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Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Greatest Enemies of Rome

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1) Brennus:

Described as a particularly warlike tribe, the Senones gave the Republic of Rome quite the trouble culminating in the first Sack of Rome in 390 B.C. Brennus invaded Italy with the intent of sacking Rome, but had met with fierce resistance. They had fought a couple of times on the banks of the rivers Tiber and Allia. Even though he was outmatched two to one, his army of around 15.000 managed to route the republic’s army, and as the vanguard was broken proceeded to sack Rome for a couple of weeks, pillaging, raping and slaughtering its citizens. The Senate had begged the Gaul warlord to cease the slaughter, trying to buy him with half a ton of gold. Yet, the chieftain demanded more, and as the Romans protested, he bellowed “Vaevictis” or “Woe to the Vanquished”. Shortly afterwards he died due to an illness, and his army scattered around the countryside, only to be butchered by the civilians and the newly formed legions pursuing them.

2) Hannibal Barca:

Continuing his father’s legacy in opposing the rule of Rome, Hannibal Barca, son of Hamilcar Barca, had gathered his army made up of Carthage’s finest and all the mercenaries he could afford, bringing behemoths such as African elephants with him. He began his long march from Hispania all the way through the Gallic lands, eventually reaching the Pyrenees and Alps with the intent of sacking Rome. He began a long and arduous task of taunting the Republic of Rome, ravaging the countryside. He never fully committed to Rome however, even though he had numerous chances to do so. The Romans had something different in mind, so instead of confronting Hannibal’s army directly, they kept poking and diminishing them since they had no means of resupplying. Thus, they brought the war to his homeland Carthage. Not willing to lose to Rome after his wonderous victory at the Battle of Cannae, he returned to answer the war drums of Rome, only to have his army shattered at the Battle of Zama, which forced the famous general to seek shelter on Crete, where he took his own life by means of poison.

3) Archimedes:

Archimedes or the mad genius as he was known to Rome successfully defended his home of Syracuse in Magna Graecia or Sicily. His inventions inspired awe to his fellow citizens, and utter horror to the Romans. The inventions such as his catapults that allowed the siege weapon to hurl heavy objects such as rocks, marble and timber upon the republics ship’s as they attempted to breach the defenses in the Siege of Syracuse, or his gigantic claw of Archimedes that was essentially a metallic crane that gripped the invaders triremes were not enough to hold off the advance of Rome.

4) Spartacus

A renowned leader of military prowess, Spartacus was imprisoned in Thrace and brought to be a gladiator in the arenas for the amusement of the cheering crowds. Mounting a small revolt in the gladiatorial school of Capua, slaughtering the guards and rallying every soul that was willing to fight on, what started as a small revolt quickly became the Third Servile War, from a small number of gladiators to 120.000 people: men, women and children of various backgrounds yet mostly slaves gathered under his banner. Plaguing the southern parts of Italia, where the luxurious summer villas of the high and mighty resided, under general Crassus did eight legions scour the land for Spartacus, yet the ingenious and unorthodox tactics of Spartacus managed to scatter and rout the legionnaires a couple of battles, before being helped with the return of Pompey and his legions. Realizing there is nowhere to run anymore, Spartacus launched a suicidal charge forth with his last remaining followers that had dwindled because they split for various reasons. He is said to have fallen in the fateful battle, yet what was left of his army, numbering 6.000 were imprisoned and crucified from Rome downwards south to remind anyone disobeying the law.

5) Vercingetorix:

As Gaul was beginning to be fully governed over by Rome, a notoriously stubborn chieftain by the name of Vercingetorix began the final bloody revolt in 52 B.C. Rallying under his banner every tribe that was willing to resist, he had managed to score a victory over the general named Julius, who would later become the first Caesar in the Battle of Gergovia. Exhausted and with his army nearly diminished, he had returned to Alesia to rest, only to be greeted a short while later by Julius with newly arrived Roman reinforcements that begun the Siege of Alesia. So brutal was the slaughter of the resisting Gaul’s that Vercingetorix decided to allow himself be arrested in order to spare what he could of his countrymen He was imprisoned for five years, before Julius Caesar brought him in Rome’s square in 46 B.C to be strangled in front of a raving crowd.

6) Arminius:

Born into servitude as a hostage to Rome, Arminius was trained in everything the Romans practiced. He embraced everything from the way of life to the military doctrines. Arminius would become the bane of existence for the Roman Empire. After obtaining command of a Germanic auxiliary force, he returned to Magna Germania to rally every Germanic tribe under his banner. Successful in his mission, he awaited the Roman legions that marched into the Teutoburg Forest, (it is now known as the Battle of Teutoburg Forest) where the encroaching tightly packed legions were beset upon both sides of the forest, effectively being crushed and without the ability to route. This marked the brutal, yet short lived rule of Arminius, and had given the Empire of Rome its greatest defeat it history, making sure that the river Rhine prevented further incursion into Magna Germania by the Romans. He lost two major battles, while fighting among the tribes. That culminated in his death at the hands of his bodyguards, only two years after his opponent the Emperor Germanicus died of poison in Antioch.

7) Boudica:

The famous queen of the Iceni tribe began her revolt after the territory left by her husband was encroached by Roman legions, to which she complained and was tied to a post and whipped alongside having her daughters raped. Furious and raving, she gathered a 100.000 strong army of various Pict tribes under her banner, and as governor Paulinus’ legions had turned their attention to slaughtering druids in Wales, Boudica marched downwards toward Londinium, slaughtering some 70.000 Romans and burning them alive. Learning of the horror that befell his territory, Paulinus quickly marched backwards to avenge his fellow Romans, and the strong 10.000 army of legionnaires held their line against a gathering of over 500.000 Picts on the side of Boudica, slaughtering them by the thousands. As the legions held, did the Picts scattered and Boudica is said to have fallen in the battle or had taken her life to avoid capture.

8) Alaric:

Rome had initially reached out to seek military protection from King Alaric of the Visigoths. To help them in their near constant infighting, he had demanded of him to be supreme in commanding of what was left of the once mighty legions. The emperor refused, prompting the second sacking of Rome in 410 A.D. Yet, the army of Alaric is not what it was described as: brutal, ruthless and barbaric – in fact they had only looted a small number of buildings of governance and had spared the civilian populations and temples for they were Christians in religion. This sacking marked the downfall of the Western Empire, and had given birth to the Kingdom of Visigoths.

9) Atilla:

The Hunnic king had gathered under his banner the nomadic steppe peoples of the East, alongside the Slavs, Ostrogoths and smaller tribes with the intent of ushering in the end of the Roman Empires. After fighting against the Persians and the Byzantine Empire, the Scourge of God decided to march forward and raid Rome, claiming Gaul under his rule. He was driven back by a joint Roman-Visigoth army at the Battle of Catalaunian Plains. Still determined to bring the end of the already struggling Roman Empire, famine had begun setting upon his troops, and in fear of losing them as they marched exhausted, he had decided to retreat for a time. Legends say that he died on his wedding night with his new Gothic bride. He has a troublesome nosebleed and is believed to have been poisoned and assassinated by his new bride. It is most likely that he was betrayed and killed in his tent by a Slavic warlord and a Ostrogothic King, shattering the Hunnic tribes, and forcing the nomadic peoples to retreat toward the steppes.

10) Genseric:

The third sack of Rome came in 455 A.D at the hands of the wandering Germanic tribe of the Vandals. After years of war, the Emperor Valentinian III that had already faced Attila, decided to negotiate a truce between Rome and the Vandals, and had gone so smoothly before a senator by the name of Petronius Maximus. He assassinated the emperor in order to claim the throne for himself. Enraged and sent into frenzy at the betrayal, Genseric marched straight into Rome from his stronghold in northern Africa. The city was stripped bare of its bronze rooftops after a two week occupation that gave them the nickname Vandals. His goal of turning Rome into a sheep pasture was delayed by the Byzantines that had begun encroaching in southern Italia in order to put a stop to the pirating ways of the Vandals.

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