Ancient Warfare Answers (293): Who were Rome's most remembered enemies?

Blake asks "Love your podcast, my question is about Ancient Roman Enemies and the most well remembered. My question is why do we talk about say Spartacus, Boudica or Hannibal over say Genseric or Shapur I? Especially since the latter were more successful against Rome than the former, I have a few theories but I wanted to hear your answer."

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On the topic of hypastpists, I think one important factor you did not emphasize was that they advanced with Alexander’s cavalry. They were the hinge in his battle plan. Generally in wargaming they are treated as Light Heavy or Light Medium infantry to give them extra movement compared to the main phalanx. This is a compromise I have always hated. In reality they were all the things you said about being an elite unit but I think their role was highly flexible, at least under Alexander. They could shift between macedonian phalanx to hoplite phalanx to peltast as required changing their equipment to fit their role. Furthermore they probably had the best armor and weapons compared to the infantry in the main phalanx. Not an ancient SAS as some have suggested but certainly a unit that is flexible, has high mobility and has a very high morale. Did they jog into battle at the side of the Companion Cavalry, maybe?

Ralph Kirby

hi, question for Murray and co, which is slightly off podcast topic but in line with the magazine’s recent coverage on the Roman army on campaign. Who or what made the decisions about where Roman army units were based or moved around the Empire? I am presuming if it was a vexallation from Hadrian’s Wall to York it would be a local commander’s decision but what if it a cohort was sent from York to the Gaul ie between adjacent provinces? Was that worked out by the military staff of the respective governors? And then what about legions moving from say Gaul to Syria for military reasons or even for civil engineering projects. Was there a general staff in Rome made up of ex-field generals, gnarly old centurions and civil servants, or was it down to the Emperor/Senate (depending on the period) to plan it all.
PS Will yo be covering in the near future the debates about the Spartan army? I’ve listened to a few podcasts recently and academic views have ranged from well trained, semi-professional, highly successful army to a poorly trained militia who were lucky (slight exaggeration). So I was interested in your views on the subject. Thanks, Keith

Keith Sellick

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