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Lecture 19

CLAS 1000 Lecture 19: The Roman Army

Classical Studies
Course Code
CLAS 1000
John Walsh

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The Roman Army
Can be misleading extended period of time (1000+ years)
Long and complicated history
753 BC ca 300 BC
Original Army
- Greek-style phalanx
- Soliders were not professional
- They were ͂called up̓ legio
- Sign of citizenship to be a part of the army
- Had to own land to be included
- Monarchy to early republic
- Army only required for short periods of time to fight the immediate enemy
Greek style of fighting underwent a revolution
- Under Theben influence and Macedonian influence it changes
- Sarissa and doru
- Underwent one massive change, response to one massive pressure
- Every year the romans fought someone new, long process of continual
adaptation and evolution
- Constant warfare forced the romans to change to face the differing regions
Greatest single moment of evolution in the roman army was when facing the
- Fought three significant wars with the Samnites (343-290 BC)
- Finally defeated them, realized something positive
- Samnites did not fight in a single dense phalanx formation, instead in a more
supple, mobile form of warfare
- More flexible and dynamic way of fighting on the battlefield, replacing a solid
block with three lines of individual handfuls of men
- Triplex acies three lines of men that replace each other as time goes on
- Men in front row only have to fight for a minute or so before stepping face,
rotation keeps fresh men in the front
- Breaking up the phalanx into manacles
- Versatility of this system gave the Romans a great advantage
- Arranged by age
o Young men, enthusiastic
o Seasoned soldiers, encourage the young men in front and switch
places with them
o Old veterans, served for a number of campaigns that served as a sort
of reserve in case of a break in the line (͂last line of defense̓). Also
a stern reminder to keep the younger men in position
- Continuous front (͆tip of roman spear to be kept sharp͇)
- Great innovation and adaptation courtesy of the Samnites
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