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The military of ancient Rome, according to
Titus Livius Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...

Titus Livius
, one of the more illustrious historians of Rome over the centuries, was a key element in the rise of Rome over "above seven hundred years" from a small settlement in
Latium Latium ( , ; ) is the region of central western Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding it, whose territory large ...
to the capital of an empire governing a wide region around the shores of the Mediterranean, or, as the Romans themselves said, ''mare nostrum'', "our sea". Livy asserts: :... if any people ought to be allowed to consecrate their origins and refer them to a divine source, so great is the military glory of the Roman People that when they profess that their Father and the Father of their Founder was none other than Mars, the nations of the earth may well submit to this also with as good a grace as they submit to Rome's dominion.
Titus Flavius Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus
, a contemporary historian, sometime high-ranking officer in the Roman army, and commander of the rebels in the Jewish revolt describes the Roman people as if they were "born readily armed". At the time of the two historians, Roman society had already evolved an effective military and had used it to defend itself against the Etruscans, the Italics, the Greeks, the Gauls, the maritime empire of Carthage, and the Macedonian kingdoms. In each war, it acquired more territory until, when the civil war ended the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
, nothing was left for the first emperor,
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
, to do except declare it an empire and defend it. The role and structure of the military were then altered during the empire. It became less Roman, the duties of border protection and territorial administration being more and more taken by foreign mercenaries officered by Romans. When they divided at last into warring factions the empire fell, unable to keep out invading armies. During the Roman Republic, the function of the military was defined as service to the "Senatus Populusque Romanus" - an agency designated by
SPQR SPQR, an abbreviation for (; en, "The Roman Senate and People A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity o ...

SPQR
on public inscriptions. Its main body was the senate, which met in a building still extant in the forum of Rome. Its decrees were handed off to the two chief officers of the state, the
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...

consul
s. They could levy from the citizens whatever military force they judged was necessary to execute such decree. This conscription was executed through a draft of male citizens assembled by age class. The officers of the legion were tasked with selecting men for the ranks. The will of the SPQR was binding on the consuls and the men, with the death penalty often assigned for disobedience or failure. The men were under a rigorous code, known now for its punitive crucifixion. The consular duties were of any type whatever: military defense, police work, public hygiene, assistance in a civil disaster, health work, agriculture, and especially the construction of public roads, bridges, aqueducts, buildings, and the maintenance of such. The soldiers were kept busy doing whatever service needed to be done: soldiering, manning vessels, carpentry, blacksmithing, clerking, etc. They were trained as required, but also previous skills, such as a trade, were exploited. They brought to the task and were protected by the authority of the state. The military's campaign history stretched over 1300 years and saw Roman armies campaigning as far east as
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

Parthia
(modern-day Iran), as far south as
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...
(modern-day Tunisia) and
Aegyptus In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief ...
(modern-day Egypt) and as far north as
Britannia Britannia () is the national personification upright=0.9, An early example of National personification in a gospel book dated 990: Germania.html"_;"title="Sclavinia,_Germania">Sclavinia,_Germania,_Sclavinia,_Germania,_Gallia">Germania.ht ...

Britannia
(modern-day England, south Scotland, and Wales). The makeup of the Roman military changed substantially over its history, from its early days as an unsalaried citizen militia to a later professional force, the
Imperial Roman army The Imperial Roman army was the terrestrial armed forces deployed by the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Rep ...
. The equipment used by the military altered greatly in type over time, though there were very few technological improvements in weapons manufacture, in common with the rest of the classical world. For much of its history, the vast majority of Rome's forces were maintained at or beyond the limits of its territory, to either expand Rome's domain or protect its existing borders. Expansions were infrequent, as the emperors, adopting a strategy of fixed lines of defense, had determined to maintain existing borders. For that purpose, they constructed extensive walls and created permanent stations that became cities.


Personnel


Population base of the early empire

At its territorial height, the Roman Empire may have contained between 45 million and 120 million people. Historian
Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon (; 8 May 173716 January 1794) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval En ...

Edward Gibbon
estimated that the size of the
Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...

Roman army
"most probably formed a standing force of three hundred and seventy-five thousand men"Gibbon E., ''The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'', Penguin, 1985, para. 65 at the empire's territorial peak in the time of the Roman emperor
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of Atri, Abruzzo, Atri in Picenum. Hi ...

Hadrian
(117 − 138C). This estimate probably included only
legionary A recreation of Roman legionaries wearing the '' lorica segmentata'', 1st–3rd century The ancient Rome, Roman legionary (in Latin ''legionarius'', plural ''legionarii'') was a professional heavy infantryman of the Roman army after the Marian refo ...
and auxiliary troops of the Roman army. However, Gibbon states that it is "not... easy to define the size of the Roman military with any tolerable accuracy". In the late imperial period, when vast numbers of ''
foederati ''Foederati'' (, singular: ''foederatus'' ) were peoples and cities bound by a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law ...
'' were employed by the Romans,
Antonio Santosuosso Antonio Santosuosso (1936-12 July 2014) was a Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Assessment of the Battle of Tours In ''Barbarians, Marauders, and Infidels'', Santosuosso, considered an expert hi ...
estimated the combined number of men in arms of the two Roman empires numbered closer to 700,000 in total (not all members of a standing army), drawing on data from the ''
Notitia Dignitatum The ''Notitia Dignitatum'' (Latin for "The List of Offices") is a document of the Late Antiquity, late Roman Empire that details the administrative organization of the Eastern and Western Empires. It is unique as one of very few surviving docume ...
''. However, he notes that these figures were probably subject to inflation due to the practice of leaving dead soldiers "on the books" to continue to draw their wages and ration. Furthermore, it is irrespective of whether the troops were raised by the Romans or simply hired by them to fight on their behalf.


Recruitment

Initially, Rome's military consisted of an annual citizen levy performing military service as part of their duty to the state. During this period, the Roman army prosecuted seasonal campaigns against largely local adversaries. As the extent of the territories falling under Roman suzerainty expanded, and the size of the city's forces increased, the soldiery of ancient Rome became increasingly professional and salaried. As a consequence, military service at the lower (non-staff) levels became progressively longer-term. Roman military units of the period were largely homogeneous and highly regulated. The army consisted of units of citizen infantry known as legions (Latin: ''legio'') as well as non-legionary allied troops known as "auxiliary. The latter were most commonly called upon to provide light infantry or cavalry support. Military service in the later empire continued to be salaried yearly and professionally for Rome's regular troops. However, the trend of employing allied or mercenary troops was expanded such that these troops came to represent a substantial proportion of Rome's forces. At the same time, the uniformity of structure found in Rome's earlier military forces disappeared. The soldiery of the era ranged from lightly armed mounted archers to heavy infantry, in regiments of varying size and quality. This was accompanied by a trend in the late empire of an increasing predominance of cavalry rather than infantry troops, as well as an emphasis on more mobile operations.


Military subculture

The British historian
Peter Heather Peter John Heather (born 8 June 1960) is a British historian of late antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Heather is Chair of the Medieval History Department and Professor of Medieval History at King's College London. He specialises in the fall ...
describes Roman military culture as being "just like the Marines, but much nastier". The army did not provide much social mobility, and it also took quite some time to complete one's service. The pay was not the best for the time but could be remedied by advance in rank, loot from wars, and additional pay from emperors. Also, the army did provide a guaranteed supply of food (many times soldiers had to pay for food and supplies), doctors, and stability. In the legions of the republic, discipline was fierce and training harsh, all intended to instill a group cohesion or ''
esprit de corps Morale, also known as esprit de corps (), is the capacity of a group's members to maintain belief in an institution or goal, particularly in the face of opposition or hardship. Morale is often referenced by authority figures as a generic value ...
'' that could bind the men together into effective fighting units. Unlike opponents such as the Gauls, who were fierce individual warriors, Roman military training concentrated on instilling teamwork and maintaining a level head over individual bravery − troops were to maintain exact formations in battle and "despise wild swinging blows" in favor of sheltering behind one's shield and delivering efficient stabs when an opponent made himself vulnerable. Loyalty was to the Roman state but pride was based in the soldier's unit, to which was attached a military standard − in the case of the legions a legionary eagle. Successful units were awarded accolades that became part of their official name, such as the 20th Legion, which became the XX Valeria Victrix (the "Valiant and Victorious 20th"). Of the martial culture of less valued units such as sailors, and light infantry, less is known, but it is doubtful that its training was as intense or its ''esprit de corps'' as strong as in the legions. Literacy was highly valued in the Roman military, and literacy rates in the military far exceeded that of the Roman society as a whole.


Funding and expenditures


Private funding

Although early in its history, troops were expected to provide much of their equipment, eventually, the Roman military became almost entirely funded by the state. Since soldiers of the early
republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
armies were also unpaid citizens, the financial burden of the army on the state was minimal. However, since the Roman state did not provide services such as housing, health, education, social security, and public transport that are part and parcel of modern states, the military always represented by far the greatest expenditure of the state.Heather, P., ''The Fall of the Roman Empire'', Macmillan, 2005, p. 64


Plunder economy

During the time of expansion in the republic and early empire, Roman armies had acted as a source of revenue for the Roman state, plundering conquered territories, displaying the massive wealth in
triumphs ''Triumphs'' (Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, ...
upon their return and fueling the economy to the extent that historians such as Toynbee and
Burke Burke is an Anglo-NormanAnglo-Norman may refer to: *Anglo-Normans The Anglo-Normans ( nrf, Anglo-Normaunds, ang, Engel-Norðmandisca) were the medieval ruling class in England, composed mainly of a combination of ethnic Anglo-Saxons, Normans, ...

Burke
believe that the Roman economy was essentially a plunder economy. Nathan Rosenstein has questioned this assumption, indicating that Rome ran the majority of its campaigns in the 2nd century BC at a loss and relied on rare windfalls such as Aemilius Paullus' campaign in the east in 168 BC to make up the cost of war. Regardless, after the empire had stopped expanding in the 2nd century AD, this source of revenue dried up; by the end of the 3rd century AD, Rome had "ceased to vanquish". As tax revenue was plagued by corruption and hyperinflation during the
Crisis of the Third Century The Crisis of the Third Century, also known as Military Anarchy or the Imperial Crisis (235–284 AD), was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed. It ended due to the military victories of Aurelian and with the ascension of Dioclet ...
, military expenditures began to become a "crushing burden" on the finances of the Roman state. It now highlighted weaknesses that earlier expansion had disguised. By 440 CE, an imperial law frankly states that the Roman state has insufficient tax revenue to fund an army of a size required by the demands placed upon it. Several additional factors bloated the military expenditure of the Roman Empire. First, substantial rewards were paid to "
barbarian A barbarian is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Bioc ...

barbarian
" chieftains for their good conduct in the form of negotiated subsidies and the provision of allied troops.Hadas, M, et al., ''Imperial Rome'', in ''Great Ages of Man: A History of the World's Cultures'', New York, Time-Life Books, 1965 Secondly, the military boosted its numbers, possibly by one third in a single century. Third, the military increasingly relied on a higher ratio of cavalry units in the late empire, which were many times more expensive to maintain than infantry units.


Taxation

As military size and costs increased, new taxes were introduced or existing tax laws reformed in the late empire to finance it, even though more inhabitants were available within the borders of the late empire, reducing the per capita costs for an increased standing army was impractical. A large number of the population could not be taxed because they were slaves or held Roman citizenship, both of which exempted them from taxation. Of the remaining, a large number were already impoverished by centuries of warfare and weakened by chronic malnutrition. Still, they had to handle an increasing tax rate and so they often abandoned their lands to survive in a city.Santosuosso A., ''Soldiers, Emperors and Citizens in the Roman Empire'', Westview, 2001, p. 214 Of the western empire's taxable population, a larger number than in the east could not be taxed because they were "primitive subsistence peasant and did not produce a great deal of goods beyond agricultural products. Plunder was still made from suppressing insurgencies within the empire and on limited incursions into enemy land. Legally, much of it should have returned to the imperial purse, but these goods were simply kept by the common soldiers, who demanded it of their commanders as a right. Given the low wages and high inflation in the later Empire, the soldiers felt that they had a right to acquire plunder.


Capabilities


Readiness and disposition

The military capability of Rome – its preparedness or readiness – was always primarily based upon the maintenance of an active fighting force acting either at or beyond its military frontiers, something that historian Luttwak refers to as a "thin linear perimeter. This is best illustrated by showing the dispositions of the
Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC– ...

Roman legion
s, the backbone of the Roman army. Because of these deployments, the Roman military kept a central
strategic reserve A strategic reserve is the reserve of a commodity or items that is held back from normal use by governments, organisations, or businesses in pursuance of a particular strategy or to cope with unexpected events. A document issued by the US Depart ...
after the Social War. Such reserves were only re-established during the late empire when the army was split into a border defense force and mobile response field units.


Power projection

The Roman military was keen on the doctrine of
power projection Power projection (or force projection) is a term used in military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and ma ...
– it frequently removed foreign rulers by force or intimidation and replaced them with puppets. This was facilitated by the maintenance, for at least part of its history, of a series of
client states Client(s) or The Client may refer to: * Client (computing) In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and ...
and other subjugate and buffer entities beyond its official borders, although over which Rome extended massive political and military control. On the other hand, this also could mean the payment of immense subsidies to foreign powersThe Grand Byzantine Strategy Edward Luttwak and opened the possibility of extortion in case military means were insufficient.


Sustainability

The empire's system of building an extensive and well-maintained road network, as well as its absolute command of the Mediterranean for much of its history, enabled a primitive form of
rapid reaction A rapid reaction force is a military or police unit designed to respond in very short time frames to emergencies. When used in reference to police forces such as SWAT, SWAT teams, the time frame is minutes, while in military applications, such as wi ...
, also stressed in modern military doctrine, although because there was no real strategic reserve, this often entailed raising fresh troops or withdrawing troops from other parts of the border. However, border troops were usually very capable of handling enemies before they could penetrate far into the Roman hinterland. The Roman military had an extensive logistical supply chain. There was no specialised branch of the military devoted to logistics and transportation, although this was to a great extent carried out by the
Roman Navy The Roman navy ( la, Classis, lit=fleet) comprised the naval forces of the ancient Roman state. The navy was instrumental in the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterra ...
due to the ease and low costs of transporting goods via sea and river compared to overland. There is archaeological evidence that Roman armies campaigning in
Germania Germania ( , ), also called Magna Germania (English: ''Great Germania''), Germania Libera (English: ''Free Germania'') or Germanic Barbaricum Barbaricum (from the gr, Βαρβαρικόν, "foreign", "barbarian") is a geographical name used by ...

Germania
were supplied by a logistical supply chain beginning in Italy and
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
, then transported by sea to the northern coast of Germania, and finally penetrating Germania via barges on inland waterways. Forces were routinely supplied via fixed supply chains, and although Roman armies in enemy territory would often supplement or replace this by foraging for food or purchasing food locally, this was often insufficient for their needs: Heather states that a single legion would have required 13.5 tonnes of food per month, and that it would have proved impossible to source this locally.


Policing

For the most part, Roman cities had a civil guard used for maintaining peace. Due to fear of rebellions and other uprisings, they were forbidden to be armed at militia levels. Policing was split between the city guard for low-level affairs and the Roman legions and auxiliary for suppressing higher-level rioting and rebellion. This civil guard created a limited strategic reserve, one that fared poorly in actual warfare.


Engineering

The military engineering of
Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
's armed forces was of a scale and frequency far beyond that of any of its contemporaries. Indeed, military engineering was in many ways institutionally endemic in Roman military culture, as demonstrated by the fact that each
Roman legionary The ancient Rome, Roman legionary (in Latin ''legionarius'', plural ''legionarii'') was a professional heavy infantryman of the Roman army after the Marian reforms. These soldiers would conquer and defend the territories of ancient Rome during the ...
had as part of his equipment a shovel, alongside his ''
gladius ''Gladius'' () is a Latin word meaning "sword" (of any type), but in its narrow sense, it refers to the sword of ancient Roman In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of R ...

gladius
'' (sword) and ''
pila Pila may refer to: Architecture * Pila (architecture), a type of veranda in Sri Lankan farm houses Places *Pila, Buenos Aires, a town in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina *Pila Partido, a country subdivision in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina *P ...

pila
'' (spears). Heather writes that "Learning to build, and build quickly, was a standard element of training". This engineering prowess was, however, only evident during the peak of Roman military prowess from the mid-republic to the mid-empire. Before the mid-republic period, there is little evidence of protracted or exceptional military engineering, and in the late empire likewise, there is little sign of the kind of engineering feats that were regularly carried out in the earlier empire. Roman military engineering took both routine and extraordinary forms, the former a proactive part of standard military procedure, and the latter of an extraordinary or reactionary nature. Proactive military engineering took the form of the regular construction of fortified camps, in road-building, and the construction of siege engines. The knowledge and experience learned through such routine engineering lent itself readily to any extraordinary engineering projects required by the army, such as the
circumvallation Investment is the military process of surrounding an enemy fort (or town) with armed forces to prevent entry or escape. It serves both to cut communications with the outside world and to prevent supplies and reinforcements from being introduced. ...

circumvallation
s constructed at Alesia and the earthen ramp constructed at
Masada Masada ( he, מצדה ', "fortress") is an ancient fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. ...

Masada
. This engineering expertise practiced in daily routines also served in the construction of siege equipment such as
ballista The ballista (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, ...

ballista
e,
onagers The onager (; ''Equus hemionus''), also known as hemione or Asiatic wild ass, is a species of the family Equidae Equidae (sometimes known as the horse family) is the taxonomic Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification ...
and
siege towers A siege tower or breaching tower (or in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events ...

siege towers
, as well as allowing the troops to construct roads, bridges, and fortified camps. All of these led to strategic capabilities, allowing Roman troops to, respectively, assault besieged settlements, move more rapidly to wherever they were needed, cross rivers to reduce march times and surprise enemies, and to camp in relative security even in enemy territory.


International stance

Rome was established as a nation by making aggressive use of its high military potential. From very early on in its history, it would raise two armies annually to campaign abroad. The Roman military was far from being solely a defense force. For much of its history, it was a tool of aggressive expansion. The Roman army had derived from a militia of main farmers and the gain of new farmlands for the growing population or later retiring soldiers was often one of the campaign's chief objectives. Only in the late empire did the preservation of control over Rome's territories become the Roman military's primary role. The remaining major powers confronting Rome were the
Kingdom of Aksum The Kingdom of Aksum ( gez, መንግሥተ አኵስም), also known as the Kingdom of Axum or the Aksumite Empire, was an ancient kingdom, from the 2nd to the 10th century, with its capital at the city of Axum Aksum or Axum (; ti, ኣኽሱ ...

Kingdom of Aksum
,
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

Parthia
and the
Hunnic Empire The history of the Huns spans the time from before their first secure recorded appearance in Europe around 370 AD to after the disintegration of their empire around 469. The Huns likely entered Europe shortly before 370 from Central Asia: they firs ...
. Knowledge of
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...
, the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
at the times of
Mani Mani may refer to: Geography * Maní, Casanare Maní is a town and municipality in the Departments of Colombia, Department of Casanare Department, Casanare, Colombia. References Municipalities of Casanare Department {{Casanare-geo- ...
, existed and it is believed that Rome and China swapped embassies in about 170 AD.


Grand strategy

In its purest form, the concept of strategy deals solely with military issues. However, Rome is offered by
Edward Luttwak Edward Nicolae Luttwak (born 4 November 1942) is an American military strategy, military strategist and author known for his works on grand strategy, geoeconomics, military history, and international relations. He is best known for being the au ...

Edward Luttwak
and others as an early example of a state that possessed a
grand strategy Grand strategy or high strategy is the long-term strategy pursued at the highest levels by a nation to further its interests. Issues of grand strategy typically include the choice of primary versus secondary theaters Theatre or theater is ...
which encompassed the management of the resources of an entire nation in the conduct of warfare. Up to half of the funds raised by the Roman state were spent on its military, and the Romans displayed a strategy that was more complicated than simple knee-jerk strategic or tactical responses to individual threats. Rome's strategy changed over time, implementing different systems to meet different challenges that reflected changing internal priorities. Elements of Rome's strategy included the use of client states, the deterrent of armed response in parallel with manipulative diplomacy, and a fixed system of troop deployments and road networks. Luttwak states that there are "instructive similarities" between Roman and modern military strategy. Rome would rely on brute force and sheer numbers when in doubt. The soldiers were trained to memorize every step in battle, so discipline and order could not break down into chaos. They were largely successful because of this.


Campaigns


Equipment

Although Roman iron-working was enhanced by a process known as Carburizing, the Romans are not thought to have developed true steel production. From the earliest history of the Roman state to its downfall, Roman arms were therefore uniformly produced from either bronze or, later, iron. As a result, the 1300 years of Roman military technology saw little radical change at the technological level. Within the bounds of classical military technology, however, Roman arms and armor were developed, discarded, and adopted from other peoples based on changing methods of engagement. It included at various times stabbing daggers and swords, stabbing or thrusting swords, long thrusting spears or pikes, lances, light throwing javelins and darts, slings, and bow and arrows. Roman military personal equipment was produced in large numbers to established patterns and used in an established way. It, therefore, varied little in design and quality within each historical period. According to Hugh Elton, Roman equipment gave them "a distinct advantage over their barbarian enemies." Elton, Hugh, 1996, "Warfare in Roman Europe, AD 350-425", who were often, as Germanic tribesmen, completely unarmoured. However, Luttwak points out that whilst the uniform possession of armour gave Rome an advantage, the actual standard of each item of Roman equipment was of no better quality than that used by the majority of its adversaries. In Luttwack, E., "The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire", JHUP, 1979, Luttwack states that "Roman weapons, far from being universally more advanced, were frequently inferior to those used by enemies. The relatively low quality of Roman weaponry was primarily a function of its large-scale production, and later factors such as governmental price-fixing for certain items, which gave no allowance for quality and incentivized cheap, poor-quality goods. The Roman military readily adopted types of arms and armor that were effectively used against them by their enemies. Initially, Roman troops were armed after Greek and Etruscan models, using large oval shields and long pikes. On encountering the Celts they adopted much Celtic equipment and again later adopted items such as the ''gladius'' from Iberian peoples. Later in Rome's history, it adopted practices such as arming its cavalry with bows in the Parthian style and even experimented briefly with niche weaponry such as elephants and camel-troops. Besides personal weaponry, the Roman military adopted team weaponry such as the
ballista The ballista (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, ...

ballista
and developed a naval weapon known as the "''corvus''", a spiked plank used for affixing and boarding enemy ships.


Medicine


Need for specialized care

The expansion of the Roman Empire was achieved through military force in nearly every case. Roman culture as a whole revolved around its military for both expansion and protection. Geographic areas on the outskirts of the empire were prone to attack and required heavy military presence. The constant barrage of attacks and the increase of expansion caused casualties. Due to attack there was a need for specialized medical care for these armies in order to keep them in operational status. The specialized form of care however, was not created until the time of
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
(31BC-14AD). Prior to this there is little information about the care of soldiers. It is assumed soldiers were self-reliant, treating their own wounds and caring for other ailments encountered. They would also turn to civilians for help throughout the villages they would come across. This was considered a custom of the time, and was quite common for households to take in wounded soldiers and tend to them. As time progressed, there was an increase in care for the wounded as hospitals appeared. The idea was held by the Romans that a healed soldier was better than a dead one and a healed
veteran A veteran () is a person who has significant experience (and is usually adept and esteemed) and expertise in a particular job, occupation or Craft, field. A military veteran is a person who is no longer serving in a military. A military veter ...
was better than a new .


Roman hospitals

With the need for soldier health a growing concern, places for the sick to go in the army were starting to show up. Dates ranged from AD 9 to AD 50, but this is when the first evidence of hospitals was seen in archeological remains. These hospitals were specific places for only military members to go to if they were injured or fell ill. Similar hospitals were set up for slaves in areas where slaves were used in large numbers. Military hospitals were permanent structures set up in forts. These buildings had clear patient rooms and were designed to accommodate large numbers of soldiers. The size of these hospitals varied based on their location. Some of the large facilities, such as the hospital in
Hod Hill Hod Hill (or Hodd Hill) is a large hill fort in the Blackmore Vale, north-west of Blandford Forum, Dorset, England. The fort sits on a chalk hill of the same name that lies between the adjacent Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase. The hill fort at ...
England, was large enough to accommodate roughly 12% of the force within the hospital. In more stable areas such as
Inchtuthil Inchtuthil is the site of a Roman Empire, Roman Roman legion, legionary fortress situated on a natural platform overlooking the north bank of the River Tay southwest of Blairgowrie and Rattray, Blairgowrie, Perth and Kinross, Scotland (Roman Caledo ...
in Scotland, there was room for as little as 2% of the force within the hospital. In areas with more conflict, there were larger medical facilities as they saw more casualties. These hospitals were solely designed for the use of the military. If a civilian fell ill or needed surgery they would likely go to the physician's home and stay, not a hospital. Prior to these permanent structures there were tents set up as mobile
field hospital A field hospital is a temporary hospital or mobile medical unit that takes care of casualties on-site before they can be safely transported to more permanent facilities. This term was initially used in military medicine (such as the Mobile Army ...

field hospital
s. Soldiers suffering from severe wounds were brought to these for treatment. These were quickly assembled and disassembled as the army moved. The tents served as a precursor for the permanent structured hospitals. These permanent hospitals and mobile treatment centers were a relatively new concept in this time period.


Physicians

Doctors serving in the army were considered to be a member of the military. Just like everyone else they would take the military oath and be bound by the military law. They would also start among the lower fighting ranks. Even though they took the military oath and were among the lower ranks it did not mean they would be fighting among the masses. These doctors were not always professionals or career physicians. Oftentimes they were slaves who were forced into that career. The
Medici The House of Medici ( , ) was an Italian banking family and political dynasty Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social ...
was also a group that treated wounded soldiers on the battlefield. These men were not trained physicians even though they played the role of one. Typically they were soldiers who demonstrated they had knowledge in wound treatment and even simple surgical techniques. These men were used before the actual trained doctors were largely implemented. Physicians got their knowledge from experience and information being passed down from person to person. Likely they never used medical texts, as it was not commonplace even in the civilian field. Generals and emperors were exceptions, as they would typically have their physicians with them. This was a common occurrence as emperors such as
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a vari ...

Marcus Aurelius
employed famous physicians such as
Galen Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus ( el, Κλαύδιος Γαληνός; September 129 – c. AD 216), often Anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modi ...
. There were also physicians among the ranks of the Roman soldiers.


Distinctions in practice

With any large number of people being in close quarters, there was a constant threat of disease. When one individual in a large group gets sick with a
communicable disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body tissues by disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to the infectious agents and the toxins they produce. An infectious disease, also known as a transmi ...

communicable disease
, it spreads to others very quickly. This premise remains true even today in the modern military. The Romans recognized the difference between disease and wounds, each requiring separate treatment. Drainage of excess water and waste were common practices in camps as well as the permanent medical structures, which come at a later date. As the medical corps grew in size there was also specialization evolving. Physicians surfaced that specialized in disease, surgery, wound dressing and even veterinary medicine. Veterinary physicians were there to tend to livestock for agricultural purposes as well as combat purposes. The cavalry was known for their use of horses in combat and scouting purposes. Because of the type of injuries that would have been commonly seen, surgery was a somewhat common occurrence. Tools such as scissors, knives and arrow extractors have been found in remains. In fact, Roman surgery was quite intuitive, in contrast to common thought of ancient surgery. The Roman military surgeons used a cocktail of plants, which created a sedative similar to modern
anesthesia Anesthesia or anaesthesia (from Greek "without sensation") is a state of controlled, temporary loss of sensation or awareness that is induced for medical purposes. It may include some or all of Analgesic, analgesia (relief from or prevention o ...
. Written documentation also showed surgeons used oxidation from a metal such as copper and scrape it into wounds, which provided an antibacterial effect; however, this method was most likely more toxic than providing an actual benefit. Doctors had the knowledge to clean their surgical instruments with hot water after each use. Wounds were dressed, and dead tissue was removed when bandages were changed. Honey and cobwebs were items used to cover wounds, and have even been shown today to increase healing. Because of the wide array of cases, it was not uncommon for surgeons to begin their careers in the army to learn their trade. Physicians such as Galen and
Dioscorides Pedanius Dioscorides ( grc-gre, Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης, ; 40–90 AD) was a Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist, and author of ''De materia medica'' (, On Medical Material) —a 5-volume Greek encyclopedia about herbal m ...
served in the military. Most major advancements in knowledge and technique came from the military rather than civil practice.


Diet

Diet was an issue that is often discussed through this time, as an aspect of medical care. Since our idea of modern technology did not exist, the diet was a simple way for Romans to attain a healthy life. This remains true in the Roman military as the soldiers required appropriate nutrition in order to function at high activity levels. Because of the number of the people requiring food, there were unique circumstances in the acquisition of food. During a campaign, the soldiers would often
forage Forage is a plant material (mainly plant leaves and stems) eaten by grazing In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, se ...
food from their enemy's land. In fact, as part of the standard kit, Roman soldiers would carry a
sickle A sickle, bagging hook, reaping-hook or grasshook is a single-handed agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching televi ...

sickle
, which would be used to forage food. They would carry a three-day ration of food in case they were in a situation where foraging was not available. This would largely consist of items such as wheat and barley. During a time of peace, the Roman army would have had a typical diet consisting of bacon, cheese, vegetables, and beer to drink. Corn is mentioned in their works as well, however; this was a common term that was applied to their use of grain. The Roman use of the term corn is not to be confused with maize, which did not come to Europe until the discovery of the
New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas."America." ''The Oxford Companion to the English Language'' (). McArthur, Tom, ed., 1992. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 33: "[16c: from ...
. Items such as poultry and fish were also likely part of the standard diet. The soldier was given a ration, which was taken from his pay. This shows that the soldiers were well-fed in times of peace. If the soldiers were well fed, they were healthier and able to maintain a high level of physical activity, as well as to stave off disease. The disease is easier to prevent rather than treat. This idea holds in the event a fort was under siege; certain food items were rationed such as poultry. The reasoning behind this was that poultry was very inexpensive to maintain and in the event of a siege. It was also noted that poultry had benefits for those who were sick. This demonstrates the idea was present that the army needed to maintain the health of its members regardless of circumstances. These discoveries were made while looking at the remains of Roman military sites. By excavating these sites and looking at
fecal matter Feces ( or faeces) is the solid or semi-solid remains of food that was not digested in the small intestine The small intestine or small bowel is an organ (anatomy), organ in the human gastrointestinal tract, gastrointestinal tract where mos ...

fecal matter
found, scientists were able to determine what was eaten. It is a simple fact that poor diet negatively affects a military's
combat readiness Combat readiness is a condition of the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (po ...
. The variety of food found shows the Romans were not focused on just caloric intake, as they knew a variety of food was important to health.


Scale

By the time of
Trajan Trajan ( ; la, Caesar Nerva Trajanus; 18 September 539/11 August 117) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors use ...

Trajan
(53-117AD), the medical corps was well on the way to being an organized machine. At this time, physicians were attached to nearly every army and navy unit in all the Roman military. By this time the army was massive, consisting of twenty-five to thirty legions, each of which contained nearly 6,000 men. Each one included both soldiers and physicians. Despite these large numbers there was still no formal requirements for being a physician. At this point all physicians were either self-taught or learned their trade through an apprenticeship. Despite this, there was an attempt at organization, as the army did have a medical manual that was passed out to its physicians. The ''
medici The House of Medici ( , ) was an Italian banking family and political dynasty Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social ...
'' were used on both the front line as emergency care providers and in the rear as the main physicians. The '' capsarii'' were mainly used as the front line care providers and bandages, but also assisted the ''medici'' behind the lines.


Source of knowledge

Romans received their medical knowledge largely from the Greeks that came before them. As Rome started to expand, it slowly embraced the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
culture, causing an influx of medicinal information in Roman society. Because of this influx, it allowed this knowledge to become the foundation of all Western medical tradition. The Greek theories were kept alive and their practices continued well into the future. This knowledge was also the foundation used in military medicine since it contained the overarching ideas of their medical knowledge. As time progressed these medical texts would be translated into Arabic and then back into Latin as the flow of information changed. Based on this, we can presume that some of the information in these texts has been lost in translation. Despite this, we are still able to illustrate a clear picture of what military medicine was like during the reign of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
.


See also


References


Citations



Bibliography


Primary sources

*
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
,
From the Founding of the City From may refer to: * From, a preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a part of speech, class of words used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''un ...
on
Wikisource Wikisource is an online digital library A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online databaseAn online database is a database In computing Computing is a ...

Wikisource
(print: ''Book 1 as The Rise of Rome,
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for fre ...

Oxford University Press
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Polybius Polybius (; grc-gre, Πολύβιος, ; ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the ...

Polybius

The Rise of the Roman Empire
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LacusCurtius LacusCurtius is a website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web page A web page (or webpage) is a hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a or other with references () to other text that the reader can ...
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Harvard University Press Harvard University Press (HUP) is a publishing house Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distrib ...
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Tacitus Publius Cornelius Tacitus ( , ; – ) was a Roman historian and politician. Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historians by modern scholars. He lived in what has been called the Silver Age of Latin literature Classi ...

Tacitus
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The Annals The ''Annals'' ( la, Annales) by Roman historian and senator Tacitus is a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius to that of Nero, the years AD 14–68. The ''Annals'' are an important source for modern understanding of the histor ...
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Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon (; 8 May 173716 January 1794) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval En ...

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Penguin Books Penguin Books was originally a British publishing house Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distr ...
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Peter Connolly Peter William Connolly FSA (8 May 1935 – 2 May 2012) was a British scholar of the ancient world, Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hel ...
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Adrian Goldsworthy Adrian Keith Goldsworthy (; born 1969) is a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the ...
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Faber and Faber Faber and Faber Limited, usually abbreviated to Faber, is an independent publishing house in London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between ...
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Peter Heather Peter John Heather (born 8 June 1960) is a British historian of late antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Heather is Chair of the Medieval History Department and Professor of Medieval History at King's College London. He specialises in the fall ...
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Macmillan Publishers Macmillan Publishers Ltd (occasionally known as the Macmillan Group) is a British publishing company traditionally considered to be one of the Big Five (publishers), 'Big Five' English language publishers. Founded in London in 1843 by Scottish ...
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Arnold Hugh Martin Jones Arnold Hugh Martin Jones FBAFBA may refer to: * Federation of British Artists * Federal Bar Association * Fellow of the British Academy * Filsports Basketball Association * First Baptist Academy (Houston, Texas), United States * First Baptist Ac ...
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Johns Hopkins University Press The Johns Hopkins University Press (also referred to as JHU Press'' or ''JHUP) is the publishing division of Johns Hopkins University The Johns Hopkins University (Johns Hopkins, Hopkins, or JHU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: ...
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Edward Luttwak Edward Nicolae Luttwak (born 4 November 1942) is an American military strategy, military strategist and author known for his works on grand strategy, geoeconomics, military history, and international relations. He is best known for being the au ...

Edward Luttwak
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Johns Hopkins University Press The Johns Hopkins University Press (also referred to as JHU Press'' or ''JHUP) is the publishing division of Johns Hopkins University The Johns Hopkins University (Johns Hopkins, Hopkins, or JHU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: ...
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Thames and Hudson Thames & Hudson (sometimes T&H for brevity) is a publisher of illustrated books on art, architecture, design, and visual culture.
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Antonio Santosuosso Antonio Santosuosso (1936-12 July 2014) was a Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Assessment of the Battle of Tours In ''Barbarians, Marauders, and Infidels'', Santosuosso, considered an expert hi ...
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External links


''Roman soldier reenactment''
{{DEFAULTSORT:Military Of Ancient Rome