Talk:Cimbrian War

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Factual Problems?[edit]

There are a couple of things in this article I have problems with.

  1. The Marian reforms of the legions were instituted in 107BC, two years before the Cimbrian War, and were not instituted as a "drastic measure" to deal with the Cimbrian War as the article states. The "head count" armies of Gaius Marius had already been reformed, constructed, trained, and had gone on to fight and win an entire 2-year war (the Jugurthine War) in 107-106BC. The Cimbrian War may have been the vindication for the legion's reforms, as it contrasted the successes of the "new" legions against the failures of the "old" legions, but the reforms were not caused by the Cimbrian War.
  2. Marius was not elected for a 4-year term. He was elected for 4, one year terms. In fact, he was not consul the year of the Battle of Vercellae. I seem to have conflicting sources on this - will have to dig into it to see.
  3. The Romans did not "suspend the constitution". For one thing, they didn't have a codified constitution to suspend. The closest they had was a codified base of law (see Twelve Tables). They did bend political and social tradition by re-electing a consul over and over, and it is possible that they turned a blind eye to the law requiring a "waiting period" between consulships (I don't know if this law pre-dated Marius' consulships or not - it may have come afterward).
  4. Imperator, in the Repbulican sense not the Imperial sense, was not a "supreme commander over all the armies", as it is implied here. It was an honor awarded by the troops of the legions to their commanding officer after a campaign.

Vedexent 14:38, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Wholescale reversion?[edit]

If you object to some of the edits, state your objections, and the reasons behind them; I did with mine. Large scale, unjustified reversions smack of "protectionism". - Vedexent 19:35, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

  1. I've never seen any source stating that the Marian reforms began in 107 BC. What are your sources? Have you been reading Southern & Dixon or some other neo revisionistas? But even conceeding they began as early as 107, that still places them squarely within the timelime of this war. Yes, there were other causes too, but the Cimbrian war was the PRIMARY catalyst and not simply the vindication.
  2. Yes there are often conflicting sources. But Marius was still elected to the consulship for an unprecidented 4 years in a row. This I don't mind you changing.
  3. The Roman "Constitution" consisted of their unwritten traditions and customary practices, so it was not a consitution in the modern sense. You may change that word if you want, since it could be confusing to readers, at least until there is a decent article on it. Pehaps you will start one? But whatever we chose to call it, the effect, again was the same. Inter arma enim silent leges.
  4. Marius' victories in Numidia, as much as the Proto-germanic threat, led to him being proclaimed Imperator. He turned the prestige of this, till then honorary title, into one of real power to help solidify his authority and further his reforms.
  5. There is nothing wrong with protecting a decent article from being pecked to death by petty criticisms. You deleted entire paragraphs for no good reason and changed the headers, making the article more dry and bland and sapping it of historical context. This is what I take issue with. Doubtless, I'm biased, but I think my version is a better read than yours. If you disagree, then perhaps we should see what some of the other members of the Military History project think.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) 20:14, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
  1. While not providing a date see Plutarch quoted below. Additionally, Marius' first consulship was in 107BC.
  2. I can agree with that
  3. I can agree with that
  4. Citation please?
  5. You didn't even discuss or comment. You didn't explain your point of view, say what it was you objected to, or say one damn thing. You just reverted. If you don't like my writing, I'd suggest you look at the edit log for Operation Opera. I think you just stated in the Military History project discussion forum that you'd support that article for FAC.
Literary interest and "spice" to keep the reader interested is good. Senstationalism in writing - at the expense of historical accuracy has no place in Wikipedia. Maybe it works nicely in historical fiction. Wikipedia is about facts not bestsellers. - Vedexent 20:23, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

BTW, "stripping of historical context"? The biggest change to the opening paragraph was adding the political context. - Vedexent 20:28, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

I gave my sources. I refer you to the references section. They are specific. When I asked for your's, you point to a single passage from Plutarch (Who is often accused of writing "best sellers" at the expense of the facts, and himself admitted that he was more of a "portrait artist" than a "Just the facts" biograpgher:). With no mention of where exactly it comes from. Hardly a decent justification for overturning an entire article. Just because I like your work on Op Opera, doesnt mean I give you carte blanche to treat this article like a Sabine Woman:>--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) 20:51, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Ok - so you have your soruces. Fine. It should be no problem to point to the relevant passage in your sources. I'm not in a "I'm right and you're wrong" mode. I'm in a "Ok, I thought this, for what I thought were good reasons. You disagree. Can I see your reasons, so I can see if what I think is wrong, or at least is only one of serveral interpretations" mode. And it would probably have been a much less "confrontational" discussion if I'd known your objections up front rather than just watching an hours work go "poof" without explanation - Vedexent 20:56, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

WRT Plutarch - most of the Republican primary sources are suspect, being written quite a bit "after the fact" in many cases, I admit. However, most of the secondary scholarship since then is based on those - or at least is the basis to compare archeological findings against. Roman history is tricky at best, especially when trying to do such "fine grained" claims - Vedexent 21:02, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Ok - I found

and that in the case of the infantry of the line, while the former arrangement of obligation to service was not abolished, every free-born burgess should at the same time be permitted voluntarily to enter the army as was first done by Marius in 647. - The History of Rome, Book IV, by Theodor Mommsen.

Gives a first date for the implementation of the Marian reforms - but if you accept the Varro chronology that puts it at 106 BC converting between Roman and curent dating. That puts it in the middle of both conflicts. It just predates Marius' command of the Numidian war, and comes just before the Battle of Arausio. Do you have any references that might say whether the legions at Arausio were "old" or "new" style legions? - Vedexent 21:27, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Justification of initial section paragraph changes.[edit]

The Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history calls for the opening section of the article to detail

1. The name of the war (including alternate names).

2. When did it happen?

3. Who fought in it?

4. Why did it happen?

5. What was the outcome?

6. What was its significance, if any?

the original opening pargraph was

The Cimbrian War (113-101 BC) was fought between the Roman Republic and the migrating Proto-Germanic tribes the Cimbri and the Teutons (Teutones). It marked the first confrontation between Rome and the Germanic tribes, against whom the Romans suffered their most costly defeats since the Second Punic War a century earlier. For the first time since the days of Hannibal, Italia and Rome itself were seriously threatened, a threat which led to fundamental reforms of the Roman Army and state, and which would have a significant impact on the course of history.

4. Why did it happen? - Well there is mention of the tribes are migrating, but it doesnt' really say much beyond that. The war wasn't started by the fact that the tribes were migrating - it was started by a clash between the migrating tribes and the Taurisci.

5. What was the outcome? - well, the original paragraph didn't even mention who won, much less the fact that Cimbri and the Teutons were almost completely exterminated. I think those are significant "outcomes" to be mentioning in the initial summary.

6. What was the significance? - well, you do mention it was the first time that Rome had been directly threatened. This only details the military significance. The political and historical significance for the Roman Republic was pretty significant. It can be argued that the whole chain of Marius -> Sulla -> Cinna -> Triumverate -> Caesar can't occur without Marius being such a giant, and without a war to fight Marius would NOT have been as prominent. See how his career imploded after the Cimbrian War.

Additionally - the Marian reforms of the legions predate this war:

which led to fundamental reforms of the Roman Army and state, and which would have a significant impact on the course of history.

is wrong. While the reforms of the legion into a politiiczed military did indeed have a huge impact on the poltical events of Roman history - the "fundamental reforms" were part of Marius's war in Africa taking place over the two years predating the Cimbrian war.

...sued for the consulship, inveighing in all ways against Metellus, and promising either to slay Jugurtha or take him alive.
He was elected triumphantly, and at once proceeded to levy soldiers, contrary both to law and custom, enlisting slaves and poor people; whereas former commanders never accepted of such, but bestowed arms, like other favors, as a matter of distinction, on persons who had the proper qualification, a man's property being thus a sort of security for his good behavior. - Plutarch, The Life of Gaius Marius.

Vedexent 19:57, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Those are guidelines not rules to be rigidly followed. Also-107 BC is DURING the period from 113-101 BC...smack dab in the midst of it, in fact. Do the math...even by Roman reckoning it still works out the same.--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) 20:23, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

So? The best that can be said is that there is equal possibility that the Numidian and Cimbrian conflicts are contributing factors. Can you provide a reference to back the idea that the Cimbrian conflict is/was the primary motivation for the reforms? Vedexent 20:31, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

"The Cimbrian War was the first time since the Second Punic War that Italia and Rome itself had been seriously threatened." "fear shook the Roman Republic to its foundations. The terror cimbricus became a watchword, as Rome expected the Cimbri at its gates at any time. In this atmosphere of panic and desperation, an emergency was declared." One would think those facts would have a greater effect on the pace of military reforms than doings in the desert of distant Numidia. In fact, I'd daresay, that without the Cimbrianic threat, Marius' reforms would have been merely an experimental footnote in Roman military history.>--R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) 20:40, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

The quotes are nice (although quoting yourself to support your own arguments really isn't done). So is the speculation. I asked about a citation. If we're to employ speculation, I can speculate that it's odd that the "Cimbrian inspired reforms" then were first pressed into use in Numidia. However, that's speculation on my part, and therefore not worth any more than yours. Time for citations Vedexent 20:46, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

BTW, I actually agree - the Cimbrian war was essential in cementing the military reforms - just as they were essential in solidfying Marius' career. I'm not even adverse to giving up the idea that the Numidian war was the primary cause of the reforms - although I'd like to see some sort of historical evidence as well. But I don't think that there is historical evidence/quotable scholarship there to back up the opposite point - which is why I advanced the idea that they are both contributing factors - Vedexent 20:52, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Misunderstanding of Gallic history[edit]

This article treats the conflict with the Cimbri as a confrontation with the Roman Republic, with the Gauls at best hapless bystanders, even though the conflict took place largely in Cisalpina and Transalpina. This assumes that the Celtic and Belgic polities of Free Gaul, and those of the Narbonensis who were at this time (according to current scholarly thinking) only loosely and haphazardly under Roman administration, were somehow cool with the Cimbri and allied tribes coming into their territory. Does this make any sense? In the Narbonensis, the Romans have been established there since the 120s, but they've improved your major highway and mostly left you alone; few or no governors are attested until Rome reacts to the Cimbrian invasion. You can't possibly be happy about this new wave of invaders, who are not only wreaking havoc and consuming your resources, but directing Roman attention and armies to your territory. Sertorius evidently made Celtic friends during this time who taught him Gaulish for his "undercover" missions. (I know this sounds like fantasy, but that's what Plutarch says.)

Rome's relations with the many polities of Gaul at this time varied. The Aedui, for instance, were allied with Rome by choice in a relationship they uniquely characterized as fratres (brothers); King Catamantaloedes of the Sequani at this time or soon after was formally a Friend of the Roman People, and the Sequani captured some of the leaders of the invading force in the Alps and handed them over to Marius. The Helvetii, however, were actively allied with the Cimbri; fateful later. The Belgic Gauls seem to have been successful in driving off the Cimbri, except for the mysterious 6,000 who became the Aduatuci described by Caesar in Bellum Gallicum 2. My point is mainly that the article doesn't do much to explain all those swirly red line in the middle of France. Cynwolfe (talk) 16:48, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

Boii Correction[edit]

I'm not so sure the Boii were defeated by the Cimbri. Strabo mentions that the Boii actually repelled a Cimbri invasion. Some Boii probably had wanderlust and joined the Cimbri as they pushed on elsewhere. Apparently the Boii, Arverni, and Iberians all repelled them, until they were forced to head back towards the Rhine and settle amongst the Belgae and elsewhere. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:16, 21 March 2014 (UTC)

Dubious numbers[edit]

Romans Germanic peoples
Strength 40,000 - 150 000 300,000 - 500,000
Casualties 110,000 - 150,000 300,000 - 500,000

How does this make sense? I understand that the Germanic tribes were likely wiped out and/or died out as a result of the overwhelming losses, but the Roman numbers are the part that makes me skeptical. Say there were 40,000 Roman troops; where did those other 100,000 casualties come from? If they're not troops then they should probably be specified as civilian casualties. Bataaf van Oranje (talk) 19:46, 2 August 2015 (UTC)