Roman Legion Questions

HIST: Discussions about the last 4000 years of history, give or take a few days.

Moderator: K. A. Pital

Post Reply
User avatar
Kitsune
Sith Devotee
Posts: 3412
Joined: 2003-04-05 10:52pm
Location: Foxes Den
Contact:

Roman Legion Questions

Post by Kitsune » 2008-06-07 10:53pm

Roman Legion Questions

First, when would the Roman Legions be considered at their height? All other questions are based on this time frame.
Second, what would be their number and how would they be organized?
Third, what was the Roman Empire population which supported these troops?

Next, what would be the common weapons and armor (and other equipment) carried by these legions.

Finally, what likely the most complex question is what is the composition of the troops
As in, where do the troops come from - City of Rome, Italian Peninsula, Gaul, Africa, Asia, etc.
How many would be "foreigners" and come from Germanic Tribes.
How as these troops "slotted in"? Are troops basically just put in where needed or are they kept in units from like regions such as all Gaul troops in one unit?
Last edited by Kitsune on 2008-06-07 11:08pm, edited 1 time in total.
"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
Thomas Paine

"For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten."
Ecclesiastes 9:5 (KJV)

User avatar
Boyish-Tigerlilly
Sith Devotee
Posts: 3225
Joined: 2004-05-22 04:47pm
Location: New Jersey (Why not Hawaii)
Contact:

Post by Boyish-Tigerlilly » 2008-06-07 11:06pm

Do you mean what there number and organization was at height? Or variable? The Legion was a bit flexible over time with number and organization.

User avatar
Kitsune
Sith Devotee
Posts: 3412
Joined: 2003-04-05 10:52pm
Location: Foxes Den
Contact:

Post by Kitsune » 2008-06-07 11:07pm

Boyish-Tigerlilly wrote:Do you mean what there number and organization was at height? Or variable? The Legion was a bit flexible over time with number and organization.
I am trying to get a snapshot at its height to be able to compare it to other times.
"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
Thomas Paine

"For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten."
Ecclesiastes 9:5 (KJV)

User avatar
Boyish-Tigerlilly
Sith Devotee
Posts: 3225
Joined: 2004-05-22 04:47pm
Location: New Jersey (Why not Hawaii)
Contact:

Post by Boyish-Tigerlilly » 2008-06-07 11:56pm

Well, if you want, tomorrow I will get my Smithsonian Roman Military series out for you and I will look it up again. It gives a general overview of the composition, size, and quality of the Roman army during the pax Romana.

User avatar
Maxentius
Padawan Learner
Posts: 298
Joined: 2008-05-16 04:12pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Post by Maxentius » 2008-06-08 02:42pm

The 'height' of the Roman Army is almost inarguably the midst of the Principate; that is the era that the 'quintessential' legionary, as depicted in most mass media, is drawn from - he is armored in the lorica segmentata ,for the most part, carries the scuta tower shield, and wields the gladius and his pila.

Likewise, the legion of the Principate was organized into ten cohorts, all but one of which were composed of (on paper) 480 men, with the First Cohort being double strength (close to 1,000) and also composed of the legion's most experienced troops. Most legions also made usage of auxiliary archers and cavalry, though without as ready a definition of numbers - I have seen estimates ranging from only 1,000, to as many auxiliary as legionaries. Most likely, the presence and numbers of auxiliaries varied on a case-by-case basis.

Augustus limited the Roman army to 28 (I believe; I don't have my sources with me) legions, dispersed across the Empire, with the majority stationed in Gaul, Syria, and a smaller concentration in the area of the Dacian frontier.

As for the composition of legions by ethnicity, most legions were 'wholly' ethnic, in that they were originally raised in the same place, but would eventually be be watered down into more mixed forces over time. Iberia was a favorite Roman recruiting ground, as was (obviously) Italy. I do not believe that Gaul was initially used as large scale recruiting ground, but that changed in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries.

I'll post a more comprehensive analysis when I'm home.
Rome is an eternal thought in the mind of God... If there were no Rome, I'd dream of her.
--Marcus Licinius Crassus, Spartacus.


User avatar
Fingolfin_Noldor
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 11834
Joined: 2006-05-15 10:36am
Location: At the Helm of the HAB Star Dreadnaught Star Fist

Post by Fingolfin_Noldor » 2008-06-09 09:21pm

Yeah, I remembered that Augustus limited the Roman Legions to 28, compared the tens of them during the civil wars and what not. Of course, 3 were wiped out during the Teutonberg catastrophe. I believe they expanded to 32 or so under Trajan.
Image
STGOD: Byzantine Empire
Your spirit, diseased as it is, refuses to allow you to give up, no matter what threats you face... and whatever wreckage you leave behind you.
Kreia

User avatar
Darth Wong
Sith Lord
Sith Lord
Posts: 70027
Joined: 2002-07-03 12:25am
Location: Toronto, Canada
Contact:

Post by Darth Wong » 2008-06-09 11:14pm

Vegetius had a lot to say about the decline of the Roman legions from their peak. They were neglecting even their basic physical training at that point, and refusing to wear their armour because it was heavy and they tired easily.
Image
"It's not evil for God to do it. Or for someone to do it at God's command."- Jonathan Boyd on baby-killing

"you guys are fascinated with the use of those "rules of logic" to the extent that you don't really want to discussus anything."- GC

"I do not believe Russian Roulette is a stupid act" - Embracer of Darkness

"Viagra commercials appear to save lives" - tharkûn on US health care.

http://www.stardestroyer.net/Mike/RantMode/Blurbs.html

Eleventh Century Remnant
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2361
Joined: 2006-11-20 06:52am
Location: Scotland

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2008-06-11 05:44am

Several other commentators- a lot of the German school starting with Hans Delbruck, and John Keegan- have criticised Vegetius as a polemicist rather than a historian. He was writing about the fifth century and projecting it on to the third, really it was a contemporary debate he was trying to take part in rather than a historical discussion.

There is a fairly recent book, 'Ghosts and Soldiers', J.E. Lendon, Yale University Press, that takes a much more positive view of the men and a much more negative view of the leadership.

by the fourth century, the six thousand or fifty-five hundred man legion was a thing of the past, and the remnants of the legions had settled down as largely immobile defence formations in strategic fortifications, each unit a mere thousand to twelve hundred strong. Expeditionary warfare was no longer really within their remit, although a man like Julian the Apostate could still achieve it.

Basically, Lendon argues that Roman ideas of leadership- inspired by the heroic past- changed much more slowly than the reality, and inappropriate and unwise use of what military resources the Roman empire did have was much more to blame- good material still, used badly.

The latter day legion was a much smaller force, but it could still manoeuvre with speed and fight with determination; but it was no longer up to the scale of the problem. If used in open, running battle- like Julian's gaulish campaigns- it could still fight and win; but look at Adrianople, legions committed to a mass Civil War style set piece.

To summarise in one sentence, Lendon's thesis is that the latter day roman legion could still be successfully used as a rapier, but was far too often employed as a bludgeon.


For my money, the heyday of the legions is the forty years from 70 to 30 BC, the Roman Empire in it's most expansionist phase, Pompey in the east and Caesar in the west, and the Civil War at the end.
There may have been as many as sixty legions in service with all sides, and one of the reasons it was so easy to reduce their numbers to twenty- eight was that so many of them had seen hard service and heavy casualties, and were far understrength. There may have been as few as 1,500 of the elite Legio X left after Pharsalus.

Legions were recruited en bloc, sixteen year enlistments before and twenty year enlistments during the Civil War, from one geographical area- the only legion recruited south of the Po were the Praetorians. Legion's recruiting areas could be moved, and there are cases of soldiers staying in for more than one enlistment.

This created a peculiar cycle in the effective combat strength of the legion, weak at the start of the recruitment cycle when the new legionnaires were still learning their trade, weak at the end. The precise timing of the Boudiccan revolt may have been arranged to take advantage of that- a new batch of legionaries were late arriving to the XX Valeria, leaving the oldsters in place.

Legionaries had no sideways mobility, you stayed with the legion, in most cases even the Contubernium, that you were put into. Optios had some mobility within the legion, and Centurions could transfer from legion to legion.

(edit for spelling)
The only purpose in my still being here is the stories and the people who come to read them. About all else, I no longer care.

User avatar
The Duchess of Zeon
Gözde
Posts: 14566
Joined: 2002-09-18 01:06am
Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-06-11 02:27pm

I'd say the Roman legions were in their height during the Civil Wars when they had combat experience against large organized armies, anyhow, particularly even foreign ones like those of Mithridates and Tigranes.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

User avatar
Straha
Lord of the Spam
Posts: 8099
Joined: 2002-07-21 11:59pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by Straha » 2008-06-11 07:36pm

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:>SNIP<
Lendon's book had numerous flaws in hit. He often seemed to misunerstand how the legion worked, the inherent flexibility inherent in it, and overplayed a select quotes from Livy which seemed to give the idea that the Roman Army the ideal of fighting man on man. I got about half way through his book before I threw it down in disgust.

I think what did it for me was when he claimed the battle of Pydna proved that the Phalanx was superior to the Legion because it forced the Romans back in the early stages of the battle. The point that the legion was a far more flexible formation than the phalanx and could be pushed back unevenly and still hold the fight, whereas the Phalanx couldn't sustain prolonged combat (i.e. an hour or more) under most circumstances and especially couldn't sustain an advance flew over his head higher and faster than the Space Shuttle.
'After 9/11, it was "You're with us or your with the terrorists." Now its "You're with Straha or you support racism."' ' - The Romulan Republic

'You're a bully putting on an air of civility while saying that everything western and/or capitalistic must be bad, and a lot of other posters (loomer, Stas Bush, Gandalf) are also going along with it for their own personal reasons (Stas in particular is looking through rose colored glasses)' - Darth Yan

Eleventh Century Remnant
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2361
Joined: 2006-11-20 06:52am
Location: Scotland

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2008-06-11 08:42pm

Partly, Lendon is building castles in the air, but I do agree with some of his points.

On the whole individual heroism thing, his theory rests on the idea that disciplinary codes are intended to deal with problems that actually exist- there's no point legislating on a non- issue. Accordingly, the rigour of the roman disciplinary code indicates that there were real problems that code was intended to suppress, and the roman legions were a more volatile organisation, more prone to go backwards- or forwards- without orders than we like to think.

The idea of a constant dynamic tension between valour and discipline- that does smell a bit of making up the theory then looking for the evidence to fit. The centurionate with some rank and reputation, the tribunate, maybe, but I doubt the average miles gregarius went that far.

On phalanx vs. legion, he's not far away from the orthodox view as I understand it; that as pretty much everybody from Polybius onward states, given hard level ground advantage phalanx, given rough ground advantage legion.

Has there been any pike based army that has been composed of independently deployable sub- units? I can't think of anyone off the top of my head. not until the Regiments of the Thirty Years' War and English Civil War; they're damned large for independent manoeuvrability, and some were more effective at eploying by companies than others. Until then, Left, Right and Centre seem to be about it, and the phalanx fits that mould- invented it, really.

That lack of flexibility and subdivision, above all the lack of a clearly defined leadership, which ends with every man feeling himself free to shout orders according to what he thinks is right- that was the phalanx' biggest problem.
Given a situation which minimises those flaws, a straightforward head on clash with little need for subordinate leaders, the phalanx could, in theory, win.

The phalanx' limited combat endurance, I am convinced, was a matter of increasing disorder rather than decreasing vigour. Later men managed to remain at push of pike for hours on end, for some of the battles of the Thirty Years' and ECW. Less well fed, actually, so probably of lesser endurance. I think the problem really is that when a classical phalanx starts to come apart it doesn't have the subdivisions, and subordinate officers, to pull it back together.

Where Lendon is coming from here is his peculiar cultural answer to the obvious question; why not?

His theory seems to be, as I understand it, that the Greeks harked back to a heroic model of leadership, and in the absence of actual demigods, never really evolved an efficient system of subunits.
Damn, I need to go and do some more reading on the Macedonian army. They could be an obvious counterexample but haven't gone back over the sources recently enough to have it on the tip of my tongue.

The roman army sublimated the contradictory pressures of order and valour into a system of ranks, rates and duties with professional leaders, heroes for the working day, in charge. There's a lot more bull than that surrounding the theory, but that's about it. overstylised, maybe.
The only purpose in my still being here is the stories and the people who come to read them. About all else, I no longer care.

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 37389
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2008-06-11 08:52pm

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:
Has there been any pike based army that has been composed of independently deployable sub- units? I can't think of anyone off the top of my head. not until the Regiments of the Thirty Years' War and English Civil War; they're damned large for independent manoeuvrability, and some were more effective at eploying by companies than others. Until then, Left, Right and Centre seem to be about it, and the phalanx fits that mould- invented it, really.
I can’t think of one either, but really, why would you want to deploy small pike units? In constricted terrain they might work, but in anything like open country a subunit of say 250 pike men would be very easily flanked, and yet might not have enough men to form a decent square for all around defence. It seems to me that if you need subunits, then the best thing to do would be to train the men to use a different weapon when needed.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

Eleventh Century Remnant
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2361
Joined: 2006-11-20 06:52am
Location: Scotland

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2008-06-11 09:31pm

Basically just wondering how much flexibility it's actually possible to get out of any force which uses those damned unwieldy things, or their equivalent in the sarissa, as it's main weapon.
I wasn't thinking about deploying small pike units as such, but more about the captains, lieutenants and sargeants that would require, and what difference those men would make to their unit in the main battle line.
I do think the latterday pike formations manoeuvred more smoothly and coherently than their ancient equivalents, because they did possess something like a proper system of command that could maintain direction and unit integrity- which, to go back on topic, the legions of the time did as well, and the greek phalanx not.

Most of the english civil war pikemen would have carried a hanger- otherwise known as a smallsword- for close in work, but how much training they put in with it varied from regiment to regiment, and it is very much a secondary weapon. Similarly with the phalanx, most of them would have carried some kind of shorter blade, but if they ever had to use it it would have been because their unit had come apart.
The only purpose in my still being here is the stories and the people who come to read them. About all else, I no longer care.

User avatar
Thanas
Magister
Magister
Posts: 30779
Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm

Post by Thanas » 2008-06-13 02:49pm

OK, before I answer the original question, I shall clear up some mistakes.
Fingolfin_Noldor wrote:Yeah, I remembered that Augustus limited the Roman Legions to 28, compared the tens of them during the civil wars and what not. Of course, 3 were wiped out during the Teutonberg catastrophe. I believe they expanded to 32 or so under Trajan.
Septimius Severus, and the number stayed more or less around 31 for the whole reign. (It is also Teutoburg, btw, as in "Teutoburger Wald" or "saltus Teutoburgiensis").

Darth Wong wrote:Vegetius had a lot to say about the decline of the Roman legions from their peak. They were neglecting even their basic physical training at that point, and refusing to wear their armour because it was heavy and they tired easily.
This is complete bullshit. Vegetius is repeating several topoi which have no basis in reality. Hardly surprising considering that he never saw combat, but was most likely an early version of the armchair general or chickenhawk. All archeological evidence (such as columms) and every other literary evidence (Ammianus Marcellinus) point to the Romans being very well trained and armored during that period.
Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:Several other commentators- a lot of the German school starting with Hans Delbruck, and John Keegan- have criticised Vegetius as a polemicist rather than a historian. He was writing about the fifth century and projecting it on to the third, really it was a contemporary debate he was trying to take part in rather than a historical discussion.
And his work is not even correct about the fifth century.
The latter day legion was a much smaller force, but it could still manoeuvre with speed and fight with determination; but it was no longer up to the scale of the problem. If used in open, running battle- like Julian's gaulish campaigns- it could still fight and win; but look at Adrianople, legions committed to a mass Civil War style set piece.

To summarise in one sentence, Lendon's thesis is that the latter day roman legion could still be successfully used as a rapier, but was far too often employed as a bludgeon.
This is also wrong. I wonder if Lendon has really read about Julian's campaign in Gaul.

by the fourth century, the six thousand or fifty-five hundred man legion was a thing of the past, and the remnants of the legions had settled down as largely immobile defence formations in strategic fortifications, each unit a mere thousand to twelve hundred strong. Expeditionary warfare was no longer really within their remit, although a man like Julian the Apostate could still achieve it.
WTF? The limitanei were not confined to strategic formations, nor did the majority of the legions sit in defence formation. And expeditionary warfare was very much a capacity they employed.
Basically, Lendon argues that Roman ideas of leadership- inspired by the heroic past- changed much more slowly than the reality, and inappropriate and unwise use of what military resources the Roman empire did have was much more to blame- good material still, used badly.
Oh yes. I wonder that is why the Romans promoted so many "foreigners" - obviously, all of those must have been inspired by the heroic past. :roll:
To summarise in one sentence, Lendon's thesis is that the latter day roman legion could still be successfully used as a rapier, but was far too often employed as a bludgeon.
...And we are down to inaccurate metaphors.
Legions were recruited en bloc, sixteen year enlistments before and twenty year enlistments during the Civil War, from one geographical area- the only legion recruited south of the Po were the Praetorians.
Source? Because I have epigraphical evidence that says otherwise. And the Praetorians were not really recruited per se, nor were they a legion.
This created a peculiar cycle in the effective combat strength of the legion, weak at the start of the recruitment cycle when the new legionnaires were still learning their trade, weak at the end. The precise timing of the Boudiccan revolt may have been arranged to take advantage of that- a new batch of legionaries were late arriving to the XX Valeria, leaving the oldsters in place.
Source, please. I find this quite hard to believe, considering the fact that there was constant recruiting and replacement of losses.
Legionaries had no sideways mobility, you stayed with the legion, in most cases even the Contubernium, that you were put into. Optios had some mobility within the legion, and Centurions could transfer from legion to legion.(edit for spelling)


Many legionnaires were transfered to different units or split up into vexellationes. And even between legions.

Here is an epigraphic example since Landen obviously is to dumb to run a simple database search.

[miles leg(ionis)] / IIII Mac(edonicae) / ann(orum) XXV / stip(endiorum) II / vexillari / leg(ionum) trium / leg(ionis) IIII Mac(edonicae) / leg(ionis) XXI rap(acis) / leg(ionis) XXII Pri(migeniae) [snip rest]

You can look it up in: ILS 2284.
On the whole individual heroism thing, his theory rests on the idea that disciplinary codes are intended to deal with problems that actually exist- there's no point legislating on a non- issue. Accordingly, the rigour of the roman disciplinary code indicates that there were real problems that code was intended to suppress, and the roman legions were a more volatile organisation, more prone to go backwards- or forwards- without orders than we like to think.
This is fucking wrong. Basically, he argues that because there was "harsh" discipline there must have been some problems. This is a fucking joke considering that a) compared to other punishments the romans were not really that harsh (e.g. the parthians who had a reputation for skinning people alive etc) b) he is essentially arguing that strict discipline leads to the exact opposite. My god what a fucking joke.

On phalanx vs. legion, he's not far away from the orthodox view as I understand it; that as pretty much everybody from Polybius onward states, given hard level ground advantage phalanx, given rough ground advantage legion.
Wrong, because there was almost no hard ground anywhere in the empire. And even so, the phalanx is very inflexible. Actually, on hard ground it should suck even more since strong flanking attacks would be much easier to pull off.
Has there been any pike based army that has been composed of independently deployable sub- units? I can't think of anyone off the top of my head. not until the Regiments of the Thirty Years' War and English Civil War; they're damned large for independent manoeuvrability, and some were more effective at eploying by companies than others. Until then, Left, Right and Centre seem to be about it, and the phalanx fits that mould- invented it, really.
Yes, the late roman army was essentially an army based on a spear, and it had independently deployable pike units, the lanciarii. Also, some auxillia were equipped with long spears. And Roman tactics were not exactly left, right and centre.
Given a situation which minimises those flaws, a straightforward head on clash with little need for subordinate leaders, the phalanx could, in theory, win.
Theory is useless. And a weapon system which needs a specific situation on a battlefield to win is useless as well against an opponent who does not need such specific circumstances.
The phalanx' limited combat endurance, I am convinced, was a matter of increasing disorder rather than decreasing vigour. Later men managed to remain at push of pike for hours on end, for some of the battles of the Thirty Years' and ECW. Less well fed, actually, so probably of lesser endurance. I think the problem really is that when a classical phalanx starts to come apart it doesn't have the subdivisions, and subordinate officers, to pull it back together.
Also wrong, for men of the ECW and Thirty Years War wore much less armour than the average pikeman who wore even more armour as most of the early legionnaries. Also, the climate of greece is a bit hotter than germany or britain.
His theory seems to be, as I understand it, that the Greeks harked back to a heroic model of leadership, and in the absence of actual demigods, never really evolved an efficient system of subunits.
I take it the notion of hypaspists escaped him then? And heroics are a real bad starting point for military strategy.
Damn, I need to go and do some more reading on the Macedonian army. They could be an obvious counterexample but haven't gone back over the sources recently enough to have it on the tip of my tongue.
They are a counterexample, but at Pydna the Romans faced the best of the Macedonians and broke them.
The roman army sublimated the contradictory pressures of order and valour
Why are they contradictory?
Basically just wondering how much flexibility it's actually possible to get out of any force which uses those damned unwieldy things, or their equivalent in the sarissa, as it's main weapon.
I wasn't thinking about deploying small pike units as such, but more about the captains, lieutenants and sargeants that would require, and what difference those men would make to their unit in the main battle line.
I do think the latterday pike formations manoeuvred more smoothly and coherently than their ancient equivalents, because they did possess something like a proper system of command that could maintain direction and unit integrity- which, to go back on topic, the legions of the time did as well, and the greek phalanx not.
The Makedonians had such a system and at Pydna, they broke.
Most of the english civil war pikemen would have carried a hanger- otherwise known as a smallsword- for close in work, but how much training they put in with it varied from regiment to regiment, and it is very much a secondary weapon. Similarly with the phalanx, most of them would have carried some kind of shorter blade, but if they ever had to use it it would have been because their unit had come apart.
I give you something better - the Hypaspists, which were the dedicated Makedonian units for exploiting gaps in the enemy line and for close combat.
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
------------
My LPs

User avatar
Thanas
Magister
Magister
Posts: 30779
Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm

Post by Thanas » 2008-06-13 02:57pm

In answer to the OT:

a) read a fucking book. The answers are in every book about the roman army. Heck, even your precious wikipedia gives references to several books.

b) "Best" and "at their height" is always relative, as the answers by Maxentius and Duchess illustrate. So at best you would get personal estimates.

c) My personal estimate, since you so kindly asked for it, is either the later Roman army, especially the army of Diocletian or Aurelian, since it would wipe the floor with most principate armies. Or the army of Trajan which might stand a chance against them.
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
------------
My LPs

User avatar
Maxentius
Padawan Learner
Posts: 298
Joined: 2008-05-16 04:12pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Post by Maxentius » 2008-06-13 03:35pm

To run with Thanas' oh-so-true suggestion of RTFM (just as long as it isn't Vegetius), if anyone is interested in the subjects brought up over the course of this thread, some good places to start are The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, by Edward Luttwak, and The Complete Roman Army by Adrian Goldsworthy (I've heard some of my classmates pissing on Goldsworthy, but I personally haven't come across anything questionable in his writing).

The former is an excellent and comprehensive overview of the Empire's operational policy, with great focus on the reforms of the later Empire which created the comitatensis and limitanei. The latter is simply a very good overview of the Roman Army throughout its history; while it may not be totally comprehensive, it does a good job of covering as much as it can, and has some pretty pictures to boot.
Rome is an eternal thought in the mind of God... If there were no Rome, I'd dream of her.
--Marcus Licinius Crassus, Spartacus.


User avatar
Thanas
Magister
Magister
Posts: 30779
Joined: 2004-06-26 07:49pm

Post by Thanas » 2008-06-13 04:08pm

Maxentius wrote:To run with Thanas' oh-so-true suggestion of RTFM (just as long as it isn't Vegetius), if anyone is interested in the subjects brought up over the course of this thread, some good places to start are The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, by Edward Luttwak, and The Complete Roman Army by Adrian Goldsworthy (I've heard some of my classmates pissing on Goldsworthy, but I personally haven't come across anything questionable in his writing).

The former is an excellent and comprehensive overview of the Empire's operational policy, with great focus on the reforms of the later Empire which created the comitatensis and limitanei. The latter is simply a very good overview of the Roman Army throughout its history; while it may not be totally comprehensive, it does a good job of covering as much as it can, and has some pretty pictures to boot.
Goldsworthy and Luttwak are not my personal favorites, but YMMV.

A better introduction and the premier book on classical roman legions, detailing the inner workings of a legion as well as promotion routes, equipment, recruitment and warfare etc. is

Yann Le Bohec, L’armée romaine sous le Haut-Empire, Paris, 1989, 2e édit. 1998

Le Bohec is maybe the biggest expert on the classical roman legion alive today, having worked most of his life on the Legio III Augusta. ( You can find his 632 page work on that in: Yann Le Bohec, La Troisième Légion Auguste, Paris 1989. )

His quintessential work on the Roman army is available in an English translation, though I do not know how reliable it is since I have never read the translation. The French is excellent and the german edition is good as well.

Here is the Amazon link if anyone is interested in the english edition. Seriously, any student of the Roman army who has just started should get this book and it has some surprising new evidence even for people who have been with the subject for years like me.
Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
------------
My LPs

User avatar
Kitsune
Sith Devotee
Posts: 3412
Joined: 2003-04-05 10:52pm
Location: Foxes Den
Contact:

Post by Kitsune » 2008-06-14 12:58am

Maxentius wrote:To run with Thanas' oh-so-true suggestion of RTFM (just as long as it isn't Vegetius), if anyone is interested in the subjects brought up over the course of this thread, some good places to start are The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, by Edward Luttwak, and The Complete Roman Army by Adrian Goldsworthy (I've heard some of my classmates pissing on Goldsworthy, but I personally haven't come across anything questionable in his writing).

The former is an excellent and comprehensive overview of the Empire's operational policy, with great focus on the reforms of the later Empire which created the comitatensis and limitanei. The latter is simply a very good overview of the Roman Army throughout its history; while it may not be totally comprehensive, it does a good job of covering as much as it can, and has some pretty pictures to boot.
I got a lot of my answers decently answered on a military board without quite so much insulting as I seem to get here. The discussion about how various military ranks do and do not relate to modern military ranks is hard to follow but otherwise are quite interesting

I thank you for your suggestions of which books might be good sources to go to next.
"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
Thomas Paine

"For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten."
Ecclesiastes 9:5 (KJV)

Post Reply