Arminius was the son of a Cherusci chieftain who was given up to the Romans to seal a treaty. As this boy grew into a man, he also grew in stature in Rome; he excelled at everything. Rome thought so highly of Arminius that they gave him a high military command and made him a noble. To say that this so-called "barbarian" had it made in the shade would be putting it mildly. But, he willingly gave up his life of wealth and Roman prestige.
While in command of his troops on a journey north, Arminius came home for the first time since he was a boy, years ago. He witnessed first hand how well the Romans honored their treaty with his fellow Cherusci; they didn't. His people were suffering against the unfairness of the Roman yoke and it sickened him. After some cloak and dagger maneuvering that involved uniting the Cherusci with the Marsi, Chatti, Bructeri, Sambri, and Chauci Arminius convinced the Roman commander Varus that a rebellion was afoot. And Varus believed him.
Following Arminius's directions, Varus took three full Roman Legions, Calvary Brigades, and auxiliary troops into the Teutoburg Forest. During a few days in early September, 9 CE, over 20,000 Roman troops were slaughtered (this defeat, the worst in Roman history, effectively ended Roman expansion east of the Rhine River). It also ended Arminius's Roman wealth and prestige.
There may be a few who may argue that Arminius did what he did to create an empire of his own; I do not believe that is what Arminius had in mind. Rather, he saw his people, the Cherusci being given a raw deal by the Roman occupation; the Cherusci were his family, clan, and tribe - not the Romans. Arminius freely gave up what the Romans gave him to help his people. He could have turned his back on his fellow Cherusci, his family and lived a luxurious life in Rome, but he did not. Arminius took the High Road.
Copyright @2015 Terry Unger