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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…

Armies

(3,413 words)

Author(s): Fuchs, Andreas (Jena) | Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
I. Ancient Orient [German version] A. General The multitude of countries and cultures in the Middle East and Egypt during the period from the 3rd to the 1st millennium BC, each with their own very individual set of conditions, is matched by the variety of their armies in terms of recruitment processes, composition, organization, fighting methods and size. Fuchs, Andreas (Jena) [German version] B. Reference sources The Ancient Orient did not produce any literature on the subject of military theory. Narrative sources are restricted to praising the ruler and his …

Impedimenta

(404 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Two Latin words, impedimenta and sarcina, were used to describe the baggage train that accompanied the Roman legions. Impedimenta referred to the heavy packs containing the supplies and equipment of the entire legion. They were transported by pack animals (Pol. 6,27; 6,40; Liv. 28,45; Caes. B Gall. 5,31,6). These packs held tents, the officers' belongings, hand mills for the grain, food supplies, weapons, and after a victory,  war booty and money. Originally, the word impedimenta was used only in reference to things. However, as language evolved, it als…

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…

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.

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…

Pilum

(592 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] In a brief reference in Servius (Serv. Aen. 7,664: “pilum proprie est hasta Romana”), the pilum, a throwing-spear, is taken for the typical Roman spear. Among the earliest evidence for the use of the pilum in the Roman army is the depiction of the Battle of Panormus in 250 BC (Pol. 1,40). In Livy (8,8), the first two battle rows of the legions in the time around 340 BC are called the antepilani ('soldiers in front of the pilum bearers'). In his description of the Roman army, Polybius speaks of the γρόσφοι/ grósphoi as the javelins of the youngest soldiers, and the ὑσσοί/ hyssoí as …

Ala

(332 words)

Author(s): Höcker, Christoph (Kissing) | Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] [1] Part of the Roman atrium house Part of the Roman atrium house ( House;  Atrium). The term ala designates two opposing rooms, open in their full width and height, that form the cross axis in front of the tablinum or main room of the house. Alae were very common in Roman home construction; Vitruvius lists the correct proportions for design (6,3,4). The origin of the design type is unclear. The conjecture that, in Vitruvius' description of the Tuscan temple (4,7,1), the term for the two outer cellae of the Etruscan temple ( Temple) is alae (instead of aliae, as the text has…

Armamentaria

(178 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] In early times the armamentaria or arsenals were situated in Rome itself; with the expansion of the Roman Imperium they were also installed in cities close to the theatres of war. In the legionary camps of the Principate the armamentaria were in the principia, those for the navy in the ports (CIL VI 999, 2725; VIII 2563); in Rome there was an armamentarium in the castra praetoria. The weapons were stored according to type, not army unit, and were guarded by the armorum custodes; the armamentarium was under the authority of a curator operis armamentarii and a magister, who was…
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