2 David G. Terrell The phalanx was an innovation probably introduced to Italy by Greek colonists, and was perhaps observed by the Romans in use by the Etruscans.
Before adopting the phalanx, the
“marauder” style of
warfare practiced by the Romans provided opportunities for warriors to distinguish themselves and earn social stature through exhibiting obvious courage and élan on the battlefield; each tribe and family having contributed its share of soldiers.
The phalanx, on the other hand, with its faceless massing of individuals, left little room for such pursuit of individual glory in battle; and the change likely faced some resistance until the superiority of the system in pitched battle was made manifest to all. Staffing the phalanx-based army required more organization and division of labor than did the earlier system. No longer could a warrior simply respond to a call to arms as he saw fit. He had to
conform to the demands of the Army’s organizational needs
, weapons specifications, and subordinate his individual initiative to the instant obedience necessary for the success of massed men in close-order drill. A formal system for drafting military-aged males was allegedly imposed by Servius Tullius (578-534),
sixth king. Both Livy and Dionysius describe the system almost identically. Rome conducted a regular census of military-aged males, who formed the basis of a militia, and divided them into classes based upon their net wealth. The wealthiest class members were appointed to the cavalry and tasked to provide their own horse in addition to personal weapons and equipment. Other classes, those of average means, were assigned to equip themselves as hoplites, and the relatively poor as light infantry.
century Army of the Roman Republic was a different
animal. The extant descriptions of its battle order and equipment provide much more descriptive information. Polybius, in his account of the Second Punic War, provides the best description of the army of the 2
century, in terms of detail and accuracy.
Goldsworthy, TCRA, 20-25.
The Rise of the Roman Empire
(Translated by Ian Scott-Kilvert. New York: Penguin Books, 1979), Book IV, 318-338.