Hadrian's Consolidation - reboot

Ad Viarum, Camp of the I Augusta Ituraerorum sagittarii cohors, North East Iazygeia, May 248
Ad Viarum, Camp of the I Augusta Ituraerorum sagittarii cohors, North East Iazygeia, May 248


There was a lot of time to do nothing in Ad Viarum’s cohort’s base, and none knew it better than Georgios Sprave, one of the soldiers of the I Augusta Ituraerorum sagittarii, a cohors of infantry attached to the IV Flavia Claudia legion from Arx Cubitus.

Set, as its name implied, at an important crossroad between Arx Cubitus, Arx Anconem and Porolissum, the fortress was almost equidistant from the three cities and formed the linchpin of the local defense : should any barbarian manage to take it, the road to Porolissum and the regional capital of Dacia at Napoca would be wide open for the pillaging.

The place was not as well protected by the Tisia as elsewhere due to its slow meandering ways, easily crossed, and the terrain was rather flat, idea cavalry country. Which made the fact that the I Augusta Ituraerorum sagittarii was an infantry unit even more of a weakness. Initially the cohors and been a contingent of allied archers but it had been transformed into an heavy cohors some seventy five years earlier, doubling its strength with a lot of medium infantry to become a more classical cohors milliaria.

Of course the cohors was not alone or isolated on the border, in fact two more powerful cohors equitata with around 250 horsemen in each were only a day’s walk from the camp, but it still made Ad Viarum painfully exposed to enemy raids.

Usually this was not so much of a problem because the barbarians on the other side of the river were the Cottini, a tribe similar to the Gauls and other Celtic tribes that the empire had so often vanquished. While they did sometime attempts small scale raids they were mainly farmers, and most of their army was made of infantry due to the hilly if not mountainous nature of their territory.

This led to soldiers such as Georgios Sprave having too much time on their hand. But unlike many other Sprave did not spend his free time drinking and shagging the four prostitutes of the inn near the southern gate or the three at the inn next to the bath.

His background was, as implied by his name, unusual : a greek women for mother and a german carpenter for father, he’d received his maternal grandfather’s first name and his father’s name for gentillice. Of course he was not a roman citizen and thus did not have the formal tria nomina, but he had a surname alright : artifex, often with the word insanus added to it. But while he might indeed be a tinkerer he was no mad, at least he did not feel so.

His father had taught him his woodworking skills from a tender age, but a life working wood for a few copper coins did not appeal to the young Georgios who enlisted at 16 for his 20 years of service, the piece of land and, more importantly, his citizenship at the end.

This did not mean he did not keep working wood in his free time. He built what his unit needed, looked for the bows of the unit's eponymous archers, and when he had time he looked at how to improve things.

A few months earlier his commander had brought him a broken manuballista, a small horizontal bow used mainly from horseback for hunting. It threw a larger dart than the conventional arrows shot by bows, and had much more penetrating power as shown by tests on discarded pieces of armour Sprave had been able to get his hands on for the purpose.

But the main problem with the weapon was that they were slow and awkward to reload. So George had made himself a copy of the commander’s restored hunting weapon and had then started doing what he did best, tinkering about with it. By trial and errors he’d built a new system that allowed quicker reload, at the cost of some range and penetration power, but he was still not satisfied.

He’d shown the improvements to his commander, who had been duly impressed and had given him more time to keep improving on his concept, allocating him some funds and some time of the local blacksmith so that he may . This led Sprave to another invention, that of a magazine holding seven bolts ready to fire. Combined with his already improved loading mechanism it made for a fearsome weapon…

But Sprave was not finished, truly he was on a roll for one of the unit’s archer asked him if he could fit such a system to a bow and, low and below, he did ! Calling his improvement the “instant Scythian”, he managed to create a detachable magazine and arrow guide that allowed very fast shooting of seven arrows : four arrows would already be in the air before the first hit the target.

It very soon showed a marked improvement in accuracy for the beginners of the unit, while also markedly increased the overall volume of fire of the unit as a whole. A contubernia of archers using the “instant Scythian” had been able to best all the other in the cohors in a test set up by the commander.

New of Sprave’s inventions had spread to Arx Cubitus and the legion’s tribunus machinatorum had praised the man for his inventiveness, setting him to the task of improving the fortress’ fixed ballistae, which he’d done by designing a magazine for them, although he did not yet find a way to improve the re-cocking process.

All those experimentations were now becoming very important because for once life was not boring at Ad Viarum… A horde of thousand of Scythians had come from the steppe, crashed through the Cottini territories and fallen upon the Empire’s border…



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Inspiration for the “instant Scythian” : no modern technology needed !


And yes the name of today's character is a direct wink at this slightly crazy german guy ;)
 
Eh, rapid fire is overrated when ammunition is expensive and penetrating power as opposed to stopping power ratios lean out towards the latter. IRL you'd be better off with just some better accuracy and penetration in general.
 
Eh, rapid fire is overrated when ammunition is expensive and penetrating power as opposed to stopping power ratios lean out towards the latter. IRL you'd be better off with just some better accuracy and penetration in general.
True but rate of fire on such a scale has a power all of itself : infantry is no longer powerless against the shorter ranged bows of the nomads and such a barrage can also disrupt any attempt at a charge, if only by hitting the horses (and nomads' horses don't carry armour such as that of cataphractoi heavy eastern cavalry, the Sarmatians' horse-hoeve armour was an exception and they have become Romans...)
 

Haha he is awesome, thanks for introducing me to him Heca.

Now I am imagining a no-gunpowder timeline where people run around with one of these except powered with a crank (with the accompanying lower fire rate) and arrow clips for non-stop dakka experien
 
Rome, May 248
Rome, May 248


The body lay on a trash heap in an alley alongside the baths of Agrippa, behind the Pantheon. His clothes marked him as one of the urban poors, but no one knew who he was : this was visibly not his neighborhood. His skin marked him for an easterner, pôssibly a Syrian, one of too many in the city as Juvenal had said more than a century before.

The first to find him was a kid looking for a hiding place from the world his mother wanted him to make his own. The kild told a vigiles, for the fire brigade was also the basic police unit of the capital.

The body had been transported to the Vigili’s camp. Blunt force trauma at the back of his head showed that his end had not been peaceful, as it was too often the case in that dump of a neighborhood.

Given that no one came to claim the body, they cremated him and put him in an urn alongside his few belongings, to be set into a columbarium under the name “ignotus”, one amongst many to carry the same name.

The vigils had neither the manpower nor the will to investigate the matter any further. This was just another day in Rome…

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sorry for the short update, I had a busier day than I had planned and I'm dead tired, I actually fell half asleep while writting even this short update ! Getting up at 5 o'clock after getting to bed past midnight and then having a busy day in Rome will do that to you I suppose...
 
A field in Armenia, May 248
A field in Armenia, May 248


King Tiridate III looked around him. Everywhere the field was covered in gore, as was his own and his horse’s armour. His third horse of the day, two other laying on the ground somewhere. As were two of his sons and half of his army.

The battle had been ferocious, for his enemies had thought they could win, and then that they were trapped. They were now dead, most of the eight thousand Scythians raiders that had tried to capture Armenia’s capital, along with the ten thousand brigands and opportunists they had collected while pillaging the northern reaches of his kingdom.

The battle had been made even bloodier by the fact that Tiridate had not been able to wait for the promised roman support, which he knew was coming as fast as was possible for the romans legions, fast indeed but still slower than the highly mobile horsemen of the plains, especially since he’d had to send messengers to them, which took time, and they had had to prepare for the walk up the mountains toward his kingdom. He’d also heard that they had their hands tied in part by other attacks further south, which meant that this part of his kingdom was also at risk but that he did not have the means to protect it anymore.

There were only three good news on this fateful day : he’d come away alive, although hurting from a number of light wounds, a lot of his political opponents had died during the fight, more than of his followers, even if that was not from design, and finally it was a victory… if one could call such a butchery a victory.

He’d managed to goad the Scythians to follow a part of his cavalry past the mouth of a secondary valley where he’d hidden his infantry, before hitting the barbarians with his main forces from the front. While his light horsemen duelled with the bow, his cataphractii had been able to close the gap to their enemy, trapped by the narrow confines of the valley. This had constricted the Scythians between the anvil of the infantry and the hammer of the cavalry, depriving them from their usual mobility and leading to the terrible hand to hand fight that had seen the death of Mithridate and Rhadamiste, amongst so many other friends and foes.

Still, he needed to send forces to recapture the fortresses and put to flight the barbarians still in the area, and prepare for the coming fight south…
 
Basically an army wiped out it seems of the Scythians. With their other losses on other fronts, they are in danger of losing their lands to other nomads pressing in on them for their land.
 
Basically an army wiped out it seems of the Scythians. With their other losses on other fronts, they are in danger of losing their lands to other nomads pressing in on them for their land.
Yes, the Caucasian prong of the Scythians has been destroyed, only about 1/4th of that force will make it back to the plains. But an important ally of the Romans has also suffered massive loss, potential dynastic uncertainty, and more importantly Roman forces have been diverted from Mesopotamia...
 
Yes, the Caucasian prong of the Scythians has been destroyed, only about 1/4th of that force will make it back to the plains. But an important ally of the Romans has also suffered massive loss, potential dynastic uncertainty, and more importantly Roman forces have been diverted from Mesopotamia...
True, but no Roman blood lost in that battle. Scythians dead, good, Armenians dead, too bad, but not Romans. Acknowledgement Rome was sending aid, but did not arrive in time, those forces can be redeployed. Political chaos in Armenia, situation normal.
 
Yes, the Caucasian prong of the Scythians has been destroyed, only about 1/4th of that force will make it back to the plains. But an important ally of the Romans has also suffered massive loss, potential dynastic uncertainty, and more importantly Roman forces have been diverted from Mesopotamia...
Why dynastic uncertainty? He managed to, not just defeat but, massacre an entire invading army, such that his kingdom wlneed never fear Scythians ever again. And even the nomads that push the Scythians out in the next decade will need time to consolidate their hold on their new lands. It should be a good 20 years before any nomad force is any kind of threat at all. And he did it WITHOUT Roman help.
Moreover, a good many of his rivsls have been killed.

Your phrasing 'two of his sons' only makes sense if he has other sons who did survive. At least one.
Let us even suppose that the eldest and current heir was one of the two killed. That's seminormal for royalty that take the field.

I really don't see that you've provided any evidence at all for dynastic instability.

However, you, as author have stated that there will be such.
So... What have you not shown us yet?
1) you meant to say 'both his sons'. That seems improbable to me as errors rendering 'tous les deux' into English might give 'all two' or 'all his' or something, but not 'two of'.
2) the eldest remaining son is gay, or a drunk, or a bookworm, and has no ready power base. Or his eldest child is a daughter, perhaps married to a powerful Duke, while the eldest remaining son is too young to take the throne if the king should die. (Even minor wounds can get infected and kill people. This scenario pretty much requires the king die soon. IMO)
 
So, what do you guys think the probable outcome of the war to be? I can see the Romans not wanting to over-extend their borders but at the same time there will be a thirst to take this gods given opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Alexander.
 
I always thought Persia would make a great border for Rome, hilly and well defensible but also developed and rich so worth the effort of pacifying. It secures the road towards India, first for trade and then possibly more.

I do think it should happen, this war will be very costly so people will want something out of it and it makes sense. On the other hand the land is hilly and defensible plus I am sure the Persians who have been fighting Rome for 300 years or more will be very rebellious at first.
 
I also think integrating Persia would not be out of the realm of possibility of this Rome but I don't think that's the direction Hecatee will go.

I think Rome will probably set up some vassal states and keep Persia divided politically for as long as possible.
 
I also think integrating Persia would not be out of the realm of possibility of this Rome but I don't think that's the direction Hecatee will go.

I think Rome will probably set up some vassal states and keep Persia divided politically for as long as possible.
I've kept trying not to fall into every ancient Rome trope, haven't I ? No gunpowder, no super Parthian threat, no Parthian annexion, no Christian empire,... :) and you are right, Rome end-goal here is not annexiin, they'd like a bunch of city state sized powers in the area, because they don't understand how much the area depends on larger entities to maintain both its water management infrastructure (qanat and the like) and to prevent invasion by the plain tribes.
 
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