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Vibius Tiberius Costa

Specific Armour

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A couple of armour related - republican questions.

Only patricians were allowed to join the army so was their a determinate way of setting yourself out from the rest by buying pparticuarly elaborate armour and waht?

Greaves, would onlya rich patrician where them?

Does your 'rank' in society give you a better cahnce of being an officer?

 

Did the republic allow plebeian archers/javelinmen into their levied armies, could from there a plebeian make it into the army.

 

vtc

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The roman social class and military rank were almost indivisible. People seem to look at the roman legions as operating in the same way as a modern army. It didn't, although there are many similarities. I understand that centurions wore greaves too, but thats for the Professional era after marius - I don't know what happened about greaves before his reforms.

 

The armour and equipment used by an officer in the legions would generally be of finer manufacture as a symbol of his status - this is a common theme in military uniforms that has only recently faded from use - due largely to snipers picking off the easily observed senior men. An officer might well have have his equipment made to order, and if we're discussing the republican period before Marius, he would have had to. During the 'Phalanx period' the men all bought their own gear, which identified your ability to buy it and therefore how wealthy you were, establishing which social class you could belong to. The reality was probably more blurred than that, since soldiers being what they were I seriously do beleieve that less well-equipped soldiers would have appropriated extra gear they thought desirable from the battlefield.

 

Plebian javelin throwers were part of the reformed army before Marius, so yes. Archers? No. The romans had no great skill in archery and needed foreign mercenaries/allies to fill that gap.

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Thanks Caldrail, just what I needed.

 

If it makes a difference 180-140 bc is the time period

 

Also would an archer therefore be an outcast if he somehow picked up the ability (theoretically) or praised, I suppose as it is a foreign skill litle attention owuld be made of it, especially when in a legion there is no time to do such a 'petty' task as archery.

 

thanks again

vtc

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Archery was seen as a cowardly and effeminate way to fight. In antiquity archery was not very effective and only the horse archers from the steppe (Parthians, Sarmatians) made some impression but even for those people the horse archer was below in rank to the heavy cavalry.

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Archery was seen as a cowardly and effeminate way to fight. In antiquity archery was not very effective and only the horse archers from the steppe (Parthians, Sarmatians) made some impression but even for those people the horse archer was below in rank to the heavy cavalry.

 

But weren't both the Baylonians and the Egyptians famed for their archery?

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Archery was seen as a cowardly and effeminate way to fight. In antiquity archery was not very effective and only the horse archers from the steppe (Parthians, Sarmatians) made some impression but even for those people the horse archer was below in rank to the heavy cavalry.

 

I must admit, I've never seen any reference to archery being a 'cowardly' way to fight from roman eyes. What is true is that as a society they had no tradition of it, and lacked the skill in construction and use. Rather than learn it themselves, why not simply hire in people who do? The fact they did that show there was value in it. Far from being ineffective, archery was the bane of the legions as the Parthians/Persians realised, and as Crassus found out. The testudo formation after all was used to approach walls under arrow fire with a minimum of casualties.

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I must admit, I've never seen any reference to archery being a 'cowardly' way to fight from roman eyes. What is true is that as a society they had no tradition of it, and lacked the skill in construction and use. Rather than learn it themselves, why not simply hire in people who do? The fact they did that show there was value in it.

Indeed - as the republican era proceeded into the Principate or Empire period, Levantine archers and slingers from the Balearic Islands became valued specialist troops.

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Is Caesar referring to arrows from archers when he speaks of darts being used by Gauls ? He makes reference to his own "darts" as well which leads me to think he's describing pila or spears and scorpion bolts.

 

While looking at these references I realised he also mentioned Gauls using the Testudo in seige operations which was interesting:-

 

The Gauls' mode of besieging is the same as that of the Belgae: when after having drawn a large number of men around the whole of the fortifications, stones have begun to be cast against the wall on all sides, and the wall has been stripped of its defenders, [then], forming a testudo, they advance to the gates and undermine the wall

 

Book 2, chapter 6 The Gallic Wars (online classics archive translation)

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A couple of armour related - republican questions.

Only patricians were allowed to join the army so was their a determinate way of setting yourself out from the rest by buying pparticuarly elaborate armour and waht?

Greaves, would onlya rich patrician where them?

Does your 'rank' in society give you a better cahnce of being an officer?

 

Did the republic allow plebeian archers/javelinmen into their levied armies, could from there a plebeian make it into the army.

 

vtc

 

Patricians weren't the only class that were levied for military service. Early legionary had to be a land-owner (except for special extenuating circumstances such as the Punic Wars), but class was not in itself the only issue. Class determined organization by century and position, etc., but there were definately Plebes in the Roman legions from the regal period on.

 

In the mid Republic and the time period you suggest, the Polybian legion was still the general rule of thumb.

 

Here are some basics... Organization, Gear.

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Archery was seen as a cowardly and effeminate way to fight. In antiquity archery was not very effective and only the horse archers from the steppe (Parthians, Sarmatians) made some impression but even for those people the horse archer was below in rank to the heavy cavalry.

 

But weren't both the Baylonians and the Egyptians famed for their archery?

 

As I understand it, in the Polybian period, your Roman archer of choice was a Cretan mercenary. During the third Macedonian war against Perseus, the Romans queried the size of the Cretan contingent they'd hired, and the Cretans rather sheepishly admitted that the rest of them were already drawing wages to fight on the other side.

 

As a separate point, I thought some Sarmatian heavy cavalry used bows before they swapped them for close combat weapons. Given that the bow was widely used in hunting by aristocrats - Domitian was a famous hot-shot - I'd not be sure about the effeminate bit, but certainly with Romans in battle the 'give 'em a taste of cold steel' mentality prevailed.

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Did the republic allow plebeian archers/javelinmen into their levied armies, could from there a plebeian make it into the army.

 

Yes. The accensi and velites were plebeian skirmishers in the 'Camillan' and 'Polybian' armies (respectively).

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