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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Early Roman weaponry

Roman armor was pieced together in strips for better manuverablity in the arms. Think of a football player's shoulder pads, this is the way the armor fit across the shoulders, the rest of the arm was exposed.

Metal armor covered the back and chest. Roman muscle armor was molded in the front and back to the fit the shape of the wearer. There was no armor over the shoulders. This looked more like a bullet proof vest.
The shoes were often open toed with multiple leather straps woven closely together and attached to a sturdy sole with hobnails on the sole.

They were armed with two spears, a throwing spear, which was lighter, and a javelin with a long iron head along with a short sword and dagger. The shields were made of wood covered with leather and iron boss.

Roman centurion helmets (centurions held higher rank in the army) had the decorative, red fringe along the top, its reminiscent of a rooster's crown. The helmets for all military had a small visor and strips to protect the ears. Unlike Alexander the Great, Roman commanders stayed in the back lines.

The front line in a legion was armed with spears, they would rush the enemy while thier own men manuevered themselves for battle. The phalanx was replaced with a new strategy. Men were sectioned off in maniples. This enabled them to fight independently, in small groups or as a whole. Advancting to attack, the legioaires would throw javelins into the enemy ranks and then close in to use short swords to deadly effect.

The soldiers were trained rogorously, harsh discipline occured if embarassment was caused, including the execution of the tenth man by his peers. The poor were frequently made into career soldiers, a hard life yielded good soldiers. Moving up in rank gave the soldier honor, prestige and more money.

Roman expansion threatened the Greeks living in Italy. Pyrrhus, king of one of the Greek states was asked to help fight the Romans. He amassed an army of 20,ooo infantry, 3,000 calvalry, as well as war elephants. The Romans met them in a town called Heraclea, by the Siris River.

The elephants scared the Roman calvalry, and the Greek phalanx drove the Romans back across the river. No quarter was given on either side. Losses on both side were so great, Pyrrhus allegdly said, "One more such victory and I am lost." Hence the term "Pyrrhic victory."

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