Caesar's planned invasion of the Parthian Empire
Caesar's planned invasion of the Parthian Empire was to begin in 44 BC. The campaign was to start followed by an invasion of Parthia. Plutarch recorded that once Parthia was subdued the army would continue to Scythia Germania and back to Rome; these grander plans are found only in Plutarch's Parallel Lives, their authenticity is questioned by most scholars. There is evidence that Caesar had begun practical preparation for the campaign some time before late 45 BC. By 44 BC Caesar had begun a mass mobilization, sixteen legions and ten thousand cavalry were being gathered for the invasion; these would be supported by light armed infantry. Six of these legions had been sent to Macedonia to train, along with a large sum of gold for the expedition. Octavius was sent ostensibly as a student, to remain in contact with the army; as Caesar planned to be away for some time he reordered the senate and insured that all magistrates and tribunes would be appointed by him during his absence. Caesar intended to leave Rome to start the campaign on 18 March.
The expedition was planned to take three years. It was to begin with a punitive attack on Dacia under King Burebista, threatening Macedonia's northern border, it has been suggested by Christopher Pelling that Dacia was going to be the expedition's main target, not Parthia. After Dacia the army was to invade Parthia from Armenia. Here the ancient sources diverge. Suetonius states that Caesar wished to proceed cautiously and would not engage the Parthian army unless he could first determine their full strength. Although he implies that Caesar's goal was an expansion of the empire, not just its stabilization. Plutarch, describes a bolder campaign; as he writes that once Parthia had been subdued, the army would move through the Caucasus, to attack Scythia and return to Italy after conquering Germania. Plutarch states that the construction of a canal through the isthmus of Corinth, for which Anienus had been placed in charge, was to occur during the campaign. Plutarch's Parallel Lives was written with the intention of finding correlations between the lives of famous Romans and Greeks.
Buszard's reading of Parallel Lives interprets Plutarch as trying to use Caesar's future plans as a case study in the error of unbridled ambition. Some academics have theorized that Caesar's pairing with Alexander and Trajan's invasion of Parthia, near the time of Plutarch's writing, led to exaggerations in the presented invasion plan; the deployment of the army to Macedonia near the Dacian frontier and the lack of military preparation in Syria have been used to lend support for this hypothesis. Malitz, while acknowledging that the Scythia and Germania plans appear unrealistic, believes they were credible given the geographic knowledge of the time; the public pretense for the expedition was that less than ten years prior in 53 BC an invasion of the Parthian Empire had been attempted by the Roman consul Marcus Crassus. It ended in his death at the Battle of Carrhae. To many Romans this required revenge. Parthia had taken Pompey's side in the recent civil war against Caesar; as Rome in 45 BC was still politically divided after the civil war, Marcus Cicero tried to lobby Caesar to postpone the Parthian invasion and solve his domestic problems instead.
Following a similar line of thought in June of that year Caesar temporarily wavered in his intention to leave with the expedition. However, Caesar decided to leave Rome and join the army in Macedonia. A number of motivations have been proposed to explain his decision to continue his military career. After a victorious campaign he would have, as Plutarch wrote, "completed this circuit of his empire, which would be bounded on all sides by the ocean" and return home with his lifelong dictatorship secured, it has been proposed that Caesar knew of the threats against him and felt that leaving Rome and being in the company of a loyal army would be safer and politically. Caesar may have wished to heal the rift from the civil war, or distract from it, by reminding the populace of Rome of the threat of a neighboring empire. In order to support a royal title for Caesar a rumor was spread in the lead up to the planned invasion, it alleged. As Caesar's greatest internal opposition came from those that believed he wanted royal power, this strengthened the conspiracy against him.
It has been proposed that Caesar's opposition would be fearful of him returning victorious from his campaign and more popular than ever. The assassination occurred on 15 March 44 BC on the day the senate was to debate granting Caesar the title of king for the war with Parthia. However, some of the aspects of Caesar's planned kingship may have been invented after the assassination in order to justify the act; the relationship between the planned Parthian war and his death, if any, is unknown. After Caesar's death Mark Antony vied for control of the legions from the planned invasion, still stationed in Macedonia and he temporarily took control of that province in order to do so. From 40 to 33 BC Rome and Antony in particular would wage an unsuccessful war with Parthia, he used Caesar's proposed invasion plan, of attacking through Armenia, where it was felt the support of the local king could be relied on. In Dacia, Burebista was to die the same year as Caesar. History of Rome podcast: by Mike Duncan
The Anastasian War was fought from 502 to 506 between the Byzantine Empire and the Sasanian Empire. It was the first major conflict between the two powers since 440, would be the prelude to a long series of destructive conflicts between the two empires over the next century. Several factors underlay the termination of the longest period of peace the Eastern Roman and the Sassanid Empire enjoyed; the Persian king Kavadh I needed money to pay his debts to the Hephthalites who had helped him regain his throne in 498/499. The situation was exacerbated by recent changes in the flow of the Tigris in Lower Mesopotamia, sparking famines and flood; when the Roman emperor Anastasius I refused to provide any help, Kavadh tried to gain the money by force. In 502, Kavadh captured the unprepared city of Theodosiopolis with local support. Martyropolis fell in the same year. Kavadh besieged the fortress-city of Amida through the autumn and winter and captured it after a lengthy siege, although the defenders were unsupported by troops.
Many people the population of Amida, were deported to Pars and Khuzestan in Persia, in particular, to the new city of Arrajan. The year 503 saw much warfare without decisive results: the Romans attempted an unsuccessful siege of the Persian-held Amida while Kavadh invaded Osroene, laid siege to Edessa with the same results. In 504, the Romans gained the upper hand with the renewed investment of Amida leading to the hand-over of the city; that year, an armistice was agreed as a result of an invasion of Armenia by the Huns from the Caucasus. Negotiations between the two powers took place, but such was the distrust that in 506 the Romans, suspecting treachery, seized the Persian officials. In November 506, a treaty was agreed, but little is known of what the terms of the treaty were. Procopius states that peace was agreed for seven years, it is that some payments were made to the Persians; the Roman generals blamed many of their difficulties in this war on their lack of a major base in the immediate vicinity of the frontier, a role filled for the Persians by Nisibis, in 505 Anastasius therefore ordered the building of a great fortified city at Dara.
The dilapidated fortifications were upgraded at Edessa and Amida. Although no further large-scale conflict took place during Anastasius's reign, tensions continued while work continued at Dara; this construction project was to become a key component of the Roman defenses, a lasting source of controversy with the Persians, who complained that its construction violated the treaty agreed in 422, by which both empires had agreed not to establish new fortifications in the frontier zone. Anastasius, pursued the project, deflecting Kavadh's complaints with money; the Persians were in any case unable to stop the work, the walls were completed by 507/508
Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days corresponding to most of Iraq, parts of Northern Saudi Arabia, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders. The Sumerians and Akkadians dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire, it fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire. Around 150 BC, Mesopotamia was under the control of the Parthian Empire. Mesopotamia became a battleground between the Romans and Parthians, with western parts of Mesopotamia coming under ephemeral Roman control. In AD 226, the eastern regions of Mesopotamia fell to the Sassanid Persians; the division of Mesopotamia between Roman and Sassanid Empires lasted until the 7th century Muslim conquest of Persia of the Sasanian Empire and Muslim conquest of the Levant from Byzantines.
A number of neo-Assyrian and Christian native Mesopotamian states existed between the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, including Adiabene and Hatra. Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC, it has been identified as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, mathematics and agriculture". The regional toponym Mesopotamia comes from the ancient Greek root words μέσος "middle" and ποταμός "river" and translates to " between two/the rivers", it is used throughout the Greek Septuagint to translate the Aramaic equivalent Naharaim. An earlier Greek usage of the name Mesopotamia is evident from The Anabasis of Alexander, written in the late 2nd century AD, but refers to sources from the time of Alexander the Great. In the Anabasis, Mesopotamia was used to designate the land east of the Euphrates in north Syria.
The Aramaic term biritum/birit narim corresponded to a similar geographical concept. The term Mesopotamia was more applied to all the lands between the Euphrates and the Tigris, thereby incorporating not only parts of Syria but almost all of Iraq and southeastern Turkey; the neighbouring steppes to the west of the Euphrates and the western part of the Zagros Mountains are often included under the wider term Mesopotamia. A further distinction is made between Northern or Upper Mesopotamia and Southern or Lower Mesopotamia. Upper Mesopotamia known as the Jazira, is the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris from their sources down to Baghdad. Lower Mesopotamia is the area from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf and includes Kuwait and parts of western Iran. In modern academic usage, the term Mesopotamia also has a chronological connotation, it is used to designate the area until the Muslim conquests, with names like Syria and Iraq being used to describe the region after that date. It has been argued that these euphemisms are Eurocentric terms attributed to the region in the midst of various 19th-century Western encroachments.
Mesopotamia encompasses the land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, both of which have their headwaters in the Taurus Mountains. Both rivers are fed by numerous tributaries, the entire river system drains a vast mountainous region. Overland routes in Mesopotamia follow the Euphrates because the banks of the Tigris are steep and difficult; the climate of the region is semi-arid with a vast desert expanse in the north which gives way to a 15,000-square-kilometre region of marshes, mud flats, reed banks in the south. In the extreme south, the Euphrates and the Tigris empty into the Persian Gulf; the arid environment which ranges from the northern areas of rain-fed agriculture to the south where irrigation of agriculture is essential if a surplus energy returned on energy invested is to be obtained. This irrigation is aided by a high water table and by melting snows from the high peaks of the northern Zagros Mountains and from the Armenian Highlands, the source of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that give the region its name.
The usefulness of irrigation depends upon the ability to mobilize sufficient labor for the construction and maintenance of canals, this, from the earliest period, has assisted the development of urban settlements and centralized systems of political authority. Agriculture throughout the region has been supplemented by nomadic pastoralism, where tent-dwelling nomads herded sheep and goats from the river pastures in the dry summer months, out into seasonal grazing lands on the desert fringe in the wet winter season; the area is lacking in building stone, precious metals and timber, so has relied upon long-distance trade of agricultural products to secure these items from outlying areas. In the marshlands to the south of the area, a complex water-borne fishing culture has existed since prehistoric times, has added to the cultural mix. Periodic breakdowns in the cultural system have occurred for a number of reasons; the demands for labor has from time to time led to population increases that push the limits of the ecological carrying capacity, should a period of climatic instability ensue, collapsing central government a
Siege of Dura-Europos (256)
The Siege of Dura Europos took place when the Sassanians under Shapur I besieged the Roman city of Dura-Europos in 256 after capturing Antioch. Dura-Europos was an important trading center in Roman Syria, it may not be the same as the "Doura" recorded in Shapur I's inscriptions. The town was in Sasanian hands for some time after its fall, was abandoned. Intact archaeological evidences at Dura provide details of the Roman presence there, the dramatic course of the siege; the garrison was determined to resist the siege, the Sasanians employed a variety of siege warfare techniques to defeat them. Archaelogical evidences suggest that the garrison at Dura-Europos was mixed, composed of Cohors XX Palmyrenorum, vexillations from Legio IV Scythica Valeriana Galliena, III Cyrenaica, XVI Flavia Firma, other cohorts, including Cohors II Paphlagonum Galliana Volusiana and Cohors II Equestris; the relationship between these forces are uncertain. XX Palmyrenorum was certainely based in Dura-Europos, may have been an "inferior" contingent of the garrison relative to the legionaries.
The numbers of the legionaries are unknown. The siege was notable for the early use of chemical weapons by the attacking Persian army. During the siege the attackers dug several underground shaft mines under the city walls; the Romans dug tunnels to fight the diggers underground. In one such tunnel, when the Romans broke through into the Sassanian tunnel the tunnelers ignited a mixture of sulfur and pitch, producing a cloud of sulfur dioxide, which killed twenty Roman soldiers. Archaeologists excavated the scene in the 1930s. In 2009 tests showed the presence of sulfur dioxide inside the tunnel
Battle of Edessa
The Battle of Edessa took place between the armies of the Roman Empire under the command of Emperor Valerian and Sassanid forces under Shahanshah Shapur I in 260. The Roman army was captured in its entirety by the Persian forces; as such, the battle is viewed as one of the worst disasters in Roman military history. Prior to the battle, Shapur I had penetrated several times into Roman territory and plundering Antioch in Syria in 253 or 256. After defeating the usurper Aemilianus and assuming the purple for himself, Valerian arrived in the eastern provinces as soon as he could and restored order. Soon he had to confront a naval Gothic invasion in northern Asia Minor; the Goths ravaged moved south into Cappadocia. An attempt from Valerian and his army in Antiocheia to intercept them failed because of the plague. While his army was in that weakened state, Shapur invaded northern Mesopotamia in 260 in early spring. In his sixties, the aged Valerian marched eastward to the Sassanid borders. According to Shapur I's inscription at the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht, Valerian met the main Persian army, under the command of Shapur I, between Carrhae and Edessa, with units from every part of the Roman Empire, together with Germanic allies, was defeated and captured with his entire army.
According to Roman sources, which are not clear, the Roman army was defeated and besieged by the Persian forces. Valerian subsequently tried to negotiate; the prisoners included, according to Shapur's claims, many other high-ranking officials, including a praetorian prefect Successianus. It has been claimed that Shapur went back on his word by having the emperor seized after agreeing to truce negotiations. There are varying accounts as to Valerian's fate following his capture at the hands of Shapur; some scholars claim Shapur sent Valerian and some of his army to the city of Bishapur, where they lived in good conditions. Shapur used the remaining soldiers in engineering and development plans, as the Romans were skilled tradesmen and artisans. Band-e Kaisar is one of the remnants of Roman engineering located near the ancient city of Susa. According to another source, Shapur humiliated Valerian, using the former emperor as a human stepping-stool while mounting his horse, he was kept in cage and was humiliated for the Persian Emperor's pleasure, according to Aurelius Victor.
Upon his death, Valerian's body was skinned and stuffed with, depending on which account, manure or straw, to produce a trophy of Roman submission preserved in a Persian temple. However, there are accounts that stipulate he was treated with respect, that allegations of torture may have been fabricated by Christian historians of the Late Antiquity to show the perils that befell persecutors of Christianity. Following Valerian's capture, Shapur took the city of Caesarea and deported some 400,000 of its citizens to the southern provinces of the Sassanian Empire, he raided Cilicia, but he was repulsed by a Roman force, rallied by Macrianus and Odenathus of Palmyra. Macrianus proclaimed his sons Quietus as Emperors while in the Balkans. Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum, v. Zosimus, New History, i. Abdolhossein Zarinkoob, Ruzgaran: tarikh-i Iran az aghz ta saqut saltnat Pahlvi, Sukhan, 1999. ISBN 964-6961-11-8 Potter, David S; the Roman Empire at Bay AD 180–395, Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0-415-10058-5 "Valerian" on De Imperatoribus Romanis
The Roman–Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between states of the Greco-Roman world and two successive Iranian empires: the Parthian and the Sasanian. Battles between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic began in 66 BC. Various vassal kingdoms and allied nomadic nations in the form of buffer states and proxies played a role; the wars were ended by the Arab Muslim Conquests, which led to the fall of the Sasanian Empire and huge territorial losses for the Byzantine Empire, shortly after the end of the last war between them. Although warfare between the Romans and Persians continued over seven centuries, the frontier, aside from shifts in the north, remained stable. A game of tug of war ensued: towns and provinces were continually sacked, captured and traded. Neither side had the logistical strength or manpower to maintain such lengthy campaigns far from their borders, thus neither could advance too far without risking stretching its frontiers too thin. Both sides did make conquests beyond the border, but in time the balance was always restored.
Although different in military tactics, the armies of both sides adopted from each other and by the second half of the 6th century they were similar and evenly matched. The expense of resources during the Roman–Persian Wars proved catastrophic for both empires; the prolonged and escalating warfare of the 6th and 7th centuries left them exhausted and vulnerable in the face of the sudden emergence and expansion of the Caliphate, whose forces invaded both empires only a few years after the end of the last Roman–Persian war. Benefiting from their weakened condition, the Arab Muslim armies swiftly conquered the entire Sasanian Empire, deprived the Eastern Roman Empire of its territories in the Levant, the Caucasus and the rest of North Africa. Over the following centuries, more of the Eastern Roman Empire came under Muslim rule. According to James Howard-Johnston, "from the third century BC to the early seventh century AD, the rival players were grand polities with imperial pretensions, able to establish and secure stable territories transcending regional divides".
The Romans and Parthians came into contact through their respective conquests of parts of the Seleucid Empire. During the 3rd century BC, the Parthians migrated from the Central Asian steppe into northern Iran. Although subdued for a time by the Seleucids, in the 2nd century BC they broke away, established an independent state that expanded at the expense of their former rulers, through the course of the 3rd and early 1st century BC, they had conquered Persia and Armenia. Ruled by the Arsacid dynasty, the Parthians fended off several Seleucid attempts to regain their lost territories, established several eponymous branches in the Caucasus, namely the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia, the Arsacid dynasty of Iberia, the Arsacid dynasty of Caucasian Albania. Meanwhile, the Romans expelled the Seleucids from their territories in Anatolia in the early 2nd century BC, after defeating Antiochus III the Great at Thermopylae and Magnesia. In 64 BC Pompey conquered the remaining Seleucid territories in Syria, extinguishing their state and advancing the Roman eastern frontier to the Euphrates, where it met the territory of the Parthians.
Parthian enterprise in the West began in the time of Mithridates I and was revived by Mithridates II, who negotiated unsuccessfully with Lucius Cornelius Sulla for a Roman–Parthian alliance. When Lucullus invaded Southern Armenia and led an attack against Tigranes in 69 BC, he corresponded with Phraates III to dissuade him from intervening. Although the Parthians remained neutral, Lucullus considered attacking them. In 66–65 BC, Pompey reached agreement with Phraates, Roman–Parthian troops invaded Armenia, but a dispute soon arose over the Euphrates boundary. Phraates asserted his control over Mesopotamia, except for the western district of Osroene, which became a Roman dependency; the Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus led an invasion of Mesopotamia in 53 BC with catastrophic results. The Parthians raided Syria the following year, mounted a major invasion in 51 BC, but their army was caught in an ambush near Antigonea by the Romans, they were driven back; the Parthians remained neutral during Caesar's Civil War, fought between forces supporting Julius Caesar and forces supporting Pompey and the traditional faction of the Roman Senate.
However, they maintained relations with Pompey, after his defeat and death, a force under Pacorus I assisted the Pompeian general Q. Caecilius Bassus, besieged at Apamea Valley by Caesarian forces. With the civil war over, Julius Caesar prepared a campaign against Parthia, but his assassination averted the war; the Parthians supported Brutus and Cassius during the ensuing Liberators' civil war and sent a contingent to fight on their side at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC. After the Liberators' defeat, the Parthians invaded Roman territory in 40 BC in conjunction with the Roman Quintus Labienus, a former supporter of Brutus and Cassius, they swiftly overran the Roman province of Syria and advanced into Judea, overthrowing the Roman client Hyrcanus II and installing his nephew Antigonus. For a moment, the whole of the Roman East seemed lost to the Parthians or about to fall into their hands. However, the conclusion of the second Roman civil war soon revived Roman strength in Asia. Mark Antony had sent Ventidius to oppose Labienus, who had invaded
Roman–Sasanian War of 421–422
The Roman–Sassanid war of 421–422 was a conflict between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sassanids. The casus belli was the persecution of Christians by the Sassanid king Bahram V, which had come as a response to attacks by Christians against Zoroastrian temples. In 421, Bahram V succeeded his father Yazdegerd I, who shortly before he had been killed, began a persecution of Christians as reprisal for attacks against Zoroastrian temples by Christians during his reign. Among them was James Intercisus, a political counsellor of Yazdegerd's, who had converted to Zoroastrianism but converted back to Christianity; the persecuted Christians fled to Roman territory and were welcomed by the bishop of Constantinople, who informed the Emperor of the persecution. The Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II was at the time influenced by his religious sister Pulcheria, had become more and more interested in Christianity; the Roman-Sassanid relationship had some friction. The Persians now refused to send them back.
For these reasons, when the Persian ambassadors reached the Roman court to demand the return of the fugitives, Theodosius choose to break the peace and declare war, rather than giving them back. The commander-in-chief of the Roman army was Ardaburius, incidentally, came from the Iranian tribe of the Alans. Ardaburius needed to collect many troops for his campaign. Theodosius, allowed some Pannonian Ostrogoths to settle in Thracia, to defend the province from the Huns while the Thracian Roman troops were sent to the East. Ardaburius sent Anatolius to Persarmenia, where he joined the rebels, while Ardaburius entered Persian territory and devastated Arzanene; the general of the Sassanid army, engaged Ardaburius in battle, but was defeated and forced to retreat. Narses planned to attack Mesopotamia, a Roman province, left unguarded, moved there, but Ardaburius foresaw his enemy's plan and intercepted him there. Ardaburius put the fortress of Nisibis under siege. Bahram allied with the Lakhmid Arabs of Alamundarus, however, were dispersed by the Romans.
In the meantime, the King of the Huns, had attacked the dioceses of Dacia and Thracia and had menaced Constantinople. To avoid a war on two fronts, Theodosius recalled Ardaburius. According to a Roman ecclesiastical source, the Sassanids besieged Theodosiopolis for 30 days, with thousands of soldiers and siege engines. According to this source, the Romans did not try to aid the besieged, but the Sassanids were convinced to lift the siege when the bishop of the city, had a stone-thrower, named after Thomas the Apostle, kill a lesser king of the Sassanid army. Despite the evident religious theme of this account, the passage is important as it testifies to an unsuccessful Sassanid attack on Theodosiopolis; this could be the Theodosiopolis in Armenia, in this case the siege should be dated to 421, while Narses was in Mesopotamia, or Theodosiopolis in Osroene, in this case the attack should be dated after the Roman retreat from Nisibis. The peace treaty that ended the war was negotiated by the magister officiorum Helio.
It returned everything to the situation before the war. Both parties agreed to reject Arab defectors of the other party, as well as to guarantee liberty of religion in their territories, it is related that Acacius, bishop of Amida, had the consecrated gold and silver plate of his church melted down, to procure a sum sufficient to buy 7,000 Persian captives who had wound up in the slave market in consequence of the war, whom he sent back in freedom to their homeland, as a gesture of Christian generosity to the Persian persecutors. If the story is true, Gibbon remarks, this will have facilitated the conclusion of peace. Stephen Williams, Gerard Friell, The Rome that did not fall: the survival of the East in the fifth century, Routledge, 1999, ISBN 0-415-15403-0, p. 31. Warren T. Treadgold, A history of the Byzantine state and society, Stanford University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-8047-2630-2, p. 90. Michael Gaddis, There is no crime for those who have Christ: religious violence in the Christian Roman empire, University of California Press, 2005, ISBN 0-520-24104-5, pgs.
196-197The most complete account of the war is preserved in Socrates Scholasticus, Historia Ecclesiastica VII.18, but some passages are included by Theodoret in his Historia Ecclesiastica. English translations of these sections are present in: Michael H. Dodgeon, Samuel N. C. Lieu, Geoffrey Greatrex, The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars, Part 2, CRC Press, 2002, ISBN 0-203-99454-X, p. 38-41