Roman Soldier versus Parthian Warrior
Roman imperial expansion over the entire Mediterranean basin was going full tilt in the first century BC. Nobody had been able to stop them and their inexorable legions, which were bound together by a discipline and unit cohesion seldom found anywhere else in the ancient world. They had rolled over the Punics, the Celts, the Macedonians and everyone else standing in their quest for global (as seen then) dominance. However, there was another people expanding out of the east who would finally confront the Romans in a way they had never encountered before.
The difference, of course, lay in the diametrically opposed military tactics of the combatants. The Romans – heavily armed and armored – were trained for tight, rigidly disciplined fighting in close quarters. The Parthians, trained from birth in both horse riding and archery, were highly mobile distance fighters, able to ride using just their knees for guidance while firing rapid volleys of extremely accurate arrows with enough force to punch through a Centurion’s shield. Thus, the first expeditions by the Romans into Central Asia were laid low. It would take almost 150 years for the Romans to develop suitable countertactics.
Si Sheppard’s new book in the Osprey Combat series examines this clash of cultures in fine detail, laying out the disastrous first campaigns by the Romans against these nomadic people as well as their final coming to terms with the Persian empire. The book covers not only the campaigns, but the tortured and byzantine politics behind the campaigns, with numerous pictures of artifacts as well as paintings and strategic maps. As is typical of this series, there is also a two-page spread showing both sides’ views of a specific battle to give you a “you are there” feel to the narrative.
Before reading this book I really has little knowledge of the Parthians or the fact that they held the greatest empire of their age at bay for over a hundred years. As always, any book that can effectively inform is a good book to have, and this one covers events that are otherwise not widely known. Fascinating.
For the modeler, this gives a wonderful glimpse into the uniforms, tactics and campaigns of this era, with well-done illustrations that will assist the figure modeler do a better job of rendering these characters out of history. This is a terrific addition to Osprey’s Combat series and is a highly useful to any modeler interested in Ancient History. Highly recommended.
As always, thanks to Osprey Publishing for offering such an educational book, and to IPMS/USA for an opportunity to learn more about this fascinating era. Stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!