Caesar's Parthian Campaign

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Caesar's Parthian Campaign

Postby arvind » Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:31 pm

What if Caesar hadn't been assassinated in 44 BC and, instead, pursued his goal of punishing the Parthian empire for the defeat of his fellow triumvir, Crassus.

Caesar repeatedly inflicted battle-field defeats on Gallic armies (who, while brave, simply didn't have the logistical support or military discipline to stay on through lengthy campaigns) and on other Roman generals. He'd never encountered mounted horse archers, to my knowledge. But he made significant preparations for the campaign - I remember reading that he had a canal in Greece constructed for the sole purpose of keeping his supply routes open. And he had tremendous stores of money stashed away for funding the campaign (they were later seized by Octavian).

The Parthian campaign of his former legate, Mark Antony, ended in failure, although that can be attributed to disaffected allies and the destruction of his seige equipment rather than defeat in an armed confrontation.

If he won though, and beat back the parthians to Iran and Afghanistan - or even to India - he would be lauded by every military historian, without exception, as the supreme commander in all of antiquity, if not all time. I'm from India, and I know people with names like Iskander and Sikhander (both corruptions of Alexander). I wonder if Roman influence would have penetrated to the borders of India in the same way Hellenistic culture did.

Oh right, you can talk about any other eventuality of Caesar's survival of 44 BC (for, say, a further 10 years) on this thread. A parthian campaign just seemed like the most dramatic consequence.
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Re: Caesar's Parthian Campaign

Postby elgat0 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:34 pm

I believe Ceasar's campaign would have had a similar result as Trajan's. A military victory followed by a withdrawal. I do not think the Romans could have controlled Parthian territory for any length of time due to distance and local opposition.
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Re: Caesar's Parthian Campaign

Postby Vox Contra » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:38 pm

Hard call really,
Parthia was no green and easy pasture. Rough country filled with some very skilled fighters that had shown themselves more then capable of making fools of some very important Romans.
But Caesar was the man. Adaptive, cunning, brilliant, and now at the head of the whole of the Roman Empire. That’s a hell of a combination. And it’s not like every battle between Parthians and Romans ended up like Carrhae. Bassus (trained by Cesar BTW) did alright against them, ... cian_Gates
I’d say, Caesar, in his prime, with a good army, and clean supply lines could have taken the Parthians.
But there’s the rub. I’m not so sure Caesar was in his prime anymore. He was in his 50’s, and had led a hard life. I’ve read that he was pretty ill at the end; suffering from seizures and malaria. Hard to say how he’d have faired on campaign in terrain like Armenia or Parthia. Might have been able to keep it together, might have been able to rely on his subordinates, hard to say for certain.
Always had a picture in my head that he might have wanted to die on campaign; hero’s death, leave a legend & all that. Parthia might have been a good place for it.
But then again the man was nothing if not ambitious, and conquering Parthia where his rival Crassus had failed would have been a hell of feather in his cap. Maybe he thought he could go on forever

In the end I fall on the side of saying he probably could have taken the Parthians, but it might have gotten messy. Don’t know if he could have held it. That would have depended on the situation in Rome, and how successful he was at calming things down there. If he could spare the time & troops, or just said screw it & done another genocide like he’d done in Gaul, they could have held on. But if the situation in Rome had gotten out of hand (and I think it would have) the locals at the periphery would have used the distraction to drive out the occupiers again.
“The truth springs from arguments amongst friends.”
― David Hume
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Re: Caesar's Parthian Campaign

Postby Atanamis » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:48 pm

Vox Contra wrote:But if the situation in Rome had gotten out of hand (and I think it would have) the locals at the periphery would have used the distraction to drive out the occupiers again.
Agreed. The change here is the lack of assassination, not the support of his adversaries in Rome. I'd half expect him to be successful in Parthia and on his return have had to fight his way back into Rome. No way he hangs onto Parthia long term in that situation...
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