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A Desert Robin Hood

Contributed by David Verne

Tacfarinas was a Berber tribesman from Numidia who served as a Roman auxiliary. After learning Roman tactics and strategy, he deserted and gathered a small band of robbers in the province of North Africa. Starting out by robbing travellers and raiding farms, they soon grew in size. Tacfarinas organized them into cohorts and equpped them like legionaries. The Roman garrisons failed to prevent the raids, and more rebels and tribesmen began to join him. Soon he had an army of 30,000 men, he wasn't an ancient version of Robin Hood anymore, he had become a rebel general threatening to take over North Africa. The Roman governor, Marcus Camillus, had only the 3rd Augusta legion to counter the threat. Managing to scrape together 10,000 soldiers, Tacfarinas believed that his superior numbers and Roman style of training would win and abandoned the hit and run tactics he had been using and prepared for open battle. Camillus wasn't a tactical genius, but he had a steady nerve. The Romans easily defeated the overconfident rebels, but Tacfarinas disappeared into the desert. The Senate awarded Camillus Triumphal Decorations. [1] [2]

My Take by David Verne
A Triumph was the highest honor a Roman general could receive. They were awarded by the Senate for victories against foreign enemies. The general would be drawn in a golden chariot at the head of his soldiers, bringing with him the loot and prisoners of the campaign, and a statue would be erected in the Forum. Riding in the chariot alongside the general was a slave, and his job was to constantly whisper to the general, "Remember, you are but a man." They were only given to members of the Imperial family; Triumphal Decorations were for other generals and included everything except the parade. In this case, it seems to have been given prematurely. The battle was won, but Tacfarinas was still at large.

Ab Urbe Condita, Livy's history of Rome

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

This history of Rome was 142 volumes long, though only the first 45 volumes survived in their original for to modern day. The books covered everything from the legendary landing of Aeneas after the Trojan war and the city's founding by Romulus, up to Macedonian and other eastern wars taking place until 167 BC in the volumes we have today. And up to 9 BC in the volumes we lost, according to other ancient writings and abridged versions of his works.

My Take by Southpaw Ben
As with yesterday's segment, it's always interesting to see what God and fate allows to survive to modern day. Like Jack was saying yesterday our descendents should have a much more complete record of our lives than we did in the past. However, fate is a fickle being and, to quote Dan Carlin, history seems to be a bunny hop dance, where humanity will take 2 steps forward then one step back. So one day in the far future, the hard drives and computer data we store our lives on today might be "magic ancient technology" that only a few scribes can understand and are rushing to transcibe on paper, to the average man when the next step back occurs.

See Also


  1. Dando-Collins, Stephen (2010). Legions of Rome. St. Martin's Press. 
  2. Tacfarinas (2003).

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