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Bucinatores

(114 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Along with tubicines and cornicines, bucinatores were musicians in the Roman army; the bucina was a bronze wind instrument (Veg. Mil. 2,11; 3,5), whose exact shape is contentious. In Republican times, the duties of the night-watchmen were regulated by bucina signals (Pol. 6,35; Liv. 7,36; Frontin. Str. 1,5,17). During the Principate, a bucina call signalled the end of the convivium in camp (Tac. Ann. 15,30,1); in late antiquity the bucinatores gave the signal for the execution of soldiers.  Aeneatores Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon) Bibliography 1 R. Meucci, Riflessioni di…

Manoeuvres

(525 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Military exercises ( exercitium, exercitatio militaris, decursio), for a long time little studied by historians, contributed considerably to the military success of the Roman army and appear to have been conducted on the Field of Mars ( Campus Martius ) in early times. From the late 3rd cent. BC, military exercises were developed further in both practice and theory. Cornelius [I 71] Scipio Africanus organized manoeuvres systematically in Spain in 210 BC (Pol. 10,20; Liv. 26,51,3-7) and then in Sicily…

Tribuli

(192 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The term tribuli described metal spikes with four points so arranged that one of them always pointed upwards (Veg. Mil. 3,24,4); they represented a very dangerous obstacle for infantry and cavalry. They can be traced to the τριβόλοι/ tribóloi of the Greeks, who may have adopted them from the Persians (Polyaen. 4,17: Darius [3]); even the Celts were familiar with them. The Romans, who are supposed to have used  tribuli as early as  295 BC at Sentinum  (Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 20,1), systematically deployed them in the wars with Antiochus [5] III and Mi…

Decimatio

(218 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] In the Roman army, the decimatio was a rarely applied form of punishment for a whole unit (Pol. 6,38; Frontin. Str. 4,1,34; 4,1,37; Quint. Decl. 348). The tribunes selected every tenth man by drawing lots; the punishment could also be reduced by selecting just one man in a hundred (SHA Opil. 12,2). The victims decided on in this manner were not executed with an axe but clubbed to death (Tac. Ann. 3,21,1). This punishment, considered to be very severe, was applied in case of serious mis…

Cornicines

(109 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The cornicines were military musicians ( aeneatores). They played the cornu, a wind instrument curved into a circle and made of bronze; the distinction from the bucina is difficult. These soldiers were taken from among the poorest citizens and were already represented in the Servian centuriate (Liv. 1.43). On their own the cornicines gave the standards the command to change position, and jointly with the   tubicines the signals in battle (Veg. Mil. 2.22;3.5). Under the Principate the cornicines were held in higher regard than in the Republic, as their menti…

Tabulae honestae missionis

(103 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Tabulae honestae missionis is the name given to Roman documents certifying the good conduct of soldiers during their period of service; they were issued upon request to veterans at their retirement from military service, enabling them, if they were entitled, to receive the military diploma and thus citizenship. Only a few copies have been found, but these were distributed across the entire Roman Empire. Their structure corresponded to that of military diplomas: 1. confirmation of honesta missio [1], 2. the certifying officer, 3. authentication, 4. date, 5…

Commeatus

(340 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Commeatus has two different meanings: it denotes either a limited leave of absence or suspension (as opposed to final dismissal, the missio), or specific logistical arrangements. The term stellatura denotes the misuse of either arrangement. 1. For soldiers, leave of absence meant being permitted to leave the vicinity of the standard (Tac. Hist. 1,46,4). Commeatus was wrongly confused with   immunitas or vacatio munerum, which signified exemption from the usual duties to be carried out by soldiers. The granting of such exemption was the prerog…

Ensigns

(851 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The ensigns of the Roman army fulfilled an important tactical function: the transfer of commands from the commander; in this case they were accompanied by the sound of the cornu (Veg. Mil. 2,22). Due to their importance, they achieved an almost religious validity (cf. for instance Tac. Ann. 1,39,4). According to tradition, Romulus provided the first legion with animal symbols such as the eagle, the wolf, the horse, the wild boar and the minotaur (Plin. HN 10,16). At that time, each of the thirty maniples supposedly received a signum (Ov. Fast. 3,115; Plut. Romulus 8)…

Military writers

(522 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The intellectual education of the future officers of the Roman army was based on the reading and interpretation of the works of historians such as Polybius and Livy, as well as the military regulations put into force under Augustus and Hadrian, which were still valid under Severus Alexander (Veg. Mil. 1,27: Augusti atque Hadriani constitutiones; Suet. Aug. 24f.; cf. Cass. Dio 69,9,4). Alongside these, works by Cato, Marius [I 1], Rutilius Rufus (Val. Max. 2,3,2), and Arrius [II 5] Menander were also read. Under Constantinus [1], thes…

Dona militaria

(887 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Particularly deserving soldiers and officers of the Roman army were granted marks of honour ( Decorations, military), with the rank of the recipient playing an important role. The practice of presenting such marks of honour changed in the course of the Republican period and the Principate. The older tradition reported the granting of decorations in the early Republic (Plin. HN 22,6-13) but the first credible information is found in Polybius (6,39). Honorary distinctions are docume…

Shield

(605 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] I. Greece Shields were primarily used to protect soldiers in battle; as a crater from Mycenae ( c. 1200 BC) vividly shows, shields were already part of the equipment of warriors in the Mycenaean period. Homer mentions a round shield (ἀσπίς/ aspís) which was embossed with sheet bronze and strengthened with the skins of oxen (Cattle) (Hom. Il. 12,294-297; 13,156-166). In the middle there was a shield boss (ὀμφαλός/ omphalós; Hom. Il. 13,192). A strap (τελαμών/ telamṓn; Hom. Od. 11,609-614) enabled the shield to be carried without holding it in the hand. The…

Desertor

(279 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The Roman army regarded as a desertor anyone who did not appear at roll-call (Liv. 3,69,7) or who during a battle was beyond the range of the trumpet or who left his unit in time of peace without permission, without commeatus (Suet. Oth. 11,1; SHA Sept. Sev. 51,5; Dig. 49,16,14) (‘distanced himself from the signa’). The punishments were merciless: depending on the case a person was at risk of slavery (Frontin. 4,1,20), mutilation (SHA Avid. Cass. 4, 5) or death (the condemned person was beaten with canes and then thrown down from the Tarpeium saxum or crucified). The decimatio…

Decanus

(127 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] A soldier who commanded a   contubernium ; he was appointed when the size of this unit was increased from eight to ten men (according to Ps.Hyg.). The inscription IGR I 1046 mentions δεκανοί ( dekanoí) who were either persons of this rank or else commanders of a squadron of ten ships, a fact which can no longer be determined in detail. The decanus is still attested for the 4th cent. AD, sometimes carrying the title caput contubernii (Veg. Mil. 2,8; 2,13). In other documents, this term refers to persons belonging to the lowest level of the palace guard (Cod…

Decorations, military

(877 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Decorations were used to reward soldiers' bravery and acts of courage in the Roman army as in all other armies, their advantage being that their cost to the common purse was slight, while at the same time they reinforced general awareness of military honour (Pol. 6,39). A pronounced feeling for hierarchical structures also had its influence on such decorations, as they were awarded according to the rank of the receiver (  dona militaria ). As A. Büttner has shown, the origins of Roman decorations may be found not only in Italy, but a…

Armour

(709 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Even the heroes of the Homeric epics protected themselves with armour made of bronze or linen (Hom. Il. 3,830; 11,15-28). In the archaic period, body armour (θώραξ/  Thorax ) was included as part of the equipment of the Greek   hoplítai ; during the classic period however, metal armour was increasingly replaced by armour made of lighter materials. In the Roman army, armour ( lorica) was worn by the prima classis (according to Liv. 1,43,2, this in the early days of Rome denoted the wealthiest class of citizens with assets of 100,000 As or more). Diff…

Contubernium

(159 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] in the basic meaning of the word meant a communal lodging of soldiers; it applied either to a tent camp during an expeditio or to barracks in a fixed encampment (Tac. Ann. 1,41,1). Two extensions of meaning developed from that: the term was used for a group of soldiers sharing a lodging, and from that it was used to describe a shared sense of trust and solidarity among those soldiers (Suet. Tib. 14,4; Caes. B Civ. 2,29). This included the officers. The contubernium seems not to have been a tactical unit, although in Vegetius (Veg. Mil. 2,13) the contubernium is used as a synon…

Imaginiferi, Imaginifarii

(215 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The imaginifer was a soldier who, at least at festivals, carried an image ( imago) of the princeps (Veg. Mil. 2,6; 2,7; Jos. Ant. Iud. 18,55); the imaginiferi certainly did not have any specifically military duties. There was an imaginifer in each legion, though he did not necessarily belong to the first cohort (  cohors ) (CIL III 2553: 3rd cohort). According to Vegetius (Mil. 2,7), imaginiferi also occurred in other units. Imaginiferi are attested in inscriptions for the cohortes urbanae and the   vigiles in Rome and for the legions and the units of the   auxilia ( alae, cohor…

Beneficiarii

(119 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] were already mentioned in Caesar (B Civ. 1,75,2; 3,88,5); according to Vegetius (Mil. 2,7), they were soldiers who owed their promotion to the beneficium of their superiors and were freed from the   munera . They were assigned to an officer, in whose service they performed legal and financial duties that required a certain competency. Beneficiarii can be found in all units, in the marines, in the auxilia, in the legions and in Rome. Some of them also performed tasks in the civil sphere and were used in the stationes for the protection of the long-distance roads. Le Bohec, Yan…

Vallum

(146 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] (related to Latin vallus, 'stake, palisade'), occasionally used with the general meaning 'protective wall' (Liv. 9,14,7; 36,18,2; Frontin. Str. 3,17,9), usually in a military context. The typical Roman defensive installation, which was built during a campaign or a siege, consisted of a fossa ('ditch'), agger ('earthen wall') and v. ('palisade'); soldiers dug out the ditch, throwing the earth inwards and building the v. on this earth wall (Veg. Mil. 3,8,7-9; 4,28,3; Liv. 10,25,6 f.; cf. also the precise description of a Roman v. in Liv. 33,5,5-12). Finally, var…

Burgus

(90 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The origin of the word burgus is disputed by researchers: either a Germanic (CIL XIII 6509) or else a Greek origin (πύργος; pýrgos; Jos. BI 1,99-100) are assumed. The word, which appears before the middle of the 2nd cent. AD and is still attested under Valentinian I, denotes a small fortified watchtower (ILS 396) or is used as a diminutive for   castellum (Veg. Mil. 4.10).; the burgus was generally used for surveillance (CIL VIII 2494-2495: burgus speculatorius). Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon) Bibliography 1 D. Baatz, Bauten, MAVORS XI, 1994, 83-85.
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