Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Why ancient Romans and Italians were so good at warfare, and modern Italians are not
#1
I was always asking myself the questions, why ancient Romans and Italians were so good at warfare and also disciplined and stoic, but modern Italians are not?
Of course the question is also are modern Italians descendants of Romans, Etruscans, Samnites.
It seems the roman mentality was different to the typical Mediterranean mentality.
Boris

Qui audet adipiscitur
Reply
#2
Such a loaded question, lol. Many here probably won't think it's worth a resonse, but it was asked and deserves a reply.

One can not say modern Italians are not good soldiers as the US Military is full of citizens of Italian descent and they are as good as any other group. Modern Italian military history has many successes and remarkable bravery against great odds, even when they are on the losing side of some recent wars. Rommel would not have been as successful as he was if the Italians were nothing more than a mob of hungry slackers.

So one can not say that modern Italian are not good soldiers. Rome was a unique ancient political entity hence its success and others failure. The average Roman and Italian peasant of that period, the back bone of the army, was probably no tougher or smarter than peasants anywhere else in that region, they were just part of a better military and political system, with some very good leaders.

Your post also seems to imply that genetics or culture provides some sort of answer regarding military success, that's a dangerous assumption. Folks of the Jewish faith were once thought to be poor material for soldiers, or when conscripted were not trained as infantry as they were considered too soft. Israel's remarkable military success disproves that old bias. We in the US once thought the Japanese would not make good soldiers which is insane if one knows anything about Japanese history and the almost constant warfare it endured. That was obviously a racism issue. We then ignored the centuries of successful struggle for independence from China that defines Vietnam and underestimated their military prowess. I saw this type of bias first hand in Iraq where many US soldiers had a poor view of the Iraqis based upon their mass surrenders in the Gulf War. There they fought a losing battle to keep Kuwait as part of Iraq and most of those "Iraqis" who surrendered were Shia and Kurds with no desire to die to keep Saddam rich. They had just defeated the Iranians after a terrible long war and when defending their own homes and personal honor, when we invaded Iraq itself, we discovered they had plenty of fight in them, and the ones who fought with us as our allies were pretty tough too. The Iraqi Army bent, but did not break when ISIS attacked and with allies crushed ISIS in the end.

Here in the US the French military has a bad reputation among the not so intelligent types who know little of military history. This is due no doubt to their poor performance as a whole in 1940 and perhaps in Vietnam in the 50's. The French were quite successful afterwards in Algeria, Egypt and many places in Africa as well as providing an entire division in the First Gulf War that did very well. Success on the battlefield does not always translate to success in the geo-political aftermath of a conflict and an army's reputation can suffer.

So IMHO there are no people who can not be made into successful soldiers if properly trained, led and most of all motivated to fight and die for a cause. No genetic connection to an ancient people, real or invented, has much to do with that success.

Love to hear other points of view.
Joe Balmos
Reply
#3
Hello, Joe

It's amazing that someone answered Corvus' ethnically biased question. I'm 75 years old, mostly "modern" Italian (at least 50%), and willing to bet (when it comes down to a powerful hit with a sword or sagaris) I could put him in the hospital. Heed this: if a modern Italian seems martially reticent, it's because he's not pis*ed-off enough. Cool
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#4
(Addressed to Corvus).

I would retract this question if I were you -- it can be construed as flirting with racialism.

As for the second and more interesting question -- I am no scientist, but I believe there are many detailed chemical studies that have been conducted on different peoples across Europe. I would look there.
Patrick J. Gray

'' Now. Close your eyes. It's but a short step to the boat, a short pull across the river.''
''And then?''
''And then, I promise you, you'll dream a different story altogether''

From ''I, Claudius'', by J. Pulman after R. Graves.
Reply
#5
Patrick,

Let him keep the post. It shows what kind of person he is. Also, he should have his full name under his signature, per Forum rules. Dodgy
PS: Let him flirt with me. I'm ready.  Tongue
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
#6
Thank you for your replies gentlemen. 


Quote:Your post also seems to imply that genetics or culture provides some sort of answer regarding military success, 

Yes, I think that culture, organisation and mentality are very important to military success. I dont believe that genetics are. 




Quote:So one can not say that modern Italian are not good soldiers. Rome was a unique ancient political entity hence its success and others failure. The average Roman and Italian peasant of that period, the back bone of the army, was probably no tougher or smarter than peasants anywhere else in that region, they were just part of a better military and political system, with some very good leaders.
 
So why was Rome unique, and had a better military and political system?



Quote:It's amazing that someone answered Corvus' ethnically biased question. I'm 75 years old, mostly "modern" Italian (at least 50%), and willing to bet (when it comes down to a powerful hit with a sword or sagaris) I could put him in the hospital. Heed this: if a modern Italian seems martially reticent, it's because he's not pis*ed-off enough. 

Sorry if I offended your national feelings, but if you look at the record of the Italian army since the unification of Italy, its not very impressing.
I just was interested to know what made Rome and Italian people in the past such good soldiers. 
What were the differences. Where exactly do you see bias here?
Yes cultures and nations have certain specifics. But if they wouldnt, it would mean there is one big culture without any differences.


Quote:I would retract this question if I were you -- it can be construed as flirting with racialism.
I don"t say that Romans were more successful because of their genes or biological traits. To tell that they had a different culture and mentality and to ask what the differences were is not racism.
And I do believe their culture and mentality were different from the one of the modern Italians.
Boris

Qui audet adipiscitur
Reply
#7
Dear Sir,

I will reply to your questions as best I can.

The fault lies in great part in the implications of the phrasing. Take ''why ancient Romans and Italians were so good at warfare and also disciplined and stoic, but modern Italians are not?''

The part I have thrown into bold type essentially is interpreted by a native English speaker as saying to any passing Italian ''you are ill-disciplined and emotional''. I don't believe English is your mother-tongue and I quite accept that the nuances of a second tongue are hard to master (my German, French and even the real joy of spoken Latin has caused offence in the past).

Had the question stopped after ''stoic'' it would be interesting. It would invite a discussion on the virility and strength of Roman culture. I am a proud Roman pagan and have very strongly held rational convictions on the role of religion and culture in the decline of the Classical world but rarely share them on the internet for fear of causing a fight. However, the text thrown into bold is plainly offensive to any English speaker.

The effect of racialism is cumulative and could perhaps be missed by a foreigner. Asking whether the modern Italians are of the same stock as the Romans immediately after insulting those same Italians (however unintentionally) leads to the following interpretation -- the Italians are ill-disciplined and emotional, because they are not of the same stock as the Romans => the modern Italian race is less virile and manly, and so inferior, to the Roman race. This is unquestionably a racialist view (note the distinction between racialism, a disproved anthropological theory now in deserved odium because of its role in the excesses and horrors of the last War, and racism or race-prejudice). 

It is also a racist view in the modern sense, as neither you nor I have seriously studied the moral fibre of the Italians. Referring to the last war, my great-uncle fought at El Alamein and retained a very high opinion of the quality of the Italian troops he faced. I am afraid it smells to me rather of ''dodgy Dagoes'' and ''excitable Latins'', the despicable caricatures of nineteenth-century racism. I will offer you the benefit of the doubt, though.
Patrick J. Gray

'' Now. Close your eyes. It's but a short step to the boat, a short pull across the river.''
''And then?''
''And then, I promise you, you'll dream a different story altogether''

From ''I, Claudius'', by J. Pulman after R. Graves.
Reply
#8
A warning to all who post here! Keep following the rules - stay civil and do not discuss modern politics.

I'm thinking we had this discussion before and erased it later.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#9
Ita vero, magister.
Patrick J. Gray

'' Now. Close your eyes. It's but a short step to the boat, a short pull across the river.''
''And then?''
''And then, I promise you, you'll dream a different story altogether''

From ''I, Claudius'', by J. Pulman after R. Graves.
Reply
#10
Quote:I am a proud Roman pagan and have very strongly held rational convictions on the role of religion and culture in the decline of the Classical world but rarely share them on the internet for fear of causing a fight.

I have similar views in this regard.


Quote:Had the question stopped after ''stoic'' it would be interesting. It would invite a discussion on the virility and strength of Roman culture.
Ok, lets concentrate on this part. Or let me paraphrase my question, does the ancient roman/Italian mentality differs from the modern Italian mentality and why?

Again, the question was not about biological traits or race, but culture and mentality  differences, which I think is an important factor in warfare.
Boris

Qui audet adipiscitur
Reply
#11
Looked up in Wikipedia, and according to this list, Italy has not done so bad:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wa...ving_Italy

Seem they have won more than they lost.
Reply
#12
(01-14-2018, 07:24 AM)Corvus Wrote: does the ancient roman/Italian mentality differs from the modern Italian mentality and why?

A question that seems both logical and at the same time difficult to answer - how does modern society differ from Classical society?

The 'why' part I'd sum um with 'because 2000 years have passed'?
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#13
Quote:A question that seems both logical and at the same time difficult to answer - how does modern society differ from Classical society?

The 'why' part I'd sum um with 'because 2000 years have passed'?

Well I would prefer a more detailed answer  Smile
Especially on the subject of roman mentality.
And how it changed with time.
Boris

Qui audet adipiscitur
Reply
#14
A more detailed answer I cannot give you, as I am not an expert in Italian history or sociology. This is not a question one can answer in a forum discussion - it's a mere 2000 we're discussing here after all.
Also, I'd say such a very broad question easily surpases the subject of this forum. Good luck in your quest.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  ancient and modern rationalism eugene 0 581 04-18-2012, 10:43 PM
Last Post: eugene
  Ancient Rome Not Good For Your Diet ...? Narukami 3 1,313 04-11-2010, 08:45 PM
Last Post: Jona Lendering

Forum Jump: