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Attempts to reorganize front in Dacia and trick

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Fight between Romans and Dacians
Fight between Romans and Dacians | Illustration: Peter Connolly

At the end of the 80s of the 1st century CE, the Romans fought the Dacian kingdom, which, led by Diurpaneus, inflicted two defeats on the Roman legions. The fear of losing Rome’s prestige caused Domitian to withdraw from further plans to conquer Britain and focus on the Danube border.

Domitian began the changes on the Dacian front by splitting the province of Moesia into two separate parts: Upper Moesia (Moesia Superior) and Lower Moesia (Moesia Inferior) to improve area management. In addition, new auxiliary units were delivered to the region, and Tettius Iulianus, an experienced leader, was appointed governor of Upper Moesia, who led in 69 CE effective fights with Roxolani.

Interesting information about the restoration of discipline and organization in the Roman army was left to us by Cassius Dio. In Book LXVII he describes how Iulianus had his soldiers engrave on their shields their own names and the centurions under which they served so that they could be easily recognized.

As it turned out, the actions of Julianus were so effective that the Roman army, in the strength of 40,000 men, managed to defeat the Dacians under the command of the new leader Decebal. The defeat at Tapae and the fear for the fate of the royal residences were to force Decebal to try to deceive and discourage the Romans from further offensive. Cassius Dio says that for this purpose he had trees cut down, and trunks put on armour and armed with weapons so that the Romans thought that they were dealing with great forces. Whether or not the story is true, the legions have retreated abroad.

  • Cassius Dio, Roman history, LXVII.10

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