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Rome's most dangerous enemy

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    Posted: 27 Nov 2011 at 02:32
Which nation/group/general do you consider to epitomise the greatest danger the Romans ever faced.

Why do you think so and what examples do you have to show this?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2011 at 03:17
Which Rome? Roman empire, Roman Republic, eastern or Western Rome?
If you mean Romans in general then I have three choices.

1- Hannibal, Carthaginians.
2- Sassanids, Persians.
3- Attila, Huns.
.
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.
4- Germanic tribes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2011 at 08:56
Rome's most dangerous enemies?
 
Technically, it would have to be themselves...Romans fought for control of Rome more among themselves than any external enemy, and such is rather obvious within the greater panorama.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2011 at 11:15

Is not the enemy that beat You or fataly weaken You the more dangerous? How dangerous he is depends after all upon You own strength and weaknesses. Rome got victorious out of confrontation with Carthage, and stronger than ever, so from that angle it seems Carthage could not be its most dangerous adversary.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2011 at 13:16
The Christians.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2011 at 23:52
Amerindian Atlantians!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Nov 2011 at 10:15
Tough choice.  I would probably vote Carthage and Huns.  I wouldn't count the Iranian empires as mortal enemies since they rarely posed existential threats to each other, just very serious rivals and pains in the butt to each others ambitions.






Edited by Zagros - 28 Nov 2011 at 10:36
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Nov 2011 at 21:26
Apparently, Carthage. It was the only time when Rome was very close to the total collapse. I am not comparing to the late years when the empire was slowly dying. Hannibal was the only one being able to deliver death blows to the Romans when they were still in full force.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Darius of Parsa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Nov 2011 at 06:22

Carthage. It was the only power that could threaten the Italian Peninsula at moments notice and control Rome's vital territories such as mineral rich Spain for an extended period of time.



Edited by Darius of Parsa - 30 Nov 2011 at 06:23
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Dec 2011 at 06:12
I would generally agree with the choice of the Carthaginians for the reasons mentioned above. Zagros has dissuaded me from citing Parthia. Depending on the time period, do the Celts deserve a mention?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Dec 2011 at 17:47
I agree with DrG but also with everyone else who picked Carthage. In a way Hannibal's defeat was what made Rome stronger.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2012 at 08:28
Carthage could never hope to defeat Rome, it could inflict a Cannae, but it could not withstand one. The Persians very nearly ended the Roman story on several occassions and the could always return after a defeat and did.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2012 at 19:28
Originally posted by Sparten Sparten wrote:

Carthage could never hope to defeat Rome, it could inflict a Cannae, but it could not withstand one. The Persians very nearly ended the Roman story on several occassions and the could always return after a defeat and did.


I'm a little rusty here, so help me out a little mate, but didn't Hannibal opt not to sack Rome?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote fusong Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2012 at 21:39
I sort of agree with Drgon
As with all cultures... THEIR OWN ARISTOCRACY the wealth always make sure their own nation implodes without even realizing it half of the time
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2012 at 22:20
Originally posted by Sparten Sparten wrote:

Carthage could never hope to defeat Rome, it could inflict a Cannae, but it could not withstand one. The Persians very nearly ended the Roman story on several occassions and the could always return after a defeat and did.
 
Carthage could have ended Rome. It was simply too split internally to do so. Everyone in Italy hated Rome but also feared its wrath and didn't forget what the Romans did to all those who sided with the Gauls over 150 years before. With a Carthage that has a segment of its politicians and people overtly siding with Rome no one joined the hopeless Hannibal in his quest to destroy Rome for good.
 
 
As for the Persians, they were never an existential threat to Rome (Byzantium is a different matter). On the other hand the attirition that Rome suffered from its wars with the Persians was far greater than that it suffered from Germanic wars. Indeed it was the Sassanid victories in the 3rd and 4th centuries that hastened Rome's end and not the civil wars or Germanic rebellions.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Feb 2012 at 06:20
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Originally posted by Sparten Sparten wrote:

Carthage could never hope to defeat Rome, it could inflict a Cannae, but it could not withstand one. The Persians very nearly ended the Roman story on several occassions and the could always return after a defeat and did.


I'm a little rusty here, so help me out a little mate, but didn't Hannibal opt not to sack Rome?
True, mainly because he did not have the ability to undertake a siege. And while Hannible and his men could destroy any Army Rome sent against them, the rest of the forces could easily be dealt with by the Romans who also spent a lot of that time fighting against Macedonia.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Feb 2012 at 07:39
Hannibal was probably not able to take Rome immediately after the Battle of Cannae (which would have been the most opportune time during the entire war). Rome still had 5,000 troops in the capital, plus thousands of slaves they could (and did) arm and make into citizens. Combined with the city's formidable defences and Hannibal's lack of siege weaponry, a march on Rome followed by a siege would have been very unlikely to succeed. Through the entire war Hannibal took virtually no large towns through siege, and Rome was far larger and better defended than any other.

Hannibal could have won the war but he needed the full support of Carthage itself. Hannibal intelligently decided to instead detach virtually all of southern Italy from Rome. The rest could follow when Carthage itself threw its weight behind the war effort. Carthage, stupidly, failed to do so.

Carthage could have defeated the Romans once and for all by joining in Hannibal's successes. But they didn't.

As for the Sassanids (and I refer here to Rome and not Byzantium), they never penetrated into more than a tenth of Rome's over territory, and never threatened the imperial capital. The Sassanids were not an existential threat, but they were a costly drain on Rome's manpower and resources.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Salah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 May 2012 at 20:41

From about 235 CE or so - themselves.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bagrat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jul 2013 at 09:08
Without any doubt, the greatest danger that the Roman Empire, in whatever incarnation, ever faced, were the Germanic tribes that,in their various incarnations, threatened it on the northern borders stretching from the North to the Black Sea.
Not even counting the earlier invasions by the Teutones and Cimbri in 105 BC, or the “Clades Variana”" in 9AD, no other people constituted such a continuous and mortal danger to the existence of the Empire as the Germanics.
At least from the late 2nd century onwards, the Roman Empire conducted an almost permanent and mostly defensive war against the ever shifting Germanic alliances (from the Franks in the West to the Goths in the East), employing the majority of its manpower and resources on its Rhine and Danube borders. Most of the internal political, social and economic problems of the late Roman Empire are directly linked to strategic imperatives of the Northern war, be it the rampant inflation that befell the Empire ,the establishment of the Foederati system or the Germanisation of the Roman legions.
The two latter attempts to integrate the Germanics into the Empire, ironically contributed largely to the demise of the Western half.
One could even argue that the medieval successor states of the Germanic alliances, the Holy Romans, the French and English Kingdoms decisively damaged the Eastern Roman Empire during the Crusades, especially in 1204, rendering it eventually defenseless against the Ottomans.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2013 at 07:22
I cannot help but think that the armed crusaders which eventually showed up on Alexios I Komnenos' doorstep could have turned into a formidable enemy if it was not for the emperor's rhetorical skill and the fear instilled by his Pecheneg bodyguards.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote crazysharktank Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Sep 2014 at 10:00
I think it's Carthaginians

Rome was in war with Carthaginians. The conflict between Rome and Carthage result the First and Second Punic War.  

First Punic war is fought by the Hannibal Father - Hamilcar Barca. 
The second Punic war was fought by the Hannibal. His tactics were invincible You can read more about Hannibal Here

Beside Carthage other greatest enemy or Rome were: Sassanids, Persians, Attila, Hun

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Sep 2014 at 20:45
Whatever caused it's fall in the end.  Same with Chinese dynasties, it's always the barbarians.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Montrose Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Apr 2017 at 19:46
I'm in agreement with pinguin. No doubt about it: the widespread acceptance of Christianity was a major factor in the Empire's fall.  

In time the juggernaut of Christianity, with its creed of humility, subservience, meekness, turning the other cheek, etc. more or less emasculated the once-proud and virile Roman whose Olympian gods exemplified a totally opposite ideal of manhood; one which was in direct conflict with what Nietzsche termed the "slave religion" of Christ's followers. Of course, many factors were responsible for the inevitable collapse in 476 (racial dilution of the native stock; over-expansion and the inability to secure  frontiers and provinces; luxury and its resultant sloth; the conquered and mercenaries, all of whom lacked a sense of patriotism, filling the ranks of the legions; barbarians outbreeding Romans by a wide margin), but the slow erosion of pride in being a citizen of the greatest empire the world had ever known, and the suicidal replacement of this pride with a religion whose tenets abhorred all things earthly, including love of country, contributed heavily to Rome's collapse.    


Edited by Montrose - 12 Apr 2017 at 19:55
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Apr 2017 at 01:47
I think that Rome needed to fall.  It was ugly and brutal, and the Christians, if they brought it down, brought it down by being nice.  Orthodox Christianity did not abhor all things earthly, that was a characteristic of Gnosticism.  Orthodox Christianity taught that the world was made good, but had "fallen" when Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden.  In other words, the world is a violent place, Christianity recognizes that it is not perfect, but it is not evil.

But I also think that Roman had energy while it was expanding (up through Trajan), and then came to stagnate.  It wasn't necessarily the Christians or the Jews, or Greek culture, although those played a part after Rome kind of exhausted itself.

Have you ever read Greek or Roman literature from the mid-Empire on?  It does not have the quality of earlier stuff.  And the Greeks and Romans realized that.  The field needed to lie fallow before the seeds of the renaissance were sown.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Montrose Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Apr 2017 at 21:11
Hi, franciscosan; glad to make your acquaintance...

Not quite sure what you mean by "ugly", but Romans were, by the standards of antiquity, no more brutal than any of their militaristic contemporaries. And more often than not, once conquered, their opponent's -- or victim's, if you prefer -- cultural institutions were, for the most part, left intact. And if they didn't rock the boat/trireme too much they were permitted to govern their municipalities unhindered, and freedom of worship was the norm. By no means am I saying the Romans were all sugar and spice; but they could be lenient, quite tolerant with those they conquered, and a good many of the conquered's gods found their way into the Roman pantheon. Moreover, some of these now Roman-ruled provinces had been involved in internecine warfare; some were quite unruly and in near states of anarchy before the legions came, saw, and conquered. True, the defeated were forced to pay sometimes exorbitant taxes and tribute to Rome, but they were governed by able, if sometimes greedy and corrupt, administrators; and if lucky they were given the franchise, i.e., granted Roman citizenship, something many were more than happy to have bestowed upon them. After all, they could've been subjected to much harsher rule by much crueler masters.

Quite unlike the Old Testament, the New lays strong emphasis on the hoped- and prayed-for rewards of Heaven rather than the materialistic riches readily available in the world. Sure, Christianity teaches that the world was made good, and that it had fallen when Adam and Eve had sampled the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, but doesn't that pretty much confirm my point, that Christians thought the world in fact governed by evil forces from virtually the dawn of mankind? Only in Heaven is all perfect.

And lastly, no; I've read very little Greek or Roman literature from, never mind the mid-Empire on, but from the close of the start of the Empire; the Augustan Age. Sadly, the Virgils and the Ovids of Rome's Golden Age were long gone by the middle of the first century. I'll stick with those guys and the Homers and Horaces, thank you very much.

ciao,
Rob       
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2017 at 02:08
A lot of art in the Roman Empire was derivative of Greek art.  Or rather, it was Greek art, Greek artists working for Romans.  Kind of a copy (of a copy(of a copy)), which means that we do have replicas of some of the best of Classical and Hellenistic Greek sculpture, but it is often 'watered-down.'

In a society that believed that the past was a golden generation, then a silver generation, then a bronze generation, and then finally an iron generation, expressed by the Romans as "ages."  The past is good, the future is bad, if people believe that they live in an iron age, well it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Why do anything new in the sciences or the arts, if one knows that one cannot possibly compete with the past.  That is what I mean by ugly.  The belief that the Greeks were great, and so where the Augustan golden age, I think Ovid is actually silver age, and it goes down from there, to the silver plated age, which is what their currency was like, debased, devalued.

The fact that heaven is perfect, calls for us to try to improve the Earth, making it more beautiful, more just and so on.  There is a twist that I particularly like for Adam and Eve and the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  You see there was another tree in the garden, the tree of immortality.  If Adam and Eve were smarter, they would have eaten from the tree of immortality, and so that way they would have had forever to figure out good and evil.  But, no the world is not governed by evil forces, God proclaims the world good, but through man's disobedience it is also fallen, which might not sound fair to you, but it does explain why there is evil.  But it is a disorganized evil, and that there is a greater organization for good. 

In Christianity if you are going to improve, you have to do it in this world.  In a transmigration setting, one will put up with abuse, and is expected to put up with abuse, "play it nice" so that one will be reincarnated into a higher form in the next life.  You get "uppity" and karma will set you back in a lower form.  Reform really is not possible in such a setting.

Juvenal is a fun read, very raunchy, early Christians appreciated him because he showed how decadent Rome was.  Lucian is kind of fun, not anything deep.  I enjoy the biographies of Pythagoras by Iamblichus and Porphyry, and the Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius is the only ancient history of philosophy that has survived.  However, if Iamblichus does not make sense to you, well you are not alone.  Everyone should read Pliny the younger's account of Vesuvius.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Montrose Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2017 at 22:00
Yes, the laid back, aesthetic Greeks had it all over the busy as bees utilitarian Romans; not only in the arts and literature, but in philosophy, science, medicine, mathematics, theater, democracy, and architecture as well. Rome may have conquered Greece militarily, but the latter had its belated revenge by conquering the former culturally; and the Romans knew, and greatly appreciated, the fact all too well. And if Greece had only managed to unite as a political whole in the nationalist sense, rather than remaining a patchwork of ever-warring poleis, no telling who would've come out on top militarily in a one-on-one with the Romans. I hear tell the Athenians were about as brave, fierce and well-trained as the most vaunted of the legions; imagine if Sparta had only jumped into the fray. Woo-wee! Forget Greece v. Persia, Rome v. Carthage, or even Ali v. Frazier; this one would've been history's true Brawl for it All.

Ovid, being a contemporary of both Virgil and Horace, was indeed of the Golden Age, not Silver; a trivial point, I admit. The real point is how short the former age lasted: the three greatest of Roman poets all gone within, what, a generation of each other? Add the passing within that same period of Rome's greatest historian, Livy, and that really puts the kibosh on Roman literature.

And speaking of historians: No, Tacitus, being a senator and aristocrat, isn't in the running for greatest of Roman historians. He was instinctively too biased toward the emperors (foes of the republican-oriented Senate, naturally) to render a fair biographical composition and judgement of those men. He's an absorbing, excellent read but one-sided to the extreme. Caution: must be taken with a heavy grain of salt. Want to read impartial and balanced bios of the greatest heroes and statesmen of both Rome and Greece? Well then, read Plutarch; I'm not alone in ranking him, bar none, the greatest biographer of all time.      



Edited by Montrose - 14 Apr 2017 at 22:06
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2017 at 11:35
According to the Romans themselves, it was Persia that was the most dangerous enemy.
 

Roman soldiers prefer to suffer any fate than look a Persian in the face

Libianus ZXIII pp.205-11

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2017 at 16:56
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:


In Christianity if you are going to improve, you have to do it in this world.  In a transmigration setting, one will put up with abuse, and is expected to put up with abuse, "play it nice" so that one will be reincarnated into a higher form in the next life.  You get "uppity" and karma will set you back in a lower form.  Reform really is not possible in such a setting.


Sorry , are you talking about Christians and karma? Isn't the very idea that a pope could have been a peasant in a former life, the very reason(s) for the slaughter of the Cathars?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Apr 2017 at 00:20
caldrail, could you tell me about Libianus a little, just from what google comes up with, he is a 4th century AD sophist, and he mentions the Sassanids, who I gather are ethnically Persian?  

I think the Sassanids, while maybe the fiercest foes of the Romans, were never an existential threat to the Romans.  Same with the Parthians, although I am a little vague about when the Sassanids were in relationship to the Parthians.  The Persian Empire, "as such," ended with the conquests of Alexander of Macedon.

Vanuatu, I don't know what you are talking about:P  Orthodoxy rejects reincarnation and karma as far as I know.  Cathars were gnostic, maybe they believed in reincarnation, in any case they (I believe) rejected the material world, and were apocalyptic.  The crusade against them probably fit into their apocalyptic world view, kind of like the branch Davidians down in Waco against the bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (ATF).  Just because they are wacko (both the Cathars and the branch Davidians) doesn't mean they should be exterminated, but on the other hand, it is hard to see how it would have played out differently, given their apocalyptic perspective.  People blame Christians for apocalyptic viewpoint as something that undermined the Roman empire, but Orthodoxy has that in its background, and does not dwell on it.  People feel sorry for the Gnostics and the Cathars, but they were much of the problem, not the solution.
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