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For twenty years, the Roman Empire conquered its way through modern-day Germany, claiming all lands from the Rhine to the Elbe Rivers. However, when at last all appeared to be peaceful and controlled, a catastrophe erupted that claimed the lives of ten thousand legionnaires and laid Rome's imperial ambitions for Germania into the dust. In late September of AD 9, three Roman legions, while on the march to suppress a distant tribal rebellion, were attacked in a prolonged four-day battle with the Germanic barbarians. The Romans, under the leadership of the province's governor, Publius Quinctilius Varus, were taken completely by surprise, betrayed by a member of their own ranks-the German officer and secret rebel leader Arminius. The defeat was a crushing blow to both Rome's military and its pride, and although the disaster was ruthlessly avenged soon afterward, later attempts at conquering the Germans were halfhearted at best. Four Days in September thoroughly examines the ancient sources, analyzes the hypotheses of modern scholars, and puts forward hypotheses of its own in order to get the clearest picture on the dynamics of the prelude to the battle, the battle itself, and its aftermath.
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Jason R. Abdale received his BA (cum laude) and MA in history at Queens College. He is a specialist in tribal history and culture, with an emphasis on ancient European tribes.
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