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Full Version: Is this the most outrageous statement in a book?
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I've been reading my copy of Lenski's 'Failure of Empire' which I purchased in 2002, but only really got around to reading it properly this week.

I came across this passage which I find one of the most outrageous, and unchallenged, statements I have ever read in what purports to be an academic work.

'Valens arrived with his army the following spring, when he is attested at Marcianople from May 10. There, he supplemented his rather deficient strategic knowledge with the new manual 'De rebus bellicis', written for him in the period following the Procopius revolt. The manual not only recommended the sort of border fortifications that he soon built and the manufacture of the ballistae with which he equipped these forts, it also had advice on shirts to protect his men from cool and damp weather, and portable bridges, which would have been ideal for the marshy territory in which he was about to campaign' P127.

How did this ever go unchallenged? What on Earth made Lenski make such a bold and frankly astounding statement?

I was going to reference Lenski myself but I am rather loath to now.
I am not familiar with the work nor do I know if "de rebus bellicis" has any info on clothes for damp weather and bridges for marshy lands in them so I cant judge this particular statement.

However, the most outrageous statement in a book I ever came across states that a man who died from a Roman punishment three days later miraculously came to life and walked amongst his friends, after which he apparently rose up into the air and disappeared...

M.VIB.M.
Quote:I came across this passage which I find one of the most outrageous, and unchallenged, statements I have ever read in what purports to be an academic work.
The statement is clearly meant to be provocative, but which part did you find so outrageous? (Lenski's unfamiliarity with the shortcomings of the ballista fulminalis?)
I would assume ValVict. is talking of the assumption that the De Rebus was 1. actually read by valens; 2. dated so securely.
Quote:I would assume ValVict. is talking of the assumption that the De Rebus was 1. actually read by valens; 2. dated so securely.
Or 3. that Valens had a "rather deficient strategic knowledge" which he apparently could supplement "with the new manual 'De rebus bellicis'". Confusedhock:
A) Valens was too ambitious, but his strategic abilities (at least our views on them) are heavily influenced by the unfortunate outcome of his last battle, not those before that.
B) There is hardly any strategic knowlegde to be had from this manuscript. It's a nice booklet, but written by someone whose knowledge was on the financial side. Perhaps a banker with a hobby. :twisted:
Quote:I was going to reference Lenski myself but I am rather loath to now.


If you were to discard a book because of one dodgy statement, you'd end up discarding loads of them Confusedhock:
Quote:
markhebb post=307048 Wrote:I would assume ValVict. is talking of the assumption that the De Rebus was 1. actually read by valens; 2. dated so securely.
Or 3. that Valens had a "rather deficient strategic knowledge" which he apparently could supplement "with the new manual 'De rebus bellicis'". Confusedhock:
A) Valens was too ambitious, but his strategic abilities (at least our views on them) are heavily influenced by the unfortunate outcome of his last battle, not those before that.
B) There is hardly any strategic knowledge to be had from this manuscript. It's a nice booklet, but written by someone whose knowledge was on the financial side. Perhaps a banker with a hobby. :twisted:

I agree with Robert here. I'm currently doing research on Valentinian and Valens (yes - it's for the new book :roll: ) and am starting to doubt all of the 'bad' things I've read about Valens. It seems that everything is based on a combination of a negative comparison to Valentinian and the loss at Adrianople.

Further, the De Rebus Bellicis doesn't necessarily include what Lenski assumes it includes.

I also agree with Nik. I have found numerous 'mistakes' in many books I have read (sadly including my own: Stilicho - it's about half way down the page) but that shouldn't necessarily make you discard the whole book - a concept that should really be known as 'baby-bathwater syndrome'! If you agree with what Lenski says and what he says makes sense, why not reference it? In even the most 'outrageous' of books can be found the germs of valuable ideas!
Quote:I would assume ValVict. is talking of the assumption that the De Rebus was 1. actually read by valens; 2. dated so securely.
As I said, I would imagine that Lenski is being provocative, by assuming that Alan Cameron's 1979 theory* about your (1) and (2) can be taken as self-evidently true. Lenski really ought to have referenced Cameron.

* A. Cameron, "The date of the Anonymous De Rebus Bellicis", in: M.W.C. Hassall (ed.), De Rebus Bellicis. Part 1: Aspects of the De Rebus Bellicis (BAR: Oxford, 1979), pp. 1-10.
My point Duncan is that Lenski is actually making this as a statement of fact, and this I find so astounding. Thompson's translation and notes does not state this, and I have found no other clues to this in my library. Did any of the ballista in the De Rebus Bellicis see the light of day? Did Valens put them in the mile forts (which were started by Valentinian I by the way), did he not know about the 'portable bridges' Julian used?

I just find it difficult to understand why no historian or academic has seen fit to challenge the statement I posted, or have they?
Quote:I am not familiar with the work nor do I know if "de rebus bellicis" has any info on clothes for damp weather and bridges for marshy lands in them so I cant judge this particular statement.

However, the most outrageous statement in a book I ever came across states that a man who died from a Roman punishment three days later miraculously came to life and walked amongst his friends, after which he apparently rose up into the air and disappeared...

M.VIB.M.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Outstanding!
Quote:I just find it difficult to understand why no historian or academic has seen fit to challenge the statement I posted, or have they?
The reviews that I read all concentrated on what a bang-up job Lenski did of describing the Life and Times of Valens.

Re. the DRB: Attempts to date undated sources often remain theoretical, academic, divorced from reality. I quite like the fact that Lenski has taken the most plausible theory for dating the DRB and inserted it into the reality of an historical narrative. There is no doubt that Cameron has made a successful case for the writing of the DRB during the reign of Valens, or (as he puts it) "(say) 367-9". It is interesting to see what happens when you apply that conclusion. (imho)