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Legio X

Romans instead of Greeks at Thermopylae?

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300 Spartan soldiers and additional 5000 Greek soldiers, why it's almost a legion. Can you imagine how much havoc a well disciplined and motivated legion can do.

The light and maneuverable Persian infantry wouldn't stood a chance. Roman legionnaire were professionals at slaughtering light infantry in close quarter battles.

Yes, but this is a late empire legion, where the men were less trained, less motivated and were overall weaker than their early empire counter parts. So they were not well disciplined, and the additional soldiers would probably be Numeri or other untrained auxiliary soldiers.

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Im sorry if my scenario was unclear, I d

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I must disagree with you. The early empire legion had a lot of motivation due to patriotism and hansom rewards and lot so no problems with moral, the legionary was a very versatile unit back then he could handle well missiles due to it's heavy armor and big shields. also there is a lot of examples when roman legionary fought effectively against cavalry and even Parthian heavy Cataphract. Their only weakness is mobility against much lighter units like horse archer or skirmishers. But ! like we know in such a small place like Thermopylae they never can use their real potential.

So in these conditions a sure bet are the Romans !

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I'm a big Spartan fan, but my two pence is this. If there were equal amounts of soldiers (IE - 6000 Romans), I reckon that the fellas that were tasked with guarding the "back door" wouldn't have been caught short like the Phocians were (I think it was the Phocians, I'm not googing it or anything). If this had been legionaries or auxiliaries guarding the goat path, then I imagine they'd have put up really stiff resistance, resulting in a kind of mini-Thermopolae, which in turn would have sapped morale from the Persians. I'm not saying that they wouldn't have won in the end, but I reckon that the overall professionalism of the Roman Army would have paid dividends here. If there had been 6000 Spartiates, the war probably would have ended there and then, and history would be different. But there weren't and it wasn't.

 

Professionalism?

 

In 480BC the Roman armies were citizen levies gathered for the campaign before they all went home again. They were, to all intents and purposes, a militia. Hardly professional in the correct sense of the word. But that isn't what you mean. The 'professionalism' of the imperial Roman legions is something of a seductive image. if you read the sources you can pick out clues that show them to be somewhat less than the image suggests. Oh for sure they were well organised, and some of their activities are hauntingly familiar to our modern experience, but the quality and behaviour of Roman troops was often less than desirable. The Romans were very keen to encourage the image of their 'invincibility' and that image survives to the modern day. A real success for ancient propaganda.

 

What sort of person became a legionary? In 480BC they were men keen to prove their adult credibility. Ordinary people, whose naturally aggressive instincts and sense of civic responsibility would have led them to volunteer. There was quite a long winded selection procedure, much like playground kids choosing which friends will play for their team, and even if you volunteered there was no guarantee you'd be chosen. Sons of perfume sellers need not apply.

 

If you're discussing the later imperial legions, then what sort of person do you have? For the most part, pretty much the same, but in this case they join as a career choice rather than any sense of duty to the state. The Romans wanted thugs and toughs in their armies. If they bribed a centurion or two, or if they requisitioned the odd animal from a civilian, isn't that worth the price for the knowledge these men were willing to fight for Rome? That was the theory on which they operated. Bear in mind however that Roman politics were very competitive, even cut-throat, and that senior officers were not career soldiers. They were men of good family or political ambition. These legionaries had just as many deserters as in previous times, or as many as other armies for that matter. The flip side of brutal discipline is that not everyone can cope with it.

 

My own feeling is that the presence of 300 Romans would have made no difference to the Persian advance, except possibly the Persians may have lost fewer casualties (since the spartans blocked the pass with phalanxes and the Romans wouldn't have)

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Friend ! all of what you said is true, but this is not the topic ! The subject is no roman legion from 430 BC of late empire but about a legion from around early empire.

"what would happen if a Persian army from around 400 BC will meet a roman legion from around 50 AD" this is what we are talking about.

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In 480BC the Roman armies were citizen...

 

In 50AD? I stand to be corrected by the scholars (clearly, I'm not none of them), but I thought at that time the Roman army wasn't comprised of citizen militia but rather soldiers who fought for pay in service of Rome (or maybe their general d'jour) - ergo, professionals - as in they did it for a living, full time?

 

But in any event, I think that the Roman army at that time was probably more "professional" and better organised than the Phocian rear-guard at Thermopylae. I can't see the auxiliaries or legionaries getting caught out like the Phoicans, but there we are.

 

Cheers

 

Russ

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Actually the Roma legions c.AD50 were professional in terms of contract and organisation, but bear in kind they weren't the responsible caring sharing warrior we expect our soldiers to be today. Far from it, most were lowlifes with shields and swords, kept in order by brutal discipline and some clever regime factors such as the 'close friends' eight man grouping and the 'fraternity' of the legion.

 

Also I think you underestimate the capabilities and qualities of the greeks at this time. In another century or so they would conquer an empire reaching as far as India. The Romans, even with their much vaunted organisation, failed to do that.

 

I don't recall who wrote it, but one Roman left us an anecdote of a sitaution developing where he was, and although only a civilian, he grabbed a sword and rushed outside to see if he could do something about it. It so happened that an off-duty legionary had the same idea. He looked at this bloke with a sword and wasn't convinced. "What are you supposed to be?" He demanded. The man replied (dishonestly) that he was an off-duty soldier. "Oh? Then why are you wearing slippers?". The legionary requisitioned the mans sword immediately.

Edited by caldrail

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All true ! I agree with with all what you have said but, I believe that "kept in order by brutal discipline and some clever regime factors" are sometimes even better then Patriotism and comradeship. and although most of them were lowlifes but they were a very organised and disciplined low lowlifes that would not retreat or run away not because they were very brave or had a concept of giving up their lives for the greater cause, No ! nothing like that.

But because they were more afraid of their own centurions and friends, also Legions prestige was very important for them thats why each individual unit (Legion) was very competitive about their prestige and would do a lot to improve it.

So the Early roman Legion was as noble by our todays standards but none the less he was more efficient than any other unit in the ancient world.

 

Oh and about the Greek empire first of all although the Greek soldiers were very good but they weren't the right soldiers for an Empire the only reason for the creation of a Greek empire not for it soldiers (although a very important key) but more due to the talents of Alexander the great and the vices of his enemies.

 

For example facing heavy infantry which superior to you by quality and moral you don't ! try to finish it in one glorious battle but instead you use your speed and mobility advantage and skirmish your enemy to exhaustion.

Something that the Persian generals failed to do well, But was used very efficiently by their heirs the Parthia and the Sassanid empires against the heavy roman legion.

 

Remember poor old Marcus Licinius Crassus and why he was defeated.

 

oh and good joke their :(

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