The Backbone of Rome: The Legionary

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The Backbone of Rome: The Legionary

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:01 pm

the Legionarius was unique: his discipline was unlike any other soldier of antiquity in dominant armies if the time.

We could, for example, use circa 30 ad for for a discussion point..

They were armored infanfry
They did not rely on heavy cavalry;
They were trained with various swords: the gladius and later the Spatha
They were missile troops, relying mercenary archers, the Spiculum, the Pilum, lead weighted darts in later years, the lancea (the weapon similar to the Macedonian xyston as used by Alexander's Companions and Hyspapists) Verutum and other Javelin like weapons passed through service.



They usually had up to four ranks armed with a long spear. In the early day of the Legion it was the 6' "Hasta" and in later days and in situtiations were in open country, it was the 12' "Kontos".

The best recreation of the Legion of the time of Claudius can be seen in the Movie "Masada".. The Legion in the move "Gladiator" appeared to be slightly anachronistic as the "Lorica Segmentatata" ,, according to some sources had to be abandoned (too time consuming to manufacture and perhaps beyond the skill available to the Legion (Legio) armorer's skill at the time of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. ( The latter had little interest in campaigning on Rome's frontiers).

This is a bit unusual as, despite the images we have of decadent emporers popping grapes on lounges, many of them never saw much of Rome (Like Hadrian) and many died 'with their boots on' such as Valens when he fought the Goths at Adrianople. An Emporer and his son were both killed in the West at Trebium Forii.

I will admit many were killed or assinated by the Praetorians or court membed, but such murders were often undertaken because the Emporer was not doing his job (ie: securing the frontiers-maybe that is why Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius never spent much time in Rome)

When inquiring about the legions and the equipage, a time should be given, because, although some formations lasted 400 years, they changed greatly and theor combat readiness dependended on who was in charge of the Legion, the Empire and the Province at the time in question.

For example, some say the " Phyricc Beat" (route march drums) were used and other authors say the Romans had no use for drums and Only the Cornuti were used used for signaling. Also it is alleged the grerat horns were never used in the sense of a "Musical Band" but only for signaling the movements to the Cohorts.

I hope we can talk more about this.

JT
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Rome on HBO

Postby benzocaine » Fri Mar 03, 2006 4:14 pm

Have you seen the series John?

I believe it is the first episode that shows a typical battle tactic used where the legionarys are lined up one by one with sheilds together. They would then thrust with the short swords.

This is contrary to the older style movies where it showed the legionarys using slashing motions with their swords.
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Postby Stryke » Fri Mar 03, 2006 8:29 pm

I`d say so Ben , the swinging is overdone in most hollywood sword fights ...

the short swords lend themselves to it , especially when using sheild , the weight of one of the sheilds crashing your balance , to get skewered ... It be harder to swing I`d say in such a conflict , let alone the effectiveness of the pointy end .

I like the fight scenes in the movie Troy , while totally far fetched and deffinatley not meant to be lessons in fighting , they didnt rely on the to an fro slashing , lots of sheild work , lots of stabbing .
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Postby uxb » Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:32 am

Must have been a very tough life. Also must have taken a lot of courage to stand in a shield wall and knowing that the man next to you as your protection and if he went so probably would you. As the gladius was primarily a thrusting weapon. Any other use of the gladius in a shield wall and the fighter would be exposed. Also decimation was a bit of a tough punishment (seems a waste of manpower also)
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Postby benzocaine » Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:02 pm

There is a fight scene in the HBO series Rome where one of the characters uses a sheild as a weapon. He actually decapitated another with it.

Marcus, that fight scene in Troy was pretty good. I'd like to believe that( like the movie portrayed) the old fighting arts of europe and the mediteranian were similiar in appearance to oriental MA's.
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Postby benzocaine » Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:05 pm

uxb wrote:Must have been a very tough life. Also must have taken a lot of courage to stand in a shield wall and knowing that the man next to you as your protection and if he went so probably would you. As the gladius was primarily a thrusting weapon. Any other use of the gladius in a shield wall and the fighter would be exposed. Also decimation was a bit of a tough punishment (seems a waste of manpower also)
Either courage, or just knowing you'd be killed for deserting your post.

The image of a WWI seargant with a 1911 .45 comes to mind. I can see the seargant telling a cowering soldier if he doesn't get out there and fight, he'll eat a .45 round.
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Postby Stryke » Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:28 am

Marcus, that fight scene in Troy was pretty good. I'd like to believe that( like the movie portrayed) the old fighting arts of europe and the mediteranian were similiar in appearance to oriental MA's


there is clear evidence they were Ben

there are some very good historical manual of western martial arts .

It is only natural they would of evolved to the same heights as asian fighting systems , albeit with different cultural emphaisis , according to regional rites and tradition .

th fact is Japan and arguably China,isolating itself for the longest time , while the rest of the world evolved and discardedthe outdated fighting systems , having them evolve into sports .

Japan martial histroy was just so much nearer when discovered , and the renaisaance began , though it to of course evolves more and more to sport like the western arts did .
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Ithink----

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:10 pm

Well the Chinese say that it is 3 years for the spear, 13 rof the Bow and 30 for the sword.

I am going to detail (in fantasy) an 'approaching' attack of a Legion against a mutually approaching Phalanx.

I doubt, as an aside, and have been fornite enought to study the "Gim" (a Spatha like straight sword) that the experienced legionary would have much limitation put on his attacks.

I beleive one favorite stroke was the veritical or horizonal thrust to the eyes.

The Zulu Assegai was basically used as a short sword, as I have said before. Basic tactic (it is in the archives) "hook and thrust" ; hook the opponent's sheild aside, and thrust for the same point as we would attack in Kanshiwa bankai (circle block and unbalance-thrust to what 'shows'.

A grisly piece of evidence was the "Death Mask of the Prince Imperial" a frenchman who would have been next in line for Napoleon III's throne.

The British kept him handy.

He Attached himself to Chelmford's force in 1899.

He was separated from the main force at Isandlwana (which resulted in 1500 British casualties) and the death mask shows a precise entry of the point of a thrusting assagai (vertical) in the Princes' right eye.

More later.

JT
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So what happened to Rome's Citizen Soldiers?

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:16 am

Why is it dangerous for us to rely on a professional force.

How have the rights of the British people been further degraded by the existence of a small but effective Prosfessional Armed Service?

What happened to the land of the Citizen soldier legionary while he was away for 15 years?

What destroyed the "middle class" (ie: class of small land owners) that created the "Head Count Mob" in rome itself??
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The Point

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:25 am

Quite truly a demonstration of parrallel evolution, the Roman Gladius and the Zulu 'Stabbing Asegai" were centered around "point" tactics.

Rome stayed with the Shorter Gladius i would have to guess, abound the 3rd Century.

The movie depictions of using the "Pilum" as a stabbing weapon and the Gladius as a slash weapon are just plain wrong.

The legion was built as a Gaul fighting machine.

The "Impi's" of Chaka's Army were built to conquer everything, and the Matabele broke away into Rhodesia/Zimbabwe using the same tactics.

The Pilum was thrown, the Gladius and Stabbing Assegai developed by Chaka Zule were stabbing weapons.

Chaka thought trading volleys of light throwing assegai to be quite silly. However, in the absence of the Zulu ability to design and produce a sandal that 'would not flop around and slow manuever' as did the Roman Caligata led to Chaka's banning the Impi's from using sandals.

So, a few hundred impalements later, the Impis were happily dancing on the thorny ground shouting "Bay aaa tay Inkosi!!!". (bayate) Inkosi was the Zulu word for king and bless me if I have not forgotten the normal Bantu word for king right at the moment.

I know I mentioned before, but the thought of Oprah thinking herself a Zulu is roughly equivalent of me thinking myself as a Mongol--although there is a little patch of hair above my sacrum that is alleged to be attributable to the scion of the Mongol incursions. But I ain't buying it.

Tunny how the thought of impalement can motivate a man.
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