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War and Society in Ancient Rome

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History 2173
Barbara Murison

Nov, 08, 2012 War and Society in Ancient Rome Period of the Kings – 753-510 BC: -We are sure early Rome had kings but when it comes to reconstructing the history it is difficult and a lot of what we know may just be legend and Ab Urbe Condita (A.U.C) is their dating system from the foundation of the city -Archaeology says it probably originated in the late 600`s and Romulus was the first ruler of Rome but it probably just means Roman and this is the regal period and there are said to be seven kings but this is not possible because of the long time period and until around 100 BC we have scant history for the period Earliest Roman Army: -What we know is conjectural mostly because evidence is lacking or difficult to interpret -Most of the Roman authors are writing long after the events occurred and they seem to be quoting earlier accounts that they may not have understood so they may have misused terms and left out details -During the regal period you start with a group of nobles and end with a citizen militia and the earliest army we heard of had 3000 infantry and there were three tribes who were said to be in 30 curiae with ten for each tribe and each curia supplied ten cavalry and 100 infantry men -Battles in the beginning were just individual fights between nobles and there was no proper cavalry and the horses were just transportation but the number of nobles didn’t increase enough to bear the brunt of defence because there was a new type of warfare spreading that used hoplites th -Latest studies show that this development had occurred by the 6 century BC and there is evidence that men equipped as hoplites were being hired by the nobles before there was a proper phalanx -Would have been continually confronted by Etruscan hoplites from the north and there is a lot of argument about how much they influenced Rome in the 6 century and after a while there was the feeling that the hoplites were more effective when in formation and this suggested some kind of a phalanx -Even a small phalanx needed greater numbers than what was available so they needed more men and the armour and equipment was expensive and men in the beginning had to be able to pay for their things and the wealthy wanted a say in government even if they weren’t nobles Reforms of Servius Tullius – Mid 6 Century: -Rearranged the legion in all ways and he is 6 of the seven kings and our sources praise him as a wise man and he knew that he needed to curb the power of some nobility (Romano-Etruscan nobles) because there was a certain threat that they would cause chaos and the king didn’t want them dominating affairs and having private armies th -In the middle of the 6 century his reforms came in to play and it was a political and military transformation -He divided the people into new tribes, carried out the first censuses and people were put into groups according to wealth and property and the five classes were divided into numbers of centuries, of the five classes the first three were hoplites, group four and five were lighter armed troops -The poorest citizens part of the group supernumerary and they did not supply much to the army -The nobility were not part of the five classes and they were part of the equites who made their own cavalry and as the state moves on it was the infantry that was more important (nobles were sidelined and this helped reduce their power in the reforms) -There was a new assembly of the people called comitia centuriata where every one could vote but wealthier people who contributed more to the military had more sway (again didn’t include nobles that weren’t wealthy) -The hoplites were getting more power and the poor got almost no say in government (called prolctarians) -Later historians sometimes just throw in information about this time so we have to be critical -The purpose of the census was to register all those who were fit and financially capable of military service -It is likely that the round shield was the only shield at the time and the oblong shield probably came in later despite what the chart says and even at the start the Roman phalanx was never as rigid as the Greek’s Nov, 08, 2012 -This period ends with the expulsion of the king and we’re told the 7 king was over thrown by aristocrats who set up a republic and his name was Tarquinius Superbus Period of Turmoil – ca 525-475 BC: -Conflict between Rome and the other Latin peoples and they were successful and had an alliance with the Latin League and we move into republic of Rome and there was the early, middle, and late republic -Rome lost its early records around when the city was sacked by the Gauls in 390-387 BC and there were hill th people coming down and raiding and in the 4 century there were not many differences between battles and raids -Livy speaks of these early republic periods as not having war or peace Changes in the 300 BC’s: -By the end of the 4 century there is a more aggressive Roman stance and at Veii the Etruscan city state fell victim to this and it fell in 396 after a siege and a number of cities in Latium also fell and this change goes with reforms in the army where pay was introduced in 406 BC to compensate soldiers if they were gone for a long time -Other changes included new armour, weapons, and tactics and these start after an attack by the Gauls who came down and defeated a hastily put together Roman army (Battle of Allia in 390-387) because this was a psychological shock to Rome but it was only a momentary set back and it didn’t effect their military success and expansion that was already evident -Around this time the slow moving phalanx they had was abandoned and the body known as the legion was introduced (word comes from Latin verb meaning “picked people”) and they were citizen soldiers -Other changes include the adoption of a larger oval shield and later a rectangle one, new offensive weapon the pilum heavy javelin which was for throwing rather than the hasta thrusting spear, and the basic unit was the maniple of 60-120 men Nov, 08, 2012 Livy’s Account – ca 340 BC: -Was a half legion half phalanx situation and the hasta bearing maniples were first in 15 groups, then the principes with heavy javelins, and the 3-5 lines were triari (very long spear), rorari, and accensi who were less heavily armed -Over time they developed steadily and they gained a lot from fighting the Samnites and from fighting King Pyrrhus of Epirus in 280-275 who was a Hellenistic king (Pyrrhus lost at the battle of Asculum in 279 BC) and they also gained a lot fighting the Carthaginians in Spain and Italy The Early 2nd Century – Polybian Account: -Significant source on the Roman army and in the middle republic he writes about war and his sources are better -The two chief officials were the consuls and every year
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