The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History
Written by a leading authority on Roman military history, this fascinating volume spans over a thousand years as it offers a memorable picture of one of the world's most noted fighting forces, paying special attention to the life of the common soldier.
Southern here illuminates the Roman army's history, culture, and organization, providing fascinating details on topics such as military music, holidays, strategy, the construction of Roman fortresses and forts, the most common battle formations, and the many tools of war, from spears, bows and arrows, swords, and slingshots, to the large catapulta (which fired giant arrows and bolts) and the ballista (which hurled huge stones). Perhaps most interesting are the details Southern provides about everyday life in the Roman army, everything from the soldiers pay (they were paid three times per year, but money was deducted for such items as food, clothing, weapons, the burial club, the pension scheme, and so on) to their often brutal life--if whole units turned and ran, about one-tenth of the men concerned were chosen by lot and clubbed to death and the rest were put on barley rations instead of wheat. Moreover, soldiers who lost weapons or their shields would fight savagely to get them back or would die in the process, rather than suffer the shame that attached to throwing weapons away or running from the battle.
Attractively illustrated, this book offers a fascinating look at the life of the Roman soldier, drawing on everything from Rome's rich historical and archaeological record to soldier's personal correspondence to depictions of military subjects in literature and art.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
This is a sober overview of the Roman army insofar as it can be reconstructed. Southern is skeptical that the story of the army can be known in all respects but she outlines what can be realized. The difficulty is to understand from the limited knowledge we do have and to apply the known across the board to the disparate examples of the army under both the Republic and to the Empire and to all situations and conditions across the span of Roman history. It is an Herculean task. The volume spans a thousand years and Southern attempts to cover the Roman army's history, culture, and organization. She provides what can be discovered about military music, holidays, strategy, the construction of Roman fortresses and forts, the most common battle formations, and the many tools of war, from spears, bows and arrows, swords, and slingshots, to the large catapulta (which fired giant arrows and bolts) and the ballista (which hurled huge stones). Oddly enough, the work is poorly illustrated, depicted and unexplained is why she chooses mostly Renaissance pictures and sources the Library of Congress. It would have been natural, given her expertise in archeology, to depict recent research and illustrations from the fascinating and rich historical and archaeological record to portray the soldier's experience in the army. Roth's Roman Warfare is the better of the two similar volumes between the two. Hyginus Gromaticus, De munitionibus castrorum, http://www.intratext.com/X/LAT0347.htm; Flavius Vegetius Renatus, Epitoma rei militaris; and the Emperor Maurice, Strategikon, http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/13410.html, remain the only three basic texts of strategy and tactics arising from ancient Roman military practice (pp. 28-31).
Review: The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional HistoryUser Review - Goodreads
I liked it. A good primer for starting a study of the Roman Army. It touched on a very large swath of information on the institution and showed its evolution over the years. I did not like that it got ...
The Logistics of the Roman Army at War (264 B.C. - A.D .235)
Jonathan P. Roth
No preview available - 2012