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Living like Legionaries

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Many years ago (I'm going to say 15, but that really is a complete guess - when you get past the halfway mark, all the years blend into one), there was a reality TV show where they took modern men (maybe soldiers, but my memory is hazy), and forced them to live exactly like Roman Legionaries for a few weeks.


Anyone remember anything about it?

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And I doubt they did it right. I think we in the modern era overemphasize the glory and honor, and discipline aspects of the Roman army. We look at it in the same way young guys see the modern military, via the future idea of going through basic training. THAT IS the military too them, marching around and singing cadences, climbing a termite infested towers in the woods and putting plants on their heads, thinking they are snipers.


I'm guessing all that Noob stuff went right out of the window among veteran units. The impulse to uniformity being one of them. Yes, you gotta have the type of weapon and uniform required for your unit.... but if you could cram more in your pack, no one is going to stop you, and half the guys likely didn't bother with certain items. Likewise the high discipline.... as long as you show up for watch and perform any extra duties, doubts people much cared for the individual soldier, as long as his tent was set up where it is support to be, and his junk not lying all over the walkways.


If you walked into a camp, especially one established for a while, little odd personality traits would start standing out. Someone with a pagan idol outside of their tent, to the offended chargrin of their irrated neighbors who had enough of the chanting and singing. A few guts hoarding random stuff like food in their tents, or nails for cobbling, even though they aren't cobblers. Stuff always getting stolen.... always. Whores having free reign inside of camps, merchants setting up not just outside, but inside camp, at times without commanders even knowing. Misplaced latrine pits, despite guys knowing better. The guy who refuses to wear clithes. Packs of wild dogs running through camp at night scaring the crap out of everyone, butting the crap out of the supply guy. The camp standards randomly dissapearing for no reason, causing everyone to panic and searching the camp and countryside nonstop for days. Legionnaires being forced to walk a line and jump in bushes and stick their heads in stagnant ponds and rivers looking for said standards (say, a missing eagle), only for it to pop up 3 weeks later in the center of the camp facing off the earlier mentioned offending idol in a stareoff contest.


Yould encounter men who were more like slaves, and slaves more like legionairres. Auxiliary units getting into brawls at the gates. Guys going AWOL, returning, AWOL again, and returning without much punishment, while others get punished severely for less. Some soldiers who never really seem to work, or put on their proper uniforms. A few physically lame soldiers stuck doing specialized duties. A occasional soldier living the double life as a civilian with a family, convincing the commander he can be in camp in ten minutes and can hear the bugles, and sits at "home" and plows his little field, spending half his time in camp, the rest with his long term fiance.


Let's not disregard any clever local investment schemes some clique of soldiers could get involved in.... buying a gladiator collectively, or a fish farm, or goat herd for resale, perhaps to the army irself. Pissing matches off the walls while on guard shift, in sight of the local inhabitants. Alit of penis flapping from the walls every time a young local girl goes walking by. Soldiers discovering the local happy mushroom and running naked painted in green through camp swinging torches as the go screaming all over the place. Soldiers getting called to the walls at night because a donkey was mistaken for a enemy movement. Washing bird shit off the tents. All the camp cats during from a mysterious flash disease, then shortly after that obsurdly large rats overwhelm the camp, assaulting refuse pits and Marines. Guts screaming at the sight of said rats, or large spiders, like little girls. Commander ordering kill teams to patrol at night to kill the rats and wild dogs, and to burn all the refuse, and so dogs and rats are burned on the garbage pits, and foul smelling smoke overwhelms the camp, and a thousand birds start flying overhead, eating bugs and shitting all over the freshly washed tents, a few falling down dead from asphyxiation, and at that moment a rat scurries out from behind the barrel, grabs the dead bird, and flees off from pursuing soldiers into the command tent during a meeting with a local tribal dignitary, who ran outside in shock, viewing the sight of this Apocalypse, and seeing in the background, a naked legionnaire jogging around hooting and high giving people, leaping over a hurdle in some ad hoc contest.



No.... I doubt they guys got the true legionnaire experience in this TV show. I'm willing to bet no one on the show built their tent over a ant colony, and woke up with a hundred ants biting their sweaty, dirty bodies, did they? Guessing they didn't drink water from a stagnant pond while digging a well, did they? Did anyone lose a finger, or was refused a tetnus shot when they cut themselves, or step on something?


That's the real roman army. Someone having a pet pig, and someone else eating it, and a chunk of the camp brawling over the incident. Or not collecting enough wood to properly cremate someone, or making the mistake of crucifying people beneath the walls, and hearing the guards stay up at night, chatting with them about random stuff over days as they die.


That's the Roman way. The emphasis on discipline and all that stuff was due to just that, a theoretical emphasis hoping to overcome the warped, backwards nature of camp life and a army in the field. It gets very silky, very quick. Absurd, even deadly. All that emphasis we have comes from the periodic crackdiwns of commanders having enough. But a veteran camp, its gonna have some of these elements, and a occasional meltdown. All without necessarily having contact with an enemy.


Fresh milk in the morning, why not keep a bleeting goat next to you tent? Loansharks, addicts, etc.

Edited by Onasander

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I thought of a few more before nodding off to sleep:


They guys all out in a field during berry season, foraging, and hear the horn to assemble for an emergency mission, and when the commander comes out to lead the troops at the gates, discovers they all have berry stains on their faces and hands, just before setting off to battle.


A microburst, or outright tornado rips up or Knicks down several tents, and many guys left fighting all night long soaking wet in half collapsed tents, trying to prod them up with their spears, having the wet tent flaps fall on their faces while sleeping, waking up in puddles.


A naked gymnosophist guru becomes popular in camp, and many decide to become naked vegetarians when off duty, and become too weak to do their duty, and the gymnosophist gets repeatedly banned from camp, but keeps popping up in the north eastern quarter, and whenever is sighted and chased after, manages to always disappear in the tent aisles.


A soldier takes a interest in falconry, and wants to take his falcon into battle.


Troops enslave a Roman, kept in camp, and a pissed off local magistrate shows up to get him back.


One of the lower ranking troops is a nerd, and has a bunch of military treatises, but they all get stolen by the officers little by little overtime after a tent inspection, and the soldier knows who stole them cause his leadership keeps quoting them rather out of context, and can't do anything but try to steal them back, but they get restolen and he finds them back in their tents again. Meanwhile, the officers go beserk over theft amongst the men becomes rife.


Discovers camp is on a flood plain too late, everyone spends a week on the walls looking down into camp, the Christian guy tells everyone about the story of Noah to pass the time.


Lightening striking in the camp.


One of the heaviest sleepers in camp is heard snorting still in his tent after everyone is rushed to the walls in the middle of the night to fend off a potential attack, only thing everyone can hear is the snorting.


Fat guy signs up for the legion to lose weight, buys his armor too small thinking he will lose weight, and doesn't ever lose weight, and is too cheap to get properly sized armor.


Everyone gets worms in their poop.


Everyone catches a STD.


Local merchant tries to get commander to switch from sword and shield to spiked mace and chain, commander makes everyone to buy it, but realizes afterwards it was a stupid idea, but its too late, so now everyone carries around, despite being ordered not to.


Troops told to cobblestone road to camp, takes years, and just as it completes, told they gotta move camp.


Auxiliary unit gets paid more, and gets easier placement in battle.


All the calvary horses get sick, so they have to scout on pack mules, and a team encounters a pissed off Celt on a very fast chariot.


Told you have to crucify or kill members of the religion your a member of.


Ship used to transport you to your duty station leaks all the time and starts falling apart in a storm, only thing keeping it together is torn up uniforms knotted together and soldiers taking turns dumping water.


Being informed the ship is being borded by pirates, capturing pirate ship, and told to be a sailor till port is reached, despite no one knowing the first thing about running a boat, and the sailors on your original ship not speaking Latin, and communicate via bad sign language from ship to ship as to what you need to do to not sink the new ship.


Commander wounded in the nuts during a skirmish.



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