Ranging from humble beginnings, Rome managed to make a reputation for itself – a reputation that withstood the check of time. Historic Rome was a extremely militaristic society, enabling it to subdue one tribe after one other and stretch its borders to the perimeters of the recognized world. But, it was that very same military buckling underneath its personal weight that finally introduced Rome down. In any case, for all its glory and may, the mighty Roman military did endure some crushing defeats and we might be taking a look at a few of them right here.
10. The Battle of the Allia River (380 BC)
Rome’s first main army defeat got here in 380 BC on the confluence of the rivers Tiber and Allia, some ten miles north of the town. It began when a tribe of Celts from what’s now Northern Italy descended upon the Etruscan city of Clusium. The Etruscans requested Rome for assist in mediating the state of affairs. After some horrible negotiations, the place one Roman envoy killed a Gallic chieftain, the tribesmen retreated with a purpose to deliberate their subsequent transfer. They then despatched ambassadors and requested the Roman Senate handy over the three envoys, a part of the earlier negotiation. This didn’t occur, nevertheless, because the three influential Fabii brothers went on to change into “army tribunes with consular powers.”
Offended, the Gauls marched their forces from the gates of Clusium and on to Rome. Historic sources contradict one another on the precise dimension of the 2 armies and we will’t even say for positive who had the numerical benefit. What is definite, nevertheless, is the truth that the Romans had been fully crushed underneath the brute power of the marching Celtic military. Two thirds of the Roman military is claimed to have perished, both by drowning within the river or being mowed down from behind of their full panic and disarray.
The Gauls then superior on the town, plundering and elevating it to floor. The vast majority of the inhabitants did handle to flee within the evening, nevertheless. After a number of extra months of besieging the Capitol Hill and with a illness spreading by their ranks, the Gauls retreated, however solely after receiving a hefty ransom. To be honest to the Romans, this battle occurred earlier than they started perfecting their military. After it, nevertheless, a sequence of army reforms had been enacted, laying the inspiration for what was to come back.
9. The Battle of Drepana (249 BC)
Following a string of naval victories as a part of the First Punic Battle in opposition to the Carthaginians, Rome felt emboldened and longing for a combat. Forward of 120 ships, Publius Claudius Pulcher, the Roman consul on the time, blockaded the Carthaginian fortress of Lilybaeum, present-day Marsala in western Sicily. But regardless of their finest efforts, the Romans had been unable to cease some Carthaginian ships from slipping by the blockade in broad daylight and supplying the besieged fortress. What’s extra, the Carthaginian ships additionally made it again by the Roman blockade with no scratch and repeated this maneuver a number of extra instances over the next weeks.
Pulcher then determined to launch a shock assault on the port of Drapana, additionally in western Sicily, the place these ships had been garrisoned. The Roman fleet lifted the blockade and left at midnight. However due to poor visibility, the Romans reached their vacation spot in a scattered formation and couldn’t successfully carry out a shock assault. Earlier than the battle, Pulcher carried out a divination to see whether or not the gods had been on their facet. This divination concerned a number of sacred chickens and their feeding habits. For the reason that chickens refused to eat, which was a foul omen, Pulcher threw them overboard saying “Allow them to drink, since they don’t want to eat.”
Within the meantime, the Carthaginians managed to evacuate the port of ships. Due to the native geography, the Romans quickly discovered themselves pinned between the Sicilian coast and the Carthaginian fleet. The naval battle was fast and decisive. Although their numbers had been of roughly equal dimension, some 120 ships every, the Romans misplaced 93 whereas the Carthaginians misplaced none. Pulcher did handle to flee and returned to Rome in disgrace. He was charged with treason – not for his defeat in battle, thoughts you, however due to the rooster incident. He was convicted and despatched into exile the place he died quickly after – most likely by suicide.