Historie Podcasts

Officerer i den romerske hær

Officerer i den romerske hær

Med legionærens udseende var den romerske hær i stand til at opretholde et stort imperium, der fuldstændig omfavnede Middelhavet. Selvom hærens succes hvilede på ryggen af ​​fodsoldaterne og kavaleriet, var der andre på banen og i lejren, der gjorde dem i stand til at sejre. Udover den berømte centurion, der stod foran hans kohorte og førte sine legionærer i kamp, ​​var der et kommandohierarki af militære tribuner, en lejrefrefekt og en legat. Ved siden af ​​centurionen i kampens tykkelse var principperne: optio, signifier, aquilifer og tesserarius. Der var andre, nogle med specialiserede færdigheder, som var lige så vigtige, men forblev i lejren. Disse var immunerne og støttemodtagerne: arbejdere, ekspedienter, landmålere, arkitekter, ingeniører og ordensmænd. Legionærerne kunne ikke have erobret og opretholdt et imperium uden denne dygtige støtte; sammen gjorde de den romerske hær til en frygtet modstander i over otte århundreder.

En Evermore professionel hær

Oprindeligt bestod den romerske hær af en borgerbaseret milits, der blev rekrutteret fra de besiddede borgere, der kun tjente i krigen. Der var en direkte forbindelse mellem statsborgerskab, ejendom og militæret. Under konsulatet af Gaius Marius (ca. 157-86 fvt.) Genopfandt militsen sig selv og blev en professionel hær. De sondringer mellem alder og erfaring, der havde eksisteret før, blev afskaffet. Konstant krig havde alvorligt tømt militæret. Da han indså, at der var et behov, så Marius en uudnyttet ressource og ændrede kravene til hvervning og rekrutterede fra de fattigere og ubemandede borgere i Rom. En soldat behøvede ikke længere at levere sit udstyr. Regeringen leverede alt det væsentlige: våben, rustninger og endda tøj. Med disse ændringer blev service i hæren ekstremt populær blandt de fattige. Det gav mad, tøj, lægehjælp og en sikker løn. Den genfødte legionær blev bedre uddannet, bedre disciplineret og derfor mere fleksibel og effektiv.

Uddannelse i den romerske hær blev overvåget af en specialiseret officer, normalt optio.

Ændringer ville fortsætte i hele den kejserlige periode. Før kejser Augustus (27 f.Kr. - 14 e.Kr.) var den romerske hær konstant på march. Da imperiets grænser udvidede sig over Europa og ind i Mellemøsten, begyndte permanente fæstninger at dukke op for at hjælpe med at stabilisere grænsen. Augustus reducerede antallet af legioner fra 60 til 28. De fleste af disse var stationeret i de urolige provinser og langs grænserne. Til sidst havde Rom en stående hær på 150.000 legionærer og 180.000 hjælpeinfanteri og kavaleri. Selvom antallet af legioner blev reduceret, var der stadig behov for loyale legionærer; den lange undersøgelses- og uddannelsesproces ændrede sig imidlertid ikke. For det første skulle alle rekrutter få deres juridiske status kontrolleret for at forhindre slaver i at slutte sig til hæren. Udover hans juridiske status blev individets alder, egnethed, uddannelse og tidligere beskæftigelse overvejet. Hvis alle standarder blev opfyldt i løbet af denne prøveperiode, ville rekrutten gå ind i det næste trin og modtage hans signakulum: et stykke metal båret om halsen, der indeholder personlige oplysninger om soldaten - svarende til nutidens hærens "hundemærker". Da han ankom til sin tildelte lejr, ville han gennemgå streng uddannelse, før han officielt blev en legionær.

Centurion

Uddannelsen blev overvåget af en specialiseret officer, normalt optio. Træning omfattede øvelser i nær rækkefølge, hånskampe og en-til-en-kamp. Våbentræning blev gennemført ved at bruge kurveskjolde og træsværd. En af de første ting, den fremtidige legionær hurtigt lærte, var, at disciplinen var hård. En legionær måtte adlyde ordrer uden tøven, og hvis ikke, måtte han svare til centurion eller centurio. Bortset fra hans andre opgaver var centurionen ansvarlig for disciplinen og havde den med sig vitis eller vinstokke. Med dette kunne han slå en legionær for selv en mindre overtrædelse. Angiveligt skabt streng træning, lydighed og hård disciplin til en skræmmende soldat.

Julius Cæsar betragtede centurionen som hærens rygrad, men vejen til at blive centurion kom fra mange forskellige retninger. Normalt steg en centurion gennem graderne. Nogle var tidligere medlemmer af den kejserlige Praetorian Guard, mens andre var medlemmer af rytterklassen og modtog kommissioner fra kejseren. I kamp kunne centurionen genkendes af hans sølvpanser, metalskiver og tværgående hjelm. I modsætning til legionærerne under hans kommando bar han også sit sværd (gladius) til venstre og dolk (pugio) til højre. I kampformation stod han til venstre for første rang. I lejrens kaserne havde han sine egne særlige boliger med en separat latrin.

Elsker historie?

Tilmeld dig vores gratis ugentlige nyhedsbrev på e -mail!

Det officielle hierarki for en legion hvilede på tre personer: legaten, tribunen og lejrefrefekten.

For at blive centurion skulle en person først og fremmest og vigtigst af alt være læsefærdig, så han kunne forstå ordrer (altid givet på latin) og videresende dem til legionærerne. Selvom han var en mellemstor officer, fik han ofte andre stillinger med stort ansvar. Han kan blive brugt som uddannelsesofficer eller fritstående tjenestemand og tjene som administrator i en af ​​provinserne. Ofte ville han tjene i så mange som 12 forskellige legioner i løbet af sin 46-årige karriere. Selvom han blev frynset af mere end én kejser, kunne han supplere sin indkomst ved at opkræve et mindre gebyr for at yde en legionær en forløb i de rolige vintermåneder. Efter hans pensionering kunne en centurion udover at modtage sine pensionslønninger blive lektor for en romersk magistrat eller kommandere Praetorian Guard.

Med hjælp fra principperne befalede centurionen et århundrede på 80 mand - seks århundreder svarede til en kohorte på 480 mand. Hvert århundrede blev opdelt i ti hold på otte mænd kendt som et contubernium. Disse otte legionærer udviklede et tæt bånd og delte et kaserneværelse i lejren. De ville kæmpe sammen, spise sammen og i nogle tilfælde dø sammen. Der var i alt 59 centurioner i en legion sammensat af ti kohorter. Med undtagelse af den første kohorte, der havde det dobbelte af antallet af legionærer og fem centurioner, havde de resterende ni kohorter 54 centurioner eller seks pr. Kohorte. Hver af disse seks centurioner havde en bestemt titel: i faldende rækkefølge var de pilus prior, princeps prior, hastatus prior, pilus posterior, princeps posterior og hastatus posterior.

Centurionerne i den første kohorte var de vigtigste i hele legionen, i fællesskab kendt som primordinerne eller mændene af første rang. Det blev ledet af den højest rangerede og højtstående centurion i hele legionen: primus pilus eller første spyd. Han fortsatte ofte med at blive lejrefrefekt. Traditionelt set skulle han være mindst 50 år gammel og tjente normalt kun en periode på et år. Bortset fra at blive lejrefrefekt kan han blive hævet til rytterklassen eller blive provinsguvernør. Under ham i den første kohorte var de resterende fire centurioner: i faldende rækkefølge var de princeps prior, princeps posterior, hastatus prior og hastatus posterior. Udtrykkene princeps og hastatus er titler, der minder om de gamle manipulationer.

Principperne

Arbejde sammen med centurionen i lejren og på slagmarken var en række højere rangerede legionærer kendt som principperne. Disse legionærer modtog ofte halvanden gang til to gange normal løn. To af principperne fungerede som stabsadjunkter, hvoraf den ene var cornicularius, mens den anden var optio. Bortset fra hans ansvar som uddannelsesansvarlig var det optioens pligt at stå sammen med sine medarbejdere, hastige, til yderste højre i baghovedet af århundredet for at holde orden og forhindre desertioner. Hvis centurionen var fraværende, optio ville tage hans plads, og hvis der opstod en ledig stilling for en ny centurion, ville optio blive forfremmet til at udfylde den. Men hvis man valgte en anden vej, kunne han blive en tesserarius. Han var derefter ansvarlig for at få adgangskoderne (skrevet på en voks tablet eller tessera), holde dem sikre og videresende dem til vagterne. I kamp stod han til venstre bag i århundredet.

Da hver legion havde sin egen standard, var der positioner med stor ære forbundet med de forskellige flag og bannere. Blandt dem var vexillarius eller bærer af kavaleristandarden ( vexillum), angiver eller bærer af infanteristandarden (signum), forestilleren eller bæreren af ​​kejserens billede og, vigtigst af alt, akviliferen, bærer af kongeørnstandarden (aquilia). Tilknyttet disse mænd var antesignani, fodsoldater, der lå før standarden, og postsignani, der kom bagefter. En unik standard, der ofte blev brugt i parader, var signum draconis eller draco båret af draconarius. Det var et dragonhoved af bronze fastgjort til et flerfarvet rør af farvet klud, der ville virke som en vindsok og hyle, når kavaleristen bevægede sig hurtigt. Det blev almindeligt brugt af alle romerske monterede enheder.

Behovet for enkeltpersoner til at hjælpe centurionen på og uden for slagmarken gav muligheder, hvis man havde den væsentlige motivation, uddannelse og færdigheder. Man kunne vælge at slutte sig til artilleriet, blive ballistari og betjene belejringsmaskinerne. En anden stilling, der var underordnet centurionen, var decurionen, en juniorofficer, der ofte havde kommandoen over en hjælpeenhed. Lejrene og fæstningerne havde også deres andel af vigtigt personale, der ofte var fritaget for feltopgaver. Der var modtagerne, ofte veteraner, der tjente som ordensmænd og ekspedienter (libarius). De personer med specialiserede færdigheder - ingeniører, tømrere, instruktører og medicinsk personale - blev kaldt immunes og modtog ekstra løn for deres arbejde. En lejr eller fæstning havde også brug for læger, arkitekter, ministre og dyrlæger. Der var endda trompetere og buglere, der tjente som signaler i kamp: tubiciner, cornicines og buccinators. En virkelig ambitiøs legionær kunne imidlertid stræbe efter at blive centurion, selvom det kan tage 12 til 15 år eller mere. Heldigvis gjaldt forbuddet mod ægteskab for centurioner og andre højtstående embedsmænd.

Legaten

Det officielle hierarki for en legion hvilede på tre individer. Først var legaten (legatus legionus) efterfulgt af den bredstribede tribune (tribunus laticlavius), og endelig lejrefrefekten (praefectus castrorum). Udnævnt af kejseren var legaten ikke en professionel soldat. Han var normalt i begyndelsen af ​​trediverne og medlem af den senatoriske orden, der kom fra Roms sociale og politiske elite. Legaten var legionskommandant, og i den tidlige kejserlige periode tjente han kun to år i stillingen; den ville senere blive udvidet til fire. I lejren afspejlede hans bopæl, praetorium, hans status som en romersk senator med en have, tjenerskab og indkvartering til sin familie. På slagmarken ville han bære en rigt, dekoreret hjelm, kropsrustning, en skarlagenrød kappe eller paludamentum og en skarlagen linning eller cincticulus. Som andre kejserlige højtstående officerer havde han ret til at have fasces og lektorer: i hans tilfælde fem fasces og fem lektorer. Da han var fraværende fra fæstningen, faldt hans pligter til lejrefrefekten.

Tribunen

De resterende to højtstående officerer i legionen var den bredstribede tribune og lejrefrefekt. Den bredstribede tribune eller tribunus laticlavius ​​var nummer to i hierarkiet og på vejen til Senatet. Det er vigtigt ikke at forveksle den militære tribune med plebenes tribune. Hver kejserlegion havde seks tribuner, men kun en bar en bred lilla stribe på sin toga og tunika, mens de andre fem eller augusticlavii bar en tynd lilla stribe. Et ungt romersk medlem af rytterklassen opfattede ofte tribunepositionen som et springbræt i karrieren, men det var en virksomhed, der kunne tage op til ni år at opnå. Selvom det ikke altid var en garanti, blev denne senatoriske forfølgelse ofte opnået af en bredstribet tribune først efter at have tjent med legionen i tre til seks år. Den tyndstribede tribune havde ingen autoritet eller kommandomagter og var begrænset til personaletjenester, siddende i krigsretter og vagttjenestekontroller. For at blive en bredstribet tribune skulle en person tjene som præfekt eller chef for både et hjælpeinfanteri og et hjælpekavaleri. I kamp og som chef for en enhed kunne den bredstribede tribune genkendes af hans rigt dekorerede hjelm, støbte rustning og hvide kappe, iført sit sværd på venstre hofte. Også han ville have et hus eller domus, der afspejlede hans elite romerske status; han modtog imidlertid ingen fasces eller lektorer.

Camp -præfekten

Efter tribunen var den tredje i kommando lejrefrefekten eller praefectus castrorum. En tidligere primus pilus ville han tjene som chef for en legionafdeling og i fravær af legaten være kvartmester med ansvar for en lejrs infrastruktur: dens konstruktion, kasernen, lejrefaciliteter, vedligeholdelse af våben, lægehjælp, måltider, vand levering og fremstilling og opbevaring af byggematerialer. Stillingen blev afskaffet i det 4. århundrede e.Kr.

Den romerske legion og legionærerne er blevet legendariske ting, kopieret af hære gennem århundreder. Legionæren er gentagne gange blevet rost for sin tapperhed og udholdenhed i kamp. Centurionen - leder på og uden for banen stod ved siden af ​​ham i kamp. Mens disse mænd blev fejret og efterlignet, var der imidlertid et væld af enkeltpersoner i lejren og sammen med legionærerne i kamp, ​​der er noget glemt, men som stadig var afgørende for det romerske militærs succes. Disse var immunerne, modtagerne og principperne. Alle disse mænd hjalp romerne med at erobre et imperium, der omfavnede Middelhavet.


Strukturel historie om det romerske militær

Det strukturhistorie for det romerske militær vedrører de store forandringer i organisationen og forfatningen af ​​det antikke Roms væbnede styrker, "den mest effektive og langlivede militære institution, som historien har kendt." [1] Fra dets oprindelse omkring 800 f.Kr. til den endelige opløsning i 476 e.Kr. med det vestromerske imperiums død, gennemgik Roms militære organisation betydelige strukturændringer. På det højeste strukturniveau blev styrkerne opdelt i den romerske hær og den romerske flåde, selvom disse to grene var mindre adskilte end i mange moderne nationale forsvarsstyrker. Inden for de øverste niveauer i både hær og flåde skete der strukturelle ændringer som følge af både positiv militærreform og organisk strukturel udvikling. Disse ændringer kan opdeles i fire forskellige faser.

Fase I Hæren stammer fra obligatorisk årlig militærtjeneste, der pålægges borgerne, som en del af deres pligt over for staten. I denne periode ville den romerske hær føre sæsonkampagner mod stort set lokale modstandere. Fase II Efterhånden som omfanget af de områder, der faldt under romersk kontrol, udvidede sig og styrkenes størrelse steg, blev soldatet gradvist lønnede fagfolk. Som en konsekvens blev militærtjenesten på de lavere (ikke-lønnede) niveauer gradvist længere sigt. Romerske militære enheder i perioden var stort set homogene og stærkt regulerede. Hæren bestod af enheder af borgerinfanteri kendt som legioner (latin: legioner) samt ikke-legionære allierede tropper kendt som auxilia. Sidstnævnte blev oftest opfordret til at yde let infanteri, logistisk eller kavaleri støtte. Fase III På højden af ​​Romerrigets magt fik styrkerne til opgave at bemande og sikre grænserne for de store provinser, der var blevet bragt under romersk kontrol. Alvorlige strategiske trusler var mindre almindelige i denne periode, og der blev lagt vægt på at bevare opnået territorium. Hæren undergik ændringer som reaktion på disse nye behov og blev mere afhængig af faste garnisoner end af marchlejre og kontinuerlige feltoperationer. Fase IV Da Rom begyndte at kæmpe for at beholde kontrollen over dets spredte områder, fortsatte militærtjenesten med at være lønnet og professionel for Roms regelmæssige tropper. Tendensen til at anvende allierede eller lejesoldater blev imidlertid udvidet i en sådan grad, at disse tropper kom til at repræsentere en væsentlig del af de væbnede styrker. På samme tid forsvandt ensartetheden af ​​strukturen, der blev fundet i Roms tidligere militær. Tidens soldater strakte sig fra let bevæbnede monterede bueskytter til tungt infanteri i regimenter af varierende størrelse og kvalitet. Dette blev ledsaget af en tendens i det sene imperium med en stigende overvægt af kavaleri frem for infanteritropper, samt et krav om flere mobile operationer. I denne periode var der mere fokus (på alle grænser, men øst) på mindre enheder af uafhængigt opererende tropper, der deltog mindre i dødbringende kampe og mere i lavintensive guerillaaktioner.


Den romerske hær: Taktik, organisation og kommandostruktur

Kunstner Jason Juta / Copyright: Karwansary Publishers

Indsendt af: Dattatreya Mandal 19. december 2019

Historien er vidne til triumfen i den gamle romerske hær, som det fremgår af det romerske imperium i dets apikale omfang - som holdt styr over en stor del af den kendte verden, lige fra Spanien til Syrien (og Irak) og fra nordafrikanske kyster og Egypten til det meste af Storbritannien. Det er nok at sige, at dette gamle militær var kendt for sin rene disciplin, utrolige organisatoriske dybde og evnen til at tilpasse sig. Nogle af disse kvaliteter blev demonstreret gennem logistik under den anden puniske krig, hvor romerne i sidste ende vandt sejrende på trods af (muligvis) at miste en tiendedel til en tyvendedel af deres mandlige befolkning i et enkelt slag (ved Cannae). Og som et supplement til deres ubøjelige evne til at hoppe tilbage fra katastrofale situationer, var udviklingen af ​​det romerske militær gennem århundreder. Til dette formål blev en overflod af romerske militære udviklinger faktisk 'anstiftet' af deres fjender, og som sådan kan mange af det gamle romerske militærsystems succeser tilskrives deres iboende evne til blot at 'reagere'.

Evolution of Tactics of the Roman Army -

Denne fascinerende grafiske video fremstillet af YouTuber Historia Civilis viser passende den 'reaktionære' udvikling af romersk kamptaktik. Og selvom indholdet træder i et forenklet (omend nifty) overblik, kan vi få kerneidéen bag det romerske militærsystem og hvordan dets tilpasningsevne adskiller det fra nogle af de andre militærer i den antikke verden.

Den tidlige romerske afgift -

Tidlige romerske soldater, omkring det 7. århundrede f.Kr. Illustration af Richard Hook.

Selvom videoen ikke rigtig dækker romernes omfang i deres indledende dage, spænder det tidligste romerske hærs udstyrs arkæologiske beviser langt tilbage til det 9. århundrede f.Kr., hovedsageligt fra krigergravene på Capitoline Hill. Hvad angår det litterære bevis, nævner de, hvordan de tidligste romerske hære blev rekrutteret fra de tre vigtigste 'stammer' i Rom. Dette burde ikke komme for meget af et chok (for dem, der er vant til at læse om Roms 'civiliserede' natur), siden bosættelsen af ​​Rom selv startede som et bagvand, der var beboet af kvægruslere, der lavede deres lejre og rudimentære boliger blandt bakkerne og sumpområderne.

Hvad angår den evolutionære del, blev den romerske hærs overgang fra 'stammekrigere' til borgermilits delvis opnået på grund af det romerske samfund og dets iboende repræsentation (med stemmeret) i den romerske forsamling. Til dette formål var de tidlige romere næsten helt afhængige af deres borgermilits for beskyttelse og forlængelse af den spirende fraktions grænser. Disse militsfolk blev ganske enkelt hævet som afgift eller legio - som igen viger for udtrykket 'legion'. I det væsentlige var de såkaldte legioner i det tidlige Rom 'fattige' forgængere for de ensartet udstyrede og disciplinerede soldater i de efterfølgende århundreder (som vi har diskuteret senere).

Den romerske falanks -

Romersk hoplite (til højre) kæmper mod de etruskiske krigere. Kilde: WeaponsandWarfare

Videoen starter med det, der kan betegnes som den første solide dannelse af den romerske hær (da Rom stadig var et bystaterige). Og ganske overraskende var det romerske militærsystem på denne tid inspireret af dets mere avancerede nabo (og fjende)-etruskerne. Faktisk blev massedannelsen af ​​hoplitter, der kæmpede med deres skjold og spyd-kendt som en falang, allerede vedtaget af grækerne i 675 f.Kr. og nåede til de italienske etrusker i begyndelsen af ​​det 7. århundrede f.Kr. Romerne var til gengæld påvirket af deres etruskiske fjender og formåede dermed at vedtage mange af de stive græskinspirerede formationer sammen med våben i realtidens kampscenarier.

Mange gamle forfattere er i overensstemmelse med denne romerske hærs vedtagelse af 'udenlandsk' taktik. For eksempel Diodorus Siculus (I hans Historisk bibliotek) nævner, hvordan romerne droppede deres lette rektangulære skjolde og godkendte etruskernes tungere bronzeskjolde. Denne militære replikation tillod igen romerne at sejre over etruskerne. Anon (i hans Ineditum Vaticanum) støtter også denne opfattelse ved at sige, hvordan etruskerne fik en forsmag på deres egen medicin, da den romerske hær omfavnede de samme stramme hoplitformationer for at imødegå sine fjender.

Ifølge historisk tradition blev vedtagelsen af ​​hoplittaktikken drevet af de omfattende militære reformer, der blev foretaget af den næstsidste romerske hersker Servius Tullius, der sandsynligvis regerede i det 6. århundrede f.Kr. Han foretog en afvigelse fra de 'stamme' institutioner i curia og herrer, og delte i stedet militæret ud fra den enkelte soldats besiddelse af ejendommen. I den forbindelse blev den romerske hær og dens spejlende fredstidssamfund opdelt i klasser (classis).

Ifølge Livy var der seks sådanne klasser - alle baseret på deres besiddelse af rigdom (det blev defineret af æsler eller små kobbermønter). De tre første klasser kæmpede som de traditionelle hoplitter, bevæbnet med spyd og skjolde - selvom bevæbningen faldt baseret på deres økonomiske status. Den fjerde klasse var kun bevæbnet med spyd og spyd, mens den femte klasse var sparsomt bevæbnet med slynger. Endelig var den seks (og fattigste) klasse totalt fritaget for militærtjeneste. Dette system hentyder igen til, hvordan den tidlige romerske hær blev dannet på virkelig nationalistiske værdier. Kort sagt, disse mænd forlod deres hjem og gik i krig for at beskytte (eller øge) deres egne lande og rigdom, i modsætning til bare at vælge en militær 'karriere'.

Den romerske mandel -

Men den romerske hærs største styrke havde altid været dens tilpasningsevne og evne til at udvikle sig. Som vi tidligere nævnte, hvordan de tidlige romere fra deres rige æra vedtog deres fjendes hoplittaktik og besejrede dem efter tur. På tidspunktet for den første samnitkrig (i omkring 343 f.Kr.) syntes den romerske hær imidlertid at have godkendt nyere formationer, der var mere fleksible i naturen. Denne ændring i kamporienteret stratagem var sandsynligvis et svar på de hårdføre samnitiske hære-og som et resultat opstod manpleformationer (i stedet for den tidligere stive falanks).

Selve udtrykket manipulus betyder 'en håndfuld', og dermed inkorporerede dens tidlige standard en stang med en håndfuld hø placeret omkring den. Ifølge de fleste litterære beviser var den romerske hær nu opdelt i tre separate kamplinjer, hvor første linje bestod af de unge hastati i ti manipulationer (hver på 120 mand) den anden linje omfattende den hærdet principper i ti manipulationer og den tredje og sidste linje bestående af veteranen triarii i ti manipulationer - der sandsynligvis kæmpede som tunge hoplitter (men deres manipulationer havde kun 60 mand). Derudover blev disse kamplinjer muligvis også screenet af de lysvåbnede velitter, der mest tilhørte den fattigere klasse af romerske civile.

Det er nok at sige, at en maniple var en langt mere fleksibel formation end den 'faste' endnu (lejlighedsvis) uhåndterlige falanks. Endnu vigtigere er disse formationer, samlet kaldet triplex acies, tilladt at et slagmarkesystem med reserver blev indsat for bedre taktisk fordel. For eksempel når front-foringen hastati blev tømt for sin styrke under kampens hede, kunne han falde tilbage på elitens reservelinjer triarii. De godt pansrede veteraner blev derefter indsat fremad på en cyklisk måde-hvilket resulterede i, at et nyt parti tropper modtog den udmattede (og normalt mindre organiserede) fjende. Denne enkle, men effektive taktik ændrede resultatet af mange mindre slag i det 4. århundrede f.Kr. - som repræsenteret ved ovenstående video (rekonstrueret af Invictus, i Rome 2 -spilmotoren).

Den romerske kohorte -

Illustration af Peter Dennis. Kredit: Warlord Games Ltd.

Da det romerske rige fortsatte med at ekspandere hurtigt, især under og efter afslutningen af ​​den anden puniske krig, stødte romerne på større hære med de mere organiserede militære magter i samtiden. I det 2. århundrede f.Kr. var manipulationerne simpelthen ikke 'store' nok til at blive indsat i masseskala i kampe. Så igen, som en reaktionær foranstaltning, flyttede romerne (gradvist) væk fra et pseudoklassebaseret system for at indføre en kollektiv løsning for deres hære. Resultatet var kohorten - en fleksibel gruppe på omkring 480 mand, der var bevæbnet og pansret på lignende måde. Ti sådanne kohorter lavede en legion, og derfor er de senere romerske soldater simpelthen kendt som legionærer, i modsætning til individualistisk kategorisering som hastati og triarii.

For alt i alt var den romerske legionær en professionel soldat i oldtiden-rekrutteret (og undertiden værnepligtig) fra forskellige dele af den romerske republik (og senere imperium). Og passende for en professionel soldat måtte de grønne rekrutter, der med succes blev ansat som legionærer, gennemgå en streng uddannelsesperiode på 4 måneder. I løbet af dette træningsinterval fik hver soldat den upassende opgave at marchere 29 km (18 miles) på fem timer med regelmæssige trin og derefter 35 km (21,7 miles) på fem timer med hurtigere trin - alt imens du havde en rygsæk, der vejede 45 lbs (20,5 kg).

Denne vægt blev bevidst tildelt til at øge udholdenhedsniveauet for en legionær og dermed tilføjet til den samlede vægt af panoplyet, som soldaterne havde på i deres fulde gear (vægten af lorica segmentata rustning alene kunne have gået ud over 20 lbs). Som forventet blev 'slowpokes' hårdt slået af centurioner og betjente med deres stabe. Interessant nok bevares mange af de lignende 'regimer' gennem vores moderne militære kultur - med elitestyrker fra nogle lande uddannet via så strenge boot camp -metoder.

Organisationen af ​​den romerske hær -

Den gamle romerske hær var kendt for sin rene disciplin og utrolige organisatoriske dybde. Med hensyn til sidstnævnte 'kvalitet' demonstrerer en animeret kort video af Blair Harrower passende, hvordan romerne organiserede deres hær ned til de sidste detaljer, når det kom til troppetyper, tilsvarende officerer og deres formationer, og hentyder dermed til et imponerende taktisk omfang, der blev matchet af meget få gamle hære. Nu skal det bemærkes, at animationen viser omfanget af postmariske reformer-en eftersyn af et militært system, der først fandt sted efter 107 f.Kr.

Servicelængde -

Selvom videoen nu giver nogle solide, urokkelige tal, når det kom til romerske legionærer, var situationerne i den romerske hær ofte mere kaotiske i virkelige scenarier. I sidste del af 1. århundrede f.Kr. fulgte Augustus retningslinjerne fra de foregående århundreder og officielt formaliserede en legionærs tjenestetid til 16 år (i 13 f.Kr.). Men det skal bemærkes, at selv efter 16 års tjeneste forventedes han at deltage i vexillum veteranorum eller enhed af veteraner i yderligere fire år.

Men med 6 AD blev den oprindelige tjenestetid forlænget til 20 år, og den blev suppleret med praemia militare (eller dechargebonus), et engangsbeløb, der blev forhøjet til 12.000 sesterces (eller 3.000 denarer). Og i midten af ​​1. århundrede e.Kr. blev tjenesten yderligere udvidet til 25 år. Nu ud over officielle tjenestelængder blev protokollerne sjældent fulgt i tider præget af krige. Dette resulterede i at beholde legionærerne langt ud over deres serviceperioder, hvor nogle mænd kæmpede under deres legioner i over tre til fire årtier. Det er nok at sige, at sådanne kaotiske foranstaltninger ofte resulterede i mytterier.

Hvad angår løn, bortset fra engangsbeløbet på praemia militare, blev en grundlæggende legionær betalt 900 sesterces om året (betalt i tre rater). Denne lønskala forblev den samme indtil mindst 80 e.Kr., på trods af formodet inflation. Lønnen var imidlertid forskellig for de forskellige enheder i en legion, idet underofficerer og specialister blev betalt halvanden eller to gange grundlønnen. Og endvidere var dette løntal kun en pålydende værdi, hvorfra der blev foretaget forskellige fradrag i overensstemmelse med de varer (som mad, udstyr, tøj og endda begravelsesgebyrer), som legionæren indtog. Alligevel var der tilfælde, hvor legionæren blev betalt mindre, end han fortjente, og nogle gange blev de 'svindlende' foranstaltninger igangsat ved at give soldaterne værdiløse jordstykker i stedet for praemia militare.

Binding ud over tal -

Videoen nævner tydeligt, hvordan a contubernium var den mindste division i en romersk hær. Nu ud over disciplin og træning var en af ​​de afgørende årsager til effektiviteten af ​​en legionær direkte forbundet med hans følelse af broderskab inden for et århundrede (bestående af 80 mand). Så på et dybere niveau, et århundrede (centuria) blev yderligere opdelt i ti contubernium (en 'teltgruppe', der hver består af otte medlemmer). Sådanne klassifikationer førte dybest set til et adfærdsmæssigt aspekt af kammeratskab blandt teltgruppen, der kæmpede, spiste og hvilede sammen i deres militære karriere, der strækker sig over årtier. Denne følelse af identifikation oversættes ofte til høj moral og beskyttelsesevne fra legionærernes side, når de kæmper på en egentlig slagmark.

Interessant nok er contubernium var ikke kun begrænset til bindingsøvelserne. Den romerske hær skubbede også teltgruppen frem som et rod ‘hold’. Disse grupperede soldater forventedes at tilberede deres egne måltider og spise dem sammen (mens madomkostningerne blev fratrukket deres løn). Kort sagt, fraværet af messehaller og forplejningstjenester forstærkede snarere båndet mellem legionærerne, der måtte være afhængige af hinanden, selv for fredelige måltider.

Andre specialiserede enheder -

Som vi nævnte før, blev en legionær først betragtet som veteran, efter at han havde tjent i 16 år i hæren. In the 1st century AD, even after such a long period of service, the soldier was not expected to ‘retire’ from his legion. Instead, the veteran was reinstated to a special unit of vexillum veteranorum for four more years of service. Typically consisting of 500 to 600 men, the Roman army unit had its own administrative branch with different officers. It was however attached to the original legion, but at times were deployed independently. The latter case is evident from their separate garrison at the town of Thala, with this particular vexillum veteranorum being derived from Legio III Augusta in 20 AD. Unsurprisingly, the veterans with their years of experience were highly successful against the onslaught of Tacfarinas and his Numidian forces.

Other than vexillum veteranorum, there were also slaves (or kaloner) that could be attached to a legion. Though unlike the veterans, they were governed as a part of the legion, with 120 men attached to each cohort of 480 soldiers. So basically, a single legion (generally comprising ten cohorts) could be accompanied by around 1,200 slaves and these men were trained for specific tasks. During times of emergency, they were even armed with weapons to defend their camps.

And finally, the soldiers who truly made a Roman military unit self-sufficient were the immunes, a group of highly trained specialists attached to each legion. Ranging from doctors, engineers to architects, these men were exempt from the hard labor duties of the rank-and-file soldiers, while also earning more than them.

The Command Structure of the Roman Army –

We already talked about the fascinating organization of the Roman army. However, the strength of the Roman legion was also complemented by its incredibly deep yet sufficiently straightforward command structure. In other words, the hierarchical system of command was tailored to suit both ways, with overlapping representations that mirrored the interests of the senate, the aristocracy and most importantly – the rank-and-file soldiers (legionaries). In essence, it was a collective scope of leadership that fueled the tactical maneuvers (and even strategic deployment) of a legion – and this complex ambit is presented in a comprehensible manner by Historia Civilis’ amazing short animation on the command structure of the Roman legion.

Note* – The animation showcases the scope of post-Marian reforms – a military system overhaul that only took place after 107 BC (thus corresponding to the late Roman Republic and the subsequent Roman Empire).

Det Vexillationes –

Artist: Jason Juta / Credit: Karwansary Publishers

While Roman legions fighting with their full capacity was a regular occurrence during early 2nd century AD, by the middle of the 3rd century the conflicts faced by the Roman empire (and the changing emperors) were pretty volatile from both the geographical and logistical scope. And so it was uncommon and rather impractical for the entire legion to leave its provincial base to fight a ‘distant’ war on the shifting frontiers of 3rd century AD. As a solution, the Roman military commanders sanctioned the use of vexillationes – detachments from individual legions that could be easily transferred without compromising the core strength of a legion (which was needed for fortifying and policing its ‘native’ province).

These mobile combat ‘divisions’, comprising one or two cohorts, were usually tasked with handling the smaller enemy forces while being also used for garrisoning duties along with strategic points like roads, bridges, and forts. And on rare occasions when the Romans were faced by a large number of opposing troops, many of these different vexillationes were combined to form a bigger field army.

Det Comitatus –

Comitatus from the late 3rd Century. Art by Johnny Shumate.

The later Roman empire and its volatile political scope also brought forth newer Roman units separate from the Roman legion. For example, Emperor Gallienus (who ruled alone from 260 to 268 AD) created his own mobile field army consisting of special detachments from the praetorians, Legio II Parthica, and other guard units. Hailed as the comitatus (retinue), this central reserve force functioned under the emperor’s direct command, thus hinting at the ambit of insecurities faced by the Roman rulers and elites during the ‘Crisis of the Third Century’. Interestingly enough, many of ‘extra’ sidestiller (cavalry) that were assigned to each conventional legion, were also inducted as the elite promoti cavalry in the already opulent (and the militarily capable) scope of the comitatus.


Being a Soldier in the Roman Army

The length of a Roman soldier’s military service would on average be about six years. Military service defined men as a Roman citizen. (Image: Serhii Bobyk/Shutterstock)

As Jean-Michel Carrié has noted, it was the Romans who invented many of the features of modern military life. They include “barracks life, promotion rolls, bugle calls, the camp infirmary, the personnel office, tours of duty, morning reports, permissions and leaves, ‘the army offers you a career’ advertisements, the discharge review board, and even theatrical performances for the troops.” So, how did one become a member of the most formidable army the world had ever seen?

Dette er en udskrift fra videoserien Den anden side af historien: Dagligt liv i den antikke verden. Se det nu, Wondrium.

Conscription in the Roman Army

Imagine you are a Roman citizen in the earlier period of Roman history. If you met the minimum property qualification, that is to say you own a farm of a certain size, you’d be conscripted on an annual basis for the duration of a whole campaign—just like Greek hoplites. The word “conscript” comes from the Latin conscribo, meaning “to write your name along with lots of other names.”

As Rome expanded and its wars lengthened, a soldier stood a good chance of facing economic hardship as a result of military service, once they returned home. That’s because they would have been a peasant farmer, so when they would have returned at the end of a campaign, perhaps one that lasted several years, they would have found their farm completely ruined.

Things got worse and worse as Rome’s wars became lengthier and further afield, so in 107 B.C. a Roman general called Gaius Marius abolished the property qualification altogether and permitted those who had previously been excluded to enlist—in other words, those without any property, those who were very poor.

Now, for a moment suppose that you’re one of them. Previously soldiers had to provide their own armor. You had no money, however, so Marius provided you with armor at the state’s expense. He also provided you with pay. All this temporarily relieved a manpower crisis. The problem was that when you were discharged you were as poor as you had been when you’d enlisted. This meant that you were dependent for your retirement package, so to speak, on the general whom you’d served under.

Roman General and his Roman Soldier

In time, the Roman generals became very powerful—Pompey the Great, Cn. Pompeius Magnus, and Julius Caesar—who commanded large armies for several years. Slowly, a Roman soldier would have identified more with his general than he did with Rome itself.

Julius Caesar’s army in Gaul, for instance, served with him for eight years. Not only would the soldier have developed a deep attachment to Caesar over that length of time, but he would also have looked to Caesar to provide him with his retirement package.

Caesar fraternized with his men when they were off duty, not like his enemy Pompey, who was very standoffish. It was hardly surprising, therefore, that after serving with him for eight years, a soldier didn’t ask any questions when he crossed the little river in the north of Italy called the Rubicon and marched on Rome. So, as a result of this trend, Roman soldiers came in effect to resemble mercenaries.

Julius Caesar fraternized with his men when they were off duty. His army in Gaul served him for eight years. (Image: Jule_Berlin/Shutterstock)

Octavian’s Reforms in the Roman Army

This trend created a huge problem for the Roman state. It was a primary cause of the civil wars in the final decades of the Republic—and one that involved literally hundreds of thousands of citizens. It’s estimated that in the last two centuries of the Republic the proportion of soldiers who were conscripted into the army sometimes reached as high as 20 percent of the entire citizen body. Another way to put this is that the length of a soldier’s military service would on average be about six years. Military service, in other words, very much defined a man as a Roman citizen.

When Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, defeated Mark Antony at Actium in 31 B.C., he pensioned off perhaps as many as half a million veterans and settled them as colonists in Italy and elsewhere. Octavian, who was very forward thinking in so many ways, understood that this was not the most efficient way to run an army or a country. So he introduced the concept of the voluntary professional soldier. He didn’t abolish conscription, but by the end of the 1 st century A.D. volunteers had become more numerous than conscripts.

The Other Facets of the Roman Army

The non-citizens were allowed to enlist in the Roman army as auxiliaries. (Image: Sammy33/Shutterstock)

Later, non-citizens were permitted to enlist as auxiliaries, including the peregrini, i.e., free subjects who were allied to Rome. Rome’s army, in other words, was what we would call today truly multicultural. As the historian Tacitus states, “It was an army of many languages and many customs, in which citizens, allies and foreigners, mingled together.”

Men of different races defended the Roman ideal, even though they weren’t Roman themselves and perhaps didn’t have much idea of what being Roman actually meant. It was a great way to integrate peoples into the empire and to give them a sense of unity.

When a Roman soldier wasn’t fighting, he and his fellow legionaries would have taken on the role of engineers, road-makers, surveyors, bridge-builders, carpenters, masons, and so on. The Roman road system, which extended the length and breadth of the Empire, was largely the creation of the legionary force, although native workers would also be conscripted. It’s been rightly said that Roman soldiers spent more time digging than they did fighting.

So, the Roman soldiers played an important role in the making of the glorious Roman Empire.

Common Questions about the Life of a Roman Soldier

Gaius Marius introduced some reforms in the Roman army . He permitted those who had previously been excluded to enlist—those without any property, those who were very poor. Marius also provided the soldiers with armor at the state’s expense.

The auxiliaries were the non-citizens in the Roman army .

Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, introduced the concept of the voluntary professional soldier in the Roman army .


Legionary Punishments

Severe Punishments

Execution. The death penalty was a rarely used punishment for desertion, mutiny or insubordination. In cases where execution might be considered, factors such as the soldier's length of service, his rank, previous conduct, age, etc. were taken into account. Special consideration was given to young soldiers.

Decimation. An extremely rare style of the execution penalty was called decimation and would only be used in extreme cases of cowardice or mutiny. Every tenth man of a centuria, cohort or even the entire Legion, randomly chosen by a draw of lots, was killed by being clubbed or stoned to death by the other members of his unit. The effect on future performance of the legion could be overwhelmingly positive or an absolute disaster.

Disbandment. An entire legion could be disbanded without the customary land settlements and pension disbursements. This, like the other forms of extreme punishment, was rarely done, and was more likely to exist as a deterrent to any legions who may be loyal to a political opponent or group.

For eksempel, Legio I Macriana Liberatrix ("Macer's Liberators"), was formed by Lucious Clodius Macer, rebellious Governor of Africa, in 68 AD, to be used against Nero. In the midst of this year, that came to be known as the Year of the 4 Emperors, Galba was one of the men who took claim to the throne. Galba, distrusting of Macer's intentions, ordered the death of Legio I's commanding officers and the disbandment of the questionably formed legion. It was removed from service to the empire without ever seeing action.

Less Severe Punishments

Despite the strict environment of Roman military life, the less extreme punishments below were more common than any of the above, and are also more recognizable to us today. They included:

  • Monetary fine, (pecunaria multa)
  • Additional duties (munerum indictio)
  • Relegation to an inferior service or unit (militiae mutatio)
  • A reduction in rank (gradus deiectio)
  • Dishonourable discharge from service (missio ignominiosa)

Legions of Rome: The Definitive History of Every Imperial Roman Legion

By Stephen Dando-Collins

In this landmark publication, Stephen Dando-Collins does what no other author has ever attempted to do: provide a complete history of every Imperial Roman legion. Based on thirty years of meticulous research, he covers every legion of Rome in rich detail.

Featuring more than 150 maps, photographs, diagrams and battle plans, Legions of Rome is an essential read for ancient history enthusiasts, military history experts and general readers alike.


The Sex Lives of Roman Soldiers

A Roman soldier might be envisioned as one of the brave young men, standing and waiting for the onslaught of Hannibal's elephants at Cannae or Zama. A legionary might also be thought of as one of Pontius Pilate's lackeys, cheerfully setting a Crown of Thorns on Christ's head before nailing Him to the Cross. Or, he might be envisioned as one of the last defenders of the Pax Romana, crossing swords with Goths and Vandals, Huns and Franks.

But the Roman soldier was, above all, a man.

And, like most men, he felt a need for companionship of a sort best satisfied by a woman.

Service in the Roman Army was a man's job. Recent archaeological evidence suggests that a small number of women may have joined the ranks of the Late Roman Army, serving as limitani milita-soldiers, but in the glory days of Imperium, all soldiers were men.

Though a Roman soldier spent his whole career surrounded by huge masses of his fellow human beings, where romantic love was concerned his profession was likely to be a lonely one. That is because, from right around the beginning of the Christian Era, up until 193 AD, he was not allowed to marry.

It could be said that the first Roman Emperor, Augustus (r. 31 BC - AD 14) finished the drawn-out process of transforming Rome's army into a fully professional force with ranks populated by career soldiers, men who gave the prime of their lives to fighting and toiling for the Peace of the Empire.

No one knows exactly when Augustus passed his law which forbade soldiers from marrying until their mandatory 25 year's service was over. But during his reign, in September of 9 AD, three Roman legions and a collection of auxiliary units were destroyed in Germania by the Cherusci. Cassius Dio tells us that a huge number of women, a mixture of wives, girlfriends, slaves, and prostitutes, were interspersed in the ranks of the legions, and when the Germans began their attack, the legionaries went berserk in attempts to rescue their womenfolk. Though their concern for their women was definitely noble, it was bad for cohesion and did nothing to improve an already very bad situation.

It is a possibility that Augustus made his ban on marriage precisely because of the role that the presence of women in the Germanian legions had played in this great defeat. Either way, from his reign up until that of Septimius Severus, soldiers were not allowed to marry. Not that this even remotely stopped them from having female relationships.

The ideal recruit into the Roman army was about 17 or 18 in age. Most civilians in the Empire usually married between the ages of 15 and 20, so naturally all young recruits into the legions would have not have had any serious relationship commitments at home. Except for times of extreme crisis, the Romans did not usually conscript recruits, and even when they did they focused on men in their teens or early twenties. So most or all men who joined the army at a later age were willing volunteers. They may well have been enlisting because their wife had died or kicked them out - or because they had never married in the first place.

It was considered ideal for a Roman soldier to not have any romantic or sexual relationships going on in times of war - sexually frustrated soldiers were more aggressive and energetic in combat. As far as can be told, though, their celibacy was not rigidly enforced by any means, and almost all soldiers had a woman of one sort or another in their lives.

Epigraphic evidence suggests that, despite Augustus' ban, some soldiers got married, anyways, and risked consequences that presumably never came. Many, if not most soldiers had common-law wives. These women were variously free-born Roman women, slave girls, or civilians who had been taken on campaign. Soldiers made wide use of female slaves and prisoners, who were used as sexual partners and companions.

There were also official military prostitutes. Little is known about these women, except that their quality of life must have been horrific. Most were probably captives taken from conquered and depopulated provinces - a life of military prostitute may well have been the tragic fate that awaited Jewesses taken at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, or of the thousands of Dacian ladies captured during Trajan's great Dacian Wars thirty years later. Being added to a military brothel was, much like service in the mines for male captives - effectively a death-sentence. A combination of STD's and the general filth of their surroundings must have reduced their likelihood of ever living to see freedom greatly.

When a Roman legion was on the march its womenfolk - both free and slave - presumably followed behind in the baggage train. When a legion set up camp, at least in friendly territory, all the non-combatants set up their own "camp" on the outskirts of the legionary castrum. These civilian settlements were called canabae. Women set up shops that saw to the basic needs of the soldiers, such as repairing clothing, etc. and the military prostitutes would have plyed their trade here as well.

Even though the woman in his life was usually a slave, a prostitute, or a barbarian captive that had a lot to learn about Latin and good Roman manners - many a Roman soldier did indeed fall in love, and was apparently quite loyal to said woman. Epigraphic evidence from the 2nd Century mentions a number of cases of men capturing or buying their future wives during a war before marrying them after their service was over. Some tombstones were indeed erected and inscribed by slave girls who had lived as common-law wives of the deceased, and appeared to have legitimately mourned his passing - not the least because he had been her only supporter, and the rest the Legion might not have been so good to her.

The discharge-certificate of a British Celt who enlisted in an auxiliary cohort reveals much about the illegitimate families that Roman soldiers could form. Lucco, son of Trenus, was a young tribesman of the Dobunni who enlisted c. 85 AD around the age of 15. His unit - the Cohors I Britannicae - was transferred to Pannonia for Domitian's Dacian War shortly thereafter. Here, he took up with a local girl - Tutula the Azalian - and she bore him three children, Similis, Lucca, and Pacata. All of them were granted Roman citizenship during the reign of Trajan - and the men of the family summarily bore the praenomen and nomen Marcus Ulpius, to honor the Emperor.

Roman troops were finally officially allowed to marry in 193 AD, by order of Septimius Severus, who made a number of reforms that made the army less disciplined in subtle ways. Hereafter, increasingly more inscriptions mention wives of soldiers, and increasingly few mention mistresses and slaves. A number of the soldiers buried at Apamea, in Syria (c. 190 - 240 AD) were buried by their wives - and at least one buried his wife. The centurion Probius Sanctus buried his "incomparable and well-deserving" wife Antonia Cara in Apamea. She had died at the age of twenty-eight, perhaps a victim of plague.

A little known fact about the Roman Army is the number of times, especially in the 3rd Century, that soldiers mutinied not out of ambition or hatred of the emperor, but in an attempt to rescue or avenge their families. During Severus Alexander's Persian War (232-234 AD), a number of legionary vexillations he had taken from Germania revolted and threatened to kill him. When he asked these previously loyal soldiers why this sudden animosity, they replied that relatives had just come and told them that their wives had been carried off by a party of Germanic raiders that had crossed the Rhine, and the soldiers held Alexander responsible for calling them away during a time of tension along the Rhine frontier. This also reveals that, though they had women, soldiers were not always allowed to bring their women on campaign, if nothing else for obvious logistical reasons.

Just four years later, Emperor Maximinus Thrax was actually murdered by soldiers acting on behalf of their families. The wives, children, and slaves of the Second Parthica Legion had been stationed at the Legion's old barracks in Albanum, just north of Rome. But the Senate had revolted against Maximinus, who was now besieging Aquilea, an Italian metropolis that was supporting the rebellion. Messengers from the Senate arrived and informed his men that the Praetorians had surrounded Albanum, and upon the Senate's order they would butcher every person therein belonging to the Second Parthica Legion. Horrified, a band of Parthican centurions descended upon Maximinus and cut him to pieces. Presumably, the Senate's threats were therefore not carried out.

As the 3rd and 4th Centuries wore on, women continued to travel with the Roman Army. By the 5th Century, the Army in the West was made up largely of Germanic foederati. Many of these were - or had been - migrating bands of warriors who no choice but to bring their loved ones with them. By the time of Belisarius' re-conquest of Rome in the 6th Century, women were still attached to the Army in large numbers. Belisarius' Army, billeted across the Mother City, caused great turmoil because the soldiers demanded that their hosts feed both themselves and their families, and most common Romans could not afford such a burden.

So, in conclusion, the presence of women in the Imperial Roman Army has been largely overlooked, and is greatly understudied. But nonetheless, most or all legionaries had a woman (or perhaps several) in their lives. Undoubtedly, the victors of Idistaviso, Cremona, Mons Graupius, and Milvian Bridge marched back to camp content in the knowledge that they would soon be enjoying the attentions of an appreciative lady, be she wife, mistress, slave or whore.


The Roman Legion

Imperial Roman legionaries in tight formation, a relief from Glanum, a Roman town in what is now southern France that was inhabited from 27 BC to 260 AD

The Roman Empire was gigantic by the time of Emperor Trajan’s death in A.D. 117. From Britain to Syria, from the River Rhine to northern Africa, Roman governors ruled huge areas of the ancient world. The key to Roman military success were the Roman legions. A legion was the military organization, originally the largest permanent organization in the armies of ancient Rome. The term legion also denotes the military system by which imperial Rome conquered and ruled the ancient world. Each Roman legion had many soldiers accompanied by skilled cavalrymen. Roman soldiers were tough, loyal, dedicated, highly disciplined, and skillful fighters. With their large shields, deadly spears, lethal javelins, and vicious stabbing swords, they conquered many diverse people groups by employing conventional and innovative battle tactics during combat.

Rome’s Rise and Fall

Rome was founded in 753 B.C. before it became a republic in 509 B.C. Rome grew gradually through the centuries and eventually conquered all its Italian neighbors. While the Romans’ power and confidence enlarged, so did their ambitions to govern beyond Italy. In the third century B.C, the Romans were warring against the Carthaginians, a North African people equipped with a superior navy and a great army. After three titanic wars, the Romans finally emerged victorious over Carthage in 146 B.C. Romans brought Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, and Spain under their control before they turned eastward to conquer Greece and Asia Minor. Julius Caesar, the greatest of all Roman commanders, conquered Gaul, located in modern France, between 58 and 50 B.C. Later, Emperor Claudius annexed Britain in A.D. 43. During the subsequent decades, the Roman legions added more territories to Rome before it began to decline partly because of barbarian integration into the Roman army and the gigantic geographical size of the Roman Empire.

Rome was first a republic, ruled by officials called consuls. Eventually, after several bitter civil wars, the Roman Republic became an empire. The first emperor was Augustus (27 B.C to A.D 14). His Roman successors lasted until the fifth century A.D. when the western part of the Roman Empire fell to the barbarian invasions, while the eastern part of the Roman Empire continued for almost 1,000 years.

Roman Weapons and Armor

Roman legionnaire soldiers were equipped with many weapons. The most useful of their weapons were the short stabbing swords called the gladius. The best gladius swords were made in Spain. Although the Roman gladius was shorter than the Celtic slashing swords and other barbarian swords, this Roman sword was a pointed, dubled-edged weapon that was easy to handle for thrusting, cutting, and stabbing the enemy. The gladius was perfectly designed for close-quarter combat with enemy.

Roman soldiers used two kinds of spears. The first was a light spear with a leaf metal head, which was designed for trusting deep into the enemy. The second was pilum or javelin throwing spear, which was shorter, but much heavier. The pilum was designed to bend when it hit the enemy to prevent the enemy from throwing the weapon back.

To protect themselves, legionnaire soldiers wore metal helmets, dressed in strong body armor, and carried large shields. Helmets were made of iron, bronze, and brass. They varied in shape and size, but were primarily designed to protect the soldiers’ necks, cheeks, brows, and heads.

Body armor was worn under a soldier’s purple and scarlet colored cloak or a tunic. The armor was usually made up of chain mail or metal plates wired together and attached to leather or fabric. Roman armor covered the torso. Roman plate armor was flexible, but heavy because the armor was made of metal.

Roman shields were large, curved, and were either rectangular or oval shaped, depending on the era. Their shields were made of wood and edged with metal, with a central metal boss.

The Roman Legion

The Roman army was based around the legion, which consisted of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 men. The legions were divided into 10 cohorts of about 500 to 600 men. Each cohort was made up of a century, which equaled 100 men. The Roman centuries were led by Roman centurions, an elite class of experienced fighting officers that formed the backbone of the Roman army.

When the Romans went to battle, they placed the newer recruits in the front lines, with more experience troops place in the second and third lines behind the young recruits. Roman patterns of attack usually involved legionnaires charging up toward the enemy lines, throwing their javelins, before closing in to fight with their shields and short swords.

Roman cavalry units were employed to attack the enemy’s flanks and to pursue fleeing warriors after a defeat by the Romans. Although Roman cavalry units were a small part of the Roman legion, about 300 cavalry men per legion, it was necessary for success on the battlefield.

In 202 B.C, at the battle of Zama in northern Africa, Roman commander Publius Cornelius Scipio defeated Hannibal Barca of Carthage with cavalry. The battle hung in the balance until the Roman cavalry overcame and chased away the Carthaginian cavalry. Later, the Roman cavalry turned around and attacked Hannibal’s infantry from the rear causing the Carthaginians defeat.

The Roman Legion’s Legacy

A few historians argued that the real question is not why Rome fell but why Rome endured so long. The Roman legions made Rome the greatest military power of antiquity. It was an empire built on warfare, violence, brutality, and conquest, but its celebrated legions could not maintain its domination of the Mediterranean world forever. The Roman legions laid the foundation for building western military strategy, tactics, doctrines, and combat operations. The Roman armies exerted a tremendous influence on subsequent European generations. The Roman legions supplied the blueprint for transmitting the Greco-Roman military culture to the celebrated European powers of western civilization.


The Army of Augustus – the ‘classic’ legion

The army as operated from the time of Augustus can generally be referred to as the ‘classic’ legion, the armed body of men which most imagine in their minds upon hearing the word ‘legion’. And it is this state of the legion which is largely recreated in illustrations or Hollywood movies.

Under Julius Caesar, the army had become a highly efficient and thoroughly professional body, brilliantly led and staffed.

To Augustus fell the difficult task of retaining much that Caesar had created, but on a permanent peace-time footing. He did so by creating a standing army, made up of 28 legions, each one consisting of roughly 6000 men.

Additional to these forces there was a similar number of auxiliary troops. Augustus also reformed the length of time a soldier served, increasing it from six to twenty years (16 years full service, 4 years on lighter duties).

The standard of a legion, the so-called aquila (eagle) was the very symbol of the unit’s honour. The aquilifer who was the man who carried the standard was in rank almost as high as a centurion. It was this elevated and honourable position which also made him the soldiers’ treasurer in charge of the pay chest.

A legion on the march relied completely on its own resources for weeks. To make camp each night every man carried tools for digging as well as two stakes for a palisade.

Apart from this and his weapons and armour, the legionary would also carry a cooking pot, some rations, clothes and any personal possessions.
Weighed down by such burdens it is little wonder that the soldiers were nicknamed ‘Marius’ Mules’.

There has over time been much debate regarding how much weight a legionary actually had to carry. Now, 30 kg (ca. 66 lbs) is generally considered the upper limit for an infantryman in modern day armies.

Calculations have been made which, including the entire equipment and the 16 day’s worth of rations, brings the weight to over 41 kg (ca. 93 lbs). And this estimate is made using the lightest possible weights for each item, it suggest the actual weight would have been even higher.

This suggests that the sixteen days rations were not carried by the legionaries. the rations referred to in the old records might well have been a sixteen days ration of hard tack (buccellatum), usually used to supplement the daily corn ration (frumentum). By using it as an iron ration, it might have sustained a soldier for about three days.

The weight of the buccellatum is estimated to have been about 3 kg, which, given that the corn rations would add more than 11 kg, means that without the corn, the soldier would have carried around 30 kg (66 lbs), pretty much the same weight as today’s soldiers.

The necessity for a legion to undertake quite specialised tasks such as bridge building or engineering siege machines, required there to be specialists among their numbers. These men were known as the immunes, ‘excused from regular duties’. Among them would be medical staff, surveyors, carpenters, veterinaries, hunters, armourers – even soothsayers and priests.

When the legion was on the march, the chief duty of the suveyors would be to go ahead of the army, perhaps with a cavalry detachment, and to seek out the best place for the night’s camp.

In the forts along the empire’s frontiers other non-combatant men could be found. For an entire bureaucracy was necessary to keep the army running. So scribes and supervisors, in charge of army pay, supplies and customs. Also there would be military police present.

As a unit, a legion was made up of ten cohorts, each of which was further divided into sex centuries of eighty men, commanded by a centurion.
The commander of the legion, the legatus, usually held his command four three or four years, usually as a preparation for a later term as provincial governor.

The legatus, also referred to as general in much of modern literature, was surrounded by a staff of six officers. These were the military tribunes, who – if deemed capable by the legatus – might indeed command an entire section of a legion in battle.

The tribunes, too, were political positions rather than purely military, the tribunus laticlavius being destined for the senate. Another man, who could be deemed part of the general’s staff, was the centurio primus pilus. This was the most senior of all the centurions, commanding the first century of the first cohort, and therefore the man of the legion when it was in the field with the vastest experience. And it was also he who oversaw the everyday running of the forces.

1 Contubernium – 8 Men.
10 Contubernia 1 Century 80 Men.
2 Centuries 1 Maniple 160 Men.
6 Centuries 1 Cohort 480 Men.
10 Cohorts + 120 Horsemen 1 Legion 5240 Men *
*1 Legion = 9 normal cohorts (9 x 480 Men) + 1 “First Cohort” of 5 centuries (but each century at the strength of a maniple, so 5 x 160 Men) + 120 Horsemen = 5240 Men.

Together with non-combatants attached to the army, a legion would count around 6000 men.

The 120 horsemen attached to each legion were used as scouts and dispatch riders. They were ranked with staff and other non-combatants and allocated to specific centuries, rather than belonging to a squadron of their own.

The senior professional soldiers in the legion was likely to be the camp prefect, praefectus castrorum. He was usually a man of some thirty years service, and was responsible for organization, training, and equipment.

Centurions, when it came to marching, had one considerable privelege over their men. Whereas the soldiers moved on foot, they rode on horseback. Another significant power they possessed was that of beating their soldiers. For this they would carry a staff, perhaps two or three foot long.

Apart from his distinctive armour, this staff was one of the means by which one could recognise a centurion. One of the remarkable features of centurions is the way in which they were posted from legion to legion and province to province. It appears they were not only highly sought after men, but the army was willing to transport them over considerable distances to reach a new assignment.

The most remarkable aspect of the centurionate though must be that they were not normally discharged but died in service. Thus, to a centurion the army was truly his life.

Each centurion had an optio, so called because originally he was nominated by the centurion. The optiones ranked with the standard bearers as principales receiving double the pay of an ordinary soldier.

The title optio ad spem ordinis was given to an optio who had been accepted for promotion to the centurionate, but who was waiting for a vacancy. Another officer in the century was the tesserarius, who was mainly responsible for small sentry pickets and fatigue parties, and so had to receive and pass on the watchward of the day. Finally there was the custos armorum who was in charge of the weapons and equipment.

Battle Order

Front Line
5th Cohort | 4th Cohort | 3rd Cohort | 2nd Cohort | 1st Cohort
Second Line
10th Cohort | 9th Cohort |8th Cohort |7th Cohort | 6th Cohort

The first cohort of any legion were its elite troops. So too the sixth cohort consisted of “the finest of the young men”, the eighth contained “selected troops”, the tenth cohort “good troops”.

The weakest cohorts were the 2nd, 4th, 7th and the 9th cohorts. It was in the 7th and 9th cohorts one would expect to find recruits in training.


The Roman Legionaries Uniform

Roman uniforms were not typically standardized. Although in general they all seemed similar, each legion bore slightly different attire depending on the province their uniform was manufactured in.

Many legions uniforms were made up of a variety of styles as long as the uniform was serviceable. Som den legionaries had to purchase their own uniforms, many legionnaires wore uniforms handed down through the family from retired soldiers. Others soldiers bought used uniforms if they could not afford to buy the most up to date issue.

This made it possible for one attachment of legionaries to be wearing an assortment of uniforms spanning a considerable time throughout Romes history.


THE ROMAN ARMY: A BIBLIOGRAPHY

    Le Bohec, Yann and Catherine Wolff (edd.), Les légions de Rome sous le Haut-Empire: actes du congrès de Lyon (17-19 septembre 1998) 2 vv. (Paris: E. de Boccard 2000) [Collection du Centre d' études romaines et gallo-romaines nouvelle série 20].

    Alföldy, G., Die Hilfstruppen in der römischen Provinz Germania Inferior (Düsseldorf 1968).

    Absil, Michel, Les Préfets du prétoire d' Auguste a Commode: 2 av. J.-C.� ap. J.-C. (1997) [De l' archéologie à l' histoire]

    Fink, R. O., Roman Military Records on Papyrus, pp. 241-276.

    Alföldy, G., Fasti Hispanienses. Senatorische Reichsbeamte und Offiziere in den spanischen Provinzen des römischen Reiches von Augustus bis Diokletian (Wiesbaden 1969).

    Alföldy, G., "Bellum Mauricum," Chiron 15 (1985) 91-109.

, Nicholas Guy, Presence et activités militaires romaines au nord et au nord-est de la Mer Noire (1er VIe siècle de nôtre ère) (2000).

and the Parthian War ( A. D. 58-66). (texts & translations)

, Jurgen, "Caesars Partherkrieg," Historia 33 (1984) 21-59.

    Speidel, Michael P., "Exercitus Arabicus," Latomus 33 (1974) 934-939.

    Maloney, J.& B. Hobley (edd.), Roman urban defences in the West. A review of current research on urban defences of the Roman empire with special reference to the northern provinces, based on papers presented to the conference on Roman urban defences, Museum of London (London : Council for Brit. Archaeol., 1983) [Council for Brit. Archaeol. Research Report, LI].

, Michael T., "The Homogenisation of Military Equipment Under the Roman Republic," Romanization [Digressus , Supplement I] (Nottingham 2003) 60-85.


Se videoen: По Евангельским местам на Святой Земле. Крестовоздвижение. Голгофа и пещера обретения Креста (November 2021).