Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Alaric - 'Roman Officer'?
#31
(07-16-2019, 10:23 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: @ styles - Yes indeed LOL.

There's a fragment of Eunapius (Blockley's Fr.37) that says the 'Scythians' (Goths?) 'show their arrogance even in the shaking of their hair'. This suggests headbanging, which in turn suggests long hair! [Image: smile.png]


(07-16-2019, 10:23 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: Goths - do we even know they were exclusively Goths? I fear mr Halsall may be a bit too hasty at this point, lacking evidence. From what we know of Germanic warbands in the 5th c. is that they could be from all kinds of tribal backgrounds

I don't think he meant they were exclusively Goths - and we know there were Alans and Huns among Alaric's men, and others too (Philostorgius mentions that Ataulf's first wife was 'of Sarmatian origin', which might suggest that Sarmatians settled in Roman Pannonia had joined them as well). Alaric's fame and success would have attracted a very disparate group of people to his standards.

But the core of Alaric's force identified as Goths, if you like, and the rest seem to have followed that lead in eventually claiming the Gothic name. I think my point above about Roman citizenship is also important here too; nowhere do we hear of any demand by Alaric or Ataulf that their men be given citizenship. If the men who followed these leaders had any real desire to become Roman, or to act like Romans, it is not expressed in any of our sources. They wanted to be Goths, under a Gothic leader (or even 'king'), living within the empire's border but outside imperial control.
Nathan Ross
Reply
#32
At least I agree with the title 'The Accidental Suicide of the Roman Empire'.
- CaesarAugustus
www.romanempire.cloud
(Marco Parente)
Reply
#33
(07-31-2019, 11:23 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: There's a fragment of Eunapius (Blockley's Fr.37) that says the 'Scythians' (Goths?) 'show their arrogance even in the shaking of their hair'. This suggests headbanging, which in turn suggests long hair! [Image: smile.png]



I don't think he meant they were exclusively Goths - and we know there were Alans and Huns among Alaric's men, and others too (Philostorgius mentions that Ataulf's first wife was 'of Sarmatian origin', which might suggest that Sarmatians settled in Roman Pannonia had joined them as well). Alaric's fame and success would have attracted a very disparate group of people to his standards.

But the core of Alaric's force identified as Goths, if you like, and the rest seem to have followed that lead in eventually claiming the Gothic name. I think my point above about Roman citizenship is also important here too; nowhere do we hear of any demand by Alaric or Ataulf that their men be given citizenship. If the men who followed these leaders had any real desire to become Roman, or to act like Romans, it is not expressed in any of our sources. They wanted to be Goths, under a Gothic leader (or even 'king'), living within the empire's border but outside imperial control.


Somehow I doubt that Enapius ever saw a Goth, and he may base his characteristics on old depictions of (long-haired) Scythians?

All the benefots but not paying taxes. I am reminded om some modern cases Wink
But isn't it implied that if Alaric wanted his forces to become Roman soldiers, that this would imply citizenship as well?
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#34
(07-31-2019, 07:39 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote:
(07-29-2019, 10:19 AM)Sean Manning Wrote: Back in 1939, L. Sprague de Camp, could describe Gaul in the time of Thiudahad and Justinian as "firmly under the thumbs of its barbarian 'garrisons.'"  That also makes me wonder how much of this debate is new.


I think I have that book... 'Lest Darkness Fall'? Love it.
Glad you enjoy it!

Nathan, people resisted the introduction of professional soldiers from the age of the Greek tyrants onwards because they could see the rapes and robberies and murders coming (and because the people, the free property-owning men of military age, liked swaggering around with weapons and intimidating the day labourers and the slaves and the resident aliens). Its all over discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of different political systems from Herodotus to the beginning of the 20th century, and the literature of the Principate has a lot to say about it.

Ancient people were conservative, but they were not automatons: if you look closely, you see signs that a wide variety of people had opinions about the development of their society, and pushed for some and against others while trying not to cross any red lines (so by the fifth century CE most people in Europe call themselves Christians, but the sect they chose and the bits of the Bible they cite often has political implications).
Nullis in verba

I have not checked this forum frequently since 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value. I now have a blog on books, swords, and the curious things humans do with them.
Reply
#35
And I mean specifically, the literature from the Principate, whether Roman or Second Sophistic or New Testament, is full of "these soldiers rob us and stamp on our feet with their hobnails; those troops from the frontier are really half barbarians; look at what the wicked usurper's soldiers did to that town." They are feeling towards the boundaries of what its not acceptable to say in public.
Nullis in verba

I have not checked this forum frequently since 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value. I now have a blog on books, swords, and the curious things humans do with them.
Reply
#36
(08-03-2019, 05:13 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: But isn't it implied that if Alaric wanted his forces to become Roman soldiers, that this would imply citizenship as well?

I don't think he did. At least, I don't think the sources mention it.

Early in AD408, Alaric wanted a pay-off from the Roman state for moving his army to and from Epirus (supposedly as an ally to Stilicho and Honorius), and he then moved it to Noricum - the implication being, I think, that he would invade Italy if he was not paid.

Later, in 409 during the negotiations near Rimini, Alaric's demands, according to Zosimus, were "a certain quantity of gold each year, and a quantity of corn, and that himself and the barbarians who were with him would inhabit both the Venetias, Noricum and Dalmatia". Zos claims that Jovius (the Praetorian Prefect, acting as envoy) then suggested to Honorius that they also grant Alaric the title of Magister Utriusque Militae, "by which he might be induced to relax the severity of his conditions, and make peace on tolerably moderate terms".

Sozomen says the same thing, but implies that it was Alaric himself who wanted the military command. Either way, Honorius refused it and Alaric marched on Rome. He later changed his mind and demanded "only the two Noricums... plus as much corn as the emperor thought proper to grant, and he would remit the gold". Sozomen confirms that at this point Alaric "did not require any post of dignity, but was willing to act as an ally to the Romans".

So what Alaric wanted was wealth, supplies and land for his followers. The military title was, it seems, an empty honorific and possibly just a bribe: Alaric did not want his troops to become Roman soldiers, and seems to have been pretty ambivalent about the title anyway. He wanted to act as an ally to Rome, but not to be a 'Roman officer' in any meaningful way. There's certainly nothing here about his men gaining Roman citizenship, let alone swearing allegiance to anyone but Alaric himself!

But we only hear in these accounts about what Alaric himself wanted. What those he was leading might have had in mind was quite probably something very different. As I suggested above somewhere, they owed nothing to Rome, many of them would have felt personally aggrieved by Roman atrocities, and they probably wanted only plunder and revenge.
Nathan Ross
Reply


Forum Jump: