Everything had started when Arminius, leader of the Germanic tribe of the Cherusci, became a confident and military consultant for Publius Quinctilius Varus, a notorious roman general, of noble origin. Arminius, although a Germanic man by birth, had roman citizenship, and his time in Rome had made him an expert on roman military techniques. Nonetheless, with knowledge about the cruelty and oppression by which his fellow Germanic countrymen were treated at the hands of their roman conquerors, in the shadows, Arminius had devised a plan, conceived with the intent to turn the normally dispersed and disorganized Germanic tribes, that usually fought against each other, into a vigorous and united national army, able to instigate a rebellion against the tyrannical roman rule. A very risky, but audacious plan. Following his instincts, Arminius ignited a conspiracy, that not only would bring about drastic consequences over the history of roman territorial expansion, but would also generate a primordial effect towards the destiny of all Germanic tribes of Europe.
The then new Roman Empire – a nation going through a slow and lingering period of transition, as some decades ago still was an oligarchic republic, that now, through Octavian, its first emperor, was becoming an autocratic empire – was known to brutalize and oppress the tribes and peoples they had conquered. But the Germanic tribes, united by a common cause, were willing to show that they would not give up without fighting first. So a fastidious and violent conflict inevitably began.
With a well-designed plan, Arminius made the closed, hostile and difficult terrain of the forest to work at his favor, to surprise the romans in a tempestuous attack, from which they had no escape, as the inaccessible geographical conditions of the territory would be insurmountable to the romans, not familiar with the location, filled with hills, dense valleys and dark woods. In fact, what the romans didn’t known, but soon came to find out, is that they were all being attracted to an insidious, but very elaborate trap, since the dense forest would reveal itself to be a conspicuous labyrinth – very easy to get in, but practically impossible to get out. Invariably, as Arminius had intended, the rugged and unpredictable region was, by its own merits, a persistent and dark obstacle for the invaders, and falling into one trap after another, the romans were surprised as never before – and even after – in all of their history, subjected and humiliated by a perfect combination of planning, brutality and local geography, being invariably crushed and massacred without piety. Several roman officials, between them Varus, when realized the flagrant impossibility of an escape, committed suicide. While the Germanic losses were maintained to a minimum, the number of fatalities in the roman side is estimated to be between fifteen and twenty thousand soldiers. A direct consequence of the roman defeat was the almost immediate retreat of the roman presence in the region, that controlled fortifications, camps and even cities in the vicinities. Nonetheless, the practical effects of such defeat were dramatic and decisive to Rome. From this day on, the expansion of the Roman Empire would occur mainly in the east and west, but they would never try again to conquer territories in Central Europe. The territory known to them as Germania – which roughly corresponds today to current Germany, besides some parts of neighboring countries, like France and Switzerland – would never be harassed or invaded by the romans again. In a brutal, severe and violent way, the arrogant and sumptuous Roman Empire was forced to recognize that, although they were a great military and economic power, they would never be able to hold absolute control over everything. A hard lesson, that certainly had shown to the “superior” roman civilization that could be very costly to them trying to subject, overdo and depreciate the “inferior” barbarian world.