In a previous post, I discussed Latin grammar. While I’m in this area of study, I want to talk to you about my recently-published history book entitled Four Days in September: The Battle of Teutoburg. It came out in early May 2013, released by Trafford Publishing, and I was very excited about it. I feel that I should exploit my blog and advertise it so that, ideally, people will become interested and buy it. That way both my publisher and I will be happy.
After a series of bloody and unsparing wars between the Romans and Germanic barbarians in the late 1st Century BC to the early 1st Century AD, the lands between the Rhine and Elbe Rivers were declared pacified. Governing them would be Publius Quinctilius Varus, a former governor of the provinces of Africa and Syria, and a close friend of the emperor Caesar Augustus. It was Varus’ job to turn Rome’s newest territory into a proper Roman province with infrastructure and regular tax collection.
Assisting him would be Arminius (which was actually not a name but a nickname), a young prince from the Cherusci tribe, one of the more prominent of the German tribes in the area. He had been an officer in the Roman Amy and had distinguished himself highly in battle, granting him both Roman citizenship and a knighthood. It was his job to act as Varus’ advisor on Germanic culture, as an intermediary between the Romans and Germans, and also as a recruiter to bring the still hesitant Germans into the Roman fold.
Sometime afterwards, Arminius’ loyalties changed from pro-Roman to anti-Roman, though it isn’t known how or why this change came about. Arminius began forming a plan to rid Germania of the Romans once and for all in a crushing blow. Although many Germans saw the benefits of Roman rule, such as newly imported goods and social stability, they hesitatingly came over to Arminius’ rebellious cause. In the meantime, they all continued to act like good little subjects, but were all the while preparing for the bloody day to come. Despite repeated attempts by others to warn Varus of Arminius’ plot, he dismissed their warnings, stating that the province was at peace and that Arminius was his friend. Why should he fear him?
The rebellion took place in late September of 9 AD. It began when one distant tribe staged a fake uprising to get the Romans’ attention. Varus acted quickly, sending 10,000 men to quash the revolt before it could spread to the neighboring tribes. Knowing the route that Varus and his men would probably take, the Germanic warriors waited in ambush. Amidst billowing winds and a torrential thunderstorm, the barbarians attacked the Romans while traveling through the thick forest. Although the Romans managed to beat off their attackers, they had suffered considerable casualties. They fared even worse on the second day, when the Germans penned them into a narrow mountain pass with little room to maneuver. The third day probably passed without incident, creating an unusual calm, but it was the calm before the storm, for it was on the fourth day that the Germans threw everything that they had at the Roman column, massacring it. When he saw that all was lost, rather than surrender, Governor Varus killed himself. Many of those who were taken prisoner were ritually sacrificed to the pagan Germanic gods.
After the rebels had ransacked virtually all of what was the province of “Germania Magna”, word finally reached Rome of the great disaster, and the city was thrown into a panic. The Romans counter-attacked in a ruthless revenge campaign that lasted for six years. In the end, the Germans lost, but frustratingly, their leader Arminius was never killed or captured. Today, Arminius is regarded as one of Germany’s great nationalist figures, inspiring songs, myths, and legends.
I should state that I am not the first person to write about this subject – far from it. Several books have been written about this event within the past decade. The battle is well-known among scholars of ancient and military history, and you would be hard-pressed to find any historian in those two fields who hasn’t at least heard about this conflict. This is a testement to this battle’s popularity. However, I have done a lot of original research on this matter, and I have come up with some interesting conclusions – if all that I did was simply copy what other people have written, then my book wouldn’t be worth looking at. You might be surprised at some of the things that I have to say. I know that I certainly was. I had thought that I had already pretty much known the history of this battle even before I started writing it, but when I delved deeper into the research, I realized to my surprise (and sometimes my disappointment) just how wrong some of my ideas were.
Of course, I’m not going to give too much away. I’ll leave you to judge the book’s merits for yourself. Here are some website links where you can find out more information about the book (available in both hardcover and softcover):