Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Even Further Reflections on the Roman Military Panel

Black to the blurbs...

Cary Barber, "The 'Lost Generation'..."
Barber noted the extreme war time losses during the Hannibalic war, which might, in the case of senators, have meant a depletion of as much as 60% of their numbers.  The senate, in general, had a regular cycle of death of renewal, but this was thrown off by all the deaths in the war.  For the years from 366-218 BC, there were fewer and fewer men repeating the consulship, in part (or largely?) the result of the Lex Livinia. All the deaths threw this off, and Romans were willing to let men repeat consulships as a result of all the Hannibalic madness.

Michael Fronda, "Titus Quinctius Flamininus'..."
Fronda highlighted the looking at old questions in new ways that seemed to dominate discussion so far.  He commented on narratives and the memories of war, with the triumph itself serving as a kind of narrative (an interesting point - has me thinking about the varied narratives of war in the age of Justinian).  Allies participated in some triumphs, though generally irregularly, starting in 187 BC (probably).  The idea is that Flamininus' triumph in 187 was an experiment in just this (bringing in allies).

Jessica Clark, "Anecdotal History..."
There were a handful of papers that touched on the social war, this being one of them, with her aim being to meld history and historiography.  She noted the Social War was a difficult event to grasp, with some modern scholars starting their discussions before it, or after it.  Evidently, Diodorus Siculus called the war the greatest war that was ever known - and not at the start of his entire work, but just that section.  Struck me as very preface-y, (and I jotted lots of Procopius-themed points, surprisingly) though I gather there are all sorts of problems with the text as is (still I might have to come back to this).  The evidence for the social war is problematic, and she asks whether we'd understand it better with more evidence - though another question is whether we should be asking different questions.

Nathan Rosenstein, "Tributum, Latin Revolt..."
He said two great questions for the republic were:  how did it get such a great empire, and what caused it to fall apart.  Says war and military service played a role in all this, which is part of the reason why they're worth studying.  Touches on the communicative turn (not convinced by), and says warfare was (one of?) the best way(s) for individuals to interact with each other.  This, to me, was a fascinating point, and I think Milne brought up something comparable, either in her talk or in her questions.  While soldiers did spend time fighting, much of it wasn't.  And even when they were at war, they often had to travel to get there (set up camp, etc.).  So, there were plenty of opportunities for men to chat (and sing).  Back specifically to Rosenstein:  Livy provided lots of evidence of the deaths of military tribunes, which suggests they didn't hold back when fighting.  Additionally, war (and the Hannibalic war too) was a means for elites to prove their worth.  Along those lines, cavalry provided many more opportunities to prove all this than service in the infantry (in lines, part of a group, etc.).  Rosenstein notes the changing culture of the soldier in the 1st century BC, though also the 2nd century BC, and the 3rd century BC (and so on).  This brought up an interesting question (in my mind at least):  what would my three men for my army textbook think if they were transported into each others' Roman worlds?  I believe we were into the discussion now, but when soldiers came back from war, how did they integrate back into regular life?  Is the biggest change from the Social War (in terms of military stuff) the integration of all these Roman and Italian men?  Were men recruited from all over?  These last couple of points surprised me (my ignorance) - I'd assumed republican recruitment was more uniform, and hadn't appreciated all this complexity.

Francois Gauthier, "The Transformation of the..."
In this paper he basically says we shouldn't give all this credit to Gaius Marius for his late second/early first century reforms.  I had done, to some degree, in the past, but found his arguments convincing.  Rather, to pick up the social war theme, he said this was the turning point.  I discovered that Roman citizen cavalry hadn't been replaced in the first century BC (or earlier) by allies (this from McCall's book).  Allies were apparently much cheaper to use than Roman soldiers, because they paid for themselves, apparently (to do with taxies, indemnities, and such, I think - plus they pay for their own men and equipment).  There were some useful references to chase down:  Front. 2.3.17, Cic. Verr. 5.60 (can't remember why).  Also, intriguingly enough, Pompey's armies were allegedly comprised of men from 33 ethnicities (this following an article in Historia from the 60s - have to track it down).  There were lots of comments about paying for soldiers, and the challenges this provided.

Jack Wells, "The Lessons of..."
His paper was about Augustan historiography, and really about Roman beliefs about where they came from.  Lots of ways to tell a story, and one interesting figure with a fascinating backstory is Servius Tullius, both a slave and divine.  Most sources rate him highly.  He notes the weirdness about Rome:  any foreigners who show up in early Rome could be made citizens, which wasn't the case for slaves.  Additionally, it was fortune that made you a slave (contra Aristotle's natural slavery views).  If you're a slave captured in war, you've proven some form of honour (this the view of Dionysius on early slaves).  Some interesting points about Dionysius of Halicarnassus, whom I'd never thought much about before:  he does apparently try to explain how the Romans do things to a Greek audience (an interesting point).  One of the big takeaways is the permeability of categories in all this.

Brian Turner, "'Bloodless Victories..."
There are a host of examples in which battles were won but the Romans hadn't suffered any casualties.  All sorts of interesting comments here (like all them, again).  Claudius celebrated taking Britain without any losses, and Turner asked whether the Romans were losing their appetite for war.  Bloodless victories are apparently found in every decade of Livy's book, and apparently Sallust gets into it too.  Men wanted to limit their own losses, and it was asked if there was a practical component to this.  He touches on Mons Graupius, Josephus and Jotapata, Tactius, Civilis, and the Batavian uprising, the Adamklissi monument, and he asks if the discourse of bloodless victory (he's influenced by John Lynn) could influence how a general performed.  One point raised in discussion (and which I hadn't considered), was that Lendon's view of combat was too elitist (all this virtus stuff - did ordinary soldiers really care about it?).  There was a question too about whether all this bloodless victory stuff was really about hiding losses.

Sara Phang, "Reviewing the Marriage..."
An update, of sorts, following her book on marriage.  All very convincing (read her work).  She notes the importance of documentary sources for the imperial era.  She asks what the most useful approach is to studying women, families, and the army.  She gets into who's serving and where are they from.  She sees epitaphs as cultural patterns, and looks at the changing depictions of soldiers on epitaphs - very interesting.  Think I'd contemplated it before, but not really given it much thought.  I think I'd like to get my hands on as many depictions of soldiers on epitaphs as I can find.  Anyway, she notes the contrast between epitaphs, which involved lots of choice on the part of the individual, and the diploma, which was a legal document that allowed for limited choice.  She compared Hdn. 3.8.5 saying soldiers lived with wives to Eck's comments (2011) about a diploma of 206 which suggested that soldiers still lacked conubium at this time.  Noted too Allison's book (2013:  353) where she said women made up 5-24% of the inhabitants on bases.  All sorts of strong evidence for women on bases (skeletons, shoes, jewellery, spindles and textile-production items, children's clothes, infant burials).  She implied too that women were involved in some of the production of military things, which I hadn't considered (and which I should touch on in later studies).

Allison Keith, "Love's Figures..."
A fascinating paper, though I'd really flagged by this point.  My expertise in Latin poetry also happens to be lacking.  Anyway, she looked for epigraphic evidence (in Italy) for some of the slaves alluded to in classical-era Latin poetry.  The few names we find on epitaphs are resonant of Roman imperial conquest - and they could be seen as a celebration of the spoils of war.  Nemesis, evidently, was a popular name.  Inscriptions, as it happens, offer a useful social context and comparanda to what we find in the poetry.  They give us something of the human costs to Roman conquest and imperialism, and this is definitely stuff I want to use in my textbook (and updated chapter for a textbook).  She argues that the contemporaneity of the names in poetry reflects the slaves/people captured in war.  Very useful bibliography including, especially, all the work by K Gaca (only read one of her papers, I think).

Justin Ryan James, "Expressing triumph..."
This about the images of the turn of battle in Roman imperial-era art.  Fascinating stuff.  They show the moments before the turn of battle - and this reminded me of the scenes of myth from Roman art, where they tend to show the moments before the bad shit happens.  I brought this up in discussion, but I'm not sure I was terribly eloquent:  my point was is this a wider genre thing (where the genre is the visual arts generally, perhaps a bit too specific), where there were established topoi, motifs, and tendencies across different themes in art.  Anyway, continuing on from the turn of battle, he noted that cavalry always went from left to right on scenes, but infantry could go in any direction.  The commander is usually the largest person.  There are some images he had which I hadn't come across before, like the Tropaeum Alpium from La Turbie, France, the Etruscan Celtomachy from Florence, Tiberius' Arch, and the architrave from Mantua.  He referred, too, to something from Glanum (Roman legionaries marching?), and Romanius Capito, a grave stele dated to 60-65.  Lots of emphasis on cavalry on these monuments.

James Gersbach, "A reinterpretation..."
His paper was about the war-cry, though he preferred the term "battle expression", which covered everything from sound, to a song, dance, silence, and any sort of experience.  His paper was chalk full of interesting references to sounds and the like.  He argued that these were rehearsed, and that served all sorts of purposes.  Lots of juicy stuff here for my sensory approach to battle book.  Gersbach argued that the socio-political force of these cries were missed by some scholarship.  He asked, too, who is likely to have initiated these cries (this garnered some discussion - spontaneous - paraells to haka and European football chants).  Were they organic - again, like football chants?  Many of my notes are copies of references.  Will have to come back to these.  Intriguing - evidently he's doing a whole thesis on ancient battle cries.

Me..blah, blah blah...eurasian, blah, cavalry.
For me, the very last speaker, I want only to note the great questions I got so that I don't forget them.  There were questions about specialization (greater or lesser in the sixth century), and whether dragoons were a thing (a question that's come up elsewhere - Alofs, for instance).  Justin noted some interesting material about the training of Ottoman horsearchers.  Hmmm...most of the questions might be lost to the sands of time.  But, someone did ask about how professional the men were, and how this might have varied between the ranks.  Were they all professional?  Only some?  I'd mentioned recruitment a little, which seems both haphazard and more official in the sources:  when it comes to the Gothic Wars, it seems a bit haphazard, for generals are often sent to the Balkans to round up men.  On the other hand, we know a bit about the official parts of recruitment from the law codes - and we even seem to have a relevant papyrus, a probatoria (the document even says so), that describes this.  So mixed image.  What do I make of Procopius in these instances?  Is he glossing over official practice for the sake of the narrative?  Are the troops they're getting of a lower quality because of the needs of the situation? - and this reminds me of his comments on the Lycaonians at Callinicum, which he'd said had only just enlisted.  The cost issue surfaced too. I don't know how many horse archers there were (don't seem to be significant), but they would have costed a great deal, especially if the horses were covered with armour, so they never could have that many.  This, then, too, casts doubt on it being an age of Hippotoxotai.

The end.  That's it.  Lots to digest.  Extremely useful for all the things I have on the go.  I'd thought about making a post about raids and early and late Rome, its increasing and then decreasing civility, etc., but my eyes are fuzzy and I should go to the gym to process.

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