’s last King finally expired.

Overthrow of the Roman Monarchy summarized as a storyboard.

With the rise of the Roman Republic, and the death of its last King, Rome would carry on from 509 – 27 BC (or 482 years for those that are particular). During that stretch Rome would see a lot of growth and troubles, that would all culminate with a General named Julius Caesar.

Gaius Julius Caesar

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey and look forward to having you back again soon. Make sure to check us out daily for you never know who we’ll be checking out or where we’ll be traveling.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Cornell, TimThe Beginnings of Rome. Routledge, 1995. ISBN 978-0-415-01596-7.

Gale, Robert L. A Herman Melville encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995. ISBN 978-0-313-29011-4.

Livy. Ab urbe condita.

The History of the Romans: Every Year

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

From the Foundation of Rome through the Fall of the Byzantine Empire, there has been constant growth and change in what was the Roman Empire. With so much going on, how could you possibly know everything?

That issue gets decided today as we witness the History of the Romans: Every Year!

See the entire history and progression of Roman civilization from the city-state Kingdom all the way to the last Byzantine successor state.

This video was originally published on 31 December 2015, with musical credits of “Majestic Hills”, “Hero Down”, and “Teller of the Tales” all by Kevin MacLeod.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure, maybe you even learned something new or exciting. We look forward to having you join us again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Commentarii de Bello Gallico: Commentaries on the Gallic War by Julius Caesar

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If this is your initial visit with us, let us begin with a heartfelt ‘Thank You’. We realize there are many other sites out there and that you chose to check us out really means quite a bit.

For those who follow us on a regular basis, thanks for sticking around. Hopefully everyone who’s ended up here can find something to fit his or her own needs.

Recently we re-explored HBO’s Rome, a TV series which we find to be amazing. You can check out the article here if you wish.

We happen to think very highly of Julius Caesar and admire his accomplishments. What we did not initially know about the show is that it was based partly off of Caesar’s own manuscripts.

With that in mind, today we uncover Gaius Julius Caesar’s firsthand account of the Gallic Wars as we explore the Commentarii de Bello Gallico!

Literally the Commentaries on the Gallic War, this is the Roman Proconsul‘s firsthand account written as a third-person narrative. Some may refer to the text simply as Bellum Gallicum (Gallic War).

In his narrative, Caesar describes the battles and intrigues that took place in the 9 years he spent in Gallia (Gaul). It was during this time that Caesar and his Legions were fighting the Germanic peoples and Celtic peoples  that opposed Roman conquest.

Map of Gaul

The Gaul that Caesar refers to is sometimes all of Gaul except for the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis (modern-day Provence), encompassing the rest of modern France, Belgium and some of Switzerland. On other occasions, he refers only to that territory inhabited by the Celtic peoples known to the Romans as Gauls, from the English Channel to Lugdunum (Lyon).

The work has been a mainstay in Latin instruction because of its simple, direct prose. It begins with the frequently quoted phrase “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres“, meaning “Gaul is a whole divided into three parts”.

The full work is split into sections, Book 1 to Book 8, varying in size from approximately 5,000 to 15,000 words. Book 8 was written by Aulus Hirtius, after Caesar’s death.

Julius Caesar by Coustou (Louvre).

The victories in Gaul won by Caesar had increased the alarm and hostility of his enemies at Rome, and his aristocratic enemies, the Boni (Good Men), were spreading rumors about his intentions once he returned from Gaul. The Boni intended to prosecute Caesar for abuse of his authority upon his return, when he would lay down his Imperium (Power to Command).

Such prosecution would not only see Caesar stripped of his wealth and citizenship, but also negate all of the laws he enacted during his term as Consul and his dispositions as Proconsul of Gaul. To defend himself against these threats, Caesar knew he needed the support of the Plebeians, particularly the Tribunus Plebis (Tribunes of the Plebs), on whom he chiefly relied for help in carrying out his agenda.

The Commentaries were an effort by Caesar to directly communicate with the Plebeians to propagandize his activities as efforts to increase the glory and influence of Rome. This action would thereby circumvent the usual channels of communication that passed through the Senatus Romanus (Roman Senate).

Wood engraving of the Landing of Caesar during the Gallic Wars (1918).

By winning the support of the people, Caesar sought to make himself unassailable from the Boni. The work is an archetype of proper reporting and stylistic clarity.

Though often lauded for its polished, clear Latin, Caesar’s book is traditionally the paramount authentic text assigned to students of Latin, just as Xenophon‘s Anabasis is for students of Ancient Greek. Both works are autobiographical tales of military adventure told in the third person which contain many details, they also both employ many stylistic devices to promote political interests.

The books are valuable for the many geographical and historical claims that can be retrieved from the work. Notable chapters describe Gaulish custom (VI, 13), their religion (VI, 17), and a comparison between Gauls and Germanic peoples (VI, 24).

Astérix (left) and Obélix (right)

Since Caesar is one of the characters in the Astérix and Obélix albums, René Goscinny included gags for French schoolchildren who had the Commentarii as a textbook. One example is having Caesar talk about himself in the third person as in the book.

Some English editions state that Astérix’s village of indomitable Gauls is the so-called 4th part of Gaul. It is this part of Gallia which Caesar has not yet conquered.

Ray Stevenson as Titus Pullo (Left) and Kevin McKidd as Lucius Vorenus (Right).

In Book 5, Chapter 44 the Commentarii de Bello Gallico notably mentions Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, a pair of Roman Centurions of the Legio XI Claudia (Claudius’ 11th Legion). The 2005 TV series Rome gives a fictionalized account of Caesar’s rise and fall, featuring Kevin McKidd as the character of Lucius Vorenus and Ray Stevenson as the character of Titus Pullo of the Legio XIII Gemina (13th Twin Legion).

During World War I the French composer Vincent d’Indy wrote his Third Symphony, which bears the title De Bello Gallico. D’Indy was adapting Caesar’s title to the situation of the current struggle in France against the German army, in which he had a son and nephew fighting, and which the music illustrates to some extent.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure. Who knows, maybe you were even inspired to go get a copy of the Commentarii de Bello Gallico for yourself.

In any event till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

 

References:

Caesar. In Hans Herzfeld[de] (1960): Geschichte in Gestalten (History in figures), vol. 1: A-E. Das Fischer Lexikon[de] 37, Frankfurt 1963.

As translated by H.J. Edwards in the Loeb Classical Library edition.

Albrecht, Michael. Geschichte der römischen Literatur Band 1 (History of Roman Literature, Volume 1). Munich, 1994.

Peck, Harry Thurston, ed. “Caesar, Gaius Ilulius”. Harper’s Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities. Cooper Square Publishers, Inc. 1963 (1898).

Rines, George Edwin, ed. “Cæsar’s Commentaries“. Encyclopedia Americana, 1920.

At Perseus ProjectCaesar’s Gallic War—De Bello Gallico, English translation by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn (1869); Latin text edition.

“Dickinson College Commentaries” Selections in Latin with notes, audio, and resources for the study of Caesar.

Roman War Tactics

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If this is your initial visit to RAE, then be prepared to have your mind blown (at least that’s what the video tells us). We cover a lot of things, both past and present, that have a connection to the Ancient Rome and the Roman Empire.

Today we are in for a visual treat as we explore Roman War Tactics!

Roman war tactics refers to the theoretical and historical deployment, formation and maneuvers of the Roman Infantry from the start of the Roman Republic to the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

For in depth background on the historical structure of the infantry relevant to this article, see Structure of the Roman military. For a history of Rome’s military campaigns see Campaign history of the Roman military. For detail on equipment, daily life and specific Legions see Roman Legion and Roman military personal equipment.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure and look forward to having you back again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!