Battle of the Teutoburg Forest

| Battle of the Teutoburg Forest In 9 AD, Roman general Roman general Varus was betrayed by Arminius, the leader of a massive Germanic tribe. Arminius deceived the Roman and led them into a trap deep into the Teutoburg forest which would lay a foundation for what will be one of the biggest defeats in roman history; resulting in the extermination of some 20,000 roman troops. The effects of this defeat halted Roman expansion beyond the Rhine River. The psychological affects would eventually take a toll on Augustus, leading to illness and death. (Wells, p. 5) Arminius was the prince of the Cherusci tribe of Germans. He lived in the northern part of modern day Germany. (P. 107) Later, he would go on to serve in the roman army, in command of Roman auxiliary forces comprised of members from the surrounding tribes. He learned his tactic here while in his service for Rome. This would later grant him the upper hand, for he will know the Romans weaknesses and he will know how they fight. He most likely had a variety of motives for serving in the Roman military. Besides earning a substantial salary, he would have gained considerable status in Rome.
During his years of service to the Roman Military he learned Latin and in recognition of is efforts to Rome, was award with Roman citizenship. (P. 108). This is a prize that is normally bestowed upon those leaders who give exceptional service to Rome. Also, he was granted status as an equestrian, which is quite a high rank in Roman society. Around the year of 9 A. D. , Arminius left the Roman military and returned to his homeland. When he returned home at the age of 25, his experience with the Roman military had prepared him to lead. Rome’s man in the Rhineland in A. D. 9 was Publius Quinctilius Varus. ” (Wells,P. 80) He had attained an excellent record of service as governor and general in various places within the Empire. In the year of 13 B. C. he served for consul with Claudius Nero. Varus was provided entry into the political elite of Rome via marriage connections and relationships linked with Augustus. As his role as Consul, Varus was able to integrate himself within the political world and shake hands with the right people. Events leading up to the attack were slow but steady.
Romans held little of Germania before the revolt, they had some organized communities but not many. Romans believed they had a mission to grant others with the civilized life such as theirs and to give other regions what they have to offer. This expansion pushed smoothly and slowly through Germania as the tribes there began to see the benefit of Roman civilization. “The barbarians were adapting themselves to Roman ways, were becoming accustomed to hold markets, and were meeting in peaceful assemblages.

They had not, however, forgotten their ancestral habits, their native manners, their old life of independence, or the power derived from arms…becoming different without knowing it. ” (Cassius Dio, P. 1) However, when Quinctilius Varus was placed Governor of the province of Germania he began to push Roman way of life on them at a much quicker rate. According to Cassius Dio, “Besides issuing orders to them as if they were actually slaves of the Romans, he exacted money as he would from subject nations. To this they were in no mood to submit. Ancient historian, Velleius Paterculus, notes that Varus was “more accustomed to the leisure of the camp than to actual service in war. ” The quiet camp grounds and communities suits Varus quite well. Arminus returned to Germania from Pannonina as a respected leader and trusted Roman citizen. Germanic tribe members complied with Roman law while suppressing their barbarian ways of solving issues. This was only a front to keep the Romans off their backs. The barbarians were growing tired of the Roman rules and having to go to Roman courts to have the Romans decide their disputes.
The barbarians had long standing traditions for solving their issues and they were not satisfied with the way that Varus forced this rule onto them. The resentment begins to build while the surface seems calm. Varus had not been accustomed to governing those who did not want to be governed. So, when the Germanic people had enough of the Roman forces, they decided to fool him for something must be done to get rid of him. This of course is when the turn to Arminius, for no one is more perfect for the job.
His high status and trust within the Roman government allows him to set the largest trap imaginable. Velleius Paterculus adds, “This young man made use of the negligence…seeing that no one could be more quickly overpowered than the man who feared nothing, and that the most common beginning of disaster was a sense of security. ” The Germans set their trap deep in the tree clogged forest of the Teutoburg forest. Varus and his troops are packing up to advance to a camp to the east. Meanwhile, he is approached by an old friend, Arminius. He notifies Varus of a small ribal uprising right off the course to their intended path to the camp. This ambush was setup alongside a narrow path, causing the romans to march closely together. (Cassius Dio, P. 7) Cassius Dio notes, “they had with them many wagons and many beasts of burden as in time of peace. ” To add to the difficulties, it had begun to rain, making the forest floor slippery while tree tops fell on them creating confusion. While the Romans were undergoing such complications, the barbarians suddenly surrounded them on all sides at once. They were caught in the worst situation possible.
The Roman army was slaughtered as thousands of soldiers were ambushed by barbarians, destroying 16,000 Romans in one swoop (Wells, P. 189). This battle was significant for the fact that it halted Roman expansion across the Rhine River and sent a message to Rome that they were not invincible. While it may have been a short battle, it was a large loss. When Augustus is exposed the extreme loss, he is devastated. The Romans, along with Varus, knew that it was completely Varus’s fault and would lead him to suicide. Works Cited Wells, Peter S.
The Battle That Stopped Rome: Emperor Augustus, Arminius, And The Slaughter Of The Legions In The Teutoburg Forest / Peter S. Wells. n. p. : New York : W. W. Norton, 2004. , 2004. Louisiana State University. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. “The Battle of Teutoburg Forest. ” Penelope. uchicago. edu. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. <http://penelope. uchicago. edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/miscellanea/teutoburg/teutoburg. html>. “Velleius Paterculus. ” The Battle in the Teutoburg Forest. N. p. , 16 Aug. 2010. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. <http://www. livius. org/va-vh/velleius/paterculus3. html>.

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