The Roman Army of the

Principate 27 Be-AD 117

LAsprenas
I
I


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DR NIC FIELDS started his,career as a biochemist before joining the Royal
Marines. Having left the military, he went back to university and completed a
BA and PhD in Ancient History at the University of Newcastle. He was Assistant
Director at the British School at Athens, Greece, and then a lecturer in Ancient
History at the University of Edinburgh. Nic is now a freelance author and
researcher based in south-west France.
Battle Orders • 37
The Roman Army of the
Principate 27 Be-AD 117
Nic Fields
Consultant Editor Dr Duncan Anderson • Series editors Marcus Cowper and Nikolai Bogdanovic
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Key to first names (praenomeninis)
A. Aulus M'. Manius
Ap. Appius P. Publius
C. Caius Q. Quintus
Cn. Cnaeus Ser. Servius
D. Decimus Sex. Sextus
L. Lucius Sp. Spurius
M. Marcus T: Titus
Mam. Mamius Ti. Tiberius
Abbreviations
Print ISBN: 978 I 84176 386 5.
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AE
Campbell
CIL
Fink
ILS
P.Mich.
RIB
Tab. Vindol. /I
L'Annee Epigraphique (Paris, 1888-)
B. Campbell, The Roman Army, 31 BC-AD 337: A
Sourcebook (London, 1994)
T: Mommsen et aI., Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
(Berlin, 1862-)
R. O. Fink, Roman Military Records on Papyrus
(New Haven, 1971)
H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae (Berlin,
1892-1916)
C.C. Edgar et aI., Papyri in the University of
Michigan Collection (Ann Arbor, 1931-)
R. S. O. Tomlin, Roman Inscriptions of Britain 2
(Stroud, 1995)
A. K. Bowman & J. D.Thomas, The Vindolanda
Writing-Tablets /I (London, 1994)
2
ALL OTHER REGIONS
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Colchester Road, Frating Green, Colchester, Essex, C07 7DW, UK
E-mail: customerservice@ospreypublishing.com
Key to military symbols
xxxx xxx x III
0 0 0 0
imperial army provincial legio cohors
garrison
II I
••
0 0 0
ala centuria!turma contubernium
0(+1 0(-1
reinforced unit with part
unit detached
Key to unit identification
Unit ~ Parent
identifier ~ unit
Commander
The Woodland Trust
Osprey Publishing are supporting the Woodland Trust, the UK's
leading woodland conservation charity, by funding the dedication
of trees.
Contents
Introduction 4
Roman military organization 6
Legion • Detachments • Auxiliaries
Weapons and equipment 23
Helmets • Body armour • Shields • Shafted weapons • Bladed weapons
Command and control 33
Legion command • Centuriate • Junior officers • Equestrian officers • Command and control in action
The Roman Army in battle 44
Roman tactical doctrine and practice • Legion • Auxiliaries
Engineering 50
Marching and practice camps • Forts and fortresses • Siegeworks
After Actium 57
Saltus Teutoburgiensis, a province lost • Mancetter, a province saved
Second Cremona, a throne won • Mons Graupius, a battle too far
Pax Romana 81
Chronology 84
Roman emperors
Ancient authors 86
Josephus (b. AD 37) • Suetonius (b. c. AD 70) • Tacitus (b. c. AD 56)
Bibliography 89
Glossary 91
Legionary titles 93
Index 95
3
4
Marble statue of Augustus as
imperator, from 'Villa Livia' at
Prima Porta (Vatican City, Musei
Vaticani, inv. 2290). The decoration
of the cuirass features the symbolic
return of an aquila captured by
the Parthians at Carrhae (53 Be).
No soldier himself, Augustus was
the commander-in-chief of a 'new
model' army of his own making.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
Introduction
The professionalization of the Roman Army after Marius' reforms led directly
to the use and abuse of consular power by individual generals seeking to usurp
the power of the Senate. Consequently the last five decades of the Republic
were characterized by two important features: the jostling for power and status
by a number of dynamic political players, and the calamitous civil wars
generated by their personal, be it selfish or altruistic, ambitions. It was the last
of these republican warlords who was to emerge victorious as the first Roman
emperor under the new name of Augustus. Officially he was addressed as
princeps (e.g. Res Gestae Divi Augusti 13, 30.1, 32.3), that is the first citizen of the
state, and his reign was the beginning of the Principate.
The army of the Principate established by Augustus drew heavily on the
nomenclature and traditions of the dead Republic. But it was new. He decided
to meet all the military needs of the empire from a standing, professional army,
so that there was no general need to raise any levies through conscription
(dilectus), which in actual fact he did on only two occasions, namely following
the crises in Pannonia (AD 6) and Germania (AD 9). Military service was now a
lifetime's occupation and career, and pay and service conditions were
established that took account of the categories of soldier in the army: the
praetorians (cohortes praetoriae), the citizen soldiers of
the legions (legiones) and the non-citizens of the
auxiliaries (auxilia). Enlistment was not for the
duration of a particular conflict, but for 25 years (16 in
the praetorians), and men were sometimes retained
even longer (e.g. Tacitus Annales 1.17.3). At the end of
service there was a fixed reward, on the
implementation of which the soldier could rely. The
loyalty of the new army was to the emperor, as
commander-in-chief, and neither to the Senate nor
the Roman people.
Cassius Dio, writing of the events of 29 Be, reports
two speeches made before Augustus by his counsellors,
M. Vipsanius Agrippa and C. Maecenas, in which the
best way of securing the continuation of the Roman
state and defence of its empire was discussed. Agrippa
apparently advocated the retention of the traditional
system (by which men would be conscripted to serve
short periods, and then released into civilian life).
Maecenas, on the other hand, argued for 'a standing
army [strati6tas athanatous in Cassius Dio's Greek] to
be recruited from the citizen body [i.e. legiones] , the
allies [i.e. auxilia] and the subject nations' (52.27.1),
and despite Agrippa's contention that such an army
could form a threat to the security of the empire,
carried the day.
Dialogues were a convention of ancient
historiography, and these speeches need not be
judged the true record of a real debate between the
two. In part at least they reflect the political situation
of Cassius Dio's own time and were aimed at a
contemporary emperor, perhaps Caracalla (r. AD
211-17). Nevertheless in 13 Be, after he had returned
from Gaul, Augustus ordained that terms of service in
the legions should in future be fixed at 16 years, to be
followed by a four-year period 'under the flag' (sue
vexillo, hence vexillarii, a corps of veterans, a reserve),
to be rewarded by a fixed cash gratuity, though this
could be commuted to a plot of land, measuring 200
iugera (c.50 ha), in a veteran-colony in the provinces.
In AD 5 some alterations were made to the conditions
of service. The number of years that the new recruit
had to serve under arms was upped to 20 years, with
a further period (not specified, but probably at least
five years) in reserve. The cash gratuity was now fixed
at 3,000 denarii for an ordinary ranker, a lump sum
the equivalent of over 13 years' pay (Cassius Dio
54.25.6, 55.23.1).
Seemingly as part of this same package, but
recorded by Cassius Dio (55.25.2, cf. Suetonius Divus
Augustus 49.2, Tacitus Annales 1.78.2) under the
following year (AD 6), Augustus masterminded the
creation of a military treasury (aerarium militare). Its
function was to arrange the payment of bounties to
soldiers. Augustus opened the account with a large gift
of money from his own funds, some 170 million
sestertii according to his own testimony (Res Gestae
Divi Augusti 17.2), but in the longer term the treasury's
revenues were to come from two new taxes imposed
from this time onwards on Roman citizens: a five per
cent tax on inheritances and a one per cent tax on
auction sales in Rome. The introduction of these taxes caused uproar, but
taxation was preferable to the displacement, acrimony and ruin which had
been the consequences of land settlement programmes of the civil war years.
Augustus thus shifted a part of the cost of the empire's defence from his own
purse to the citizenry at large. But the wages of serving soldiers (225 denarii per
annum for an ordinary ranker) continued to be paid by the imperial purse;
Augustus could brook no interference, or divided loyalties there. The
management of the army, particularly its pay and benefits, was from the start
one of what Tacitus calls 'the secrets of ruling' (Annales 1.6). Power was
protected and preserved by two things, soldiers and money. And so the security
and survival of the emperor and his empire were now the sale responsibility of
the emperor and his soldiers.
Altar (RIB 2092) dedicated to
Disciplina Augusti by soldiers of
cohors /I Tungrorum milliaria equitata
stationed at Birrens-Blatobulgium
(Edinburgh, National Museums
of Scotland). The cult links two
concepts, namely, obedience to
the emperor and military efficiency.
The top of the altar is hollowed
out to form a focus where offerings
of fruit or grain may be deposited.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
5
Relief showing four legionaries
(Saintes, musee archeologique,
E 1344 MAS-PB). The individual
legions (and units of the auxilia)
remained permanently in
commission with the same numerals
and titles, and were renewed by
constant supplementation. The
soldier served for an extended
period, and looked on the army
as a career.A proper financial
structure ensured the payment
6 of wages. (Fields-Carre Collection)
Roman military
organization
A great body of information on the unit size and organization of the Roman
Army has been amassed by the patient work of several generations of scholars.
The literary sources are often obscure or contradictory on the details of unit
structures, but much information has been derived from epigraphic and
papyrological record as well as that of archaeology. As a result a fairly coherent
picture of the army's structure has emerged.
Legion
Unsurprisingly, the army seems to have been most attractive as a definite career
to the poorest citizens. For such men, the legions offered a roof over their head,
food in their bellies and a regular income in coin. Basic military pay was not the
road to riches, but there was always the chance of bounties and other cash gifts,
The main unit of the Roman
Army, the legio was divided into
ten cohortes, all of which, during
the lulio-Claudian era, were
officially 480 strong. Attached
to a legio was a body of mounted
legionaries, known as the equites
legionis and 120 strong.
I
III
Legio
and the certainty of a discharge bonus. Overall a
soldier's life was more secure than that of an itinerant
labourer, and he enjoyed a superior status too. Of
course we must remember the harsher side of such a
career. A soldier ran the risk of being killed or crippled
by battle or disease, but also on an everyday basis was
subject to the army's brutal discipline. Yet to many
people in the empire who lived at subsistence level, the
well-fed soldier with his ordered existence in his well-
built and clean camp must have seemed comfortably
off. And so the legions became permanent units with
their own numbers and titles and many were to remain
in existence for centuries to come.
From Augustus onwards the emperor commanded 25 legions in total (28
before the Varian disaster of AD 9). Legions were probably in the order of
5,000 men strong (all ranks) and composed of Roman citizens. Legionaries
were mostly volunteers, drawn initially from Italy (especially the north),
but increasingly from the provinces. As the 1st century AD progressed, many
recruits in the west were coming from the Iberian provinces, Gallia
Tombstone of Lucius Autius,
son of Lucius, found at Camp
d'Aulney, north of Saintes, dated
post revolt AD 21 (Saintes, musee
archeologique, 49.475). Born
in Forum lulii (Frejus), Gallia
Narbonensis,Autius was a miles
of legio XliII Gemini. He died age
35 having served for 15 years; he
thus did not complete the statutory
25 years. (Fields-Carre Collection)
7
Legia
Legio deployed in triplex acies
J,I
Cohors

tt tt t
Centuria deployed in four ranks
Cohors prima
VI VII VIII Villi X
----------
I II III 1111 V
---------
8
Primus pilus Aquilifer Imaginifer Antiqua legio of Vegetius
Cohortes II-X
III
cg]
I
I
~
The basic tactical unit of the
Roman army, the regular cohors
was subdivided into six centuriae
of 80 men, each with a centurio.
9
When deployed for battle, the
ten cohortes of a legio still formed
up in the traditional triplex ades,
with four in the front line, then a
line of three, and finally three more
at the rear, though a two-line battle
formation might be adopted. The
antiqua legio ofVegetius (2.4-14)
probably reflects the legio of our
period, and his description (2.6)
of cohortes deployed for battle gives
us some indication of their relative
importance. In the front line the
cohors prima was placed on the
right, the position of honour, cohors
/II in the centre, cohors Von the left,
while between them were cohortes
II and 1111. In the second line on the
right was cohors VI, which he says
should consist of the finest of the
young men. In the centre was cohors
V/II with selected soldiers and cohors
X on the left also with good
soldiers, cohortes VII and Villi coming
between. It would be in this pair of
cohortes that we would expect to
find the newest recruits to the legio.
Praefectus castrorum 5 Tribuni angusticiavii Tribunus iaticiavius Legatus
legion command
Cohors prima
$
I
~ ( + )
At some date, probably at the
beginning of the Flavian era, the
cohors prima, the most senior, was
increased in size from quingenaria
to mil/iaria, and the number
of centuriones in it reduced from
six to five. Thus the cohors prima
had only five centuriae, but of double
the number of men. It seems logical
to assume that the cohors prima
included the legion's veterans.
Narbonensis, and Noricum, and in the east from the Greek cities of
Macedonia and Asia. Thus by the end of the century the number of Italians
serving in the legions was small. Statistics based on nomenclature and the
origins of individuals show that of all the legionaries serving in the period
from Augustus to Caligula, some 65 per cent were Italians, while in the
period from Claudius to Nero this figure was 48.7 per cent, dropping even
further to 21.4 per cent in the period from Vespasianus to Traianus.
Thereafter, the contribution of Italians to the manpower of the legions was
negligible (Webster 1979: 108). It must be emphasized, however, that these
statistics represent all legionaries in the empire. In reality, there was a
dichotomy in recruitment patterns between the western and eastern
provinces, with legions in the west drawing upon Gaul, Iberia and northern
Italy, while those stationed in the east very quickly harnessed the local
resources of manpower.
Part of Caesar's consular series formed in 48 BC, III Gallica had been serving
in the east since Philippi (42 BC). The legion had fought well under Marcus
Antonius against the Parthians (36 BC), as it was to do again under Cn.
Domitius Corbulo (AD 57-63), and had been part of the garrison of Syria as
early as 4 BC, if not before (Plutarch Marcus Antonius 42.11, Tacitus Annales 15.6,
25-26, Josephus Bellum Iudaicum 2.38). With the Flavian forces at Second
Cremona, a battle fought through the hours of darkness, at dawn the soldiers
of III Gallica turned in true eastern manner to salute the rising sun. The
Vitellian army thought they were hailing reinforcements and fled (Tacitus
Historiae 3.24.3-25.1, Cassius Dio 65.14.3). Recruiting locally (e.g. Tacitus
Annales 13.7.1, 35.3), the legion had obviously acquired a tradition of worship
of an oriental solar deity, perhaps Iuppiter Optimus Maximus Dolichenus, a
-warlike solar Baal directly associated with the creation of weapons with iron.
After Cremona it was billeted for a time at Capua, and then stationed once
more in Syria.
But this legion was not an anomaly. The men of Vitellius' Rhine legions,
marching through northern Italy en route to Rome several months before
Second Cremona, seemed to the local residents an uncouth and foreign band
(Tacitus Historiae 2.21, cf. 4.65). An inscription (ILS 2304) from near Alexandria,
dated AD 194, records the names of 46 soldiers who have just received their
honourable discharge. Of the 41 whose origins are mentioned, 24 of these give
the camp as their domicile, or more precisely 'born in the camp' (origo castris).
It is likely that most of them were illegitimate sons born to soldiers from local
women living in the nearby canabae, that is, the extramural settlement
associated with the garrison.
Legions consisted of ten cohorts (cohortes) , with six centuries (centuriae) of
80 men in each cohort, apart from the first cohort (cohors prima), which from
AD 70 or thereabouts was double strength, that is five centuries of 160 men.
Centuria
10
The basic sub-unit of the Roman
Army, a centurio was divided into
ten contubernia, or 'tentfuls'. Each
contubernium consisted of eight
men who messed and slept
together, sharing a tent on campaign
and a pair of rooms in a barrack
block. In the period from Augustus
to Nero, a legio had 60 centuriae.
This number was then reduced
to 59, with five double-strength
centuriae in the prima cohors and
54 standard centuriae in the other
nine cohortes.
••
(+)
••
On the field of battle each centuria
usually fought in four ranks, with
one metre frontage for each file
and two metres depth for each
rank. This gave ample room for the
use of pi/urn and g/adius. The number
of ranks could be doubled if extra
solidity was required. In fact a
convenient march formation was
an eight-man wide column (Le. one
contuberniurn), and this only needed
a right wheel, march to the flank,
halt, front and double files to
become a fighting formation.
This graphic chart illustrates
a centuria /egionis.
II
12
The erection of a temple to
Mercury is recorded on this
altar (RIB 2148) from Castlecary,
Antonine Wall (Edinburgh, National
Museums of Scotland). Dedicated
by soldiers (milites) of legio VI Victrix,
they give their origines as Italy
and the province of Noricum.
By the time this was erected
in the mid-2nd century AD, the
number of Italians joining the
legions had fallen to below one
per cent (Fields-Carre Collection)
Commanded by a centurion (centurio) and his
second in command (optio) , a standard-size century
(centuria) was divided into ten eight-man sub-units
(contubernia) , each contubernium sharing a tent on
campaign and pair of rooms in a barrack block, eating,
sleeping and fighting together. Much like small
units in today's regular armies, this state of affairs
tended to foster a tight bond between 'messmates'
(contubernales). Male bonding would explain why
many soldiers (milites) preferred to serve their entire
military career in the ranks despite the opportunities
for secondment to specialized tasks and for
promotion. Nonetheless, a soldier (miles) who
performed a special function was excused fatigues,
which made him an immunis, although he did not
receive any extra pay (Digesta 50.6.7).
Finally there was a small force of 120 horsemen
(equites legionis) recruited from among the legionaries
themselves. These equites acted as messengers, escorts
and scouts, and were allocated to specific centuries
rather than belonging to a formation of their own.
Thus the inscription (RIB 481) on a tombstone from
Deva (Chester) describes an eques of legio II Adiutrix pia
fidelis as belonging to the centuria of Petronius Fidus.
Citizen cavalry had probably disappeared after Marius'
reforms, and certainly was not in evidence in Caesar's
legions. However, apart from a distinct reference to
120 cavalry of the legion in Josephus (Bellum Iudaicum
3.68), they seem not to have been revived as part of
the Augustan reforms.
Detachments
When territory was added to the empire, a garrison had
to be put together to serve in its defence. New legions
were sometimes raised, but normally these green units
were not themselves intended for service in the new
province. So when an invasion and permanent
occupation of Britannia became a hard possibility under
Caligula, two new legions, XV Primigenia and XXII
Primigenia, were formed in advance. Their intended role
was as replacements for experienced legions earmarked
to join the invasion force: XV Primigenia to release legio
XX from Novaesium (Neuss), and XXII Primigenia to
release XlIII Gemina from Mogontiacum (Mainz). The
invasion force that eventually sailed for Britannia in the
summer of AD 43 consisted of XX and XlIII Gemina, along with II Augusta, which
had been at Argentoratum (Strasbourg), this camp was now left vacant, and VIllI
Hispana from Siscia (Sisak) in Pannonia (Tacitus Annales 14.32.6).
Nevertheless, transfers of legions to different parts of the empire could leave
long stretches of frontier virtually undefended, and wholesale transfers became
unpopular as legions acquired local links. An extreme case must be that of II
Augusta. Part of the invasion army of AD 43, this legion was to be stationed in
the province for the whole time Britannia was part of the empire. As
mentioned above, many recruits were the illegitimate sons of serving soldiers
or veterans, that is to say, origo castris. Therefore, the custom developed of
sending not an entire legion to deal with emergencies, but detachments drawn
from the various legions of a province.
Detachments from legions operating independently or with other
detachments were known as vexillationes, named from the square flag, vexillum,
which identified them. Until the creation of field armies in the late empire, these
vexillationes were the method of providing temporary reinforcements to armies
for major campaigns. Thus Domitius Corbulo received a vexillatio from X
Fretensis, then stationed at the Euphrates crossing at Zeugma, during his
operations in Armenia. Later he was to take three vexillationes of 1,000 men (Le.
two cohorts) from each of his three Syrian legions (III Gallica, VI Ferrata and
X Fretensis) to the succour of Caesennius Paetus, whose army was retreating post-
haste out of Armenia (Tacitus Annales 15.8-17).
Auxiliaries
Under Augustus the rather heterogeneous collection of auxiliary units
(auxilia) serving Rome was completely reorganized and given regular status
within the new standing army. Trained to the same standards of discipline as
the legions, the men were long-service professionals like the legionaries and
served in units that were equally permanent. Recruited from a wide range of
warlike peoples who lived just within or on the periphery of Roman control,
with Gauls, Thracians and Germans in heavy preponderance, the auxilia were
freeborn non-citizens (peregrini) who, at least from the time of Claudius,
received full Roman citizenship on honourable discharge after completion of
their 25 years under arms.
Tacitus tells us that the Batavi, on the lower Rhine, paid no taxes at all, but
'reserved for battle, they are like weapons and armour, only to be used in war'
This sculptural relief of three
legionaries was found at Croy
Hill,Antonine Wall (Edinburgh,
National Museums of Scotland).
It was probably the upper part
of a tombstone showing a father,
the deceased, flanked by his two
sons. All three presumably served
in legio VI Victrix, and illustrate the
notion of recruits being drawn
from those who gave their
domicile as origo castris.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
13
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Turma
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Cohors peditata quingenaria
III
• • •• I
••••• ~
/III ~ /I L--.-
The
cOhor-s peditata-qUingena-ria
was clearly based on the legionary
cohortes II-X as it consisted of six
centuriae each 80 men strong
though unlike a legionary cohort,
a prefect (praefectus cohortis)
f f f f
commanded it. Under him, however,
each centuria was led by a centurio
who was assisted by an optio,
signifer and tesserarius.
.•••11 .•• "11 .•••11 .•• "11 .•• "11
•••••
t I ~ 1 I
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1, ••••
f f f f f
The ala was subdivided, not into
centuriae, but into turmae. An ala
would be either of 512 cavalrymen
in 16 turmae (quingenaria), or
of 768 cavalrymen in 24 turmae
(milliaria). However, a prefect of
cavalry (praefectus equitum, later
praefectus alae) commanded both
types. This graphic chart illustrates
______ analamil/iaria. 15
Cohors peditata milliaria
Centuria
16
ti ti ti ti ti
Tribunus cohortis t
Cohors peditata milliaria
~
I
I
The cohors peditata mil/iaria, unlike
the double-strength centuries of the
prima cohors of a legion, was of ten
centuriae each 80 men strong, a total
of 800 men under the command of
a tribune (tribunus cohortis). Again,
each centuria was led by a centurio
who was assisted by an optio, signi(er
and tesserarius.
ti ti ti
At full strength, the cohors
peditata was either of 480 men
(six centuries) or 800 men
(ten centuries). The smaller
cohors was called quingenaria
(nominally 500) and the larger
milliaria (nominally 1,000). This
graphic chart illustrates a cohors
peditata milliaria. 17
Cohors equitata quingenaria
Cohors equitata milliaria
The cohors equitata quingenaria
consisted of six centuriae and
four turmae, a total of 480
infantrymen and 128 cavalrymen
(6 x 80 + 4 x 32 =608).A cohors
equitata quingenaria was regularly
commanded by a praefectus cohortis,
who was an equestrian officer on
the first step of the tres mi!itiae.
The cohors equitata mi/liaria
consisted of ten centuriae and
eight turmae, a total of 800
infantrymen and 256 cavalrymen
(10 x 80 + 8 x 32 =1,056).
A cohors equitata mil/iaria was
regularly commanded by a tribunus
cohortis, an equestrian officer on
the second step of the tres militiae.
I
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18
Ala quingenaria
The ala quingenaria consisted of
16 turmae, a total of 512 cavalrymen
(16 x 32 =512). Each turma was
commanded by a decurio, the senior
of whom was ranked as a decurio
princeps.
(Germania 29). From him (Historiae 1.59,2.27, 66, 4.12, Annales 2.8, 11) we
hear of eight cohortes and one ala, nearly 5,000 warriors from the tiny region
of Batavia, serving Rome at anyone time. He also remarks of a cohors
Sugambrorum under Tiberius, as 'savage as the enemy in its chanting and
clashing of arms' (Annales 4.47.4) although fighting far from its Germanic
homeland in Thrace. Further information concerning these tribal levies
comes from Tacitus' account of the civil war. In AD 69, when Vitellius
marched into Rome, his army also included 34 cohortes 'grouped according to
nationality and type of equipment' (Historiae 2.89.2).
Take the members of cohors II Tungrorum for instance, who had been
originally raised from among the Tungri who inhabited the north-western
fringes of the Arduenna Silva (Ardennes Forest) in Gallia Belgica. Under the
Iulio-Claudian emperors it was quite common for such units to be stationed in
or near the province where they were first raised. However, the events of AD
68/69, with the mutiny of a large proportion of the auxilia serving on the
Rhine, led to a change in this policy. Although the Roman high command did
not abandon local recruiting, it did stop the practice of keeping units with so
continuous an ethnic identity close to their homelands.
As expected, by the late 1st century AD, units were being kept up to strength
by supplements from the province where they were now serving or areas
adjacent to it. Such units retained their ethnic identities and names, even if
they enlisted new recruits from where they were stationed. The epitaph of Sex.
Valerius Genialis tells us that he was a trooper in ala I Thracum, and his three-
part name that he was a Roman citizen. But it adds that he was a 'Frisian
tribesman' (RIB 109). So, Genialis came from the lower Rhine, served in a
Thracian cavalry unit stationed in Britannia and styled himself Roman.
Auxiliary cohorts were either 480 strong (quingenaria, 'five-hundred strong')
or, from around AD 70, 800 strong (milliaria, 'one-thousand strong'). Known as
cohortes peditata, these infantry units had six centuries with 80 soldiers to each
if they were quingenaria, or if milliaria had ten centuries of 80 soldiers each. As
in the legions, a centurion and an optio commanded a century, which was
likewise divided into ten contubernia.
Cavalry units known as alae ('wings', it originally denoted the allies (socii)
posted on the flanks) are thought to have consisted of 16 turmae (Hyginus 16,
cf. CIL 3.6581), each with 30 troopers (Fink 80, cf. Arrian Ars Tactica 18.3)
commanded by a decurio and his second-in-command the duplicarius, if they
were quingenaria (512 total), or if milliaria 24 turmae (768 total). The latter
units were rare; Britannia, for example, had only one in its garrison. Drawn
from peoples nurtured in the saddle - Gauls, Germans, Iberians and
Thracians were preferred - the horsemen of the alae provided a fighting arm
in which the Romans were not so adept.
Additionally there were mixed foot/horse units, the cohortes equitatae. Their
organization is less clear, but usually assumed, following Hyginus (26-27), to
have six centuries of 80 men and four turmae of 30 troopers if cohors equitata
quingenaria (608 total), or ten centuries of 80 men and eight turmae of 30 troopers
Low-cut relief decorating a column
base from the principia of Mainz-
Mogontiacum showing an auxiliary
infantryman with oval clipeus and
Cool us helmet (Mainz,
Mittelrheinisches Landesmuseum).
As well as a lancea in his right hand,
he carries two spares in his left.
Note the detail of his caligae.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
The left-hand panel of the Bridgeness
distance slab (No. I ),Antonine Wall
(Edinburgh, National Museums of
Scotland). The low-cut relief depicts
a triumphant auxiliary trooper riding
down four naked warriors. Equipped
with what appears to be an oval
clipeus, his spatha is carried in the
unorthodox position on the right
swinging from a wide baldric.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
19
t D ~ U r l O t t
Turma
• • •
Cohors equitata quingenaria jI..
Duplicarius "if
ti ti ti ti
Praefecws cohorost .
20 L--- _
Ala milliaria
The ala milliaria consisted of
24 turmae, a total of 768 cavalrymen
(24 x 32 =768). Each turma was
commanded by a decurio, the senior
of whom was ranked as a decurio
princeps.
CMluriot-tSignifer
Centuria
The cohors equitata was a mixed
cohort based on the centuria, the
infantry century commanded by a
centurio, and the turma, the cavalry
troop commanded by a decurio.
Though these cavalrymen were not
as well mounted as those serving in
an ala, the cohortes equitatae, with
their combination of foot and horse
in a ratio of about four to one,
were especially suited to garrison
and local policing activities. This
graphic chart illustrates a cohors
equitata quingenaria, which consisted
of six centuriae and four turmae.
21
22
The basic sub-unit of the Roman
cavalry, at full strength the turma
consisted of 32 men. This meant the
ala quingenaria had 512 cavalrymen,
and the ala milliaria 768 cavalrymen.
Each turma was commanded by a
decurio and his second-in-command
a duplicarius.
Turmo
if cohors equitata milliaria (1,056 total). An inscription, dated to the reign of
Tiberius, mentions a praefectus cohortis Ubiorum peditum et equitum, 'prefect of a
cohort of Ubii, foot and horse' (ILS 2690), which is probably the earliest example
of this type of unit. It may be worth noting here that this Tiberian unit was
recruited from the Ubii, a Germanic tribe distinguished for its loyalty to Rome
(Tacitus Germania 28). In Gaul Caesar had employed Germanic horse-warriors
who could fight in conjunction with foot-warriors, operating in pairs (Caesar
Bellum Gallicum 7.65.5, 8.36.4, cf. Tacitus Germania 6).
Organized, disciplined and well trained, the pride of the Roman cavalry were
obviously the horsemen of the alae, but more numerous were the horsemen of
the cohortes equitatae. Having served for some time as infantrymen before being
upgraded and trained as cavalrymen, these troopers were not as highly paid, or
as well mounted as their brothers of the alae, but they performed much of the
day-to-day patrolling, policing and escort duties.
Weapons and equipment
As with all professional, state-sponsored armies, improvements in equipment
took place relatively slowly, necessitating the continued use of material that
was of considerable age, even if certain older items, helmets in particular,
were relegated to inferior grades of soldier. It may be said with truth of
Roman arms that as long as a piece remained in serviceable condition, it
continued to be used.
Helmets
Roman helmets, of Celtic inspiration, were made of iron or copper alloy (both
bronze and brass are known). Bronze was a more expenSive metal, but cheaper
to work into a helmet: whereas iron helmets could only be beaten into shape,
bronze ones were often 'spun' on a revolving former (a shaped piece of wood
or stone) from annealed bronze sheet.
Whatever the material or type (e.g. Coolus, Imperial Gallic), however, the main
features were the skull-shaped bowl, a large neck-guard to protect from blows to
Full-size manikin of an auxiliary
trooper (Cirencester, Corinium
Museum).A characteristic feature
of cavalry helmets is the extension
of the cheek-pieces to cover the
ears, commonly shaped as simulated
ears. The model is also wearing a
Gallic-type mail shirt with shoulder-
cape. Note the spatha hangs at the
right hip. (Fields-Carre Collection)
Bronze Coolus type IE' helmet
thought to have been found in the
Thames (London, British Museum,
P&E 1950 7-61). With its larger
neck-guard and the addition of
a brow-guard, the Cool us helmet
started to replace the Montefortino
pattern that had been commonly
worn by legionaries of Caesar's
legions. (Fields-Carre Collection)
23
Bronze scales from Newstead-
Trimontium (Edinburgh, National
Museums of Scotland). Each scale
has four side-link holes and one
lacing hole at the top. This piece
dates to the end of the Ist century
AD and probably belonged to a
cavalryman stationed at the fort.
The site itself has yielded no
fewer than 346 scales to date.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
the neck, cheek-pieces to protect the sides of the face - these were hinged so they
could move freely - and a brow-guard, which defended against downward blows
to the face. The helmet invariably left the face and ears exposed, since the soldier
needed to see and hear to understand and follow battlefield commands. Soldiers
often punched or scratched their names and those of their centurions onto their
helmets to prevent mistaken ownership or indeed theft.
Unlike infantry helmets, cavalry helmets had extensions of their cheek-
pieces to cover the ears. Often shaped as simulated ears, the extra protection to
the face was clearly considered to be more important than some loss of hearing.
Also the nape-guard was very deep, reaching down to close to the shoulders,
but not wide, since this would have made the rider likely to break his neck if
he fell from his horse. The cavalry helmet, therefore, protected equally well
against blows to the side and the back of the head, vital in a cavalry melee
when the two sides soon become intermingled.
Body armour
The Romans employed three main types of body armour: mail (lorica hamata),
scale (lorica squamata) and segmented (lorica segmentata, a term coined during
the Renaissance).
All body armour would have been worn over some kind of padded garment and
not directly on top of the tunic. Apart from making the wearer more comfortable,
this extra layer complemented the protective values of each type of armour, and
helped to absorb the shock of any blow striking the armour. The anonymous
author of the De rebus bellicis, an amateur military theoretician writing in the late
4th century AD, describes the virtues of such a garment: 'The ancients [Le. the
Romans], among the many things, which ... they devised for use in war, prescribed
also the thoracomachus to counteract the weight and friction of armour.... This
type of garment is made of thick sheep's wool felt to the measure ... of the upper
part of the human frame ... '. The author himself probably coined the term
thoracomachus (cf. Greek thorax, breastplate), which seems to be a padded garment
of linen stuffed with wool. One illustration on Trajan's Column (Scene cxxviii)
depicts two dismounted troopers on sentry duty outside a headquarters who
appear to have removed their mail-shirts to expose the padded garment.
Lorica hamata
Mail was normally made of iron rings, on average about one millimetre thick
and three to nine millimetres in external diameter. Each ring was connected to
24
four others, each one passing through the two rings directly above and two
directly below - one riveted ring being inter-linked with four punched rings.
The wearer's shoulders were reinforced with 'doubling', of which there were
two types. One had comparatively narrow shoulder 'straps', and a second
pattern, probably derived from earlier Celtic patterns, in a form of a shoulder-
cape. The second type required no backing leather, being simply drawn around
the wearer's shoulder girdle and fastened with S-shaped breast-hooks, which
allowed the shoulder-cape to move more easily. The shoulder-cape is indicated
on numerous grave markers belonging to cavalrymen, which also show the
mail-shirt split at the hips to enable the rider to sit a horse.
Although mail had two very considerable drawbacks - it was extremely
laborious to make, and while it afforded complete freedom of movement to the
wearer, it was very heavy (lO-lSkg) - such armour was popular. A mail-shirt was
flexible and essentially shapeless, fitting more closely to the wearer's body than
other types of armour. In this respect it was comfortable, whilst the wearing of a
belt helped to spread its considerable weight, which would otherwise be carried
entirely by the shoulders. Mail offered reasonable protection, but could be
penetrated by a strong thrust or an arrow fired at effective range.
Lorica squamata
Scale armour was made of small plates, one to five centimetres in length, of
copper alloy, or occasionally of iron, wired to their neighbours horizontally
and then sewn in overlapping rows to linen or leather backing. Each row was
arranged to overlap the one below by a third to a half the height of the scales,
enough to cover the vulnerable stitching. The scales themselves were thin, and
the main strength of this protection came from the overlap of scale to scale,
which helped to spread the force of a blow.
Aserious deficiency lies in the fact that such defences could be quite readily
pierced by an upward thrust of sword or spear, a hazardous aspect of which
many cavalrymen must have been acutely aware when engaging infantry. This
weakness was overcome, certainly by the 2nd century AD, when a new form of
semi-rigid cuirass was introduced where each scale, of a relatively large
dimension, was wired to its vertical, as well as its horizontal, neighbours.
Scale could be made by virtually anyone, requiring patience rather than
craftsmanship, and was very simple to repair. Though scale was inferior to mail,
being neither as strong nor as flexible, it was similarly used throughout our
period and proved particularly popular with horsemen and officers as this type
of armour, especially if tinned, could be polished to a high sheen. Apart from
those to cavalry, most of the funerary monuments that depict scale armour
belong to centurions.
Lorica segmentata
This was the famous laminated armour that features so prominently on the
spiral relief of Trajan's Column. Concerning its origins, one theory suggests
that it was inspired by gladiatorial armour, since these fighters are known to
have worn a form of articulated protection for the limbs. Part of a lorica
segmentata was found at the site of the Varian disaster, making this the earliest
known example of this type of armour.
The armour consisted of some 40 overlapping, horizontal curved bands of
iron articulated by internal straps. It was hinged at the back, and fastened with
buckles, hooks and laces at the front. As the bands overlapped it allowed the
wearer to bend his body, the bands sliding over one another. The armour was
strengthened with back and front plates below the neck, and a pair of curved
shoulder-pieces. In addition, the legionary would wear a metal studded apron
hung from a wide leather belt (cingulum), which protected the belly and groin.
Round the neck was worn a woollen scarf ((ocale), knotted in front, to prevent
the metal plates from chafing the skin. 25
Reconstruction of a 'cut-down' -style
scutum in use by Augustus' time,
exterior view (Caerleon, National
Roman Legion Museum). The face
was decorated with the unit's
insignia - either in applied panels
or painted. However, it is not clear
whether the entire legion shared a
common shield device, or whether
each cohort was distinguished in
some way, perhaps by colour.
26 (Fields-Carre Collection)
It was superior to mail with regard to ease of manufacture and preservation,
but most particularly in view of its weight, this could be as little as S.Skg,
depending on the thickness of the plate used. It was also more resistant to
much heavier blows than mail, preventing serious bruising and providing
better protection against a sharp pointed weapon or an arrow. Its main
weakness lay in the fact that it provided no protection to the wearer's arms and
thighs. Also full-scale, working reconstructions of lorica segmentata have shown
that the multiplicity of copper-alloy buckles, hinges and hooks, and leather
straps, which gave freedom of movement, were surprisingly frail. It may have
been effective against attacking blows or in impressing the enemy, but with its
many maintenance problems we can understand why lorica segmentata never
became standard equipment in the Roman Army.
Shields
Legionaries carried a large dished shield (scutum), which had been oval in the
republican period but was now rectangular in shape. Besides making it less
burdensome, the shortening of the scutum at top and bottom was probably due
to the introduction into the army of new combat techniques, such as the
famous Roman 'tortoise' (testudo) , a mobile formation entirely protected by a
roof and walls of overlapping and interlocking scuta (e.g. Josephus Bellum
Iudaicum 3.273). On the other hand, auxiliaries, infantrymen and horsemen
alike, carried a flat shield (clipeus) , with a variety of shapes (oval, hexagonal,
rectangular) recorded.
Shields, scuta and clipi equally, were large to give their bearer good
protection. To be light enough to be held continually in battle, however,
shield-boards were usually constructed of double or triple thickness plywood
made up of thin strips of birch or plane wood held together with glue. The
middle layer was laid at right angles to the front and back layers. Covered both
sides with canvas and rawhide, they were edged with copper-alloy binding and
Reconstruction of an oval clipeus,
the typical flat shield carried by
auxiliary infantrymen and
cavalrymen alike (Cirencester,
Corinium Museum).An oval clipeus
was only slightly lighter than a
cylindrical scutum, its greater height
compensating for the latter's greater
width. (Fields-Carre Collection) 27
28
Reconstruction of a pi/urn
(Caerleon, National Roman Legion
Museum). Instead of having the
whole business end tempered, the
tempering was confined to the
pyramidal iron head. This ensured
that the iron shank remained quite
soft and liable to buckle and bend
under the weight of the wooden
shaft. (Fields-Carre Collection)
had a central iron or copper-alloy boss (urnbo), a bowl-shaped protrusion
covering a horizontal handgrip and wide enough to clear the fist of the bearer.
When not in use shields were protected from the elements by leather shield-
covers; plywood can easily double in weight if soaked with rain. Oiled to keep
it both pliant and water resistant, the cover was tightened round the rim of
the shield by a drawstring. It was not unusual for it to have some form of
decoration, usually pierced leather applique-work stitched on, identifying the
bearer's unit. A cavalryman had the luxury of carrying his shield obliquely
against the horse's flank (ibid. 3.96), slung from the two side horns of the
saddle and sometimes under the saddlecloth (Trajan's Column scenes v, xlii,
xlix, lxxxix, civ).
Shafted weapons
Pilum
Since the mid-3rd century AD the pilurn had been employed by legionaries in
battle as a short-range shock weapon; it had a maximum range of 30m or
thereabouts, although probably it was discharged within 15m of the enemy for
maximum effect Gunkelmann 1991: 188). By our period the pilurn had a
pyramidal iron head on a long, untempered iron shank, some 60-90cm in
length, fastened to a one-piece wooden shaft, which was generally of ash. The
head was designed to puncture shield and armour, the long iron shank passing
through the hole made by the head.
Once the weapon had struck home, or even if it missed and hit the ground,
the soft iron shank tended to buckle and bend under the weight of the shaft.
With its aerodynamic qualities destroyed, it could not be effectively thrown
back, while if it lodged in a shield, it became extremely difficult to remove
(Caesar Bellurn Gallicurn 1.25.3). Put simply, the pilurn would either penetrate
flesh or become useless to the enemy. Modern experiments have shown that a
pilurn, thrown from a distance of 5m, could pierce 30mm of pinewood or
20mm of plywood (Bishop & Coulston 1993: 48).
Continuing the practice of the late Republic, there were two fixing methods
at the start of our period, the double-riveted tang and the simple socket
reinforced by an iron collet. With regards to the tanged pilurn, however, there
is iconographical evidence, such as the Cancellaria relief and the Adamklissi
monument, to suggest that a bulbous lead weight was now added under the
pyramid-shaped wooden block fixing the shank to the shaft. Presumably this
development was to enhance the penetrative capabilities of the pilurn by
concentrating even more power behind its small head, but, of course, the
increase in weight would have meant a reduction in range.
Lancea
Auxiliary foot and horse used a light spear (lancea) as opposed to the pilurn.
Approximately 1.8m in length, it was capable of being thrown further than a
pilurn, though obviously with less effect against armoured targets, or retained in
the hand to thrust over-arm as shown in the cavalry tombstones of the period.
Even though such funerary carvings usually depict troopers either carrying
two lanceae or grooms (calones) behind them holding spares, Josephus claims
(Bellurn Iudaicurn 3.96) Vespasianus' eastern cavalry carried a quiver containing
three or more darts with heads as large as light spears. He does not say
specifically where the quiver was positioned but presumably it was attached to
the saddle. Arrian (Ars Tactica 40.10-11) confirms this in his description of an
equestrian exercise in which horsemen were expected to throw as many as 15,
or, in exceptional cases 20 light spears, in one run. Presumably infantrymen
carried more than one lancea; a low-cut relief recovered from the site of the
fortress at Mainz (Mogontiacum) depicts an auxiliary infantryman brandishing
one in his right hand with two more held behind his clipeus. Analysis of the
remains of wooden shafts shows that ash and hazel were commonly used.
Bladed weapons
Gladius
Back in the 3rd century BC the Romans had adopted a long-pointed, double-
edged Iberian weapon, which they called the gladius Hispaniensis ('Iberian
sword'), though the earliest specimens date to the turn of the 1st century BC. In
our period the gladius was employed not only by legionaries, but by auxiliary
infantrymen too.
Based on gladii found at Pompeii and on several sites along the Rhine and
Danube frontiers, Ulbert (1969) has been able to show that there were two
models of gladius, the one succeeding the other. First was the long-pointed
'Mainz' type, whose blade alone could measure 69cm in length and six
centimetres in width (Connolly 1997: 49-56), and is well evidenced in the
period from Augustus to Caligula. The 'Pompeii' type followed this, a short-
pointed type that replaced it, probably during the early part of Claudius' reign.
This pattern was shorter than its predecessor, being between 42 and 55cm long,
with a straighter blade 4.2 to 5.5cm wide and short triangular point. Whereas
the 'Mainz' type weighed between 1.2 and 1.6kg, the 'Pompeii' type was
lighter, weighing about one kilogramme.
The blade of both types was a fine piece of steel with a sharp point and
honed-down razor-sharp edges and was designed to puncture armour. It had a
comfortable bone handgrip grooved to fit the fingers, and a large spherical
pommel, usually of wood or ivory, to help with counter-balance.
Selection of Roman iron spearheads
from Roman Britain. These have
tubular shanks and sockets to
permit riveting to shafts. Carried
by auxiliary infantrymen and
cavalrymen alike, lanceae were fairly
light, and could be thrown or kept
in hand for dose-quarter combat.
(Ancient Art & Architecture)
29
The 'Fulham' gladius, found in the
Thames in that part of London.
It is housed in its bronze
decorated scabbard, which bears
an embossed panel showing the
she-wolf suckling Romulus and
Remus. The 'Fulham' is an example
of the long-pointed 'Mainz' -type
gladius. (©The Trustees of the
30 British Museum)
Unusually, legionaries and auxiliaries carried their sword on the right-hand
side suspended by the cingulum worn around the waist. The wearing of the
sword on the right side goes back to the Iberians, and before them, to the Celts.
The sword was the weapon of the high-status warrior, and to carry one was to
display a symbol of rank and prestige. It was probably for cultural reasons
alone, therefore, that the Celts carried their long slashing-sword on the right
side. Customarily a sword was worn on the left, the side covered by the shield,
which meant the weapon was hidden from view. However, the Roman soldier
wore his sword on the right-hand side not for any cultural reason. As opposed
to a scabbard-slide, the four-ring suspension system on the scabbard enabled
him to draw his weapon quickly with the right hand, an asset in close-quarter
combat. By inverting the hand to grasp the hilt and pushing the pommel
forwards he drew the gladius with ease.
Spatha
Cavalrymen, on the other hand, used a longer, narrower double-edged sword
(spatha) that followed Celtic types, with a blade length from 64.5 to 91.5cm
and width from four to six centimetres. The middle section of the blade was
virtually parallel-edged, but tapered into a rounded point. It was intended
primarily as a slashing weapon for use on horseback, though the point could
also be used.
In spite of its length, the spatha was worn on the right side of the body, as
Josephus says (Bellum Iudaicum 3.96) and numerous cavalry tombstones
confirm, suspended from a waist belt or baldric whose length could be adjusted
by a row of metal buttons. At the turn of the 2nd century AD, however, the
spatha started to be worn on the left side, although not exclusively so.
Pugio
The pugio - a short, edged, stabbing weapon - was the ultimate weapon of last
resort. However, it was probably more often employed in the day-to-day tasks
of living on campaign. Carried on the left-hand side and suspended on the
The blade of a spatha found at
Newstead-Trimontium (Edinburgh,
National Museums of Scotland).
This example gives a good idea of
the longer, slimmer swords used
by cavalrymen. The organic hilt
has perished thus leaving the
tang from the blade exposed.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
Buckle and decorative plaque from
a cingulum, and three narrow plates
and one terminal from an apron, all
recovered from the battle site at
Kalkriese (Bramsche, Museum und
Park Kalkriese). The cingulum and
apron became a proud mark of the
soldier, who often paid good money
for handsome decoration. Thus belt
fittings were almost always tinned
or silvered; these bronze examples
are silvered. (akg-images/Museum
Kalkriese) 3I
32
First-century pugio from Pompeii
with iron blade and bone hilt
(Naples, Museo Archeologico
Nazionale, inv. 5681). A pugio was
regarded as a personal weapon and
a tool, and its scabbard decoration
subject to an individual's taste (and
purse). It seems even ordinary
rankers were quite prepared to
invest considerable sums on
decorated daggers and scabbards.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
same cingulum that carried the sword (though two separate belts crossed
'cowboy' style was a dashing alternate), the pugio was slightly waisted in a leaf-
shape and some 20 to 25.4cm long. The choice of a leaf-shaped blade resulted
in a heavy weapon, to add momentum to the thrust. Like the gladius, the pugio
was borrowed from the Iberians and then developed; it even had the four-ring
suspension system on the scabbard, characteristic of the gladius.
The pugio, worn by legionaries and auxiliaries alike, was obviously a
cherished object. The highly decorative nature of Roman daggers of our period,
and particularly their sheaths, suggests that even common soldiers were
prepared to spend considerable sums of money on what could be classified as
true works of art. Though remaining an effective fighting weapon, the pugio
was plainly an outward display of its wearer's power.
Command and control
Commanders had to maintain discipline among the
soldiers under their command, keep order in their
province and defend it against external attack. They had,
therefore, to be men of education and status, for they
must, in the name of the emperor, give commands and
inspire respect. In the context of Roman society, even
under the emperors, this meant that the commanders
were invariably drawn from the aristocracy.
The Roman aristocracy, which made up a mere two
per cent of the citizen population, was divided into
two orders, the senatorial order (ordo senatorius) and
the equestrian order (ordo equester). In fact most
commanders of our period were senators, which is not
surprising since traditionally the senatorial order
commanded the armies of Rome and Augustus desired
to provide them with opportunities to win fame and
distinction in the traditional way. Indeed the senatorial
order, with its long experience of government and
military life, was initially the only body capable of
providing enough men to govern the provinces and
command the armies. However, these men were no
longer the proconsuls or propraetors as of old, but
representatives of the emperor himself. Likewise, as we
shall soon discover, an increasing number of equestrians
were being granted important commands.
Legion command
The legion's commanding officer was a legate (legatus
Augusti legionis), appointed from the senatorial order
by the emperor to command in his name, and by the
end of the Iulio-Claudian era only a senator who had already served as praetor
was eligible. The command of a legion, therefore, now had a definite place in
the hierarchy of the senatorial order, and was usually held for a period of about
three years. At a later stage, after having held a consulship, a senator would
have become a governor and, if in an armed province, ranked as a legatus
Augusti pro praetore ('praetorian legate of Augustus') and have control over the
legions stationed there. Thus the emperor governed through his legati, who
held delegated power or imperium.
The other senior officers of a legion were six military tribunes, one of
senatorial rank (tribunus militum laticlavius, 'with the broad purple strip on the
toga'), the others equestrians (tribuni militum angusticlavii, 'with the narrow
purple strip on the toga'), and 60 (later 59) centurions. In the hierarchy of
command the senatorial tribune always ranked next to the legate, by virtue of
his noble birth, and thus acted as the second-in-command of the legion. He
served a short term as tribune before he was 25 years of age, prior to entering
the Senate as a quaestor, a junior magistrate who administered financial
matters in Rome or out in one of the provinces. He could look forward to
receiving full command of a legion later in his senatorial career.
Next in order of seniority came not the remaining five tribunes, but the
prefect of the camp (praefectus castrorum). A creation of Augustus, the post
The right-hand panel of the
Bridgeness distance slab (No. I),
Antonine Wall (Edinburgh, National
Museums of Scotland). The low-cut
relief depicts a purification ritual
known as a suovetauriJia, with a bull,
sheep and pig being led to sacrifice
at an altar. The person officiating
may be A. Claudius Charax from
Pergamon (AE 1961.320), legate
of legio II Augusta c. AD 143.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
33
M. Vipsanius Agrippa (64/63-12 Be)
Though of obscure origins, M. Vipsanius
Agrippa, life-long friend and closest
associate of Augustus, proved himself a
man of considerable talent and energy.
Augustus himself was no soldier, and it
was even rumoured that he had fled
the field during the first engagement at
Philippi. It was Agrippa who was largely
responsible for the defeat of the
combined forces of Marcus Antonius
and Cleopatra at Actium, the battle that
brought an end to five decades of civil
unrest and political violence, and had
followed this with a number of
important military and diplomatic
missions. He campaigned in Iberia, Gaul,
on the Rhine and the Danube with great
success, and in 23 BC was appointed to
govern Syria and to oversee the eastern
provinces (Cassius Dio 53.32.1, Josephus
Antiquitates ludaicae I5.350).
Agrippa was consul in 37 BC, 28 BC
and 27 BC, and censor with Augustus in
28 Be. He was first married to Caecilia
Attica, the heiress daughter of Cicero's
close friend and confident Atticus, then
to Marcella, the elder daughter of
Augustus' sister Octavia, and finally, in
21 BC, to lulia, the 18-year-old daughter
of Augustus, presumably with the idea
that while he might control affairs in the
event of Augustus' death, power would
at least eventually pass to one of the
emperor's line. This third marriage was
certainly fruitful, producing five children
in less than ten years, the two princes
Caius and Lucius (Augustus adopting
both in 17 BC), lulia minor (who would
match her mother's reputation for
waywardness and likewise suffer
permanent exile),Agrippina major
(the mother of Caligula) and Agrippa
Postumus (adopted by Augustus in
AD 4, but banished three years later for
violence and depravity, and liquidated
immediately after Augustus' death).
He deputized for Augustus when the
emperor was in Iberia in 25 BC, was
handed Augustus' signet ring when the
emperor lay seriously ill in 23 BC, and
was granted imperium pro consule later in
the same year and sent east, which was
renewed in 18 BC and made maius in
13 Be. In 18 BC tribunicia potestas was
also granted to him for five years, and
again for another five years in 13 Be.
The following year, however, he died.
34
required considerable and detailed knowledge of the legion, its personnel and
the daily rounds of duties. As the name implies, the praefectus castrorum had
general charge of the camp, including the building and maintenance of it
(Tacitus Annales 12.38.3, 13.39.2). In addition he saw to the baggage train when
on the march, commanded the artillery during battle and supervised weapons
training in peacetime (Vegetius 2.9). A career soldier, this senior officer
provided a degree of professionalism and continuity, which the two senatorial
officers might seem to lack.
Immediately below the praefectus castrorum ranked the five equestrian
tribunes. An equestrian tribune held no independent command in the legion,
but from at least the Flavian era onwards it was customary to already have
experienced leadership as a commander of an auxilia unit and thus to be in a
position to offer (if asked) the legate some practical advice on the handling and
disposition of auxiliary forces in his command area. Equally, the tribune would
have the chance to see a legion in action from within, which would stand him
in good stead when (or if) he went on to further commands. In peacetime, for
instance, his duties mainly centred on camp security, physical training and
overseeing of the stores and medical facilities.
Centuriate
Tacitus informs us that during the Rhine mutiny the legionaries had turned
against their centurions and given them each 60 strokes of the lash, 'one for
each centurion in the legion' (Annales 1.32.1). Likewise the six centurions of
each cohort still retained their old republican titles: pilus prior and pilus
posterior, princeps prior and princeps posterior, and hastatus prior and hastatus
posterior. These titles obviously reflect their former positions in the tripartite
battle-lines of the Republic: pilani (triarii), principes and hastati. It is generally
believed that the centurions of cohors X were junior to those of cohors VIllI, and
so on, so that promotion could consist of a transfer to a cohort of a lower
number. At the same time, the senior centurion of each cohort was the pilus
prior, followed by the princeps prior and hastatus prior, then by the three
posterior centurions in the same order. The most important duty of the
centurions was, of course, the command of their own century, and, if promoted
to be pilus prior, the command of the cohort in which they held that post.
In the cohors prima, with the introduction of the five double-strength
centuries, the titles were primus pilus, princeps prior, hastatus prior, princeps
posterior and hastatus posterior; collectively they were known as the primi ordines
('the front rankers') and enjoyed immense prestige. Even more so the primus
pilus, who, as the legion's top soldier, commanded the first century of the first
cohort and had charge of the eagle-standard. As in Caesar's day the post was
normally a one-year appointment, but under the Principate it automatically
elevated the holder to the equestrian order. Invariably, therefore, a primus pilus
went on to become praefectus castrorum, his last post before retirement.
Petronius Fortunatus, who probably came from Africa, saw five decades of
service in the army. He was a ranker for four years in I Italica stationed in
Moesia Inferior. He was then promoted to the rank of centurion and served as
such in no fewer than 13 legions, including those stationed in Syria Palestina
(where he probably met his wife in Jerusalem, then a Roman colony under the
name of Aelia Capitolina), Numidia and the provinces along the Danube and
the Rhine, receiving decorations in one of the Parthian campaigns, possibly
that under Marcus Aurelius, yet never entering the primi ordines and so not
attaining the coveted post of primus pilus. Nonetheless Fortunatus' career is
proudly recorded on his tombstone, which was found near Cillium in Africa.
The inscription runs as follows:
[Petronius Fortunatus] served for 50 years, four in legio IIta[lica] as clerk
(librarius), officer in charge of watchword (tesserarius), second-in-command
of a century (optio) , standard-bearer (signifer); he was promoted to
centurion (centurio) by vote of the [same] legion, served as centurion of legio
I Ital[ica], centurion of legio VI F[errata], centurion of legio I Min[ervia],
centurion legio X Gem[ina], centurion of legio II A[ugusta] , centurion of legio
III A[ugusta], centurion of legio III Gall[ica], centurion of legio XXX Ulp[ia],
centurion of legio VI Vic[trix], centurion of legio III Cyr[enaica] , centurion of
legio XV Apol[linaris], centurion of legio II Par[thica], centurion of legio I
Adiutrix; in the Parthian expedition he was decorated
for bravery with a corona muralis and corona vallaris
and with torques and phalerae; he was in his 80th
year at the completion of this monument for himself
and for Claudia Marcia Capitolina, his beloved wife,
who was in her 65th year at the time of the
completion of this monument, and for his son
Marcus Petronius Fortunatus, who served in the
army for six years, centurion of legio XXII
Primig[enia], centurion of legio II A[ugusta] , lived 35
years; for their beloved son, Fortunatus and Marcia,
his parents, built this as a memorial.
ILS 2658
The two coronae called muralis and vallaris, both of
which were gold, appear commonly in inscriptions,
and in origin the first was awarded to the first man
over the wall of a besieged town and the second for
the first man over the enemy's rampart. The phalerae
were embossed discs, usually of silver with gold
inlay, attached to the corselet by a leather harness.
Despite his obvious courage, however, promotion
within the centurionate came slowly, and in each
successive step it looks as if Fortunatus changed his
legion. This may explain why the peripatetic
Monumentul de la Adamklissi,
metope XXVIII (Istanbul, Arkeoloji
Muzesi, 1434 T). Here we see
two bareheaded and unarmoured
legionaries dressed in tunics and
wearing (ocalis. The wearing of the
gladius, with its distinctive pommel
and handgrip, high on the left hip,
the orthodox position, suggests
they are centurions.
(akg-images/Erich Lessing)
35
36
The Hutcheson Hill distance slab
(No. II ),Antonine Wall (Glasgow,
Hunterian Museum). In the centre
panel a laurel wreath is placed on
the beak of the aquila of legio XX
Valeria Victrix by the personification
ofYictory. Meanwhile, two bound
captives watch on. (Fields-Carre
Collection)
Fortunatus, who even ended up in Britannia on two separate postings, never
reached the top of his career.
Though men from outside the army could be directly commissioned to a
post in the centurionate, as was Fortunatus' 29-year old son Marcus, most
centurions rose from the ranks and since Marius the legions were recruited
from the proletarii. Yet a centurion was still responsible for the administration
of his century, for the conveyance of orders, the leadership of his men in battle
and for training and maintaining discipline. On average a man of reasonable
literacy and good conduct could reach the centurionate, which covered all the
lower and middle-ranking officers of the army, in 15 to 20 years. Fortunatus
himself, having first served as a clerk, was manifestly literate and had some
knowledge of arithmetic.
Occasionally centurions were chosen by popular vote, as was Fortunatus.
However, this method of promotion could be a risky one in certain
circumstances, and Tacitus records (Historiae 3.49.2) how M. Antonius Primus,
after the Flavian success at Second Cremona, gave his legions the right of
appointing new centurions to replace those who had been killed. This was a time
of civil war, and it comes as little surprise to learn that the most undisciplined
candidates were elected.
Junior officers
Each centurio was assisted by a second-in-command, an optio, so named because
under the Republic centuriones 'adopted' their own optiones (adoptandum, Varro
de Lingua Latina 5.91, Festus 201.23), a standard-bearer (signifer) , a musician
(comicen) and a guard commander (tesserarius). The optio, who would take
command if the centurio fell, traditionally stood at the rear of the centuria, while
the tesserarius supervised the posting of the sentries at night and was responsible
for distributing the following day's watchword, which he received each night
inscribed on a wooden tablet (tessera). The signiferi ranked with optiones as
principales, receiving double the pay of a legionary, and among their duties was
to keep the pay and savings accounts of their centuria.
Each centuria carried a standard (signum) basically consisting of an
assemblage of discs (phalerae) mounted on a pole surmounted by a spear point
or effigy hand, below which could be an inscribed tablet indicating the number
of the cohors the centuria belonged to (e.g. COH(ors) V). As no more than six
phalerae seem to be placed on anyone signum in the many illustrations of them
on coins and sculptures, it has been suggested that the number of discs denotes
the number of the century in its cohort.
The eagle-standard (aquila) was carried into battle by a senior standard-
bearer, the aquilifer, second only to a centurion in rank. It was under the
personal care of the primus pilus. While its safe custody was equivalent to the
continuance of the legion as a fighting unit, however depleted in numbers, its
loss brought the greatest ignominy on any survivors and could result in the
disbandment of the legion in disgrace. For example, at the start of his reign
Vespasianus disbanded four Rhine legions (I Germanica, 1111 Macedonica, XV
Primigenia and XVI Gallica), disgraced for having either surrendered or lost their
eagles during the rebellion of Iulius Civilis, and in their place, according to
Cassius Dio (55.24.3), raised two new legions, using two of the numbers of
those he had just axed and presumably some of their personnel as well (1111
Flavia felix and XVI Flavia firma). Velleius Paterculus (2.97.1), who served under
Prince Tiberius in Germania as a praefectus equitum, then in Pannonia as a
legatus Augusti legionis, reports the loss of its eagle-standard by the famed V
Alaudae, recently transferred from Iberia to the Rhine, where it was part of the
army of M. Lollius defeated by the Germanic Sugambri in 17 Be. Likewise,
Suetonius says (Vespasianus 4.4) XII Fulminata, another illustrious Caesarian
formation, lost its eagle in Iudaea under C. Cestius Gallus in AD 66. However, it
is interesting to note that these particular losses did not lead to the legions
being disbanded.
The eagle itself, initially of silver but later of gold (or perhaps silver-gilt), was
customarily depicted with a golden thunderbolt gripped in its talons, its wings
outstretched and its head cast forward, displaying its readiness for flight on
orders from Iuppiter. Little wonder, therefore, the legionary regarded his legion
standard with appreciable awe. We need only to recall the special campaign
launched across the Rhine by Germanicus in order to avenge the tragic defeat
of Varus and recover the lost standards.
Backing disc of an imago imperatoris
from Newstead-Trimontium
(Edinburgh, National Museums
of Scotland), which once bore
an image of the reigning emperor
with solar crown. Mounted on
a pole and carried by an imaginifer,
this standard served as a reminder
to the soldiers of their oath and
loyalty to their commander-in-chief.
(Fields-Carre Collection) 37
38
Each turma had its standard carried
by a signifer. Here the well-known
example from Hexham Abbey of
Flavianus, a signifer of ala Petriana,
a unit once stationed at Corbridge-
Coria and later at Stanwix near
Carlisle. He carries a signum that
looks like a large medallion. Note
the plumes adorning his helmet.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
During the Principate the portrait of the reigning
emperor (imago imperatoris) was also carried by each
legion. Reminding the soldiers of their loyalty and
devotion, this standard was carried on a separate pole
by the imaginifer. Tacitus (Annales 1.39.4) clearly
implies that the imago shared the same honours as the
aquila, and it too was under the personal care of the
primus pilus. As well as bringing the emperor into a
closer relationship with his soldiers, the imago became
of increasing significance with the rise and fall of
dynasties. Thus when the emperor's portrait was torn
down from the imagines, it was a sign of military
revolt. When the Vitellian commander A. Caecina
Alienus succeeded in winning over some of his army
to the cause of Vespasianus while the rest were away
on routine duties, the soldiers signified the change by
tearing down the portraits of Vitellius and taking an
oath to Vespasianus. But when the rest of the soldiers
returned to camp and saw Vitellius' portraits had been
torn down and Vespasianus' name written up, they
were stunned. Once they realized what had happened,
they refused to accept the change of allegiance, set up
Vitellius' portraits again and put Caecina under arrest
(Tacitus Historiae 3.13-14).
The early Christian writer Tertullian (fl. AD 200) says
the religious system of the Roman Army 'is entirely
devoted to the worship of the standards' (Apologia
16.8). Though this is somewhat of an exaggeration,
Tertullian was not completely wrong in his
judgement. The cultivation of esprit de corps is a
necessity for any military unit, and for this purpose the cult of the standards
was ideal. In a very real sense, the standards formed the very identity of the
unit to which they belonged and thus were revered as sacred objects. As his
soldiers commenced their advance into contact at the battle of Idistaviso,
Germanicus, according to Tacitus, took the sudden appearance of eight eagles
as a good omen, 'the legions' own special guiding spirit' (Annales 2.17.2).
Finally in a legionary headquarters there was a junior officer known as a
comicularius. Named for a decoration of two small horns hanging from his
helmet, the comicularius was responsible for the staff of clerks (librarii) that
formed the record-office (tabularium). Here you would have found clerks with
special duties, such as the librarius horreorum who kept the granary records, the
librarius depositorum who collected the soldiers' savings, and the librarius
caducorum, who secured the belongings of those killed in action. As in a modern
army, the Roman Army of the Principate generated a mountain of paperwork.
Thus a recruit who possessed writing and numeric skills would probably stand a
good chance of appointment as librarius (Vegetius 2.19). As we know, centurion
Fortunatus started his long army career not as a miles but as a librarius, and a letter
written in March AD 107 reveals how another recruit came to be a librarius. Iulius
Apollinaris writes in his native Greek to his father back home in Egypt:
I'm getting on all right. Thanks to Serapis I got here safely, and so far I
haven't been caught by any fatigues like cutting building-stones. In fact, I
went up to Claudius Severus, legatus Augusti pro praetore, and asked him to
make me a librarius on his own staff. He said, 'There's no vacancy at
present, but I'll make you a librarius legionis for the time being, with hopes
of promotion.' So I went straight from the general to the comicularius.
P. Mich. VIII 466.18-32
Our young soldier was serving in newly annexed Arabia, and a contingent of
his legion (VI Ferrata fidelis constans) was obviously employed in the local
quarries. His status as a librarius made him an immunis, and thus he was exempt
from the backbreaking bore of stone breaking.
Equestrian officers
While the senatorial families, previously the dominant force in Rome, might
resent the changes wrought by Augustus, and look back with nostalgia at the
old Republic, for many Romans the Principate was the opening of political
opportunities. This applied in particular to members of the equestrian order.
It seems likely that a legionary legate had overall command over the auxilia
units attached to his legion. We know that in Britannia the eight cohortes of
Batavi were attached to legio XlIII Gemina, and were to depart with it in AD 66
as part of Nero's planned expedition to the Caucasus, which never materialized
(Tacitus Historiae 1.6.4, 2.27.2, 4.15.1). Auxiliary commanders themselves,
however, were drawn solely from the equestrian order. Be that as it may, many of
these units were still commanded by 'native leaders', some even of 'royal stock',
such as the Batavian noble Flavius Cerialis, praefectus of cohors VIllI Batavorum at
Vindolanda in the years around AD 100 (e.g. Tab. Vindol. II 238,250).
From the Flavians onwards these commanders were ranked as follows:
praefectus cohortis (cohors peditata quingenaria), tribunus cohortis (cohors peditata
milliaria) and praefectus equitum (ala quingenaria and ala milliaria). Thus cavalry
commanders were men at the peak of what was known as the tres militiae,
equestrian officers who had already served as prefects of cohortes quingenariae
and either as tribunes in legions (tribuni angusticlavii) or tribunes of cohortes
milliariae (CIL 2.2637, cf. Suetonius Divus Claudius 25.1). By the 2nd century AD
there were some 90 posts as praefectus equitum (now known as praefectus alae),
and the commands of the alae milliariae devolved on a select group of about
ten consisting of the pick of the men who had already commanded alae
quingenariae. But the pinnacle of equestrian achievement did not end here.
The province of Egypt was organized differently from all other provinces. It
was the emperor's private possession, and no senator was allowed to set foot in
it without his authority. Consequently there could be no legatus Augusti pro
praetore or legati Augusti legionis in the province, and, while the governor was
called a praefectus Aegypto, the commanders of the legions in the province had
the title of praefecti legionum. These praefecti were all men of equestrian rank. A
senator in such a province might harbour dangerous, 'republican' ambitions;
as well as its garrison of two legions, there were a further four legions in Syria.
There is some justification for such a view in Tacitus (Historiae 1.11.1) who
thought that Augustus wished to control tightly a province, which was
populous, wealthy and fertile. So what was once Cleopatra's Egypt became the
crown of an equestrian career.
Finally, as the primus pilus received the rank of an equestrian, it was possible
for him to continue his army career by obtaining an independent command in
the auxilia if he so wished, thereby taking the successive steps praefectus
cohortis, tribunus legionis or tribunus cohortis, and praefectus equitum. On the
other hand, he could opt for a more glamorous posting and serve in the
garrison troops of Rome as a tribune in the watch (vigiles) , seven cohorts
responsible for policing and fire-fighting, the urban cohorts (cohortes urbanae),
three (later seven) in number, or the praetorian guard itself. Avery few went on
to equestrian governorships.
Command and control in action
The tradition of the Republic had been that a senator should be prepared to
serve the state in whatever capaCity it demanded, and be proficient. A practical
people, the Romans believed that the man chosen by the competent authority
would be up to the task in hand. In the Republic that authority had been the 39
Tombstone of Aurelius Surus, dated
AD 210-15 (Istanbul, Arkeoloji
Muzesi, 5826 T). He was a bucinator
in legio I Adiutrix pia (tdelis; having
served for 18 years he died age 40.
The memorial was put up by his
comrade and heir, Septimius
Vibianus, a fellow Syrian. In his
right hand Surus holds the tool
of his trade, the bucina or trumpet.
40 (Fields-Carre Collection)
electorate, under the Principate it would be the emperor. In other words there
was no training for the job. Thus the man sent to command an army would
have to learn the skills himself, from the leisure of reading books or the harder
lesson of the battlefield.
It is interesting that handbooks on military tactics and the art of generalship
continued to be written under the emperors, notably by Onasander (under
Claudius), Frontinus (under Domitianus), Aelian (under Traianus), Arrian
(under Hadrianus) and Polyainos (under Antonius Pius). All these authors
claimed to be writing with a principal purpose, namely to elucidate military
matters for the benefit of army commanders, and even the emperor himself.
Thus Frontinus, in the prologue of the Strategemata, explains his intentions:
For in this way army commanders will be equipped with examples
of good planning and foresight, and this will develop their own ability
to think out and carry into effect similar operations. An added benefit
will be the commander will not be worried about the outcome of
his own stratagem when he compares it with innovations already
tested in practice.
Frontinus Strategemata 1 praefatio
As under the Republic, the emperors saw no need to establish a system to train
future commanders. On the contrary, it was still believed that by using
handbooks and taking advice, a man of average ability could direct a Roman
army (Campbell 1996: 325-31).
Traditionally the Romans had an organized but uncomplicated approach
to tactics. The principles were: the use of cavalry for flank attacks and
encirclement; the placing of a force in reserve; the deployment of a battle line
that could maintain contact, readiness to counterattack, flexibility in the face
of unexpected enemy manoeuvres. As the disposition of forces and the
tactical placing of reserves were vital elements of generalship, the Roman
commander needed to be in a position from where he could see the entire
battle. The underlying rationale of this style of generalship is well expressed
by Onasander when he says the general' can aid his army far less by fighting
than he can harm it if he should be killed, since the knowledge of a general
is far more important than his physical strength' (Strategikos 33.1). To have
the greatest influence on the battle the general should stay close to, but
behind his fighting line, directing and encouraging his men from this
relatively safe position.
This was certainly what Antonius Primus did at Second Cremona (AD 69). In
bright moonlight the Flavian commander rode around urging his men on,
'some by taunts and appeals to their pride, many by praise and encouragement,
all by hope and promises' (Tacitus Historia 3.24.1). That other renowned
Flavian general, Q. Petilius Cerialis, is depicted during the rebellion of Civilis
(AD 70) doing the same thing, which occasioned no small risk (ibid. 4.77.2).
During his governorship of Cappadocia, Arrian had to repel an invasion of
the Alani. Arrian wrote an account of the preparatory dispositions he made for
A fragmentary tombstone
from Chesterholm-Vindolanda.
Its inscription tells us that Titus
Annius, a legionary centurion
(centurio legionis) serving as the
acting-commander of cohors I
Tungrorum based at Vindolanda, may
have been a casualties of a revolt
(inbell[o ... inter]feetvs) that flared in
Britannia at the time of Hadrianus'
succession. (Fields-Carre Collection) 41
this campaign, the Ektaxis kata Alanon. This unique work, in which the author
represents himself as the famous Athenian soldier-scholar Xenophon, sets out
the commands of the governor as if he were actually giving them. He had two
legions, XII Fulminata and XV Apollinaris, and a number of auxilia units under
his command, in all some 20,000 men. Arrian himself took charge of the
dispositions and recognized the need for personal, hands-on leadership:
42
Ti. Claudius Nero (42 Be-AD 37)
Tiberius was the eldest son of Livia
by her first husband, Ti. Claudius Nero.
He thus came from a noble family much
distinguished in republican times, a time
when such a man could expect high
office because of his military
achievements alone. For Tiberius
it was not to be, and as the years
passed he would become darker and
more morose. For instance, at Augustus'
insistence he divorced Vipsania Agrippina,
daughter of Agrippa and Caecilia Attica,
and married lulia, daughter of Augustus
and Agrippa's widow, in I I Be. He seems
to have been genuinely fond ofVipsania,
whom he had married in 19 BC, and
would come to regret bitterly his
loveless marriage to the headstrong lulia.
Outside of the traumas of family
life Tiberius was to enjoy a successful
military career. In 15 BC, along with
his younger brother Nero Claudius
Drusus, with whom he shared a
natural propensity for warfare, he had
campaigned in the region between the
Alps and the Danube, and after Drusus'
death in 9 BC, was active on the Rhine.
Consul in 13 BC (with Varus as
colleague), and again in 7 BC when he
also received an award of triumphalia and
a second imperator acclamation, he held
the tribunicia potestas for five years in
6 BC, a clear sign of Augustus' approval.
Yet he chose to retire in dudgeon to
Rhodes, apparently protesting against
Augustus' blatant dynastic promotion of
his own grandsons (and adopted sons),
the sons of lulia and Agrippa. According
to Suetonius (Tiberius 10.1), however,
Tiberius retired to Rhodes in order to
prevent his own prestige standing in the
way of the public careers of Caius and
Lucius Caesar - palace machinations or
was Tiberius retiring hurt?
It appears that though Augustus, after
the death of Agrippa, trusted Tiberius
with the important military commands,
the emperor did not favour his stepson
as a successor. Thus Augustus sent lulia
a decree of divorce in Tiberius' name in
2 BC, and the following year Tiberius'
tribunicia potestas expired and was not
renewed. He was only allowed to return
to Rome as a private citizen (privatus)
after urging by Livia and the agreement
of Caius Caesar in AD 2.
Finally in AD 4, after the untimely death
of Caius Caesar (Lucius had expired two
years beforehand), Tiberius, now 45 years
of age, was adopted (with Agrippa
Postumus) as Augustus' son, and granted
tribunicia potestas for ten years. However,
he was in turn obliged to adopt his
nephew Germanicus, even though he had
a natural son, Drusus minor, probably
only two years younger. In the same year
he was back on the Rhine to renew the
German campaign, and two years later, in
AD 6, he was, with Germanicus, sent to
deal with the Pannonian revolt. It took
the greater part of three years, with
much hard fighting, to put down this
terrifying uprising. Almost immediately
news was received of the Varian disaster,
so Tiberius was hurriedly dispatched to
the Rhine with all available troops
transferred from other provinces to
reinforce his army. But the expected
Germanic invasion did not materialize,
and so Tiberius mounted punitive
expeditions beyond the Rhine to restore
the name of Rome. In AD I I Germanicus
joined him in this arduous task.
As he grew old and weak, Augustus
sought to prevent any power vacuum
on his death. In AD 13 Tiberius became
de facto co-emperor after being given
a further grant of tribunicia potestas for
ten years and an imperium the equal of
Augustus'. The following year, on the
death of Augustus, oaths of loyalty were
given to him. Tiberius was a tragic figure.
He was an outstanding military
commander - the best of his age - but
he was neither interested in nor fitted
for the intrigue and politics of Rome.
He was in his true element on campaign
with his soldiers, but because of his
birth, he was doomed to become
emperor.
Tiberius was stern, cold, reserved and
formal with a strong sense of duty. He
was a bold leader in the field, as his
successful campaigns across the Rhine
demonstrated, with a real talent for
soldiering. He was popular and diligent,
often spending the day in the saddle and
the night under the stars, sitting at the
table to eat his meals instead of reclining
on a couch, or even squatting on the
bare earth. He was careful to look after
the sick and preserve his soldiers from
unnecessary losses in battle. It was an
established literary topos for a 'good'
general to share his soldiers' privations
and lead from the front, a theme we
shall come across repeatedly when
we look at the lives of other Roman
commanders. Yet the 'Napoleonic'
euphoria of his soldiers when Tiberius
returned to command them was
doubtless genuine (Velleius Paterculus
2.104.4).
Tiberius' great flaw was that he
was deeply suspicious of others, to the
point of paranoia. Though intelligent and
shrewd, he was easily hurt and could be
cold-bloodedly vengeful. He knew
Augustus favoured others over him and
that he was the eighth choice in his
succession plans. Rumour blamed his
mother, Livia, whom Caligula later
dubbed 'Ulysses in a frock' (Suetonius
Caius 23.2), for the premature deaths
of the other imperial candidates (the
picture popularized by Robert Graves
with a little help from Tacitus). Whatever
the truth of the matter, she was
determined that her son should succeed,
but he was unenthusiastic about
becoming emperor and ended by
loathing his position.
The commander of the entire army, Xenophon [Le. Arrian], should lead
from a position well in front of the infantry standards; he should visit all
the ranks and examine how they have been drawn up; he should bring
order to those who are in disarray and praise those who are properly
drawn up.
Arrian Ektaxis 10
To carry out his orders Arrian could look to the legionary legate (one of the
legati legionis seems to be absent), the military tribunes, centurions and
decurions. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that the tactics advocated by
Arrian are safe and simple, competent rather than brilliant.
Of all the senior officers listed above, it was the centurions that were the key to
an army's success in battle. Centurions were a strongly conservative group who
had a vital role to play in preserving the discipline and organization of the army
and providing continuity of command. Yet they owed their position of command
and respect to their own bravery and effectiveness in combat, and when they
stood on the field of battle they were directly responsible for leading their men
forwards. Thus their understanding of an intended battle plan was vital for success
simply because they were the ones commanding the men on the ground.
The aquilifer played an important if comparatively minor leadership role
in battle too. He was, after all, the man who served as a rallying point during
the chaos of battle, and could urge hesitant soldiers forwards during a
particularly dangerous moment. C. Suetonius Paulinus had formed his army
up opposite Mona (Anglesey) ready to assault, but his soldiers wavered at the
eerie spectacle of incanting Druids and frenzied women on the shoreline.
They were spurred into action, however, when 'onward pressed their
standards' (Tacitus Annales 14.30.2). When we consider the singular value the
soldiers placed on their aquila and how its loss to the enemy would mean a
permanent stain on the honour of their unit, it comes as no surprise to learn
that some sacrificed themselves in its defence. At Second Cremona the aquila
of VII Galbiana was only saved after' Atilius Verus' desperate execution upon
the enemy and at the cost, finally of his own life' (Tacitus Historiae 3.22.3). L.
Atilius Verus, once a centurion of V Macedonica, was primus pilus of the rookie
VII Galbiana.
Closely associated with the standards was the cornicen, a junior officer who
blew the cornu, a bronze tube bent into almost a full circle with a transverse bar
to strengthen it. Another instrument was the tuba, a straight trumpet, played
by the tubicen. Music was used for sleep, reveille and the changing of the guard
(Frontinus Strategemata 1.1.9, Josephus Bellum Iudaicum 3.86), but its main
function was tactical. Therefore on the battlefield itself different calls,
accompanied by visual signals such as the raising of the standards, would
sound the alarm or order a recall (Tacitus Annales 1.28.3, 68.3). Naturally, when
the troops charged into contact and raised their war cry (clamor), the cornicines
and tubicines blew their instruments so as to encourage their comrades and
discourage the enemy.
43
The Roman Army

In battle
44
Surprising as it may seem, there is no history of the Roman Army by any
ancient author and little detailed examination of military practices. Among the
Roman historians Tacitus has some detached references to the arms and
equipment of legionaries and auxiliaries, and to formations adopted by such
generals as Cn. Domitius Corbulo and Cn. Iulius Agricola. It is indeed curious
that Joseph ben Matthias, better known to history as Josephus (T. Flavius
Iosephus), wrote the best descriptions of the army in war and peace. An
aristocratic priest chosen by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council of state, to
defend Galilee in the revolt of AD 66 against Rome, Josephus witnessed
firsthand the legions of Vespasianus and his son Titus in action against his
Jewish countrymen. Like Polybios before him, as a defeated foreigner Josephus
was very much interested in seeking what were the primary factors that
contributed to the superiority of Roman arms.
Roman tactical doctrine and practice
'It would not be far from the truth to call their drills bloodless battle, their
battles bloody drills' (Bellum Iudaicum 3.75), so runs the most celebrated line of
Josephus. The patriot-turned-partisan presents a rather idealized view of the
Roman Army's efficiency, but he is not far wrong when he puts his failure down
to the effectiveness of the arduous training given to the legions. The legionary
had to be both physically and mentally stronger than his 'barbarian' adversary.
As Josephus points out, 'military exercises give the Roman soldiers not only
tough bodies but determined spirits too' (ibid. 3.102). Training brought not
only efficiency and effectiveness but also discipline and confidence, or in
Varro's very apt dictionary definition: 'Army (exercitus) , because it is made
better by means of exercise (exercitando).'
Although a battle fought between the armies of Otho and Vitellius, rivals for
the imperial purple, Tacitus' description of First Cremona is well worth a look at:
42. At this moment, the enemy [Le. the Vitellians] advanced with unbroken
ranks. In fighting qualities and numbers he had the advantage. As for the
Othonians, scattered, outnumbered and weary as they were, they went into
action gallantly. Indeed, as the battle was fought over a wide area thickly
planted with a maze of vines and Vine-props, it presented a variety of
aspects. The two sides made contact at long and short range, in loose or
compact formation. On the high road, Vitellians and Othonians fought
hand-to-hand, throwing the weight of their bodies and shield-bosses
(umbonis) against each other. The usual discharge of pila was scrapped, and
swords (gladii) and axes (secures) used to pierce helmets and armour.
Knowing each other [Le. the praetorians and legio I Italica] and watched by
their comrades, they fought the fight that was to settle the whole campaign.
43. As it turned out, two legions made contact in open country between the
Padus [Po] and the road [Via Postumia]. They were Vitellian legio XXI
Fulminata, long known and famous, and on the Othonian side legio I
Adiutrix, which had never fought before, but was in high spirits and avid of
distinction in its first action. Legio I Adiutrix overran the front ranks of legio
XXI Fulminata, and carried off their eagle (aquila). Smarting under this
humiliation, the latter got their own back by charging legio I Adiutrix, who
lost their legate, Orfidius Benignus, and a great number of standards
(signa) and flags (vexilla). In another part of the field, legio V [Alaudae]
punished legio XIII [Gemina], while the vexillatio from legio XlIII [Gemina
Martia Victrix] was outnumbered and rolled up. Long after the Othonian
commanders had fled, Caecina and Valens [Le. the Vitellian commanders]
were still bringing up reinforcements to strengthen their men. Then, at the
eleventh hour, came the Batavi [cohortes], after routing the force of
gladiators. These had crossed the Padus in their ships only to be done to
death in the very water by the cohortes confronting them. As a sequel to this
success, the Batavi now delivered their onslaught on the Othonian flank.
Tacitus Historiae 2.42-43
When Roman armies were pitted against each other we might expect
sophisticated tactics skilfully applied. But Tacitus' brief but dramatic account
tells us this was far from the case. Roman tactics were basically aggressive, with
the doctrine of the offensive dominant. This did not make the Romans
invincible - as we shall see they were to suffer terrible reverses - but they
believed that defeat in one battle did not mean defeat in war.
Legion
For the first century of the Principate we possess no order of battle with a detailed
description of the dispositions adopted, but Tacitus' account of Domitius
Corbulo's campaigns against Parthia suggests that matters on the field of battle
were very much the same as in Caesar's day. In one of his encounters with the
Parthian king Tiridates in AD 58, Domitius Corbulo placed the auxilia on the
flanks and legio VI Ferrata, reinforced with 3,000 men from III Gallica to give the
impression of strength, in the centre (Tacitus Annales 13.38.6). For the legion,
therefore, a favourite battle formation would be the triple line of cohorts, triplex
acies. As we shall see, the double line, duplex acies, is attested too, and the very
flexibility of the cohort structure with its sub-divisions of centuriae and
contubernia would allow almost any variation. Even so, the
cohort was to remain the basic tactical unit and the century the
basic administrative unit.
In his description of the defeat of Boudica at Mancetter (AD
61), Cassius Dio picks out the contrast between the contending
sides:
Thereupon the armies approached each other, the barbarians
with much shouting, mingled with menacing battle songs,
but the Romans silently and in order until they came within
a javelin [ak6ntion in Dio's Greek] throw of the enemy. Then,
while their foes were still advancing against them at a walk,
the Romans rushed forward at a signal and charged at full
speed, and when the clash came, easily broke through the
opposing ranks.
Cassius Dio 62.12.1-2
Silently executed, the Roman advance was a slow, steady affair,
culminating in a close-range barrage of pila and an explosive
charge of armoured men. The enemy often gave way very
quickly, as did our front-rank Britons at Mancetter. Similarly, in
AD 14 Germanicus led XXI Rapax in an assault, which swiftly
scattered the Germans in a single, decisive charge (Tacitus
Annales 1.51.2).
Our legionary was above all a trained swordsman, and had
been since the days of Marius (Fields 2008: 37-42). Tacitus and
Vegetius lay great stress on the gladius being employed by the
legionary for thrusting rather than slashing. As Vegetius rightly
'Sword of Tiberi us' (London, British
Museum, GR 1866 8-6.1). Found in
the Rhine at Mainz, this is another
example of the long-pointed 'Mainz'-
type gladius. So-called because its
scabbard bears a relief of Tiberi us
receiving Germanicus in AD 17
on his 'heroic' return to Rome
following his Germanic campaigns.
(©The Trustees of the British
Museum)
45
Monumentul de la Adamklissi,
dedicated to Mars Ultor, the
Avenger, was probably the
handiwork of soldiers. This is
metope I (Adamklissi, Muzeul
de Archeologie), which depicts
a cavalryman charging into battle,
his lancea held horizontally in
a relaxed position. The trooper
wears a short-sleeved mail-shirt
and carries a hexagonal clipeus
but, curiously, is bareheaded.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
says, 'a slash-cut, whatever its force, seldom kills' (1.12), and thus a thrust was
certainly more likely to deliver the fatal wound. Having thrown the pilum and
charged into contact, the standard drill for the legionary was to punch the enemy
in the face with the shield-boss and then jab him in the belly with the razor-
sharp point of the sword. The use of the thrust also meant the legionary kept
most of his torso well covered, and was thus protected, by the scutum.
In his version of Mancetter, Tacitus has the Roman commander C. Suetonius
Paulinus delivering a pre-battle speech in which he instructs his legionaries to
knock over the Britons by punching them with their shields and then to jab
them with their swords. In other words, he is reminding them that they have
three offensive weapons, pi/urn, scutum and gladius: 'Just keep in close order.
Throw your javelins (pi/a), and then carryon: use your shield-bosses (umbonis)
to fell them, swords (gladii) to kill them. Do not think of plunder. When you
have won, you will have everything' (Annales 14.36.3).
The Adamklissi monument (Metope xviii) shows a legionary punching an
opponent's face with the boss of his scutum, thereby unbalancing him, and
jabbing him in the belly with his gladius. Here the gladius is being used primarily
in an upward thrust directed from below the scutum, the legionary getting under
the opponent's attack and penetrating his lower stomach or groin, the soft, fleshy
parts below the ribcage. A thrust would kill for sure only if it penetrated the
internal organs, not when it jammed against a bone. However, penetration
wounds to these exposed lower areas were almost always fatal, leading in a few
days, if not hours, to an agonizing death from shock, peritonitis or other
infections, as the contents of the intestines spilled out into the abdominal cavity
and the victim shrank from blood and fluid loss.
Auxiliaries
46
The auxilia were a cheaper and, given their primary
organization at a lower level (Le. cohortes for infantry
and alae for cavalry), more flexible way of providing the
army with the manpower to fulfil its role, especially
along the frontiers of the empire. To the auxilia fell the
tasks of patrolling, containing raids, tax collecting and
the multitudinous duties of frontier troops - the legions
were stationed within the frontiers, both to act as a
strategic reserve and to intimidate potentially rebellious
indigenous 'friendlies'.
As noted, when it came to large-scale actions a
favourite formation for the legion was the triplex acies.
The auxilia cohortes, meanwhile, would be stationed on
either side of a centre formed by the legions, and alae
deployed on the wings with an additional force kept in
reserve. This was the formation, albeit without the
luxury of reserve alae, adopted by Suetonius Paulinus
against Boudica (Tacitus Annales 14.37). Alternatively,
the cohortes could form the first line and be supported
by the legions, as did Agricola at Mons Graupius. Again
alae formed the wings, but here they were supported by
more alae behind the main battle line (Tacitus Agricola
35.2, 37.2).
Although there were specialist units of archers and
slingers, it would be wrong to view the infantryman of
the auxilia as some form of light infantry. Weighed down
with helmet, body armour, sword, spear and shield, this
equipment is not that of a nimble skirmisher. On the
contrary, they formed the first line at Idistaviso (AD 16)
and Vetera (AD 70), operated in close-order using the
Nero Claudius Germanicus Caesar
(I S Be-AD 19)
Nero Claudius Drusus, brother of
the future emperor Tiberius, married
Antonia minor, the younger daughter of
the great Marcus Antonius and Augustus'
sister, Octavia. Much like her father,
Antonia was a strong willed and
independent woman, widely respected
and admired. She bore her husband
three children, Germanicus (the father
of Caligula), Claudius (the future
emperor) and Livia lulia (destined
to become the mistress of the sinister
Sejanus). By the same token her husband
was the darling of the people, a talented
general who, unlike his elder brother,
oozed charm and cordiality, who in a
series of brilliant campaigns between
12 and 9 BC, had carried Roman arms
as far as the Elbe. His death in 9 BC, after
a fall from a horse, plunged Rome into
deepest mourning. He was honoured
by the posthumous title of Germanicus,
which passed on to his eldest son.
Obviously Drusus' unexpected death
prevented him from consolidating his
victories, and his place in Germania was
eventually to be taken by Germanicus,
whose charm far exceeded his talents,
and whose popularity with the people
would outstrip even his father's.
Suetonius claims (Caius 3.1) that
he surpassed his contemporaries both
in physical and moral qualities, while
Tacitus (Annales 2.72.1) goes as far as to
compare his tragic hero with Alexander
the Great, saying that if he had ruled
he would have outdone him in military
achievements just as he surpassed him in
personal qualities. These impressions
clearly represent a romanticized view
of Germanicus, one that was no doubt
fostered by anti-Tiberian elements after
his early demise. Indeed, many believed
that Tiberius, jealous of the ever-popular
Germanicus, had a hand in his death.
As a clear indication of Augustus'
determination to be succeeded
by someone from his own line,
Germanicus, shortly after his adoption
by Tiberius, was married to the
emperor's granddaughter Agrippina
major. From this union would spring two
future emperors, Caligula, the youngest
of their three sons, and Nero, the son
of their eldest daughter Agrippina minor.
Germanicus himself first achieved
distinction serving under his uncle
(now adoptive father) Tiberius during
the Pannonian revolt, where he showed
courage and military skill. Five years
later, in AD I I, he went to Germania
to join Tiberius once again.
He was consul in AD 12, and the
following year was granted imperium
pro consu/e by Augustus at the time of
Tiberius' elevation to co-emperor.
At this time he was also given overall
authority over the eight legions and
supporting auxilia posted on the Rhine.
His mettle was soon to be put to the
test. On the death of Augustus he was
faced with a serious mutiny of the four
legions (I Germanica, VAlaudae, XX and
XXI Rapax) in Germania Inferior, where
riots had broken out and discipline had
collapsed, with centurions being seized
and flogged. When he reached the camp
Germanicus tried to appeal to the men's
loyalty. His efforts failed, and making a
histrionic threat to commit suicide he
was jokingly encouraged to see it
through. In the end he was reduced
to producing a forged letter of Tiberi us
supposedly offering concessions, and
to dipping into the cash he carried for
official expenses. The hard-bitten soldiers
probably thought Germanicus weak and
bungling. Drusus minor was far tougher
with the mutineers in Pannonia, but
Tacitus fails to mention this.
On the other hand Germanicus
rightly appreciated that the best way of
stifling any residual thoughts of mutiny
lay in action, and that same autumn
launched a punitive expedition into the
territory of the Marsi over the Rhine
from Vetera, and defeated them,
prudently withdrawing, however, before
the neighbouring tribes could come to
their assistance. Tiberius probably hoped
that Germanicus would limit himself to
this single action, but Germanicus clearly
had visions of emulating his father and
of pushing the Roman frontier east to
the Elbe, and pursued a more vigorous
and far-reaching campaign in AD 15. The
season started both early and well. The
Romans advanced north-east and, having
recovered the lost aquila of legio XVIIII
on the way, eventually reached the
macabre site of the Varian disaster.
Moving ceremonies were held in honour
of the soldiers who had died under
Varus and a funerary mound was raised
over the whitened bones and shattered
skulls. Germanicus now set off in pursuit
of Arminius, the architect of the tragedy,
but he made the mistake of penetrating
too deep into hostile territory and
almost fell into the same trap as had
Varus. He extricated himself with
difficulty. In full retreat, the exhausted
Romans poured over the bridge at
Vetera with their honour only just intact.
Another campaign was conducted in
AD 16. Germanicus inserted his eight
legions by water, sailing along the North
Sea coast and up the Weser.After
crossing the Weser, Germanicus met
the forces of Arminius at a place Tacitus
called Idistaviso, and won a first
engagement fought on unfavourable
ground chosen by the Germans. But
Arminius remained at large, and on the
return journey disaster struck when the
Roman fleet was hit by a storm. Yet
Germanicus believed that with one more
year he could complete the conquest as
far as the Elbe. Tiberius thought
otherwise. It was clear to him that
further armed intervention east of the
Rhine would in fact achieve little, since
the defeated foe had the amazing
capacity to regroup and to return as
vigorous as before. It was time for
Germanicus to be recalled. This need
not mean that Tiberius was jealous of his
adopted son's achievements, as Tacitus
strongly hints (Annales 2.26.6). From the
onset a cool strategist like Tiberius, and
an old Germania hand to boot, must
have understood that Germanicus' policy
was doomed to fai I. He rightly
appreciated that the conquest of
Germania would require a steady policy
of pacification with military settlements
established in relative proximity, and an
extensive network of communications,
far from an easy task in a land of
primeval forests and swamps.
Anyway, Germanicus returned to
Rome a conquering hero. On 26 May AD
17, he celebrated a splendid triumph for
his victories over the Cherusci, Chatti
and other tribes west of the Elbe (ibid.
2.41.2-4). Tiberius then sent Germanicus
47
to the east in order to deal with a
number of serious problems there, in
particular the threat of a clash with
Parthia. Armenia was without a king, and
both Rome and Parthia were anxious to
secure a ruler well disposed to them.
Whatever Germanicus' deficiencies as a
general, he possessed real talents as a
diplomat. Thus the emperor's
commission, according to Tacitus (ibid.
2.43.2), granted Germanicus the
imperium greater than that of any
governor in the eastern provinces, that is
to say, imperium pro consule maius. He
proceeded straight to Armenia, where he
established as king the Pontic prince
Zeno, who adopted the Armenian name
Artaxias. He proved to be highly popular
among his new subjects and ruled for 16
years, with the apparent acquiescence of
Parthia. Yet his glory in the east was to
be short lived. Germanicus fell ill and
died in Antioch on 10 October AD 19, at
the age of 33. Rumour had it he was
poisoned (Suetonius Tiberius 54.2, 61.1).
48
traditional sword-fighting techniques of the Roman Army at Mons Graupius (AD
83), and could even stand up to and beat legionaries as the Batavi rebels did in AD
70 (Tacitus Annales 2.16, Agricola 36.2, Historiae 4.20, 33, 5.16). Indeed, at Mon
Graupius the Batavi punched the enemy with their shields and then jabbed them
with the sword. Again, we see the scutum and gladius employed in tandem
offensively:
Accordingly when the Batavi began to exchange blows hand to hand, to
strike with the bosses (umbonis) of their shields, to stab in the face, and
after cutting down the enemy on the level, to push their line uphill, the
other cohortes [of Tungri], exerting themselves to emulate their charge,
proceeded to slaughter the nearest enemies.
Tacitus Agricola 36.2
The essentially similar fighting techniques of the legions and the infantryman of
the auxilia, that is to come to close-quarters and to use both scutum and gladius
offensively, emphasized the degree to which the latter became an essential and
very efficient part of the Roman Army. That these tactics were the practice of the
period is amply shown on Trajan's Column where at least three scenes of battle
depict auxiliaries in action and legionaries in reserve (e.g. scenes xxiv, lxvi, lxxii).
The alae would spend their time in peace on manoeuvres and training,
while should hostilities break out, they were deployed as a highly mobile
strike force, supplemented, if the need arose, by the cohortes equitatae. In
battle, according to Arrian (Ektaxis 1-2, 9, cf. ILS 2724 with addenda), the
mounted contingents of several cohortes were taken from their parent units
and massed to form one composite force, roughly equivalent in size to an ala
(e.g. the horsemen of a cohors equitata milliaria amounted in number to
almost half an ala). It is also clear from reliefs on tombstones depicting equites
cohortales that they were equipped with the same arms and armour as their
more illustrious brothers in the alae.
As we well know, when an army deployed for battle it was the infantry who
were expected to form up in the centre to fight the main action and deliver the
crushing blow. Yet the success of the cavalry in protecting the flanks and
defeating their opposite number could decide the outcome, and as such they
employed a mix of skirmish and shock tactics and were effectively trained and
equipped for both. However, cavalry were not normally expected to charge
well-ordered infantry, as the results would have been mutually catastrophic to
the opposing front ranks. Besides a horse, especially one being ridden, will not
in normal circumstances collide with a solid object if it can stop or go around
it. Tacitus (Historiae 4.33.2) describes loyal alae refusing to charge home on the
disciplined ranks of rebel cohortes. Cavalry, therefore, would employ typical
skirmishing tactics, that is riding up, shooting, wheeling away and then
rallying ready to try again. The object of shooting at a steady infantry
formation was to weaken it, so that it would unable to stand up to a mounted
charge. Outside Ascalon the poorly equipped Jewish infantrymen were quickly
reduced by the lanceae of the Roman cavalrymen to a state in which they could
not stand up to a charge Qosephus Bellum Iudaicum 3.13-21).
Similarly, as horses refuse to collide into an oncoming line of horsemen,
encounters between opposing cavalry units would have been very fluid, fast-
moving affairs. When combats occurred it was because either the two lines had
opened their files, allowing them to gallop through each other's formation, or
they had halted just before contact, at which point individuals would walk
their mounts forward to get within weapon's reach of the enemy. Cavalry
combats could sway to and fro as each side beat the enemy, pursued them and
were in turn beaten and pursued by fresh enemy troops. Normally the victor
was the side that kept a formed, fresh reserve the longest. At Second Cremona,
the Flavian cavalry, having routed and pursued several Vitellian alae, were
themselves put to flight by enemy reserves (Tacitus Historiae 3.16.1).
Cavalry was unsuitable to holding ground because of its tendency to advance
and retreat rapidly. Thus the tactical principles for its use were: deployment on
the wings for flank attacks and encirclement; and deployment in reserve in
readiness to counterattack. In brief we cannot do better than to borrow one of
those crisp maxims of Napoleon: 'Charges of cavalry are equally useful at the
beginning, the middle, and the end of a battle' (Military Maxims SO).
Reconstruction of a 'cut-down' -style
scutum in use by Augustus' time,
interior view (Caerleon, National
Roman Legion Museum). Here we
see the reinforcing, which consists
of a framework of wooden strips
glued or pegged into place. Also
visible is the horizontal handgrip.
Full-size reconstructions such as
this one weigh in the order of
5.5kg. (Fields-Carre Collection)
49
The kingpin of the whole Flavian
system in Caledonia, the fortress
at Inchtuthil occupied an area of
21.7ha. Today there is nothing to
be seen in the interior of the site,
as the internal structures were
timber-built. However, this shot,
taken from the southern defences,
gives an impression of the area
covered by a legionary fortress.
50 (Fields-Carre Collection)
Engineering
It is a truism that a soldier's primary raison d'etre was to wage war, to kill
without being killed, and as du Picq sagely remarks, 'man does not go to war
in order to fight, but to win' (1946: 5). However, it is important to remember
that the Roman soldier was a builder as well as a fighter, and the most common
and simplest engineering task carried out by him was building roads. These
enabled troops to move more swiftly and supplies to be delivered more
efficiently, and were especially important additions to newly acquired
territories. The units involved often put up milestones, commemorating the
emperor or their legate:
To the emperor Caesar, son of the divine Nerva, Nerva Traianus Augustus
Germanicus Dacicus [Le. Traianus] pontifex maximus, tribunicia potestas Xv,
imperator VI, consul V, pater patriae, having reduced Arabia to form a
province, he opened and paved a new road from the borders of Syria as far
as the Red Sea, by Caius Claudius Severus, legatus Augusti pro praetore.
ILS 5834
There was one legionary who was not involved in building this new road across
Arabia, and that was our friend Iulius Apollinaris. As we know, newly arrived to
legio VI Ferrata fidelis constans, he had secured for himself a cosy position in
headquarters as a 'pen-pusher'.
Marching and practice camps
Josephus says that whenever the Romans entered hostile territory, they would
'first construct their camp' (Bellum Iudaicum 3.76). Marching camps, to which
Josephus is referring, were overnight halts for armies or units on campaign.
These camps, 'constructed more quickly than thought' (ibid. 3.84), provided a
simple measure of security for troops camped under canvas.
Marching camps each had a low earth rampart (agger), about five Roman feet
(1.48m) in height, topped with some form of timber obstacle. The examples of
the square-section wooden stakes (pila muralia) for this that have survived are
sharpened at both ends, and have a narrower 'waist' in the middle for tying
together. They may not, therefore, have been set vertically in the agger, as
hammering them in would have damaged the sharp ends. Besides, such a
palisade would hardly have been very effective as the surviving examples are
only five Roman feet (1.48m) in length. It seems more likely that sets of three
or four pila muralia were lashed together with pliable withies or leather ties at
angles and placed on the rampart crown as giant 'caltrops' - what Vegetius (3.8)
calls tribuli. Although this was never considered a defensive structure, tangling
with such an obstacle in an attack would have caused chaos and blunted the
impact of an onrush. Whatever the exact employment of the pilum muralis - it
was probably a very versatile device - each legionary carried one or two pila
muralia, preferably in oak, as part of his regulation marching order.
Outside the defences was a single V-shaped ditch (fossa), usually not more
than five Roman feet (1.48m) wide and three Roman feet (89cm) deep, the
spoil from which went to form the agger. The entrances of marching camps,
there were no gateways as such, were of two types. First, those defended by
tituli, namely short stretches of rampart and ditch set a few metres in front of
the gap in the main rampart spanning its width (Hyginus 49). In theory these
detached obstacles would break the charge of an enemy. Second, those
defended by claviculae ('little keys'), namely curved extensions of the rampart
(and sometimes its ditch), usually inside the area of the camp (ibid. 55),
although external and double claviculae are also known from aerial
photography. They would force an oblique approach towards the entranceway,
usually so that an attacker's sword arm faced the rampart, denying him the
protection of his shield.
Within a marching camp the tent-lines were deliberately laid out, each line
in its customary space so that every unit knew exactly where to pitch its tents
and each man knew his place. Each tent (papilio) measured, exclusive of guy-
ropes, 10 Roman feet (2.96m) square and housed eight men (contubernium) and
their equipment (Hyginus 1, cf. Vegetius 2.13). They were made of best quality
cattle hide or goatskin with access back and front and enough headroom inside
to enable a man to stand up. Made of at least 25 shaped panels, which were
sewn together, they could be rolled up into a long sausage-shape and in this
form were carried by mule. This shape may have given rise to the nickname
papilio ('butterfly') as it rolled up like a grub and with its wings probably
reminded the soldiers of the insect emerging from the chrysalis. The length of
a centurion's tent was twice that of a papilio, while those of tribunes and above
was taller, box-like structures paved with cut turf.
Two main axes, starting from the entrances, crossed at the centre of the
camp; one of them, the via praetoria, led from the entrance of the same name
to the porta decumana, so named because at the time of the manipular legion
the tents of the tenth maniples stood nearby; the other, at right angles to it,
was the via principalis, interrupted at midpoint by the praetorium. This was the
tent of the general, 'which resembles a temple' Oosephus Bellum Iudaicum 3.82).
The tribunes' tents ran the length of the via principalis, and the surrounding
areas were occupied with the soldiers' tents each in its appointed place (ibid.
3.79). Between the rampart and the tent-lines was a wide open area known as
the intervallum, which ensured all tents were out of range of missiles thrown or
shot from outside the camp. More importantly, this space allowed the army to
form itself up ready to deploy into battle order. Calculating the number of
troops each marching camp would have housed is fraught with difficulties. As
a rule of thumb, however, it is usually thought that a full legion could be
accommodated under leather in about 30 acres (12ha). The intervallum also
allowed full access to the defences. 51
The multiplication of defensive
ditches (five in all) on the north
and east sides of Ardoch fort is
the result of successive reductions
in its size and not of anxiety over
its security. Initially the Flavian fort
had an area of some 3.5ha, but that
of the Antonine period had been
reduced to about 2.3ha. (Fields-
52 Carre Collection)
Sex. Iulius Frontinus, onetime governor of Britannia (AD 73-77) and
engineer of note, wrote several technical treatises. In one he quotes with
approval the maxim of Domitius Corbulo, a commander renowned for his
realistic training methods: 'Domitius Corbulo used to say that the pick
(dolabra) was the weapon with which to beat the enemy' (Strategemata 4.7.2).
This can only be a reference to the proven ability of the Roman Army to build
marching camps for itself. Obviously recruits would have to be instructed in
these military techniques, whereas fully trained soldiers would have to be
exercised at fairly frequent intervals so as to maintain standards.
Britain easily provides the largest number of practice camps in the empire,
the most common size being around 30.Sm
2
. Often a kilometre or two away
from the site of a fort and close to a Roman road, these sites are where troops
trained in constructing marching camps and in particular the most difficult
sections of the camps, the corners and gateways. A practice camp has been
recognised at Cawthorn, where the legionaries from VIllI Hispana based at
nearby York (Eburacum), practised not only the art of entrenchment but also
the construction of bread-ovens (clibani).
Forts and fortresses
Augustus appointed legions and auxiliary units to individual provinces where he
perceived a need, either because of inadequate pacification (e.g. Iberia), or
because he intended a province to be a platform of aggrandizement (e.g.
Germania). Before the Varian disaster, Augustus greatly extended Roman territory
in directions that suited him, enhancing his own reputation, acquiring revenue
in the form of booty and bringing prestige to the state. During the winter
months, the troops were scattered and stationed in winter quarters (castra
hibema), before being assembled in camps (castra aestiva) for summer campaigns
(e.g. Tacitus Historiae 3.46.2, Annales 1.16.2, 30.3). Of course the latter
installations would also include the camps built at the end of every day during
campaigns. Equally, winter quarters were not permanent - the Augustan ones on
the Rhine show evidence of frequent modifications - and in more urbanized
provinces, such as Syria, the troops could be billeted in towns and cities.
As noted, when an army was on campaign it constructed marching camps to
provide security at night, but once an area was conquered it laid down a network
of smaller turf and timber forts roughly a day's march apart. Under Claudius,
when a belated recognition came that the Roman Army was no longer poised to
continue the Augustan expansion of the empire, these winter quarters and
wayside forts became permanent. Britannia's garrison, for instance, fluctuated
between three and four legions during the 1st century AD, depending on the
demands of other provinces, but from the late 80s AD the number remained at
three, though not always the same three, with their permanent camps, or what
are conveniently labelled legionary fortresses, at Isca Silurum (Caerleon), Deva
(Chester) and Eburacum (York). Likewise, some auxiliary units were beginning to
be stationed in separate forts; the earliest known auxiliary fort is that at
Valkenburg in southern Holland, constructed in AD 40 or thereabouts.
It should be emphasized that there is no such thing as a typical Roman
fortress or fort. The layout of a fortress, for instance, was standardized, but a
close examination of fortress layouts shows that there were considerable
differences in detail between individual fortress plans, and between the same
types of building at different sites. All the same, their plan and design preserved
the main defensive features of the marching camp from which they had
evolved. The shallow ditch and palisade of the latter were, however, replaced
by more substantial earthworks in permanent camps, often with two or more
V-shaped ditches and an earth or turf rampart surmounted by a timber parapet.
The four gateways were retained, but towers now defended them, and further
towers were added at the four angles and at intervals between.
Roman commanders favoured large concentrations of soldiers and generally,
prior to Domitianus, fortresses were permanent camps accommodating two
legions. This was a concentration of some 10,000 legionaries in a single spot,
and we find two such spots on the Rhine where in AD 69 Vetera (Xanten-Birten)
was garrisoned by V Alaudae and XV Primigenia, and Mogontiacum (Mainz) by
IIII Macedonica and XXII Primigenia.
However, as the result of the rebellion in AD 89 of L. Antonius Saturninus,
governor of Germania Superior, who induced the two legions (XlIII Gemina Martia
Victrix and XXI Rapax) based at Moguntiacum to support his cause, Domitianus
issued a regulation forbidding in future more than one legion to occupy the same
camp (Suetonius Domitianus 7.4). Thus the two legions
at Moguntiacum were separated, and the fortress cut to
one legion (XlIII Gemina Martia Victrix) , and in general
fortresses were reduced in size (c.20-2Sha) to house a
single legion. The one exception to Domitianus'
regulation was Egypt, where the two legions that formed
its garrison (III Cyrenaica and XXII Deiotariana) were
concentrated in one camp at Nikopolis just outside
Alexandria, continuing to do so till at least AD 119 when
one was transferred to allow the reinforcement of the
garrison of troublesome Iudaea.
As the army began to adopt a primarily defensive
role and surveillance of the frontier itself began to
assume greater importance, the auxiliary units were
gradually spaced out, garrisoning forts between and
beyond the legionary fortresses. Indeed, the framework
of Roman occupation and control was firmly based on
the fort (c. one to five hectares), a permanent camp
accommodating an auxiliary unit. The layout of the
auxiliary fort was essentially a miniature of the
legionary fortress plan. During our period a fort was
protected by an earth rampart - revetted with either
timber or turf and founded upon a corduroy of logs or
a stone base - surmounted by a spilt-timber breastwork
or woven wattle-work hurdles and fronted by one or
more V-shaped ditches. The rampart was pierced by four
gateways, each with a timber tower above the gate
passage itself or towers to either side. Further towers, set
Reconstruction of a timber gateway
with a section of earth and turf
rampart topped with a spilt-timber
palisade, Chesterholm-Vindolanda.
This represents the usual defences
of a military installation of our
period, be it fortress or fort.
Note the access to the wall-walk
is via a fixed wooden stairway and
that to the tower via a ladder.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
53
54
During the Jewish War, when
Jotapata fell Josephus fled to a cave
with a band of followers. Here he
was discovered after all but one of
his men had dispatched each other
rather than surrender. Dragged
before Vespasianus, the future
historian, grovelling, 'prophesied' his
elevation to the purple. Mid-16th
century Flemish tapestry (Marsala,
Museo delgi Arazzi, Tapestry 5)
showing Vespasianus releasing
Josephus. (Fields-Carre Collection)
within the body of the rampart, stood at the angles as well as being spaced at
regular intervals around the perimeter.
Tacitus rightly calls the fort the 'soldiers' hearth and home' (Historiae
2.80.4), the objective being to provide a permanent and tolerably comfortable
quarter for its garrison. As such, it was hardly inferior in its facilities to the
fortress of the legions. It must also be secure from the possibility of surprise
attack. Yet a fort was not designed as an impregnable stronghold; on the
contrary it was a jumping-off point, a base for wide-ranging activities. In
wartime the enemy was engaged at close-quarters in the field, while at other
times the garrison would have patrolled well beyond the frontier either to
support allied tribes or to conduct punitive campaigns.
Siegeworks
Siege warfare was a haphazard affair at the best of times and not undertaken
lightly. However, if a Roman commander chose to conduct a siege, he had three
modes of action at his disposal: well-trained troops, machines and siegeworks.
Asiege normally followed a recognized pattern of events. The first and obvious
phase was to impose a blockade, with the aim of starving the besieged into
submission. The second phase provided a natural corollary to this: a line of
entrenchments, known as a contravallation, was dug and erected around the
objective, out of range of missile weapons, mechanical or manpowered, with the
dual purpose of denying access to or issue from the objective and of providing to
the besiegers shelter from surprise attack from within. In its simplest form the
contravallation was no more than an agger, though more often than not the earth
rampart was reinforced by a ditch and palisade. The third phase of a siege
comprised the development of a further line of entrenchments, known as a
circumvallation, which faced away from the objective and protected the rear of
the besiegers from possible attack from without. Of course this was an optional
expedient, the Romans besieging Masada (AD 73-74) opting to encircle the target
only with a contravallation.
Naturally, the circuit wall itself was the chief obstacle to the besieger. Abreach
could be achieved by attacking it under cover of a 'tortoise' (testudo) with a
battering ram (aries), or by digging a mine into which the wall would collapse, or
else digging a tunnel underneath the wall. As well as going through or under the
wall, it was also possible to go over it by employing a siege tower suitably fitted
with a boarding-bridge.
]otapata (Mizpe Yodefat) in Galilee was 'perched on a precipice, cut off on
three sides by ravines of such extraordinary depth' Oosephus Bellum Iudaicum
3.158). The only access was from the north, where a wall had been built to
prevent such a thing, and it was here that Vespasianus pitched his camp
sometime early in AD 67. Several days followed during which the]ewish rebels
made a number of sorties against the Romans. Vespasianus now decided to
prosecute the siege with vigour, throwing up a ramp of earth and timber against
the wall. Though the soldiers forming the work-parties were protected
by sheds (vineae), timber and wickerwork structures sheeted in fire-
resistant rawhides, they were greatly impeded by the missiles hurled
at them by the defenders.
Vespasianus now set 160 two-armed torsion machines (ballistae) ,
of various calibres and firing either arrows or stones, to work to
dislodge the enemy from the wall. The ] ews retaliated by making
swift sallies 'guerrilla-fashion' and demolishing the sheds. However,
the work on the siege ramp continued, and]osephus, the rebel leader,
decided to build the wall higher at this point, accomplishing this by
haVing a screen of rawhides of newly slaughtered oxen strung along
the top of the wall to protect the workers. The hides broke the impact
of the incoming missiles, and being moist, they quenched those of a
fiery nature (ibid. 3.165-75).
The besieged had plenty of grain but little water, so Josephus caused water
to be rationed at an early stage. The besiegers got wind of this and took heart,
believing the siege almost over. But the people of Jotapata confounded them by
washing out their clothes in their precious water. These being hung out to dry
on the battlements, the walls soon ran with water. The Romans thought they
must have some secret source of supply.
Josephus now decided to quit Jotapata, believing it would draw the Romans
away, but the people pleaded with him not to leave them, and so he stayed and
organized many sorties. The Romans counteracted with their artillery, which
was now augmented with Syrian slingers and Arab bowmen, but all this made
the Jews even more determined to resist.
T. Flavius Vespasianus (d. AD 79)
Some 90 years after Actium, the
lulio-Claudian dynasty had come to
a tragic and untimely end. In the pithy
observation of Tacitus, Nero's death
by his own shaky hand had 'let out the
secret that an emperor could be made
elsewhere than at Rome' (Historiae
104.1 ). Vespasianus, a senator of obscure
Italian origin, would come out of the
civil war of AD 68-69 as the founder
of a new dynasty.
Nero had entrusted Vespasianus with
the command in ludaea (three legions,
plus four more in Syria) because he was
'an energetic commander, who could be
trusted not to abuse his plenary powers
... nothing, it seemed, need be feared
from a man of such modest antecedents'
(Suetonius Vespasianus 4.5). Significantly,
the 'base-born' Vespasianus, along with
his son Titus, would acquire from the
bitter Jewish war a reputation for
sharing the toils of the army and
identifying themselves with the common
soldier. Vespasianus was a natural soldier:
he led the column-of-march in person,
selected camp sites, pursued the enemy
day and night, and would even venture
into the battle line if necessary, thus
committing himself to the trial of
combat; he ate whatever rations were
available and in dress and appearance
was much the same as an ordinary
ranker (Tacitus Histor;ae 2.5.1).
Vespasianus, who obviously came
across as more a soldier than a
politician, built up an excellent rapport
with his men. The imperial pretence
was that power came from the Roman
people by voluntary grant, whereas in
reality it was either inherited (as in the
case of Tiberi us) or seized (as in the
case of Vespasianus). Likewise, the
fairytale fiction that the army was
the army of the Roman people was
preserved. Tiberius might proclaim 'the
legions are not mine but the state's'
(Cassius Dio 57.2.3), but in truth the
emperor commanded what was virtually
his own private army. This reminds us of
the theory and practice in the ex-Soviet
Union. As Henry Kissinger once
majestically commented:
No Communist state has solved
the problem of regular
succession. Every leader dies in
office, or is replaced by coup-like
procedures. Honorific retirement
is rare and non-existent for the
supreme leader. No Soviet
leader's reputation, except
Lenin's, has survived his death.
In every Communist state a
leadership group seize power,
grow old together, and are
eventually replaced by successors
whose ability to reach the
pinnacle depends on their skill in
masking their ambitions ... they
know that they will probably be
denied by their successors the
accolade of history, which is the
incentive of most statesmen.
Kissinger, H.A., 1979, The White
House Years, London: Weidenfeld
& Nicolson, I 13.
Beside Kissinger's last point we can place
a comment by Cassius Dio, namely that
'no injunction can have any weight
against the ingratitude or the might
of one's successors' (59.1.3).
Vespasianus was an able military
commander and politician. He was well
liked by Claudius, being granted
triumphalia for his part in the invasion
of Britannia, but ran afoul of Nero, who
sent him to ludaea to handle the Jewish
revolt. Vespasianus quickly succeeded in
quelling the violence and was set to
invest Jerusalem when Nero played his
last scene.
At first, Vespasianus supported Galba,
whom the Senate had confirmed as
emperor, and then Otho. But the ensuing
civil war and rapid departures of the
two emperors made Vespasianus realize
he could make a play for the purple.
When legions under the control of
Vespasianus' political allies declared him
emperor, the Senate confirmed it. This
brought an end to the civil war, and in
recognition of this accomplishment
Vespasianus built a new temple of peace,
the Templum Pacis. Thus he emphasized
the stability of Roman power, with the
empire once again set on the firmest
foundations both politically and militarily.
The only charge held against
Vespasianus was his avarice (Tacitus
Historiae 2.5.2, Suetonius Vespas;anus
16.1 ).As emperor he was a
conscientious, firm and responsible
leader - exactly what the empire
needed. He immediately attended to the
matter of his succession and declared in
the Senate that either his sons would
succeed him or no one would. He
reorganized the army, filled the coffers
that Nero and the civil war had
depleted, began building the Flavian
Amphitheatre, better known to history
as the Colosseum, and taught his son
Titus about governing so that the Flavian
dynasty would thrive after his death. His
sense of humour showed through when
on his deathbed, dying of fever, he is
reported to have uttered the words,
'Oh, I think I'm becoming a god'
(Suetonius Vespas;anus 23).
55
56
Vespasianus now brought up a battering ram, and at the very first strike the
wall was shaken 'and piercing shrieks were raised by those within, as if the town
had been captured already' (ibid. 3.220). Josephus tried to defeat the ram by
ordering sacks to be filled with chaff and lowering them down over the wall so
that they would weaken its blows. Each time the Romans moved their ram to a
new spot, so the defenders did likewise with their bales of chaff (ibid. 3.223). In
the end the Romans managed to cut the bales from off the ropes and so
continued their battering of the wall. Three parties of the rebels then rushed out
of the gates and, armed with dry wood mixed with bitumen and pitch, made a
bonfire of the ram. While this was going on, a Jew, renowned for his might, cast
a huge stone down from the wall and on to the ram and broke off its iron head.
Before the Romans could effectively respond, the Jews torched many of the other
machines, but this did not prevent the besiegers from erecting the ram again and
continuing their battering of the wall (ibid. 3.227-28).
It was about now that Vespasianus was wounded in the foot by an arrow,
which so incensed his soldiers that they renewed their attack on the city
regardless. Incidentally, Tacitus describes the future emperor as 'a worthy
successor to the commanders of old' (Historiae 2.5.1), that is to say, leading
from the front and setting an example to his 'fellow soldiers' (commilitones).
Anyway, in the meantime the defenders still clung stubbornly to Jotapata's
crumbling battlements, and Josephus recounts how one of the men standing
close to him was decapitated and his head flung hundreds of metres from the
body. Even more shocking was the fate of a pregnant woman obviously caught
up willy-nilly in the horrors of the siege. She was shattered by an incoming
stone just as she stepped out of her house at sun-up, and the unborn child was
flung some distance away (Bellum Iudaicum 3.245-46).
That same daybreak, having finally breached the wall, the Romans prepared
for the final assault, but were forestalled by the rebels charging out to meet them.
While a furious fight ensued the Romans attempted to scale the unbreached part
of the wall, but this move was checked by the stratagem of scalding oil, the first
recorded use of this weapon. The defenders then quickly resorted to a second
ruse: they poured boiled fenugreek (Faenum Graecum, 'Greek hay') upon the
boards which the Romans were using in their attempt to scale the wall, thus
making them so slippery as to be unusable (ibid. 3.275-78).
Undaunted by this setback, Vespasianus ordered his men to raise the siege-
mounds higher and to erect three towers on them. Each 50 Roman feet
(14.8m) high and encased in iron on all four sides, the towers housed ballistae
and their operators, while from their lofty tops javelineers, slingers and
archers were able to pour missiles down on the heads of the now-unprotected
defenders on the wall.
By the 47th day of the siege a deserter went to Vespasianus and informed him
of the pitiful state of the defenders. He also told of how the Jews, all-in from the
constant fighting and vigilance, usually slept during the last watch of the night.
And so at the appointed hour a Roman assault party noiselessly made their way
silently to the wall, cut the throats of the watch and snuck into the sleeping
town. The Jews were taken by surprise, more so as a thick swirling mist
confounded their efforts to organize an effective resistance. In all about 40,000
were slain at the siege of Jotapata, with 1,200 women and children auctioned off
as slaves. Vespasianus' final order was for the town to be razed to the ground.
After Actium
There is always a certain degree of ambiguity about what exactly Augustus was
trying achieve by his constitutional settlements of 27 and 23 BC. Suetonius (Divus
Augustus 28.2) cites one of his edicts of 27 BC, which strongly suggests Augustus saw
himself as a founder of a new constitutional system. Whatever, Augustus'
achievements were considerable. He established a system of administration
effective not only in Rome and Italy but also in the provinces. He held the
government firmly on the basis of the authority of a popular tribune (tribunicia
potestas), a proconsular power (imperium pro consule) superior (maius) to any
individual senatorial proconsul, granted for life and valid even within the city of
Rome (where normally imperium pro consule lapsed), and control of the provinces
where, with three exceptions, the legions were stationed. Outwardly, his
administration adhered broadly to a republican framework. He still used the Senate
as a legislative and judicial body, and instituted six-monthly consultative
committees, using a small number of leading senators as a cabinet (consilium
principis) to formulate proposals that would then be put before the Senate as a
whole. Yet in truth it was a new political order dressed up as a restoration, an
autocracy with republican trimmings. Besides, as Fergus Millar (1992: 6) so aptly
puts it, 'the emperor was what the emperor did'.
The legions had been the source of Augustus' power. However, serious
mutinies broke out in Pannonia and Germania in AD 14 partly because the
legionaries were worried about their conditions of service after the death of
Augustus, so closely had he become associated with their emoluments. But
there was obviously significant discontent with low rates of pay, especially in
contrast to the praetorians, long service and unsuitable land allocations. Here
Tacitus takes up the story:
Finally Percennius had acquired a team of helpers ready for mutiny. Then
he made something like a public speech. 'Why', he asked, 'obey, like slaves,
a few commanders of centuries, fewer still of cohorts? You will never be
brave enough to demand better conditions if you are not prepared to
In order to control what was
a vast territory, which theoretically
encompassed all Germania east of
the Rhine and up to the Elbe, Varus
had five legions: three, XVII, XVIII
and XVIIII, with him in the north
stationed at Vetera (Xanten-Birten),
and two more, I (later I Germanica)
and VAlaudae, under a legate, his
nephew L. Asprenas, in the south
stationed at Mogontiacum (Mainz).
With the three legions under his
personal command, Varus also had
six cohortes and three alae of auxilia.
Varus in Germania, AD 9
I
X
legio r":7I

I
X
legio r":7I.

I
X
/e9
101
C8J
P. Quinctilus Varus
X
legio.r":7I,.

L. Asprenas
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57
The Roman Empire, AD 14
Client kingdom
Principality
c.8:I Legion (after Tacitus Annates 4.5.2-5)
X Site of battle (with date)
200 mi
I
200 km
Tranquillity for Italy, peace in the provinces and the security of empire: these are listed by Caesar (Bellum civile 3.57.4) as the basic
achievements for a statesman. The prime means of attaining them was the legions. When a standing army was fully recognized towards
the middle of Augustus' reign, it was composed of 28 legions, half of which were stationed in the provinces of the northern frontiers
from Gaul to Macedonia. This number was reduced to 25 after the Varian disaster of AD 9, when three legions were lost in Germania.
At the legion's paper strength this meant that some 125,000 Roman citizens were under arms. These were supported by an equal
number of auxiliaries.
On Augustus' death Rome controlled, either directly or through subservient client kingdoms, most of the territories round the
Mediterranean basin upon which its security depended. Tacitus, on Tiberius' first debate in the Senate as the new emperor, has this
to say: 'A note book was produced, containing the details of the matters concerning the state, the extent of citizens and allies under
58 arms, the size of the fleets, of kingdoms, provinces, taxes and revenues, necessary expenses and donations. All this Augustus had
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written in his own hand, and had added the advice of restraining the empire within limits' (Annates 1.1 I).
Whether or not this document was genuine or, for that matter, ever existed, Tiberius, although he had been one of the most
experienced of the Augustan commanders, was to follow the so-called Augustan mandate to the letter. With years of fighting on
the Rhine and the Danube, Tiberius felt that the costs involved in conquering and pacifying new territories, even further from the
Mediterranean, outweighed the possible benefits.
Yet, as we would expect in a militaristic society, there was a consciousness among Roman commanders of a 'heroic past' that they
felt drawn to emulate. Tacitus records the verbal outburst of Domitius Corbulo, the serving governor of Germania Inferior and one
of the most distinguished commanders of our period, when instructed by Claudius in AD 47 to stop further aggression against the
Chauci: 'Earlier Roman commanders were fortunate!' (ibid. 11.21.3).
59
Stationed in Germania Inferior, under
A. Caecina Severus, there were four
legions: two, I Germanica and XX
(later XXValeria Vietrix), at Oppidum
Ubiorum (Koln), and two more, V
Alaudae and XXI Rapax, at Vetera
(Xanten-Birten). Stationed in
Germania Superior, under C. Silius
(cos. AD 13), there were four legions:
three, Xliii Gemina (later XlIII Gemina
Martia Vietrix), XVI Gallica and II
Augusta, at Mogontiacum (Mainz),
with another one, XIII Gemina, to
the south at Vindonissa (Windisch).
As befitting a prince, two cohorts
of praetorians were acting as
Germanicus' bodyguard.
Germanicus in Germania, AD 16
petition - or even threaten - an emperor who is new and still faltering [Le.
Tiberius]. Inactivity has done quite enough harm in all these years. Old
men, mutilated by wounds, are serving their 30th year or 40th year. And
even after your official discharge your service is not finished; for you stay
on with the colours as a reserve (sue vexillo), still under canvas - the same
drudgery under another name! And if you manage to survive all these
hazards, even then you are dragged off to a remote country and 'settled' in
some waterlogged swamp or uncultivated mountainside. Truly the army is
aharsh, unrewarding profession! Body and soul are reckoned at ten asses a
day - and with this you have to find clothes, weapons, tents, and bribes for
brutal centurions if you want to avoid chores.
Tacitus Annales 1.17
Percennius, a common soldier, was the ringleader of the mutineers in
Pannonia, then garrisoned by three legions (VIII Augusta, VIllI Hispana and XV
Apollinaris) based in a camp near Emona (Ljubljana). Once the mutiny was
crushed he was to be hunted down and executed for his troubles.
These mutinies clearly showed the danger of having too many legions (there
were four involved in the Germania mutiny) in the same camp. Also living in
tents, even during the summer months, on the Rhine and Danube frontiers
must have been miserable to say the least. The bleakness of life under canvas is
the subject of a telling passage of Tertullian: 'No soldier comes with frolics to
battle nor does he go to the front from his bedroom but from tents that are
light and small, where there is every kind of hardship, inconvenience, and
discomfort' (ad Martyras 3).
In the time of Augustus the annual rate of pay for a legionary was 225 denarii,
Percennius' 'ten asses a day' (Tacitus Annales 1.17.6). But Percennius' complaint
was all in vain, the basic rate remaining so until Domitianus, who increased the
pay by one third, that is, to 300 denarii a year (Suetonius Domitianus 7.35, 12.1).
Wages were paid in three annual instalments (Cassius Dio 67.3.5), the first
payment being made on the occasion of the annual New Year parade when the
troops renewed their oath to the emperor. Official deductions were made for food
and fodder (for the mule belonging to the contubemium). In addition, each soldier
had to pay for his own clothing, eqUipment and weapons (e.g. Campbell 24, 25),
but these items were purchased back by the army from the soldier or his heir
when he retired or died. These were the official charges. As we know, Tacitus
Nero Claudius Germanius Caesar
I
C.Silius
I
I
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I
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I

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praetoriae
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records that one of the complaints of the mutineers was
that they had to pay sweeteners to venal centurions in
order to gain exemption from fatigues. Another
complaint was that time-expired soldiers were being
fobbed off with grants of land in lieu of the gratuity of
3,000 denarii, and these plots tended to be either
waterlogged or rock-strewn.
There was also a serious guerrilla war in Africa
started by the Numidian Tacfarinas, a deserter from
the ranks of the auxilia. Equipping and organizing his
native army along Roman lines (Tacitus Annales
2.52.3), he managed to keep the Romans busy for
nigh-on eight years (AD 17-24). Eventually, through a
system of forts and the deployment of mobile columns
specially trained for desert conditions, Tacfarinas and
his guerrillas were constantly engaged and thus worn
down. As the legions and auxiliary units became more
static, and widely spaced, the problem of responding
to particular threats became more acute. For this
reason VIllI Hispana was transferred from Pannonia to
Africa for four years to assist III Augusta in quelling the
native revolt (ibid. 3.9.1, 4.23.2).
The establishment of the Principate by Augustus
had banished war to the social and geographical
periphery. Professional soldiers now fought wars, and
these normally took place on distant frontiers. But
with the death of Nero, the last of Augustus' bloodline,
the empire was plunged into a civil war as vicious as any of those that had
dogged the final decades of the Republic. A century of internal peace and
stability would be shattered as armies were assembled and pitted against each
other by four emperors in rapid succession.
Ser. Sulpicius Galba (b. 3 Be) had a successful military career and was a close
friend of Claudius, who had selected him as governor of Africa. He was now
governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, the largest of the three Iberian provinces.
Nero had just returned from his artistic tour of Greece, when in March AD 68
news reached him that C. Iulius Vindex, governor of Gallia Lugdunensis and
himself an Aquitani chieftain, had risen up in rebellion. This did not do Vindex
much good; in May his inexperienced troops were cut to pieces by the Rhine
legions. The victorious soldiers wanted to proclaim their commander Verginius
Rufus emperor, but he sensibly declined the offer. Meanwhile in Iberia, the
soldiers of VI Victrix declared their man emperor. Galba accepted, and
eventually the Senate (and the praetorians) confirmed it. The Sulpicii Galbae
had been prominent in senatorial politics for more than two centuries and
Galba's claim to the imperial purple was at least in part based on his
distinguished republican aristocratic ancestry.
By the time Galba reached Rome Nero had breathed his last. For the
moment, he refused the title of emperor, but it is clear that the Principate was
his goal. To this end, he organized a concilium of advisors in order to make it
known that any decisions were not made by him alone but only after
consultation with a group. The arrangement was meant to recall the healthy
relationship between Augustus and the Senate. Even more revealing of his
imperial ambitions were legends like LIBERTAS RESTITUTA ('Liberty
Restored') and SALUS GENERIS HUMANI ('Salvation of Mankind'), preserved
on the coins he issued as emperor, and it is interesting to note that Vindex,
before he went down, had urged Galba to 'make himself the liberator and
leader of humanity' (Suetonius Galba 9.2). Such evidence has brought into
question the traditional assessment of Galba as nothing more than an
Marble bust of Livia (d. AD 29),
dated to the Ist century AD
( S e l ~ u k , Arkeoloji Muzesi). Tacitus
portrays Livia as a very powerful
influence on both Augustus and
Tiberius, while Phaedrus, a satirist
who flourished under Tiberius,
published the fable of the she-goats'
beards. It seems Livia wore the
trousers in the imperial house.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
61
Coin depicting the head of Nero
Claudius Drusus. Brother of
Tiberius and father of Germanicus,
Drusus campaigned extensively in
Germania and managed to reach
the Elbe. It is said he spent much
time chasing various Germanic
chieftains on the battlefield in the
hope of overcoming them in mortal
combat. (Ancient Art and
Architecture)
In Britannia at the time there were
four legions. Of these, Villi Hispana
was to be too badly mauled in an
ambush to play any further part in
the campaign, while II Augusta, then
in the south-west of the province,
failed to join Suetonius Paulinus.
Thus the governor was left with
only those troops under his
immediate command, namely XliII
Gemina (soon XliII Gemina Martia
Victrix) and a part of XXValeria
(soon XXValeria Victrix) plus some
auxiliary units.
ineffectual representative of a bygone age in favour of a more balanced
portrait of a traditional constitutionalist eager to publicize the virtues of an
Augustan-style Principate.
Although not a bad administrator, Galba was lecherous and cruel, and
quickly managed to alienate everyone including the military; when asked to
approve a pay increase for the army he took the line of high principle and
notoriously declared, 'I pick my soldiers, I do not buy them' (Tacitus Historiae
Paulinus in Britannia, AD 61
(-) x2 alae
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Q. Petilius Cerialis
62
1.5.3). On 2January AD 69 the end was already in sight. The legions in Germania
Superior (1111 Macedonica, XXI Rapax and XXII Primigenia) refused to recognize
him as their commander-in-chief and proclaimed Aulus Vitellius, governor of
next-door Germania Inferior, emperor. A fortnight later, in broad daylight,
Galba was butchered in the Forum by his own praetorians, seduced by Otho.
M. Salvius Otho was one of Nero's closest friends and confidants, making
him a powerful figure. However, Otho's imperial favour wavered when Nero
took a strong liking to his wife, the ambitious Poppaea Sabina, and he was
'banished' to Lusitania to serve as its governor. Out of revenge (and in hopes of
great personal gains) Otho assisted Galba in becoming emperor. When the
elderly Galba, whose two sons had both died at a young age, adopted a certain
L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi Licinianus, a long-named but little-known scion of old
Roman nobility, as his son and successor, a firm friend was turned into a mortal
enemy (Tacitus Historiae 1.13). Having turned to the praetorians, who happily
proclaimed him emperor, Otho had them remove Galba, along with Piso, while
the Senate hastened to recognize him.
Fortune did not favour Otho, however, because he was immediately faced
with Vitellius' army, which was marching on Italy. Otho proposed a system of
joint rule and was even Willing to marry Vitellius' daughter, but the tide could
not be turned. For Otho there was no other solution but to face the opposing
army. On 14 March he left Rome and made camp in Bedriacum (Tornato), just
north of the Padus (Po), some 30km from Cremona. On 14 April the decisive
confrontation took place, in a neighbourhood thick with vineyards somewhere
between Bedriacum and Cremona. Badly outnumbered by that of Vitellius,
Otho's army was quickly defeated; deserted, he put his affairs in order and
committed suicide, apparently to avoid further bloodshed.
To be sure, Otho remains an enigma - part Neronian wastrel and part
conscientious commander willing to give his life for the good of the state. Our
sources are at a loss to explain the paradox. Perhaps he saw it was safer to
appear a profligate in Nero's court. In the final analysis, Otho proved to be an
organized and efficient general, who appealed more to the soldier than to the
civilian. He also seems to have been a capable governor, with administrative
talents that recalled those of his brilliant father. Nevertheless, his violent
overthrow of Galba, the lingering doubts that it raised about his character and
Vespasianus, who owed a great deal
to the navy for opening the seaways
to Italy during his bid for power,
settled veterans from the Ravenna
and Misene fleets at Paestum. Dated
to the late Ist century AD, this is the
tombstone of C. Valerius Naso, a
marine in the centuria of Secundus.
He died aged 40 after 23 years'
service. (Fields-Carre Collection)
63
Vespasianus in ludaea, AD 67-69
I
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M. Ulpius Traianus
T. Flavius Vespasianus
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When a renewed bout of fighting against Parthia flared up in Nero's reign, and a strong military presence was politically as well as
militarily desirable in the east, two legions, 1111 Scythica and VMacedonica, were moved there from Moesia, and one other, XVApol/inaris,
from Pannonia.AII three legions would remain in the east throughout the Jewish revolt, with XVApol/inaris never returning but ending up
as the new garrison of Cappadocia in AD 72.
So when Yespasianus took up the ludaean command in the winter of AD 67, his army consisted of three legions, VMacedonica, X
Fretensis and XVApol/inaris. Josephus tells us that these were supported by 23 cohortes, of which ten were peditatae mil/iariae and the rest
equitatae quingenariae, and six alae. Meanwhile, there were four other legions, 11/ Gal/ica, 11/1 Scythica, VI Ferrata and XII Fulminata, in next-
door Syria with the governor C. Licinius Mucianus. In AD 68 11/ Gal/ica would be transferred from Syria to Moesia.
The legate of XVApol/inaris was none other than Yespasianus' eldest son, Titus. This unit had seen a little service at the end of
Domitius Corbulo's Parthian campaign but lacked the experience of the other legions.At 27 years of age Titus was younger than most
legionary legates and his appointment reflects the tradition of senators relying on family members to serve as their senior subordinates.
Another of Yespasianus' subordinates was M. Ulpius Traianus, the legate of X Fretensis. He was, of course, the father and namesake of the
future emperor, Traianus.
64
his unsuccessful offensive against Vitellius are all vivid reminders of the
turbulence that plagued the Roman world between the reigns of Nero and
Vespasianus. Regrettably, the scenario would play itself out one more time
before peace and stability returned to the empire.
Vitellius was well liked by Caligula, Claudius and Nero. As governor of
Germania Superior he governed reasonably well, but his many vices usually got
the best of him. As noted, when Galba became emperor the Rhine legions refused
to pledge allegiance to him, declaring their own man the emperor. This was
partially out of hatred for the parsimonious Galba, and partially out of fondness
for the pleasure-seeking Vitellius. Upon learning of Galba's death, Vitellius
gathered up two of the Rhine legions, along with vexillationes from the other five,
and sent them on to Rome. He was certainly no soldier, for he stayed put on the
Rhine while his army did his dirty work near the Padus. When the hapless Otho
committed suicide, the hedonistic Vitellius was left as sole emperor. After a tour
of the battlefield near Cremona, he entered Rome in the middle of July and
proclaimed himself consul for life. Contrary to expectations he showed himself
to be moderate. However, he soon received word that the legions of the east had
declared themselves in favour of that successful and popular general,
Vespasianus, and before long the Danube legions followed suit.
It was the six Danube legions that put an end to Vitellius' reign. Under the
dynamic leadership of Antonius Primus, legate of Galba's newly formed VII
Hispana, which was currently bearing the moniker Galbiana and serving in
Pannonia (Tacitus Historiae 2.86.1, cf. 3.7.1, 21.2), the Flavian legions made a
rapid descent on Italy, and on the night of 24/25 October, practically at the
same spot outside Cremona where Vitellius' army had been so successful
before, there was a decisive battle. The Vitellians were soundly beaten. For four
days the victorious Flavians wreaked bloody havoc on Cremona. Meantime,
Vitellius occupied the Apennine passes in an attempt to halt the advance, but
his men defected in droves. Vitellius had no choice but to retreat to Rome. On
20 December Antonius Primus reached the gates of the city and fought his way
in. His soldiers found Vitellius, tortured him to death in public and then threw
his corpse into the Tiber, thus ending the civil war and beginning the Flavian
rule. On the whole, it seems the very bad portrayal of him in the sources
derives from the inherent hostility of the Flavian writers and the manner of his
demise, which was by no means as edifying as Otho's.
And so Vitellius has not escaped the hostility of his biographers. While he may
well have been gluttonous, his depiction as indolent, cruel and extravagant is
based almost entirely on the propaganda of his enemies. Hence Tacitus'
description of Vitellius' triumphal entry into Rome:
In front of the eagles marched the camp prefects, tribunes and front-
ranker centurions (primi ordines), all dressed in white. The other officers
each flanked their own centuries, resplendent in their weapons and
decorations. As for the soldiers, they glistened with their phalerae and
torques. It was an awesome sight, an army worthy of an emperor other
than Vitellius.
Tacitus Historiae 2.89.3
On the other hand, whatever moderating tendencies he did show were
overshadowed by his clear lack of military expertise, a deficiency that forced
him to rely in critical situations on largely ineffective lieutenants. As a result he
was no match for his Flavian successors, and his humiliating demise was
perfectly in keeping with the overall fiasco of his fleeting reign.
Titus (now dead and deified) rides
in his triumph 'over the Jews',Arch
of Titus, Rome. The triumph, with
its parade of spoils, captives,
soldiers, divine images and pictorial
scenes of the war, was the most
direct expression of an emperor's
personal military glory. It was also
attractive since it retailed many
of the respected traditions of the
Republic. (Fields-Carre Collection)
65
Agricola in Caledonia, AD 82-83
xxx
CZJ
en. lulius Agricola
X
· · .. ·.. (-)

X

Adiutrix pia fidelis
X
legio (-)

X
(-)
Valeria
II


III
For his two seasons north of the Bodotria (Forth),Agricola had mustered vexillationes from the four legions, II Adiutrix pia fidelis, II Augusta,
Villi Hispana and XXValeria Victrix, of Britannia. These were supported by some 8,000 auxiliary infantry and 5,000 auxiliary cavalry. Of the
auxilia, we know of four cohortes of Batavi, two cohortes ofTungri and an unspecified number of Britons recruited from the tribes in the
south. If the auxilia were organized as quingenaria units, then Agricola would have had some 16 cohortes and ten alae all told.
66
en. lulius Agricola, (AD 40-93)
Born in the colony of Forum lulii
(Frejus) in Gallia Narbonensis when,
aged 37, Agricola was appointed
governor, legatus Augusti pro praetore,
of Britannia by Vespasianus (AD 77).
The emperor himself had served, with
distinction, in the original expedition
to the island under Claudius (Suetonius
Divus Vespasianus 4.1). There was a
particular factor in the choice of
Agricola as governor of Britannia He
was a strong supporter of the Flavian
dynasty, having gone over to
Vespasianus (March AD 69), as implied
by Tacitus (Agricola 7.2), before the
would-be emperor had even publicly
declared his hand (July AD 69). He had
also served in the province twice
before, as a tribunus laticlavius during
the Boudican revolt (AD 61) and as the
legate of XX Valeria Victrix during the
conquest of the Brigantes (AD 70-73).
Agricola, unusually for a Roman
governor, came to the provi nce with
considerable local knowledge and
experience.
It goes without saying that our
knowledge of Agricola's tenure as
governor is greatly enhanced by Tacitus'
brief biography (or perhaps
hagiography) of his father-in-law. Some
care, however, should be taken when
using the Agricola (de vita lulii Argicolae)
as a source since it is a laudatory
biography written as an act of devotion
(pietas). But the fact remains that much
of what this vital source covers is
probably true even if the credit need
not be entirely accorded to Agricola.
Agricola sought military glory and
from the start he was 'anxious and
eager for action' (Tacitus Agricola 5.1).
His first action was the suppression of
the Ordovices of what are now central
and north Wales and the reoccupation
of Mona, now the island of Anglesey
(AD 77). Agricola had arrived in the
province late in the year and thus the
following summer (AD 78) was his first
full campaigning season. It is usually
assumed that this season's campaign
was in the territory of the Brigantes
where, according to Tacitus (ibid. 20.3),
he built forts, although some of this
period might have been spent north
of the Solway in what is now southern
Scotland: measures to promote, as
Tacitus stresses (ibid. 21 ),
'Romanization'.As he also operated
there during his third season (AD 79),
ravaging tribes as far north as the
estuary of the Tanaus (Tay). Again,
according to Tacitus (ibid. 22.1) he built
forts. The following year (AD 80) saw
Agricola consolidating on a line
between the Clota and Bodotria (Clyde
and Forth) with clearly no advances the
next year either: Tacitus says (ibid. 23)
the isthmus was firmly held by
garrisons (praeSidia), though he did
operate in the south-west of Scotland:
Tacitus merely says Agricola advanced
through 'repeated and successful
battles' (ibid. 24.1 ). There were,
however, the campaigns north of the
Bodotria against the Caledonii, his sixth
(AD 82), when victory narrowly eluded
him - Villi Hispana was badly mauled
during a night attack upon its marching
camp - and his seventh (AD 83), which
culminated in Mons Graupius. Recalled
in spring AD 84, he was denied further
appointments because of, so Tacitus
alleges (ibid. 41.4, cf. Cassius Dio
60.20.3), Domitianus' malice and
jealousy.
Whether the allegation is justified,
Tacitus certainly believed his father-in-
law was hated and distrusted by the
emperor because he was a good man
and a successful commander. As a
commander in the field Agricola
displayed sound judgement and stout
courage, and did not shrink from toil
and danger. Brave and decisive under
pressure, he led the troops personally
and chose camp sites himself (Tacitus
Agricola 18.4-5, 20.2, 22.1, 35). In other
words, Tacitus' father-in-law had all the
usual attributes of the good Roman
general.
With V Alaudae, XXI Rapax and vexillationes from
the five other Rhine legions absent in Italy, the
nobleman C. lulius Civilis, under a cloak of loyalty to
Vespasianus, had roused his fellow Batavi against
Vitellius. The rebel alliance, besides Civilis' own
people, consisted of Germanic tribes who contributed
auxilia to Rome, and Germanic tribes further east of the
Rhine. When Vitellius was overthrown, Civilis should
have placed himself at the disposal of Vespasianus. But
many of the Gallic auxiliaries in Gallia Belgica,
including the Tungri, deserted Rome and four of the
Rhine legions swore loyalty to the rebels. Civilis' head
was evidently turned. Once the new emperor had
regained control of Italy, a powerful expeditionary
force under the consul Q. Petilius Cerialis, son-in-law of
Vespasianus and a reckless but able commander, was
sent to the Rhine. Civilis' forces were decisively crushed
in battle at Trever (Trier) in AD 70.
After the rebellion the two-legion camp at Vetera,
reconstructed in stone under Nero but heavily
damaged during the recent battle there, was replaced
by a new fortress for just one legion, XXII Primigenia
pia {idelis, which had gallantly held the camp at
Moguntiacum. At the same time, four other Rhine
legions (I Germanica, 1111 Macedonia, XV Primigenia and
XVI Gallica) were disbanded for having seriously
disgraced themselves. Of the other two legions,
completely uninvolved in the rebellion, V Alaudae was
posted to Moesia, and XXI Rapax was left on the Rhine
but moved to the rebuilt camp at Bonna.
Mogontiacum now became the home of I Adiutrix and
XlIII Gemina Martia Victrix, the latter unit making a
return visit.
It was during the reign of Vespasianus' younger son,
Domitianus, that Decebalus rose to prominence,
massing a strong force of Dacian warriors, subjecting
neighbours, such as the Sarmatians and Bastarnae, and
even enlisting deserters from the Roman Army. Cassius
Dio describes him in a predictable way, a worthy
opponent who was: 'Shrewd in the understanding of
warfare and shrewd also in the waging of war; he judged well when to attack
and chose the right moment to retreat; he was an expert in ambuscades and
master in pitched battle; he knew not only how to follow up a victory well, but
also how to manage a defeat' (Cassius Dio 67.6.1).
Under the king's aggressive leadership, the Dacians raided across the Danube
and inflicted serious defeats on the Romans. Domitianus' campaign against
them ended in what amounted to a fiasco, with a treaty by which the Romans
paid Decebalus an annual indemnity and provided him with the services of
engineers so that he could upgrade the fastnesses of his kingdom. Therefore it
comes as no surprise to find Traianus, when he donned the purple, seeking
terms that were favourable to Rome.
In the first campaign the Dacians initially fell back, avoiding a pitched
battle, and the Romans consolidated their gains. During the winter Decebalus
launched a counterattack somewhere in Moesia Inferior, which was repulsed.
Having surveyed the difficult terrain in the approach from the west to
Sarmizegetusa, the Dacian capital set high in the Carpathians, Traianus for the
second season decided to advance from the east towards the Red Tower Pass.
Trajan's Column is outstanding, not
only for its size, but also in the idea
of recording in detail the progress
of an imperial campaign. Naturally,
throughout the story the emperor
has a dominant position, not only
in artistic portrayal, but also in
the frequency of his appearance.
It seems Traianus directed every
move in his two Dacian wars.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
67
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The Roman Empire, AD 117
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As yet, the Romans did not officially recognize any formal barriers or limits to their power, and client kingdoms on the periphery
of Roman territory acted as buffer states as well as providing troops and an easy route to further expansion when required. Despite
Augustus' strict instructions to his successor, the impetus for expansion remained and new provinces were added throughout the
following century. The southern part of Britannia was annexed (AD 43) and other peripheral areas like Cappadocia (AD 17), Thrace
(AD 46), Commagene (AD 72) and Arabia (AD 106) were absorbed.As these client kingdoms were eliminated Roman forces became
directly responsible for the defence of a growing proportion of the empire's boundaries.
At other times, however, the irresistible urge for grand conquest and triumphal glory proved too strong, and emperors ventured
further afield, even to the outermost edge of the world itself. Thus the acquisition of southern Britannia by Claudius (AD 43), which
68 brought nothing of real value and pulled the Romans further from their Mediterranean focus, or the conquest of Dacia by Traianus
.
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(AD 101-06), which may have removed a long-standing menace but involved the Romans more than ever with the tribal dynamics of
central Europe. In the east the age-old rivalry between Rome and Parthia required periodic demonstrations of Roman posture and
resolve, involving as ever the kingdom of Armenia to which both superpowers laid claim.
Traianus' great Parthian campaign (AD I f 4-17) resulted in the formation of three new provinces - Armenia, Mesopotamia and
Assyria. The death ofTraianus, however, put an end to all further conquest, and his successor Hadrianus withdrew the advanced
troops and organized the eastern frontier on the banks of the Euphrates. The best explanation for Traianus' eastern conquests,
therefore, seems to be a 'desire for glory', as suggested by Cassius Dio when he says (68.17.2) the Parthians were prepared to
negotiate in the usual way about Armenian sovereignty. Certainly the sheer size of the invasion force - some 17 of the 30 legions
went in their entirety or as substantial vexillationes - points to total conquest rather than the traditional scrap over Armenia. 69
70
M. Ulpius Traianus (AD 56-1 17)
Traianus was the first emperor who was
not born in Italy. He came from a family
that had emigrated from Umbria to
ltalica, a town in south-eastern Iberia.
His father and namesake had had a
brilliant career in the army, and the
young Traianus would follow in his
footsteps. As a tribunus militum laticlavius,
he served in Syria, under his father's
command, and on the Rhine, where he
experienced action against the local
tribes. The late eighties saw him as the
legate of VII Gemina (nee Hispana/
Galbiana) peacefully settled in Legio
(Leon). Indeed, his career did not
stagnate at all during Domitianus' 'reign
of terror'; on the contrary, he made it all
the way to the consulship, a slice of
information not mentioned in the
panegyric given to Traianus by Pliny.
At the time of his elevation to the
purple Traianus was the legatus Augusti
pro praetore of Germania Superior.
The chief feature ofTraianus'
administration was his very good
relations with the Senate, which allowed
him to accomplish whatever he wished
without general opposition. Like
Augustus, his auctoritas, prestige, was
more important than his imperium,
power.At the very beginning ofTraianus'
reign, Tacitus (Agricola 3.1) spoke of the
newly won compatibility of one-man rule
and individual liberty established by
Nerva and expanded by Traianus. Tacitus
later comments (ibid. 44.5), when
speaking of his father-in-Iaw's death, that
Agricola had forecast the principate of
Traianus but had died too soon to see it.
Whether one believes that Principate
and liberty had truly been made
compatible or not, this evidently was
the belief of the aristocracy of Rome.
Traianus, by character and actions,
contributed to this belief, and he
undertook to reward his associates with
high office and Significant promotions.
Of course, the contemporary satirist
Juvenal, in one of his best-known
judgements, bitterly laments that the
citizen of Rome, once master of the
world, was now content with just 'bread
and circuses' (panem et circenses, Satires
10.81).
Traianus' reputation remained
unimpaired, in spite of the ultimate
failure of his costly Parthian war. Early in
his reign, after successes in Dacia, he had
unofficially been honoured with the title
Optimus, 'the best', which long described
him even before it became, in AD I 14,
part of his official titulature. His
correspondence with Pliny enables
posterity to gain an intimate sense of
the emperor in action. His concern for
justice and the well being of his subjects
is underscored by his comment to Pliny,
when faced with the question of the
Christians, that they were not to be
sought out, 'nor is it appropriate to our
age' (Epistles 10.97.2).
It is in Traianus that we most see the
embodiment of the energetic warrior-
emperor. According to Pliny, Traianus
joined in the military exercises, sharing
the heat and thirst of his soldiers and
comforting the fatigued and the sick.
He even took a keen interest in weapon
training himself, rather than leaving it to
a professional instructor. 'It was your
custom not to enter your tent until
you had inspected the quarters of
your fellow soldiers (commilitones), and
to retire to bed only after everyone
else.' On campaign he spent long nights
in the open, and sharing his soldiers'
labours was both 'an applauder of and
witness to' their courage. By this
behaviour Traianus won the admiration
of his soldiers and succeeded in finding
that right blend between the role of
commander-in-chief and comrade-in-
arms (Pliny Panegyricus 13.1-4, 15.3-5,
19.3). Of course Pliny's panegyric
contains much that derives from a
literary topos, and there is gross
exaggeration, but the speech would have
to be based on the emperor's known
opinions and actions, if it were not to
appear insulting or ridiculous. Therefore
it seems that Traianus did have the ability
to wear the two hats, that is to say,
imperator and commilito.
Dio of Prusa (1.28), also speaking in
front of Traianus, observed that in the
ideal role the soldiers were much like
shepherds who, with the emperor,
guarded the flock of the empire. Dio
was no doubt well briefed on Traianus'
interest in his army and his identification
with the soldiers in" the performance of
their duties. Cassius Dio says (68.8.2)
that Traianus marched with his army on
foot, made military dispositions in
person, and took great care to honour
fallen soldiers. Of course the emperor's
prolonged wars against the Dacians and
the Parthians gave him plenty of
opportunity to perform the role of
the assiduous fellow soldier. Indeed,
the emperor was not afraid to risk his
own life and in Mesopotamia was nearly
struck by a missile while organizing an
attack on the walls of Hatra (ibid.
68.31.3).
Yet it is interesting to note that
though Cassius Dio praises Traianus for
his bravery, his comments on Traianus'
conquests imply that an emperor who
'loved war' was dangerous (68.6.3, cf.
7.5). Like a second Alexander, he got
as far as the Persian Gulf, where he
supposedly thought aloud: 'I would have
crossed over to India if I were a younger
man.' The restless warrior-emperor was
planning a new season when he suffered
a stroke and died soon afterwards.
It was customary for the 4th-century
Senate to pray that the incoming
emperor might be 'more fortunate than
Augustus and better than Trajan'
(Eutropius 8.5). In medieval Europe
Traianus was held up as an example of
the just king, while Dante saw him
released from hell, pagan though he was,
through the prayer of Pope Gregory; not
even the divine Augustus managed that.
Trajan in Dacia, AD 101-06
Imperator Cassar Traianus Augustus
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Eventually Sarmizegetusa was reached, but Decebalus capitulated to save his
capital from fire and sword, agreeing to the loss of some territory, giving up his
engineers, and handing over Roman deserters. Garrisons were left behind while
Traianus returned to Rome for his triumph and assumed the title Dacicus.
Soon, however, Decebalus felt strong enough to break the peace and the
struggle was renewed in AD lOS. A grim campaign followed, with much bitter
fighting, until Sarmizegetusa fell. The king fled to the north hotly pursed by
Roman cavalry, to be brought to bay and driven to take his own life. The head
of Decebalus was displayed to the victorious troops. Traianus had the head
packed off to Rome and once there it was tossed in the street for the public to
gloat over (Trajan's Column scenes cxlv, cxlvii, Cassius Dio 68.14.3).
The Parthian war was the result of a seizure of the throne of Armenia by the
Parthian king Osroes for his own nominee. Traianus might have intervened, as
was customary, with diplomacy and a show of force, but lured by the vision of
Alexander, chose to mount a massive expedition with a view to settling the
Parthian problem once and for all. Though there were eight legions already in
the east, Traianus called in XV Apollinaris from Carnuntum and vexillationes
from several others. The first were into Armenia, but merely to tell the
king he no longer occupied the throne. A Roman governor was appointed to
the new prOVince, which included Cappadocia.
Traianus, still thirsting for conquests, advanced south into Mesopotamia
and occupied Nisibis. He then wintered in Antioch. In the following spring the
army was ready for another advance, this time towards Ctesiphon, the Parthian
capital. Osroes, troubled by internal dissension, was unable to offer serious
resistance and his capital fell after a short siege. It is possible that Traianus,
Traianus assembled on the lower
Danube a force of at least nine
legions at full strength, with
vexillationes from other provinces.
Raising two new legions, II Traiana
and XXX Ulpia, he also summoned
XI Claudia pia fidelis from the
Rhine frontier. As for the other
formations, little is known; in the
two wars only five, from the
distinctions conferred upon them,
can be identified for sure, namely
I Italica, 1111 Flavia felix, VMacedonica,
VII Claudia pia fidelis, and probably
X/II Gemina. The last legion was
definitely detailed as part of the
garrison of the new province of
Dacia, as was I Adiutrix pia fidelis.
As for auxilia, we do know that
cohortes /II and Villi Batavorum were
transferred from Britannia to the
Danube in AD 104, perhaps as part
of the build-up to the second war.
71
Tombstone of Marcus Caelius,
primus pilus of legio XVIII, found
near Birten-Xanten-Vetera (Bonn,
Rheinisches Landesmuseum).
The inscription (ILS 2244) says he
fell, aged 53, in the Varian disaster,
so this fine memorial did not mark
his mortal remains. He carries a
vitis, his badge of office, is loaded
with armillae, torques and phalerae,
and wears a corona civica. (Fields-
72 Carre Collection)
following in the wake of Alexander, marched down to the Persian Gulf and
created a client kingdom there, bringing the whole of the great trade route to
India and beyond under Roman control. This was the peak of Traianus'
achievements, and the high-water mark of the Roman Empire. Yet these
conquests so easily won proved more difficult to hold.
Saltus Teutoburgiensis, a province lost
Late in the summer of AD 9 three legions led by P. Quinctilius Varus ventured
into Saltus Teutoburgiensis, but they were ambushed and wiped out by
Germanic warriors led by Arminius. This ignominious defeat put an end to the
Roman expanSion east of the Rhine. From then on the ageing Augustus
pursued a policy of consolidation. It seems the mistake had been made at Rome
by underestimating the force needed to keep Germania pacified and the time
necessary for the Germans to become 'Romanized' (Wells 1972: 239).
Arminius, chieftain of the Cherusci, was also C. Iulius Arminius, citizen of
Rome, whom Varus believed to be firmly pro-Roman. After all, he had served
in the army as a commander in the auxilia, which granted him equestrian rank,
and on Rome's behalf he had distinguished himself on the field of battle
(Velleius Paterculus 2.118.1-2). Anyway, Arminius had informed Varus of the
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The appointment P. Quinctilius Varus (cos. 13 Be) as legatus August; pro praetore of Germania, with the army on the Rhine under his direct
control, may have reflected a policy of bringing the territory under Roman law and organizing it into a province. Varus was an eminent
lawyer without any of the obvious military talents of his predecessors; he was also the husband of Augustus' grandniece. Yet it should be
noted that previously Varus had successfully served as governor of Syria, quelling the political disturbances in ludaea following the death
of the pro-Roman Herod in 4 Be. Back then his command had consisted of three legions. 73
74
Martin Luther, enmeshed in his own
struggles with Rome, may have been
the first writer to germanicize
the Latin name Arminius into
'Hermann'. Erected near Detmold
and dedicated in 1874, just four
years after German unification,
the Arminius/Hermann colossus
represents the mythologized
hero as the guarantor of German
freedom against outside aggression.
(Ancient Art & Architecture)
possibility of trouble brewing amongst the members of a tribe that lived a
couple of days' march west of the summer camp near the Weser. So Varus
planned a small detour to his march back to the winter quarters at Vetera, and
allowed Arminius to go ahead to rally some of his own tribesmen.
For information about the ambush, we have two very different sources of
information. One consists of the accounts written by Roman historians, none
of them eyewitnesses to the event, and the other is the archaeological evidence,
most of it painstakingly unearthed since the summer of 1987.
Contemporary to the event was Velleius Paterculus, a military man who had
served on the Rhine and may have known both Varus and Arminius personally
through common service in the army. He places the blame for the disaster on
the carelessness of Varus, the treachery of Arminius and the disadvantages of
the terrain. His account is abbreviated - he apparently intended to describe the
battle in greater detail in another work - but it is colourful despite this:
An army unexcelled in bravery, the first of Roman armies in discipline, in
energy, and in experience in the field, through the negligence of its
general, the perfidy of the enemy, and the unkindness of fortune was
surrounded. ... Hemmed in by forest and ambuscades, it was
exterminated almost to a man by the very enemy whom it has always
slaughtered like cattle.
Velleius Paterculus 2.119.2
The soldier-historian then describes how Varus fell on his sword when all
appeared lost, the beheading of Varus' corpse, the delivering of the head to
Maroboduus, chief of a tribal confederation on the Danube, and the sending of
it on to Augustus in Rome.
Archaeological remains of the battle have been recovered over an area about
six by four-and-a-half kilometres in what is known as the Kalkriese-Niewedde
Depression, near Osnabriick. Apart from the abundance of Roman coins and
military items associated with the Varian disaster, the most exciting find must
be the remains of a mile-long sodden wall, with a basal width of about four-
and-a-half metres and in places showing evidence of having been topped with
a wooden palisade, which the Germanic warriors had obviously constructed
well before the Roman column stumbled into the ambuscade.
It is a simple fact that small-scale societies cannot beat sophisticated ones on
the open field of battle. But they can defeat them by attacking them in
vulnerable situations, especially when they are in a column of march. And so
the lightly equipped Germanic warriors, with their superior knowledge of the
terrain and greater mobility, defeated the heavily equipped Roman soldiers,
with their superior training and better discipline. Such was the Varian disaster.
Mancetter, a province saved
With the bulk of Roman forces on campaign in what is now north Wales,
Boudica faced minimal resistance. The provincial towns of Camulodunum
(Colchester), Londinium (London) and Verulamium (near St Albans) were
quickly overrun and sacked, and a vexillatio of VIllI Hispana, under the
command of Petilius Cerialis, ambushed and destroyed.
Breaking off his Silurian campaign, the governor, Suetonius Paulinus,
hastened south-east with a small escort. Deciding to abandon Londinium to its
fate, Suetonius Paulinus rejoined his army on its long march down Watling
Street (the modern A5). At his disposal were XlIII Gemina and a vexillatio of XX
Valeria and those auxiliaries he was able to summon from nearby camps, in all
a force of some 10,000 men. The governor had dispatched urgent messages
summoning II Augusta from its station in the south-west, but for some
mysterious reason its acting commander, the praefectus castrorum Poenius
Postumus, failed to respond.
What Suetonius Paulinus feared above all was a protracted guerrilla war, but
elated by her earlier victories Boudica staked all on one battle. According to
Tacitus, our chief source for the revolt, Suetonius Paulinus drew up his forces
along a defile - legionaries in the centre with auxiliary cohortes alongside and
alae on the wings - with dense woodland protecting his rear. When battle was
joined, the legionaries discharged their pi/a into the oncoming Britons. They
then pressed forwards, battering at the enemy with their shields and doing
murderous work with their swords.
Tacitus makes it seem simple and quickly over, but the account of Cassius
Dio (62.12), though garbled, states the battle lasted all day - a more likely story.
Anyway, confident of victory, the Britons had brought along their womenfolk
to watch the spectacle from wagons positioned behind the war bands. In the
Roman advance, however, the Britons soon found themselves crushed against
the wagons. Even women and draught animals were slaughtered in the Roman
fury that followed. Tacitus says 80,000 of the enemy fell, for the loss of only
400 Romans. Sadly, he gives no clues as to the actual whereabouts of this battle
site, although a case has been made for the village of Mancetter near Nuneaton
in Warwickshire.
In a single day the back of the rebellion had been broken, and soon after the
battle Boudica took her own life. Suetonius Paulinus, now heavily reinforced by
units from the Rhine, concentrated his efforts against the Iceni and
Trinovantes. Their territory was laid waste by fire and sword, and a chain of
forts constructed across eastern Britannia.
Second Crernona, a throne won
This crucial engagement was fought through the night, with victory going to
the Flavians as dawn broke: at first light III Gallica, a crack Syrian legion, turned
to salute the rising sun in their customary way and this created rumours of
reinforcements, heartening the dog-tired Flavians and striking dismay into the
equally exhausted Vitellians (Tacitus Historiae 3.24.3-25.1). The nocturnal
phase of the engagement, despite the full moon, had been a confused and 75
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In AD 60 Prasutagus, the client king of the Iceni, died leaving half his possessions to the emperor. He had hoped this would protect his
kingdom and family, but the Romans decided otherwise and incorporated his kingdom, which covered large parts of today's East Anglia,
into the province. When his queen Boudica protested, she was flogged and her daughters raped (Tacitus Annates 14.31.2). Boudica raised
the Iceni in revolt, who were quickly joined by their neighbours the Trinovantes, a tribe that inhabited parts of today's Suffolk and Essex.
The underlying cause of the revolt was the harsh and oppressive Roman occupation and administration of Britannia: licentious soldiers,
76 voracious tax collectors and 'noble savages' are commonplace themes in Tacitus, but the commonplace is often true.
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The civil war battle of Second
Cremona was the critical
engagement that decided the
outcome of the 'Year of the
Four Emperors'. Back in August,
Vespasianus had met with his
advisors and backers at Berytus
(Beirut) and perfected their plan
of campaign. C. Licinius Mucianus,
governor of Syria, was to march
on Italy;Vespasianus, the emperor-
to-be, was to starve Rome into
submission from Egypt and Africa
by cutting off the grain supply; and
meanwhile the legions of Pannonia
would block the Alps until they and
those of Moesia were taken over
by Mucianus. As for the Rhine
legions, already depleted by the
vexillationes dispatched to Italy, they
would be paralyzsed by a mock
revolt staged by the Batavi at the
mouth of the Rhine. Almost without
a blow, Italy would fall into the lap
of Vespasianus. But others were
ready to strike hard and strike fast.
The Danube legions were eager to
supplant those of the Rhine, and
they had a natural and gifted leader
in the restless Antonius Primus,
legate of legio VII Galbiana.
77
78
Decapitated bronze head from a
statue of Claudius (London, British
Museum, P&E 1965 12-1 I), found in
the river Aide, Suffolk. It is believed
to have been looted from
Colchester-Camulodunum during its
sack by Boudica, who seemed hell-
bent on destroying every trace of
Rome. (Ancient Art & Architecture)
bitter affair and, as Tacitus says, 'on both sides weapons and uniforms were the
same, frequent challenges and replies disclosed the watchword and standards
were inextricably confused as they were captured by this group or that and
carried hither and thither' (ibid. 3.22.3).
A civil war creates stronger passions and tends to produce shocking events,
and the climax of Second Cremona was to be no exception. The Vitellian camp
had been built at no great distance from the walls and suburbs of Cremona on
the north-east, between the converging road from Brixia and the Via Postumia,
and near their junction. When the main (southern) gate of the camp was
finally forced, the surviving Vitellians threw themselves down from the
ramparts and took shelter in nearby Cremona. Despite a show of surrender, the
inhabitants of this affluent town fell victim to indiscriminate rape and
slaughter. A signal atrocity had occurred in this final phase - the killing of a
father by his son (ibid. 3.25.2) - and the sack of a Roman provincial town by
Roman soldiers would send a thrill of horror through the empire.
Mons Graupius, a battle too far
Assembled under the leadership of Calgacus ('the Swordsman', cf. Middle Irish
colg 'sword'), 'the full force of all' the Caledonian tribes, 30,000 warriors,
occupied the slopes of Mons Graupius (Tacitus Agricola 29.3-4). The size of
Agricola's army is not given, but Tacitus does say the enemy had a 'great
superiority in numbers' (ibid. 35.4). Agricola certainly had 8,000 auxiliary
infantry and probably 5,000 auxiliary cavalry together with vexillationes from
the four legions (II Adiutrix pia (idelis, II Augusta, VIllI Hispana and XX Valeria
Victrix) of Britannia (ibid. 35.2, 37.1), giving perhaps a total force of some
20,000 (St Joseph 1978: 283).
Tacitus does name some of the auxiliary units present on the day: four
cohortes of Batavi, two cohortes of Tungri (ibid. 36.1), and an unspecified
number of Britons recruited from the tribes in the south long since conquered
(ibid. 29.2). The actual identification of these units is not certain, but we do
know that cohors I Tungrorum is the earliest attested garrison at Vindolanda
(Tab. Vindol. II 154), leaving there soon after AD 90 to be replaced by cohors VIllI
Batavorum (ibid. II 159, 282, 396). The Britons themselves may have been
present in their own ethnic cohort, a cohors Brittonum, for Tacitus mentions
elsewhere (Historiae 1.70.3) cohorts of Brittones at First Cremona fighting for
the Vitellian cause.
Fearing that he might be outflanked, Agricola deployed the auxiliary cohortes
in the centre, with their ranks opened out, and 3,000 horsemen on the wings,
which probably comprised six alae quingenariae. A further four alae
quingenariae, some 2,000 horsemen, were kept in reserve. The legionary
vexillationes were to the rear, drawn up in front of the marching camp. The
Caledonii were deployed in closed-packed tiers on the gentle slope with their
van on the level ground.
The Caledonian war chariots raced across the ground between the two
armies, only to be driven off by the Roman alae. Next up was a brisk exchange
of missiles followed by the Roman advance up the slope. 'Striking them with
the bosses of their shields, and stabbing them in the face' (Tacitus Agricola
36.2), the auxiliary infantrymen were initially successful and soon joined by
the alae. The sheer numbers of the Caledonii, however, combined with the
roughness of the terrain, halted this advance and gradually the auxiliaries
began to be outflanked. In a counter-move Agricola sent in his reserve alae,
which stemmed the flanking movement and then, in turn, fell on the rear of
the war bands, which accordingly broke. The legionaries had not been
engaged. This was an achievement that occasioned one of Tacitus'
characteristic epigrams: 'a great victory glorious for costing no Roman blood'
(ibid. 35.2).
The exact location of the battle
of Mons Graupius is unknown.
However, below the Iron Age hill
fort of Mither Tap 0' Bennachie, the
most north-easterly mountain in
Aberdeenshire and on the border
between the Highlands and the
Lowlands, has been suggested as a
possible site. View looking south-
west from Mill of Carden.
(Fields-Carre Collection)
79
. Mons Graupius, AD 83
Modern settlements
lroll Age village
ONS (iRA U
/ / / ~ -
'5 U M M A/ COL L / U M'
/
(
I Iron Age hill fort
(Mither Tap-o'Bennachie)
.....
t:.•• /
N
A
Logie Durno
Pitcaple
I:::;;;;;., Auxiliary
~ cavalry
I
• Chapel of Garioch
/
I:1- 1 - - - - - - - r - 1 k - m - - - - ' ~ mi
80
There have been many attempts to locate the site of the battle, but all we really know is what Tacitus tells us and, sufficient to say, none
of his evidence is over-helpful. Nevertheless, the ubiquitous instrument of Roman mobility was the marching camp, and those of Agricola
that stretch north and north-west in a great arc from near Stonehaven to the pass of Grange just east of the Spey are useful pointers.
Several criteria can be used to identify those marching camps most conceivably the work of Agricolan legions. They include a tendency
to squareness of plan, and a method of gateway defence incorporating the clavicula, an extended arc of ditch and rampart that compelled
an attacker to expose his right or unshielded side to the camp's defenders.
At Logie Durno near Pitcaple, 9.6km (six miles) north-west of lnverurie is a marching camp of some 58.25ha. Unfortunately the camp,
the largest known beyond the Forth and big enough to accommodate Agricola's entire force with room to spare, is undated. However,
a persuasive case was made out by St Joseph (1978) for identifying it as Agricola's base on the eve of the battle, which (it has been
suggested) was fought out on the lower slopes of Bennachie, 4.8km (three miles) to the south-west.
Pax Romana
Imperialism implies a conscious desire to conquer, and if it is to carry weight in
the historical balance, it must lead to some spectacular and abiding achievement.
The expression pax Romana, adopted from the elder Pliny, was used by that
polymath incidentally, in describing plants 'now available to the botanist from all
the corners of the world, thanks to the boundless majesty of Roman peace'
(Historia Naturalis 27.1.3). But pax Romana should not be sneezed at, especially if
we consider the terrible plight of our own world today. Despite notable
exceptions, the empire and its armed frontiers were relatively quiet for two
centuries. This was something new, as yet to be repeated, to the human condition.
In its broad outline, the manifest destiny of Rome was devastatingly simple. The
mood of the time, if correctly reflected in the literature of the day, leans
unmistakably toward irresistible expansion beyond the confines of the Italy on the
grounds of mission, decreed fortune and divine will. Take, for instance, the elder
Pliny on the role of the Italian Peninsula and the Latin language: 'A land chosen
by divine providence to unify empires so disparate and races so manifold; to bring
to a common concord so rough, discordant voices; to give culture to mankind; to
become, in short, the world's homeland' (Pliny Historia Naturalis 3.5.39).
An altruistic view to say the least. 'The Gods favour us', says Tacitus
(Germania 33.1) more tersely, while the Augustan poet Virgil has Iuppiter
himself proclaim: 'On them [the Romans] I impose no limits of time or place.
I have given them an empire that will know no end' (Aeneid 1.278-79 West).
In earthly terms pax Romana would be an enormous human entity -
enormous for the times that is (conventionally estimated at about 55 million
souls) - spread over an area that was also enormous (nearly five million
square kilometres). The civilized Romans, on whom divine providence had
bestowed earth's fairest portion, evidently marched ahead with full belief in
their right to world dominion.
Josephus, albeit now a protege of Vespasianus, does not hesitate to equate
Rome's outward march with megalomania:
And even the world is not big enough to satisfy them; the Euphrates is
not far enough to the east, or the Danube to the north, or Libya and the
desert beyond to the south, or Gades to the west; but beyond the Ocean
they have sought a new world, carrying their arms as far as Britannia, that
land of mystery.
Bellum Iudaicum 2.363
AGreek quip, once relayed by Cicero, might best describe the credible opinion
at the street level: 'No matter that they hate us, as long as they fear us'
(Philippics 1.14). Of course, as is customary with all polyglot empires, there is
also a reactionary backlash to Rome's cosmopolitanism and cultural flexibility
that readily finds its street-tongue through overt racism:
Upon my word, I was wanting to give him [Claudius] a fraction of time
more, until he had endowed with citizenship those tiny few who are
left over (for he had resolved to see all Greeks, Gauls, Iberians and
Britons wearing the toga). But since it is your pleasure that some
foreigners should be left for propagation, and since you command it to
be so, so be it.
Clotho, one of the Three Fates, to Mercury, in Seneca Apocolocyntosis 3.3 81
82
Portrait statue of Claudius as
luppiter, from Lanuvium (Vatican
City, Musei Vaticani). In his capacity
of censor, this far-sighted emperor
not only allowed prominent Gauls
into the Senate but also pushed
through a resolution to grant civil
rights to the provinces as a whole.
Taking its cue from the Prima Porta
Augustus, this portrayal of Claudius
depicts him as a benign cosmocrat.
(akg-images)
The wearing of the toga was a distinctive right, under Augustus a duty
(Suetonius Divus Augustus 40.5), of the Roman citizen (Virgil Aeneid 1.282). Of
course this is blatant exaggeration, for out of the world population in AD 48
Claudius himself as censor registered only 5,984,072 Roman citizens (Tacitus
Annales 11.25.8). Also, as censor, Claudius gave 'trousered, long-haired Gauls',
who were citizens, the right to hold office in Rome and introduced a number
of them into the Senate (Lyons Tablet, elL 13.1668 col. 2, cf. Tacitus Annales
1.23-25). Although this farsighted policy led to integration and stability,
Seneca obviously mocks him for this.
We can credit the progressive but eccentric Claudius with a concept of the
unity of the empire, an empire in which the conquered, whatever their race,
profited as much as the conquerors from pax Romana. However, bigotry and
understanding are strange bedfellows at the best of times, and within the
empire, despite the wisdom of emperors such as Claudius in taking the longer
view, there was a permanent division between the conquered and their
conquerors. Racial intolerance is an insidious thread that runs throughout
human history. In this the British Empire was no better (or worse) than that of
Rome. Take, for instance, the forthright views of Cecil John Rhodes
(1853-1902), the British imperialist and industrialist who founded Rhodesia
(Zimbabwe) with the help of the Maxim machine gun:
Whites have clearly come out top ... in the struggle for existence.
Within the white race the English-speaking man has proved himself to be
the most likely instrument of the Divine plan to spread Justice, Liberty,
and Peace over the widest possible area of the planet. Therefore I shall
devote the rest of my life to God's purpose and help him to make the
world English.
C. ]. Rhodes, November 1893
Later, as the Prime Minister and virtual dictator of the Cape Colony, the
'Colonial Colossus' would speak of British dominion of the African continent
'from the Cape to Cairo'. Empires naturally create a culture of pride and pomp,
and foster the rhetoric of racial superiority. The imperial poets Virgil and
Kipling both supplied their readers with panegyrics expounding the grandeur
of imperial domain: Romans wanted the prestige of pax Romana; and Britons
could proudly boast that the sun never set on British shores.
For the British, with their nautical imagination, the Middle Sea was not
merely a segmented lake contained by three continents but the corridor to
the British Empire, a watery highway from Gibraltar to Goa. Similarly the
Romans saw the Mare nostrum as an organizing principle, albeit as
landlubbers it was buckled firmly at the narrow passage of the Pillars of
Hercules against outside intrusion. Naturally the Romans themeselves did
not just settle for the sun, the vine and the olive, the province of Britannia is
testament alone to that fact. 1 Yet the warm pulse of this expanse of blue
water and the fringe of provinces around its shores meant Mediterranean
culture circulated well beyond its outer margins.
Of course dreams of boundless empire are but dreams, the divine gift of
celestial gods and court poets. In truth world dominion rested on Rome's
military arm, whose strength and length were not indefinite. Moreover, with
its laws against the bearing of arms, pax Romana would eventually create a
state whose citizens would forget how to fight. This exemplifies the security
problem of the empire and would eventually undermine Rome's self-
appointed role as the 'world's policeman'. On the one hand, a cultural gap
and disparity of wealth between Rome (the 'First World') and barbaricum (the
'Third World') far too big to promise indefinite peace; on the other,
advantages in military technology far too small to guarantee a permanent
Roman advantage. Time confirms this pessimism. In fact on the field of battle
Rome had no secret weapon. It prevailed not through technical superiority
but by the fruit of iron discipline, dogged pertinacity, exceptional
organization and sanguine reputation. The Roman Army was always at its
best in set-piece, face-to-face encounters.
I Cf. Kipling's line: 'Dominion over palm and pine' ('Recessional' 1897). 83
Chronology
27 BC
26-25 BC
22-19 BC
20 BC
17 BC
16-13 BC
15 BC
12-9 BC
9 BC
9-7 BC
6-4 BC
AD 4
AD 6
AD 7
AD 9
AD 10-11
AD 14
AD 15-16
AD 17
AD 17-24
AD 19
AD 21
AD 26
AD 26-36
AD 28
AD 35-39
AD 37
AD 40-44
AD 42
AD 43
AD 44
AD 47
AD 48
AD 51
AD 57-63
AD 60
AD 60-61
AD 64
AD 66
AD 66-74
AD 67
AD 68
AD 68-69
AD 69
AD 69-70
84 AD 70
Octavianus takes title Augustus, 'the revered one'
Augustus campaigns in north-west Iberia
Augustus in the east
Crassus' eagles recovered from Parthians
Lollian disaster
Augustus in Gaul, Agrippa in the east
Drusus and Tiberius campaign north of the Alps - new provinces
of Raetia and Noricum
Drusus campaigns beyond the Rhine
Death of Drusus
Tiberius campaigns in Germania
~ Quinctilius Varus governor of Syria
Tiberius returns to Germania
Pannonian revolt
Varus governor of Germania
Varian disaster at Saltus Teutoburgiensis
Tiberius and Germanicus secure Rhine frontier
Death of Augustus - northern legions mutiny
Germanicus campaigns against Arminius of the Cherusci
Triumph of Germanicus
Uprising ofTacfarinas in Numidia
Deaths of Germanicus and Arminius
Rebellion of Florus and Sacrovir in Gallia Belgica
Thracian revolt
Pontius Pilate procurator of ludaea
Frisian revolt
Vitellius governor of Syria
Birth of joseph ben Matthias Uosephus)
Mauretanian revolt - suppressed by C. Suetonius Paulinus
Rebellion of Furius Camillus Scribonius, governor of Dalmatia
Claudius conquers southern part of Britannia - Vespasianus legate
of /I Augusta
Triumph of Claudius
Cn. Domitius Corbulo, governor of Germania Inferior, suppresses
Frisii
~ Ostorius Scapula, governor of Britannia, suppresses Iceni
Ostorius Scapula defeats Caratacus - Silures continue to resist
War with Parthia over Armenia - Domitius Corbulo takes Artaxata
and Tigranocerta
Suetonius Paulinus, governor of Britannia, captures Mona (Anglesey)
Uprising of Iceni under Boudica - suppressed by Suetonius Paulinus
Fire of Rome
Riots in Alexandria
jewish revolt
Vespasianus subdues Galilee - josephus surrenders
Rebellion of C. lulius Vindex, governor of Gallia Lugdunensis
Civil war - 'Year of the Four Emperors'
Battles of First and Second Cremona
Rebellion of C. lulius Civilis - suppressed by Q. Petilius Cerialis
Titus sacks Jerusalem
AD 71
AD 71-73
AD 73-74
AD 73-77
AD 83
AD 85-89
AD 86
AD 89
AD 101-02
AD 105-06
AD 114
AD 114-17
AD 115-17
Joint triumph of Vespasianus and Titus
Petilius Cerialis, governor of Britannia, defeats Brigantes
L. Flavius Silva, governor of ludaea, besieges Masada
Sex. lulius Frontinus, governor of Britannia, defeats Silures
Cn. lulius Agricola, governor of Britannia, defeats Caledonii at Mons
Graupius
War with Decebalus of Dacia
Chatti cross Rhine
Rebellion of L. Antonius Saturninus, governor of Germania Superior
Traianus' first Dacian war
Traianus' second Dacian war - Decebalus commits suicide
Rome annexes Armenia
Traianus' Parthian war
Uprising of Jewish communities in Egypt, Cyrene and Cyprus
Augustus (Imperator Caesar Augustus)
Tiberius (Ti. Caesar Augustus)
Caligula (C. Caesar Augustus Germanicus)
Claudius (Ti. Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus)
Nero (Imperator Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus
Germanicus)
Roman emperors
lulio-Claudians
27 Be-AD 14
AD 14-37
AD 37-41
AD 41-54
AD 54-68
'Year of the Four Emperors'
AD 68-69 Galba (Ser. Sulpicius Galba Imperator Caesar Augustus)
AD 69 Otho (Imperator M. Otho Caesar Augustus)
AD 69 Vitellius (A. Vitellius Augustus Germanicus Imperator)
Flavians
AD 69-79
AD 79-81
AD 81-96
Vespasianus (Imperator Caesar Vespasianus Augustus)
Titus (Imperator T. Caesar Vespasianus Augustus)
Domitianus (Imperator Caesar Domitianus Augustus)
Adoptive Emperors
AD 96-98
AD 98-117
AD 117-38
Nerva (Imperator Nerva Caesar Augustus)
Traianus (Imperator Caesar Traianus Augustus)
Hadrianus (Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus)
85
86
Ancient authors
Only the most frequently cited ancient authors are listed here. Further details
about them, and information about other sources, is most conveniently
available in The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd edition). In the following notes
Penguin denotes Penguin Classics, and Loeb denotes Loeb Classical Library.
The Loeb editions, which are published by Harvard University Press, display an
English translation of a text next to the original language. As Virginia Woolf
rightly said, 'the Loeb Library, with its Greek or Latin on one side of the page
and its English on the other, came as a gift of freedom ... the existence of the
amateur was recognised by the publication of this Library'. For the complete
index of Loeb editions you should log on to www.hup.harvard.edu/loeb.
Josephus (b. AD 37)
Josephus (T. Flavius Iosephus) was a pro-Roman historian but also a member of
the priestly aristocracy of the Jews with a largely rabbinic education. Put in
charge of Galilee by the Jerusalem leaders during the Jewish revolt of AD 66-70,
he was eventually besieged at Jotapata and taken hostage. Given Roman
citizenship and land in Iudaea, Josephus spent most of his life in or around
Rome as an advisor and historian to the Flavian emperors, Vespasianus, Titus
and Domitianus.
For centuries, the works of Josephus were more widely read in Europe than
any book other than the Bible, especially the Jewish Antiquities (Antiquitates
Iudaicae), a history of the Jewish people all the way from Adam down to the eve
of the revolt. For us, however, his Jewish War (Bellum Iudaicum) , originally
written in Aramaic but later appearing in an amplified Greek translation (Greek
had not only been the lingua franca of the east for over three centuries but was
also a language accessible to educated Romans), is an invaluable account based
on eyewitness testimony and probably the campaign diaries (commentarii) of
Vespasianus and Titus. Josephus certainly considered that they were valuable
sources for the war and, more to the point, failure to use them could have been
held against him. His flattery of father and son, especially the latter whom he
often simply addresses as Caesar, is both frequent and obvious. The Bellum
Iudaicum is available in a Penguin edition entitled The Jewish War.
Suetonius (b. c. AD 70)
A Latin biographer, Suetonius (C. Suetonius Tranquillus) was a son of the
equestrian Suetonius Laetus, a military tribune of XIII Gemina who fought on
the Othonian side at First Cremona in AD 69. From the correspondence of the
younger Pliny he appears to have attracted attention in Rome as an author and
scholar by about AD 97, and also gained experience in advocacy. Perhaps
intending to pursue the equestrian career, he secured through Pliny's patronage
a military tribunate in Britannia sometime around AD 102, which in the event
he declined to hold. Subsequently, when Pliny was governor of Bithynia-
Pontus in AD 110-12, we find him serving on his staff. It was under the
emperors Traianus and Hadrianus that Suetonius held three important posts in
the imperial administration, as a fragmentary inscription (AE 1953.73) found
at his home town of Hippo Regius (Annaba, Algeria), records. As a courtier, for
instance, he was likely to have accompanied Hadrianus to the three Gauls,
Germania Superior and Inferior, and Britannia in AD 121-22. However, for
unknown reasons he was then dismissed from office when the emperor
simultaneously deposed as praetorian prefect C. Septicius Clarus, the
gentleman Suetonius' collection of 12 imperial biographies (De vita Caesarum)
was dedicated to.
Astriking feature of the biographies is their thematic, rather than the strictly
chronological arrangement which his fellow-biographer Plutarch tended to
favour. In dealing with the lives of the first emperors, Suetonius does not claim
to write history, and there is no evidence of a broad grasp of major issues in his
works. He shows, unlike his contemporary Tacitus, little interest in great public
or political matters, unless they reflect on the behaviour of his subject.
Suetonius, as did Tacitus, wrote a lot about scandalous events and the immoral
and pleasure-seeking lifestyles of the Italian aristocrats of the time. Yet he did
try to report events fairly and did not attempt to paint every emperor as a
power-hungry tyrant who ruled at the expense of traditional Roman rights and
freedoms. He thus judges his subjects against a set of popular expectations of
imperial behaviour that had taken shape by the time his biographies were
composed. Thus Tiberius, Tacitus' bete noir, is repeatedly criticized for having
failed to live up to expectation, whereas even Nero and Domitianus, rulers on
whom Suetonius' final judgement is damning, can nevertheless be
commended for having successfully met some of their imperial responsibilities.
Suetonius' work is available in both Penguin and Loeb editions.
Tacitus (b. c. AD 56)
Born to an equestrian family in Gallia Narbonensis, perhaps at Vasio, Tacitus
(P. or C. Cornelius Tacitus) passed the early years of his life in (for us) complete
obscurity. Not even his praenomen is known with certainty. His father was
perhaps the equestrian procurator of Gallia Belgica mentioned by the elder
Pliny (Historia Naturalis 7.76) who served as an officer on the Rhine from
around AD 46 to AD 58. Studying oratory at Rome in AD 75, Tacitus was granted
the latus clavus, that is, the right to wear the broad purple stripe of senatorial
rank, by Vespasianus. Shortly thereafter, in AD 77, he married the daughter of
Cn. Iulius Agricola, a native from Forum Iulii (Frejus), a colony and naval
station on the coast of Gallia Narbonensis, perhaps while serving his initial
military service as tribunus laticlavius.
Evidently Tacitus passed quickly through the posts of the junior magistrates
of a senatorial career, because he is next attested as praetor in AD 88 (at an early
age for a novus homo). In the same year he served on the priestly board of the
XV viri sacris faciundis with Domitianus, who used his position in the college to
organize and celebrate the Secular Games. He was abroad (probably as a
provincial governor) when his father-in-law Agricola died on 23 August AD 93.
On returning to Rome after an absence of three years or more, he was the consul
suffectus in the second half of AD 97. As consul he delivered the funeral oration
for L. Verginius Rufus (Pliny Epistles 2.1.6), an honour befitting his reputation
as leading orator of the day (ibid. 7.20). In AD 100 he, along with his good
friend the younger Pliny, successfully prosecuted Marius Priscus, the former
governor of Africa (ibid. 2.11.3).
Thereafter our information on his activities is meagre. We surmise from
Pliny (ibid. 6.16.1) that Tacitus was at work on the Historiae in circa AD 106, and
the chance discovery of an inscription in Asia Minor informs us that Tacitus
reached the summit of a senatorial career, proconsulare of Asia, in AD 112/13. A
passage in the Annales (2.61.2) alluding to the extension of Roman dominion
to the Red Sea, territory first conquered during Traianus' Parthian campaign of
AD 115/16, provides a definite terminus post quem for his death. The succession
of Tiberius, which opens the Annales, seems to elude the succession of
Hadrianus in AD 117, although this is a point of contention. Whether he lived
to complete his greatest work we do not know.
With the Historiae the reader is repeatedly puzzled or irritated by the absence
of information on chronology, topography, strategy and logistics. But Tacitus
did not write according to the canons of modern historiography. His aim is to 87
88
Formed in 1972, the Ermine Street
Guard is, in every sense of the
meaning, the mother of all Roman
experimental history groups. Best
known for their portrayal of legio
XXValeria Victrix, the members
of the Guard have contributed
enormously to our knowledge
of Roman military equipment.
Here the Guard are putting on an
educational display for the general
public. (Ancient Art & Architecture)
provide a narrative that will hold the reader's attention, and so his vivid style
often reveals his own strong opinions and prejudices.
The subject matter of the Annales, for instance, emphasizes Tacitus' hatred
for the great concentration of power in the hands of the Iulio-Claudian
emperors. However, though he hated the Principate and in his writings tries to
paint every emperor as a corrupt despot, he hated civil war and anarchy even
more. He had a particularly heavy bias against Tiberius, whom he portrayed as
a sinister and cruel emperor, purging his opponents from the Senate by having
them tried for treason and executed. He showed scorn for Claudius and Nero,
and even his writings about Augustus contained some belittling innuendoes
and snide remarks. His writing is full of tales of corruption, government
scandal, and innocent people being destroyed or having their good names
ruined because of the emperor's lust for power. It was Tacitus' firm belief that
the emperor had so much power in his hands that no man could occupy the
throne without being corrupted by that power. As Lord Acton would later have
it: 'Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.' Tacitus' works are
available in both Penguin and Loeb editions.
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to Empire, London: Routledge
Maxwell, G. S., 1989, A Battle Lost: Romans and Caledonians at Mons Graupius,
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
McLeod, W., 1965, 'The range of the ancient bow', Phoenix 19: 1-14
Millar, F. G. B., 1977 (repr. 1992), The Emperor in the Roman World, London:
Duckworth
Milner, N. P., 1996 (2nd ed.), Vegetius: Epitome ofMilitary Science, Liverpool:
LiverpOOl University Press
Parker, H. M. D., 1928 (repr. 1958), The Roman Legions, Cambridge: Heffer &
Sons
Peterson, D., 1992 (repr. 2003), The Roman Legions Recreated in Colour
Photographs, Marlborough: Crowood Press
Rainbird,]. S., 1969, 'Tactics at Mons Graupius', Classical Review 19: 11-12
Rees, R. D., 2001, 'To be and not to be: Pliny's paradoxical Trajan', Bulletin of
the Institute of Classical Studies 45: 149-68
Sealey, P. R., 1997, The Boudican Revolt against Rome, Princes Risborough: Shire
Smith, R. E., 1958, Service in the Post-Marian Army, Manchester: Manchester
University Press
Speidel, M. A., 1992, 'Roman army pay scales', Journal ofRoman Studies 82:
87-106
St Joseph,]. K. S., 1978, 'The camp at Durno, Aberdeenshire and the site of
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Syme, R, 1934, 'Some notes on the legions under Augustus', Journal ofRoman
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GladU', Germania 47: 97-128
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Glossary
Aerarium militare
Agger
Ala/alae
Aquila
Aquilifer/aquiliferi
Armilia/armiIIae
As/asses
Aureus
Auxilia
Ballista/ballistae
Bucina/bucinae
Bucinator/bucinatores
Caliga/caligae
Centuria/centuriae
Centuriolcenturiones
Cingulum/cinguli
Clavicula/claviculae
Clipeus/clipi
Cohors/cohortes
Contubernium
Cornicen/cornicines
Cornicularius
Coronalcoranae
Oecurio/decuriones
Denarius/denarii
Oileetus
Ouplicarius
Equites legionis
Focale/focalis
Fossa/fossae
Gladius/gladii
Imaginifer/imaginiferi
Imago imperatoris
Imperium
Interval/um
Lancea/lancae
Legatus/legati
Legio/legiones
Librarius/librarii
military treasury
rampart or mound
cavalry 'wing'
'eagle' - standard of legio (q.v.)
'eagle-bearer' - standard-bearer who carried aquila (q.v.)
armband - military decoration
copper coin, originally worth 1/1 Oth of denarius (q.v.), but retariffed at 16 to the denarius at
the time of Gracchi
gold coin worth 25 denarii (q.v.)
auxiliary units or auxiliaries
stone-throwing torsion-spring catapult
crooked trumpet or horn used to regulate watches
musician who blew bucina (q.v.)
military boot
basic sub-unit of cohors (q.v.)
officer in command of centuria (q.v.)
sword belt
'little key' - curved extension of rampart protecting gateway
shield used by auxilia (q.v.)
basic tactical unit of legio (q.v.)
'tentful' - mess-unit of eight infantry, ten per centuria (q.v.)
musician who blew the cornu, a horn associated with the standards
junior officer responsible for clerks in principia (q.v.)
crown - military decoration generally for centuriones (q.v.) and above
corona absidionalis: crown of grass - awarded for rescuing besieged army
corona aurea: gold crown - awarded for various exploits
corona civica: crown of oak leaves - awarded for saving life of a citizen
corona muralis: mural crown in gold - awarded to first man over enemy's walls
corona val/aris: rampart crown in gold - awarded to first man over enemy's rampart
officer in command of turma (q.v.)
'ten as piece' - silver coin, now worth 16 asses (q.v.)
'choosing' - levying of troops
second-in-command of turma (q.v.)
mounted legionaries
woollen scarf
ditch
cut-and-thrust sword carried by legionaries
bearer of imago imperatoris (q.v.)
standard bearing image of emperor
power, command
open space between rear of rampart and tent lines
light spear
'deputy' - subordinate commander
principal unit of Roman army
clerk
librarius horreorum: kept granary records
librarius depositorum: collected soldiers' savings
librarius caducorum: secured belongings of those killed in action
91
92
Lorica/loricae
Miles/militis
Mille passus
OPti%ptiones
orig%rigines
Origo castris
Papilio/papilones
Pereginus/peregini
Pes/pedis
Phalera/phalerae
Pilum/pila
Pilum muralis
Porta decumana
Praefectus castrorum
Praefeaus cohortis
Praetorium
Principia
Proconsul
Pro/etarius/pro/etarii
Propraetor
Scutum/scuta
Sesterce/sestertii
Signifer/signiferi
Signum/signa
Socii
Spatha/spathae
Tabularium/tabularii
Tesserarius/tesserarii
Testudo
Tres militiae
Tribunus/tribunitribune
Triplex acies
Tuba/tubae
Tubicen/tubicenes
Turma/turmae
Umbo/umbonis
Via praetoria
Via principalis
Vexillarii
Vexillatio/vexillationes
Vexillum
Vigiles
Vitis
body armour
soldier
'one thousand paces' - Roman mile (1.48km)
second-in-command of centuria (q.v.)
origin
'born in the camp' - illegitimate sons born to soldiers
'butterfly' - tent
non-Roman citizen
Roman foot (29.59cm)
'disc' - military decoration
principle throwing weapon of legionaries
wooden stake for marching camp defences
rear gateway of camp
legio (q.v.) third-in-command responsible for logistics
commander of auxiliary cohort
originally headquarters but now commander's tent or quarters
headquarters
consul whose command was prolonged
Roman citizen of lowest order
praetor whose command was prolonged
shield carried by legionaries
brass coin worth I14th of denarius (q.v.)
bearer of a standard of centuria or turma (q.v.)
standard of centuria (q.v.)
Latin and Italian allies of Rome
cavalry sword
record-office
Junior officer responsible for sentries and work parties in centuria (q.v.)
'tortoise' - mobile formation entirely protected by roof and walls of overlapping and
interlocking scuta (q.v.)
military career-structure of equestrian order
'triple line-of-battle' - threefold battle line of Roman army
trumpet used to signal commander's orders
musician who blew tuba (q.v.)
basic sub-unit of ala (q.v.)
shield boss
road leading from praetorium (q.v.) of camp to porta praetoria
principle road extending across width of camp, from porta principalis dextra to porta
principalis sinistra
corps of veterans
detachment
standard of vexillatio (q.v.)
watchmen
centurion's twisted-vine stick
Legionary titles
Numbers identified legions, like modern army units. However, they were not
numbered sequentially or exclusively, such inconsistencies dating from the
Republic when new legions were created as occasion demanded, and this
tended to persist into the Principate. The consequence is that some legions
have the same number. Yet legions had titles, which helped to distinguish
them, that reflected their origins. The title itself may reflect one of the
following: a nickname; a god; a geographical area; a success; or an origin.
Adiutrix
Alaudae
Antiqua
Apollinaris
Augusta
Claudia
concors
Cyrenaica
Deiotariana
Equestris
(elix
Ferrata
ffdelis constans
ffrma
(ortis
Fretensis
Fulminata
Gallica
Gemina
Germanica
Hispana
Hispaniensis
Italica
Macedonica
Martia
Minervia
pia ffdelis
Primigenia
Rapax
Sabina
Scythica
Traiana
UJpia
Urbana
Viarix
'Supportive'
'Larks'
'Ancient'
'Sacred to Apollo' - this god was considered by Augustus to be
his protecting deity
'Augustan' - reconstituted by Augustus
'Claudian' - loyal to Claudius
'United'
from service in province of that name
'Deiotarian' - belonging to Deiotarus, tetrarch of Galatia
'Knightly'
'Lucky one'
'Ironclad'
'True and constant'
'Steadfast'
'Courageous'
after naval victory over Sex. Pompeius in Fretum Siculum
(straits of Messina)
'Thunderbolt-carrier'
'Gallic' - served in Gaul
'Twin' - one legion made out of two
'Germanic' - served on the Rhine
'Iberian' - served in Iberia
'Stationed in Iberia'
recruited from Italians
'Macedonian' - served in Macedonia
'Sacred to Mars'
'Sacred to Minerva'
'Loyal and true'
'First born' - of a new breed of legions
'Greedy' - in the sense of sweeping all before it
'Sabine' - raised in Sabine country
'Scythian' - served in Scythia
'Traianic' - belonging to M. Ulpius Traianus
'Ulpian' - belonging to M. Ulpius Traianus
'Urban'
'Victorious'
93
94
During the mutiny of the Pannonian legions, the mutineers wanted to
merge the three legions into one. 'But jealousy wrecked this suggestion', says
Tacitus, 'because everyone wanted it to take his own legion's name' (Annales
1.18.2). To illustrate this esprit de corps, let us take one example: legio VI Victrix
pia {idelis. Raised by Octavianus, perhaps in 41-40 BC for it is attested at his
siege of Perusia, this was the legion that hailed Galba as emperor in AD 68. The
title Victrix may refer to an outstanding victory in Iberia (this legion was
originally known as VI Hispaniensis), where it had been stationed since 30 BC,
while pia {idelis Domitiana was awarded by Domitianus, the last epithet being
dropped after his death when he suffered damnatio memoriae. In AD 122 the unit
was transferred from Germania Superior to Britannia, being based at Eburacum
(York), and was still present there at the end of the 4th century AD according to
the document known as the Notitia Dignitatum.
Command, deployment, organization and evolution
of forces in battle, describing elements of doctrine,
training, tactics and equipment
The Roman Army
of the Principate
27 BC-AD 117
Unrivalled detail
f-
Battle formations
OSPREY
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The Imperial army established
by Augustus drew heavily
on the nomenclature and
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But it was a new kind of force,
meeting all the military needs
of the empire with a standing,
professional army. Military
service was now a career,
and the loyalty of the new
army was to the emperor, as
commander-in-chief, instead
of to the Senate and the people
of Rome. This title describes
the organizational history and
development of this new army,
which conquered much of
Europe and expanded the
Roman Empire until it stretched
as far as the north of Britain
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DR NIC FIELDS started his ,career as a biochemist before joining the Royal
Marines. Having left the military, he went back to university and completed a BA and PhD in Ancient History at the University of Newcastle. He was Assistant Director at the British School at Athens, Greece, and then a lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Edinburgh. Nic is now a freelance author and researcher based in south-west France.

Battle Orders • 37

The Roman Army of the Principate 27 Be-AD 117

Nic Fields
Consultant Editor Dr Duncan Anderson • Series editors Marcus Cowper and Nikolai Bogdanovic

com ALL OTHER REGIONS Osprey Direct. PDF e-book ISBN: 978 I 84603 868 6 Editorial by lIios Publishing. 1862-) R. The Vindolanda Writing-Tablets /I (London. D. Oxford OX2 OPH. RIB Tab.Thomas. c/o Random House Distribution Center. the UK's leading woodland conservation charity. without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Aulus Appius Caius Cnaeus Decimus Lucius Marcus Mamius M'. 31 BC-AD 337: A Sourcebook (London. The Book Service Ltd. research. optical. Vindol.First oublished in Great Britain in 2009 by Osprey Publishing Ltd. UK E-mail: customerservice@ospreypublishing. Oxford.C. Sex.com) Page layout. Tomlin. UK Typeset in Monotype Gill Sans and ITC Stone Serif Index by Sandra Shotter Originated by United Graphics Pte Printed and bound in China through Bookbuilders 09 I0 I I I2 I3 I0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 I T: Ti. Roman Military Records on Papyrus (New Haven.Mich. K. Cambridge. 1988. Roman Inscriptions of Britain 2 (Stroud. NY 10016. Edgar et aI. D. no part of this publication may be reproduced.com The Woodland Trust Osprey Publishing are supporting the Woodland Trust. 1994) T: Mommsen et aI. by funding the dedication of trees. Westminster. West Way. maps and diagrams by Bounford.com. or transmitted in any form or by any means.. C. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (Berlin. Midland House. photocopying. P. Ap. /I FOR A CATALOGUE OF ALL BOOKS PUBLISHED BY OSPREY MILITARY AND AVIATION PLEASE CONTACT: NORTH AMERICA Osprey Direct. UK 443 Park Avenue South. criticism or review. MD 21 157 E-mail: uscustomerservice@ospreypublishing. stored in a retrieval system. S.com Key to first names (praenomeninis) A. Q. chemical. Fink. O.. 400 Hahn Road. The Roman Army. New York. Distribution Centre. mechanical. 1892-1916) C. UK (www. C07 7DW. Campbell. Mam. Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae (Berlin. A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Print ISBN: 978 I 84176 386 5. as permitted under the Copyright. 1888-) B. recording or otherwise. Papyri in the University of Michigan Collection (Ann Arbor. M. 1994) ILS P. Key to military symbols 0 0 ala xxxx imperial army 0 0 xxx provincial garrison 0 legio x III 0 cohors II I centuria!turma 0 •• contubernium 0(+1 0(-1 reinforced unit unit with part detached Key to unit identification Unit ~ Parent identifier ~ unit Commander 2 . 1931-) R. All rights reserved. electronic. electrical. Essex. Sp. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study. USA E-mail: info@ospreypublishing. Abbreviations AE Campbell CIL Fink L'Annee Epigraphique (Paris. Frating Green. O. Enquiries should be addressed to the Publishers. Bowman & J. Ser. Botley. L. 1995) A. Designs and Patents Act. 1971) H. Manius Publius Quintus Servius Sextus Spurius Titus Tiberius © 2009 Osprey Publishing Ltd. Colchester Road. Cn.iliospublishing. Dessau. Colchester.

a province saved Second Cremona. AD 70) • Tacitus (b. a province lost • Mancetter. AD 56) 86 Bibliography Glossary Legionary titles Index 89 91 93 95 3 . c. a battle too far 57 Pax Romana Chronology Roman emperors 81 84 Ancient authors Josephus (b.Contents Introduction Roman military organization Legion • Detachments • Auxiliaries 4 6 Weapons and equipment Helmets • Body armour • Shields • Shafted weapons • Bladed weapons 23 Command and control Legion command • Centuriate • Junior officers • Equestrian officers • Command and control in action 33 The Roman Army in battle Roman tactical doctrine and practice • Legion • Auxiliaries 44 Engineering Marching and practice camps • Forts and fortresses • Siegeworks 50 After Actium Saltus Teutoburgiensis. a throne won • Mons Graupius. c. AD 37) • Suetonius (b.

The loyalty of the new army was to the emperor.g. Military service was now a lifetime's occupation and career.3). but for 25 years (16 in the praetorians).1). and these speeches need not be judged the true record of a real debate between the two. It was the last of these republican warlords who was to emerge victorious as the first Roman emperor under the new name of Augustus. the citizen soldiers of the legions (legiones) and the non-citizens of the auxiliaries (auxilia). and then released into civilian life). in which the best way of securing the continuation of the Roman state and defence of its empire was discussed. (Fields-Carre Collection) 4 . namely following the crises in Pannonia (AD 6) and Germania (AD 9). Maecenas. and pay and service conditions were established that took account of the categories of soldier in the army: the praetorians (cohortes praetoriae). inv. Agrippa apparently advocated the retention of the traditional system (by which men would be conscripted to serve short periods. In part at least they reflect the political situation of Cassius Dio's own time and were aimed at a contemporary emperor. and neither to the Senate nor the Roman people. He decided to meet all the military needs of the empire from a standing. 2290). At the end of service there was a fixed reward. But it was new. Cassius Dio. Consequently the last five decades of the Republic were characterized by two important features: the jostling for power and status by a number of dynamic political players. carried the day. on the implementation of which the soldier could rely. which in actual fact he did on only two occasions. so that there was no general need to raise any levies through conscription (dilectus). the allies [i. No soldier himself. as commander-in-chief. 32. and despite Agrippa's contention that such an army could form a threat to the security of the empire. legiones] . AD Marble statue of Augustus as imperator. argued for 'a standing army [strati6tas athanatous in Cassius Dio's Greek] to be recruited from the citizen body [i.1. M. from 'Villa Livia' at Prima Porta (Vatican City. Officially he was addressed as princeps (e. Res Gestae Divi Augusti 13.Introduction The professionalization of the Roman Army after Marius' reforms led directly to the use and abuse of consular power by individual generals seeking to usurp the power of the Senate.17.e. reports two speeches made before Augustus by his counsellors. professional army.g. and his reign was the beginning of the Principate.27. that is the first citizen of the state. on the other hand. perhaps Caracalla (r. and men were sometimes retained even longer (e. 30. and the calamitous civil wars generated by their personal. Enlistment was not for the duration of a particular conflict. Vipsanius Agrippa and C. Dialogues were a convention of ancient historiography. The decoration of the cuirass features the symbolic return of an aquila captured by the Parthians at Carrhae (53 Be). Tacitus Annales 1.3). The army of the Principate established by Augustus drew heavily on the nomenclature and traditions of the dead Republic. Augustus was the commander-in-chief of a 'new model' army of his own making. auxilia] and the subject nations' (52. writing of the events of 29 Be. Musei Vaticani. be it selfish or altruistic.e. ambitions. Maecenas.

The cult links two concepts. Its function was to arrange the payment of bounties to soldiers. but taxation was preferable to the displacement.23.78.50 ha). namely. The management of the army. The top of the altar is hollowed out to form a focus where offerings of fruit or grain may be deposited.2). Power was protected and preserved by two things. though this could be commuted to a plot of land.000 denarii for an ordinary ranker. Seemingly as part of this same package. Augustus masterminded the creation of a military treasury (aerarium militare). a reserve). Suetonius Divus Augustus 49. The number of years that the new recruit had to serve under arms was upped to 20 years. particularly its pay and benefits. In AD 5 some alterations were made to the conditions of service. in a veteran-colony in the provinces.211-17). Augustus could brook no interference. Augustus opened the account with a large gift of money from his own funds. hence vexillarii. measuring 200 iugera (c. acrimony and ruin which had been the consequences of land settlement programmes of the civil war years.2. Augustus thus shifted a part of the cost of the empire's defence from his own purse to the citizenry at large.2) under the following year (AD 6). But the wages of serving soldiers (225 denarii per annum for an ordinary ranker) continued to be paid by the imperial purse.25. (Fields-Carre Collection) 5 . to be rewarded by a fixed cash gratuity. to be followed by a four-year period 'under the flag' (sue vexillo. some 170 million sestertii according to his own testimony (Res Gestae Divi Augusti 17.25. soldiers and money. after he had returned from Gaul. Nevertheless in 13 Be. And so the security and survival of the emperor and his empire were now the sale responsibility of the emperor and his soldiers. National Museums of Scotland). or divided loyalties there. a lump sum the equivalent of over 13 years' pay (Cassius Dio 54. but recorded by Cassius Dio (55. The introduction of these taxes caused uproar. Tacitus Annales 1. with a further period (not specified.6). but in the longer term the treasury's revenues were to come from two new taxes imposed from this time onwards on Roman citizens: a five per cent tax on inheritances and a one per cent tax on auction sales in Rome. Altar (RIB 2092) dedicated to Disciplina Augusti by soldiers of cohors /I Tungrorum milliaria equitata stationed at Birrens-Blatobulgium (Edinburgh.6. but probably at least five years) in reserve. The cash gratuity was now fixed at 3. was from the start one of what Tacitus calls 'the secrets of ruling' (Annales 1.1).2. 55. cf. obedience to the emperor and military efficiency. a corps of veterans. Augustus ordained that terms of service in the legions should in future be fixed at 16 years.

The literary sources are often obscure or contradictory on the details of unit structures. 6 Relief showing four legionaries (Saintes. and looked on the army as a career. and were renewed by constant supplementation. Basic military pay was not the road to riches. but there was always the chance of bounties and other cash gifts. the legions offered a roof over their head. Legion Unsurprisingly. The individual legions (and units of the auxilia) remained permanently in commission with the same numerals and titles. For such men. (Fields-Carre Collection) . musee archeologique.Roman military organization A great body of information on the unit size and organization of the Roman Army has been amassed by the patient work of several generations of scholars. but much information has been derived from epigraphic and papyrological record as well as that of archaeology. food in their bellies and a regular income in coin. As a result a fairly coherent picture of the army's structure has emerged. The soldier served for an extended period. the army seems to have been most attractive as a definite career to the poorest citizens. E 1344 MAS-PB).A proper financial structure ensured the payment of wages.

Gallia Narbonensis. Gallia The main unit of the Roman Army. (Fields-Carre Collection) 7 . And so the legions became permanent units with their own numbers and titles and many were to remain in existence for centuries to come. and he enjoyed a superior status too.000 men strong (all ranks) and composed of Roman citizens.475). Yet to many people in the empire who lived at subsistence level. during the lulio-Claudian era. but also on an everyday basis was subject to the army's brutal discipline. known as the equites legionis and 120 strong. the legio was divided into ten cohortes. north of Saintes. He died age 35 having served for 15 years. As the 1st century AD progressed. 49. Overall a Legio soldier's life was more secure than that of an itinerant labourer. Tombstone of Lucius Autius. A soldier ran the risk of being killed or crippled I III by battle or disease.and the certainty of a discharge bonus.Autius was a miles of legio XliII Gemini. Legions were probably in the order of 5. found at Camp d'Aulney. all of which. Born in Forum lulii (Frejus). drawn initially from Italy (especially the north). but increasingly from the provinces. many recruits in the west were coming from the Iberian provinces. the well-fed soldier with his ordered existence in his wellbuilt and clean camp must have seemed comfortably off. Legionaries were mostly volunteers. musee archeologique. From Augustus onwards the emperor commanded 25 legions in total (28 before the Varian disaster of AD 9). Attached to a legio was a body of mounted legionaries. he thus did not complete the statutory 25 years. dated post revolt AD 21 (Saintes. son of Lucius. were officially 480 strong. Of course we must remember the harsher side of such a career.

Legia Legio deployed in triplex acies J.I ~ Cohors Centuria deployed in four ranks ~nmriottSign~r tt VI I VII II VIII III tt Villi 1111 X V t Cohors prima Primus pilus Aquilifer Imaginifer -----------------Antiqua legio of Vegetius 8 .

cohors V on the left. 9 . It would be in this pair of cohortes that we would expect to find the newest recruits to the legio. each with a centurio. I I legion command Legatus Tribunus iaticiavius Praefectus castrorum 5 Tribuni angusticiavii When deployed for battle. the ten cohortes of a legio still formed up in the traditional triplex ades. In the centre was cohors V/II with selected soldiers and cohors X on the left also with good soldiers. In the front line the cohors prima was placed on the right. and his description (2. though a two-line battle formation might be adopted. cohors /II in the centre. and finally three more at the rear. cohortes VII and Villi coming between. the regular cohors was subdivided into six centuriae of 80 men.4-14) probably reflects the legio of our period. The antiqua legio ofVegetius (2. the position of honour. which he says should consist of the finest of the young men. then a line of three. In the second line on the right was cohors VI. while between them were cohortes II and 1111.6) of cohortes deployed for battle gives us some indication of their relative importance.Cohortes II-X III cg] ~ The basic tactical unit of the Roman army. with four in the front line.

Cohors prima

$
~(+)
At some date, probably at the beginning of the Flavian era, the cohors prima, the most senior, was increased in size from quingenaria to mil/iaria, and the number of centuriones in it reduced from six to five. Thus the cohors prima had only five centuriae, but of double the number of men. It seems logical to assume that the cohors prima included the legion's veterans.
I

Narbonensis, and Noricum, and in the east from the Greek cities of Macedonia and Asia. Thus by the end of the century the number of Italians serving in the legions was small. Statistics based on nomenclature and the origins of individuals show that of all the legionaries serving in the period from Augustus to Caligula, some 65 per cent were Italians, while in the period from Claudius to Nero this figure was 48.7 per cent, dropping even further to 21.4 per cent in the period from Vespasianus to Traianus. Thereafter, the contribution of Italians to the manpower of the legions was negligible (Webster 1979: 108). It must be emphasized, however, that these statistics represent all legionaries in the empire. In reality, there was a dichotomy in recruitment patterns between the western and eastern provinces, with legions in the west drawing upon Gaul, Iberia and northern Italy, while those stationed in the east very quickly harnessed the local resources of manpower. Part of Caesar's consular series formed in 48 BC, III Gallica had been serving in the east since Philippi (42 BC). The legion had fought well under Marcus Antonius against the Parthians (36 BC), as it was to do again under Cn. Domitius Corbulo (AD 57-63), and had been part of the garrison of Syria as early as 4 BC, if not before (Plutarch Marcus Antonius 42.11, Tacitus Annales 15.6, 25-26, Josephus Bellum Iudaicum 2.38). With the Flavian forces at Second Cremona, a battle fought through the hours of darkness, at dawn the soldiers of III Gallica turned in true eastern manner to salute the rising sun. The Vitellian army thought they were hailing reinforcements and fled (Tacitus Historiae 3.24.3-25.1, Cassius Dio 65.14.3). Recruiting locally (e.g. Tacitus Annales 13.7.1, 35.3), the legion had obviously acquired a tradition of worship of an oriental solar deity, perhaps Iuppiter Optimus Maximus Dolichenus, a -warlike solar Baal directly associated with the creation of weapons with iron. After Cremona it was billeted for a time at Capua, and then stationed once more in Syria. But this legion was not an anomaly. The men of Vitellius' Rhine legions, marching through northern Italy en route to Rome several months before Second Cremona, seemed to the local residents an uncouth and foreign band (Tacitus Historiae 2.21, cf. 4.65). An inscription (ILS 2304) from near Alexandria, dated AD 194, records the names of 46 soldiers who have just received their honourable discharge. Of the 41 whose origins are mentioned, 24 of these give the camp as their domicile, or more precisely 'born in the camp' (origo castris). It is likely that most of them were illegitimate sons born to soldiers from local women living in the nearby canabae, that is, the extramural settlement associated with the garrison. Legions consisted of ten cohorts (cohortes) , with six centuries (centuriae) of 80 men in each cohort, apart from the first cohort (cohors prima), which from AD 70 or thereabouts was double strength, that is five centuries of 160 men.
Centuria

10

The basic sub-unit of the Roman Army, a centurio was divided into ten contubernia, or 'tentfuls'. Each contubernium consisted of eight men who messed and slept together, sharing a tent on campaign and a pair of rooms in a barrack block. In the period from Augustus to Nero, a legio had 60 centuriae. This number was then reduced to 59, with five double-strength centuriae in the prima cohors and 54 standard centuriae in the other nine cohortes.

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On the field of battle each centuria usually fought in four ranks, with one metre frontage for each file and two metres depth for each rank. This gave ample room for the use of pi/urn and g/adius. The number of ranks could be doubled if extra solidity was required. In fact a convenient march formation was an eight-man wide column (Le. one contuberniurn), and this only needed a right wheel, march to the flank, halt, front and double files to become a fighting formation. This graphic chart illustrates a centuria /egionis.

II

Commanded by a centurion (centurio) and his second in command (optio) , a standard-size century (centuria) was divided into ten eight-man sub-units (contubernia) , each contubernium sharing a tent on campaign and pair of rooms in a barrack block, eating, sleeping and fighting together. Much like small units in today's regular armies, this state of affairs tended to foster a tight bond between 'messmates' (contubernales). Male bonding would explain why many soldiers (milites) preferred to serve their entire military career in the ranks despite the opportunities for secondment to specialized tasks and for promotion. Nonetheless, a soldier (miles) who performed a special function was excused fatigues, which made him an immunis, although he did not receive any extra pay (Digesta 50.6.7). Finally there was a small force of 120 horsemen (equites legionis) recruited from among the legionaries themselves. These equites acted as messengers, escorts and scouts, and were allocated to specific centuries rather than belonging to a formation of their own. Thus the inscription (RIB 481) on a tombstone from Deva (Chester) describes an eques of legio II Adiutrix pia fidelis as belonging to the centuria of Petronius Fidus. Citizen cavalry had probably disappeared after Marius' reforms, and certainly was not in evidence in Caesar's legions. However, apart from a distinct reference to 120 cavalry of the legion in Josephus (Bellum Iudaicum 3.68), they seem not to have been revived as part of the Augustan reforms.

Detachments
When territory was added to the empire, a garrison had to be put together to serve in its defence. New legions were sometimes raised, but normally these green units were not themselves intended for service in the new province. So when an invasion and permanent occupation of Britannia became a hard possibility under Caligula, two new legions, XV Primigenia and XXII Primigenia, were formed in advance. Their intended role was as replacements for experienced legions earmarked to join the invasion force: XV Primigenia to release legio XX from Novaesium (Neuss), and XXII Primigenia to release XlIII Gemina from Mogontiacum (Mainz). The invasion force that eventually sailed for Britannia in the summer of AD 43 consisted of XX and XlIII Gemina, along with II Augusta, which had been at Argentoratum (Strasbourg), this camp was now left vacant, and VIllI Hispana from Siscia (Sisak) in Pannonia (Tacitus Annales 14.32.6). Nevertheless, transfers of legions to different parts of the empire could leave long stretches of frontier virtually undefended, and wholesale transfers became unpopular as legions acquired local links. An extreme case must be that of II Augusta. Part of the invasion army of AD 43, this legion was to be stationed in the province for the whole time Britannia was part of the empire. As mentioned above, many recruits were the illegitimate sons of serving soldiers or veterans, that is to say, origo castris. Therefore, the custom developed of sending not an entire legion to deal with emergencies, but detachments drawn from the various legions of a province.

12

The erection of a temple to Mercury is recorded on this altar (RIB 2148) from Castlecary, Antonine Wall (Edinburgh, National Museums of Scotland). Dedicated by soldiers (milites) of legio VI Victrix, they give their origines as Italy and the province of Noricum. By the time this was erected in the mid-2nd century AD, the number of Italians joining the legions had fallen to below one per cent (Fields-Carre Collection)

Antonine Wall (Edinburgh. Recruited from a wide range of warlike peoples who lived just within or on the periphery of Roman control. Trained to the same standards of discipline as the legions. they are like weapons and armour. during his operations in Armenia. flanked by his two sons. at least from the time of Claudius. whose army was retreating posthaste out of Armenia (Tacitus Annales 15. then stationed at the Euphrates crossing at Zeugma. two cohorts) from each of his three Syrian legions (III Gallica. only to be used in war' This sculptural relief of three legionaries was found at Croy Hill. paid no taxes at all. It was probably the upper part of a tombstone showing a father. (Fields-Carre Collection) 13 . on the lower Rhine. but 'reserved for battle. with Gauls. National Museums of Scotland). the auxilia were freeborn non-citizens (peregrini) who. named from the square flag. Tacitus tells us that the Batavi. vexillum. Until the creation of field armies in the late empire. Thracians and Germans in heavy preponderance. VI Ferrata and X Fretensis) to the succour of Caesennius Paetus. which identified them. Auxiliaries Under Augustus the rather heterogeneous collection of auxiliary units (auxilia) serving Rome was completely reorganized and given regular status within the new standing army. these vexillationes were the method of providing temporary reinforcements to armies for major campaigns.8-17). the men were long-service professionals like the legionaries and served in units that were equally permanent.000 men (Le. Thus Domitius Corbulo received a vexillatio from X Fretensis. the deceased. Later he was to take three vexillationes of 1.Detachments from legions operating independently or with other detachments were known as vexillationes. All three presumably served in legio VI Victrix. received full Roman citizenship on honourable discharge after completion of their 25 years under arms. and illustrate the notion of recruits being drawn from those who gave their domicile as origo castris.

.1 111.••• 1 .Ala DUPliC8ritl • __ lIflflflll i~ i i i i i i ••••••• 11111111111111 .1• 11...••• 1 .••• 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 14 l.1• 11.••• 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 •• • ••••••• 11111111111111 .1• 11.••• 1 .1• 11.••• 1 ..1.--.1 • 11.-111.1•111 •• • 1 • 1 • 1 • 1 • 1 • .••• 1 .••• 1 .1• 11.••• 1 .••• 1 .1 111.••• 1 .1 • 11.----- praefe_ctusequitum _ _ .-111 •• • 1 • 1 • 1 • 1 III III __ " fI fI l!Ji i i i i i Turma .••• 1 ..1 • 11.••• 1 .••• 1 .1• 11.1.

1•• 11. each centuria was led by a centurio who was assisted by an optio.••• 1 . but into turmae. An ala would be either of 512 cavalrymen in 16 turmae (quingenaria).••11 . a prefect (praefectus cohortis) commanded it. However.1••111. not into centuriae. or of 768 cavalrymen in 24 turmae (milliaria). This graphic chart illustrates _ _ _ _ _ _ analamil/iaria. later praefectus alae) commanded both types. however.••11 .1. 15 . 1.••• 1 . • • • • f f f f f .1 •111.- f f f f peditata-qUingena-ria The cOhor-s was clearly based on the legionary cohortes II-X as it consisted of six centuriae each 80 men strong though unlike a legionary cohort.Cohors peditata quingenaria III • • •~/I ~ •• /III • • •• I L--. Under him.-111.1••111 1 • ••••• tI~1I . a prefect of cavalry (praefectus equitum. signifer and tesserarius.••11 1 " 1 " " The ala was subdivided.

Cohors peditata milliaria Centuria ti 16 ti ti ti ti Tribunus cohortis t .

This graphic chart illustrates a cohors peditata milliaria. ti ti ti At full strength. was of ten centuriae each 80 men strong. unlike the double-strength centuries of the prima cohors of a legion. Again. The smaller cohors was called quingenaria (nominally 500) and the larger milliaria (nominally 1. each centuria was led by a centurio who was assisted by an optio.000). a total of 800 men under the command of a tribune (tribunus cohortis). the cohors peditata was either of 480 men (six centuries) or 800 men (ten centuries). 17 . signi(er and tesserarius.Cohors peditata milliaria ~ I I The cohors peditata mil/iaria.

Cohors equitata quingenaria I I c><1lh. Take the members of cohors II Tungrorum for instance. which was likewise divided into ten contubernia. an equestrian officer on the second step of the tres militiae. Valerius Genialis tells us that he was a trooper in ala I Thracum. As expected. the senior of whom was ranked as a decurio = 18 princeps. led to a change in this policy. He also remarks of a cohors Sugambrorum under Tiberius. and his threepart name that he was a Roman citizen. In AD 69. 'five-hundred strong') or. even if they enlisted new recruits from where they were stationed. Known as cohortes peditata. when Vitellius marched into Rome.2.4) although fighting far from its Germanic homeland in Thrace. it did stop the practice of keeping units with so continuous an ethnic identity close to their homelands. The epitaph of Sex. . these infantry units had six centuries with 80 soldiers to each if they were quingenaria. However. or if milliaria had ten centuries of 80 soldiers each. a total of 800 infantrymen and 256 cavalrymen (10 x 80 + 8 x 32 = 1. units were being kept up to strength by supplements from the province where they were now serving or areas adjacent to it. Further information concerning these tribal levies comes from Tacitus' account of the civil war. 800 strong (milliaria. ~ Cohors equitata milliaria The cohors equitata mi/liaria consisted of ten centuriae and eight turmae. Such units retained their ethnic identities and names.2). served in a Thracian cavalry unit stationed in Britannia and styled himself Roman. From him (Historiae 1. Each turma was commanded by a decurio.056). with the mutiny of a large proportion of the auxilia serving on the Rhine. from around AD 70. a total of 512 cavalrymen (16 x 32 512). a total of 480 infantrymen and 128 cavalrymen (6 x 80 + 4 x 32 = 608).8. As in the legions. So. But it adds that he was a 'Frisian tribesman' (RIB 109).47. I ~ (Germania 29). 11) we hear of eight cohortes and one ala.89. I Ala quingenaria The ala quingenaria consisted of 16 turmae.59. A cohors equitata mil/iaria was regularly commanded by a tribunus cohortis. a centurion and an optio commanded a century. as 'savage as the enemy in its chanting and clashing of arms' (Annales 4. Under the Iulio-Claudian emperors it was quite common for such units to be stationed in or near the province where they were first raised. nearly 5.000 warriors from the tiny region of Batavia. serving Rome at anyone time.12. Genialis came from the lower Rhine. Although the Roman high command did not abandon local recruiting. Annales 2. 'one-thousand strong'). who was an equestrian officer on the first step of the tres mi!itiae. who had been originally raised from among the Tungri who inhabited the north-western fringes of the Arduenna Silva (Ardennes Forest) in Gallia Belgica. Auxiliary cohorts were either 480 strong (quingenaria. by the late 1st century AD. the events of AD 68/69.A cohors equitata quingenaria was regularly commanded by a praefectus cohortis. his army also included 34 cohortes 'grouped according to nationality and type of equipment' (Historiae 2.27. 66.The cohors equitata quingenaria consisted of six centuriae and four turmae. 4.

6581).the horsemen of the alae provided a fighting arm in which the Romans were not so adept. As well as a lancea in his right hand. cf. Britannia. if they were quingenaria (512 total).3) commanded by a decurio and his second-in-command the duplicarius. had only one in its garrison.Gauls. The low-cut relief depicts a triumphant auxiliary trooper riding down four naked warriors. Note the detail of his caligae. the cohortes equitatae.Low-cut relief decorating a column base from the principia of MainzMogontiacum showing an auxiliary infantryman with oval clipeus and Cool us helmet (Mainz. Mittelrheinisches Landesmuseum). National Museums of Scotland). or ten centuries of 80 men and eight turmae of 30 troopers 19 . following Hyginus (26-27). CIL 3.Antonine Wall (Edinburgh. or if milliaria 24 turmae (768 total). his spatha is carried in the unorthodox position on the right swinging from a wide baldric. each with 30 troopers (Fink 80. Iberians and Thracians were preferred . it originally denoted the allies (socii) posted on the flanks) are thought to have consisted of 16 turmae (Hyginus 16. Drawn from peoples nurtured in the saddle . I ). Additionally there were mixed foot/horse units. to have six centuries of 80 men and four turmae of 30 troopers if cohors equitata quingenaria (608 total). for example. cf. Their organization is less clear. (Fields-Carre Collection) The left-hand panel of the Bridgeness distance slab (No. (Fields-Carre Collection) Cavalry units known as alae ('wings'. Arrian Ars Tactica 18. Germans. The latter units were rare. he carries two spares in his left. Equipped with what appears to be an oval clipeus. but usually assumed.

"if tD~UrlO Turma t t • ti 20 L .- • ti • ti Praefecws cohoros _ ti t .. ..Cohors equitata quingenaria Duplicarius jI.

a total of 768 cavalrymen (24 x 32 = 768). were especially suited to garrison and local policing activities. Each turma was commanded by a decurio. the infantry century commanded by a centurio. Though these cavalrymen were not as well mounted as those serving in an ala. This graphic chart illustrates a cohors equitata quingenaria. with their combination of foot and horse in a ratio of about four to one. CMlurio t-t Centuria Signifer The cohors equitata was a mixed cohort based on the centuria.Ala milliaria The ala milliaria consisted of 24 turmae. and the turma. the senior of whom was ranked as a decurio princeps. which consisted of six centuriae and four turmae. the cohortes equitatae. 21 . the cavalry troop commanded by a decurio.

4. but more numerous were the horsemen of the cohortes equitatae. but they performed much of the day-to-day patrolling. It may be worth noting here that this Tiberian unit was recruited from the Ubii. or as well mounted as their brothers of the alae.5. Organized. cf. and the ala milliaria 768 cavalrymen. . An inscription.36.056 total). a Germanic tribe distinguished for its loyalty to Rome (Tacitus Germania 28).The basic sub-unit of the Roman cavalry. 8. which is probably the earliest example of this type of unit. Each turma was commanded by a decurio and his second-in-command Turmo a duplicarius. mentions a praefectus cohortis Ubiorum peditum et equitum. 'prefect of a cohort of Ubii. This meant the ala quingenaria had 512 cavalrymen. foot and horse' (ILS 2690). disciplined and well trained. Tacitus Germania 6). the pride of the Roman cavalry were obviously the horsemen of the alae. operating in pairs (Caesar Bellum Gallicum 7.65. dated to the reign of Tiberius. at full strength the turma consisted of 32 men. In Gaul Caesar had employed Germanic horse-warriors who could fight in conjunction with foot-warriors. Having served for some time as infantrymen before being upgraded and trained as cavalrymen. these troopers were not as highly paid. 22 if cohors equitata milliaria (1. policing and escort duties.

however.g. the Cool us helmet started to replace the Montefortino pattern that had been commonly worn by legionaries of Caesar's legions. British Museum. a large neck-guard to protect from blows to Full-size manikin of an auxiliary trooper (Cirencester. (Fields-Carre Collection) 23 . The model is also wearing a Gallic-type mail shirt with shouldercape. were relegated to inferior grades of soldier. With its larger neck-guard and the addition of a brow-guard. bronze ones were often 'spun' on a revolving former (a shaped piece of wood or stone) from annealed bronze sheet. Imperial Gallic). it continued to be used. It may be said with truth of Roman arms that as long as a piece remained in serviceable condition. P&E 1950 7-61). helmets in particular. Coolus. necessitating the continued use of material that was of considerable age. were made of iron or copper alloy (both bronze and brass are known). improvements in equipment took place relatively slowly. the main features were the skull-shaped bowl. even if certain older items. Whatever the material or type (e. of Celtic inspiration. but cheaper to work into a helmet: whereas iron helmets could only be beaten into shape.Weapons and equipment As with all professional. Note the spatha hangs at the right hip. Corinium Museum). Helmets Roman helmets. commonly shaped as simulated ears. Bronze was a more expenSive metal. state-sponsored armies.A characteristic feature of cavalry helmets is the extension of the cheek-pieces to cover the ears. (Fields-Carre Collection) Bronze Coolus type IE' helmet thought to have been found in the Thames (London.

Body armour The Romans employed three main types of body armour: mail (lorica hamata). vital in a cavalry melee when the two sides soon become intermingled. This piece dates to the end of the Ist century AD and probably belonged to a cavalryman stationed at the fort.. Each ring was connected to 24 ... reaching down to close to the shoulders. The helmet invariably left the face and ears exposed.. Also the nape-guard was very deep. Apart from making the wearer more comfortable. Each scale has four side-link holes and one lacing hole at the top. of the upper part of the human frame .. This type of garment is made of thick sheep's wool felt to the measure . the Romans]. among the many things. an amateur military theoretician writing in the late 4th century AD. One illustration on Trajan's Column (Scene cxxviii) depicts two dismounted troopers on sentry duty outside a headquarters who appear to have removed their mail-shirts to expose the padded garment. National Museums of Scotland). which defended against downward blows to the face. breastplate). Often shaped as simulated ears. which seems to be a padded garment of linen stuffed with wool. (Fields-Carre Collection) Lorica hamata Mail was normally made of iron rings. cavalry helmets had extensions of their cheekpieces to cover the ears. but not wide. which . since the soldier needed to see and hear to understand and follow battlefield commands.and a brow-guard. they devised for use in war. Bronze scales from NewsteadTrimontium (Edinburgh..these were hinged so they could move freely . since this would have made the rider likely to break his neck if he fell from his horse.. the extra protection to the face was clearly considered to be more important than some loss of hearing. Soldiers often punched or scratched their names and those of their centurions onto their helmets to prevent mistaken ownership or indeed theft. '. The site itself has yielded no fewer than 346 scales to date. cheek-pieces to protect the sides of the face . this extra layer complemented the protective values of each type of armour. prescribed also the thoracomachus to counteract the weight and friction of armour. All body armour would have been worn over some kind of padded garment and not directly on top of the tunic. and helped to absorb the shock of any blow striking the armour. Unlike infantry helmets. Greek thorax. a term coined during the Renaissance)... on average about one millimetre thick and three to nine millimetres in external diameter.the neck. The cavalry helmet. describes the virtues of such a garment: 'The ancients [Le. therefore. The author himself probably coined the term thoracomachus (cf. scale (lorica squamata) and segmented (lorica segmentata. The anonymous author of the De rebus bellicis. protected equally well against blows to the side and the back of the head.

of which there were two types. each one passing through the two rings directly above and two directly below . The wearer's shoulders were reinforced with 'doubling'. This weakness was overcome. The armour consisted of some 40 overlapping. wired to their neighbours horizontally and then sewn in overlapping rows to linen or leather backing. Lorica squamata Scale armour was made of small plates. in a form of a shouldercape. Mail offered reasonable protection. one to five centimetres in length. and the main strength of this protection came from the overlap of scale to scale. a hazardous aspect of which many cavalrymen must have been acutely aware when engaging infantry. The second type required no backing leather. knotted in front. the legionary would wear a metal studded apron hung from a wide leather belt (cingulum). In addition. being neither as strong nor as flexible. Lorica segmentata This was the famous laminated armour that features so prominently on the spiral relief of Trajan's Column. Round the neck was worn a woollen scarf ((ocale). the bands sliding over one another. Concerning its origins. as well as its horizontal. when a new form of semi-rigid cuirass was introduced where each scale.one riveted ring being inter-linked with four punched rings. and a pair of curved shoulder-pieces. which would otherwise be carried entirely by the shoulders. making this the earliest known example of this type of armour. whilst the wearing of a belt helped to spread its considerable weight. especially if tinned. A serious deficiency lies in the fact that such defences could be quite readily pierced by an upward thrust of sword or spear. it was similarly used throughout our period and proved particularly popular with horsemen and officers as this type of armour. It was hinged at the back. fitting more closely to the wearer's body than other types of armour. which protected the belly and groin. requiring patience rather than craftsmanship. One had comparatively narrow shoulder 'straps'. As the bands overlapped it allowed the wearer to bend his body. of copper alloy. Apart from those to cavalry.it was extremely laborious to make. hooks and laces at the front. Part of a lorica segmentata was found at the site of the Varian disaster. Each row was arranged to overlap the one below by a third to a half the height of the scales. enough to cover the vulnerable stitching. of a relatively large dimension. In this respect it was comfortable. it was very heavy (lO-lSkg) . which also show the mail-shirt split at the hips to enable the rider to sit a horse. A mail-shirt was flexible and essentially shapeless. since these fighters are known to have worn a form of articulated protection for the limbs. and was very simple to repair. and a second pattern. one theory suggests that it was inspired by gladiatorial armour.such armour was popular. The armour was strengthened with back and front plates below the neck. and while it afforded complete freedom of movement to the wearer. horizontal curved bands of iron articulated by internal straps. or occasionally of iron. The shoulder-cape is indicated on numerous grave markers belonging to cavalrymen. which helped to spread the force of a blow. The scales themselves were thin.four others. which allowed the shoulder-cape to move more easily. but could be penetrated by a strong thrust or an arrow fired at effective range. being simply drawn around the wearer's shoulder girdle and fastened with S-shaped breast-hooks. Though scale was inferior to mail. Although mail had two very considerable drawbacks . most of the funerary monuments that depict scale armour belong to centurions. Scale could be made by virtually anyone. and fastened with buckles. certainly by the 2nd century AD. probably derived from earlier Celtic patterns. could be polished to a high sheen. 25 . neighbours. was wired to its vertical. to prevent the metal plates from chafing the skin.

It was superior to mail with regard to ease of manufacture and preservation, but most particularly in view of its weight, this could be as little as S.Skg, depending on the thickness of the plate used. It was also more resistant to much heavier blows than mail, preventing serious bruising and providing better protection against a sharp pointed weapon or an arrow. Its main weakness lay in the fact that it provided no protection to the wearer's arms and thighs. Also full-scale, working reconstructions of lorica segmentata have shown that the multiplicity of copper-alloy buckles, hinges and hooks, and leather straps, which gave freedom of movement, were surprisingly frail. It may have been effective against attacking blows or in impressing the enemy, but with its many maintenance problems we can understand why lorica segmentata never became standard equipment in the Roman Army.

Shields
Legionaries carried a large dished shield (scutum), which had been oval in the republican period but was now rectangular in shape. Besides making it less

26

Reconstruction of a 'cut-down'-style scutum in use by Augustus' time, exterior view (Caerleon, National Roman Legion Museum). The face was decorated with the unit's insignia - either in applied panels or painted. However, it is not clear whether the entire legion shared a common shield device, or whether each cohort was distinguished in some way, perhaps by colour. (Fields-Carre Collection)

burdensome, the shortening of the scutum at top and bottom was probably due to the introduction into the army of new combat techniques, such as the famous Roman 'tortoise' (testudo) , a mobile formation entirely protected by a roof and walls of overlapping and interlocking scuta (e.g. Josephus Bellum Iudaicum 3.273). On the other hand, auxiliaries, infantrymen and horsemen alike, carried a flat shield (clipeus) , with a variety of shapes (oval, hexagonal, rectangular) recorded. Shields, scuta and clipi equally, were large to give their bearer good protection. To be light enough to be held continually in battle, however, shield-boards were usually constructed of double or triple thickness plywood made up of thin strips of birch or plane wood held together with glue. The middle layer was laid at right angles to the front and back layers. Covered both sides with canvas and rawhide, they were edged with copper-alloy binding and

Reconstruction of an oval clipeus, the typical flat shield carried by auxiliary infantrymen and cavalrymen alike (Cirencester, Corinium Museum).An oval clipeus was only slightly lighter than a cylindrical scutum, its greater height compensating for the latter's greater width. (Fields-Carre Collection)

27

Reconstruction of a pi/urn (Caerleon, National Roman Legion Museum). Instead of having the whole business end tempered, the tempering was confined to the pyramidal iron head. This ensured that the iron shank remained quite soft and liable to buckle and bend under the weight of the wooden shaft. (Fields-Carre Collection)

had a central iron or copper-alloy boss (urnbo), a bowl-shaped protrusion covering a horizontal handgrip and wide enough to clear the fist of the bearer. When not in use shields were protected from the elements by leather shieldcovers; plywood can easily double in weight if soaked with rain. Oiled to keep it both pliant and water resistant, the cover was tightened round the rim of the shield by a drawstring. It was not unusual for it to have some form of decoration, usually pierced leather applique-work stitched on, identifying the bearer's unit. A cavalryman had the luxury of carrying his shield obliquely against the horse's flank (ibid. 3.96), slung from the two side horns of the saddle and sometimes under the saddlecloth (Trajan's Column scenes v, xlii, xlix, lxxxix, civ).

Shafted weapons
Pilum

Since the mid-3rd century AD the pilurn had been employed by legionaries in battle as a short-range shock weapon; it had a maximum range of 30m or thereabouts, although probably it was discharged within 15m of the enemy for maximum effect Gunkelmann 1991: 188). By our period the pilurn had a pyramidal iron head on a long, untempered iron shank, some 60-90cm in length, fastened to a one-piece wooden shaft, which was generally of ash. The head was designed to puncture shield and armour, the long iron shank passing through the hole made by the head. Once the weapon had struck home, or even if it missed and hit the ground, the soft iron shank tended to buckle and bend under the weight of the shaft. With its aerodynamic qualities destroyed, it could not be effectively thrown back, while if it lodged in a shield, it became extremely difficult to remove (Caesar Bellurn Gallicurn 1.25.3). Put simply, the pilurn would either penetrate flesh or become useless to the enemy. Modern experiments have shown that a pilurn, thrown from a distance of 5m, could pierce 30mm of pinewood or 20mm of plywood (Bishop & Coulston 1993: 48). Continuing the practice of the late Republic, there were two fixing methods at the start of our period, the double-riveted tang and the simple socket reinforced by an iron collet. With regards to the tanged pilurn, however, there is iconographical evidence, such as the Cancellaria relief and the Adamklissi monument, to suggest that a bulbous lead weight was now added under the pyramid-shaped wooden block fixing the shank to the shaft. Presumably this development was to enhance the penetrative capabilities of the pilurn by concentrating even more power behind its small head, but, of course, the increase in weight would have meant a reduction in range. Lancea Auxiliary foot and horse used a light spear (lancea) as opposed to the pilurn. Approximately 1.8m in length, it was capable of being thrown further than a pilurn, though obviously with less effect against armoured targets, or retained in the hand to thrust over-arm as shown in the cavalry tombstones of the period. Even though such funerary carvings usually depict troopers either carrying two lanceae or grooms (calones) behind them holding spares, Josephus claims (Bellurn Iudaicurn 3.96) Vespasianus' eastern cavalry carried a quiver containing three or more darts with heads as large as light spears. He does not say specifically where the quiver was positioned but presumably it was attached to the saddle. Arrian (Ars Tactica 40.10-11) confirms this in his description of an equestrian exercise in which horsemen were expected to throw as many as 15, or, in exceptional cases 20 light spears, in one run. Presumably infantrymen carried more than one lancea; a low-cut relief recovered from the site of the fortress at Mainz (Mogontiacum) depicts an auxiliary infantryman brandishing one in his right hand with two more held behind his clipeus. Analysis of the remains of wooden shafts shows that ash and hazel were commonly used.

28

First was the long-pointed 'Mainz' type. probably during the early part of Claudius' reign. This pattern was shorter than its predecessor. Whereas the 'Mainz' type weighed between 1. which they called the gladius Hispaniensis ('Iberian sword').Selection of Roman iron spearheads from Roman Britain.5cm wide and short triangular point. the one succeeding the other. a shortpointed type that replaced it.6kg. to help with counter-balance. doubleedged Iberian weapon. and a large spherical pommel.2 and 1. Carried by auxiliary infantrymen and cavalrymen alike. Based on gladii found at Pompeii and on several sites along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. being between 42 and 55cm long. whose blade alone could measure 69cm in length and six centimetres in width (Connolly 1997: 49-56). usually of wood or ivory. These have tubular shanks and sockets to permit riveting to shafts. Ulbert (1969) has been able to show that there were two models of gladius. (Ancient Art & Architecture) Bladed weapons Gladius Back in the 3rd century BC the Romans had adopted a long-pointed. lanceae were fairly light. weighing about one kilogramme. It had a comfortable bone handgrip grooved to fit the fingers. though the earliest specimens date to the turn of the 1st century BC. The 'Pompeii' type followed this. but by auxiliary infantrymen too. In our period the gladius was employed not only by legionaries. the 'Pompeii' type was lighter. The blade of both types was a fine piece of steel with a sharp point and honed-down razor-sharp edges and was designed to puncture armour. and is well evidenced in the period from Augustus to Caligula. and could be thrown or kept in hand for dose-quarter combat. 29 . with a straighter blade 4.2 to 5.

It was probably for cultural reasons alone. Customarily a sword was worn on the left. As opposed 30 The 'Fulham' gladius. found in the Thames in that part of London. the Roman soldier wore his sword on the right-hand side not for any cultural reason. that the Celts carried their long slashing-sword on the right side. and before them. to the Celts. which meant the weapon was hidden from view. legionaries and auxiliaries carried their sword on the right-hand side suspended by the cingulum worn around the waist. the side covered by the shield. The wearing of the sword on the right side goes back to the Iberians. (© The Trustees of the British Museum) .Unusually. The sword was the weapon of the high-status warrior. It is housed in its bronze decorated scabbard. However. which bears an embossed panel showing the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus. The 'Fulham' is an example of the long-pointed 'Mainz'-type gladius. and to carry one was to display a symbol of rank and prestige. therefore.

was the ultimate weapon of last resort. although not exclusively so.96) and numerous cavalry tombstones confirm. The middle section of the blade was virtually parallel-edged. Carried on the left-hand side and suspended on the The blade of a spatha found at Newstead-Trimontium (Edinburgh. narrower double-edged sword (spatha) that followed Celtic types. The cingulum and apron became a proud mark of the soldier. Museum und Park Kalkriese). Pugio The pugio . (Fields-Carre Collection) Buckle and decorative plaque from a cingulum. In spite of its length. This example gives a good idea of the longer. However. The organic hilt has perished thus leaving the tang from the blade exposed.5cm and width from four to six centimetres. on the other hand.5 to 91.to a scabbard-slide. At the turn of the 2nd century AD. and three narrow plates and one terminal from an apron. these bronze examples are silvered. slimmer swords used by cavalrymen. an asset in close-quarter combat. stabbing weapon .a short. Thus belt fittings were almost always tinned or silvered. but tapered into a rounded point. all recovered from the battle site at Kalkriese (Bramsche. (akg-images/Museum Kalkriese) 3I . the spatha started to be worn on the left side. National Museums of Scotland). Spatha Cavalrymen. the four-ring suspension system on the scabbard enabled him to draw his weapon quickly with the right hand. however. as Josephus says (Bellum Iudaicum 3. suspended from a waist belt or baldric whose length could be adjusted by a row of metal buttons. used a longer. though the point could also be used. it was probably more often employed in the day-to-day tasks of living on campaign. with a blade length from 64. It was intended primarily as a slashing weapon for use on horseback. who often paid good money for handsome decoration. the spatha was worn on the right side of the body. edged. By inverting the hand to grasp the hilt and pushing the pommel forwards he drew the gladius with ease.

inv. Museo Archeologico Nazionale. to add momentum to the thrust. Though remaining an effective fighting weapon.First-century pugio from Pompeii with iron blade and bone hilt (Naples. characteristic of the gladius. It seems even ordinary rankers were quite prepared to invest considerable sums on decorated daggers and scabbards. A pugio was regarded as a personal weapon and a tool. was obviously a cherished object. The choice of a leaf-shaped blade resulted in a heavy weapon. the pugio was slightly waisted in a leafshape and some 20 to 25. 5681). (Fields-Carre Collection) same cingulum that carried the sword (though two separate belts crossed 'cowboy' style was a dashing alternate). The pugio.4cm long. The highly decorative nature of Roman daggers of our period. it even had the four-ring suspension system on the scabbard. 32 . Like the gladius. suggests that even common soldiers were prepared to spend considerable sums of money on what could be classified as true works of art. and particularly their sheaths. the pugio was plainly an outward display of its wearer's power. and its scabbard decoration subject to an individual's taste (and purse). the pugio was borrowed from the Iberians and then developed. worn by legionaries and auxiliaries alike.

but the prefect of the camp (praefectus castrorum). In the hierarchy of command the senatorial tribune always ranked next to the legate. was initially the only body capable of providing enough men to govern the provinces and command the armies. as we shall soon discover. the post The right-hand panel of the Bridgeness distance slab (No. and 60 (later 59) centurions. prior to entering the Senate as a quaestor. Legion command The legion's commanding officer was a legate (legatus Augusti legionis). a junior magistrate who administered financial matters in Rome or out in one of the provinces. for they must. In the context of Roman society. but representatives of the emperor himself. They had. with its long experience of government and military life. if in an armed province. give commands and inspire respect. (Fields-Carre Collection) 33 . 'with the broad purple strip on the toga'). and thus acted as the second-in-command of the legion. even under the emperors. keep order in their province and defend it against external attack. in the name of the emperor. Likewise. Next in order of seniority came not the remaining five tribunes. The person officiating may be A. which is not surprising since traditionally the senatorial order commanded the armies of Rome and Augustus desired to provide them with opportunities to win fame and distinction in the traditional way. In fact most commanders of our period were senators. was divided into two orders. Indeed the senatorial order. However. an increasing number of equestrians were being granted important commands. The low-cut relief depicts a purification ritual known as a suovetauriJia. legate of legio II Augusta c. He could look forward to receiving full command of a legion later in his senatorial career. Claudius Charax from Pergamon (AE 1961. these men were no longer the proconsuls or propraetors as of old. I). with a bull. The other senior officers of a legion were six military tribunes. Thus the emperor governed through his legati.Command and control Commanders had to maintain discipline among the soldiers under their command. The Roman aristocracy. The command of a legion. and by the end of the Iulio-Claudian era only a senator who had already served as praetor was eligible. by virtue of his noble birth. the others equestrians (tribuni militum angusticlavii. after having held a consulship. the senatorial order (ordo senatorius) and the equestrian order (ordo equester). National Museums of Scotland). one of senatorial rank (tribunus militum laticlavius. A creation of Augustus. now had a definite place in the hierarchy of the senatorial order. sheep and pig being led to sacrifice at an altar. At a later stage. therefore. and was usually held for a period of about three years. to be men of education and status. He served a short term as tribune before he was 25 years of age. ranked as a legatus Augusti pro praetore ('praetorian legate of Augustus') and have control over the legions stationed there. Antonine Wall (Edinburgh. AD 143. appointed from the senatorial order by the emperor to command in his name. which made up a mere two per cent of the citizen population. therefore. who held delegated power or imperium. this meant that the commanders were invariably drawn from the aristocracy.320). 'with the narrow purple strip on the toga'). a senator would have become a governor and.

principes and hastati. physical training and overseeing of the stores and medical facilities. In 18 BC tribunicia potestas was also granted to him for five years. Josephus Antiquitates ludaicae I5.1. this senior officer provided a degree of professionalism and continuity. 28 BC and 27 BC. Immediately below the praefectus castrorum ranked the five equestrian tribunes.32. and in 23 BC was appointed to govern Syria and to oversee the eastern provinces (Cassius Dio 53. An equestrian tribune held no independent command in the legion. and again for another five years in 13 Be. then by the three posterior centurions in the same order. life-long friend and closest associate of Augustus. and had followed this with a number of important military and diplomatic missions. the elder daughter of Augustus' sister Octavia. which the two senatorial officers might seem to lack.39. required considerable and detailed knowledge of the legion. however.Agrippina major (the mother of Caligula) and Agrippa Postumus (adopted by Augustus in AD 4. In peacetime.9). followed by the princeps prior and hastatus prior. A career soldier. the battle that brought an end to five decades of civil unrest and political violence.1). power would at least eventually pass to one of the emperor's line. the praefectus castrorum had general charge of the camp. in 21 BC. He campaigned in Iberia. his duties mainly centred on camp security. and finally. As the name implies. and hastatus prior and hastatus posterior. He deputized for Augustus when the emperor was in Iberia in 25 BC. so that promotion could consist of a transfer to a cohort of a lower number. and censor with Augustus in 28 Be.32. Augustus himself was no soldier. He was first married to Caecilia Attica.2). for instance. These titles obviously reflect their former positions in the tripartite battle-lines of the Republic: pilani (triarii). Centuriate Tacitus informs us that during the Rhine mutiny the legionaries had turned against their centurions and given them each 60 strokes of the lash. the 18-year-old daughter of Augustus. and liquidated immediately after Augustus' death). In addition he saw to the baggage train when on the march. but from at least the Flavian era onwards it was customary to already have experienced leadership as a commander of an auxilia unit and thus to be in a position to offer (if asked) the legate some practical advice on the handling and disposition of auxiliary forces in his command area. presumably with the idea that while he might control affairs in the event of Augustus' death. princeps prior and princeps posterior. which would stand him in good stead when (or if) he went on to further commands. on the Rhine and the Danube with great success. the senior centurion of each cohort was the pilus prior. 13. then to Marcella.38. lulia minor (who would match her mother's reputation for waywardness and likewise suffer permanent exile). commanded the artillery during battle and supervised weapons training in peacetime (Vegetius 2. he died. the tribune would have the chance to see a legion in action from within. producing five children in less than ten years. At the same time. Gaul. Equally. its personnel and the daily rounds of duties. Likewise the six centurions of each cohort still retained their old republican titles: pilus prior and pilus posterior. The most important duty of the 34 . and so on. Vipsanius Agrippa.M. was handed Augustus' signet ring when the emperor lay seriously ill in 23 BC. but banished three years later for violence and depravity. Agrippa was consul in 37 BC. and it was even rumoured that he had fled the field during the first engagement at Philippi.3.350). which was renewed in 18 BC and made maius in 13 Be. the two princes Caius and Lucius (Augustus adopting both in 17 BC). This third marriage was certainly fruitful. and was granted imperium pro consule later in the same year and sent east. M. It was Agrippa who was largely responsible for the defeat of the combined forces of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra at Actium. It is generally believed that the centurions of cohors X were junior to those of cohors VIllI. to lulia. including the building and maintenance of it (Tacitus Annales 12. The following year. 'one for each centurion in the legion' (Annales 1. the heiress daughter of Cicero's close friend and confident Atticus. Vipsanius Agrippa (64/63-12 Be) Though of obscure origins. proved himself a man of considerable talent and energy.

served as centurion of legio I Ital[ica]. he was in his 80th year at the completion of this monument for himself and for Claudia Marcia Capitolina. promotion within the centurionate came slowly. In the cohors prima. and in origin the first was awarded to the first man over the wall of a besieged town and the second for the first man over the enemy's rampart. Invariably. yet never entering the primi ordines and so not attaining the coveted post of primus pilus. however. He was then promoted to the rank of centurion and served as such in no fewer than 13 legions. This may explain why the peripatetic 35 . the orthodox position. princeps posterior and hastatus posterior. 1434 T). The phalerae were embossed discs. he was promoted to centurion (centurio) by vote of the [same] legion.centurions was. lived 35 years. possibly that under Marcus Aurelius. centurion of legio II A [ugusta] . then a Roman colony under the name of Aelia Capitolina). centurion of legio VI F[errata]. his parents. in the Parthian expedition he was decorated for bravery with a corona muralis and corona vallaris and with torques and phalerae. The inscription runs as follows: [Petronius Fortunatus] served for 50 years. built this as a memorial. and for his son Marcus Petronius Fortunatus. hastatus prior. with its distinctive pommel and handgrip. centurion of legio XXX Ulp[ia]. who. metope XXVIII (Istanbul. Arkeoloji Muzesi. centurion of legio XV Apol[linaris]. saw five decades of service in the army. second-in-command of a century (optio) . centurion of legio I Min[ervia]. but under the Principate it automatically elevated the holder to the equestrian order. suggests they are centurions. Nonetheless Fortunatus' career is proudly recorded on his tombstone. attached to the corselet by a leather harness. Numidia and the provinces along the Danube and the Rhine. for their beloved son. appear commonly in inscriptions. commanded the first century of the first cohort and had charge of the eagle-standard. He was a ranker for four years in I Italica stationed in Moesia Inferior. a primus pilus went on to become praefectus castrorum. his beloved wife. the command of their own century. and. Fortunatus and Marcia. receiving decorations in one of the Parthian campaigns. as the legion's top soldier. The wearing of the gladius. princeps prior. of course. As in Caesar's day the post was normally a one-year appointment. including those stationed in Syria Palestina (where he probably met his wife in Jerusalem. centurion of legio III Cyr[enaica] . collectively they were known as the primi ordines ('the front rankers') and enjoyed immense prestige. the command of the cohort in which they held that post. centurion of legio XXII Primig[enia]. Here we see two bareheaded and unarmoured legionaries dressed in tunics and wearing (ocalis. centurion of legio II A [ugusta] . therefore. Despite his obvious courage. four in legio IIta[lica] as clerk (librarius). ILS 2658 Monumentul de la Adamklissi. who served in the army for six years. Petronius Fortunatus. centurion of legio II Par[thica]. centurion of legio III Gall[ica]. centurion of legio III A [ugusta]. if promoted to be pilus prior. (akg-images/Erich Lessing) The two coronae called muralis and vallaris. usually of silver with gold inlay. Even more so the primus pilus. centurion of legio I Adiutrix. who was in her 65th year at the time of the completion of this monument. high on the left hip. standard-bearer (signifer). centurion legio X Gem[ina]. with the introduction of the five double-strength centuries. centurion of legio VI Vic[trix]. which was found near Cillium in Africa. who probably came from Africa. both of which were gold. his last post before retirement. the titles were primus pilus. and in each successive step it looks as if Fortunatus changed his legion. officer in charge of watchword (tesserarius).

Junior officers Each centurio was assisted by a second-in-command. who even ended up in Britannia on two separate postings. On average a man of reasonable literacy and good conduct could reach the centurionate.Antonine Wall (Glasgow. In the centre panel a laurel wreath is placed on the beak of the aquila of legio XX Valeria Victrix by the personification ofYictory. having first served as a clerk. and among their duties was to keep the pay and savings accounts of their centuria. was manifestly literate and had some knowledge of arithmetic. most centurions rose from the ranks and since Marius the legions were recruited from the proletarii. However. Each centuria carried a standard (signum) basically consisting of an assemblage of discs (phalerae) mounted on a pole surmounted by a spear point or effigy hand. while the tesserarius supervised the posting of the sentries at night and was responsible for distributing the following day's watchword.49. a standard-bearer (signifer) . and Tacitus records (Historiae 3. (Fields-Carre Collection) Fortunatus. Yet a centurion was still responsible for the administration of his century. II ). below which could be an inscribed tablet indicating the number 36 . Though men from outside the army could be directly commissioned to a post in the centurionate. The optio. receiving double the pay of a legionary. Varro de Lingua Latina 5. as was Fortunatus.The Hutcheson Hill distance slab (No. which covered all the lower and middle-ranking officers of the army. Antonius Primus. in 15 to 20 years. an optio. for the conveyance of orders. a musician (comicen) and a guard commander (tesserarius). gave his legions the right of appointing new centurions to replace those who had been killed.91. as was Fortunatus' 29-year old son Marcus. and it comes as little surprise to learn that the most undisciplined candidates were elected. never reached the top of his career. so named because under the Republic centuriones 'adopted' their own optiones (adoptandum. two bound captives watch on. The signiferi ranked with optiones as principales. which he received each night inscribed on a wooden tablet (tessera). the leadership of his men in battle and for training and maintaining discipline. Meanwhile. after the Flavian success at Second Cremona. This was a time of civil war. this method of promotion could be a risky one in certain circumstances. Occasionally centurions were chosen by popular vote. traditionally stood at the rear of the centuria. Festus 201. Hunterian Museum). who would take command if the centurio fell. Fortunatus himself.2) how M.23).

As no more than six phalerae seem to be placed on anyone signum in the many illustrations of them on coins and sculptures. at the start of his reign Vespasianus disbanded four Rhine legions (I Germanica. where it was part of the army of M. It was under the personal care of the primus pilus. according to Cassius Dio (55. While its safe custody was equivalent to the continuance of the legion as a fighting unit. National Museums of Scotland). XV Primigenia and XVI Gallica). 1111 Macedonica. disgraced for having either surrendered or lost their eagles during the rebellion of Iulius Civilis. which once bore an image of the reigning emperor with solar crown. Velleius Paterculus (2. Lollius defeated by the Germanic Sugambri in 17 Be. second only to a centurion in rank. its loss brought the greatest ignominy on any survivors and could result in the disbandment of the legion in disgrace. The eagle itself. another illustrious Caesarian formation. We need only to recall the special campaign launched across the Rhine by Germanicus in order to avenge the tragic defeat of Varus and recover the lost standards.of the cohors the centuria belonged to (e. displaying its readiness for flight on orders from Iuppiter. For example. Likewise. Mounted on a pole and carried by an imaginifer. (Fields-Carre Collection) 37 .1).97. The eagle-standard (aquila) was carried into battle by a senior standardbearer. However. however depleted in numbers. Suetonius says (Vespasianus 4. the aquilifer. lost its eagle in Iudaea under C. raised two new legions. it is interesting to note that these particular losses did not lead to the legions being disbanded. then in Pannonia as a legatus Augusti legionis. it has been suggested that the number of discs denotes the number of the century in its cohort. COH(ors) V).3). the legionary regarded his legion standard with appreciable awe. its wings outstretched and its head cast forward. initially of silver but later of gold (or perhaps silver-gilt). Cestius Gallus in AD 66. was customarily depicted with a golden thunderbolt gripped in its talons.g. recently transferred from Iberia to the Rhine. and in their place. Backing disc of an imago imperatoris from Newstead-Trimontium (Edinburgh. reports the loss of its eagle-standard by the famed V Alaudae. Little wonder. therefore. this standard served as a reminder to the soldiers of their oath and loyalty to their commander-in-chief.24. who served under Prince Tiberius in Germania as a praefectus equitum. using two of the numbers of those he had just axed and presumably some of their personnel as well (1111 Flavia felix and XVI Flavia firma).4) XII Fulminata.

13-14). Mich. they refused to accept the change of allegiance. Iulius Apollinaris writes in his native Greek to his father back home in Egypt: I'm getting on all right. who secured the belongings of those killed in action. centurion Fortunatus started his long army career not as a miles but as a librarius. they were stunned.' So I went straight from the general to the comicularius. with hopes of promotion. legatus Augusti pro praetore. 'the legions' own special guiding spirit' (Annales 2. In fact.8). I went up to Claudius Severus. Germanicus. Named for a decoration of two small horns hanging from his helmet. When the Vitellian commander A.19). P. The early Christian writer Tertullian (fl. and so far I haven't been caught by any fatigues like cutting building-stones. Thus when the emperor's portrait was torn down from the imagines. But when the rest of the soldiers returned to camp and saw Vitellius' portraits had been torn down and Vespasianus' name written up. Note the plumes adorning his helmet. VIII 466. He said. and asked him to make me a librarius on his own staff. (Fields-Carre Collection) During the Principate the portrait of the reigning emperor (imago imperatoris) was also carried by each legion. Caecina Alienus succeeded in winning over some of his army to the cause of Vespasianus while the rest were away on routine duties. Once they realized what had happened. Here the well-known example from Hexham Abbey of Flavianus. a signifer of ala Petriana. As in a modern army. set up Vitellius' portraits again and put Caecina under arrest (Tacitus Historiae 3. Here you would have found clerks with special duties.17. Tacitus (Annales 1.18-32 38 .39. In a very real sense. 'There's no vacancy at present. the imago became of increasing significance with the rise and fall of dynasties.4) clearly implies that the imago shared the same honours as the aquila. a unit once stationed at CorbridgeCoria and later at Stanwix near Carlisle. Finally in a legionary headquarters there was a junior officer known as a comicularius. it was a sign of military revolt. Tertullian was not completely wrong in his judgement. but I'll make you a librarius legionis for the time being. the standards formed the very identity of the unit to which they belonged and thus were revered as sacred objects. As we know. He carries a signum that looks like a large medallion. took the sudden appearance of eight eagles as a good omen.Each turma had its standard carried by a signifer. and it too was under the personal care of the primus pilus. and a letter written in March AD 107 reveals how another recruit came to be a librarius. AD 200) says the religious system of the Roman Army 'is entirely devoted to the worship of the standards' (Apologia 16. and for this purpose the cult of the standards was ideal. the comicularius was responsible for the staff of clerks (librarii) that formed the record-office (tabularium). the librarius depositorum who collected the soldiers' savings. Thanks to Serapis I got here safely. The cultivation of esprit de corps is a necessity for any military unit. As his soldiers commenced their advance into contact at the battle of Idistaviso. the soldiers signified the change by tearing down the portraits of Vitellius and taking an oath to Vespasianus. according to Tacitus.2). Thus a recruit who possessed writing and numeric skills would probably stand a good chance of appointment as librarius (Vegetius 2. As well as bringing the emperor into a closer relationship with his soldiers. Reminding the soldiers of their loyalty and devotion. this standard was carried on a separate pole by the imaginifer. such as the librarius horreorum who kept the granary records. the Roman Army of the Principate generated a mountain of paperwork. Though this is somewhat of an exaggeration. and the librarius caducorum.

Vindol. the urban cohorts (cohortes urbanae). or the praetorian guard itself. and a contingent of his legion (VI Ferrata fidelis constans) was obviously employed in the local quarries.6. Auxiliary commanders themselves. and thus he was exempt from the backbreaking bore of stone breaking. and were to depart with it in AD 66 as part of Nero's planned expedition to the Caucasus. as the primus pilus received the rank of an equestrian.2. wealthy and fertile. some even of 'royal stock'.15. were drawn solely from the equestrian order. such as the Batavian noble Flavius Cerialis. thereby taking the successive steps praefectus cohortis.4. 'republican' ambitions.Our young soldier was serving in newly annexed Arabia. These praefecti were all men of equestrian rank. he could opt for a more glamorous posting and serve in the garrison troops of Rome as a tribune in the watch (vigiles) . and praefectus equitum. and look back with nostalgia at the old Republic. This applied in particular to members of the equestrian order. equestrian officers who had already served as prefects of cohortes quingenariae and either as tribunes in legions (tribuni angusticlavii) or tribunes of cohortes milliariae (CIL 2. tribunus cohortis (cohors peditata milliaria) and praefectus equitum (ala quingenaria and ala milliaria). many of these units were still commanded by 'native leaders'.27. however. and be proficient.1). and no senator was allowed to set foot in it without his authority. On the other hand. cf. which was populous. it was possible for him to continue his army career by obtaining an independent command in the auxilia if he so wished. His status as a librarius made him an immunis. But the pinnacle of equestrian achievement did not end here. seven cohorts responsible for policing and fire-fighting. and. for many Romans the Principate was the opening of political opportunities. the commanders of the legions in the province had the title of praefecti legionum. It was the emperor's private possession. A senator in such a province might harbour dangerous. A practical people. Finally. A very few went on to equestrian governorships. tribunus legionis or tribunus cohortis. From the Flavians onwards these commanders were ranked as follows: praefectus cohortis (cohors peditata quingenaria).g. while the governor was called a praefectus Aegypto.1) who thought that Augustus wished to control tightly a province. In the Republic that authority had been the 39 . 4. Be that as it may. Equestrian officers While the senatorial families. might resent the changes wrought by Augustus. We know that in Britannia the eight cohortes of Batavi were attached to legio XlIII Gemina. three (later seven) in number. and the commands of the alae milliariae devolved on a select group of about ten consisting of the pick of the men who had already commanded alae quingenariae.11. The province of Egypt was organized differently from all other provinces. as well as its garrison of two legions. Consequently there could be no legatus Augusti pro praetore or legati Augusti legionis in the province. Suetonius Divus Claudius 25. previously the dominant force in Rome. the Romans believed that the man chosen by the competent authority would be up to the task in hand. II 238.2637. There is some justification for such a view in Tacitus (Historiae 1. praefectus of cohors VIllI Batavorum at Vindolanda in the years around AD 100 (e.250).1). Command and control in action The tradition of the Republic had been that a senator should be prepared to serve the state in whatever capaCity it demanded. It seems likely that a legionary legate had overall command over the auxilia units attached to his legion. there were a further four legions in Syria. 2. By the 2nd century AD there were some 90 posts as praefectus equitum (now known as praefectus alae). which never materialized (Tacitus Historiae 1. So what was once Cleopatra's Egypt became the crown of an equestrian career. Thus cavalry commanders were men at the peak of what was known as the tres militiae. Tab.

All these authors claimed to be writing with a principal purpose. In his right hand Surus holds the tool of his trade. An added benefit 40 Tombstone of Aurelius Surus. Arkeoloji Muzesi. dated 210-15 (Istanbul. The memorial was put up by his comrade and heir. namely to elucidate military matters for the benefit of army commanders. Frontinus (under Domitianus). Septimius Vibianus. (Fields-Carre Collection) AD . under the Principate it would be the emperor. in the prologue of the Strategemata. Thus the man sent to command an army would have to learn the skills himself. In other words there was no training for the job. He was a bucinator in legio I Adiutrix pia (tdelis. Thus Frontinus.electorate. a fellow Syrian. explains his intentions: For in this way army commanders will be equipped with examples of good planning and foresight. notably by Onasander (under Claudius). Aelian (under Traianus). having served for 18 years he died age 40. It is interesting that handbooks on military tactics and the art of generalship continued to be written under the emperors. and this will develop their own ability to think out and carry into effect similar operations. the bucina or trumpet. and even the emperor himself. 5826 T). from the leisure of reading books or the harder lesson of the battlefield. Arrian (under Hadrianus) and Polyainos (under Antonius Pius).

Q. In bright moonlight the Flavian commander rode around urging his men on. which occasioned no small risk (ibid. it was still believed that by using handbooks and taking advice. That other renowned Flavian general. directing and encouraging his men from this relatively safe position. since the knowledge of a general is far more important than his physical strength' (Strategikos 33. the Roman commander needed to be in a position from where he could see the entire battle. 4. Traditionally the Romans had an organized but uncomplicated approach to tactics. is depicted during the rebellion of Civilis (AD 70) doing the same thing. readiness to counterattack. many by praise and encouragement. flexibility in the face of unexpected enemy manoeuvres. the placing of a force in reserve. a man of average ability could direct a Roman army (Campbell 1996: 325-31). The principles were: the use of cavalry for flank attacks and encirclement. This was certainly what Antonius Primus did at Second Cremona (AD 69)..2). During his governorship of Cappadocia. On the contrary. (Fields-Carre Collection) 41 . Arrian wrote an account of the preparatory dispositions he made for A fragmentary tombstone from Chesterholm-Vindolanda. Frontinus Strategemata 1 praefatio As under the Republic. The underlying rationale of this style of generalship is well expressed by Onasander when he says the general'can aid his army far less by fighting than he can harm it if he should be killed. may have been a casualties of a revolt (inbell[o . all by hope and promises' (Tacitus Historia 3.will be the commander will not be worried about the outcome of his own stratagem when he compares it with innovations already tested in practice.. Arrian had to repel an invasion of the Alani. the emperors saw no need to establish a system to train future commanders. the deployment of a battle line that could maintain contact. Petilius Cerialis. 'some by taunts and appeals to their pride. but behind his fighting line. To have the greatest influence on the battle the general should stay close to. inter]feetvs) that flared in Britannia at the time of Hadrianus' succession. Its inscription tells us that Titus Annius.1).77. a legionary centurion (centurio legionis) serving as the acting-commander of cohors I Tungrorum based at Vindolanda.1). As the disposition of forces and the tactical placing of reserves were vital elements of generalship.24.

daughter of Augustus and Agrippa's widow. Almost immediately news was received of the Varian disaster. with whom he shared a natural propensity for warfare. Consul in 13 BC (with Varus as colleague). He was a bold leader in the field. now 45 years of age. probably only two years younger. But the expected Germanic invasion did not materialize. as his successful campaigns across the Rhine demonstrated. in I I Be. and would come to regret bitterly his loveless marriage to the headstrong lulia. He was careful to look after the sick and preserve his soldiers from unnecessary losses in battle. daughter of Agrippa and Caecilia Attica. Though intelligent and shrewd. at Augustus' insistence he divorced Vipsania Agrippina. This unique work. with Germanicus. a clear sign of Augustus' approval. Ti. and as the years passed he would become darker and more morose.this campaign. in which the author represents himself as the famous Athenian soldier-scholar Xenophon. Outside of the traumas of family life Tiberius was to enjoy a successful military career. Livia. he was in turn obliged to adopt his nephew Germanicus. 42 . The following year. on the death of Augustus. It was an established literary topos for a 'good' general to share his soldiers' privations and lead from the front. For Tiberius it was not to be. with a real talent for soldiering. sets out the commands of the governor as if he were actually giving them. whom he had married in 19 BC. with much hard fighting. hands-on leadership: Ti. Whatever the truth of the matter. Arrian himself took charge of the dispositions and recognized the need for personal. whom Caligula later dubbed 'Ulysses in a frock' (Suetonius Caius 23. but because of his birth. Tiberius was stern. In the same year he was back on the Rhine to renew the German campaign.000 men. was active on the Rhine. Yet he chose to retire in dudgeon to Rhodes. Tiberius was a tragic figure. and so Tiberius mounted punitive expeditions beyond the Rhine to restore the name of Rome. he held the tribunicia potestas for five years in 6 BC.104. oaths of loyalty were given to him. the sons of lulia and Agrippa. and a number of auxilia units under his command. Rumour blamed his mother. sent to deal with the Pannonian revolt. Claudius Nero. he was. but he was unenthusiastic about becoming emperor and ended by loathing his position. and granted tribunicia potestas for ten years. reserved and formal with a strong sense of duty. According to Suetonius (Tiberius 10. so Tiberius was hurriedly dispatched to the Rhine with all available troops transferred from other provinces to reinforce his army. after the death of Agrippa. Claudius Nero (42 Be-AD 37) Tiberius was the eldest son of Livia by her first husband. to put down this terrifying uprising. He seems to have been genuinely fond ofVipsania. Tiberius retired to Rhodes in order to prevent his own prestige standing in the way of the public careers of Caius and Lucius Caesar . Tiberius. sitting at the table to eat his meals instead of reclining on a couch. However. He was an outstanding military commander . along with his younger brother Nero Claudius Drusus. or even squatting on the bare earth. XII Fulminata and XV Apollinaris. to the point of paranoia. and two years later. In AD I I Germanicus joined him in this arduous task.the best of his age . Yet the 'Napoleonic' euphoria of his soldiers when Tiberius returned to command them was doubtless genuine (Velleius Paterculus 2.1). He was in his true element on campaign with his soldiers. In AD 13 Tiberius became de facto co-emperor after being given a further grant of tribunicia potestas for ten years and an imperium the equal of Augustus'. the Ektaxis kata Alanon. Drusus minor. Finally in AD 4. he was easily hurt and could be cold-bloodedly vengeful. Tiberius' great flaw was that he was deeply suspicious of others. He was popular and diligent. Augustus sought to prevent any power vacuum on his death. apparently protesting against Augustus' blatant dynastic promotion of his own grandsons (and adopted sons). and again in 7 BC when he also received an award of triumphalia and a second imperator acclamation. In 15 BC. he had campaigned in the region between the Alps and the Danube. he was doomed to become emperor. was adopted (with Agrippa Postumus) as Augustus' son. often spending the day in the saddle and the night under the stars.2).4). Thus Augustus sent lulia a decree of divorce in Tiberius' name in 2 BC. As he grew old and weak. trusted Tiberius with the important military commands. after the untimely death of Caius Caesar (Lucius had expired two years beforehand). in AD 6. For instance. He was only allowed to return to Rome as a private citizen (privatus) after urging by Livia and the agreement of Caius Caesar in AD 2. and the following year Tiberius' tribunicia potestas expired and was not renewed. even though he had a natural son. He had two legions. she was determined that her son should succeed. for the premature deaths of the other imperial candidates (the picture popularized by Robert Graves with a little help from Tacitus). He knew Augustus favoured others over him and that he was the eighth choice in his succession plans. in all some 20. and after Drusus' death in 9 BC.but he was neither interested in nor fitted for the intrigue and politics of Rome. cold. a time when such a man could expect high office because of his military achievements alone. the emperor did not favour his stepson as a successor. He thus came from a noble family much distinguished in republican times. a theme we shall come across repeatedly when we look at the lives of other Roman commanders. It took the greater part of three years. and married lulia.palace machinations or was Tiberius retiring hurt? It appears that though Augustus. however.

should lead from a position well in front of the infantry standards. a straight trumpet. it was the centurions that were the key to an army's success in battle. Therefore on the battlefield itself different calls. after all. Josephus Bellum Iudaicum 3. reveille and the changing of the guard (Frontinus Strategemata 1. When we consider the singular value the soldiers placed on their aquila and how its loss to the enemy would mean a permanent stain on the honour of their unit. centurions and decurions. when 'onward pressed their standards' (Tacitus Annales 14.The commander of the entire army. the cornicines and tubicines blew their instruments so as to encourage their comrades and discourage the enemy.1. Xenophon [Le. played by the tubicen.9. Suetonius Paulinus had formed his army up opposite Mona (Anglesey) ready to assault. it comes as no surprise to learn that some sacrificed themselves in its defence. They were spurred into action. but its main function was tactical. the military tribunes.2).28.30. but his soldiers wavered at the eerie spectacle of incanting Druids and frenzied women on the shoreline.22. when the troops charged into contact and raised their war cry (clamor). Nonetheless. Centurions were a strongly conservative group who had a vital role to play in preserving the discipline and organization of the army and providing continuity of command. however. 68. competent rather than brilliant. was primus pilus of the rookie VII Galbiana.3). accompanied by visual signals such as the raising of the standards. it is interesting to note that the tactics advocated by Arrian are safe and simple. Arrian]. would sound the alarm or order a recall (Tacitus Annales 1. At Second Cremona the aquila of VII Galbiana was only saved after'Atilius Verus' desperate execution upon the enemy and at the cost.86).3). and could urge hesitant soldiers forwards during a particularly dangerous moment. finally of his own life' (Tacitus Historiae 3.3. a junior officer who blew the cornu. Arrian Ektaxis 10 To carry out his orders Arrian could look to the legionary legate (one of the legati legionis seems to be absent). and when they stood on the field of battle they were directly responsible for leading their men forwards. he should visit all the ranks and examine how they have been drawn up. L. The aquilifer played an important if comparatively minor leadership role in battle too. Yet they owed their position of command and respect to their own bravery and effectiveness in combat. Thus their understanding of an intended battle plan was vital for success simply because they were the ones commanding the men on the ground. Closely associated with the standards was the cornicen. Naturally. a bronze tube bent into almost a full circle with a transverse bar to strengthen it. once a centurion of V Macedonica. Another instrument was the tuba. Atilius Verus. C. Of all the senior officers listed above. He was. Music was used for sleep. the man who served as a rallying point during the chaos of battle. he should bring order to those who are in disarray and praise those who are properly drawn up. 43 .

their battles bloody drills' (Bellum Iudaicum 3.The Roman Army • In battle Surprising as it may seem. 43. long known and famous. As Josephus points out. the Jewish council of state. In fighting qualities and numbers he had the advantage. rivals for the imperial purple. Training brought not only efficiency and effectiveness but also discipline and confidence. because it is made better by means of exercise (exercitando). or in Varro's very apt dictionary definition: 'Army (exercitus) . Indeed. but he is not far wrong when he puts his failure down to the effectiveness of the arduous training given to the legions. better known to history as Josephus (T. who lost their legate. there is no history of the Roman Army by any ancient author and little detailed examination of military practices. and carried off their eagle (aquila). and a great number of standards 44 . The patriot-turned-partisan presents a rather idealized view of the Roman Army's efficiency. As for the Othonians. They were Vitellian legio XXI Fulminata.' Although a battle fought between the armies of Otho and Vitellius. An aristocratic priest chosen by the Sanhedrin.75). and to formations adopted by such generals as Cn. Iulius Agricola. Smarting under this humiliation. the Vitellians] advanced with unbroken ranks. the praetorians and legio I Italica] and watched by their comrades. and swords (gladii) and axes (secures) used to pierce helmets and armour. the latter got their own back by charging legio I Adiutrix. they fought the fight that was to settle the whole campaign. Tacitus' description of First Cremona is well worth a look at: 42. scattered. but was in high spirits and avid of distinction in its first action.102). Among the Roman historians Tacitus has some detached references to the arms and equipment of legionaries and auxiliaries. The two sides made contact at long and short range. as the battle was fought over a wide area thickly planted with a maze of vines and Vine-props. Vitellians and Othonians fought hand-to-hand. As it turned out. The usual discharge of pila was scrapped. wrote the best descriptions of the army in war and peace. Orfidius Benignus. Like Polybios before him. two legions made contact in open country between the Padus [Po] and the road [Via Postumia]. Roman tactical doctrine and practice 'It would not be far from the truth to call their drills bloodless battle. and on the Othonian side legio I Adiutrix. so runs the most celebrated line of Josephus. it presented a variety of aspects. they went into action gallantly. At this moment. Domitius Corbulo and Cn. 'military exercises give the Roman soldiers not only tough bodies but determined spirits too' (ibid. Legio I Adiutrix overran the front ranks of legio XXI Fulminata. as a defeated foreigner Josephus was very much interested in seeking what were the primary factors that contributed to the superiority of Roman arms. On the high road. throwing the weight of their bodies and shield-bosses (umbonis) against each other. the enemy [Le. to defend Galilee in the revolt of AD 66 against Rome. which had never fought before. 3. Flavius Iosephus). Knowing each other [Le. It is indeed curious that Joseph ben Matthias. The legionary had to be both physically and mentally stronger than his 'barbarian' adversary. Josephus witnessed firsthand the legions of Vespasianus and his son Titus in action against his Jewish countrymen. in loose or compact formation. outnumbered and weary as they were.

a favourite battle formation would be the triple line of cohorts. Caecina and Valens [Le. Tacitus and Vegetius lay great stress on the gladius being employed by the legionary for thrusting rather than slashing. mingled with menacing battle songs. Similarly. This did not make the Romans invincible . easily broke through the opposing ranks. In another part of the field. but Tacitus' account of Domitius Corbulo's campaigns against Parthia suggests that matters on the field of battle were very much the same as in Caesar's day. the double line. reinforced with 3. therefore. As Vegetius rightly 'Sword of Tiberi us' (London. while their foes were still advancing against them at a walk.42-43 When Roman armies were pitted against each other we might expect sophisticated tactics skilfully applied. Long after the Othonian commanders had fled. But Tacitus' brief but dramatic account tells us this was far from the case. as did our front-rank Britons at Mancetter. steady affair.as we shall see they were to suffer terrible reverses .but they believed that defeat in one battle did not mean defeat in war. In his description of the defeat of Boudica at Mancetter (AD 61). Tacitus Historiae 2. triplex acies. with the doctrine of the offensive dominant. the cohort was to remain the basic tactical unit and the century the basic administrative unit. decisive charge (Tacitus Annales 1. So-called because its scabbard bears a relief of Tiberi us receiving Germanicus in AD 17 on his 'heroic' return to Rome following his Germanic campaigns.000 men from III Gallica to give the impression of strength. duplex acies. at the eleventh hour. Cassius Dio picks out the contrast between the contending sides: Thereupon the armies approached each other. (© The Trustees of the British Museum) 45 . As a sequel to this success. For the legion. GR 1866 8-6. which swiftly scattered the Germans in a single. legio V [Alaudae] punished legio XIII [Gemina]. Our legionary was above all a trained swordsman. in the centre (Tacitus Annales 13.(signa) and flags (vexilla). These had crossed the Padus in their ships only to be done to death in the very water by the cohortes confronting them. In one of his encounters with the Parthian king Tiridates in AD 58.38. British Museum. As we shall see. the Romans rushed forward at a signal and charged at full speed. and the very flexibility of the cohort structure with its sub-divisions of centuriae and contubernia would allow almost any variation. Domitius Corbulo placed the auxilia on the flanks and legio VI Ferrata. Legion For the first century of the Principate we possess no order of battle with a detailed description of the dispositions adopted.51. the Batavi now delivered their onslaught on the Othonian flank. Even so. the Roman advance was a slow.6).1-2 Silently executed. and had been since the days of Marius (Fields 2008: 37-42).2). The enemy often gave way very quickly. Then. came the Batavi [cohortes]. but the Romans silently and in order until they came within a javelin [ak6ntion in Dio's Greek] throw of the enemy. is attested too. Roman tactics were basically aggressive. Found in the Rhine at Mainz. while the vexillatio from legio XlIII [Gemina Martia Victrix] was outnumbered and rolled up. after routing the force of gladiators. and when the clash came.12. the Vitellian commanders] were still bringing up reinforcements to strengthen their men. Cassius Dio 62. this is another example of the long-pointed 'Mainz'type gladius. the barbarians with much shouting. culminating in a close-range barrage of pila and an explosive charge of armoured men. Then. in AD 14 Germanicus led XXI Rapax in an assault.1).

2. The trooper wears a short-sleeved mail-shirt and carries a hexagonal clipeus but. body armour. the soft. 'a slash-cut. Here the gladius is being used primarily in an upward thrust directed from below the scutum. Throw your javelins (pi/a). spear and shield. In his version of Mancetter. the standard drill for the legionary was to punch the enemy in the face with the shield-boss and then jab him in the belly with the razorsharp point of the sword. by the scutum. was probably the handiwork of soldiers. adopted by Suetonius Paulinus against Boudica (Tacitus Annales 14. containing raids. albeit without the luxury of reserve alae. not when it jammed against a bone. Although there were specialist units of archers and slingers.Monumentul de la Adamklissi. and thus a thrust was certainly more likely to deliver the fatal wound. when it came to large-scale actions a favourite formation for the legion was the triplex acies. Having thrown the pilum and charged into contact. leading in a few days. it would be wrong to view the infantryman of the auxilia as some form of light infantry. they formed the first line at Idistaviso (AD 16) and Vetera (AD 70). swords (gladii) to kill them. peritonitis or other infections. if not hours. fleshy parts below the ribcage. 37.3). As noted. seldom kills' (1.37). curiously. Weighed down with helmet. Tacitus has the Roman commander C. whatever its force. given their primary organization at a lower level (Le. In other words. operated in close-order using the 46 . the legionary getting under the opponent's attack and penetrating his lower stomach or groin. is bareheaded. to an agonizing death from shock. On the contrary. and was thus protected. dedicated to Mars Ultor. but here they were supported by more alae behind the main battle line (Tacitus Agricola 35. he is reminding them that they have three offensive weapons. (Fields-Carre Collection) says. scutum and gladius: 'Just keep in close order. both to act as a strategic reserve and to intimidate potentially rebellious indigenous 'friendlies'. the Avenger. pi/urn. this equipment is not that of a nimble skirmisher. The auxilia cohortes. as the contents of the intestines spilled out into the abdominal cavity and the victim shrank from blood and fluid loss. his lancea held horizontally in a relaxed position. which depicts a cavalryman charging into battle.2). Alternatively. more flexible way of providing the army with the manpower to fulfil its role. Suetonius Paulinus delivering a pre-battle speech in which he instructs his legionaries to knock over the Britons by punching them with their shields and then to jab them with their swords. Auxiliaries The auxilia were a cheaper and. meanwhile. However. penetration wounds to these exposed lower areas were almost always fatal. To the auxilia fell the tasks of patrolling. Again alae formed the wings. This is metope I (Adamklissi. A thrust would kill for sure only if it penetrated the internal organs. you will have everything' (Annales 14.36. cohortes for infantry and alae for cavalry). Muzeul de Archeologie). thereby unbalancing him. and alae deployed on the wings with an additional force kept in reserve. would be stationed on either side of a centre formed by the legions. especially along the frontiers of the empire. When you have won. the cohortes could form the first line and be supported by the legions. Do not think of plunder.12). and jabbing him in the belly with his gladius. tax collecting and the multitudinous duties of frontier troops . The Adamklissi monument (Metope xviii) shows a legionary punching an opponent's face with the boss of his scutum. as did Agricola at Mons Graupius. sword.the legions were stationed within the frontiers. This was the formation. and then carryon: use your shield-bosses (umbonis) to fell them. The use of the thrust also meant the legionary kept most of his torso well covered.

must have understood that Germanicus' policy was doomed to fai I. On the death of Augustus he was faced with a serious mutiny of the four legions (I Germanica. It was time for Germanicus to be recalled.41. as Tacitus strongly hints (Annales 2. His efforts failed. plunged Rome into deepest mourning. Five years later. was married to the emperor's granddaughter Agrippina major. On the other hand Germanicus rightly appreciated that the best way of stifling any residual thoughts of mutiny lay in action. the younger daughter of the great Marcus Antonius and Augustus' sister. the youngest of their three sons. had carried Roman arms as far as the Elbe. His mettle was soon to be put to the test. prudently withdrawing. and pursued a more vigorous and far-reaching campaign in AD 15. and on the return journey disaster struck when the Roman fleet was hit by a storm. The Romans advanced north-east and.1) that he surpassed his contemporaries both in physical and moral qualities. but Germanicus clearly had visions of emulating his father and of pushing the Roman frontier east to the Elbe. but he made the mistake of penetrating too deep into hostile territory and almost fell into the same trap as had Varus. he celebrated a splendid triumph for his victories over the Cherusci. the architect of the tragedy. Germanicus inserted his eight legions by water. and his place in Germania was eventually to be taken by Germanicus. had a hand in his death. whose charm far exceeded his talents. while Tacitus (Annales 2. As a clear indication of Augustus' determination to be succeeded by someone from his own line. who in a series of brilliant campaigns between 12 and 9 BC. But Arminius remained at large. Much like her father. Germanicus himself first achieved distinction serving under his uncle (now adoptive father) Tiberius during the Pannonian revolt. and won a first engagement fought on unfavourable ground chosen by the Germans. From the onset a cool strategist like Tiberius. Moving ceremonies were held in honour of the soldiers who had died under Varus and a funerary mound was raised over the whitened bones and shattered skulls. widely respected and admired. the son of their eldest daughter Agrippina minor. in AD I I. with centurions being seized and flogged. and an extensive network of communications. Germanicus now set off in pursuit of Arminius. unlike his elder brother. which passed on to his eldest son. and making a histrionic threat to commit suicide he was jokingly encouraged to see it through. many believed that Tiberius. Yet Germanicus believed that with one more year he could complete the conquest as far as the Elbe. Germanicus. In full retreat. By the same token her husband was the darling of the people. Drusus minor was far tougher with the mutineers in Pannonia. XX and XXI Rapax) in Germania Inferior. jealous of the ever-popular Germanicus. At this time he was also given overall authority over the eight legions and supporting auxilia posted on the Rhine. and the following year was granted imperium pro consu/e by Augustus at the time of Tiberius' elevation to co-emperor. brother of the future emperor Tiberius. eventually reached the macabre site of the Varian disaster. after a fall from a horse. He rightly appreciated that the conquest of Germania would require a steady policy of pacification with military settlements established in relative proximity.72. Tiberius thought otherwise. It was clear to him that further armed intervention east of the Rhine would in fact achieve little. shortly after his adoption by Tiberius. since the defeated foe had the amazing capacity to regroup and to return as vigorous as before. he went to Germania to join Tiberius once again. where he showed courage and military skill. She bore her husband three children. where riots had broken out and discipline had collapsed. Chatti and other tribes west of the Elbe (ibid. and an old Germania hand to boot. Caligula. Tiberius then sent Germanicus 47 . married Antonia minor. The hard-bitten soldiers probably thought Germanicus weak and bungling. the exhausted Romans poured over the bridge at Vetera with their honour only just intact. Obviously Drusus' unexpected death prevented him from consolidating his victories. and that same autumn launched a punitive expedition into the territory of the Marsi over the Rhine from Vetera.Nero Claudius Germanicus Caesar (I S Be-AD 19) Nero Claudius Drusus. Tiberius probably hoped that Germanicus would limit himself to this single action.6). Indeed. and defeated them. but Tacitus fails to mention this. before the neighbouring tribes could come to their assistance. VAlaudae. Anyway. Germanicus returned to Rome a conquering hero. 2. and Nero. having recovered the lost aquila of legio XVIIII on the way. When he reached the camp Germanicus tried to appeal to the men's loyalty. a talented general who. oozed charm and cordiality. He extricated himself with difficulty. far from an easy task in a land of primeval forests and swamps. These impressions clearly represent a romanticized view of Germanicus.1) goes as far as to compare his tragic hero with Alexander the Great. His death in 9 BC. He was consul in AD 12. The season started both early and well. and to dipping into the cash he carried for official expenses. In the end he was reduced to producing a forged letter of Tiberi us supposedly offering concessions. On 26 May AD 17. Octavia. Germanicus met the forces of Arminius at a place Tacitus called Idistaviso. This need not mean that Tiberius was jealous of his adopted son's achievements.2-4). one that was no doubt fostered by anti-Tiberian elements after his early demise. Germanicus (the father of Caligula). Another campaign was conducted in AD 16. Suetonius claims (Caius 3. however.After crossing the Weser. and whose popularity with the people would outstrip even his father's. From this union would spring two future emperors. sailing along the North Sea coast and up the Weser. saying that if he had ruled he would have outdone him in military achievements just as he surpassed him in personal qualities. He was honoured by the posthumous title of Germanicus.26. Antonia was a strong willed and independent woman. Claudius (the future emperor) and Livia lulia (destined to become the mistress of the sinister Sejanus).

It is also clear from reliefs on tombstones depicting equites cohortales that they were equipped with the same arms and armour as their more illustrious brothers in the alae. Outside Ascalon the poorly equipped Jewish infantrymen were quickly reduced by the lanceae of the Roman cavalrymen to a state in which they could not stand up to a charge Qosephus Bellum Iudaicum 3. to push their line uphill. wheeling away and then rallying ready to try again.2) describes loyal alae refusing to charge home on the disciplined ranks of rebel cohortes.16. Thus the emperor's commission. Historiae 4.13-21). proceeded to slaughter the nearest enemies. That these tactics were the practice of the period is amply shown on Trajan's Column where at least three scenes of battle depict auxiliaries in action and legionaries in reserve (e.2. and after cutting down the enemy on the level. ILS 2724 with addenda). He proceeded straight to Armenia. Rumour had it he was poisoned (Suetonius Tiberius 54. and as such they employed a mix of skirmish and shock tactics and were effectively trained and equipped for both. traditional sword-fighting techniques of the Roman Army at Mons Graupius (AD 83).33. In battle. The alae would spend their time in peace on manoeuvres and training. The object of shooting at a steady infantry formation was to weaken it. shooting. cf. that is riding up. and could even stand up to and beat legionaries as the Batavi rebels did in AD 70 (Tacitus Annales 2. granted Germanicus the imperium greater than that of any governor in the eastern provinces. However. at Mon Graupius the Batavi punched the enemy with their shields and then jabbed them with the sword. especially one being ridden.1). we see the scutum and gladius employed in tandem offensively: Accordingly when the Batavi began to exchange blows hand to hand. the other cohortes [of Tungri]. He proved to be highly popular among his new subjects and ruled for 16 years. lxxii). according to Arrian (Ektaxis 1-2. lxvi.g. Whatever Germanicus' deficiencies as a general. as the results would have been mutually catastrophic to the opposing front ranks.to the east in order to deal with a number of serious problems there. As we well know. by the cohortes equitatae. Cavalry. when an army deployed for battle it was the infantry who were expected to form up in the centre to fight the main action and deliver the crushing blow. emphasized the degree to which the latter became an essential and very efficient part of the Roman Army.2 The essentially similar fighting techniques of the legions and the infantryman of the auxilia. Again. if the need arose. will not in normal circumstances collide with a solid object if it can stop or go around it. Tacitus (Historiae 4. exerting themselves to emulate their charge. 2. according to Tacitus (ibid. while should hostilities break out.20. Tacitus Agricola 36. and both Rome and Parthia were anxious to secure a ruler well disposed to them.2). cavalry were not normally expected to charge well-ordered infantry. imperium pro consule maius. they were deployed as a highly mobile strike force. 5. Yet the success of the cavalry in protecting the flanks and defeating their opposite number could decide the outcome. roughly equivalent in size to an ala (e. therefore. Germanicus fell ill and died in Antioch on 10 October AD 19. to strike with the bosses (umbonis) of their shields. the mounted contingents of several cohortes were taken from their parent units and massed to form one composite force. Besides a horse. Indeed. Agricola 36. would employ typical skirmishing tactics. Armenia was without a king.16). in particular the threat of a clash with Parthia. 61. supplemented. Yet his glory in the east was to be short lived. where he established as king the Pontic prince Zeno. 9. that is to come to close-quarters and to use both scutum and gladius offensively. so that it would unable to stand up to a mounted charge. with the apparent acquiescence of Parthia.43. that is to say. who adopted the Armenian name Artaxias. he possessed real talents as a diplomat. scenes xxiv. 33. the horsemen of a cohors equitata milliaria amounted in number to almost half an ala). to stab in the face. 48 . at the age of 33.g.2.

the middle. (Fields-Carre Collection) Similarly. Here we see the reinforcing. encounters between opposing cavalry units would have been very fluid. fastmoving affairs. Normally the victor was the side that kept a formed. were themselves put to flight by enemy reserves (Tacitus Historiae 3. Cavalry was unsuitable to holding ground because of its tendency to advance and retreat rapidly. When combats occurred it was because either the two lines had opened their files. Also visible is the horizontal handgrip. fresh reserve the longest. or they had halted just before contact. pursued them and were in turn beaten and pursued by fresh enemy troops. having routed and pursued several Vitellian alae. National Roman Legion Museum). At Second Cremona. and deployment in reserve in readiness to counterattack. Full-size reconstructions such as this one weigh in the order of 5. at which point individuals would walk their mounts forward to get within weapon's reach of the enemy. allowing them to gallop through each other's formation. In brief we cannot do better than to borrow one of those crisp maxims of Napoleon: 'Charges of cavalry are equally useful at the beginning. which consists of a framework of wooden strips glued or pegged into place. Cavalry combats could sway to and fro as each side beat the enemy.Reconstruction of a 'cut-down'-style scutum in use by Augustus' time. 49 .5kg. as horses refuse to collide into an oncoming line of horsemen. interior view (Caerleon. Thus the tactical principles for its use were: deployment on the wings for flank attacks and encirclement. the Flavian cavalry.16.1). and the end of a battle' (Military Maxims SO).

he had secured for himself a cosy position in headquarters as a 'pen-pusher'. and were especially important additions to newly acquired territories. commemorating the emperor or their legate: To the emperor Caesar. Marching camps. he opened and paved a new road from the borders of Syria as far as the Red Sea. ILS 5834 There was one legionary who was not involved in building this new road across Arabia. taken from the southern defences. this shot. Nerva Traianus Augustus Germanicus Dacicus [Le. Traianus] pontifex maximus. tribunicia potestas Xv. However. provided a simple measure of security for troops camped under canvas. by Caius Claudius Severus. gives an impression of the area covered by a legionary fortress. but to win' (1946: 5).76). newly arrived to legio VI Ferrata fidelis constans. (Fields-Carre Collection) . son of the divine Nerva. having reduced Arabia to form a province. The units involved often put up milestones. 'constructed more quickly than thought' (ibid. However. and that was our friend Iulius Apollinaris. as the internal structures were timber-built. pater patriae.Engineering It is a truism that a soldier's primary raison d'etre was to wage war. imperator VI. legatus Augusti pro praetore. These camps. 3. Today there is nothing to be seen in the interior of the site. and the most common and simplest engineering task carried out by him was building roads.84). 50 The kingpin of the whole Flavian system in Caledonia. were overnight halts for armies or units on campaign. consul V. Marching and practice camps Josephus says that whenever the Romans entered hostile territory. to kill without being killed. they would 'first construct their camp' (Bellum Iudaicum 3.7ha. These enabled troops to move more swiftly and supplies to be delivered more efficiently. 'man does not go to war in order to fight. it is important to remember that the Roman soldier was a builder as well as a fighter. and as du Picq sagely remarks. to which Josephus is referring. the fortress at Inchtuthil occupied an area of 21. As we know.

This shape may have given rise to the nickname papilio ('butterfly') as it rolled up like a grub and with its wings probably reminded the soldiers of the insect emerging from the chrysalis. about five Roman feet (1. Besides.each legionary carried one or two pila muralia. denying him the protection of his shield.it was probably a very versatile device .13). was the via principalis. More importantly. while those of tribunes and above was taller. the other. it is usually thought that a full legion could be accommodated under leather in about 30 acres (12ha). Although this was never considered a defensive structure. and have a narrower 'waist' in the middle for tying together. namely short stretches of rampart and ditch set a few metres in front of the gap in the main rampart spanning its width (Hyginus 49).79). however. 55). interrupted at midpoint by the praetorium. The examples of the square-section wooden stakes (pila muralia) for this that have survived are sharpened at both ends. which ensured all tents were out of range of missiles thrown or shot from outside the camp. topped with some form of timber obstacle. were of two types. which were sewn together. exclusive of guyropes. box-like structures paved with cut turf. as hammering them in would have damaged the sharp ends.Marching camps each had a low earth rampart (agger). although external and double claviculae are also known from aerial photography. the via praetoria.82). This was the tent of the general. Two main axes.what Vegetius (3. The intervallum also allowed full access to the defences. those defended by claviculae ('little keys'). They were made of best quality cattle hide or goatskin with access back and front and enough headroom inside to enable a man to stand up. tangling with such an obstacle in an attack would have caused chaos and blunted the impact of an onrush. Each tent (papilio) measured. this space allowed the army to form itself up ready to deploy into battle order. starting from the entrances.48m) in height.8) calls tribuli. so named because at the time of the manipular legion the tents of the tenth maniples stood nearby.48m) in length. cf. Whatever the exact employment of the pilum muralis . 'which resembles a temple' Oosephus Bellum Iudaicum 3.48m) wide and three Roman feet (89cm) deep. and the surrounding areas were occupied with the soldiers' tents each in its appointed place (ibid. They may not. led from the entrance of the same name to the porta decumana. at right angles to it. The length of a centurion's tent was twice that of a papilio. such a palisade would hardly have been very effective as the surviving examples are only five Roman feet (1. have been set vertically in the agger. Second. each line in its customary space so that every unit knew exactly where to pitch its tents and each man knew his place. crossed at the centre of the camp. they could be rolled up into a long sausage-shape and in this form were carried by mule. 3. The tribunes' tents ran the length of the via principalis. Outside the defences was a single V-shaped ditch (fossa). as part of his regulation marching order. those defended by tituli. 10 Roman feet (2. Between the rampart and the tent-lines was a wide open area known as the intervallum. Within a marching camp the tent-lines were deliberately laid out.96m) square and housed eight men (contubernium) and their equipment (Hyginus 1. They would force an oblique approach towards the entranceway. Made of at least 25 shaped panels. usually inside the area of the camp (ibid. It seems more likely that sets of three or four pila muralia were lashed together with pliable withies or leather ties at angles and placed on the rampart crown as giant 'caltrops' . The entrances of marching camps. In theory these detached obstacles would break the charge of an enemy. the spoil from which went to form the agger. there were no gateways as such. 51 . therefore. one of them. usually not more than five Roman feet (1. As a rule of thumb. namely curved extensions of the rampart (and sometimes its ditch). preferably in oak. Calculating the number of troops each marching camp would have housed is fraught with difficulties. usually so that an attacker's sword arm faced the rampart. First. Vegetius 2.

Often a kilometre or two away from the site of a fort and close to a Roman road. acquiring revenue in the form of booty and bringing prestige to the state. Iulius Frontinus. Before the Varian disaster. Augustus greatly extended Roman territory in directions that suited him. Obviously recruits would have to be instructed in these military techniques. In one he quotes with approval the maxim of Domitius Corbulo. when a belated recognition came that the Roman Army was no longer poised to continue the Augustan expansion of the empire. Tacitus Historiae 3.g. a commander renowned for his realistic training methods: 'Domitius Corbulo used to say that the pick (dolabra) was the weapon with which to beat the enemy' (Strategemata 4. the troops could be billeted in towns and cities. before being assembled in camps (castra aestiva) for summer campaigns (e.5ha. winter quarters were not permanent .the Augustan ones on the Rhine show evidence of frequent modifications .2. onetime governor of Britannia (AD 73-77) and engineer of note. Equally. Iberia). the most common size being around 30.3ha. Under Claudius. wrote several technical treatises. Of course the latter installations would also include the camps built at the end of every day during campaigns. these winter quarters and 52 The multiplication of defensive ditches (five in all) on the north and east sides of Ardoch fort is the result of successive reductions in its size and not of anxiety over its security. but once an area was conquered it laid down a network of smaller turf and timber forts roughly a day's march apart.7.3).Sex. where the legionaries from VIllI Hispana based at nearby York (Eburacum). such as Syria.2).Sm 2 . when an army was on campaign it constructed marching camps to provide security at night. Annales 1.and in more urbanized provinces. Germania). enhancing his own reputation.16. either because of inadequate pacification (e. Forts and fortresses Augustus appointed legions and auxiliary units to individual provinces where he perceived a need. A practice camp has been recognised at Cawthorn. Britain easily provides the largest number of practice camps in the empire.46.2. (FieldsCarre Collection) . the corners and gateways. practised not only the art of entrenchment but also the construction of bread-ovens (clibani). these sites are where troops trained in constructing marching camps and in particular the most difficult sections of the camps. Initially the Flavian fort had an area of some 3. During the winter months. As noted. or because he intended a province to be a platform of aggrandizement (e.g. 30. This can only be a reference to the proven ability of the Roman Army to build marching camps for itself. the troops were scattered and stationed in winter quarters (castra hibema). whereas fully trained soldiers would have to be exercised at fairly frequent intervals so as to maintain standards. but that of the Antonine period had been reduced to about 2.g.

the auxiliary units were gradually spaced out. though not always the same three. This was a concentration of some 10. Further towers. for instance. each with a timber tower above the gate passage itself or towers to either side. Britannia's garrison. Indeed. or what are conveniently labelled legionary fortresses.revetted with either timber or turf and founded upon a corduroy of logs or a stone base .wayside forts became permanent. and in general fortresses were reduced in size (c. Likewise. The layout of the auxiliary fort was essentially a miniature of the legionary fortress plan. During our period a fort was protected by an earth rampart . for instance. but a close examination of fortress layouts shows that there were considerable differences in detail between individual fortress plans. garrisoning forts between and beyond the legionary fortresses.20-2Sha) to house a single legion. The four gateways were retained. fortresses were permanent camps accommodating two legions. some auxiliary units were beginning to be stationed in separate forts. All the same. and Mogontiacum (Mainz) by IIII Macedonica and XXII Primigenia. The one exception to Domitianus' regulation was Egypt. set Reconstruction of a timber gateway with a section of earth and turf rampart topped with a spilt-timber palisade. where the two legions that formed its garrison (III Cyrenaica and XXII Deiotariana) were concentrated in one camp at Nikopolis just outside Alexandria.000 legionaries in a single spot. with their permanent camps. The shallow ditch and palisade of the latter were. prior to Domitianus. Thus the two legions at Moguntiacum were separated. be it fortress or fort. Domitianus issued a regulation forbidding in future more than one legion to occupy the same camp (Suetonius Domitianus 7. but from the late 80s AD the number remained at three.4). and the fortress cut to one legion (XlIII Gemina Martia Victrix) . Antonius Saturninus. however. It should be emphasized that there is no such thing as a typical Roman fortress or fort. at Isca Silurum (Caerleon). depending on the demands of other provinces. replaced by more substantial earthworks in permanent camps. This represents the usual defences of a military installation of our period. fluctuated between three and four legions during the 1st century AD. constructed in AD 40 or thereabouts. and between the same types of building at different sites. As the army began to adopt a primarily defensive role and surveillance of the frontier itself began to assume greater importance. one to five hectares). Note the access to the wall-walk is via a fixed wooden stairway and that to the tower via a ladder. often with two or more V-shaped ditches and an earth or turf rampart surmounted by a timber parapet. was standardized. a permanent camp accommodating an auxiliary unit. and we find two such spots on the Rhine where in AD 69 Vetera (Xanten-Birten) was garrisoned by V Alaudae and XV Primigenia. their plan and design preserved the main defensive features of the marching camp from which they had evolved. but towers now defended them. Chesterholm-Vindolanda. the framework of Roman occupation and control was firmly based on the fort (c. continuing to do so till at least AD 119 when one was transferred to allow the reinforcement of the garrison of troublesome Iudaea. However. and further towers were added at the four angles and at intervals between. (Fields-Carre Collection) 53 . The layout of a fortress. as the result of the rebellion in AD 89 of L. Deva (Chester) and Eburacum (York). Roman commanders favoured large concentrations of soldiers and generally. the earliest known auxiliary fort is that at Valkenburg in southern Holland. who induced the two legions (XlIII Gemina Martia Victrix and XXI Rapax) based at Moguntiacum to support his cause. governor of Germania Superior. The rampart was pierced by four gateways.surmounted by a spilt-timber breastwork or woven wattle-work hurdles and fronted by one or more V-shaped ditches.

and being moist. The only access was from the north. It must also be secure from the possibility of surprise attack. (Fields-Carre Collection) 54 . 'prophesied' his elevation to the purple. Of course this was an optional expedient. Dragged before Vespasianus. However. During the Jewish War. and]osephus.165-75). known as a contravallation. accomplishing this by haVing a screen of rawhides of newly slaughtered oxen strung along the top of the wall to protect the workers.4). grovelling. Vespasianus now set 160 two-armed torsion machines (ballistae) .within the body of the rampart. Several days followed during which the]ewish rebels made a number of sorties against the Romans. was dug and erected around the objective. the circuit wall itself was the chief obstacle to the besieger. of various calibres and firing either arrows or stones. Siegeworks Siege warfare was a haphazard affair at the best of times and not undertaken lightly. However. Naturally. or else digging a tunnel underneath the wall. if a Roman commander chose to conduct a siege. The first and obvious phase was to impose a blockade. they quenched those of a fiery nature (ibid.158). the work on the siege ramp continued. or by digging a mine into which the wall would collapse. a base for wide-ranging activities. on the contrary it was a jumping-off point. ]otapata (Mizpe Yodefat) in Galilee was 'perched on a precipice. Tacitus rightly calls the fort the 'soldiers' hearth and home' (Historiae 2. In wartime the enemy was engaged at close-quarters in the field. As such. Mid-16th century Flemish tapestry (Marsala. the rebel leader. it was also possible to go over it by employing a siege tower suitably fitted with a boarding-bridge. stood at the angles as well as being spaced at regular intervals around the perimeter. the Romans besieging Masada (AD 73-74) opting to encircle the target only with a contravallation. A breach could be achieved by attacking it under cover of a 'tortoise' (testudo) with a battering ram (aries). Vespasianus now decided to prosecute the siege with vigour. A siege normally followed a recognized pattern of events. The second phase provided a natural corollary to this: a line of entrenchments. which faced away from the objective and protected the rear of the besiegers from possible attack from without. they were greatly impeded by the missiles hurled at them by the defenders. known as a circumvallation. when Jotapata fell Josephus fled to a cave with a band of followers. 3. Museo delgi Arazzi. decided to build the wall higher at this point. and it was here that Vespasianus pitched his camp sometime early in AD 67. out of range of missile weapons. cut off on three sides by ravines of such extraordinary depth' Oosephus Bellum Iudaicum 3. with the dual purpose of denying access to or issue from the objective and of providing to the besiegers shelter from surprise attack from within. Yet a fort was not designed as an impregnable stronghold. Tapestry 5) showing Vespasianus releasing Josephus. The third phase of a siege comprised the development of a further line of entrenchments. In its simplest form the contravallation was no more than an agger. As well as going through or under the wall. it was hardly inferior in its facilities to the fortress of the legions. mechanical or manpowered. Here he was discovered after all but one of his men had dispatched each other rather than surrender. while at other times the garrison would have patrolled well beyond the frontier either to support allied tribes or to conduct punitive campaigns. The ] ews retaliated by making swift sallies 'guerrilla-fashion' and demolishing the sheds. machines and siegeworks. The hides broke the impact of the incoming missiles. throwing up a ramp of earth and timber against the wall. with the aim of starving the besieged into submission. he had three modes of action at his disposal: well-trained troops. Though the soldiers forming the work-parties were protected by sheds (vineae). to work to dislodge the enemy from the wall. the future historian. timber and wickerwork structures sheeted in fireresistant rawhides. though more often than not the earth rampart was reinforced by a ditch and palisade. where a wall had been built to prevent such a thing. the objective being to provide a permanent and tolerably comfortable quarter for its garrison.80.

. But the people of Jotapata confounded them by washing out their clothes in their precious water. The besiegers got wind of this and took heart. Beside Kissinger's last point we can place a comment by Cassius Dio. Honorific retirement is rare and non-existent for the supreme leader.anus 23).anus 16. who could be trusted not to abuse his plenary powers . the fairytale fiction that the army was the army of the Roman people was preserved. nothing. Vespasianus was an able military commander and politician. believing the siege almost over. thus committing himself to the trial of combat.1 ). London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Vespasianus. Significantly. dying of fever. Thus he emphasized the stability of Roman power. but the people pleaded with him not to leave them. he ate whatever rations were available and in dress and appearance was much the same as an ordinary ranker (Tacitus Histor. AD 79) Some 90 years after Actium.. the 'base-born' Vespasianus. He was well liked by Claudius. which is the incentive of most statesmen. being granted triumphalia for his part in the invasion of Britannia. These being hung out to dry on the battlements. In every Communist state a leadership group seize power. whereas in reality it was either inherited (as in the case of Tiberi us) or seized (as in the case of Vespasianus). When legions under the control of Vespasianus' political allies declared him emperor. and so he stayed and organized many sorties. Vespasianus was a natural soldier: he led the column-of-march in person. believing it would draw the Romans away. Every leader dies in office. but ran afoul of Nero. The only charge held against Vespasianus was his avarice (Tacitus Historiae 2. the walls soon ran with water. Nero's death by his own shaky hand had 'let out the secret that an emperor could be made elsewhere than at Rome' (Historiae 104. In the pithy observation of Tacitus. Likewise.. Kissinger.5.As emperor he was a conscientious. This reminds us of the theory and practice in the ex-Soviet Union.2. Tiberius might proclaim 'the legions are not mine but the state's' (Cassius Dio 57. and then Otho. Flavius Vespasianus (d. The imperial pretence was that power came from the Roman people by voluntary grant. Nero had entrusted Vespasianus with the command in ludaea (three legions. He reorganized the army.. would acquire from the bitter Jewish war a reputation for sharing the toils of the army and identifying themselves with the common soldier.ae 2. I 13. he is reported to have uttered the words. but in truth the emperor commanded what was virtually his own private army. built up an excellent rapport with his men. 1979.. it seemed. and would even venture into the battle line if necessary. would come out of the civil war of AD 68-69 as the founder of a new dynasty.exactly what the empire needed.1 ). Vespasianus quickly succeeded in quelling the violence and was set to invest Jerusalem when Nero played his last scene. selected camp sites. No Soviet leader's reputation. At first. The Romans counteracted with their artillery. began building the Flavian Amphitheatre. But the ensuing civil war and rapid departures of the two emperors made Vespasianus realize he could make a play for the purple.1. As Henry Kissinger once majestically commented: No Communist state has solved the problem of regular succession. namely that 'no injunction can have any weight against the ingratitude or the might of one's successors' (59. except Lenin's. or is replaced by coup-like procedures. The Romans thought they must have some secret source of supply. along with his son Titus. pursued the enemy day and night. 55 . with the empire once again set on the firmest foundations both politically and militarily.5). whom the Senate had confirmed as emperor. T. I think I'm becoming a god' (Suetonius Vespas. plus four more in Syria) because he was 'an energetic commander. filled the coffers that Nero and the civil war had depleted. H. and in recognition of this accomplishment Vespasianus built a new temple of peace. who sent him to ludaea to handle the Jewish revolt.3).The besieged had plenty of grain but little water.2. need be feared from a man of such modest antecedents' (Suetonius Vespasianus 4. Suetonius Vespas. Vespasianus supported Galba. This brought an end to the civil war. and taught his son Titus about governing so that the Flavian dynasty would thrive after his death. His sense of humour showed through when on his deathbed.A.3). the lulio-Claudian dynasty had come to a tragic and untimely end. the Templum Pacis. who obviously came across as more a soldier than a politician. has survived his death. better known to history as the Colosseum. which was now augmented with Syrian slingers and Arab bowmen. a senator of obscure Italian origin.1). grow old together. Josephus now decided to quit Jotapata. they know that they will probably be denied by their successors the accolade of history. 'Oh. The White House Years. the Senate confirmed it. firm and responsible leader . but all this made the Jews even more determined to resist. and are eventually replaced by successors whose ability to reach the pinnacle depends on their skill in masking their ambitions .5. Vespasianus. He immediately attended to the matter of his succession and declared in the Senate that either his sons would succeed him or no one would. so Josephus caused water to be rationed at an early stage.

The Jews were taken by surprise. Each 50 Roman feet (14. but this did not prevent the besiegers from erecting the ram again and continuing their battering of the wall (ibid.1). cast a huge stone down from the wall and on to the ram and broke off its iron head. The defenders then quickly resorted to a second ruse: they poured boiled fenugreek (Faenum Graecum. In all about 40. with 1. the Romans prepared for the final assault. so the defenders did likewise with their bales of chaff (ibid. slingers and archers were able to pour missiles down on the heads of the now-unprotected defenders on the wall. Incidentally. That same daybreak.275-78). made a bonfire of the ram.200 women and children auctioned off as slaves.223). usually slept during the last watch of the night. that is to say. as if the town had been captured already' (ibid. and Josephus recounts how one of the men standing close to him was decapitated and his head flung hundreds of metres from the body. thus making them so slippery as to be unusable (ibid. She was shattered by an incoming stone just as she stepped out of her house at sun-up. Even more shocking was the fate of a pregnant woman obviously caught up willy-nilly in the horrors of the siege.245-46). By the 47th day of the siege a deserter went to Vespasianus and informed him of the pitiful state of the defenders. Vespasianus ordered his men to raise the siegemounds higher and to erect three towers on them. Before the Romans could effectively respond. 3. While a furious fight ensued the Romans attempted to scale the unbreached part of the wall. 'Greek hay') upon the boards which the Romans were using in their attempt to scale the wall. renowned for his might. 56 . the Jews torched many of the other machines. Josephus tried to defeat the ram by ordering sacks to be filled with chaff and lowering them down over the wall so that they would weaken its blows. armed with dry wood mixed with bitumen and pitch.8m) high and encased in iron on all four sides. It was about now that Vespasianus was wounded in the foot by an arrow. a Jew. while from their lofty tops javelineers. and at the very first strike the wall was shaken 'and piercing shrieks were raised by those within. in the meantime the defenders still clung stubbornly to Jotapata's crumbling battlements. but were forestalled by the rebels charging out to meet them. He also told of how the Jews. 3. Vespasianus' final order was for the town to be razed to the ground.000 were slain at the siege of Jotapata. and the unborn child was flung some distance away (Bellum Iudaicum 3. Each time the Romans moved their ram to a new spot. the first recorded use of this weapon. And so at the appointed hour a Roman assault party noiselessly made their way silently to the wall. having finally breached the wall. Undaunted by this setback. While this was going on. Three parties of the rebels then rushed out of the gates and. cut the throats of the watch and snuck into the sleeping town. leading from the front and setting an example to his 'fellow soldiers' (commilitones).Vespasianus now brought up a battering ram.5. but this move was checked by the stratagem of scalding oil. more so as a thick swirling mist confounded their efforts to organize an effective resistance. which so incensed his soldiers that they renewed their attack on the city regardless. In the end the Romans managed to cut the bales from off the ropes and so continued their battering of the wall. all-in from the constant fighting and vigilance.220). Tacitus describes the future emperor as 'a worthy successor to the commanders of old' (Historiae 2. 3. 3. Anyway.227-28). the towers housed ballistae and their operators.

After Actium There is always a certain degree of ambiguity about what exactly Augustus was trying achieve by his constitutional settlements of 27 and 23 BC. Asprenas I /e9101 I C8J X Alaudae~ 57 legio vr":7I . Besides. 'Why'. Asprenas. AD 9 In order to control what was a vast territory. But there was obviously significant discontent with low rates of pay. his nephew L. fewer still of cohorts? You will never be brave enough to demand better conditions if you are not prepared to Varus in Germania. an autocracy with republican trimmings.r":7I. 'the emperor was what the emperor did'. He established a system of administration effective not only in Rome and Italy but also in the provinces. Suetonius (Divus Augustus 28. like slaves. r":7I.. XVII. a few commanders of centuries. He still used the Senate as a legislative and judicial body. XVIIII~ legio . III ~ I X ~ L. Whatever. The legions had been the source of Augustus' power. under a legate. With the three legions under his personal command. in the south stationed at Mogontiacum (Mainz). as Fergus Millar (1992: 6) so aptly puts it. Yet in truth it was a new political order dressed up as a restoration. long service and unsuitable land allocations. He held the government firmly on the basis of the authority of a popular tribune (tribunicia potestas). Quinctilus Varus I legio I X legio I X I II XVII~ r":7I X XVIII~. and control of the provinces where. the legions were stationed. which theoretically encompassed all Germania east of the Rhine and up to the Elbe. However. and instituted six-monthly consultative committees.Varus also had six cohortes and three alae of auxilia. Here Tacitus takes up the story: Finally Percennius had acquired a team of helpers ready for mutiny. his administration adhered broadly to a republican framework. and two more. Augustus' achievements were considerable. Outwardly. especially in contrast to the praetorians. P. which strongly suggests Augustus saw himself as a founder of a new constitutional system. serious mutinies broke out in Pannonia and Germania in AD 14 partly because the legionaries were worried about their conditions of service after the death of Augustus. with him in the north stationed at Vetera (Xanten-Birten). so closely had he become associated with their emoluments. XVIII and XVIIII. with three exceptions. 'obey. Then he made something like a public speech. granted for life and valid even within the city of Rome (where normally imperium pro consule lapsed). using a small number of leading senators as a cabinet (consilium principis) to formulate proposals that would then be put before the Senate as a whole. I (later I Germanica) and V Alaudae. a proconsular power (imperium pro consule) superior (maius) to any individual senatorial proconsul. he asked.2) cites one of his edicts of 27 BC. Varus had five legions: three.

The Roman Empire. taxes and revenues. the size of the fleets. most of the territories round the Mediterranean basin upon which its security depended. it was composed of 28 legions. either directly or through subservient client kingdoms. when three legions were lost in Germania.5. on Tiberius' first debate in the Senate as the new emperor. peace in the provinces and the security of empire: these are listed by Caesar (Bellum civile 3. necessary expenses and donations. When a standing army was fully recognized towards the middle of Augustus' reign. containing the details of the matters concerning the state. the extent of citizens and allies under arms. This number was reduced to 25 after the Varian disaster of AD 9. On Augustus' death Rome controlled. of kingdoms.000 Roman citizens were under arms. AD 14 Client kingdom Principality c.2-5) Site of battle (with date) 200 mi I 200 km 58 Tranquillity for Italy. half of which were stationed in the provinces of the northern frontiers from Gaul to Macedonia. has this to say: 'A note book was produced. The prime means of attaining them was the legions.57. provinces. All this Augustus had . These were supported by an equal number of auxiliaries. At the legion's paper strength this meant that some 125. Tacitus.8:I X Legion (after Tacitus Annates 4.4) as the basic achievements for a statesman.

.. . . 59 . as we would expect in a militaristic society... outweighed the possible benefits. Yet. was to follow the so-called Augustan mandate to the letter.. ever existed..1 I).. . Tacitus records the verbal outburst of Domitius Corbulo.. when instructed by Claudius in AD 47 to stop further aggression against the Chauci: 'Earlier Roman commanders were fortunate!' (ibid.21. 11. although he had been one of the most experienced of the Augustan commanders. . Tiberius felt that the costs involved in conquering and pacifying new territories. Tiberius.. ••••••••• ••••• •••• •••• •••• •••• •• ••• written in his own hand.. With years of fighting on the Rhine and the Danube. there was a consciousness among Roman commanders of a 'heroic past' that they felt drawn to emulate.3).... Whether or not this document was genuine or.. the serving governor of Germania Inferior and one of the most distinguished commanders of our period.DA C fA . ..... and had added the advice of restraining the empire within limits' (Annates 1. even further from the Mediterranean. for that matter.

each soldier had to pay for his own clothing. was the ringleader of the mutineers in Pannonia. Old men. X Gemina~ A. even during the summer months. V Alaudae and XXI Rapax. mutilated by wounds. Xliii Gemina (later XlIII Gemina Martia Vietrix).6). the first payment being made on the occasion of the annual New Year parade when the troops renewed their oath to the emperor. VIllI Hispana and XV Apollinaris) based in a camp near Emona (Ljubljana). under A. that is. and two more. AD 13). unrewarding profession! Body and soul are reckoned at ten asses a day . there were four legions: two. 12.1). Wages were paid in three annual instalments (Cassius Dio 67. to the south at Vindonissa (Windisch). Also living in tents. Once the mutiny was crushed he was to be hunted down and executed for his troubles. Stationed in Germania Superior. are serving their 30th year or 40th year. In the time of Augustus the annual rate of pay for a legionary was 225 denarii. And even after your official discharge your service is not finished. tents. the basic rate remaining so until Domitianus.g.3. AD Nero Claudius Germanius Caesar I I I III ~cohortes ~ ~ I x legioxlIlI~ Gemina~ praetoriae I x legiOxv/~ C. at Mogontiacum (Mainz). Tacitus Annales 1. XVI Gallica and II Augusta. inconvenience. 25). I Germanica and XX (later XX Valeria Vietrix). Tacitus 16 Stationed in Germania Inferior. and discomfort' (ad Martyras 3). then garrisoned by three legions (VIII Augusta.35. But Percennius' complaint was all in vain. who increased the pay by one third. there were four legions: three. Silius (cos. Caecina Severus. XIII Gemina. but these items were purchased back by the army from the soldier or his heir when he retired or died. for you stay on with the colours as a reserve (sue vexillo).or even threaten . two cohorts of praetorians were acting as Germanicus' bodyguard.17. The bleakness of life under canvas is the subject of a telling passage of Tertullian: 'No soldier comes with frolics to battle nor does he go to the front from his bedroom but from tents that are light and small. Truly the army is aharsh. Percennius' 'ten asses a day' (Tacitus Annales 1. These were the official charges. where there is every kind of hardship. Official deductions were made for food and fodder (for the mule belonging to the contubemium). at Vetera (Xanten-Birten). As we know. on the Rhine and Danube frontiers must have been miserable to say the least. Campbell 24.5). under C. and bribes for brutal centurions if you want to avoid chores. a common soldier.the same drudgery under another name! And if you manage to survive all these hazards. at Oppidum Ubiorum (Koln). even then you are dragged off to a remote country and 'settled' in some waterlogged swamp or uncultivated mountainside. Germanicus in Germania. still under canvas .17 Percennius. with another one. weapons.petition . to 300 denarii a year (Suetonius Domitianus 7.an emperor who is new and still faltering [Le. Caecina Severus j I X I legio I X I X Germanica~ legiO/~ X /eg. As befitting a prince. Inactivity has done quite enough harm in all these years. Tiberius]. In addition.and with this you have to find clothes.oxxcg] Alaudae~ vr:::::7) legio XXI r:::::7) Rapax~ 60 . These mutinies clearly showed the danger of having too many legions (there were four involved in the Germania mutiny) in the same camp. eqUipment and weapons (e.Silius I I X I Gallica~ Augusta~ legioll~ legiOXIII~.

The Sulpicii Galbae had been prominent in senatorial politics for more than two centuries and Galba's claim to the imperial purple was at least in part based on his distinguished republican aristocratic ancestry. and these normally took place on distant frontiers. he managed to keep the Romans busy for nigh-on eight years (AD 17-24). For this reason VIllI Hispana was transferred from Pannonia to Africa for four years to assist III Augusta in quelling the native revolt (ibid. but it is clear that the Principate was his goal. Meanwhile in Iberia.000 denarii. while Phaedrus. published the fable of the she-goats' beards. in May his inexperienced troops were cut to pieces by the Rhine legions. had urged Galba to 'make himself the liberator and leader of humanity' (Suetonius Galba 9. Tacitus portrays Livia as a very powerful influence on both Augustus and Tiberius. As the legions and auxiliary units became more static. 3.1.52. Ser. But with the death of Nero. the last of Augustus' bloodline. Such evidence has brought into question the traditional assessment of Galba as nothing more than an Marble bust of Livia (d. preserved on the coins he issued as emperor. through a system of forts and the deployment of mobile columns specially trained for desert conditions. 3 Be) had a successful military career and was a close friend of Claudius.records that one of the complaints of the mutineers was that they had to pay sweeteners to venal centurions in order to gain exemption from fatigues. dated to the Ist century AD (Sel~uk. Arkeoloji Muzesi). This did not do Vindex much good. By the time Galba reached Rome Nero had breathed his last. and these plots tended to be either waterlogged or rock-strewn.2). To this end. a satirist who flourished under Tiberius. It seems Livia wore the trousers in the imperial house. had risen up in rebellion. There was also a serious guerrilla war in Africa started by the Numidian Tacfarinas. (Fields-Carre Collection) 61 . He was now governor of Hispania Tarraconensis. the largest of the three Iberian provinces. Iulius Vindex. when in March AD 68 news reached him that C. but he sensibly declined the offer. the problem of responding to particular threats became more acute. the soldiers of VI Victrix declared their man emperor. The establishment of the Principate by Augustus had banished war to the social and geographical periphery. who had selected him as governor of Africa.3). Eventually. before he went down. and it is interesting to note that Vindex. Professional soldiers now fought wars. Tacfarinas and his guerrillas were constantly engaged and thus worn down. and widely spaced. and eventually the Senate (and the praetorians) confirmed it.9.2). he organized a concilium of advisors in order to make it known that any decisions were not made by him alone but only after consultation with a group. governor of Gallia Lugdunensis and himself an Aquitani chieftain. Even more revealing of his imperial ambitions were legends like LIBERTAS RESTITUTA ('Liberty Restored') and SALUS GENERIS HUMANI ('Salvation of Mankind'). Another complaint was that time-expired soldiers were being fobbed off with grants of land in lieu of the gratuity of 3. Nero had just returned from his artistic tour of Greece. 4. The arrangement was meant to recall the healthy relationship between Augustus and the Senate. For the moment. Equipping and organizing his native army along Roman lines (Tacitus Annales 2. a deserter from the ranks of the auxilia. the empire was plunged into a civil war as vicious as any of those that had dogged the final decades of the Republic. Galba accepted. he refused the title of emperor. A century of internal peace and stability would be shattered as armies were assembled and pitted against each other by four emperors in rapid succession. Sulpicius Galba (b.23. The victorious soldiers wanted to proclaim their commander Verginius Rufus emperor. AD 29).

I do not buy them' (Tacitus Historiae Paulinus in Britannia.Coin depicting the head of Nero Claudius Drusus. namely XliII Gemina (soon XliII Gemina Martia Victrix) and a part of XX Valeria (soon XX Valeria Victrix) plus some auxiliary units. Galba was lecherous and cruel. Petilius Cerialis 62 . It is said he spent much time chasing various Germanic chieftains on the battlefield in the hope of overcoming them in mortal combat. and quickly managed to alienate everyone including the military.. . failed to join Suetonius Paulinus. I III I I II x 8 cohortes ~ quingenariae? x 2 alae quingenariae? (-) legioll Augusta~ .. Seutonius Paulinus x legioXlI1I Gemina I a. then in the south-west of the province.•. Thus the governor was left with only those troops under his immediate command. Drusus campaigned extensively in Germania and managed to reach the Elbe. '._. AD 61 C. ineffectual representative of a bygone age in favour of a more balanced portrait of a traditional constitutionalist eager to publicize the virtues of an Augustan-style Principate.. .. Villi Hispana was to be too badly mauled in an ambush to play any further part in the campaign. Although not a bad administrator. Poenius Postumus X legio VIll1r:::::7J.•. when asked to approve a pay increase for the army he took the line of high principle and notoriously declared. 'I pick my soldiers. Brother of Tiberius and father of Germanicus. Hispana~ Q. (Ancient Art and Arch itectu re) In Britannia at the time there were four legions... Of these. while II Augusta.

Otho had them remove Galba. Fortune did not favour Otho. A fortnight later. Salvius Otho was one of Nero's closest friends and confidants. Our sources are at a loss to explain the paradox. a firm friend was turned into a mortal enemy (Tacitus Historiae 1. his violent overthrow of Galba. M. Badly outnumbered by that of Vitellius. in a neighbourhood thick with vineyards somewhere between Bedriacum and Cremona. however. On 14 March he left Rome and made camp in Bedriacum (Tornato). who happily proclaimed him emperor. because he was immediately faced with Vitellius' army. When the elderly Galba.part Neronian wastrel and part conscientious commander willing to give his life for the good of the state. which was marching on Italy. However. settled veterans from the Ravenna and Misene fleets at Paestum. Perhaps he saw it was safer to appear a profligate in Nero's court. Otho remains an enigma . XXI Rapax and XXII Primigenia) refused to recognize him as their commander-in-chief and proclaimed Aulus Vitellius. For Otho there was no other solution but to face the opposing army. The legions in Germania Superior (1111 Macedonica. Otho proposed a system of joint rule and was even Willing to marry Vitellius' daughter. seduced by Otho. along with Piso. a long-named but little-known scion of old Roman nobility.13). some 30km from Cremona. Otho's army was quickly defeated. Nevertheless. just north of the Padus (Po). governor of next-door Germania Inferior. who owed a great deal to the navy for opening the seaways to Italy during his bid for power. making him a powerful figure. he put his affairs in order and committed suicide. in broad daylight. a marine in the centuria of Secundus. this is the tombstone of C.5. apparently to avoid further bloodshed.3). In the final analysis. Otho's imperial favour wavered when Nero took a strong liking to his wife. (Fields-Carre Collection) 1. He also seems to have been a capable governor. He died aged 40 after 23 years' service. Valerius Naso. emperor. On 14 April the decisive confrontation took place. the lingering doubts that it raised about his character and 63 . whose two sons had both died at a young age. and he was 'banished' to Lusitania to serve as its governor. the ambitious Poppaea Sabina.Vespasianus. but the tide could not be turned. Out of revenge (and in hopes of great personal gains) Otho assisted Galba in becoming emperor. Galba was butchered in the Forum by his own praetorians. as his son and successor. Calpurnius Piso Frugi Licinianus. deserted. while the Senate hastened to recognize him. with administrative talents that recalled those of his brilliant father. Otho proved to be an organized and efficient general. Dated to the late Ist century AD. Having turned to the praetorians. To be sure. who appealed more to the soldier than to the civilian. adopted a certain L. On 2 January AD 69 the end was already in sight.

Claudius and Nero. This unit had seen a little service at the end of Domitius Corbulo's Parthian campaign but lacked the experience of the other legions. and sent them on to Rome. As noted. The legate of XV Apol/inaris was none other than Yespasianus' eldest son. This was partially out of hatred for the parsimonious Galba. Another of Yes pasian us' subordinates was M. and before long the Danube legions followed suit. . Contrary to expectations he showed himself to be moderate. and a strong military presence was politically as well as militarily desirable in the east. Vespasianus.At 27 years of age Titus was younger than most legionary legates and his appointment reflects the tradition of senators relying on family members to serve as their senior subordinates. and one other. Ulpius Traianus ~ II III xxxx C. there were four other legions. Flavius Vespasianus I legiOV~ X IL::::::::J legiOX~ Frentensis X IL::::::::J legiOXV~ X Sex. He was certainly no soldier. the hedonistic Vitellius was left as sole emperor. Regrettably. X Fretensis and XV Apol/inaris. Upon learning of Galba's death. VI Ferrata and XII Fulminata. V Macedonica. Vettulenus Cerealis M. He was. Licinius Munianus C8J I I I Scythica~: I I Fulminata legiOIll. 11/ Gal/ica. Ulpius Traianus. two legions. 11/1 Scythica. When the hapless Otho committed suicide. Titus. Flavius Vespasianus I Macedonica I I APOllinarislL::::::::J T. However.Vespasianus in ludaea. Josephus tells us that these were supported by 23 cohortes. Meanwhile.' X legiOV/~ . So when Yespasianus took up the ludaean command in the winter of AD 67. Vitellius gathered up two of the Rhine legions. when Galba became emperor the Rhine legions refused to pledge allegiance to him. in nextdoor Syria with the governor C. with XV Apol/inaris never returning but ending up as the new garrison of Cappadocia in AD 72. of course. AD 67-69 T. After a tour of the battlefield near Cremona. but his many vices usually got the best of him. Ferrata IL::::::::J X legiOXII~ X IL::::::::J When a renewed bout of fighting against Parthia flared up in Nero's reign. the scenario would play itself out one more time before peace and stability returned to the empire. he soon received word that the legions of the east had declared themselves in favour of that successful and popular general. As governor of Germania Superior he governed reasonably well. from Pannonia. along with vexillationes from the other five.AII three legions would remain in the east throughout the Jewish revolt. the legate of X Fretensis. '. and partially out of fondness for the pleasure-seeking Vitellius. his army consisted of three legions.'. for he stayed put on the Rhine while his army did his dirty work near the Padus. Licinius Mucianus. 1111 Scythica and V Macedonica. Vitellius was well liked by Caligula. of which ten were peditatae mil/iariae and the rest equitatae quingenariae. he entered Rome in the middle of July and proclaimed himself consul for life. In AD 68 11/ Gal/ica would be transferred from Syria to Moesia. were moved there from Moesia. XV Apol/inaris. and six alae. the father and namesake of the future emperor. Traianus. declaring their own man the emperor. 64 his unsuccessful offensive against Vitellius are all vivid reminders of the turbulence that plagued the Roman world between the reigns of Nero and Vespasianus.~' GalliCa~ X legiOIll/~.

The Vitellians were soundly beaten. but his men defected in droves. It was an awesome sight. Meantime. his depiction as indolent. practically at the same spot outside Cremona where Vitellius' army had been so successful before. The triumph. divine images and pictorial scenes of the war. 21. His soldiers found Vitellius. Tacitus Historiae 2. they glistened with their phalerae and torques. which was currently bearing the moniker Galbiana and serving in Pannonia (Tacitus Historiae 2.1. 3. and his humiliating demise was perfectly in keeping with the overall fiasco of his fleeting reign. And so Vitellius has not escaped the hostility of his biographers.Titus (now dead and deified) rides in his triumph 'over the Jews'. Vitellius occupied the Apennine passes in an attempt to halt the advance. a deficiency that forced him to rely in critical situations on largely ineffective lieutenants. tribunes and frontranker centurions (primi ordines). It was also attractive since it retailed many of the respected traditions of the Republic. For four days the victorious Flavians wreaked bloody havoc on Cremona. legate of Galba's newly formed VII Hispana.7.1. the Flavian legions made a rapid descent on Italy. captives. it seems the very bad portrayal of him in the sources derives from the inherent hostility of the Flavian writers and the manner of his demise. On 20 December Antonius Primus reached the gates of the city and fought his way in. Vitellius had no choice but to retreat to Rome. As a result he was no match for his Flavian successors. (Fields-Carre Collection) It was the six Danube legions that put an end to Vitellius' reign. Rome. there was a decisive battle. cf. Hence Tacitus' description of Vitellius' triumphal entry into Rome: In front of the eagles marched the camp prefects. with its parade of spoils. On the whole. thus ending the civil war and beginning the Flavian rule. was the most direct expression of an emperor's personal military glory.86. resplendent in their weapons and decorations. As for the soldiers. all dressed in white.89. tortured him to death in public and then threw his corpse into the Tiber.3 On the other hand. an army worthy of an emperor other than Vitellius. 65 . soldiers. Under the dynamic leadership of Antonius Primus. The other officers each flanked their own centuries.Arch of Titus.2). whatever moderating tendencies he did show were overshadowed by his clear lack of military expertise. and on the night of 24/25 October. While he may well have been gluttonous. cruel and extravagant is based almost entirely on the propaganda of his enemies. which was by no means as edifying as Otho's.

we know of four cohortes of Batavi. however. which culminated in Mons Graupius. cf.2). His first action was the suppression of the Ordovices of what are now central and north Wales and the reoccupation of Mona.As he also operated there during his third season (AD 79). AD 82-83 en. according to Tacitus (ibid.~ legio Hispana~ (-) VIIII~ III ~~:. 23) the isthmus was firmly held by garrisons (praeSidia). as implied by Tacitus (Agricola 7. Tacitus' father-in-law had all the usual attributes of the good Roman general. As a commander in the field Agricola displayed sound judgement and stout courage. and did not shrink from toil and danger. He had also served in the province twice before. he built forts. 'Romanization'. before the would-be emperor had even publicly declared his hand (July AD 69). however. II Adiutrix pia fidelis. Adiutrix pia fidelis ~ legiOIl~(-) X Valeria Victrix'~ legiOXX~ X (-) For his two seasons north of the Bodotria (Forth)..1). It is usually assumed that this season's campaign was in the territory of the Brigantes where. There were. II Augusta. according to Tacitus (ibid. legatus Augusti pro praetore. in the original expedition to the island under Claudius (Suetonius Divus Vespasianus 4.1.3). when victory narrowly eluded him . 66 . Tacitus certainly believed his father-inlaw was hated and distrusted by the emperor because he was a good man and a successful commander.Agricola in Caledonia. came to the provi nce with considerable local knowledge and experience. Agricola. then Agricola would have had some 16 cohortes and ten alae all told.4. The emperor himself had served.20. aged 37. AUgUsta~ ·. 20. There was a particular factor in the choice of Agricola as governor of Britannia He was a strong supporter of the Flavian dynasty. It goes without saying that our knowledge of Agricola's tenure as governor is greatly enhanced by Tacitus' brief biography (or perhaps hagiography) of his father-in-law. But the fact remains that much of what this vital source covers is probably true even if the credit need not be entirely accorded to Agricola.1 ). should be taken when using the Agricola (de vita lulii Argicolae) as a source since it is a laudatory biography written as an act of devotion (pietas). 41. Agricola sought military glory and from the start he was 'anxious and eager for action' (Tacitus Agricola 5. Recalled in spring AD 84. his sixth (AD 82). as Tacitus stresses (ibid. If the auxilia were organized as quingenaria units.ae ~Marla&. In other words. These were supported by some 8. Villi Hispana and XX Valeria Victrix.1) he built forts.Villi Hispana was badly mauled during a night attack upon its marching camp .1). en. 35). Cassius Dio 60. (-) legiOII·. of Britannia.2. Of the auxilia.and his seventh (AD 83). having gone over to Vespasianus (March AD 69).000 auxiliary cavalry. as a tribunus laticlavius during the Boudican revolt (AD 61) and as the legate of XX Valeria Victrix during the conquest of the Brigantes (AD 70-73). Again. (AD 40-93) Born in the colony of Forum lulii (Frejus) in Gallia Narbonensis when. though he did operate in the south-west of Scotland: Tacitus merely says Agricola advanced through 'repeated and successful battles' (ibid.000 auxiliary infantry and 5. 24. of Britannia by Vespasianus (AD 77). Agricola was appointed governor. he led the troops personally and chose camp sites himself (Tacitus Agricola 18. 20. he was denied further appointments because of.3).Agricola had mustered vexillationes from the four legions. unusually for a Roman governor. Some care. 22. with distinction. Agricola had arrived in the province late in the year and thus the following summer (AD 78) was his first full campaigning season. although some of this period might have been spent north of the Solway in what is now southern Scotland: measures to promote. The following year (AD 80) saw Agricola consolidating on a line between the Clota and Bodotria (Clyde and Forth) with clearly no advances the next year either: Tacitus says (ibid. Whether the allegation is justified. the campaigns north of the Bodotria against the Caledonii. Brave and decisive under pressure. lulius Agricola X X II CZJ xxx · ·. Domitianus' malice and jealousy. two cohortes ofTungri and an unspecified number of Britons recruited from the tribes in the south. 21 ). lulius Agricola. 22. ravaging tribes as far north as the estuary of the Tanaus (Tay).4-5. now the island of Anglesey (AD 77). so Tacitus alleges (ibid.

When Vitellius was overthrown.1). After the rebellion the two-legion camp at Vetera. which was repulsed. Trajan's Column is outstanding. Cassius Dio describes him in a predictable way. but also in the frequency of his appearance.6. besides Civilis' own people. and the Romans consolidated their gains. such as the Sarmatians and Bastarnae. and XXI Rapax was left on the Rhine but moved to the rebuilt camp at Bonna. a powerful expeditionary force under the consul Q. Of the other two legions. consisted of Germanic tribes who contributed auxilia to Rome. (Fields-Carre Collection) 67 . but also how to manage a defeat' (Cassius Dio 67. reconstructed in stone under Nero but heavily damaged during the recent battle there.With V Alaudae. not only in artistic portrayal. Mogontiacum now became the home of I Adiutrix and XlIII Gemina Martia Victrix. a worthy opponent who was: 'Shrewd in the understanding of warfare and shrewd also in the waging of war. the Dacians raided across the Danube and inflicted serious defeats on the Romans. avoiding a pitched battle. with a treaty by which the Romans paid Decebalus an annual indemnity and provided him with the services of engineers so that he could upgrade the fastnesses of his kingdom. son-in-law of Vespasianus and a reckless but able commander. The rebel alliance. It was during the reign of Vespasianus' younger son. he judged well when to attack and chose the right moment to retreat. Domitianus' campaign against them ended in what amounted to a fiasco. At the same time. In the first campaign the Dacians initially fell back. lulius Civilis. not only for its size. XXII Primigenia pia {idelis. had roused his fellow Batavi against Vitellius. but also in the idea of recording in detail the progress of an imperial campaign. the Dacian capital set high in the Carpathians. V Alaudae was posted to Moesia. Civilis' forces were decisively crushed in battle at Trever (Trier) in AD 70. that Decebalus rose to prominence. he knew not only how to follow up a victory well. XXI Rapax and vexillationes from the five other Rhine legions absent in Italy. four other Rhine legions (I Germanica. including the Tungri. he was an expert in ambuscades and master in pitched battle. Naturally. subjecting neighbours. Once the new emperor had regained control of Italy. Civilis should have placed himself at the disposal of Vespasianus. 1111 Macedonia. Civilis' head was evidently turned. under a cloak of loyalty to Vespasianus. which had gallantly held the camp at Moguntiacum. deserted Rome and four of the Rhine legions swore loyalty to the rebels. During the winter Decebalus launched a counterattack somewhere in Moesia Inferior. Domitianus. massing a strong force of Dacian warriors. It seems Traianus directed every move in his two Dacian wars. was sent to the Rhine. and Germanic tribes further east of the Rhine. Therefore it comes as no surprise to find Traianus. the latter unit making a return visit. XV Primigenia and XVI Gallica) were disbanded for having seriously disgraced themselves. But many of the Gallic auxiliaries in Gallia Belgica. when he donned the purple. was replaced by a new fortress for just one legion. seeking terms that were favourable to Rome. completely uninvolved in the rebellion. Under the king's aggressive leadership. and even enlisting deserters from the Roman Army. Traianus for the second season decided to advance from the east towards the Red Tower Pass. Having surveyed the difficult terrain in the approach from the west to Sarmizegetusa. Petilius Cerialis. the nobleman C. throughout the story the emperor has a dominant position.

even to the outermost edge of the world itself. . . . AD 117 Client kingdom New province Legion (after ILS 2288) Site of battle (with date) : ..The Roman Empire.. At other times.. • •• •• • •• •• •••• •• ••• •• •• •• •• •• •• • •• •• ••• . .. The southern part of Britannia was annexed (AD 43) and other peripheral areas like Cappadocia (AD 17).. Commagene (AD 72) and Arabia (AD 106) were absorbed... Thrace (AD 46).. ' .... . .As these client kingdoms were eliminated Roman forces became directly responsible for the defence of a growing proportion of the empire's boundaries.. ·• ...... and client kingdoms on the periphery of Roman territory acted as buffer states as well as providing troops and an easy route to further expansion when required. the irresistible urge for grand conquest and triumphal glory proved too strong. and emperors ventured further afield. .. ... the Romans did not officially recognize any formal barriers or limits to their power... Despite Augustus' strict instructions to his successor. 68 As yet.. . which brought nothing of real value and pulled the Romans further from their Mediterranean focus... ••• •• •••• o •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• . or the conquest of Dacia by Traianus . . 0 .. Thus the acquisition of southern Britannia by Claudius (AD 43)..•• o o •• •• •• .. .0 1 300 mi 500 km 1-1 ..•.. · · · · ·. the impetus for expansion remained and new provinces were added throughout the following century...... however.... . .

. · · ·.. The death ofTraianus. seems to be a 'desire for glory'.·· •· •• (AD 101-06). Certainly the sheer size of the invasion force . · · . ~ ~ •• •• •• •• -<l (Slo>~ •••• ~ •••• . put an end to all further conquest. however.. •••• •••• •• •• •• • •• •• •• ••• .•• .Armenia. as suggested by Cassius Dio when he says (68. •••• .. 69 . . Mesopotamia and Assyria.: . The best explanation for Traianus' eastern conquests...2) the Parthians were prepared to negotiate in the usual way about Armenian sovereignty. fl ••• ~ .. and his successor Hadrianus withdrew the advanced troops and organized the eastern frontier on the banks of the Euphrates. _-c.. involving as ever the kingdom of Armenia to which both superpowers laid claim.some 17 of the 30 legions went in their entirety or as substantial vexillationes . Traianus' great Parthian campaign (AD I f 4-17) resulted in the formation of three new provinces .points to total conquest rather than the traditional scrap over Armenia. which may have removed a long-standing menace but involved the Romans more than ever with the tribal dynamics of central Europe.~ D A LA N / ARM N/A .. L-J~. · ... .•...17. In the east the age-old rivalry between Rome and Parthia required periodic demonstrations of Roman posture and resolve.. therefore....• • .J"c • •••• •• ••• ..• •• •• ~ .

imperator and commilito. and the young Traianus would follow in his footsteps. this evidently was the belief of the aristocracy of Rome.M.6. and sharing his soldiers' labours was both 'an applauder of and witness to' their courage. he had unofficially been honoured with the title Optimus. His concern for justice and the well being of his subjects is underscored by his comment to Pliny.2) that Traianus marched with his army on foot. It was customary for the 4th-century Senate to pray that the incoming emperor might be 'more fortunate than Augustus and better than Trajan' (Eutropius 8. which allowed him to accomplish whatever he wished without general opposition. rather than leaving it to a professional instructor. with the emperor. in spite of the ultimate failure of his costly Parthian war. observed that in the ideal role the soldiers were much like shepherds who. that Agricola had forecast the principate of Traianus but had died too soon to see it. which long described him even before it became.1-4. his career did not stagnate at all during Domitianus' 'reign of terror'. bitterly laments that the citizen of Rome. after successes in Dacia. Tacitus (Agricola 3.31. Ulpius Traianus (AD 56-1 17) Traianus was the first emperor who was not born in Italy. was now content with just 'bread and circuses' (panem et circenses. part of his official titulature. was more important than his imperium. Traianus. where he experienced action against the local tribes. Of course. 70 . while Dante saw him released from hell. the emperor was not afraid to risk his own life and in Mesopotamia was nearly struck by a missile while organizing an attack on the walls of Hatra (ibid.5). once master of the world. 68. a slice of information not mentioned in the panegyric given to Traianus by Pliny. As a tribunus militum laticlavius. and there is gross exaggeration. he made it all the way to the consulship. his auctoritas. and he undertook to reward his associates with high office and Significant promotions. Of course Pliny's panegyric contains much that derives from a literary topos. 'the best'.28). on the contrary. 19. Tacitus later comments (ibid.8. 44. not even the divine Augustus managed that. His father and namesake had had a brilliant career in the army.2). pagan though he was. through the prayer of Pope Gregory. At the time of his elevation to the purple Traianus was the legatus Augusti pro praetore of Germania Superior. Traianus joined in the military exercises. when faced with the question of the Christians. According to Pliny. made military dispositions in person. Like Augustus. Like a second Alexander. Dio was no doubt well briefed on Traianus' interest in his army and his identification with the soldiers in" the performance of their duties. It is in Traianus that we most see the embodiment of the energetic warrioremperor. By this behaviour Traianus won the admiration of his soldiers and succeeded in finding that right blend between the role of commander-in-chief and comrade-inarms (Pliny Panegyricus 13. Indeed. 'nor is it appropriate to our age' (Epistles 10.5). where he supposedly thought aloud: 'I would have crossed over to India if I were a younger man. guarded the flock of the empire. contributed to this belief. also speaking in front of Traianus. He even took a keen interest in weapon training himself. 'It was your custom not to enter your tent until you had inspected the quarters of your fellow soldiers (commilitones). and on the Rhine.1) spoke of the newly won compatibility of one-man rule and individual liberty established by Nerva and expanded by Traianus. by character and actions. power. 7. cf. the contemporary satirist Juvenal.At the very beginning ofTraianus' reign. Whether one believes that Principate and liberty had truly been made compatible or not.5). Traianus' reputation remained unimpaired. that is to say. Early in his reign. in one of his best-known judgements.3). Satires 10. 15. He came from a family that had emigrated from Umbria to ltalica.' On campaign he spent long nights in the open.3).3-5. Cassius Dio says (68. that they were not to be sought out. Of course the emperor's prolonged wars against the Dacians and the Parthians gave him plenty of opportunity to perform the role of the assiduous fellow soldier. The late eighties saw him as the legate of VII Gemina (nee Hispana/ Galbiana) peacefully settled in Legio (Leon).81). his comments on Traianus' conquests imply that an emperor who 'loved war' was dangerous (68. but the speech would have to be based on the emperor's known opinions and actions. Therefore it seems that Traianus did have the ability to wear the two hats.97. The chief feature ofTraianus' administration was his very good relations with the Senate. His correspondence with Pliny enables posterity to gain an intimate sense of the emperor in action.3.' The restless warrior-emperor was planning a new season when he suffered a stroke and died soon afterwards. prestige. sharing the heat and thirst of his soldiers and comforting the fatigued and the sick. he got as far as the Persian Gulf. and took great care to honour fallen soldiers. he served in Syria. when speaking of his father-in-Iaw's death. a town in south-eastern Iberia. under his father's command. Yet it is interesting to note that though Cassius Dio praises Traianus for his bravery. In medieval Europe Traianus was held up as an example of the just king. if it were not to appear insulting or ridiculous. Dio of Prusa (1. and to retire to bed only after everyone else. Indeed. in AD I 14.

Cassius Dio 68. The king fled to the north hotly pursed by Roman cavalry. The head of Decebalus was displayed to the victorious troops. with diplomacy and a show of force. this time towards Ctesiphon. Decebalus felt strong enough to break the peace and the struggle was renewed in AD lOS. A Roman governor was appointed to the new prOVince. we do know that cohortes /II and Villi Batavorum were transferred from Britannia to the Danube in AD 104. He then wintered in Antioch. The first mo~es were into Armenia. advanced south into Mesopotamia and occupied Nisibis. namely I Italica. Traianus called in XV Apollinaris from Carnuntum and vexillationes from several others. as was I Adiutrix pia fidelis. agreeing to the loss of some territory. 71 . In the following spring the army was ready for another advance.Trajan in Dacia. with vexillationes from other provinces. until Sarmizegetusa fell. can be identified for sure. with much bitter fighting. Traianus assembled on the lower Danube a force of at least nine legions at full strength. which included Cappadocia.14. Traianus had the head packed off to Rome and once there it was tossed in the street for the public to gloat over (Trajan's Column scenes cxlv. and handing over Roman deserters. and probably X/II Gemina. 1111 Flavia felix. vexillationes? III cohors 1I1f':71 Batavorum?~ legioXlcgJ Claudia pia fidelis legio 1I11r::::::71 Flavia feliX~ III cohors VIllIf':71 Batavorum?~ Macedonica~ legio vr::::::7I X legioVllcgJ Claudia pia fidelis X X legio XIII.3). still thirsting for conquests. Osroes. The Parthian war was the result of a seizure of the throne of Armenia by the Parthian king Osroes for his own nominee. Though there were eight legions already in the east. but lured by the vision of Alexander. he also summoned XI Claudia pia fidelis from the Rhine frontier. Soon. As for the other formations. but merely to tell the king he no longer occupied the throne. II Traiana and XXX Ulpia. Raising two new legions. perhaps as part of the build-up to the second war. As for auxilia. V Macedonica. Traianus might have intervened. was unable to offer serious resistance and his capital fell after a short siege. from the distinctions conferred upon them. AD 101-06 Imperator Cassar Traianus Augustus I I legio II Traiana~ r":7I X X legio xxxr":7I UIPia~ legio I Italica~ r":7I X ~ X X X (-) x3 •. however. little is known.r::::::7I Gemina? JL::::::J legio Adiutrix pia fidelis~ Ir::::::7I X Eventually Sarmizegetusa was reached. to be brought to bay and driven to take his own life. A grim campaign followed. but Decebalus capitulated to save his capital from fire and sword. cxlvii. the Parthian capital. Traianus. as was customary. VII Claudia pia fidelis. in the two wars only five. Garrisons were left behind while Traianus returned to Rome for his triumph and assumed the title Dacicus. The last legion was definitely detailed as part of the garrison of the new province of Dacia. giving up his engineers. It is possible that Traianus. chose to mount a massive expedition with a view to settling the Parthian problem once and for all. troubled by internal dissension.

aged 53. Yet these conquests so easily won proved more difficult to hold. which granted him equestrian rank. It seems the mistake had been made at Rome by underestimating the force needed to keep Germania pacified and the time necessary for the Germans to become 'Romanized' (Wells 1972: 239). marched down to the Persian Gulf and created a client kingdom there. but they were ambushed and wiped out by Germanic warriors led by Arminius. so this fine memorial did not mark his mortal remains. a province lost Late in the summer of AD 9 three legions led by P. is loaded with armillae. primus pilus of legio XVIII. From then on the ageing Augustus pursued a policy of consolidation.118. He carries a vitis. chieftain of the Cherusci. Arminius. his badge of office. Iulius Arminius. and wears a corona civica. Quinctilius Varus ventured into Saltus Teutoburgiensis. (FieldsCarre Collection) . Rheinisches Landesmuseum). This was the peak of Traianus' achievements. he had served in the army as a commander in the auxilia. and the high-water mark of the Roman Empire. citizen of Rome. whom Varus believed to be firmly pro-Roman. was also C. in the Varian disaster.1-2). The inscription (ILS 2244) says he fell. After all.following in the wake of Alexander. This ignominious defeat put an end to the Roman expanSion east of the Rhine. torques and phalerae. Anyway. and on Rome's behalf he had distinguished himself on the field of battle (Velleius Paterculus 2. found 72 near Birten-Xanten-Vetera (Bonn. Saltus Teutoburgiensis. Arminius had informed Varus of the Tombstone of Marcus Caelius. bringing the whole of the great trade route to India and beyond under Roman control.

J -=" ">.••. may have reflected a policy of bringing the territory under Roman law and organizing it into a province. .g~ ~ § . 73 The appointment P.:::: .•.. •• ::::::•... ..J Q lJ....J CI) lJ. .. Yet it should be noted that previously Varus had successfully served as governor of Syria. he was also the husband of Augustus' grandniece.... ••••••••• .... Quinctilius Varus (cos. . :/:./. Back then his command had consisted of three legions.••• • "'!"o. ..:/ ~.. quelling the political disturbances in ludaea following the death of the pro-Roman Herod in 4 Be...•• . / : .= -2.•.J ~ ~ ~ ~ \\::>...J a a:: a:: C!J ~ -.J CI) CI) lJ...If. ••••••••••• ~ ~v •••••••• .: \\ \ -..!~..§'(J •••••••••• <::>"' ••• c::> ~ ~ .:c~_ ~ ~:II ~ . ·~.•.... CI) :::> \- lJ..J < ? \\ ~ a ~ ~ a:: lJ./ .. ..•. ":.../ ~~ 3= (/) :: i§'~ •••••••••• •.. 13 Be) as legatus August.. •••••• .~ ••••••:••..••.:/.. with the army on the Rhine under his direct control. \\ ~ lJ. Varus was an eminent lawyer without any of the obvious military talents of his predecessors.~g ... CI) CI) ~ u- lJ. It!- ':£is i::-~ ~ ..•• TI // •• .J -.J a a:: a Q. . pro praetore of Germania.. ...:- ••••••••••• •••••• CJt:::S ••••••••• . .. i j .J CI) ~ a:.

but it is colourful despite this: An army unexcelled in bravery. the Arminius/Hermann colossus represents the mythologized hero as the guarantor of German freedom against outside aggression. and the unkindness of fortune was surrounded. Erected near Detmold and dedicated in 1874. the delivering of the head to Maroboduus. none of them eyewitnesses to the event. near Osnabriick. the perfidy of the enemy..2 The soldier-historian then describes how Varus fell on his sword when all appeared lost. in energy..Martin Luther. Velleius Paterculus 2. . He places the blame for the disaster on the carelessness of Varus. One consists of the accounts written by Roman historians.119. the most exciting find must 74 . the treachery of Arminius and the disadvantages of the terrain. a military man who had served on the Rhine and may have known both Varus and Arminius personally through common service in the army. chief of a tribal confederation on the Danube. and the sending of it on to Augustus in Rome. Apart from the abundance of Roman coins and military items associated with the Varian disaster. His account is abbreviated . most of it painstakingly unearthed since the summer of 1987. through the negligence of its general. enmeshed in his own struggles with Rome. and allowed Arminius to go ahead to rally some of his own tribesmen.he apparently intended to describe the battle in greater detail in another work . we have two very different sources of information. the first of Roman armies in discipline. So Varus planned a small detour to his march back to the winter quarters at Vetera. For information about the ambush. and the other is the archaeological evidence. may have been the first writer to germanicize the Latin name Arminius into 'Hermann'. the beheading of Varus' corpse. Contemporary to the event was Velleius Paterculus. Hemmed in by forest and ambuscades. just four years after German unification. it was exterminated almost to a man by the very enemy whom it has always slaughtered like cattle. Archaeological remains of the battle have been recovered over an area about six by four-and-a-half kilometres in what is known as the Kalkriese-Niewedde Depression. (Ancient Art & Architecture) possibility of trouble brewing amongst the members of a tribe that lived a couple of days' march west of the summer camp near the Weser. and in experience in the field.

Second Crernona. in all a force of some 10. defeated the heavily equipped Roman soldiers. But they can defeat them by attacking them in vulnerable situations. the legionaries discharged their pi/a into the oncoming Britons. hastened south-east with a small escort. but the account of Cassius Dio (62. but for some mysterious reason its acting commander. under the command of Petilius Cerialis. with their superior knowledge of the terrain and greater mobility.1). Suetonius Paulinus.3-25.000 of the enemy fell. he gives no clues as to the actual whereabouts of this battle site. with their superior training and better discipline. although a case has been made for the village of Mancetter near Nuneaton in Warwickshire. a throne won This crucial engagement was fought through the night. however. At his disposal were XlIII Gemina and a vexillatio of XX Valeria and those auxiliaries he was able to summon from nearby camps. concentrated his efforts against the Iceni and Trinovantes. Suetonius Paulinus. ambushed and destroyed. which the Germanic warriors had obviously constructed well before the Roman column stumbled into the ambuscade.a more likely story. Boudica faced minimal resistance. The nocturnal phase of the engagement. Even women and draught animals were slaughtered in the Roman fury that followed. When battle was joined. Sadly. heartening the dog-tired Flavians and striking dismay into the equally exhausted Vitellians (Tacitus Historiae 3. the Britons had brought along their womenfolk to watch the spectacle from wagons positioned behind the war bands. The governor had dispatched urgent messages summoning II Augusta from its station in the south-west. Londinium (London) and Verulamium (near St Albans) were quickly overrun and sacked. The provincial towns of Camulodunum (Colchester). states the battle lasted all day . with victory going to the Flavians as dawn broke: at first light III Gallica.12). What Suetonius Paulinus feared above all was a protracted guerrilla war. the praefectus castrorum Poenius Postumus. Tacitus makes it seem simple and quickly over. turned to salute the rising sun in their customary way and this created rumours of reinforcements. for the loss of only 400 Romans. Anyway. Deciding to abandon Londinium to its fate. Mancetter. Such was the Varian disaster. a crack Syrian legion. According to Tacitus. Suetonius Paulinus drew up his forces along a defile .000 men. a province saved With the bulk of Roman forces on campaign in what is now north Wales. but elated by her earlier victories Boudica staked all on one battle. though garbled. Their territory was laid waste by fire and sword. our chief source for the revolt.be the remains of a mile-long sodden wall. Breaking off his Silurian campaign. especially when they are in a column of march. Tacitus says 80. confident of victory.with dense woodland protecting his rear. In the Roman advance. They then pressed forwards. Suetonius Paulinus rejoined his army on its long march down Watling Street (the modern A5).legionaries in the centre with auxiliary cohortes alongside and alae on the wings . And so the lightly equipped Germanic warriors.24. It is a simple fact that small-scale societies cannot beat sophisticated ones on the open field of battle. with a basal width of about fourand-a-half metres and in places showing evidence of having been topped with a wooden palisade. battering at the enemy with their shields and doing murderous work with their swords. had been a confused and 75 . and a chain of forts constructed across eastern Britannia. failed to respond. the governor. and soon after the battle Boudica took her own life. and a vexillatio of VIllI Hispana. the Britons soon found themselves crushed against the wagons. In a single day the back of the rebellion had been broken. despite the full moon. now heavily reinforced by units from the Rhine.

.. ~~ ~~j~~ • • ••••4/1 ••••••4/1 ••••• •• • 41 •••••• •••••• • • • • •••••• •• • . .. . she was flogged and her daughters raped (Tacitus Annates 14.... .. .... ' .... When his queen Boudica protested. . .: tJIIl/ ••••••••• c~ ~ :.~ '~ ~....... The underlying cause of the revolt was the harsh and oppressive Roman occupation and administration of Britannia: licentious soldiers. .. .. but the commonplace is often true.4/1 ...g 5 • • • • • • • :·t • :.....2)./ .. . . ~ ...• .. . .. (~ f~ ... He had hoped this would protect his kingdom and family.. .. which covered large parts of today's East Anglia. . .. ..••••• •••• . . . ••••• ~ ~ • • • •• 4/1 . ....:: . .. ••••• • . ' ...~~.31. but the Romans decided otherwise and incorporated his kingdom. voracious tax collectors and 'noble savages' are commonplace themes in Tacitus.. into the province.. / o o •• •• 76 In AD 60 Prasutagus. ...-"" ... who were quickly joined by their neighbours the Trinovantes..•••: ••: ..... . a tribe that inhabited parts of today's Suffolk and Essex.. the client king of the Iceni.t •• •• •• •• • •• ••••~ •• •• ~ .. ... . . died leaving half his possessions to the emperor.....g • ~ ~...~ ~ ..:. .. . .. .. ~""..t .... . ...:.... Boudica raised the Iceni in revolt..- ~~ ~~ / "/ ~ \" • • • • • • :i •••• 4/1 ••• ) • • • • •••••• • ..

) (:) 77 . Italy would fall into the lap of Vespasian us. the emperorto-be. Q) e e e" o . they would be paralyzsed by a mock revolt staged by the Batavi at the mouth of the Rhine. Vespasianus had met with his advisors and backers at Berytus (Beirut) and perfected their plan of campaign. legate of legio VII Galbiana.g «1 o c: E Q.The civil war battle of Second Cremona was the critical engagement that decided the outcome of the 'Year of the Four Emperors'. . The Danube legions were eager to supplant those of the Rhine. and they had a natural and gifted leader in the restless Antonius Primus.. Licinius Mucianus. Back in August. and meanwhile the legions of Pannonia would block the Alps until they and those of Moesia were taken over by Mucianus.Vespasianus. As for the Rhine legions.. governor of Syria. Almost without a blow.g e e o fa C 8 ~ e" . already depleted by the vexillationes dispatched to Italy. C. CO fa C a e e £. was to march on Italy. was to starve Rome into submission from Egypt and Africa by cutting off the grain supply. But others were ready to strike hard and strike fast.g :> Q) "E o «1 0.

as Tacitus says. between the converging road from Brixia and the Via Postumia. The Vitellian camp had been built at no great distance from the walls and suburbs of Cremona on the north-east. (Ancient Art & Architecture) bitter affair and. and near their junction. A civil war creates stronger passions and tends to produce shocking events. 3. When the main (southern) gate of the camp was finally forced. 3.22.the killing of a father by his son (ibid.3).and the sack of a Roman provincial town by Roman soldiers would send a thrill of horror through the empire. and the climax of Second Cremona was to be no exception.Decapitated bronze head from a statue of Claudius (London. 78 . frequent challenges and replies disclosed the watchword and standards were inextricably confused as they were captured by this group or that and carried hither and thither' (ibid. A signal atrocity had occurred in this final phase . P&E 1965 12-1 I). who seemed hellbent on destroying every trace of Rome. Despite a show of surrender. It is believed to have been looted from Colchester-Camulodunum during its sack by Boudica. found in the river Aide. 'on both sides weapons and uniforms were the same. the surviving Vitellians threw themselves down from the ramparts and took shelter in nearby Cremona. British Museum.2) .25. Suffolk. the inhabitants of this affluent town fell victim to indiscriminate rape and slaughter.

The Caledonii were deployed in closed-packed tiers on the gentle slope with their van on the level ground. below the Iron Age hill fort of Mither Tap 0' Bennachie. fell on the rear of the war bands. which stemmed the flanking movement and then.Mons Graupius.2). Tacitus does name some of the auxiliary units present on the day: four cohortes of Batavi. 396). drawn up in front of the marching camp.2.2).3-4). occupied the slopes of Mons Graupius (Tacitus Agricola 29. only to be driven off by the Roman alae. II 159. The legionaries had not been engaged. VIllI Hispana and XX Valeria Victrix) of Britannia (ibid. The actual identification of these units is not certain. Agricola deployed the auxiliary cohortes in the centre.3) cohorts of Brittones at First Cremona fighting for the Vitellian cause. but we do know that cohors I Tungrorum is the earliest attested garrison at Vindolanda (Tab. 30. however. The size of Agricola's army is not given. Vindol. (Fields-Carre Collection) 79 . but Tacitus does say the enemy had a 'great superiority in numbers' (ibid. the auxiliary infantrymen were initially successful and soon joined by the alae. In a counter-move Agricola sent in his reserve alae. 'the full force of all' the Caledonian tribes. 37. giving perhaps a total force of some 20. The sheer numbers of the Caledonii.2). in turn. which accordingly broke. This was an achievement that occasioned one of Tacitus' characteristic epigrams: 'a great victory glorious for costing no Roman blood' (ibid. 35. a battle too far Assembled under the leadership of Calgacus ('the Swordsman'. halted this advance and gradually the auxiliaries began to be outflanked. which probably comprised six alae quingenariae. the most north-easterly mountain in Aberdeenshire and on the border between the Highlands and the Lowlands. has been suggested as a possible site.000 warriors. with their ranks opened out. View looking southwest from Mill of Carden. The legionary vexillationes were to the rear. The Britons themselves may have been present in their own ethnic cohort. a cohors Brittonum. Agricola certainly had 8.70. 282.1).000 auxiliary infantry and probably 5. Middle Irish colg 'sword'). The exact location of the battle of Mons Graupius is unknown. two cohortes of Tungri (ibid. Next up was a brisk exchange of missiles followed by the Roman advance up the slope. combined with the roughness of the terrain. 35. for Tacitus mentions elsewhere (Historiae 1. However. and an unspecified number of Britons recruited from the tribes in the south long since conquered (ibid. some 2. 29.000 auxiliary cavalry together with vexillationes from the four legions (II Adiutrix pia (idelis. II Augusta. Fearing that he might be outflanked. 35.000 (St Joseph 1978: 283). and 3. II 154).000 horsemen on the wings. The Caledonian war chariots raced across the ground between the two armies.4). 36. 'Striking them with the bosses of their shields.1). were kept in reserve. cf. and stabbing them in the face' (Tacitus Agricola 36. A further four alae quingenariae. leaving there soon after AD 90 to be replaced by cohors VIllI Batavorum (ibid.000 horsemen.

25ha. However.... 80 ... the ubiquitous instrument of Roman mobility was the marching camp. the largest known beyond the Forth and big enough to accommodate Agricola's entire force with room to spare. They include a tendency to squareness of plan..•• / . At Logie Durno near Pitcaple. and those of Agricola that stretch north and north-west in a great arc from near Stonehaven to the pass of Grange just east of the Spey are useful pointers. and a method of gateway defence incorporating the clavicula.. 9.8km (three miles) to the south-west. AD 83 Modern settlements N A Logie Durno Pitcaple I:::. a persuasive case was made out by St Joseph (1978) for identifying it as Agricola's base on the eve of the battle. an extended arc of ditch and rampart that compelled an attacker to expose his right or unshielded side to the camp's defenders... I:1--------r-1k-m----'~ 1 mi There have been many attempts to locate the site of the battle. which (it has been suggested) was fought out on the lower slopes of Bennachie.6km (six miles) north-west of lnverurie is a marching camp of some 58. Nevertheless. 4. is undated. sufficient to say. Mons Graupius. but all we really know is what Tacitus tells us and. Auxiliary ~ cavalry lroll Age village / ONS (iRA ///~- I • Chapel of Garioch U I ( / '5 U M M A/ COL L / U M' Iron Age hill fort (Mither Tap-o'Bennachie) t:.. none of his evidence is over-helpful. Unfortunately the camp.. Several criteria can be used to identify those marching camps most conceivably the work of Agricolan legions.

Take. leans unmistakably toward irresistible expansion beyond the confines of the Italy on the grounds of mission. to become. 'The Gods favour us'. to bring to a common concord so rough. But since it is your pleasure that some foreigners should be left for propagation. The mood of the time. In its broad outline. until he had endowed with citizenship those tiny few who are left over (for he had resolved to see all Greeks.39). in Seneca Apocolocyntosis 3. was used by that polymath incidentally. I was wanting to give him [Claudius] a fraction of time more. on whom divine providence had bestowed earth's fairest portion. Josephus. discordant voices. But pax Romana should not be sneezed at. and if it is to carry weight in the historical balance. or Libya and the desert beyond to the south.3). if correctly reflected in the literature of the day. might best describe the credible opinion at the street level: 'No matter that they hate us. while the Augustan poet Virgil has Iuppiter himself proclaim: 'On them [the Romans] I impose no limits of time or place. This was something new. for instance.spread over an area that was also enormous (nearly five million square kilometres). the Euphrates is not far enough to the east. once relayed by Cicero. I have given them an empire that will know no end' (Aeneid 1. Of course. The civilized Romans. as long as they fear us' (Philippics 1. thanks to the boundless majesty of Roman peace' (Historia Naturalis 27. Despite notable exceptions. Clotho. it must lead to some spectacular and abiding achievement.Pax Romana Imperialism implies a conscious desire to conquer. does not hesitate to equate Rome's outward march with megalomania: And even the world is not big enough to satisfy them.363 A Greek quip. the empire and its armed frontiers were relatively quiet for two centuries. to the human condition. to give culture to mankind. albeit now a protege of Vespasianus. and since you command it to be so.1) more tersely. in describing plants 'now available to the botanist from all the corners of the world. as is customary with all polyglot empires. In earthly terms pax Romana would be an enormous human entity enormous for the times that is (conventionally estimated at about 55 million souls) . that land of mystery. the manifest destiny of Rome was devastatingly simple.5. in short. but beyond the Ocean they have sought a new world. to Mercury. Iberians and Britons wearing the toga). one of the Three Fates.3 81 . or the Danube to the north. decreed fortune and divine will. adopted from the elder Pliny. so be it. Bellum Iudaicum 2.278-79 West).14). An altruistic view to say the least. especially if we consider the terrible plight of our own world today. says Tacitus (Germania 33.1. the world's homeland' (Pliny Historia Naturalis 3. carrying their arms as far as Britannia. or Gades to the west. evidently marched ahead with full belief in their right to world dominion. the elder Pliny on the role of the Italian Peninsula and the Latin language: 'A land chosen by divine providence to unify empires so disparate and races so manifold. there is also a reactionary backlash to Rome's cosmopolitanism and cultural flexibility that readily finds its street-tongue through overt racism: Upon my word. The expression pax Romana. as yet to be repeated. Gauls.

Racial intolerance is an insidious thread that runs throughout human history. the right to hold office in Rome and introduced a number of them into the Senate (Lyons Tablet. the forthright views of Cecil John Rhodes . In this the British Empire was no better (or worse) than that of Rome. and within the empire.25. Also.23-25). an empire in which the conquered. Seneca obviously mocks him for this. Of course this is blatant exaggeration. of the Roman citizen (Virgil Aeneid 1. Take.8). Taking its cue from the Prima Porta Augustus. However. this far-sighted emperor not only allowed prominent Gauls into the Senate but also pushed through a resolution to grant civil rights to the provinces as a whole.Portrait statue of Claudius as luppiter. long-haired Gauls'. cf. under Augustus a duty (Suetonius Divus Augustus 40. whatever their race. Although this farsighted policy led to integration and stability. who were citizens. bigotry and understanding are strange bedfellows at the best of times. (akg-images) 82 The wearing of the toga was a distinctive right. despite the wisdom of emperors such as Claudius in taking the longer view. In his capacity of censor. there was a permanent division between the conquered and their conquerors. profited as much as the conquerors from pax Romana. from Lanuvium (Vatican City.1668 col. for instance. for out of the world population in AD 48 Claudius himself as censor registered only 5.072 Roman citizens (Tacitus Annales 11.984.5). elL 13. Tacitus Annales 1. We can credit the progressive but eccentric Claudius with a concept of the unity of the empire. as censor. Claudius gave 'trousered.282). this portrayal of Claudius depicts him as a benign cosmocrat. 2. Musei Vaticani).

C. Time confirms this pessimism. pax Romana would eventually create a state whose citizens would forget how to fight. ]. a cultural gap and disparity of wealth between Rome (the 'First World') and barbaricum (the 'Third World') far too big to promise indefinite peace. as the Prime Minister and virtual dictator of the Cape Colony. a watery highway from Gibraltar to Goa. on the other. with its laws against the bearing of arms. dogged pertinacity. Kipling's line: 'Dominion over palm and pine' ('Recessional' 1897). Therefore I shall devote the rest of my life to God's purpose and help him to make the world English. advantages in military technology far too small to guarantee a permanent Roman advantage. Empires naturally create a culture of pride and pomp. with their nautical imagination. the vine and the olive. exceptional organization and sanguine reputation. Within the white race the English-speaking man has proved himself to be the most likely instrument of the Divine plan to spread Justice.(1853-1902). albeit as landlubbers it was buckled firmly at the narrow passage of the Pillars of Hercules against outside intrusion.. the 'Colonial Colossus' would speak of British dominion of the African continent 'from the Cape to Cairo'.. In fact on the field of battle Rome had no secret weapon. It prevailed not through technical superiority but by the fruit of iron discipline. The imperial poets Virgil and Kipling both supplied their readers with panegyrics expounding the grandeur of imperial domain: Romans wanted the prestige of pax Romana. face-to-face encounters. the British imperialist and industrialist who founded Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) with the help of the Maxim machine gun: Whites have clearly come out top . the Middle Sea was not merely a segmented lake contained by three continents but the corridor to the British Empire. Rhodes. and foster the rhetoric of racial superiority. November 1893 Later. For the British. The Roman Army was always at its best in set-piece. 83 . Moreover. Liberty. in the struggle for existence. and Britons could proudly boast that the sun never set on British shores. In truth world dominion rested on Rome's military arm. This exemplifies the security problem of the empire and would eventually undermine Rome's selfappointed role as the 'world's policeman'. Of course dreams of boundless empire are but dreams. the province of Britannia is testament alone to that fact. 1 Yet the warm pulse of this expanse of blue water and the fringe of provinces around its shores meant Mediterranean culture circulated well beyond its outer margins. whose strength and length were not indefinite. On the one hand. and Peace over the widest possible area of the planet. Naturally the Romans themeselves did not just settle for the sun. I Cf. Similarly the Romans saw the Mare nostrum as an organizing principle. the divine gift of celestial gods and court poets.

Suetonius Paulinus Rebellion of Furius Camillus Scribonius.Chronology 27 BC 26-25 22-19 20 BC 17 BC 16-13 15 BC Octavianus takes title Augustus. Agrippa in the east Drusus and Tiberius campaign north of the Alps .northern legions mutiny Germanicus campaigns against Arminius of the Cherusci Triumph of Germanicus Uprising ofTacfarinas in Numidia Deaths of Germanicus and Arminius Rebellion of Florus and Sacrovir in Gallia Belgica Thracian revolt Pontius Pilate procurator of ludaea Frisian revolt Vitellius governor of Syria Birth of joseph ben Matthias Uosephus) Mauretanian revolt . governor of Gallia Lugdunensis Civil war .josephus surrenders Rebellion of C. captures Mona (Anglesey) Uprising of Iceni under Boudica .suppressed by Q.Vespasianus legate of /I Augusta Triumph of Claudius Cn. governor of Britannia.suppressed by Suetonius Paulinus Fire of Rome Riots in Alexandria jewish revolt Vespasianus subdues Galilee . lulius Civilis .Silures continue to resist War with Parthia over Armenia .'Year of the Four Emperors' Battles of First and Second Cremona Rebellion of C. lulius Vindex.suppressed by C. Domitius Corbulo.Domitius Corbulo takes Artaxata and Tigranocerta Suetonius Paulinus.new provinces of Raetia and Noricum Drusus campaigns beyond the Rhine Death of Drusus Tiberius campaigns in Germania ~ 12-9 BC 9 BC 9-7 BC 6-4 BC AD 4 AD 6 AD 7 AD 9 AD 10-11 AD 14 AD 15-16 AD 17 AD 17-24 AD 19 AD 21 AD 26 AD 26-36 AD 28 AD 35-39 AD 37 AD 40-44 AD 42 AD 43 AD AD Quinctilius Varus governor of Syria Tiberius returns to Germania Pannonian revolt Varus governor of Germania Varian disaster at Saltus Teutoburgiensis Tiberius and Germanicus secure Rhine frontier Death of Augustus . 'the revered one' BC BC Augustus campaigns in north-west Iberia Augustus in the east Crassus' eagles recovered from Parthians Lollian disaster BC Augustus in Gaul. governor of Germania Inferior. Petilius Cerialis Titus sacks Jerusalem AD AD AD AD AD AD AD AD AD AD 84 AD . suppresses Iceni Ostorius Scapula defeats Caratacus . governor of Britannia. governor of Dalmatia Claudius conquers southern part of Britannia . suppresses Frisii ~ 44 47 48 51 57-63 60 60-61 64 66 66-74 67 68 68-69 69 69-70 70 AD AD AD Ostorius Scapula.

lulius Agricola. Flavius Silva. governor of Britannia. governor of Germania Superior Traianus' first Dacian war Traianus' second Dacian war . Antonius Saturninus. governor of ludaea. Caesar Vespasianus Augustus) Domitianus (Imperator Caesar Domitianus Augustus) Adoptive Emperors AD AD AD 96-98 98-117 117-38 Nerva (Imperator Nerva Caesar Augustus) Traianus (Imperator Caesar Traianus Augustus) Hadrianus (Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus) 85 . Sulpicius Galba Imperator Caesar Augustus) AD 69 Otho (Imperator M. defeats Silures Cn. Otho Caesar Augustus) AD 69 Vitellius (A. Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) Nero (Imperator Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) 'Year of the Four Emperors' 68-69 Galba (Ser.Decebalus commits suicide Rome annexes Armenia Traianus' Parthian war Uprising of Jewish communities in Egypt. besieges Masada Sex. Caesar Augustus) Caligula (C. Cyrene and Cyprus Roman emperors lulio-Claudians 27 AD AD AD AD Be-AD 14 14-37 37-41 41-54 54-68 Augustus (Imperator Caesar Augustus) Tiberius (Ti. defeats Caledonii at Mons Graupius War with Decebalus of Dacia Chatti cross Rhine Rebellion of L.AD AD AD AD AD 71 71-73 73-74 73-77 83 85-89 86 89 101-02 105-06 114 114-17 115-17 AD AD AD AD AD AD AD AD Joint triumph of Vespasian us and Titus Petilius Cerialis. governor of Britannia. Vitellius Augustus Germanicus Imperator) AD Flavians AD AD AD 69-79 79-81 81-96 Vespasianus (Imperator Caesar Vespasianus Augustus) Titus (Imperator T. Caesar Augustus Germanicus) Claudius (Ti. defeats Brigantes L. governor of Britannia. lulius Frontinus.

the existence of the amateur was recognised by the publication of this Library'. In the following notes Penguin denotes Penguin Classics. and Loeb denotes Loeb Classical Library. especially the latter whom he often simply addresses as Caesar. c. For the complete index of Loeb editions you should log on to www. the . It was under the emperors Traianus and Hadrianus that Suetonius held three important posts in the imperial administration. However. display an English translation of a text next to the original language. Suetonius (C. Subsequently. he was likely to have accompanied Hadrianus to the three Gauls. more to the point. the works of Josephus were more widely read in Europe than any book other than the Bible. and Britannia in AD 121-22. when Pliny was governor of BithyniaPontus in AD 110-12. Suetonius (b. which are published by Harvard University Press. we find him serving on his staff. As Virginia Woolf rightly said. Put in charge of Galilee by the Jerusalem leaders during the Jewish revolt of AD 66-70. which in the event he declined to hold. with its Greek or Latin on one side of the page and its English on the other. The Loeb editions. For us. Perhaps intending to pursue the equestrian career. as a fragmentary inscription (AE 1953. From the correspondence of the younger Pliny he appears to have attracted attention in Rome as an author and scholar by about AD 97. 'the Loeb Library. As a courtier. Josephus (b. Vespasianus. Suetonius Tranquillus) was a son of the equestrian Suetonius Laetus. is most conveniently available in The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd edition). Septicius Clarus. and also gained experience in advocacy. a military tribune of XIII Gemina who fought on the Othonian side at First Cremona in AD 69.73) found at his home town of Hippo Regius (Annaba. however..Ancient authors Only the most frequently cited ancient authors are listed here. he was eventually besieged at Jotapata and taken hostage..hup. AD 37) Josephus (T.harvard. he secured through Pliny's patronage a military tribunate in Britannia sometime around AD 102. for instance. Flavius Iosephus) was a pro-Roman historian but also a member of the priestly aristocracy of the Jews with a largely rabbinic education. records. AD 70) 86 A Latin biographer. failure to use them could have been held against him. Josephus spent most of his life in or around Rome as an advisor and historian to the Flavian emperors. and information about other sources. is both frequent and obvious. For centuries. Germania Superior and Inferior.edu/loeb. especially the Jewish Antiquities (Antiquitates Iudaicae). Josephus certainly considered that they were valuable sources for the war and. his Jewish War (Bellum Iudaicum) . Further details about them. a history of the Jewish people all the way from Adam down to the eve of the revolt. originally written in Aramaic but later appearing in an amplified Greek translation (Greek had not only been the lingua franca of the east for over three centuries but was also a language accessible to educated Romans). for unknown reasons he was then dismissed from office when the emperor simultaneously deposed as praetorian prefect C. Algeria). The Bellum Iudaicum is available in a Penguin edition entitled The Jewish War. came as a gift of freedom . is an invaluable account based on eyewitness testimony and probably the campaign diaries (commentarii) of Vespasianus and Titus. His flattery of father and son. Given Roman citizenship and land in Iudaea. Titus and Domitianus.

unless they reflect on the behaviour of his subject. He thus judges his subjects against a set of popular expectations of imperial behaviour that had taken shape by the time his biographies were composed. Thereafter our information on his activities is meagre. unlike his contemporary Tacitus. rulers on whom Suetonius' final judgement is damning. whereas even Nero and Domitianus. and there is no evidence of a broad grasp of major issues in his works. in AD 112/13. an honour befitting his reputation as leading orator of the day (ibid.2) alluding to the extension of Roman dominion to the Red Sea. c. He shows. Tacitus was granted the latus clavus. Suetonius. A passage in the Annales (2. In dealing with the lives of the first emperors. because he is next attested as praetor in AD 88 (at an early age for a novus homo). Yet he did try to report events fairly and did not attempt to paint every emperor as a power-hungry tyrant who ruled at the expense of traditional Roman rights and freedoms.76) who served as an officer on the Rhine from around AD 46 to AD 58.1. wrote a lot about scandalous events and the immoral and pleasure-seeking lifestyles of the Italian aristocrats of the time. Suetonius' work is available in both Penguin and Loeb editions. With the Historiae the reader is repeatedly puzzled or irritated by the absence of information on chronology. In the same year he served on the priestly board of the XV viri sacris faciundis with Domitianus. topography. strategy and logistics. Tacitus (P. Iulius Agricola. by Vespasianus. proconsulare of Asia. 2. provides a definite terminus post quem for his death. which opens the Annales. and the chance discovery of an inscription in Asia Minor informs us that Tacitus reached the summit of a senatorial career. A striking feature of the biographies is their thematic. can nevertheless be commended for having successfully met some of their imperial responsibilities. But Tacitus did not write according to the canons of modern historiography. perhaps while serving his initial military service as tribunus laticlavius. along with his good friend the younger Pliny.6). He was abroad (probably as a provincial governor) when his father-in-law Agricola died on 23 August AD 93.1) that Tacitus was at work on the Historiae in circa AD 106. His father was perhaps the equestrian procurator of Gallia Belgica mentioned by the elder Pliny (Historia Naturalis 7. who used his position in the college to organize and celebrate the Secular Games. seems to elude the succession of Hadrianus in AD 117. In AD 100 he.3). We surmise from Pliny (ibid.61. is repeatedly criticized for having failed to live up to expectation. Suetonius does not claim to write history. Shortly thereafter. As consul he delivered the funeral oration for L. The succession of Tiberius. in AD 77. he was the consul suffectus in the second half of AD 97. 7. or C. as did Tacitus.gentleman Suetonius' collection of 12 imperial biographies (De vita Caesarum) was dedicated to. territory first conquered during Traianus' Parthian campaign of AD 115/16. Verginius Rufus (Pliny Epistles 2. Cornelius Tacitus) passed the early years of his life in (for us) complete obscurity. Evidently Tacitus passed quickly through the posts of the junior magistrates of a senatorial career. rather than the strictly chronological arrangement which his fellow-biographer Plutarch tended to favour. although this is a point of contention. Tacitus' bete noir. Tacitus (b.11. Studying oratory at Rome in AD 75. that is. Not even his praenomen is known with certainty. Thus Tiberius. the right to wear the broad purple stripe of senatorial rank. Whether he lived to complete his greatest work we do not know. On returning to Rome after an absence of three years or more. perhaps at Vasio.16. successfully prosecuted Marius Priscus.20). a native from Forum Iulii (Frejus). the former governor of Africa (ibid. a colony and naval station on the coast of Gallia Narbonensis. 6. His aim is to 87 . he married the daughter of Cn. AD 56) Born to an equestrian family in Gallia Narbonensis. little interest in great public or political matters.

Formed in 1972.' Tacitus' works are available in both Penguin and Loeb editions. though he hated the Principate and in his writings tries to paint every emperor as a corrupt despot. The subject matter of the Annales. and even his writings about Augustus contained some belittling innuendoes and snide remarks. in every sense of the meaning. His writing is full of tales of corruption. the members of the Guard have contributed enormously to our knowledge of Roman military equipment. 88 . government scandal. However. purging his opponents from the Senate by having them tried for treason and executed. for instance. emphasizes Tacitus' hatred for the great concentration of power in the hands of the Iulio-Claudian emperors. the mother of all Roman experimental history groups. (Ancient Art & Architecture) provide a narrative that will hold the reader's attention. and so his vivid style often reveals his own strong opinions and prejudices. It was Tacitus' firm belief that the emperor had so much power in his hands that no man could occupy the throne without being corrupted by that power. whom he portrayed as a sinister and cruel emperor. he hated civil war and anarchy even more. Best known for their portrayal of legio XX Valeria Victrix. the Ermine Street Guard is. absolute power corrupts absolutely. and innocent people being destroyed or having their good names ruined because of the emperor's lust for power. He had a particularly heavy bias against Tiberius. As Lord Acton would later have it: 'Power corrupts. He showed scorn for Claudius and Nero. Here the Guard are putting on an educational display for the general public.

. London: Thames & Hudson Goldsworthy. 1991. Weapons of the Romans. G. Die Legionen des Augustus: Der romische Soldat im archaologischen Experiment. 2003. Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies 8: 41-57 Davies. W.. K. Mainz-am-Rhein: Philipp von Zabern Keppie. Oxford: Osprey (New Vanguard 78) Campbell. Dobson (eds. Oxford: Clarendon Press Goldsworthy. 1980.. B. The Complete Roman Army.. 1996). Battle Studies: Ancient and Modern... 1981 (4th ed. R. L. W. 1997. Service in the Roman Army. Roman Frontier Studies 1989 (Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies). 'Die romischen Funde aus Kalkriese 1987-95'. Col. M. Scottish Archaeological Forum 12: 79-88 89 . Oxford: Osprey (Fortress 31) Fields. London: Cassell Goldsworthy. AD 70-235. 1989. In the Name of Rome: The Men who Won the Roman Empire. The Imperial Roman Army. N. London: Routledge Bowman. Oxford: Clarendon Press Connolly.. M. Cotton 1920. 'Mons Graupius: the search for a battlefield'. Roman Warfare.. Greek and Roman Siege Machinery. Bate 2000). in V. R. Agricola and the Conquest of the North. 'Pilum.. P. 1994 (trans. The Roman Army at War. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Dobson. Life and Letters on the Roman Frontier: Vindolanda and its People. 1972. 2003 (repr. 2003. 88-31 BC.Bibliography Barker. Roman Auxiliary Cavalryman... 1991. K. R. K. M. B. Journal of Roman Studies 59: SO-55 Campbell. Y. The Emperor and the Roman Army. D. 1998).. G.). 2003). P. 2000.. The Roman Army: the Civil Wars. repro 1946). A. A. 1993 (trans. F. Roman Military Equipment from the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome..). 1991. K. 100 BC-AD 200.. 31 BC-AD 235. 'The organization of the legion: the First cohort and the equites legionis'. J.. N. P. Charles-Ardant. 1993. Maxfield & M. Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome. gladius and pugio in the late Republic'. Greely & Maj. 1984 (repr. 1995. A.. J. 2004). Rome's Northern Frontier. 358-363 Connolly. S. Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies 6: 69-88 Goldsworthy. N. London: British Museum Press Breeze. C. C. London: Phoenix Hanson.. A. 1903 (trans.. 'Legionary centurion or equestrian officer? A comparison of pay and prospects'. D. 1969. K. Smith 2002).]. 'The Roman fighting technique deduced from armour and weaponry'. 2004. 2008.].. London: Batsford ]unkelmann. Exeter: Exeter University Press. & Coulston.].. 2006. 399 BC-AD 363. B. Ancient Society 3: 193-207 Du Picq. A.]. D. AD 14-193. Harrisburg: US Army War College Feugere. 1996 (repr. Worthing: Wargames Research Group Bishop. Stroud: Tempus Fields. Oxford: Osprey (Battle Orders 34) Franzius. 1994 (repr. Oxford: Osprey (Warrior 101) Fields. A. N... London: Batsford Le Bohec.

'Some notes on the legions under Augustus'. 1969. Vorarbeiten zu einem Corpus romischer GladU'. Marlborough: Crowood Press Rainbird. S. 1997. P. D. R. 2003. B.]. H. D. Germania 47: 97-128 Watson. R. A. Vegetius: Epitome of Military Science.). 1978. 1992 (2nd ed. New York: Norton 90 . 1992 (repr. M. 1972. The Roman Legions. 1969. The German Policy of Augustus. G. 1996 (2nd ed. Liverpool: LiverpOOl University Press Parker..). 1958.. Classical Review 19: 11-12 Rees. Boudicca: The British Revolt against Rome AD 60. K.. L. 'Tactics at Mons Graupius'. Manchester: Manchester University Press Speidel. G. 1934. Oxford: Clarendon Press Wells. Britannia 9: 271-87 Syme. 1985). R... 2001. 1989. The Roman Legions Recreated in Colour Photographs. S. Journal of Roman Studies 82: 87-106 St Joseph. London: Thames & Hudson Webster. London: Fontana Wells. P. J. Phoenix 19: 1-14 Millar. Cambridge: Heffer & Sons Peterson. G.. London: A & C Black Webster. R.. 'To be and not to be: Pliny's paradoxical Trajan'. The Boudican Revolt against Rome. S. A Battle Lost: Romans and Caledonians at Mons Graupius... 1998). The Roman Soldier.. 1992). P. 1983.. London: Batsford Wells. 'The range of the ancient bow'. London: Duckworth Milner.. Princes Risborough: Shire Smith.Keppie. Aberdeenshire and the site of Mons Graupius'. 1958). M. G. G. M.. The Emperor in the Roman World. Journal of Roman Studies 23: 14-33 Ulbert... N. London: Routledge Maxwell. C. 2003). 'The camp at Durno. The Making of the Roman Army: From Republic to Empire. S. 1965.]... C. 1928 (repr. 1993. D. R. 1969 (repr. The Roman Empire. 'GladU aus Pompeji. The Battle that Stopped Rome. W. 1984 (repr. Service in the Post-Marian Army.. 1977 (repr. 1979 (2nd ed. F. F. The Roman Imperial Army. 1992.. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 45: 149-68 Sealey. G. 'Roman army pay scales'. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press McLeod. E. M.).

) basic tactical unit of legio (q.v.Glossary Aerarium militare Agger Ala/alae Aquila Aquilifer/aquiliferi Armilia/armiIIae As/asses Aureus Auxilia Ballista/ballistae Bucina/bucinae Bucinator/bucinatores Caliga/caligae Centuria/centuriae Centuriolcenturiones Cingulum/cinguli Clavicula/claviculae Clipeus/clipi Cohors/cohortes Contubernium Cornicen/cornicines Cornicularius Coronalcoranae Oecurio/decu riones Denarius/denarii Oileetus Ouplicarius Equites legionis Focale/focalis Fossa/fossae Gladius/gladii Imaginifer/imaginiferi Imago imperatoris Imperium Interval/um Lancea/lancae Legatus/legati Legio/legiones Librarius/librarii military treasury rampart or mound cavalry 'wing' 'eagle' .v.v.awarded for various exploits corona civica: crown of oak leaves .v.silver coin. command open space between rear of rampart and tent lines light spear 'deputy' .) 'choosing' .v. ten per centuria (q.v.) 'eagle-bearer' .standard-bearer who carried aquila (q.) and above corona absidionalis: crown of grass .v.) sword belt 'little key' .) crown . but retariffed at 16 to the denarius at the time of Gracchi gold coin worth 25 denarii (q.) 'ten as piece' .v.v. a horn associated with the standards junior officer responsible for clerks in principia (q.subordinate commander principal unit of Roman army clerk librarius horreorum: kept granary records librarius depositorum: collected soldiers' savings librarius caducorum: secured belongings of those killed in action 91 . now worth 16 asses (q.) musician who blew the cornu.military decoration generally for centuriones (q.) auxiliary units or auxiliaries stone-throwing torsion-spring catapult crooked trumpet or horn used to regulate watches musician who blew bucina (q.) armband .) 'tentful' .awarded to first man over enemy's rampart officer in command of turma (q.mess-unit of eight infantry.v.v.) officer in command of centuria (q.awarded to first man over enemy's walls corona val/aris: rampart crown in gold . originally worth 1/1 Oth of denarius (q.curved extension of rampart protecting gateway shield used by auxilia (q.awarded for rescuing besieged army corona aurea: gold crown .).v.awarded for saving life of a citizen corona muralis: mural crown in gold .) mounted legionaries woollen scarf ditch cut-and-thrust sword carried by legionaries bearer of imago imperatoris (q.) standard bearing image of emperor power.standard of legio (q.levying of troops second-in-command of turma (q.v.v.v.military decoration copper coin.v.) military boot basic sub-unit of cohors (q.

mobile formation entirely protected by roof and walls of overlapping and interlocking scuta (q.v.) shield boss road leading from praetorium (q.) origin 'born in the camp' .v.) military career-structure of equestrian order 'triple line-of-battle' .v.v.v.tent non-Roman citizen Roman foot (29.) Latin and Italian allies of Rome cavalry sword record-office Junior officer responsible for sentries and work parties in centuria (q.Roman mile (1.59cm) 'disc' .) 'tortoise' .v.) basic sub-unit of ala (q.military decoration principle throwing weapon of legionaries wooden stake for marching camp defences rear gateway of camp legio (q.) watchmen centurion's twisted-vine stick 92 .v.v.) third-in-command responsible for logistics commander of auxiliary cohort originally headquarters but now commander's tent or quarters headquarters consul whose command was prolonged Roman citizen of lowest order praetor whose command was prolonged shield carried by legionaries brass coin worth I14th of denarius (q.v.threefold battle line of Roman army trumpet used to signal commander's orders musician who blew tuba (q.v.v.) bearer of a standard of centuria or turma (q.Lorica/loricae Miles/militis Mille passus OPti%ptiones orig%rigin es Origo castris Papilio/papilones Pereginus/peregini Pes/pedis Phalera/phalerae Pilum/pila Pilum muralis Porta decumana Praefectus castrorum Praefeaus cohortis Praetorium Principia Proconsul Pro/etarius/pro/etarii Propraetor Scutum/scuta Sesterce/sestertii Signifer/signiferi Signum/signa Socii Spatha/spathae Tabularium/tabularii Tesserarius/tesserarii Testudo Tres militiae Tribunus/tribunitribune Triplex acies Tuba/tubae Tu bicen/tubicenes Turma/turmae Umbo/umbonis Via praetoria Via principalis Vexillarii Vexillatio/vexillationes Vexillum Vigiles Vitis body armour soldier 'one thousand paces' .illegitimate sons born to soldiers 'butterfly' .48km) second-in-command of centuria (q.) standard of centuria (q. from porta principalis dextra to porta principalis sinistra corps of veterans detachment standard of vexillatio (q.) of camp to porta praetoria principle road extending across width of camp.

Ulpius Traianus 'Urban' 'Victorious' Alaudae Antiqua Apollinaris Augusta Claudia concors Cyrenaica Deiotariana Equestris (elix Ferrata ffdelis constans ffrma (ortis Fretensis Fulminata Gallica Gemina Germanica Hispana Hispaniensis Italica Macedonica Martia Minervia pia ffdelis Primigenia Rapax Sabina Scythica Traiana UJpia Urbana Viarix 93 .served in Macedonia 'Sacred to Mars' 'Sacred to Minerva' 'Loyal and true' 'First born' . Yet legions had titles. or an origin.served in Iberia 'Stationed in Iberia' recruited from Italians 'Macedonian' . The consequence is that some legions have the same number.in the sense of sweeping all before it 'Sabine' .belonging to Deiotarus.belonging to M. Pompeius in Fretum Siculum (straits of Messina) 'Thunderbolt-carrier' 'Gallic' . that reflected their origins. a success. and this tended to persist into the Principate. which helped to distinguish them. Adiutrix 'Supportive' 'Larks' 'Ancient' 'Sacred to Apollo' .served in Scythia 'Traianic' .served in Gaul 'Twin' .belonging to M.raised in Sabine country 'Scythian' . a geographical area.of a new breed of legions 'Greedy' . tetrarch of Galatia 'Knightly' 'Lucky one' 'Ironclad' 'True and constant' 'Steadfast' 'Courageous' after naval victory over Sex.Legionary titles Numbers identified legions.served on the Rhine 'Iberian' . However. a god.this god was considered by Augustus to be his protecting deity 'Augustan' . The title itself may reflect one of the following: a nickname. such inconsistencies dating from the Republic when new legions were created as occasion demanded.loyal to Claudius 'United' from service in province of that name 'Deiotarian' . they were not numbered sequentially or exclusively.one legion made out of two 'Germanic' .reconstituted by Augustus 'Claudian' . like modern army units. Ulpius Traianus 'Ulpian' .

The title Victrix may refer to an outstanding victory in Iberia (this legion was originally known as VI Hispaniensis).During the mutiny of the Pannonian legions. the mutineers wanted to merge the three legions into one. 'But jealousy wrecked this suggestion'. 94 . perhaps in 41-40 BC for it is attested at his siege of Perusia. says Tacitus. while pia {idelis Domitiana was awarded by Domitianus. and was still present there at the end of the 4th century AD according to the document known as the Notitia Dignitatum.2). To illustrate this esprit de corps. being based at Eburacum (York). where it had been stationed since 30 BC. In AD 122 the unit was transferred from Germania Superior to Britannia. 'because everyone wanted it to take his own legion's name' (Annales 1. the last epithet being dropped after his death when he suffered damnatio memoriae. Raised by Octavianus.18. let us take one example: legio VI Victrix pia {idelis. this was the legion that hailed Galba as emperor in AD 68.

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professional army.. Military service was now a career.. deployment..95 / $30....ospreypublishing.... which conquered much of Europe and expanded the Roman Empire until it stretched as far as the north of Britain ~~~::::. as commander-in-chief.. .r :. and the loyalty of the new army was to the emperor... ~ 1Z ~~ Full colour maps Unrivalled detail ~ ~::::. ~ ~. tactics and equipment The Roman Army of the Principate 27 BC-AD 117 The Imperial army established ~ . meeting all the military needs of the empire with a standing. ..~:.--:::.. ~ ~ ~:: . training.~.. ..: ~ . by Augustus drew heavily on the nomenclature and traditions of the late Republic...Command. -.::::. fBattle formations Photographs and the wilds of Germany. ::: . .... . instead of to the Senate and the people of Rome.. ~..00 CAN IS B N 978-1-84603-386-5 5259 5 OSPREY PUBLISHING www.. . organization and evolution of forces in battle. US $25.....com 9 781846 033865 ... ~ :. This title describes the organizational history and development of this new army. But it was a new kind of force.. describing elements of doctrine.

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