Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία
Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Τρίτη, 29 Ιανουαρίου 2019

Battle of Thermopylae and Gothic Wars (251-271 AD) : The unknown battle of Greeks in Roman Empire

The Goths were an East Germanic people, two of whose branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Western Roman Empire through the long series of Gothic Wars and in the emergence of Medieval Europe. The Goths dominated a vast area possibly extended all the way from the Danube to the Don, and from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. The Goths spoke the Gothic language, one of the extinct East Germanic languages. Around 160 AD, in Central Europe, the first movements of the Migration Period were occurring, as Germanic tribes began moving south-east from their ancestral lands at the mouth of River Vistula, putting pressure on the Germanic tribes from the north and east. As a result, in episodes of Gothic and Vandal warfare Germanic tribes crossed either the lower Danube or the Black Sea, and led to the Marcomannic Wars, which resulted in widespread destruction and the first invasion of what is now Italy in the Roman Empire period. It has been suggested that the Goths maintained contact with southern Sweden during their migration. The first incursion of the Roman Empire that can be attributed to Goths is the sack of Histria in 238. Several such raids followed in subsequent decades, in particular the Battle of Abrittus in 251, led by Cniva, in which the Roman Emperor Decius was killed. At the time, there were at least two groups of Goths: the Thervingi and the Greuthungs. Goths were subsequently heavily recruited into the Roman Army to fight in the Roman-Persian Wars, notably participating at the Battle of Misiche in 242. The Moesogoths settled in Thrace and Moesia. The first seaborne raids took place in three subsequent years, probably 255-257. An unsuccessful attack on Pityus was followed in the second year by another, which sacked Pityus and Trabzon and ravaged large areas in the Pontus. In the third year, a much larger force devastated large areas of Bithynia and the Propontis, including the cities of Chalcedon, Nicomedia, Nicaea, Apamea Myrlea, Cius and Bursa. By the end of the raids, the Goths had seized control over Crimea and the Bosporus and captured several cities on the Euxine coast, including Olbia and Tyras, which enabled them to engage in widespread naval activities. Around 275 the Goths launched a last major assault on Asia Minor, where piracy by Black Sea Goths was causing great trouble in Colchis, Pontus, Cappadocia, Galatia and even Cilicia. They were defeated sometime in 276 by Emperor Marcus Claudius Tacitus. The Gothic War was probably instigated after emperor Decius' predecessor Philip the Arab had refused to continue payments of annual subsidies to the aggressive tribes of the region initiated by Emperor Maximinus Thrax in 238.. The Goths were led by King Cniva who had crossed the Danube in 249 or 250 with two armies. Cniva's main column of 70,000 unsuccessfully attacked Novae and were then defeated by Decius at Nicopolis ad Istrum before moving on to Augusta Traiana pursued by Decius where at the Battle of Beroe they defeated him and looted the city. Decius was forced to withdraw his army north to Oescus leaving Cniva ample time to ravage Moesia and move on to Philippopolis (Thracia) (Plovdiv in Bulgaria). Another army of about 20,000 besieged Marcianopolis without success. Then they also headed south to besiege Philippopolis. The Battle of Philippopolis was fought in 250 or 251 and after a long siege of the city the Goths were victorious. King Cniva subsequently allied himself with the town commander and governor of Thrace, Titus Julius Priscus, to take on the Roman Emperor Decius. The Battle of Abritus of 251 resulted at which Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus were killed.
Publius Herennius Dexippus (c. 210 – 273), Greek historian, statesman and general, was an hereditary priest of the Eleusinian family of the Kerykes, and held the offices of archon basileus and eponymous
 in Athens. When the Heruli overran Greece and captured Athens (267), Dexippus showed great personal courage and revived the spirit of patriotism among his fellow-countrymen. A statue was set up in his honour, the base of which, with an inscription recording his services, has been preserved. It is remarkable that the inscription is silent as to his military achievements. The Bibliotheca, a 9th-century encyclopaedia by Photius, patriarch of Constantinople, credits Dexippus with three major works: a four-book history of the diadochoi (successors) of Alexander the Great, a history of the struggle of Romeagainst the Goths from AD 238 until the reign of Aurelian (270–275), and a 12-book annalistic chronicle from legendary times to AD 270. Although none of these survive, numerous fragments have been recognized in the compilations of later historians. Much of the Scythian History survives in the work of the 6th-century historian Zosimus. Some of the extant passages confirm the contemporary view of Dexippus as an imitator of Thucydides. Several Athenian inscriptions attest to the high public offices held by Dexippus, his father, and his children. According to the Augustan History, Dexippus wrote of rallying about 2,000 of his fellow citizens to repel a Gothic attack on Athens in 267. The first clear mention of the Herules by Roman writers is generally taken to be in the reign of Gallienus (260-268 AD). This is based on accepting the later writer Jordanes, who equated the Herules of his time and the "Elouri" mentioned by Dexippus. These Elouri accompanied the Goths and other "Scythians" ravaging the coasts of the Black Sea and later entering the Aegean, a "sea-borne invasion of unprecedented size took place in the spring of 268". Sacks of Byzantium, Chrysopolis, Lemnos, Scyros, Sparta, Corinth and Argos followed. Armed groups moved around Greece and the Balkans, and the East Roman military took several years to contain the threat. After suffering a crushing defeat at the river Nestos one surrendering Herul chief named Naulobatus became the first barbarian known from written records to receive imperial insignia from the Romans. It seems to have been the Herules specifically who sacked Athens despite the construction of a new wall, during Valerian’s reign only a generation earlier. This was the occasion for a famous defense made by Dexippus, whose writings were a source for later historians. 
Fragments of an ancient Greek text telling of an invasion of Greece by the Goths during the third century A.D. have been discovered in the Austrian National Library. The text includes a battle fought at the pass of Thermopylae. Researchers used spectral imaging to enhance the fragments, making it possible to read them. The analysis suggests the fragments were copied in the 11th century A.D. and are from a text that was written in the third-century A.D. by an Athens writer named Dexippus. During Dexippus' life, Greece (part of the Roman Empire) and Rome struggled to repel a series of Gothic invasions. Lecturers Christopher Mallan, of Oxford University, and Caillan Davenport, of the University of Queensland in Australia, recently translated one of the fragments into English. The translated text, detailed in the Journal of Roman Studies, describes the Thermopylae battle: At the start of the fragment, "battle columns" of Goths, a people who flourished in Europe whom the Romans considered barbarians, are attacking the Greek city of Thessalonica. "Making an assault upon the city of the Thessalonians, they tried to capture it as a close-packed band," Dexippus wrote of the attack, as translated by Mallan and Davenport. "Those on the walls defended themselves valiantly, warding off the battle columns with the assistance of many hands." Unable to capture Thessalonica, the Goth force turned south toward Athens, "envisioning the gold and silver votive offerings and the many processional goods in the Greek sanctuaries, for they learned that the region was exceedingly wealthy in this respect," Dexippus wrote. A Greek force assembled at the narrow pass of Thermopylae in an attempt to stop the Gothic advance. "Some [of the Greeks] carried small spears, others axes, others wooden pikes overlaid with bronze and with iron tips, or whatever each man could arm himself with," Dexippus wrote. "When they came together, they completely fortified the perimeter wall and devoted themselves to its protection with haste." In the text, Dexippus said the commander of the Greek force, a general named Marianus, tried to raise morale by reminding the Greeks of the battles their ancestors had fought at Thermopylae in the past, including the famous fifth-century B.C. battle between the Persians and a Spartan-led force. "O Greeks, the occasion of our preservation for which you are assembled and the land in which you have been deployed are both truly fitting to evoke the memory of virtuous deeds," Marianus' speech to his troops reads, as translated from the fragment. "For your ancestors, fighting in this place in former times, did not let Greece down and deprive it of its free state. "In previous attacks, you seemed terrifying to the enemies," said Marianus. "On account of these things, future events do not appear to me not without hope …" The fragment ends before the completion of Marianus' speech, and the outcome of the battle is uncertain, researchers said. Marianus may well have given a speech (or speeches) to the troops, the researchers said; however, the speech recorded in this text was likely invented by Dexippus, something ancient historians often did. Though no one has an exact date for the Thermopylae battle, it was likely fought in the 250s or 260s, researchers said. The Thermopylae fragment is one of several written by Dexippus, discovered in the Austrian National Library book, that discuss the invasion of Greece by the Goths. The Thermopylae battle fragment was first published in 2014 in German in the journal Wiener Studies by Gunther Martin and Jana Grusková, researchers at the University of Bern and Comenius University in Bratislava, respectively. Martin and Grusková have published several articles in German and English on the other fragments. Some of the fragments tell of an attempt by the Roman Emperor Decius (who lived A.D. 201-251) to stop the Gothic forces, as described by Martin and Grusková in 2014 in the journal Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies. In those fragments, Dexippus wrote that Emperor Decius suffered a series of setbacks, losing territory and men. Like Marianus, Emperor Decius also supposedly gave a speech to raise morale among his troops. "Men, I wish the military force and all the provincial territory were in a good condition and not humiliated by the enemy," Emperor Decius told his troops (translation by Martin and Grusková). "But since the incidents of human life bring manifold sufferings … it is the duty of prudent men to accept what happens and not to lose their spirit, nor become weak."
A dramatic passage detailing a Gothic invasion of the Roman Empire in an ancient text that had been lost to history has been found and translated into English. Fragments of the ancient historian Dexippus’ third-century account of the Gothic invasion was copied in an 11th century manuscript that was in the Austrian National Library. Two historians, Christopher Mallan of Oxford University, and Caillan Davenport of the University of Queensland in Australia, used spectral imaging to enhance the ancient text fragments in the 11th century manuscript and translated them into English. The Goths were advancing on the Roman Empire around 250 AD when they were repelled at Thessalonica, says Live Science in an article about Mallan’s and Davenport’s work. The fragment breaks off before Marianus’ speech ends, and the outcome of the battle in Dexippus’ text is left unanswered. Live Science says Dexippus probably invented Marianus’ speech, though the commander may actually have spoken to the troops. Mallan and Davenport’s article was published in the Journal of Roman Studies. Two other researchers, Jana Gruskova of the University of Bern and Gunther Martin of Comenius University in Bratislava, published the fragments relating to the Thermopylae battle first in 2014, Live Science says. One fragment records a speech attributed to Emperor Decius, again probably invented by Dexippus, in which the emperor urges the troops on to victory. Decius was Roman emperor during the first Gothic incursions and tried to stop them and hold the empire together. He lost troops, territory and eventually his life in the process.
The Battle of Abritus, also known as the Battle of Forum Terebronii, occurred near Abritus (Razgrad) in the Roman province of Moesia Inferior in the summer of 251 between the Roman Empire and a federation of Scythian tribesmen under the Goth king Cniva. The Roman army of three legions was soundly defeated, and Roman emperors Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus were both killed in battle. They became the first Roman emperors to be killed by a foreign enemy. It was one of the worst defeats suffered by the Roman Empire against Germanics, rated by the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus as on par with the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9, the Marcomannic invasion of Roman Italy in 170, and the Battle of Adrianople in 378. In 250–251, a barbarian coalition under the Gothic king Cniva crossed the Roman Danube frontier, defeated the Roman Emperor Decius at Beroe and captured the city of Philippopolis with the help of treason and a stratagem, taking booty and captives. In the summer of 251, as Cniva's force began to return home, Decius, along with his son and co-emperor Herennius Etruscus, fell upon the Goths with an army of three Roman legions. In the battle that ensued, Cniva divided his army into three groups, including one concealed behind a swamp. The Romans achieved initial success against a part of the Gothic army, but were then ambushed in the swamp by Cniva's hidden force and massacred under a barrage of Gothic missiles. Herennius was probably killed by an arrow prior to or during the battle and Decius died in the midst of the chaos and slaughter, buried under the mud. Their bodies were never found. The Goths went on to capture the Imperial treasury of gold coins. The new Roman Emperor Trebonianus Galluswas forced to allow the Goths to return home with their loot and prisoners. The defeat was a complete disaster for Rome, with the emperor's death leading to more political instability and the loss of troops permitting repeated barbarian invasions in the region for the next two decades. The barbarians would not be expelled from Roman territory until 271.
During the "Crisis of the third century" when the Empire almost collapsed, the greatest Gothic invasion so far occurred in 268. The Goths' seaborne allies, the Heruli, supplied a fleet carrying huge armies along the coast of the Black Sea where they ravaged coastal territories in Thrace and Macedonia. Other huge forces crossed the Danube in Moesia. An invasion of Goths into the province of Pannonia was also threatening disaster. In 268, Emperor Gallienus won some important initial victories at land and sea, but it was his successor Claudius II who finally defeated the invaders at the Battle of Naissus in 268 or 269, one of the bloodiest battles of the 3rd century. The invaders incurred thirty to fifty thousand dead. The Battle of Naissus (268 or 269 AD) was the defeat of a Gothic coalition by the Roman Empire under Emperor Gallienus (or Claudius II) near Naissus (Niš in Serbia). The events around the invasion and the battle are an important part of the history of the Crisis of the Third Century. The Goths were engaged near Naissus by a Roman army advancing from the north. The battle most likely took place in 269, and was fiercely contested. Large numbers on both sides were killed but, at the critical point, the Romans tricked the Goths into an ambush by pretended flight. Some 50,000 Goths were allegedly killed or taken captive. It seems that Aurelian, who was in charge of all Roman cavalry during reign of Claudius, led the decisive attack in the battle. A large number of Goths managed to escape towards Macedonia, initially defending themselves behind their laager. Soon, many of them and their pack animals, distressed as they were by the harassment of the Roman cavalry and the lack of provisions, died of hunger. The Roman army methodically pursued and surrounded the survivors at Mount Haemus where an epidemic affected the entrapped Goths. After a bloody but inconclusive battle, they escaped but were pursued again until they surrendered. Prisoners were admitted to the army or given land to cultivate and become coloni. The members of the pirate fleet, after the failed attacks on Crete and Rhodes, retreated and many of them suffered a similar end. However the plague also affected the pursuing Romans and emperor Claudius, who died from it in 270. The psychological impact of this victory was so strong that Claudius became known to posterity as Claudius II Gothicus Maximus ("conqueror of the Goths"). However devastating the defeat, the battle did not entirely break the military strength of the Gothic tribes. Besides, the troubles with Zenobia in the East and the breakaway Gallic Empire in the West were so urgent that the victory at Naissus could only serve as a temporary relief for the troubled Empire. In 271, after Aurelian repelled another Gothic invasion, he abandoned the province of Dacia north of the Danube in order to rationalize the defense of the Empire.
Aurelian (214 or 215 – 275) was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275. Born in humble circumstances, he rose through the military ranks to become emperor. During his reign, he defeated the Alamanni after a devastating war. He also defeated the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian restored the Empire's eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire in 273. The following year he conquered the Gallic Empire in the west, reuniting the Empire in its entirety. He was also responsible for the construction of the Aurelian Walls in Rome, and the abandonment of the province of Dacia. His successes were instrumental in ending the Roman Empire's Crisis of the Third Century, earning him the title Restitutor Orbis or "Restorer of the World". Although Domitian was the first emperor who had demanded to be officially hailed as dominus et deus (master and god), these titles never occurred in written form on official documents until the reign of Aurelian. The emperor led his legions to the Balkans, where he defeated and routed the Goths beyond the Danube, killing the Gothic leader Cannabaudes, and assuming the title of Gothicus Maximus. However, he decided to abandon the province of Dacia, on the exposed north bank of the Danube, as too difficult and expensive to defend. He reorganized a new province of Dacia south of the Danube, inside the former Moesia, called Dacia Aureliana, with Serdica as the capital. On his march to the East to reintegrate the Palmyrene Empire to the Roman Empire, Aurelian drove them out of his empire and, unlike others before him, followed them over the Danube. It came to a battle, and Cannabaudes died along with 5,000 of his men. For this victory Aurelian received the surname Gothicus Maximus. At his triumph after his victory over the Palmyrene Empire, he carried with him Gothic women, dressed as Amazons, and a chariot, carried by four stags, that is said to have belonged to Cannabaudes. Despite his victory over Cannabaudes, Aurelian abandoned the province of Dacia, which was populated by barbaric tribes such as the Goths. So, Aurelian had averted the Gothic menace for a century. On one hand, they were frightened off, on the other hand they were busy with the vacant lands in Dacia.
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