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I am quite aware that the famous Gladius Hispaniensis was not in use in the Roman Army until the Second Punic War when the Romans adopted it from the Iberian tribes but what did they use before that? If it isn't too much trouble would someone bother downloading a picture of such a weapon? Thanks in advance.

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I think they used piked, not sure, anyway the hastatii did as hastat means pike/spear.

Oh I knew that. I was referring specifically to swords.

The above examples are of the Gladius Hispaniensis and the later Spatha. I was looking more for specimens that predated the Second Punic War.

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Try this. Includes a pic of an iberian style sword.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladius

 

Before the adoption of the gladius, the Romans used a variety of swords. Most were of the 'antenna' type (referring to a swirly decorative pommel unlike the solid one of later times) and varied in length. Both thrusting or slashing swords were more or less common. A few had an elongated 'bowie knife' tip.

Edited by caldrail

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The above examples are of the Gladius Hispaniensis and the later Spatha. I was looking more for specimens that predated the Second Punic War.

 

Ah, my mistake. I thought you were looking for pictures of the Gladius Hispaniesis. I misread. ;)

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I think they used piked, not sure, anyway the hastatii did as hastat means pike/spear.

 

 

Riiped from wikipedia.....I don't steal. Anyway>>>>Hastati (Singular: Hastatus) were a class of infantry in the armies of the early Roman Republic who originally fought as spearmen, and later as swordsmen. They were originally some of the poorest men in the legion, and could afford only modest equipment, comprised of light armour and a large shield, in their service as the lighter infantry of the legion. Later, the hastati contained the younger men rather than just the poorer, though most men of their age were relatively poor. Their usual position was the first battle line. They fought in a quincunx formation, supported by light troops. They were eventually done away with after the Marian reforms of 107 BC.

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I am quite aware that the famous Gladius Hispaniensis was not in use in the Roman Army until the Second Punic War when the Romans adopted it from the Iberian tribes but what did they use before that? If it isn't too much trouble would someone bother downloading a picture of such a weapon? Thanks in advance.

The origin and timing of the gladius seems to be still an unsettled issue, chiefly because of the ancients' uncritical use of ethnic labels (like the "Samnite" weapons), the equivocal archaeological evidence and some controversial references on the earlier use of this kind of sword (like Manlius Torquatus).

Sadly, this issue's debate has been heavily contaminated by (presumably misunderstood) national pride's considerations from (and maybe also against) the modern Spanish side.

 

Regarding the swords used by the Romans previous to the Gladius, Polybius mentioned both the Gallic Machaira and the Greek Xiphos; archaeological evidence is equivocal again, basically because, contrary to other Italian peoples, the Romans didn't include weapons in their burials.

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I am quite aware that the famous Gladius Hispaniensis was not in use in the Roman Army until the Second Punic War when the Romans adopted it from the Iberian tribes but what did they use before that? If it isn't too much trouble would someone bother downloading a picture of such a weapon? Thanks in advance.

 

Images have been taken from the Aes Graves coin collections of short swords - blade narrow near the hilt and becoming thicker before coming to the point. These are thought to be authentic for the Hastati and priceps of the Pyrrhic war and not markedly different to the Hispaniensis in appearence and application.

 

To go way back before the Roman army was organised in any more than the form of warrior bands, tomb finds have been made in Rome of a short sword designated 'Cuma' type and a longer blade designated 'Rocco di Marro'. These date from the early Regal period and so are not weapons of the Roman army in any of it's recognised forms but might be worth pointing out. Sorry if that is off topic.

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Images have been taken from the Aes Graves coin collections of short swords - blade narrow near the hilt and becoming thicker before coming to the point. These are thought to be authentic for the Hastati and priceps of the Pyrrhic war and not markedly different to the Hispaniensis in appearence and application.

 

What you're describing sounds more like the xiphos, which would go along with the later upgrade to the gladius.

 

The earlies Gladius was the Mainz type, which was widest at the hilt, and had a long tapering point. The later Pompeii type had parallel edges.

 

Regardless of the shape, what made the gladius special was the quality of the steel, which allowed it to maintain a very sharp edge.

Edited by barca

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I was always under the immpression that they used whatever swords they could lay their hands on. I thought that the Greek Hoplite blades were used along with Etruscan blades. But I may be wrong.

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Images have been taken from the Aes Graves coin collections of short swords - blade narrow near the hilt and becoming thicker before coming to the point. These are thought to be authentic for the Hastati and priceps of the Pyrrhic war and not markedly different to the Hispaniensis in appearence and application.

 

What you're describing sounds more like the xiphos, which would go along with the later upgrade to the gladius.

 

The earlies Gladius was the Mainz type, which was widest at the hilt, and had a long tapering point. The later Pompeii type had parallel edges.

 

Regardless of the shape, what made the gladius special was the quality of the steel, which allowed it to maintain a very sharp edge.

 

Yes, I think you are right. The Aes Graves were, of course, Italian and the images would be of swords used by Roman and Latin infantrymen, but they do conform to the Xiphos in appearance. There are also images on specifically Roman bronze bar coinage showing swords of the type described above, which are as you pointed out Greek in design. Those are contemporary for the Pyrrhic War and suggest that the Gladius Hispaniensis had not yet been adopted.

 

Please ignore my comment about these being similar in design and application. I can only postulate that whereas the sword was the Hoplite's secondary weapon; for the Roman it was primary. Although they had not, in all probability, adopted the Hispaniensis at this point, they had made the transition from phalanx to manipular battle order and it is my belief therefore that the weapons would have been used in the same way.

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Images have been taken from the Aes Graves coin collections of short swords - blade narrow near the hilt and becoming thicker before coming to the point. These are thought to be authentic for the Hastati and priceps of the Pyrrhic war and not markedly different to the Hispaniensis in appearence and application.

 

What you're describing sounds more like the xiphos, which would go along with the later upgrade to the gladius.

 

The earlies Gladius was the Mainz type, which was widest at the hilt, and had a long tapering point. The later Pompeii type had parallel edges.

 

Regardless of the shape, what made the gladius special was the quality of the steel, which allowed it to maintain a very sharp edge.

 

Yes, I think you are right. The Aes Graves were, of course, Italian and the images would be of swords used by Roman and Latin infantrymen, but they do conform to the Xiphos in appearance. There are also images on specifically Roman bronze bar coinage showing swords of the type described above, which are as you pointed out Greek in design. Those are contemporary for the Pyrrhic War and suggest that the Gladius Hispaniensis had not yet been adopted.

 

Please ignore my comment about these being similar in design and application. I can only postulate that whereas the sword was the Hoplite's secondary weapon; for the Roman it was primary. Although they had not, in all probability, adopted the Hispaniensis at this point, they had made the transition from phalanx to manipular battle order and it is my belief therefore that the weapons would have been used in the same way.

Can you post the image (or a link to) of the relevant Aes Grave? I'm not sure if such currency was still minted at the II century BC.

 

The Gladius Hispaniensis (Spanish or not) and related short swords were extremely useful in Roman hands not so much for any intrinsic superiority, but because it far better fitted close quarters combat (ergo, the Roman manipular tactics) than the Spatha and related long swords; for one-to-one duels, the latter would presumably have been still superior to the former.

 

On the material of the Roman swords, there is a famous passage from Polybius, comparing the Roman with the Gallic swords at the victory of Flaminius over the Insubres in 223 BC:

 

" The Romans are thought to have managed matters very skilfully in this battle, their tribunes having instructed them how they should fight, both as individuals and collectively. For they had observed from former battles that Gauls in general are most formidable and spirited in their first onslaught, 3 while still fresh, and that, from the way their swords are made, as has been already explained, only the first cut takes effect; after this they at once assume the shape of a strigil, being so much bent both length-wise and side-wise that unless the men are given leisure to rest them on the ground and set them straight with the foot, the second blow is quite ineffectual. The tribunes therefore distributed among the front lines the spears of the triarii who were stationed behind them, ordering them to use their swords instead only after the spears were done with. They then drew up opposite the Celts in order of battle and engaged. Upon the Gauls slashing first at the spears and making their swords unserviceable the Romans came to close quarters, having rendered the enemy helpless by depriving them of the power of raising their hands and cutting, which is the peculiar and only stroke of the Gauls, as their swords have no points. The Romans, on the contrary, instead of slashing continued to thrust with their swords which did not bend, the points being very effective. Thus, striking one blow after another on the breast or face, they slew the greater part of their adversaries. This was solely due to the foresight of the tribunes,.. "

 

However please note that the preserved Celtic swords don't fit such description; they don't bend so easily and their iron (or sometime steel) is often as good as that of the Romans.

 

There's an ongoing unsettled controversy on theuse of steel by Romans and other Classical nations; the consensus still seems to be that such steel was accidentally and not deliberately made; even at the time of Pliny Major, Romans seems to still have plenty of misconceptions regarding metallurgy.

 

In any case, Pliny stated the best steel was imported from Parthia and Scythia; next to that, the famous ferum Noricum was the best one. It seems the Romans had a regular trade with that region since the I century BC.

Edited by sylla

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