There is no doubt that the Roman emperor Augustus was successful in expanding and securing the Roman empire, but in the strike column was one of the worst defeats that the Roman empire ever suffered. In 9 CE, Varus, the emperor’s general in Germany, lost three legions and to all intents and purposes halted Roman expansion across the Rhine river. It was then that a number of German tribes, led by Arminius, attacked the legions and massacred them in the Teutoburg Forest, in northern Germany.
The impact on the Roman imperial psyche was dramatic. The classical historian Suetonius claims that the emperor was so distraught about the loss of around 18,000 men that he walked around the imperial palace in mourning, hitting his head against doors and proclaiming: “Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions!”
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