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Mars attacks!
The role of the centurion in the Roman legion: a computer simulation of combat tactics
Xavier Rubio-Campillo
1
, Pau Valdés

, !duard "le

1# "arcelona $upercomputing Centre
# %niversitat de "arcelona
&nternational 'ncient (arfare Conference )1*, 'ber+st,+th


$ummar+
%nderstanding roman tactics
The role of the centurion
Research -uestions
The model
!.periments and results
Concluding remar/s


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%nderstanding Roman tactics


9odels of roman combat
Classical models at unit level:
e.change bet,een lines
tactical movements in battle
...vs...
9odels based on archaeological data
,eapons : single combat : collective combat
technological determinism


The face of battle
Keegan;s Face of battle 21<=>3
psichological factor
individual point of vie,
Hanson;s Western way of war 21<?<3
othismos model for classical @reece


The face of Roman battle
Goldsworthy;s model
legionaries tr+ to
survive, not to /ill
close combat: less
than 1A-) min
Zhmodikov;s model
&mportance of
thro,ing ,eapons in
battle


The face of Roman battle
Sabin s+nthetic model comprises:
length of the combat
une-ual number of casualties
mobilit+ of the fronts
the role of the rear ran/s
short close combat clashes lead b+ aggressive
soldiers 2centurionsB3
Long moments of stalemate ,ith separated fronts
2safe position3 ,hen the e.change pro8ectiles ta/es
place


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The role of the centurion


Centurions in te.tual sources
Pol+bius 2&& "C3
5bedience
6iscipline
'ristocratic ideal


' ne, Cope: Caesar 2& "C3
Change in their role and representation:
virtus, animvs and fortitvdo
9ore importance in the narration#
7avorable treatment
The+ assume the old aristocratic ideal of the performance in
battle#
Conflict bet,een disciplinaDvirtus#


CaesarEs problems
Virtus doesn;t influence battle
Caesar as the main figure in battle#
Virtus ,ithout consilium inefficient#
Fegative characteriGation:
Cosidius
'riovistus


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Research -uestions


Huestions 2&3: ,h+ do +ou need deep formationsB
@olds,orth+
most common 0 or * ran/s
also multiples of > and ? 2$abin3
(heeler
usuall+ ? ran/s 2Connoll+, Co,an, ###3
increased to 1 or 1> ,hen fighting cavalr+
but###what is the fnction of the last ranks of a nit!
9ore cohesionB
$upport frontlineB
Refresh troopsB


Huestions 2&&3: ,here are m+ centurionsB
9ost accepted 2Connoll+, @olds,orth+, etc#3
far right of the front line
Co,an
center of the front line
but###why were they located in these "ositions!
,as it fossiliGed trait, legac+ of Cellenistic ,arfareB
did it matterB


Huestions 2&&&3: The role of the centurion
#hy were they so im"ortant!
6iscussion disciplinaDvirtus# The+ ,ere###
$ cohesion factor!
Preventing unit rupture and flight
%he deadliest warrior!
1eading the charges, forcing the rest to follo,


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The model


7rom micro behavior to macro d+namics
(e ,ant to e.plore the importance of the centurion in grand
tactics
1in/ing t,o scales of hman behavior is a challenge
because ,e need to:
6efine a behavior at the individual scale
!.plore the aggregated effects at a collective scale


These t+pe of phenomena, ,hich are constant in an+ /ind
of human interaction 2including ,ar3 are defined as
emergent "rocesses#
$gent&'ased Models 2'"9s3 are a t+pe of computer
simulation suited for e.ploring emergence:
2a3 !ach individual entit+ is defined as an agent#
2b3 !ach agent is defined ,ith a internal state and
behavior
2c3 Time is measured as discrete steps#
$imulating emergence


(e ,ill simulate battles bet,een formations ,ith thousands
of agents forming the front line of a legion 2* cohorts3###
###but ,e donEt ,ant to define global behaviorI
The model


'n e.ample


Comple.it+ means non-determinism


The face of the agent: approach
Lucius Vorenus is a virtual soldier, part of the second rank of the
Red Legio. Today he is (again! inside a simulation facing the
famous "lue Legion.
#fter some seconds his line begins to advance towards the enemy$
when he is around 15 meters of the enemy he throws his pilum.


%e doesn&t know if he hit somebody$ he doesn&t see anything apart
from the guys in the first rank. %e is getting stressed because after
trying to breach the enemy they have to fall back some meters.
'ow they attack again, but suddenly the guy in front is killed by
the enemy. #ll the soldiers around him begin to collapse, including
Lucius, but there is no way to retreat so he must stay where he is
and face the enemy.
The face of the agent: combat


The face of the agent: outcome
#fter some seconds the line has reordered$ suddenly one
centurion near him charges towards the enemy$ his energy is
contagious and suddenly the entire centuria is charging.
Lucius kills a panicking soldier in front of him and this opens a
gap in the enemy line. The (eds take advantage of this
opportunity and the enemy line begins to collapse$ victory


6efining Vorenus
!ach agent is defined ,ith:
$ide
$tress D $tress Threshold
1ethalit+
7atigue
The onl+ difference bet,een a Centurion and a 1egionar+ is
the $tress Threshold


Thin/ing
!ach time step Vorenus
averages his stress ,ith a
soldier randoml+ pic/ed
from the ones he sees#
&n addition his an.iet+
increases e.ponentiall+ as
the distance ,ith the
enem+ line decreases#
Cis fatigue affects all his
actions


9ovement is lin/ed to
the relation bet,een
stress and threshold#
9oving


Combat
1ethalit+ defines the
probabilit+ 2per mil3 of
inflicting a casualt+#
5nce this happens
soldiers near the
victim increase their
stress#


6esign e.periment
(e ,ant to e.plore:
Centurion stress threshold: from 1 to 2)#1 steps3
Ran/s: *,>,?
Centurion position 2random, 1st ran/, 1st right3
<< combinations e.ecuted 1)) times 2<<)) runs3#


live#die#repeat###


###a lot


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2unless other,ise specified3# 41ibre5ffice4 and 4The 6ocument 7oundation4 are registered trademar/s# Their respective logos
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6iscussion


&nterpreting the results 2&3: formation depth
&ncreasing the number of ran/s is critical ,hen centurions are
not s"ecially skilled#
6eplo+ing in smaller ran/s is better for "rofessional troo"s
2J ,ider front attac/3#


&nterpreting the results 2&&3: position
Centurions randoml+ located improve the general cohesion
of the unit, but###
###this unit is unable to charge the enem+#
There is no difference bet,een centurions on the right or
randoml+ deplo+ed at first ran/
7ossiliGed cultural traitB
'dditional reasons###
6eplo+ment maneuversB
7rontline controlB


&nterpreting the results 2&&&3: e.perience
High e("erienced Centurions are more efficient brea/ing the
enem+ lines#
Less e("erienced Centurions have greater impact on troops
cohesion#
!.perience in the Roman legion:
'fter = +ears it hasnEt reach its pea/ of performance#
1ong service isnEt common in the Roman Republic#
!.ceptions:
1ate Republic 2Civils (ars3
$pecific cases: The legions of Cannae#


7inal thoughts: an evolving ,arrior
Pol+bius:
Centurion leads troops ,ith little e.perience#
Cohesion becomes decisive in the outcome of the battle#
Caesar
Troops ,ith much more e.perience#
Their impact on battle lies in the charge against the enem+#
The role of the centurion evolved over time, as the t+pe of
troops determined the emphasis in one of the t,o aspects#


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2unless other,ise specified3# 41ibre5ffice4 and 4The 6ocument 7oundation4 are registered trademar/s# Their respective logos
and icons are sub8ect to international cop+right la,s# The use of these therefore is sub8ect to the trademar/ polic+#
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Than/ +ouI
.avier#rubioKbsc#es
pauvm?*Khotmail#com
ebleKub#edu