Greek And Roman Warfare Essay

2241 words - 9 pages

Roman soldiers stood out as particularly great fighters in the ancient world. Although a lot can be said about the value of virtus and the expectation of dying a hero rather than fleeing a coward, the Roman soldier, and how they performed in battle, was in many ways completely dependent upon the actions of their commanders. Generals and emperors of the time had a huge influence on the morale and obedience of their troops. Some generals chose to try and emulate the ways of Julius Caesar, Fabius Valens, for example, new the importance of his presence to his troops, others created their own battlefield persona, of which some were successful, and some not. A great example of these different characters presents itself during the Year of Four Emperors. Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian all had unique traits that either aided or hindered their success commanding their troops. The same could be said about the generals below them who more frequently interacted with the troops. From examining these men, one could quickly establish that having a strong willed leader was just as important as a well-trained force.
The first man to take hold of the throne was Otho. His rise to power was set off by a burning jealousy he had for Piso, the man selected to become emperor of Rome. Although he was at times a slave to his own emotions, he was shrewd in manipulating the feelings of others. He was characterized by a blend of different traits, some of which were surprisingly compelling. Above all however, Otho prioritized loyalty in his men. Otho would act the part of a common man, despite being the most powerful person in Rome, to sway people’s opinions and ensure their loyalty to him. He would make himself out to be relatable, even subservient if need be. “Nor did Otho fail to salute the crowd, stretching out his hands, throwing them kisses and in every way playing the slave to achieve domination. When the whole naval legion had taken the oath, he began to trust his strength.” (Page 24, Section 36). Before he could get his men to fight in his name, he had to make sure they were loyal. A lot of Otho's techniques of motivation derive themselves from his troop's loyalty to him. Otho never squandered an opportunity to pull people into his circle of command. Often times this also had the additional effect of admiration from his troops, inspired by his complexity as an emperor. “He immediately treated Celsus as an intimate friend and later chose him as one of his generals. Celsus remained solidly but haplessly loyal to Otho as well – this seemed to be his predestined role. Welcomed haplessly by leading Romans and much discussed by the general public, Celsus' pardon was not unpopular even with the troops, who admired the very quality that irritated them.” (Page 47, Section 71). What can be said about Otho, despite his flaws and ultimate failure to hold Rome and remain emperor, is that he was a pragmatic leader. He was always pandering to other individuals with power, and to...

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