CLAS 175: Notes as of 2/15/96

X. End as of 2/6/96

To Notes as of 2/6/95. You not only CAN go back to the Museum, you jolly well SHOULD!

XI. (And then came the Field Trip and the March of the Less than 10,000)

A. Integration of native units in native equipment and formations:

1. There are several advantages from doing this.

a) No need to take the time or the expense to re-equip these people when you draft them from the furthest corner of the empire.

b) Also, no need to re-train them or make sure that anyone but their commander knows how to speak Persian

c) There's always the chance that their special brand of skills will come in handy. Why not use subject Greek hoplites to fight Greeks? It worked for the U.S. Army vs. Geronimo.

2. And there are several drawbacks...

a) Loyalty's one problem--mention Themistocles' little trick of inscriptions at the waterholes, Her. 8.22, as noted, aimed as much at the Great King as at the Ionians.

b) Sometimes you just can't integrate the other people into your tactical scheme, in which case they're worse than useless

c) And if the Persian-speaking officers are killed, then where are you?

d) Put in a plug for Gene Wolfe, Soldier of the Mist/Arete.

1 What you end up with, of course, is a great deal of incomprehension when the Persian Empire fights the Greek poleis.

1 Read excerpts from Herodotus 7.103, 7.208-227, Xerxes (prototype for every supervillain since?) trying to understand what's going on with his chats with Demaratus before and at .

2 Note what happens with Agesilaus's army in Persia after 396--

A. Persian cavalry pick off Greek stragglers and limit plundering BUT

B. Persian army cannot stop Spartan army from going where it wants to go (Plu. Agesilaius 10, p. 34). They never did hit on the Russian tactic of scorched earth vs. Napoleon and Hitler.

C. What stopped Agesilaius was that legacy of polis civilization and warfare--Greek disunity (Age. 15, p. 39)

D. Another problem the Greeks had to overcome, Persian seapower, Age. 23 (p. 48). Greeks could offer quality (Salamis), but not quantity (Artemision).

E. Neutralize that, and it seemed pretty possible that a Greek army could go anywhere it wanted in Persia. The 10,000 had in 401 (and a lot of them signed up with Agesilaius), and perhaps the thought had, once or twice crossed the mind of Philip II or his adorable son...

XII. Now, meanwhile on the other side of the Adriatic, The Romans were up to a few things of their own.

1. I should begin by making it clear that this is a topic complicated even for experts in military history. The Roman Imperial army is much better known than its Republican predecessor, and sometimes later information is useful, but by no means always. What I am going to do is to with you our four different pictures of the Roman army as it evolved from the time of Romulus to Marius. I am going to describe how each army fought, what it used to fight, and how the men in it were organized. I am going to bury you alive with terms, which I will define, mind you. The most basic objective of this presentation is to show you why the Roman army conquered a good portion of the known world.

2. At the very start, there are some things I want you to keep in mind as constants in the Roman army as it evolved through the centuries:

1 The Roman army was always a national army. By that I mean that it was composed of citizens from nearly all walks of life, who had a stake in fighting for their patria. The Greek poleis had had such armies in their prime, Philip II and his son Alexander had used another such to conquer their half of the world. Rome, however, avoided the creeping reliance upon mercenaries that so debilitated the world's other armies. Not that mercenary armies (such as Carthage's) could not be dangerous, but throughout history well-organized citizen armies have tended to prevail, as Rome's did.

2 The Roman army was always commanded by a magistrate with imperium, the power of life and death over the citizens under his command. As we have seen, within the city walls the populus came to have defenses against such arbitrary force, but once a soldier had taken the military oath to serve in that campaign's army (militiae), he was bound by that authority with no right of appeal--technically.

3 Every Roman property owner (barring invalids, heiresses, and children) was automatically liable for military service--the army was the Roman male population under arms.

1 As such, its pervasive influence in Roman society and government should surprise no one.

A. The census counted citizens to allot them to the army.

B. The Centuriate Assembly voted in the original military units through which it was founded.

C. A term of military service at some periods was a requirement for higher political office.

D. The army organization was used by the Plebs in their secessiones, and the officials the plebs pledged their armed force to protect bore military titles.

2 The Romans did prize peace--the gates of Janus mutely testify that. But they truly were (Si vultis pacem, para bellum) ready for war, and no nation in antiquity made war with greater determination than Rome.

4 The evolution of the Roman army shows deep committments both to improvement and conservatism--the proverb "keep the old as long as it is useful, accept the new as soon as it is better" applies nicely. Throughout this period, some concepts never changed.

1 The Roman army of the Republic never lost its reliance upon a triple battle line--the terminology and composition of those three lines could be modified and their relationships changed, but the Romans always fought in a triplex system of three ordines (differently defined)

A. The front ordo offensive in nature

B. The rear ordo defensive in nature,

C. The middle varying.

2 One must always remember that the Romans, as I mentioned, fought total wars--with their entire (male) population mobilized, to a greater or lesser degree, a single defeat could lead to the literal destruction of the city, as the events of 390 and afterwards testify.

3 Conversely, while the army endured, Rome endured. After the Gauls burned the city, the army regrouped in a fighting, building, voting organized unit that allowed the organized Roman nation to survive.

XIII. End as of 2/13/96

1 One can argue that the lessons of 390 led to the Roman depth of committment to their army, and its mixture of offensive and defensive capability.

2 Roman preparation for both victory and defeat paid off amply in the course of their history.

3 Roman military terminology remained fairly constant, but the meanings of the words themselves changed. A tribune of Romulus's time and Marius's had very little in common.

4 A century soon stopped being a unit of 100 men. Soldiers could be grouped under units using old descriptions that did not pertain to their tactical role at a later date. In later years a centurion had a great deal more to do than commanding a century, his initial job.

5 The Romans always built a fortified camp at the end of each days march. This was common practice in Italy, as Livy makes clear, but, as Polybius Bk. VI makes clear, the Greek world never used them. Time and time again the Roman army saved itself from destruction behind the agger and fossa, and stake- palisade of their fortified camps.

1 The changing tactics, composition, and weaponry of the Roman army shows the Roman willingness to accept military innovations and improve their army. They "tinkered" with their system to the final days of the Empire.

1 Our earliest description of the Roman army comes from Livy I, referring to Romulus's levy of ten centuries and ten cavalrymen from each of the thirty curia, with each of the three lines commanded by a tribunus (lit. "tribal officer") supplied by the three Romulan tribes. You're essentially talking a straight Greek-style army, but with a formal organization.

A. Only archaeology offers any information about what these early warriors carried, and 8th century finds indicate that the weapons were the six foot hasta and cast bronze sword, while a bronze helmet and round "Argive" shield, and perhaps a breastplate, protected the wealthiest.

B. At this early date men probably fought, organized century-by-century, shoulder to shoulder, the equites either protecting the king or riding down a running enemy when opportunity offered (note lighter cavalry shield, spears vs. lances and the lack of stirrups).

2 Livy's more exact and tactically viable description of the army of Servius Tullius, de-bunkers notwithstanding, shows an Etrusco-Roman army already reacting to growing military pressures and the influence of weapons and tactics from abroad.

A. Supposedly, around 579, Servius divided the property-owning male population by a valuation (census) of the type of equipment each group could afford to buy, those with the best equipment given the most importance.

1. First of all, ideally the Romans always had an army divisible by two--the original praetors may well have been the king's way of commanding the reserve.

a) Livy has Servius Tullius's army divided into a field force and a home guard of identical composition, the veteres, physically less fit but more dependable, forming the home guard defense against the worst.

b) At Allia, both armies fought and got defeated, for which Livy censures their commanders bitterly.

2. The centuries within the army might not always be of 100 men, their strength and the extent of the legio (levy of troops) depended on the Senate and chief magistrate's perception of what business was at hand.

3. The division by two ceased in severe emergencies, when the dictator received command of both armies, with his magister equitum to command the cavalry (he couldn't ride a horse) and the option to leave the consuls in individual command.

B. Each of the two armies had 40 centuries, at this stage at full strength a hundred men, of hoplites armed in the classic Greek manner and fighting in the archaic lochos, the basic component of the Greek (not the Macedonian!) phalanx

1. --96 men and four non-coms with a round Argive shield (clipeus) and the primarily stabbing hasta, a sword (maybe wrought-iron), bronze shield, helmet, and leg-protecting greaves (which covered the area below the shield but were heavy and slowed you down).

2. They would have fought in 8 ranks (men standing side to side) of twelve files (men standing nose to back), men moving up to replace those fallen ahead of them, each man in a close formation protecting the right side of his neighbor with his overlapping shield.

3. If the enemy was in a similar formation, (and most people would have been) this system worked quite nicely and was hard to defeat, but lightly armed barbarians (or well-trained peltasts) could make it look, in Graham Webster's words, like a tortoise in a rat race.

C. At the Allia, 390, the Roman phalanx got bypassed and overwhelmed by the lightly armed Gauls and is never heard from again.

D. The remaining three divisions of infantry (the last two combined in a mutually-supporting double line) were progressively more lightly armed.

1. They used a different shield, though, the 4-foot oval scutum of wood covered with leather with an iron rim and bronze boss.

2. Connolly built a replica of one unearthed in Italy and found that it orginally it had weighed 23 pounds!

3. You could charge with it, or put it down and fight behind it (hence less need for greaves), but it was well suited for crouching behind--which is what the Romans always did with it in battle when they weren't actually fighting.

E. We never hear of Livy's slingers in action, but it is worth noting his two centuries of fabri in the ranks. Weapons repair and fortifying the camp are well worth entrusting to specialists.

3 In combat the phalanx would have led the attack, possibly supported by the second line at a decisive moment.

A. If the phalanx's initial attack was unsuccessful, they could fall back between the centuries of the two lines behind them, and either attack again or let the enemy get defeated or at least stood off by the other troops.

B. It is worth noting that Livy mentions light-armed troops (the fourth class), about whose different tactical role you will hear a little later.

4 The cavalry would have done what it always did in traditional ancient warfare--protected the flanks, hence the name "wings," alae of cavalry units, from their proper place at both ends of the triple line of infantry. If the enemy should break formation and turn their unarmored backs to the Romans, the cavalry would attempt to slaughter as many of them as possible.

A. Connolly makes the cogent observation that the departure of the wealthier element in the population after the monarchy (the Etruscans or the general economic decline those Attic pots indicate?) would weaken the hoplite phalanx and cavalry considerably. At any rate, this was the army moderately successful in many battles but swept aside, as noted, at the Allia.

2 Livy's next picture of the Roman army, (Bk 8) in the midst of the Latin War of 340-348, shows clearly the lessons learned from the earlier wars and the effects of developments he describes elsewhere.

1 During the long siege of Veii the Romans had started paying their army--and if each infantryman had a fixed income, he should be able to buy the same equipment as his neighbor.

2 Hoplite armor in the Greek style disappears from the Roman army after Camillus, whom Livy and Plutarch credit with the army's reform after the disaster at the Allia.

A. All Roman troops now use the scutum and

B. Although the name hastati endured for the front-line troops, the first two lines started using the pilum, a heavy javelin that the Romans used thenceforth (getting it from either {Ineditum Vaticanum} the Samnites or {Livy} the Etruscans).

3 A full-strength legion of 5000 men would advance behind a screen of leves (light infantry with a lighter shield, a throwing javelin, and a spear), twenty of these protecting each maniple (manipulus, handful, how's that for imagination?) odd-evened into two of the old centuries (not even remotely a hundred men) of the hastati in the front rank--15 maniples of these, say sixty men in each "century," 120 in each maniple.

A. The leves would counter the enemy's light troops, check for ambushes, and see if they could break up the enemy line with hit-and-run attacks.

B. The hastati, young physically fit men with some battle experience, would run in formation into the enemy line, first throwing their pila and then ramming their heavy scuta into their opponents, hopefully disorganized by the leves and those wounded by the pila. After that they fought with their swords until they were either defeated or exhausted.

C. Behind the hastati came the second of the three Roman lines, the pricipes 120-man maniples "checkerboarded" behind those of the hastati.

1. If the hastati had failed to break the enemy line, they would retire through the gaps in the principes (the rear centuries moved to the right and closed these before and afterwards).

2. The principes, the best soldiers in the army, would also throw their pila and charge the enemy center.

3. If the enemy stayed firm (most didn't) the principes would follow the hastati behind the gaps in the third line, fronted by the triarii.

D. The triarii were the defensive part of the legion, still armed with spears, with which they would try to ward off the enemy or cover a retreat.

1. They and those behind them all the while had been crouching down behind their shields, spears pointing fowards, as a defense against enemy missiles or a sudden breakthrough. They seldom charged.

2. The old Roman proverb "to have reached the triarii," as Livy explains it, meant that things had come to their worst.

3 This is the army that defeated (and possibly learned from) the Samnites and fought Pyrrhus to a standstill.

1 If the Macedonian phalanx allowed the legion's shower of pila to disrupt that horrible wall of spears, the swords of the legionaries would have been deadly.

2 On the other hand, note the concentration of the legion's defensive power forward. As Pyrrhus (and later Hannibal) showed, they were very vulnerable to a flank attack.

A. Ideally their general would have the geography protecting his flanks (Livy's barometer of a good commander),

B. And the alae equitum and alae sociiorum would also have a flank-protecting role.

3 Livy has the Latins using this same system in the Latin league and wars. Its complexities would show why the Romans would be so generous with citizenship/army service to people who could understand the officers' commands.

4 Our last best picture of the Republican army comes from Polybius Bk. 6.

1 Polybius is most useful here because, unlike Caesar, Livy, and other Roman writers he is explaining something his readers did not learn in boot camp

2 (A note here--in imperial times the Romans trained extensively in mock battles with wooden and blunted weapons. Scipio Africanus began such training after Hannibal's victories). Again, evolution continues.

3 By the end of the Punic Wars, each consul ideally got two of the four total citizen legions, levied at Rome, each of roughly 4,200 men.

A. They appointed 24 military tribunes. In earlier years at least some of these men had been elected, being expected to intercede with the consul, to whom they were responsible, on behalf of the men, responsible to them (no intercessio or jus provocationis in the field, however).

1. These men would quite literally "choose up" men from each tribe for their respective legions, after the censors had determined who was eligible for the infantry and who got sent to the Navy.

2. The censors chose the 1,200 cavalry and exempted men either overage, unfit or who had discharged their 20-year maximum time of service (very few of these).

B. The tribunes then swore in one man from each tribe, the rest then swearing idem in me before being given a time and a place in the consul's provincia (area that needed conquering) where they were expected to assemble (In Italy, at least).

C. The tribunes then selected ten centurions from each of the three lines (by this time the hastati, principes, and triarii) who selected ten subordinate centurions, and all centurions selected an optio to watch the rear of each maniple. They divided the hastati, principes, and triarii into ten maniples each.

5 Tactically, this army had much in common with those that proceded it, with some differences.

1 In place of Livy's old leves, the youngest and poorest men of the legions served as velites, forty of these men assigned to each maniple of the other three groups.

2 The hastati and principes still had 120 men per maniple, the triarii now called their old 60-man vexilla maniples.

3 Polybius calls a combined unit of two maniples from each class a corhors, a unit that Marius would later use as the basis for the classic 6-century (80 men/century) 10 cohort legion of civil and Gallic war fame.

A. The velites had three important jobs.

1. Like the leves before them, they would attempt to "hit-and-run" the approaching enemy out of formation, hoping to provoke the enemy's soldiers into chasing them (relying on their speed and the enemy's heavy equipment to make good their escape) before the hastati hit them and their disorganized line. The enemy could counter with his own light infantry.

2. A 60-man vexillum (standard-group) of triarii would have same- size vexilla of roraii (younger troops) and accensi (bottom-of- the-barrel reserves) behind them in an 180-man ordo. There were fifteen of these.

3. They would also help to cover the gaps in the legion's "checkerboard" formation, if the enemy should try to take advantage of the retreat of one of the lines.

4. In camp, they patrolled the defensive perimeter, their speed making them useful there and their lack of armor compensated by the palisade on top of the agger.

4 Combat would have been much as described before. Polybius mentions that the legionaries of his time carried a light and heavy pilum, presumably for throwing at long and short range.

5 Also, by his time the Romans had followed other people's examples of superior weapons and armor.

A. From the Gauls, after the 3rd Century the Romans had taken to wearing chain mail (loricae) in place of the old breast-plate and heart-protector (pectorale).

B. The classic "Roman" helmet was first worn by Gauls.

C. From the Spanish, the Romans had learned to modify their pila for longer flight and self-destruction-- the iron shafts of the pila bent or broke loose upon impact, rendering them useless to the enemy.

D. Spanish steel prompted their adoption of the gladius hispaniensis to replace the primeval cast bronze or smithed-iron swords they had used earlier, its shorter length more suited to legionary tactics.

6 A brief note on Roman cavalry--by this time a turma of cavalry consisted of three 10-trooper decuriae, under a decurion each. Each legion had ten turmae. Cavalry could always dismount and fight, but Roman cavalry was always overshadowed by the infantry--and eventually disappeared.

6 Some final notes:

1 The classic Roman tactic was always a push up the center. Livy's claims of genius for Roman Generals notwithstanding, a Roman commander's basic task was to find a good spot to make his push, as noted before. Generals such as Pyrrhus and Hannibal, once they learned this tactic, could take cruel advantage.

2 Also, since the Romans never employed their cavalry as scouts, they were vulnerable to unpleasant surprises such as the Caudine forks.

3 The Romans never made much use of archers or slingers, although they could and did hire them upon occasions later in the Republic and Empire. Their close formations and the famous testudo made them less vulnerable to such weapons when used against them.

4 The allies always served in close connection with the main Roman army, using similar drill and weaponry. For the Latins, at least, such service proved profitable in the long run, although fighting other people's wars proved vexing at first. Still, Rome's need for more soldiers than she herlsef could provide allowed their allies to extract the concessions they eventually did, and the cross- exposure of the troops on campaign in most cases worked for unity.

5 The national character of the Roman army allowed "Manlian disicpline" mercenaries wouldn't have stood for. Roman soldiers convicted of theft, dereliction of duty, or sodomy faced the fustuarium--death by the gauntlet at the hands of their unit. Units convicted of mutiny or cowardice faced decimation, in which one out of each ten of them faced death by the fustuarium by the result of a lot.

6 In siege tactics the Romans eventually at least equalled the Hellenistic level of achievement, and their persistence and the rotating command their oligarchy permitted made them determined and successful besiegers.

XIV. Now, Greece wasn't going in THIS direction of military development, but it was advancing, nonetheless.

1 The massive Persian invasions of 490 and 480 had taught the Greeks what it was like to fight wars more massive than city-on city affairs.

2 The threat of the Persian's return led the Athenians, through complicated means, to establish a peacetime alliance to be ready for it.

3 War's eldest child, the necessity for coercion, soon allowed the Athenians to convert that alliance into an empire. The justification for THAT is also an old one. It's great to pay your bills with someone else's money.

4 Would it surprise you to know that Sparta (vulnerable to internal pressure anyway) began to get nervous about Athens' growing power? Local enemies such as Thebes, Megara, and Corinth were scared right into Sparta's alliance--with the Persians delighted to be in the position of putting out the resulting fire (431-404) with kerosene.

5 Thebes and Corinth began to realize that the Spartan system of warfare did not leave the Spartans exactly swimming in surplus military power. Sparta was willing to negotiate a peace when the Athenians captured three hundred Spartiates in 426.

1 The Corinthians had to find their own solution to the powerful Athenian navy. They found a technological one, about which more later.

XV. End as of 2/15/96

To Notes as of 2/22/96