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I'm dabbling with a short story involving two large but sparsely populated nations locked in a bitter war. Some basic conditions include:

  • The two sides are evenly matched in arms and men
  • Their enmity is non-negotiable (it's become deeply personal and bitter)
  • The region is continent-sized but not very hospitable, mostly arid scrubland and mountains with a smattering of lush oases (think northern Africa)

Due to limitations of resources, technology, and terrain, neither side can conquer and hold enemy territory for very long, so although the border changes frequently, the overall picture has remained fairly stagnant for nearly 700 years.

A good real-world analogue to this scenario seems to be the Roman-Persian wars, which lasted just over 680 years without a clear victor. The sources I've been able to find about the Roman-Persian wars talk a lot about the strategy, tactics, and broad effects on the region, but not about how it shaped society or the everyday lives of the people on either side (apart from increased religious motivations, which don't apply in my scenario).

What I'd like to know is, in general terms, what would be the effect on society of such a conflict?

This is a pretty broad question and could be very subjective, so historical examples would be greatly appreciated!

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closed as too broad by JBH, ZioByte, sphennings, kingledion, Separatrix Dec 31 '17 at 15:15

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ It is a very broad question that is unanswerable in its current state and will likely be closed if we don't narrow it. What is the equivalent Earth year or technology level of the combatants? What was their starting population and what is the current population? What is the cultural disposition of the two combatants (including religious traditions)? Are there other nations that are supporting or in contact with one or both combatants? What is the weather like throughout the year (are there "weather breaks" from combat)? What is the political structure of both nations? Etc. Etc. Etc. $\endgroup$ – JBH Dec 31 '17 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ Since the OP is asking for general effects on society, I do not think that this question is too broad. Despite many cultural differences humans tend to exhibit similar reactions and behaviours to the same stimuli when examined at a level of societies. The patterns stay very much the same throughout history and cultures. Only the invention of mass communication technologies slightly changed it. I vote to reopen the question. $\endgroup$ – Olga Dec 31 '17 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ Both the question about the Roman-Persian wars and the call for historical examples would fit better on History.SE. A less broad way to ask here would be to first make up a pattern and then ask if it is realistic. $\endgroup$ – Brythan Jan 1 '18 at 0:10