Dear Readers: Being a student of history, I never miss a chance to learn something new. One of our most Admired Patrons, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, likened the report that the Obama Administration was going to drop the “public option” for their healthcare “reform” proposals as a Parthian Retreat. Not being particularly versed in military tactics, I went in search of what he meant.
The Parthian archers, mounted on light horse, would feign retreat; then, while at a full gallop, turn their bodies back to shoot at the pursuing enemy. The maneuver required superb equestrian skills, since the rider’s hands were occupied by his bow. As the stirrup had not been invented at the time of the Parthians, the rider relied solely on pressure from his legs to guide his horse.
I wanted to take a moment to expand on this theme a bit, as it relates to ancient Egypt. The Parthian Empire (247 BC – 224 AD), was an political and cultural power in the area of today’s Iran. As Iran is a thorn in our side today, Parthia was a problem for the Roman Empire. More information can be found HERE, and the main points that I want to share are below:
In early 53 BCE, an ambitious Roman commander, Marcus Licinius Crassus, sought to invade Mesopotamia. He and his army walked into a trap set for them by the Parthian commander Surena, and in the resultant Battle of Carrhae roughly one half of the Roman army of about 40,000 men – including Crassus and his son – were killed. Of the remaining 20,000 men, 10,000 were made captive and only 10,000 were able to escape. The Arsacids did not capitalize on their victory, and Surena was himself executed by Orodes II.
In late 41 BCE or early 40 BCE, the Arsacid army under the command of Pacorus (son of Orodes II) and Quintus Labienus (who had defected to the Arsacids following the defeat of the Republicans in the Roman civil war) attacked the Romans. The expeditions were initially successful; Pacorus took Syria and Judea, while Labienus occupied large parts of Asia Minor. In 39 BCE, the Romans counterattacked, defeating both Labienus and Pacorus and killing both.
Following Pacorus’ death, Orodes appointed his eldest son Phraates IV as his successor. Phraates IV promptly murdered his father, and then his other brothers and even his own son. He also began a campaign against the nobility, many of whom left the country. Marc Antony took the opportunity to attack with 100,000 troops in 36 BCE. The Roman rear-guard (including provisions and siege engines) was destroyed by an Arsacid attack from the rear, but Anthony continued briefly, briefly laid siege to Phraata/Phraaspa (location unknown) but had to retreat when supplies began to run low. Plutarch (Antonius 50) states 24,000 men were lost in the expedition.
The connecting point to ancient Egypt is that Anthony sent for Cleopatra the Great, who then sailed to me him at Tarsus, in part to help fund this campaign. The rest, shall we say, is history.
One of the favorite memes going around the blogosphere is that dropping the public option is a “Trojan Horse“, the famous Greek bait-and-switch tactic. However, I must concur with Instapundit: The better analogy is the Parthian Retreat. The tactic seems more targeted than stealthy.
I have been featuring iconic American movies regularly as part of my blogging topics. This week’s choice will be in keeping with the military theme, which was inspired by Instapundit’s reference. In terms of the townhalls, citizens action organizations, and our desire to protect the high level of competent and professional care we enjoy, this week it is —-
The apt quote: Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy.
For some reason, most of us “mob members”, do not consider the current administration credible, and we intend to stand firm.