September 29, 2008

Not a Strong General

Fall Semester at a new school with a new curriculum is always demanding. I'm learning the new ropes. I'm learning how to say a few extra Spanish words. I'm learning how to skim through my Reader a lot quicker than I did over the summer! And this weekend I spent a dozen hours learning (again) where the boundary markers are on my topics for 14 to 19 AD - especially Germanicus and his German campaigns from 14 to 16.

The more I study the movements and decision making of Germanicus Caesar, the more I start to think the guy shouldn't have been leading a cub scout troop. Okay, that's exaggerating a bit. But honestly! Augustus dies, Four Legions with bad morale are camped together in one spot, winter's coming soon and they aren't ready for it - nor have they been paid all year - and what does Germanicus do? He takes all his top officers away from camp and rides around Gaul & Belgium sizing up grainfields and schmoozing with local officials!

Then, after almost dying twice during the mutiny, and surviving only because his wife trick his soldiers into repenting, Germanicus leads his troops on a six day hike into late October (that's about six weeks into a harsh early winter) so they can massacre a German tribe during the full moon, just to save face and restore morale, and then almost freeze to death going home in the mud. And they still had to make winter camp! (And so much more.)

Going through all that today, I remembered a line Tiberius was heard to say when Caligula stood to inherit the empire. And I wondered if the line ever crossed his brain when Germanicus was making his inept decisions in Germany, when Germanicus was next in line to become Empire: "When I am gone, let fire o'erwhelm the Earth!"

Alas - or thank God, actually - my job is not to read Tiberius' mind. My job is just to size up what happened and tell it in order. Hopefully, it'll all be interesting. But man, that Germanicus! It's nice to have a change from focusing on Tiberius & the Senate. And I guess the guy was just out of his poor little league. But sometimes I just think, Dude, what a pozer...


Joe said...

"...I guess the guy was just out of his poor little league."

I think that's it!

Nice post.

Bill Heroman said...

Hey, Joe! Nice to see you again. Thanks for the comment. :)

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