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Thread: Apres Cannae

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    It would be a very hard task to conduct a siege of a major, well fortified and defended city like Rome when you don't have secure supply lines back to your home territory and all the surrounding population centres are hostile to your cause. Throughout the 2nd Punic War Romes Latin allies remained firmly committed to the Republic. This was one of the main reasons for the ultimate failure of Hannibal's Italian Campaign. Yes, he garnered support from the Celtic tribes of Northern Italy who had long been hostile to Rome but as far as I can recall he got little or no support from the Central and Southern Italian city 'states' which were extant at that time, all of whom were allies or clients of the Romans.

    So by the time he was operating in the vicinity of Rome he had two choices - keep moving in order to obtain supplies or encamp in a relatively secure location and then commit a large part of his available military force to well defended foraging expeditions. Neither approach lends itself well to siege operations as they were conducted in ancient times.
    Absolutely agree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Amled, sure you know that number is not just for the city, but for the territory of the entire old Roman Kingdom. During the Punic wars, I doubt Rome (the city) even had 250K souls in it, let alone 250K men.
    To be honest I not sure any more, maybe you have a better source for your figures, but the ones Iíve tried are filled with conjecture. Both in regards to population size, and to whether they are just men of weapon carrying age, or the population as a whole.
    An acquaintance, a retired archeologist replied to my inquiry that being outside of his area of expertise, any population figure would be as contentious as the ones already fielded, but he did focus in on the amount of water the aqueducts delivered. That 250,0000m3 per day was more then The City itself needed, that a surplus was lead of to the surrounding countryside, maybe even used for irrigation.
    This being before large scale grain imports, Rome was still dependent on agricultural imports from its surrounding farms to feed itself. Probably why less then 50 years after Hannibal they were obliged to construct another aqueduct to double their intake yet again.
    I fully agree with the consensus here on the thread, that after Cannae the rest of the campaign in central an southern Italy was simply a large scale smash and grab raid. to sap Romeís strength and will to fight. This being so, my contention was simply why not take out the aqueducts? The chaos in the city and disruption to the agriculture, would surly be; seen from Hannibalís side, a good ting.
    This being said, another question arises. During Hannibal campaign I Central Italy, he must surely have seen the aqueduct towers, especially when he turned north towards Rome. Then being the canny warlord he undoubtedly was, why didnít he take them out?
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    Why didn't he take the aqueducts out?

    I doubt anyone can say for sure but part of the answer may lie in the ancient conception of war and the purposes for it and acceptable means for the conduct of it which is vastly different from ours today. To them war was about armies fighting each other in the field and who controlled the field at the end of the day - a proof of superior virtue as they saw it which justified their cause - not about destroying infrastructure. It's quite likely that destroying important infrastructure would be seen as barbarian and ignoble and therefore prove counter productive. It's one thing to kill the enemy that challenge you in the field but quite another to destroy a water supply. Pyrrhus was regarded as second only to Alexander (his cousin) not because he won wars but because he won all the battles he fought in the field.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snapper View Post
    I doubt anyone can say for sure but part of the answer may lie in the ancient conception of war and the purposes for it and acceptable means for the conduct of it which is vastly different from ours today. To them war was about armies fighting each other in the field and who controlled the field at the end of the day - a proof of superior virtue as they saw it which justified their cause - not about destroying infrastructure. It's quite likely that destroying important infrastructure would be seen as barbarian and ignoble and therefore prove counter productive...
    I did think like you that maybe some unwritten code of conduct guided him.
    But then I remembered Alexander himself ordered that plague filled bodies be catapulted into besieged cities.
    Also a little digging revealed that even the Romans used to poison wells to weaken their enemies.
    Thereís a moral there or something.
    They are both remembered as archetypes. Maybe thatís because they didnít acknowledge the rules.


    http://www.penn.museum/documents/pub...-1/fleming.pdf
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Amled, sure you know that number is not just for the city, but for the territory of the entire old Roman Kingdom. During the Punic wars, I doubt Rome (the city) even had 250K souls in it, let alone 250K men.
    250BC for 250k souls is doable, 500k is not. Near the begining of the new age, Rome had cca 900k popultion. You should take into consideration that in this century the population skyrocketed due to various political games.

    Also, Rome might be good on water, but how much food they had stored?
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    While I recognise Alexanders use of dead bodies this was not destruction of infrastructure (as we'd call it today) in itself nor is the poisoning of wells. Ravaging crops etc was seen to be fair game if nobody would come out to fight - the purpose of ravaging crops was to persuade the owners to come and fight but not to keep the land. In the Peloponnesian War the Spartans destroyed the Athenian crops year after year without forcing them to fight as they could rely on naval supply of food. Did they stop the natural water supply? No because the purpose was to bring them battle in a staged confrontation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    250BC for 250k souls is doable, 500k is not. Near the begining of the new age, Rome had cca 900k popultion. You should take into consideration that in this century the population skyrocketed due to various political games.

    Also, Rome might be good on water, but how much food they had stored?
    IIRC, during this period it was only men of property who were legionaires, mostly small farmers

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    IIRC, during this period it was only men of property who were legionaires, mostly small farmers
    I was wondering since at some time the provinces were sending food to sustain the capital.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

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    Since Hannibal never put Rome under close siege the city was free to import additional food stuffs as required from wherever they could source it, be it by ship up the coast to Ostia or overland via whatever routes weren't cut off by Hannibal's army. No doubt they paid a 'risk premium' for the privilege at the time (merchants being merchants) but the inconvenience was temporary.
    Last edited by Monash; 11 Jul 14, at 14:23.

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    Regarding the water supply, the two aquaeducts supplying Rome at the time were Appia and Anio Vetus. The Appia, the first aquaeduct of Rome, ran almost entirely underground, the Anio Vetus only received above-ground structures in later rebuilding - under Augustus and Hadrian, primarily. The Appia in particular was intentionally built underground for security reasons, since Rome in its early years had some problems with the Samnites living in the area.

    People, from popular culture, get the wrong idea when thinking of Roman aquaeducts. The large bridge structures one might think of are the exception. Underground tunnels were the rule.

  11. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    ...People, from popular culture, get the wrong idea when thinking of Roman aquaeducts. The large bridge structures one might think of are the exception. Underground tunnels were the rule.
    Surface or sub-surface my first suggested target was the source of the Anio Vetus which supplied the majority of imported water, which lay about 65km. S of Rome.
    But Iíve been made aware of various reasons such a campaign would not have been contemplated, among others;
    - that it would not have been an accepted mode of war making,
    - that it would not have mattered, since alternative ways of making up for a shortfall of 17,000mm3 water would have been available, local wells, stored water etc.
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    The Anio Vetus only supplied "muddy water" to Rome too according to contemporary sources.

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