When people talk about the greatest enemies of Rome people always mention Hannibal and the late barbarian tribes.
However in my recent readings of Roman history I have been reading a lot of mentions of the Parthians and then the Sassanids. And I have to say they were a pretty great enemy of Rome. In particular Shapur II seems like a contender for one of Rome's greatest enemies.
What are your thoughts about Shapur and the empire in general? And where would you rank them among the great rivals and enemies of Rome?
I think the Persian Based cunts were Imperial Rome's only true rivals.
They were never stamped out and they killed Roman Emperors like silly.
Persians in general and Sassanids in particular are criminally underrated. I blame tricky boyfuckers and their history-disguised propaganda for that.
They invaded Anatolia, Syria and Egypt and laid a siege to the New Rome, the only relevant parts of Roman Empire at the time.
Despite the constant warfare, the Roman-Persian border paradoxically remained largely static for 600 years, one of the most-lasting borders in history. A losing game for both empires, mainly caused by Sassanid overconfidence in their military power.
The Persians managed to occupy Antiochia, the largest Syrian city, a few times, but the Roman counterattacks led several times to the sack of the capital Ctesiphon.
The Romans had a lot of beef with the Persians in the east, but that was never more then border skirmishes. They never threatened the Empire as a whole. Hannibal or the Goths running rampant through Italy most definitely did.
The Sasanians (but not the Arsacid Parthians) were the only neighbour that Rome ever considered an equal. If we remove all context they were, indeed, Rome's greatest foe.
But you have to understand that in pop culture and to some degree in too academy too the Bas-Empire (rome in late antiquity, the one that had to face the Sasanian monarchy) is overlooked. In general, the eastern portion of the empire is also overlooked in favour of the western part. It is normal because we westeners still rule the academic world and often even those scholars who show interest in other parts of history are westeners or work for western universities.
It's also true, though, that Rome was always stronger than both Iranian empires. It was specially stronger than the Arsacids, but the Sasanians also were weaker since they had less manpower and ruled poorer lands. In the overall scheme, the persians were on the defensive (though this is not how romans perceived it). This cannot be said about Carthage since in the first second Punic Wars the romans were considerably weaker than in the imperial period and the match was more even.
Also Shapur I, not Shapur II, was the real roman terror. They were bot great kings but compare Shapur I plundering Antioch with Shapur II having to retreat before Julian who arrived to the gates of Ctesiphon.
By the way, the "they sacked the capital several times" is not false but misleading since this happened mostly with the Arsacids, a very different animal than the Sasanians. When the Sasanians ruled, Romans arrived to the gates of Ctesiphon more than once but pretty much always failed to take it. A couple of examples of this are the aforementioned campaign of Julian and the campaign of Heraclius, who had to content himself with plundering Khosrow's "persian Versailles" outside the walls.
Rome needed an enemy. Always, at every point, it needed an enemy it could point towards to invoke a national sentiment amongst the plebs. Persia, Carthage, the Gauls.
If none were available, Civil War was the norm.
You're confusing Rome with modern day USA.
He means the palmyrenes of Odenathus resisting Shapur, ignoring that the "city state" controled pretty much all the relevant roman orient, making it an equal if not stronger than the early Sasanians.
It was a somewhat neutral (but in the roman sphere) city-state with a king. But in the time we're talking about, they used the confusion in the roman empire to forge the Palmyrene empire.
In fact, that was good for Rome since it allowed it to keep Egypt and Syria, which was perfectly feasible with a strong leader defending it in the east.
In this context, losing to Palmyra was basically losing to Rome. And it's not like it was a total defeat, Odenathus failed 2 (two) times trying to conquer Persia. Could've been way worst considering that the Sasanian Empire was still in a formative period (or just out of it). If there's a time where we can say that the persian problem could've been solved once and for all for the romans it's here (if we are to assume that Odenathus stays loyal).
The reason the Parthians and Sassanids are less remembered than the barbarians and Hannibal is because unlike the latter they didn't get to Rome's gates, all they did was kill some retards in a desert thousands of kilometers from the heartland of the Empire and the Republic
Actually the formation of the Sassanian empire forced the romans to completely restructure and the late Roman empire was set up to be able to withstand Persian advances on the eastern border. Accordingly they fortified the east much more while the west became something of a backwater in comparison