Rome vs Sparta

Discussion in 'History' started by Brian Turner, May 9, 2005.

  1.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    So, it was suggested that the spartans would have easily defeated the Romans:

    http://www.chronicles-network.net/forum/showthread.php?t=5538&page=3&pp=15

    I contend that the Romans of any period under any decent general would have defeated the Spartans under *any* Spartan general. :)

    Point 1: Spartans were barely able to overcome the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War, and even then the Athenians helped the Spartans immeasurably by killing off their own generals at a whimsy (not least Socrates) and banishing others (such as Thucydides) through an ugly process of mob rule.

    In fact, it wasn't the Spartan's military powress that won the Peloponessian War, but the Athenian's political denigration and subsequent funding of doomed whimiscal expeditions and subsequent poor military planning.

    Point 2: The Romans, with proper discipline under a proper general (ie, Julius Caesar, Scipio, etc) would have defeated most any contemporary army - additionally, whilst the Romans never won every single battle they fought, they will brilliantly resourceful and many times able to come from military defeat in a single battle, to complete military victory of an entire campaign. :)

    Discuss... :D
  2.  
    Alexa

    Alexa traveller space dreamer

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    "Any" spartan general against "any" roman general ? I don't know, Brian. It's notoriuosly recognized spartans life was only discipline, self-denial and simplicity. They were practically all their life soldiers. Spartans make me think at mercenaries (sp ?) nowadays.
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    Leto

    Leto Outside

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    No discussion. In the 2nd century BC, Sparta was absorbed by Rome's legions. ;)
    IMO, more than pure military technics what went in favour of Roma was its administrative and economic skills.
  4.  
    Lacedaemonian

    Lacedaemonian A Plume of Smoke

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    In the 2nd century BC Sparta was nothing. When you consider that Thermopylae was 480 BC, and marked the begining of the end of Sparta. Put 300 Roman soldiers in the pass of Thermopylae back in 480 BC, I would give them hours if not minutes.
  5.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    People always make a point of there being a few hundred Spartans - but don't forget the 10,000-15,000 allies (inc. Thespians) who supported the Spartans.

    In similar instances, 300 Romans under a decent commander would have probably done even better. ;)
  6.  
    Lacedaemonian

    Lacedaemonian A Plume of Smoke

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    Don't be stupid. The Romans would not have lasted a single day. The Spartan unique endurance training allowed them to survive for so long. The Greek allies did little to nothing, they did not hold the other pass and in the end it was only Spartans who fought. You have to ask the question why the allies are never mentioned?
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    Leto

    Leto Outside

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    I have to agree with Lacedemonian than in pure fighting skills, Spartan soldiers were more efficient than Roman ones.
    But war are not won only on fighting skills, organization, spy network and supply circuit are also vitals. In this aspect, Roma as a whole entity was better than Sparta.
    I'm not sure Roman army would have let themselves in such doomed position (although they had they share of defeat along Roman history).
  8.  
    Lacedaemonian

    Lacedaemonian A Plume of Smoke

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    Didn't Boudicca almost wipe out half the Roman army?
  9.  
    Leto

    Leto Outside

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    Nope, because not half the Roman army was up there.
  10.  
    Tsujigiri

    Tsujigiri Waiting at the Crossroads

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    Boudica was defeated because she faced the legion in a pitched battle, which was a stupid tactical mistake. The Romans on the field were undeniably the terror of the classical world.
    If she had used her normal tactics of guerilla warfare then there is a reasonable chance that we would all be speaking Islam....

    What does this have to do with Rome vs Sparta?
  11.  
    Alexa

    Alexa traveller space dreamer

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    Maybe because they were not loved at all by thir neighbours and I think among ordinary spartans, too. How could a mother happily agree to give his boy of 7 to be trained as a soldier for life ? Spartans didn't accept new citizens easily, so they could't keep many trained warriors for decades. The hatrad and rebellion was without limit among those conquered. I didn't like the selection they made with unfitted children at birth either. A life given entirely to the state is not life, it's slavery. But this is my opinion.

    We have to consider Sparta was only a city-state and in direct rivalty with Athens. The spartans had their moment of glory and power as Roman Empire later. I belive each army had their valuable generals and a war between romans and spartans depend a lot on the period of confrontation and the generals in charge.
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    Tsujigiri

    Tsujigiri Waiting at the Crossroads

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    As a point of note, seven was the age at which children achieved legal status, and was also the age where parents were allowed to show public grief for the death of their child.

    Don't make the mistake of applying modern western values and morals to classical historical societies, we may have inherited many things from them, but still many more are alien to us.
  13.  
    Lacedaemonian

    Lacedaemonian A Plume of Smoke

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    The Spartan state was the original fascist state. Pure bloods etc etc
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    littlemissattitude

    littlemissattitude Super Moderator

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    In Sparta the women were pretty much as tough as the men were. They were the ones who told their sons and husbands to either come home carrying their shields or on them. In other words, the women were telling the men to either win or don't bother to come home at all. That's a pretty cold attitude.
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    Alexa

    Alexa traveller space dreamer

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    Tsujigiri as we live into a modern society, I have no choice than consider that as a very barbaric tradition.

    Lacey you really don't want to put greeks against you ? ;) Maybe nazi found their model good to use it in their arien rase.

    Littlemiss, they had no choice. A man could not stable till his thirthies. Or that age was very old in that period. Far away from his family he didn't know how to behave with his wife and his children. A woman with children was condemned to sacrifice the boys to the state and keep only girls in good healty. You know what's interesting ? With all their barbaric traditions, spartans aloud women to get an education. They were not trained exacly like boys, but not far away in fighting.

    My history teacher used to say when we were not good in class, that we shoud have received a spartan education to appreciate our present life better. :D And that marked me for ever.
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    Winters_Sorrow

    Winters_Sorrow Unreg. Mutant Moderator Staff Member

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    Individually the Spartan warrior was far superior to the common Roman soldier (they did train for war from childhood after all!)
    However, the strength of the Roman forces was in discipline & tactics rather than force of arms so the Spartans may have met their match on this one. After all, many of the Gauls were superior fighters to the romans, but they got slaughtered!

    But, comparing the Romans and the Spartans are a bit difficult. The Romans had early siege weapons fer christs sake! The Spartans would have been massacred with ballista bolts etc
    You can't really compare 'different time' armies as the knights of medieval europe would probably have ridden right over a roman/spartan army & genghis khan's horde would have wheeled around them shooting arrows from all directions.

    It's probably fairer to compare similar era armies to each other
    Sparta vs Thebian Sacred Band
    Rome vs Carthage
    etc etc :)
  17.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    The Spartans left a memorial for their king, which simply mentions themselves. Sort of self-serving, and helps create the romantic history that there were just 300 Spartans holding off the entire Persian army.

    Ok, then I contend that the Romans would not only have held the pass, but would have entirely kicked the Persians back into Asia.

    For a start, the Spartans only had so few go because the rest of Sparta was holding one of its world-famous "Let's be late for battle" festivals.

    So the first point of note is that if early Imperial Rome were involved, you immediately have different figures involved - probably at least two full legions with auxillaries, defending the pass.

    If the Romans thought the Persians a serious enough threat, there may have been a good 3-4 legions.

    That means you're immediately talking about around 20,000 disciplined soldiers, who so long as they had proper logistical support and experience, could be expected to defeat the undisciplined conscripted Persian army.

    Additionally, stick a proper general in charge, such as Julius Caesar, and you can bet that the Persians would never had stood a chance.


    EDIT: Winter's Sorrow is quite right, too - but it's a fun discussion. :)
  18.  
    Lacedaemonian

    Lacedaemonian A Plume of Smoke

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    Throughout this discussion you question the Spartan tactics, as if they were poor or didn't have any. The fact is that the Spartans were the model for the Roman army. Obviously warfare and strategy advances with time.

    The Spartans were trained to fight for several days non stop without sleep etc. This is what allowed them to survive for so long in the pass. What part of the Roman training endorsed this? None. Don't talk rubbish about them winning the battle against the Persians. There were about 2 million Persian soldiers fighting against the Greeks at that time. Rome never faced an organised army of any worth, and when they did they struggled and succeded by luck.

    Stick Alexander the Great in charge of 20,000 Spartans and set him onto the Roman Empire. Now we're talking. :)
  19.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    The Romans were always happy to learn from whomever had proved their standing, and there's no doubting that Sparta had an influence - Sparta itself apparently became a place on the Roman Tourist Map once they had the place conquered.

    The point about drawing in a proper fighting force is one that you can't counter, though - it was a poor move on the Spartans to send what was in effect a token force, rather than the few thousand that Sparta could have actually mobilised - that's not a mistake that Romans would make. Rome was fond of facing larger numbers and proved time again they could go against uneven odds, simply on the grounds that the Roman phalanx was a single steel stabbing machine, and most armies they defeated couldn't match that level of discipline - where present.

    As for Alexander leading Spartans - well, Alexander publically hated the Spartans, so I don;t see him ever caring to lead them anywhere. :)
  20.  
    Lacedaemonian

    Lacedaemonian A Plume of Smoke

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    He also publicly hated the Persians but led them and in fact became one.

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