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Everything posted by caldrail

  1. caldrail

    Praetorian Guard

    Praetorians were an elite unit. But they knew it too, and exploited their privileges like any good roman. Trouble was, they were very close to men in power and I suspect many of them were a bit envious, so unless they were treated well they tended to get miffed as we see from the record of assassinations. Not only that, ambitious schemers would have used individual praetorians as spies and hired killers for handouts of cash. After all, why take the risk yourself when your enemy is guarded by disgruntled armed men?
  2. caldrail

    Unarmed Combat Training

    Disciplined? Oh yes. But that has a side effect of causing frustration. We're talking about men who are at some periods denied wives (or even sex), who are trained to be aggressive, and to kill when ordered. Get them drunk, they fight. All armies are like that right through to today.
  3. Personally I think Rome lost its dynamic fervour, and this more than anything led to the western collapse. There was less and less reward for individual initiative and less willingness to 'do your bit for Rome'. As I read about the later empire I'm struck by how little they match up to their forebears. The Rome of 476AD comes across as a pale shadow of its former self. That to me indicates that the people with influence and power had less ability and less drive. Truth is, the older noble families had died out, most later nobles were descended from slaves, and foreigners had increasingly risen to high rank. There goes the neighbourhood. Rome, essentially, became a run down area.
  4. caldrail

    Availability Of Arms And Armor

    Arms and armour were excluded from the city of Rome by custom. Praetorian guards wore togas on duty at the senate and would have kept blades out of sight. Out in the countryside? Anyone spotted with this equipment would either have it requisitioned by the legions or find himself volunteered for service (or dealt with as a deserter or thief). There simply wouldn't have been any need to have this stuff. You could always join the army if you did.
  5. caldrail

    Unarmed Combat Training

    A small degree of unarmed combat training took place but this was more like rough-house brawling than Jackie Chan. The soldiers would have have gotten plenty of practice after drinking hours anyway! Training concentrated on weaponry for combat. Special forces? Yes, on rare occaision. Small troupes of gladiators were used in this manner, and we know that roman soldiers went on raids and reconnaisance missions into germanian areas. But it wasn't exactly the SAS!
  6. I disagree. I think Christianity turned out to be valuable in the end. Some people say that. Constantine blatantly used christianity as glue to prop up the empire after his civil war had wrecked it. Its also said that christianity 'softened' Rome because of its beliefs. I actually doubt that believing in Jesus changed the roman character alone. Rome was changing for a number of reasons, most of which are in the poll. Remember that our view of christianity is a little limp-wristed compared to earlier forms - it would have been even more true back then, particularly since the earliest bishops of Rome were clearly out to extract cash from their flocks.
  7. caldrail

    How Bloody Was The Arena?

    Part of the problem in this matter is that gladiators were different in status and purpose from each other. There's a whole world of difference from a doomed prisoner-of-war pushed into the arena with soiled underpants as opposed to an experienced professional contract fighter. Yes, blood was involved. We all know that and that was part of the religious side of things. Romans wanted a good fight. They wanted to see skill & courage. But they usually dictated whether these men could live or die if defeated. It was a catharsis for the common people who were otherwise powerless; now they could condemn a man to death for cowardice, clumsiness, or simply because he had cost them too many denarii in bets. However, as someone said earlier, perhaps as little as 10% of one-on-one contestants died. Therefore blood was less important than enjoying a good fight (not to mention the cost of replacing a dead gladiator) I think blood became more frequent as time wore on. As fights became mundane, something had to raise the excitement level. I seem to remember that Augustus banned fights without mercy, but didn't these come back later on?
  8. caldrail

    Julius Caesar.. Good And Bad Points

    I think Juilus would be chuffed to bits to find himself remembered 2000 years on. Nero would shrug. Of course he's remembered. Caligula would sneer - He already knew he was better than anyone else!
  9. caldrail


    Rome never had an organised army in its earliest days, and the landowners assembled for campaigning when required because they needed to protect their homes. Military experience was a defining qualification for Romans (possibly less in later years as most seemed to try and avoid by then) so you couldn't really hold your head up until you too had fought for Rome. I don't its necessary to define exactly what was meant by this phrase, the Romans wouldn't and never needed to.
  10. caldrail

    Why Are The Romans So Captivating?

    For me the question goes right back to my childhood. Watching Kirk Douglas gnashing his teeth under the whip, or Peter Ustinov prancing around the palace, or Derek Jacobi taking several minutes to complete a single sentence. Deep down I was fascinated by these people - its that sense of purpose, of glory, of overwhelming power that no other culture ever really pulled off. Its that sheer optimism and confidence of a bunch of hill farmers taking on the world. I think it also latches on to something deep within our human psyche. So many societies have tried to emulate the Romans ever since. We still do.