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A few random historical rather than strictly gameplay observations:


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The Light-Armed

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I referred elsewhere to the questionable historicity of the 'Camillan' military reform (s), which the EB Team appears to accept as indisputable fact. Consequently, regardless of which units you finally include in the mod, it is perhaps more accurate to use the less loaded term 'Early' rather than 'Camillan'. Of course, if you wish to include separate leves, rorarii and accensi units, which I wouldn't necessarily recommend, then the term 'Livian' is more apposite.



RTR 0.5 Imperial Campaign / Re: Discussion: New Faction Units
« on: April 16, 2014, 09:31:44 PM »
Did I get this right?

Not quite  :)

basically from the period of 280 BC to about 211 BC, Principes used a Spear

No buddy, as has been previously observed the system envisaged in our passage cannot have lasted very long after that period (i.e. the bellum Pyrrhicum). Polybius’s narrative of the Gallic wars makes it clear that by then the triarii alone had thrusting spears (Rawson. E, The Literary Sources for the Pre-Marian Army; Papers of the British School at Rome 39, 1971)

Also, Leves and Rorarii were roughly the same, being equipped with some javelins, nothing else

Livy says those were called lights (i.e. leves) who carried only a spear and javelins (Liv. 8.8.5).

Equites were more lightly armed, with maybe just a breastplate

Polybios says The cavalry are now armed like that of Greece, but in old times they had no cuirasses but fought in light undergarments, the result of which was that they were able to dismount and mount again at once with great dexterity and facility, but were exposed to great danger in close combat, as they were nearly naked.  Their lances too were unserviceable in two respects. In the first place they made them so slender and pliant that it was impossible to take a steady aim, and before they could fix the head in anything, the shaking due to the mere motion of the horse caused most of them to break.  Next, as they did not fit the butt-ends with spikes, they could only deliver the first stroke with the point and after this if they broke they were of no further service.  Their buckler was made of ox-hide, somewhat similar in shape to the round bosse cakes used at sacrifices. They were not of any use for attacking, as they were not firm enough; and when the leather covering peeled off and rotted owing to the rain, unserviceable as they were before, they now became entirely so.

Polyb. 6.25.3-7

There was either no lorica hamata used or it was used only by the wealthiest of soldiers/officers

The spread of lorica hamata among the prima classis is likely to have started during the last quarter of the third century. Before this time mail cuirasses are likely to have been extremely rare. See the Roman armour thread for further details.

I'm now away and unlikely to be able to post anything else until late next week



RTR 0.5 Imperial Campaign / Re: Discussion: New Faction Units
« on: April 15, 2014, 11:13:05 PM »
ahowl11 asked me to comment on the Roman unit roster....

 I would say that broadly speaking the proposed roster is fine depending on the team’s vision of the mod. However, here are some  episodic and fairly random observations:

1) The ‘Polybian’ roster more accurately reflects the late third century/early second century army of the Roman Republic rather than that the early third century, which is when the mod opens.

2) It is reasonable to conclude that the changes in the equipment and organisation of the Roman hoplite army can be dated, under Samnite influence, to the end of the fourth century BCE (Diod. Sic. 23.2, Sall. Cat. 51.37-8, Ath. 6.273F, Ined. Vat) and consequently call into question the major military reform, or series of reforms, supposedly instigated by M. Furius Camillus (Liv. 4.59, Dion. Hal. 14.9.1-2, Plut. Cam. 40.3-4). For example, Roman tradition put the blame for the great Roman defeat at the Allia in 390 BCE on religious flaws, not tactical weakness (Cass. Hem frg. 20; Cn. Gell. Frg 25 – Macrob. Sat. 1.16.21-24; Verrius Flaccus ap. Gell. NA 5.17.2) Liv 6.1.12) and this is one of the factors that counts against an early fourth century reform. Moreover, Camillus is said to have effected reforms which involved the adoption of the scutum to counteract the Gallic attack of 367; but the authenticity of the details of this episode are most doubtful….Certainly there is no reason…(to) argue for a Camillan reform of the army: Oakley S, P. A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X, Volume II: Books VII-VIII (Oxford, 1998)

3) Livy believed that an early Roman manipular legion compromised thirty maniples of antepilani (front columnists), fifteen each of hastati and principes (with twenty leves attached to each maniple) and fifteen ordines (units) of pilani (columnists), each ordo divided into three vexilla (banners or detachments), one each of triarii, rorarii, and accensi (Liv. 8.8.5-14). However, It would seem impossible to believe that Livy’s legion ever existed in reality…the whole farrago appears as an antiquarian reconstruction, concocted out of scattered pieces of information and misinformation….One of its underlying features seems to be a strained attempt to establish some sort of relation between the new military order and the five categories of the census classification (Sumner, G. V. The Legion and the Centuriate Organization, The Journal of Roman Studies Vol. 60, 1970).

4) Details about the early third century Roman army are elusive and whilst I could reproduce extensive research posts I have submitted elsewhere on the subject I have no real appetite to re-visit old ground in any detail. Consequently, I will restrict myself to suggesting that although Livy appears not to have considered either the rorarii or accensi as light troops there is good reason to believe that the rorarii were indeed part of the light-armed. The accensi might more properly be viewed as non-combatant supernumeraries.  Thus one is left to conclude that the leves distributed amongst the hastati were less well equipped than the rorarii of the ‘fourth line’, who may have been equipped in a similar manner to Polybios’ grosphomachoi (usually translated into Latin as ‘velites’) or that  leves and the rorarii were conterminous; both being equipped with only a spear and javelins.

5) With regard to the principes there is no general agreement about whether in the early third century they were still armed with the ‘phalanx’ spear. Dionysios of Halikarnassos (Dion. Hal. 20.11.2) is the only ancient source who states that the maniples of the principes were equipped with such a weapon and whilst there appears to be a growing tendency among modern scholars to accept the reliability of Dionysios’ testimony, so far as I can tell only Nathan Rosenstein (Phalanges in Rome in New Perspectives on Ancient Warfare; Brill, 2010) has highlighted a particularly troubling feature of this account; namely the claim that the principes at Benevetum needed to grasp their dorata (spears) with both hands.  Accordingly Rosenstein speculates that the dorata carried by the principes “must have been some type of sarissa” and suggests that this represented a temporary ploy to counter Pyrrhus’ sarissa armed mercenaries. In support of his argument Rosenstein points to Polyb. 2.33.1-4 who describes an example of Roman innovation to counter a specific tactical threat. Whilst, I am not convinced by Rosenstein’s theory I am unable to offer any convincing alternative and I am therefore left to posit the following:

a) The principes (or triarii if in agreement with D. Hoyos, The Age of Overseas Expansion (264–146 bc) in A Companion to the Roman Army ed. Erdkamp; Blackwell, 2007) at Benevetum were equipped with dorata/hastae but Dionysios of Halikarnassos was mistaken when he stated that they were grasped by both hands

b) The passage of Dionysios of Halikarnassos is so flawed that no weight can be placed upon it

c) Rosenstein is in fact correct

6) In view of the above it is possible that at the start of the mod you may wish to include spear and javelin armed leves (no helmet or shield) rather than velites and spear armed principes. For example, there is reasonable evidence to suppose that the better equipped velites were a product of the bellum Hannibalicum (Liv. 26.4.9 contra 21.55.11; Val. Max 2.3.3). Similarly, the transition from light to heavy Roman cavalry equipment may also date to this period (Polyb. 6.25.3-11). The year 211 seems to have been the beginning of a turning point for the Roman cavalry as Livy’s account of the creation of the velites in 211 suggests (McCall, Jeremiah B. The Cavalry of the Roman Republic : Cavalry Combat and Elite Reputations in the Middle and Late Republic; Routledge, 2002).

7) Primary evidence for the arms, equipment and organisation of the socii nominis Latini (Allies of the Latin Name) and the socii Italici (Italian Allies) is scarce. The equipment and tactics of the Romans and Latins were supposedly indistinguishable when they fought one another in 340 BCE (Liv. 8.8.15). However, Livy’s description is probably an anachronism retrojecting the homogeneity of the opposing armies during the bellum Marsicum of 91 -87 BCE (Army and Battle during the Conquest of Italy: Rawlings, 2007). Military homogenisation was most likely the result of a fluid process of interaction that gradually eliminated regional Italic panoplies during the third century. This process included the Roman adoption of equipment and tactics from the Italic peoples, an interchange especially associated with the Samnites (Ined. Vat. 3; Diod. Sic. 23.2 Sall. Cat. 51.37-38; Ath. 6.273). The socii (allies) were presumably organized and equipped in much the same way as the cives Romani (Roman citizens) by the time of the bellum Hannibalicum, “since otherwise it would have been difficult for Roman generals to draw up  armies of mixed citizen and allied contingents” (Hannibal’s War: Lazenby 1978).

That’s it for now. I will leave it to the full time mod members to determine what they wish to  make of the above



RTR 0.5 Imperial Campaign / Re: Roman Armour
« on: April 12, 2014, 07:45:02 AM »
What should the Marian troops use as armour, in your opinion?

Firstly, I would say that the so-called ‘Marian Reform’ can be a misleading term that suggests  far more radical change than actually occurred.  One of my old RTR unit descriptions touches on this topic:

Although C. Marius was not responsible for the creation of the cohort his re-organization during the years 104–103 institutionalized existing trends. Marius extended the practices of Q. Caecilius Metellus in Numidia (Sall. Iug. 45.2) and reduced the baggage train by making the milites (soldiers) carry their own food and equipment, hence the sobriquet ‘muli Mariani’ or Marius’ Mules (Festus 149M, Front. Str. 4.1.7; Plut. Mar. 13.1). He also continued the weapons training introduced by the consul of 105, P. Rutilius Rufus (Val. Max. 2.3.2; Front. Str. 4.2.2.), and oversaw a modification to the pilum (Plut. Mar. 25.1-2). The adoption of the aquila (eagle) as the sole standard of the legion was also attributed to Marius (Plin. HN 10.16).

The most controversial aspect of the changes was Marius’ recruitment of the proletarii (men below the minimum property qualification for military service) following his election to consul. In total Marius may have enlisted between three and five thousand legionarii - “a rather greater number than the senate had decreed” (Sall, Iug. 86.4) - when authorised to raise a supplementum (supplement) for the two legions in Numidia. However, the enrolment of proletarii volunteers was on a limited scale and did not lead to a sudden change in the social structure of the army. The property qualification for military service was not abolished and subsequent levies probably continued to be restricted to assidui (men above the minimum property qualification for military service) until the demands for manpower imposed by the bellum Marsicum and the civil war of 83- 82 doubtless resulted in the call up of the proletarii, either as volunteers or conscripts. These years may have marked a turning point and the minimum property qualification was probably not enforced or abandoned altogether during the post-Sullan era (The Supposed Roman Manpower Shortage of the Later Second Century B.C: Rich, 1983). In any case the qualification had already become nearly meaningless by 107, since the difference between the assidui members of the fifth and lowest class of citizens and the proletarii was likely to have been very slight.

Turning to your specific question I would suggest that despite the more intensive methods of mass production and the establishment of state armouries mentioned in my previous post a significant number of Roman soldiers in the first century BCE, perhaps the majority, continued to wear more basic forms of body armour, such as  the pectorale. This is unsurprising if one considers the mass mobilisation of men during the period in question. Certainly, it is difficult to envisage the levies hastily raised during civil wars being fully kitted out with the standardized high quality equipment so commonly depicted in popular publications such as the Osprey series.



RTR 0.5 Imperial Campaign / Re: Roman Armour
« on: April 11, 2014, 06:44:43 PM »
The excerpt from ahowl11 comes from a longer piece that I posted about legionary body armour  which may be of interest:

Greek-Style Muscle Cuirass

On the altar lies a bronze thorax (cuirass). In my day this kind of thorax is rare, but they used to be worn in days of old. They were made of two bronze pieces, one fitting the chest and the parts about the belly, the other intended to protect the back. They were called guala (lit. ‘hollows’). One was put on in front, and the other behind; then they were fastened together by buckles.

Paus. 10.26.5

The bronze cuirass first appears in Greek iconography during the seventh century BCE with the Type I bell cuirass (c. 750/700 – 500 BCE), named for its outward flaring bottom edge. The Etruscans are among the earliest to adopt this form of armour in the Apennine peninsula, probably through their contacts with the Italiote Greeks; although they also continue to wear the circular kardiophylax (heart-protector) until at least the end of the fifth century BCE. The bell cuirass is supplanted during the fifth century by the Type III muscle cuirass, which dispenses with the outward curve at the base and increases the anatomical realism of the moulded musculature (Jarva. E, Archaiologia on Archaic Greek Body Armour, Studia Archaeologica Septentrionalia 3, Finland, 1995).

The dynamic nature of cultural-military exchange in the Apennine peninsula is evidenced by the spread of indigenous muscle cuirasses displaying both Italic and Greek features. Innovations include embossed collarbones and separate hinged shoulder-plates connecting the breast and the back plate. Pteryges (lit. ‘wings’, protective organic strips below the waist) are not favoured with uncluttered muscle cuirasses being preferred. The Greek-style muscle cuirass is frequently painted grey on Etruscan sculptures which suggests it was often silvered or tinned (Connolly, P. Greece and Rome at War; London, 1981).

The Greek-style muscle cuirass spread to Latium (cuirass, Museo Nazionale Romano inv. 115194-207, from Lanuvium; cistae, Museo Archaelogico Prenestino, pls CCXXI-CCXXV etc; bone plaques, Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia 13236-7, from Praeneste) and whilst the archaeological record remains elusive the adoption of this type of armour by the Romans is securely inferred. Greek-style muscle cuirasses are rarer among the south Italic peoples if the surviving vase and tomb paintings are reliable evidence. Nevertheless, the skill and time required to make a well fitting muscle cuirass and the resulting high prices (Xen. Mem. 3.10.9-15 and Hipp. 12.1.3) restrict this armour type to high status elites regardless of regional specificities.

Italic Anatomical Cuirass

The rectangular Italic anatomical cuirass, an excellent representational example being seen on the warrior’s return tomb fresco from Nola c. 330BCE (inv 9363, Capua Vetere, Museo Campano), has either stylised or realistic anatomical features often similar to the Greek-style muscle cuirass. This type of harness armour, with the breast and back plates held together by shoulder and side plates, first appears in the middle of the fourth century. The majority of archaeological finds are primarily concentrated along the coastal regions of Campania, Lucania and Apulia.

The decoration (i.e. the stylised musculature) is undoubtedly the result of Greek influence being transferred from the muscled cuirass. However, equally certainly these cuirasses in an unmuscled form must have originated in the central highlands, for this is undoubtedly a native form. Romans were still wearing them at the time of Polybius' (Connolly, P. Greece and Rome at War; London, 1981)

The open and lighter design of the Italic anatomical cuirass allows for greater freedom of movement which makes this armour more suitable for missile armed troops than the heavier Greek-style muscle cuirass. The Samnite Wars of 343 – 290 BCE, principally fought in Campania and Lucania, is probably the period when the Romans first come into contact with this form of armour (Burns. M, South Italic military equipment: the cultural and military significance of the warrior's panoply from the 5th to the 3rd centuries B.C; PhD Thesis, London, 2005). However, it is unclear whether the Romans adopt the harnessed anatomical cuirass in addition to unmuscled kardiophylakes like the one described by Polybios (Polyb. 6.23.14), although two milites (soldiers) depicted on the north relief of the second century Aemilius Paullus Monument at Delphi (Figures 6-7) possibly wear cuirasses of this type.


The use of bronze pectoral (Gk. kardiophylax) type armours, reputed to have arrived in Italy via the Middle East during the 8th-7th centuries BCE, are common to all the peoples of the Apennine peninsula (Stary, P. F. Foreign Elements in Etruscan Arms and Armour: Eighth to Third Centuries BC, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 45, 1979). These pectorals, invariably with separate breast-and-back plates, are circular, rectangular or square in shape and are fitted using leather straps (Varro, Ling. 5. 116).

In addition, the multitude wear a bronze plate measuring a span in all directions (23cm), which they place in front of the chest and call the kardiophylax (heart-protector), to complete their equipment.

Polyb. 6.23.14

Use of the pectorale is of great antiquity among the Romans. It forms part of the dress of the Salii and early examples with incurving sides, measuring just under 20cm wide and a fraction over 20cm long, which date from the Latial proto-urban epoch, have been found in the Esquiline necropolis. Although no known examples of the pectoral type described by Polybios survive in the archaeological record a circular embossed copper-alloy plate, 17cm in diameter and decorated with concentric circles emanating from a central boss, has been discovered in the northern range of barrack 6/7 in the second century ‘Camp of Marcellus’ near Numantia. Fragments of other kardiophylakes have been found from the fortifications around Numantia of up to 25cm in diameter. These heart-protectors are probably the type envisaged by Polybios although it is impossible to say whether the armour originally belonged to Roman soldiers or troops provided by the socii Italici (Italian Allies).

Whilst Polybios makes no reference to a dorsal plate the pectoral type armours of the Apennine peninsula typically comprise a harnessed breast-and-back plate combination. Consequently, Roman soldiers of the late third and early second century, like their predecessors, are likely to have been equipped with a wide variety of pectorals; circular, rectangular or square shape, some with back plates and some without. This is unsurprising, partly because armour was probably passed down from father to son and is therefore potentially worn by successive generations. Greater homogenity may only have occurred later in the second century.

Shoulder-Piece Corselet

The Type IV shoulder piece-corselet, consisting of a thorax (corselet) made up of rectangular sections of leather or linen, two epomides (shoulder pieces) and pteryges (lit. ‘wings’, protective strips below the waist), first features in Greek iconographical sources during the sixth century BCE; although this type of armour probably dates back to the Late Helladic III period (Hom, Il 2. 529, 2.830; Strab, 13.1.10; Plin, NH 19.6.26).

Representations of the shoulder piece-corselet appear on Etruscan votive bronzes, sarcophagi and other material art soon after the middle of the sixth century. These are commonly the composite Type IV sub-type, supplemented wholly or in part with metal plates or scales laced onto the surface. The most well known depiction is on the late fifth or early fourth century bronze statue of the Mars of Todi where the corselet is apparently strengthened by rows of lamellar plates (inv. 693, Museo Gregoriano Etrusco Vaticano). Etruscan tomb paintings such as those found in the François Tomb, Vulci, the Tomba del Orco II at Tarquinia and the Amazon Sarcophagus, Tarquinia typically show white shoulder piece-corselets with red decoration (Gleba. G, Linen-cad Etruscan Warriors in M.-L. Nosch (ed.), Wearing the Cloak: Dressing the Soldier in Roman Times, Oxford, 2012). The ancient literature loosely corroborates the representational evidence. For example, Livy says the ‘thorace linteo’ (linen corselet) of Lars Tolumnius, the king of Veii, killed in battle by A. Cornelius Cossus in 428/437 BCE, was dedicated at the temple of Iupiter Feretrius, where it still could be seen at the time of Augustus (Liv, 4.20.1-7); whilst Silius Italicus writes that Etruscan socii (allies) from Falerii wore shoulder piece-corselets during the bellum Hannibalicum (Sil.Ital, Pun 4.223).

The handle of a lid of a cist from Praeneste showing three soldiers wearing composite corselets, perhaps dating from the end of the fourth century (Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia inv. 25210), hints at the spread of this Type IV sub-type into Latium; although the material culture in urban centres like Praeneste is strongly influenced by Etruscan art and also by the possible presence of Etruscan craftsmen. A small minority of Roman troops may still have worn shoulder piece-corselets during the war against Hannibal (Sil.Ital, Pun 9.586-588) and Roman representational sources suggest this type of armour survived into the first century BCE, although perhaps more as an informal insignia of rank. Conversely, the iconography of Apulia, Campania and Lucania indicates that the shoulder piece-corselet is relatively rare among the south Italic peoples.

The lightness and comfort of the shoulder piece-corselet makes it more practical and flexible than the Greek-style muscle cuirass. However, the Italic harnessed anatomical cuirass and pectorale offer similar advantages and consequently Type IV armour is less prominent in the Apennine peninsula than in the wider Greek world (Burns. M, South Italic military equipment: the cultural and military significance of the warrior's panoply from the 5th to the 3rd centuries B.C; PhD Thesis, London, 2005).

Lorica Hamata

Lorica ' corselet,' because they made chest-protectors from lora ' thongs ' of rawhide; afterwards the Gallic corselet of iron was included under this name, an iron tunic made of rings

Varr. LL, 5.116

Varro uses the word ‘Gallica’ to designate the ring mail cuirass and the inference that this form of Roman armour is derived from the Celts of the Cisalpina seems a sound. Following the disaster at the Allia in 390 BCE much of the fighting during the fourth century BCE appears to have been against a marauding warrior band loose in south Italy or in the mercenary employ of Dionysios II of Syrakuse, rather than against fresh Celtic incursions from the north (Polyb. Liv, 6.42.8, 7.1.3, 7.11.1-3, 7.26.9). The Romans may first observe the military properties of ring mail during these tumultuous years. However, the hard fought Celtic campaigns of the third and early second centuries probably play a greater role in influencing the Roman use of the lorica hamata (mail cuirass).

Mail armour offers the best protection; it is heavy, however, perhaps 10 kg to 15kg. Roman soldiers wear a belt to distribute the weight and centurions whose units lose their standards during the fighting with Hannibal in 209 BCE are punished by being forced to stand with swords unsheathed and belts removed (Liv. 27.13.9). Additional protection is provided by a feature known as ‘shoulder-doubling’ which defends vulnerable shoulders against hack-and-slash attacks. The representational evidence depicts two versions; either a small mail cape draped over the shoulder or a U-shaped yoke.

The manufacture of mail, which involves interlinking rows of iron or copper-alloy rings, is relatively uncomplicated. However, alternating punched rings with riveted rings and linking each one to its four neighbours is a time-consuming process. One reconstruction suggests that it took 4,813 hours (1.3 years, given a working day of approximately ten hours) to produce a single mail cuirass (Sim.D, Roman Chain-Mail: Experiments to Reproduce the Techniques of Manufacture, Britannia, Vol. 28, 1997). Whilst this estimate may be on the high side the manufacturer of lorica hamata is undoubtedly an expensive process. The use of the lorica hamata by Roman soldiers for much of the Middle and Late Republican period is accordingly restricted to members of the prima classis (first class).

those men who are rated at more than 10,000 drachmas put on a halusiddtos thorax (mail cuirass), instead of a kardiophylax (heart-protector) along with the others

Polyb. 6.23.15

It is not known what percentage of the entire citizen body is enrolled in the prima classis at any given time. The prima classis perhaps comprises a third of the heavy infantry in a manipular legion (Develin. R, The Third Century Reform of the Comitia Centuriata, Athenaeum 56, 1978); although this figure must have been significantly lower during periods of large scale mobilisation such as in the bellum Hannibalicum. It probably reduces still further during the second and first centuries BCE with the proletarianization of the Roman army (Erdkamp. P, The Transformation of the Roman Army during the Second Century BC in Ňaco and I. Arrayás (eds), War and Territory in the Roman World, Oxford, 2006; de Ligt. L, Roman Manpower Resources and the Proletarianization of the roman Army in the Second Century BC in de Blois L & Lo Cascio E, The Impact of the Roman Army (200 BC – AD 476), Brill, 2007)

To conclude, the Roman legions which fought during the bellum Pyrrhicum featured a variety of defensive body armour. However, the predominant form was the bronze pectoral (Gk. kardiophylax) and this probably remained the case until the Late Republican era and possibly beyond. Italic anatomical cuirasses must also have fairly common and it is likely the shoulder-piece corselet was also worn. In contrast use of the Greek-Style muscle cuirass was rare; whilst this type of armour might have represented an ostentatious display of the wearer’s familial wealth and status it was ill-suited to missile warfare and cannot have survived long into the third century BCE. The more widespread use of the lorica hamata only probably occurred as small-scale arms production by skilled local craftsmen was gradually replaced by more intensive methods of mass production and the establishment of state armouries (Cic. Rab. Perd. 20). However, at nearly all times during the Republican period the lorica hamata was only worn by a minority of Roman soldiers.

One final point - please remember that the members of prima classis, who according to Polybios wore the lorica hamata, were distributed randomly throughout the lines of the hastati, the principes and the triarii. Unfortunately the original RTW engine makes it difficult to accurately depict the diversity of armour within the ranks of the hastati and principes etc.



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