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Full Version: Emperors, Centurions, and Leadership
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Anonymous

In another thread Sander mentioned the increasing need for the Emperor's presence on the front lines. This has raised a question in my mind regarding, "Why?!"<br>
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In the years of the Late Empire, we see more and more the Head of State present at war instead of keeping things together back home. Was there truly a need for this?<br>
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Perhaps the emperors were increasingly neurotic and just needed to be there to fulfill some need to micro-manage.<br>
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Maybe training was slipping, and the small-unit leaders were growing increasingly inept.<br>
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What are the opinions on this topic?<br>
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CASCA TARQVINIVS GEMINVS<BR>
<a href=http://www.legio-ix-hispana.org> LEG IX HSPA COH V CEN VIII CON III </font></font><BR> <font color=gold> <font size=3>
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I'd say the main reason was a political one. The emperors powerbase was the army. Assembling a large army for war was a tempting occasion for ambitious officers to develop their own plans: proclaim themselves emperor. Precisely because of that risk the emperor had to be there in person, to show that army that he was their real leader, nobody else. <p>Greets<BR>
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Jasper</p><i></i>

Anonymous

I think Jasper has it precisely right here. An army under the Emperor's direct supervision is much less likely to acclaim a local commander (& said commander much less likely to survive if they tried!). Once armies started making Emperors, reigning Augusti were faced with a growing crisis of trust.<br>
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Best,<br>
<br>
John <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Thanks for the ideas, fellows. <p><BR><p align=center><font color=gold><font size=3>
_________________________________<BR>
CASCA TARQVINIVS GEMINVS<BR>
<a href=http://www.legio-ix-hispana.org> LEG IX HSPA COH V CEN VIII CON III </font></font><BR> <font color=gold> <font size=3>
_________________________________</font></font></p><i></i>
A good read on this subject would be Brian Campbell's "The Emperor and the Roman Army," from Oxford Uni Press. Covers a great deal of ground on the peculiar relationship between the army and its emperor. <p></p><i></i>

Guest

Salve,<br>
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The Roman army had for a long time been highly involved in politics, principally through means of the officers since the rank and file seem to have had little real political interest but were not averse of the financial gains to be gotten from supporting the ambitions of others. Its battlefield performance was not necessarily directly linked to the level of political involvement and peacetime laxity in standards of discipline.<br>
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Training standards were unevenly maintained in the Roman army throughout its history. Periods of lapses in discipline and lax training schedules were alternated with strict enforcement of regulations and thorough drill and this was also true in the third century. Maximinus Thrax, the first true soldier emperor, was known for his efficiency as a training officer.<br>
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The notion found in older publications that the quality of officers deteriorated is not based on solid evidence. The overall quality of the junior officers at particular times of Roman history is hard to assess. The choice of these depended in Roman times as much, if not more, on the individual's personal relations as on his merits. To some extent the officer corps became more professional in the course of the third and fourth century with individuals following an entirely military career path, but the choice of men for posts was still often determined by their social relations. Sons of NCO's and subaltern officers got preferential treatment when it came to commissionings and promotions.<br>
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Regards,<br>
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Sander van Dorst<br>
<p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

In response to Casca.<br>
I feel that one of the reason why later Emperors assumed personal command of troops in the later stages of the Empire was that it was the Legions that gave them their power. Just as it was the Legions that took their power from them. I feel that it was simply a fear of the success of another, and the possibility that troops loyal to such might rise in rebellion against the appointed Emperor. I believe that what scared the Emperors the most was a fear of the loss of their title due to Civil War, as was often the case. I adhere to the idea that these were a people well versed in their own history and understood that many of the bloodiest conflicts were Roman against Roman. I believe that strength and the power to enforce ones own will upon the masses by means of control of the Legions, was what many of the Emperors held in the highest regards. <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

I think the notion of Legionary political importance can be taken one step further. The endless series of civil wars forced Emperors to become personally involved in legionary activities and function as field commanders in order to maintain loyalty. During periods of DOMESTIC tranquility, the legions were of course stationed on the frontiers. I believe that this lead to a shift of political power and influence AWAY from Rome, toward the frontiers and provinces. This done, why should an Emperor travel to Rome at all? <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Tiberius Caesar compared commanding the legions to holding a wolf by the ears... <p></p><i></i>