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Battle of Gaixia, January 202 BC
The battle of Gaixia (January 202 BC) was the decisive battle of the Chu-Han Contention and saw Liu Bang inflict a major defeat on Xiang Yu of Chu, who committed suicide soon after the battle.
In 203 BC Liu Bang and Xiang Yu had agreed to split China between them (Treaty of the Hong Canal), but Liu Bang had almost immediately broken the agreement and turned on Xiang Yu. Liu Bang’s plan required support from his allies, most importantly Peng Yue, a warlord who had supported him earlier in the war and was now premier of Wei, and Han Xan, one of Liu Bang’s generals who had forced Liu Bang to make him King of Qi in the previous year. Neither man turned up, and Liu Bang suffered a heavy defeat at Guling.
Liu Bang responded to this setback by promising both men rewards for taking part in the campaign. Liu Bang’s kingdom was to be expanded towards the coast, and he would also gain the part of Chu that included his home town. Peng Yue was to become King of Wei.
The bribery worked as expected. Han Xan led up to 300,000 men to join Liu Bang, while Peng Yue also brought his army from Wei. To make things worse Zhou Yin, one of Xiang Yu’s generals, betrayed him and joined the Han army at Gaixia (near Suiyang, Henan), as did an army under General Liu Jia. On their way these armies attacked Chengfu and Liu, sacking both places.
By the end of 203 BC Xiang Yu was in a terrible position. He had 100,000 men in his fortified camp at Gaixia, but food was running short. His enemies apparently had 500,000 men, and Xiang Yu’s camp was soon surrounded by three rings of enemy troops.
Overnight the Han army began to sing songs from Chu. Xiang Yu was demoralised by this, apparently believing that his own kingdom had turned against him. A large number of troops deserted at this point, although perhaps not quite as many as some ancient sources, in which all but 800 go, suggest.
Xiang Yu decided to try and break out of the trap. Leading 800 cavalry (probably the inspiration for the above figure) he managed to break through the enemy lines. The Han didn’t realise he had gone until the next morning, giving Xiang Yu a head start. When Liu Bang realised what had happened he sent General Guan Ying and 8,000 cavalry to chase him down. Xiang Yu’s cavalrymen quickly dropped away. By the time he crossed the Huai River only 100 were left, and by the time the Han caught up with him near the Wu River that had dropped to 28. After fighting a number of skirmishes (greatly exaggerated in the ancient sources), Xiang Yu committed suicide just before he could be captured.
With Xiang Yu dead the Chu cause was doomed. The city of Lu held out until Liu Bang arrived with Xiang Yu’s head, and then surrendered. A few months later Liu Bang declared himself to be Emperor, founding the Han Dynasty.
The Success of the Roman Republic and Empire
The Battle of Zama in 202 BC would decide once and for all the fates of the world’s two greatest powers, Rome and Carthage. Publius Cornelius Scipio entered Africa after reclaiming the Iberian Peninsula for the glory of Rome, even as Hannibal sat at the gates of the glorious city. In Africa, Scipio brought to the Roman side of the conflict Masinissa, first king of the new Kingdom of Numidia. Masinissa brought to the table a huge advantage in his cavalry corps, which had been trained to withstand the fearful (to horses) smell of elephant. Rome lacked such specially trained horses, and therefore had no effective way to combat the massive animals until Scipio gained this ally.
Scipio brought with him into Africa volunteers and remnants of the 5th and 6th Legions, those Romans who were crushed at Cannae by Hannibal these men had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Hannibal’s army lacked the homogeneity of the Roman legions the Carthaginian army consisted of Africans, Gauls, Spaniards, Numidians, and even Romans.
Appian of Alexandria gives light to unique events that took place between Scipio and Hannibal prior to the Battle of Zama. Hannibal sent three spies into the Roman camp when these spies were discovered, rather than have them killed, Scipio showed them his entire camp, and then sent them back to Hannibal. An impressed Hannibal requested a meeting with Scipio before agreeing to meet Hannibal, Scipio marched his army to the nearby town of Cilla and cut the Carthaginians off from water. The two legendary generals met, reached no agreement, and returned to their armies to prepare for battle.
Hannibal brought to Zama a massive army of 50,000 infantry, including Carthaginian heavy infantry, Latin defectors, and a mixed auxiliary force of Ligurians, Gauls, Balaerics, and Moors. Numidian rebels and Carthaginians constituted the cavalry corps eighty elephants, the largest number brought to battle by Hannibal, further supported the army.
Scipio commanded two legions, supporting cavalry, and Numidian allies Appian puts this force at 23,000 infantry and 1500 cavalrymen. Masinissa brought with him an additional 6000 infantry and 4000 cavalry. Scipio also deployed a large number of velites against the Carthaginian elephants all told, the Roman army approached 35,000 men.
Hannibal arranged his diverse infantry in three lines: the first line consisted of the Ligurian, Gallic, Balaeric, and Moorish auxiliary infantry, the second line was of Carthaginian heavy infantry, and the Latins were held in reserve behind the rest. Hannibal arrayed his elephants in front of his infantry. Carthaginian cavalry held the right wing, while Numidian held the left.
When Scipio formed up his legions, he made specific arrangements to accommodate Hannibal’s elephants. Rather than staggering the maniples of hastati with the maniples of principes so the former could easily fall back behind the latter as the battle wore on, Scipio aligned the maniples of hastati with those of the principes. Gaps were left between each double-maniple his velites, Scipio placed both in front of his army and in the gaps between the maniples. The Roman right was covered by Masinissa and the Numidian cavalry, while the Roman cavalry protected the left.
The ground of the battlefield itself was unremarkable no cover could protect fleeing troops from pursuit when the losing army would inevitably collapse. Hannibal’s army formed up in a state of weariness approaching exhaustion, after digging all night for water. Scipio’s army, having bunked in Cilla, arrived fresh and hydrated.
As the horns and trumpets of both armies signaled simultaneously, Hannibal’s line of elephants lost their nerves many of them charged backward into Hannibal’s Numidian cavalry on the left wing, and the rest charged straight at the Roman army. Masinissa, taking advantage of Hannibal’s misfortune, charged his cavalry into the heart of this mess and routed the enemy’s left wing.
The remaining elephants met Scipio’s velites in front of the legions the fighting between these two forces was excessively violent even by ancient terms (a theme prevalent throughout the battle), and many velites died fighting the animals. As the elephants came within reach of the legions, the velites retreated into the blocks created by the maniples as Scipio planned, the elephants ran through the gaps, which in turn became gauntlets of pila. The maniples on the left also engaged the Carthaginian cavalry with their pila as the enemy cavalry suffered sufficient losses, the Roman cavalry engaged and routed these, too.
Hannibal’s army was now without cavalry support and exposed on both flanks, while his most expensive units inflicted minimal casualties on the Romans and were mostly defeated by Rome’s cheapest warriors, the velites. As Masinissa pursued the Numidians who opposed his rule and the Roman cavalry chased its Carthaginian rivals, Hannibal ordered his infantry forward.
The infantry of both sides advanced slowly into battle, according to Polybius. This may be attributed to the difficulty of the Romans in maintaining formation while moving past the mountainous elephant corpses, and the difficulty of the Carthaginian army in ordering forward a body of infantry that spoke six different languages. Either way, when the two armies met, Hannibal’s auxiliary troops clashed with Scipio’s hastati, the only infantry facing the enemy in the customized Roman formation. The fighting was brutal, but the hastati made their people proud and forced back the entire line of enemy infantry on their own.
As Hannibal’s auxiliary infantry retreated after breaking, the polarization between Roman and Carthaginian flexibility became apparent. The diverse body of troops attempted to retreat through the ranks of their Carthaginian allies, but the Carthaginians refused to open an avenue of retreat. What ensued highlights the desperation of both sides to win the battle of Zama: the auxiliaries began hacking at the Carthaginians in an attempt to break up the formation, and the Carthaginians, convinced their allies had turned on them, responded in kind. Hannibal ran down the line ordering the auxiliaries, pressed by blade on both sides, to flee to the wings of the Carthaginian line, but the damage had been done.
The hastati were halted in their pursuit of the auxiliaries by Roman battle horns Scipio reformed his troops in a single line, placing the hastati in the center, principes outside the hastati, and triarii on both wings. In this single line the Romans now advanced over a field of corpses and battlefield slaughter the going was tricky as finding footing on bloody corpses and weapons proved difficult. When at last the Romans closed with their Carthaginian enemies, the fighting was intense and the sway of battle remained neutral.
Masinissa’s Numidians and the Roman cavalry returned at this critical point in the battle Polybius and Livy both remark on the providential timing. The cavalry slammed into Hannibal’s rear, forcing a decisive end to a brutal battle. On the open plain of Zama, the retreating Carthaginians had nowhere to run chased down by horsemen, very few of these escaped. Polybius and Livy claim 20,000 Carthaginian killed and an equal number of prisoners of the Romans, 1500 died at Zama.
The battle of Zama emphasized the flexibility of the Roman manipular legion and the discipline of its soldiers, who could be organized and reorganized timely and efficiently, even in the middle of battle. Roman arms proved doubtlessly superior to those of Hannibal’s auxiliaries, and provided an effective counter to the elephants.
Roman cavalry doctrine had clearly improved since the killing grounds of Cannae Scipio recruited a numerically superior cavalry contingent that could fight even with elephants present on the battlefield. Roman cavalry and their Numidian allies opened the Carthaginian wings and returned at the opportune time to maximize this advantage.
With Hannibal defeated and his army crushed at Zama, Carthage ended as an effective military power in the Mediterranean. Rome was now free to begin its conquest of Macedon and Greece as it expanded further East Gaul and Germania were likewise now on the table as possible acquisitions through conquest. With the elimination of Carthage came the opportunity for Rome to expand to the height of its size in the later age of the Roman Empire, the largest empire of the ancient world.
The Success of the Roman Republic and Empire © 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Rising from Rebellion
The Han Dynasty succeeded the Qin Dynasty, the first imperial dynasty of China. Although the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Qin Shi Huang, was a formidable ruler, the empire he had established did not last long after his death, as he had a weak successor and there was in-fighting amongst his officials. The last days of the rule of the Qin Dynasty were so unbearable that many rebellions broke out across the empire.
These rebels were under the nominal leadership of Xiang Yu, a warlord from the state of Chu. Another important rebel leader was Liu Bang, a minor Qin official who was also from the Chu state. Following the death of Qin Shi Huang, Liu Bang resigned from his post, raised an army, and rebelled against Qin rule.
Although Liu Bang initially served under Xiang Yu during the rebellion against the Qin Dynasty, the two men would later become rivals, as each desired to become the Emperor of China. The struggle for supremacy between Xiang Yu and Liu Bang is known as the Chu-Han Contention, which lasted from 206 BC to 202 BC. At the Battle of Gaixia, the Han forces under Liu Bang won a decisive victory over Xiang Yu, who committed suicide after this defeat. Liu Bang proclaimed himself the Emperor of China and the Han Dynasty was established.
Consort Yu (Chinese: 虞姬 pinyin: Yú Jī died 202 BC), personal name Yu Miaoyi, also known as "Yu the Beautiful" (虞美人), was a concubine of Xiang Yu.
Consort Yu's birth date was unknown and there are two accounts of her origin. The first said she was a native of Yanji Village (顏集鄉) in Shuyang County, while the other claimed that she was from Changshu in Suzhou , but both pointed that she was born in present-day Jiangsu .
In 209 BC, Xiang Yu and his uncle Xiang Liang started a rebellion to overthrow the qin dynasty. Consort Yu's older brother, Yu Ziqi, was serving in Xiang Liang's army as a general then. Yu met Xiang Yu, fell in love with him and became his concubine. Since then, she followed Xiang Yu on military campaigns and refused to remain behind.
In 202 BC, Xiang Yu was besieged in the Battle of Gaixia by the combined forces of Liu Bang (King of Han), Han Xin and Peng Yue. The Han army started to sing folk songs from Xiang Yu's native land of Chu to create a false impression that they had captured Chu. The morale of Xiang Yu's troops plummeted and several soldiers deserted. In despair, Xiang Yu indulged in alcohol and sang the Song of Gaixia to express his sorrow. Consort Yu performed a sword dance and sang a verse in return. To prevent Xiang Yu from being distracted by his love for her, Consort Yu committed suicide with Xiang Yu's sword after singing. She was buried at Gaixia.
Battle of Zama
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Battle of Zama, (202 bce ), victory of the Romans led by Scipio Africanus the Elder over the Carthaginians commanded by Hannibal. The last and decisive battle of the Second Punic War, it effectively ended both Hannibal’s command of Carthaginian forces and also Carthage’s chances to significantly oppose Rome. The battle took place at a site identified by the Roman historian Livy as Naraggara (now Sāqiyat Sīdī Yūsuf, Tunisia). The name Zama was given to the site (which modern historians have never precisely identified) by the Roman historian Cornelius Nepos about 150 years after the battle.
By the year 203 Carthage was in great danger of attack from the forces of the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio, who had invaded Africa and had won an important battle barely 20 miles (32 km) west of Carthage itself. The Carthaginian generals Hannibal and his brother Mago were accordingly recalled from their campaigns in Italy. Hannibal returned to Africa with his 12,000-man veteran army and soon gathered a total of 37,000 troops with which to defend the approaches to Carthage. Mago, who had sustained battle wounds during a losing engagement in Liguria (near Genoa), died at sea during the crossing.
Scipio, for his part, marched up the Bagradas (Majardah) River toward Carthage, seeking a decisive battle with the Carthaginians. Some of Scipio’s Roman forces were reinvigorated veterans from Cannae who sought redemption from that disgraceful defeat. Once his allies had arrived, Scipio had about the same number of troops as Hannibal (around 40,000 men), but his 6,100 cavalrymen, led by the Numidian ruler Masinissa and the Roman general Gaius Laelius, were superior to the Carthaginian cavalry in both training and quantity. Because Hannibal could not transport the majority of his horses from Italy, he was forced to slaughter them to keep them from falling into Roman hands. Thus, he could field only about 4,000 cavalry, the bulk of them from a minor Numidian ally named Tychaeus.
Hannibal arrived too late to prevent Masinissa from joining up with Scipio, leaving Scipio in a position to choose the battle site. That was a reversal of the situation in Italy, where Hannibal had held the advantage in cavalry and had typically chosen the ground. In addition to utilizing 80 war elephants that were not fully trained, Hannibal was also compelled to rely mostly upon an army of Carthaginian recruits that lacked much battle experience. Of his three battle lines, only his seasoned veterans from Italy (between 12,000 to 15,000 men) were accustomed to fighting Romans they were positioned at the rear of his formation.
Before the battle, Hannibal and Scipio met personally, possibly because Hannibal, perceiving that battle conditions did not favour him, hoped to negotiate a generous settlement. Scipio may have been curious to meet Hannibal, but he refused the proposed terms, stating that Carthage had broken the truce and would have to face the consequences. According to Livy, Hannibal told Scipio, “What I was years ago at Trasimene and Cannae, you are today.” Scipio is said to have replied with a message for Carthage: “Prepare to fight because evidently you have found peace intolerable.” The next day was set for battle.
As the two armies approached each other, the Carthaginians unloosed their 80 elephants into the ranks of the Roman infantry, but the great beasts were soon dispersed and their threat neutralized. The failure of the elephant charge can likely be explained by a trio of factors, with the first two being well documented and most important. First, the elephants were not well trained. Second—and perhaps even more vital to the outcome—Scipio had arranged his forces in maniples (small, flexible infantry units) with broad alleys between them. He had trained his men to move to the side when the elephants charged, locking their shields and facing the alleys as the elephants passed by. That caused the elephants to run unimpeded through the lines with little, if any, engagement. Third, the loud shouts and blaring trumpets of the Romans may have disconcerted the elephants, some of which swerved to the side early in the battle and instead attacked their own infantry, causing chaos on the front line of Hannibal’s recruits.
Scipio’s cavalry then charged the opposing Carthaginian cavalry on the wings the latter fled and were pursued by Masinissa’s forces. The Roman infantry legions then advanced and attacked Hannibal’s infantry, which consisted of three consecutive lines of defense. The Romans crushed the soldiers of the first line and then those of the second. However, by that time the legionnaires had become nearly exhausted—and they had yet to close with the third line, which consisted of Hannibal’s veterans from his Italian campaign (i.e., his best troops). At that crucial juncture, Masinissa’s Numidian cavalry returned from their rout of the enemy cavalry and attacked the rear of the Carthaginian infantry, who were soon crushed between the combined Roman infantry and the cavalry assault. Some 20,000 Carthaginians died in the battle, and perhaps 20,000 were captured, while the Romans lost about 1,500 dead. The Greek historian Polybius states that Hannibal had done all that he could as a general in battle, especially considering the advantage held by his opponent. That Hannibal was fighting from a position of weakness does not in any way diminish Scipio’s victory for Rome, however. With the defeat of Carthage and Hannibal, it is likely that Zama awakened in Rome a vision of a larger future for itself in the Mediterranean.
The Battle of Zama left Carthage helpless, and the city accepted Scipio’s peace terms whereby it ceded Spain to Rome, surrendered most of its warships, and began paying a 50-year indemnity to Rome. Scipio was awarded the surname Africanus in tribute of his victory. Hannibal escaped from the battle and went to his estates in the east near Hadrumetum for some time before he returned to Carthage. For the first time in decades, Hannibal was without a military command, and never again did he lead Carthaginians into battle. The indemnity Rome set as payment from Carthage was 10,000 silver talents, more than three times the size of the indemnity demanded at the conclusion of the First Punic War. Although the Carthaginians had to publicly burn at least 100 ships, Scipio did not impose harsh terms on Hannibal himself, and Hannibal was soon elected as suffete (civil magistrate) by popular vote to help administer a defeated Carthage.
Conclusively ending the Second Punic War with a decisive Roman victory, the Battle of Zama must be considered one of the most important battles in ancient history. Having staged a successful invasion of Africa and having vanquished its canniest and most-implacable foe, Rome began its vision of a Mediterranean empire.
The Battle of Actium
At the Battle of Actium, off the western coast of Greece, Roman leader Octavian wins a decisive victory against the forces of Roman Mark Antony and Cleopatra, queen of Egypt. Before their forces suffered final defeat, Antony and Cleopatra broke though the enemy lines and fled to Egypt, where they would commit suicide the following year.
With the assassination of Roman dictator Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., Rome fell into civil war. To end the fighting, a coalition—the Second Triumvirate—was formed by three of the strongest belligerents. The triumvirate was made up of Octavian, Caesar’s great-nephew and chosen heir Mark Antony, a powerful general and Lepidus, a Roman statesman. The empire was divided among the three, and Antony took up the administration of the eastern provinces. Upon arriving in Asia Minor, he summoned Queen Cleopatra to answer charges that she had aided his enemies. Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt since 51 B.C., had once been Julius Caesar’s lover and had borne him a child, who she named Caesarion, meaning “little Caesar.”
Cleopatra sought to seduce Antony as she had Caesar before him, and in 41 B.C. arrived at Tarsus on a magnificent river barge, dressed as Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Successful in her efforts, Antony returned with her to Alexandria, where they spent the winter in debauchery. In 40 B.C., Antony returned to Rome and married Octavian’s sister Octavia in an effort to mend his increasingly strained relationship with Octavian. The triumvirate, however, continued to deteriorate. In 37 B.C. Antony separated from Octavia and traveled to the East, arranging for Cleopatra to join him in Syria. In their time apart, Cleopatra had borne him twins, a son and a daughter. According to Octavian’s propagandists, the lovers were then married, which violated the Roman law restricting Romans from marrying foreigners.
Antony’s disastrous military campaign against Parthia in 36 B.C. further reduced his prestige, but in 34 B.C. he was more successful against Armenia. To celebrate the victory, he staged a triumphal procession through the streets of Alexandria, in which Antony and Cleopatra sat on golden thrones, and their children were given imposing royal titles. Many in Rome, spurred on by Octavian, interpreted the spectacle as a sign that Antony intended to deliver the Roman Empire into alien hands.
After several more years of tension and propaganda attacks, Octavian declared war against Cleopatra, and therefore Antony, in 31 B.C. Enemies of Octavian rallied to Antony’s side, but Octavian’s brilliant military commanders gained early successes against his forces. On September 2, 31 B.C., their fleets clashed at Actium in Greece. After heavy fighting, Cleopatra broke from the engagement and set course for Egypt with 60 of her ships. Antony then broke through the enemy line and followed her. The disheartened fleet that remained surrendered to Octavian. One week later, Antony’s land forces surrendered.
Although they had suffered a decisive defeat, it was nearly a year before Octavian reached Alexandria and again defeated Antony. In the aftermath of the battle, Cleopatra took refuge in the mausoleum she had had built for herself. Antony, informed that Cleopatra was dead, stabbed himself with his sword. Before he died, another messenger arrived, saying Cleopatra still lived. Antony was carried to Cleopatra’s retreat, where he died after bidding her to make her peace with Octavian. When the triumphant Roman arrived, she attempted to seduce him, but he resisted her charms. Rather than fall under Octavian’s domination, Cleopatra committed suicide, possibly by means of an asp, a poisonous Egyptian serpent and symbol of divine royalty.
#5 Court eunuchs played a part in the downfall of the Han dynasty
There were several reasons for the decline of the Han dynasty. Politically, the palace eunuchs increasingly involved themselves in court politics, engaging in violent power struggles that even led to wholesale massacres within the palace. These political struggles weakened the Han ruling class leading to its ultimate downfall. Economically, by the latter part of the Eastern Han, the government experienced sharply decreasing tax revenue, limiting their ability to fund the court and to support the armies. An important event leading to the collapse of the Han dynasty was unrest and rebellions, the most prominent of which was the Yellow Turban Rebellion of 184 – 185 AD. Other reasons for the collapse of the Han dynasty include corruption, poor leadership and decadence of the ruling elite.
Under Siege review – aesthetic triumph as historic Chinese battle danced to vivid life
T housands of scissors hang from the ceiling. At first, it feels like the canopy of a strange, silvery forest. It seems to breathe – as if the clusters of sharp foliage are moved by a gentle wind. Then the music starts – traditional instruments played by performers in white who slide on to the stage as if they are floating. As the music rises to a crescendo, the canopy begins to move with sinister urgency, like an incoming storm.
This is the spectre that hangs over the entire performance of Under Siege, Yang Liping Contemporary Dance’s retelling of the Chu-Han Contention – a four-year war from Chinese history between the Western Chu and Han forces following the fall of the Qin dynasty in 206 BC. The war led to the establishment of the Han dynasty in 202 BC under emperor Liu Bang, and Yang Liping’s production uses dance, narration and traditional motifs to retell the oft-told story.
Dancers beneath a canopy of scissors. Photograph: Ding Yi Jie
A two-hour performance couldn’t hope to cover the entirety of that war, and Under Siege doesn’t even try. Instead, it introduces the main actors in the drama – Xiang Yu (He Shang), the king of the Western Chu, and Yu Ju, his concubine (Hu Shenyuan, in an arresting performance, not least because it has been cast cross-gender, a tradition in the Peking Opera). Liu Bang (Gong Zhonghui), warrior and future emperor and Han Xin (Xiao Fuchun), the strategist and deserter of Xiang Yu, who played a critical role in the defeat of his former leader – and arrives at the action as the final battle, the Battle of Gaixia, is about to take place. Narration by Xiao He (Guo Yi), a statesman and follower of Liu, urges the audience through the highly stylised performance with dramatic gestures and melodious delivery.
At the front of the stage, a woman in white sits surrounded by piles of white paper. Throughout the performance, she cuts the paper into shapes – sometimes into Chinese characters, sometimes images of people themselves. The tradition of Chinese paper cutting dates back to the 6th century, and the performance of it here brings a constant sense of reflection to the work – the serenity with which she (mostly) performs her task is a reminder that we are watching history from the safety of the present.
Dancers bring energy and electricity to the story of an historic four-year war. Photograph: Ding Yi Jie
There are long stretches of the program that seem to be more like a meditation on character little occurs, and it’s not clear what service the extended treatment performs for the story. There are also moments of comedy that border on pantomime which, while amusing, seem to come from a different production altogether.
The production really comes into its own during the battle scenes, in which the distinction between martial arts and dance becomes increasingly blurred. The true spirit of this work is in the choreography in these scenes, and the energy and electricity of the dancers who perform them.
The dramatic final sequence, in which the cast roll and leap and dive through great drifts of red feathers that flurry and erupt around them – a sea of blood, and a place to sleep in death – is not simply a technical feat the contrast between the clanking, vicious canopy of sharp edges with the overwhelming sea of softness is an aesthetic triumph.
Yang is a household name in China, making her name back in 1986 with her dance work, Spirit of the Peacock, and her presence at the curtain call on Friday night brings the house to its feet. Under Siege gives some glimpse into why she is so popular. While the pacing and drama lag, there’s no denying that this is an arresting and highly memorable piece of contemporary theatre, reaching towards the visually spectacular.
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I början på december 202 f.Kr. möttes Xiang Yus och Liu Bangs trupper vid Gaixia, vid Tuofloden söder om Lingbi i Anhui. [ 2 ] Liu Bangs hade 300𧄀 soldater ledda av general Han Xin. Xiang Yus högt älskade konkubin Yu hade tidigare blivit tillfångatagen av Liu Bangs trupper, och Han Xin använde henne för att locka Xiang Yu i en fälla, och placerade konkubin Yu i kanjonen i Gaixia. Xiang Yu gick med 100𧄀 soldater mot kanjonen för att rädda konkubin Yu. Yu blev "räddad", men de blev instängda i kanjonen och omringande av fienden. Xiang Yus trupper barrikaderade sig omgiver av vallar, där de belägrades av Liu Bang och Han Xin. [ 1 ] [ 5 ]
På nätterna under belägringen beordrade Liu Bang och Han Xin sina trupper att sjunga traditionella folksånger från Västra Chu, vilket Xiang Yu och hans soldater hörde. Sångerna fick Xiang Yu att tro att Västra Chu kanske hade fallit till Han. Sångerna påminde också soldaterna om sina hem och familjer, vilket ytterligare demoraliserade dem i det redan svåra läget. Många av Xiang Yus soldater deserterade av hemlängtan, vilket Xiang Yu efter påtryckningar från konkubin Yu accepterade. Under belägringen påstås Xiang Yu och konkubin Yu tillsammans komponerat den vemodiga "Gaixiasången" (垓下歌). Konkubin Yu tog på sig stor skuld att de var fångade, och begick självmord med ett svärd. [ 5 ] Denna händelse är grunden till pekingoperan Farewell My Concubine (霸王别姬). [ 7 ]
En tidig morgon i slutet på december lyckades Xiang Yu och ett kavalleri med 800 soldater göra en genombrytning om fly ut ur kanjonen och undkomma belägringen. Liu Bang skickade 5𧄀 ryttare som tog upp jakten på Xiang Yu. [ 1 ] [ 5 ]
Vid Wu floden (烏江) (någonstans i området kring He nära Yangtzefloden [ 7 ] [ 6 ] ) var Xiang Yus trupp upphunnen av Liu Bangs trupper. [ 5 ] Vid den tiden hade Xiang Yu bara ett fåtal lojala soldater som stannat kvar. [ 7 ] Xiang Yu, som var stor och stark och känd som en mycket brutal krigsherre kämpade tappert och lyckades hålla stånd mot Han-trupperna och dödade själv flera hundra man. Xiang Yu hade tillgång till en båt, och möjlighet att fly över Yangtzefloden, men valde att stanna kvar och slåss eftersom han kände att han inte hade himlens mandat att regera. När allt hopp var ute begick Xiang Yu självmord genom att skära halsen av sig. [ 4 ] [ 1 ]
The Success of the Roman Republic and Empire
Livy tells us, the Roman army was well aware that the Seleucid army and their king, Antiochus, were encamped near Thyatira. After a five day march they arrive at Thyatira to find that the king has moved his camp. The Romans follow the track until they reach the neighborhood of Magnesia and Sipylum, where Antiochus has built camp with a fosse, double ramparts, walls, and turrets. The Roman army sets up camp on the western bank of the Phrygius which is four miles from Antiochus. When the Roman army arrives and starts to set up camp, they are attacked by 1,000 cavalry across the river. There is confusion at the beginning, but soon reinforcements on the Roman side cause the enemy to retreat across the river. The Romans pursue the attackers and slay those who are not able to escape fast enough.
After two days of silence on both sides, the Romans cross the river and set up a new camp two and a half miles from Antiochus. Again, while the Romans are building their camp, 3,000 infantry and cavalry attack the Roman advanced guard which had far less troops. The Romans are able to hold the attack and kill 100 enemies and capture 100 more.
For the following four days, both armies stand ready for battle, and on the fifth the Roman army advances to the middle of the battlefield, but Antiochus keeps his troops within a mile of their camp. That night the Roman consul Scipio calls for a war council and they debate whether to continue fighting or make a new camp to hold through the winter. The Romans decide to fight, and that they will rush the enemies camp if they do not choose to fight on the battlefield. A scout is sent to survey the enemy camp.
The next day, the Roman army advances to the half point on the battlefield, and according to Livy, Antiochus decides to advance his troops so to not lower their morale any further.
According to Appian, consul Scipio had 30,000 strong altogether, which consisted of 10,000 Roman legionaries, 10,000 Italian allies, 3,000 Achaean peltasts, and 3,000 cavalry.
Antiochus had 70,000 strong, and the most notable of his troops were those that made up a 16,000 man Macedonian phalanx. The rest of of the army had a disorganized and inconsistent make up. Antiochus had twenty-two elephants on the flanks of each section of his army.
At onset of battle, Antiochus sent his chariots in a daring charge, but the Romans counter the Seleucid’s charge by simultaneously launching missiles, arrows, and charging cavalry of their own. All the commotion caused by the Roman counterattack caused the enemy chariots to flee the battlefield, followed by the auxiliary troops located behind the chariot force. Soon, the enemy’s front center had taken a beating and the reserves had been outflanked. But closer to the river, Roman troops had begun to retreat back to their camp due to an advancing Antiochus. At the Roman camp, the fleeing troops are stopped by the camp guard with the threat of death. With additional, fresh troops from the camps guard, the Romans make a counter and defeat both wings of the enemy army. The Romans find more resistance then anticipated at the enemy camp, but it is finally stormed and taken. Later delegates from Thyatira, Magnesia, and Sipylum surrender their cities.
50,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry, 1,500 prisoners, and 15 elephants and their drivers captured.
There were many wounded, but only 300 infantry and 49 cavalry were killed.
The Battle of Magnesia marked the end of the Roman-Syrian War. It increased the Romans control over Asia Minor. It also crippled the already divided Seleucid Empire, and prevented Antiochus from expanding his control to the west.
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