December 22, 2020 at 2:19 am #40607
Sextus Decius MusDenarii: 𐆖 275.55PlebeiusAlta Planitia
I spent some time researching this question.
First they both were similar in this respect. The competition among the elites of Rome in both the political and military spheres is well known. It was also used by one of Rome’s most fiercesome opponents as well. In Carthage, command was sometimes shared between two or even three generals and sometimes commanders were expected to seek approval from the council of 104 and the two suffetes (roughly equivalent to Rome’s consuls) for important decisions such as declaring a truce, to sue for peace, or withdraw from a conflict altogether.
However in Carthage, punishment of command officers was draconian (in every sense of that word!). It ranged from large fines to crucifixion of the offending general. Even the families of those committing suicide were not spared humiliation. Ancient sources record that the council crucified the corpse of one commander named Mago (out of the many men named Mago in the history of Carthage) in 344 BCE. Scholars think these severe punishments rather than simply a loss of command may have made some Carthaginian generals over-cautious, although that could hardly apply to some of the spectacular risks taken by Hannibal Barca during the Second Punic War. Although is this why he didn’t sack Rome when he had the chance post Cannae?
Although Carthage was known for employing mercenaries rather than raising citizen levies like the Romans, Carthage actually did have an elite group of 2,500-3000 infantry soldiers drawn from their own citizenry known as the Sacred Band. Known by their iconic white shields, the Sacred Band, named after the famous unit from Greek Thebes, was barracked within Carthage itself and not relied upon for foreign campaigns.
In his excellent article on the Carthaginian Army in the Ancient History Encyclopedia, Mark Cartwright points out that Carthaginian officers dressed up for battle with plenty of gold jewelry and animal skins.
“Shields were decorated with motifs related to Punic religion, classic motifs such as Medusa, the Evil eye, or even personalised – Hasdrubal Barca had his own portrait on his silver shield.” Cartwright observes, “Carthaginian officers would have further stood out in the heat of battle due to their impressive helmet plumes and glinting precious-metal armour. Generals often had expensive scale armour, such as that worn by Hannibal made from gilded bronze scales and inherited from his father.”
What are the other key differences between Rome and Carthage in this respect? Ideas?December 22, 2020 at 1:22 pm #40612
Titus Flavius SeverusDenarii: 𐆖 1,399.30PatriciusSarmatia
Interesting topic, thanks!
We can talk a lot about the differences between armies, there will be many of them, and each such difference can be talked about for a long time. For example, one can discuss the differences in controllability and combat coordination of both armies, given the relative monoculturalism of the Roman army (even taking into account the allied contingents) and the multiculturalism of the Carthaginian army. However, it is advisable to focus on the basic, fundamental differences between the two armies.
In my opinion, the key difference is the issue of armies’ manning. It was the order of manning the armies that was one of the reasons for the final victory of Rome over Carthage. Even if we take into account the military reforms in Rome, the so-called reforms of Mary, we will see that even so, one of the key points is precisely the issue of manning the army.
As far as we know, Carthage did not practice conscription, the duty of citizens to serve in the army, at least until the final stages of the Punic Wars. The army of Carthage was mercenary, while the army of Rome was a militia. Mercenaries in their mass are more prepared than the militias – farmers cut off from their farms. This can be called one of the reasons for the defeats that Rome suffered. However, the Punic Wars is a long-term process, it is a confrontation of attrition, while the economy is subject to attrition. The number of mercenaries may decrease due to the losses natural for the war, but the undermined economy, all the more, cannot provide an influx and maintenance of mercenaries. At the same time, the militia is using completely different manning methods. We know about the stunning military defeats of Rome, however, even after them, Rome again put armies on the battlefield, again engaging in battle. In Rome, there was a social stratification covered by a property qualification, in accordance with this stratification, not all strata of the population were allowed to military service, which can be considered a privilege. Nevertheless, if we consider this issue in time, we see that the minimum property qualification associated with the possibility of serving in the army decreases, which, in a sense, can be called a consequence of the army’s need for soldiers. This is a kind of legislative expansion of the resource (recruitment) base.
The manning system of Rome was more suitable for a protracted confrontation with Carthage. In the course of this confrontation, the Roman “peasants” received combat experience turning into trained soldiers, and the militia turned into an army.
As I said, there are other differences, but the issue of manning armies is one of the fundamental differences.
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