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Tabernaculum

(216 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] (derived from trabs, 'tree trunk', 'beam'; diminutive of taberna, 'hut', 'shop'). In the Roman military context, tabernaculum describes all forms of housing for soldiers (Cic. Brut. 37). Provisional shelters could be built from a variety of materials, such as reeds and wood (Liv. 27,3,2-3; Frontin. Str. 4,1,14). Tents were made of leather (Liv. 23,18,5; Tac. Ann. 13,35,3; 14,38,1); in the winter, they were insulated against the cold with straw (Caes. B Gall. 8,5,2). The arrangement of the tents i…

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 …

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…

Military penal law

(503 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The penal law in effect in the Roman army recognized two different categories of malfeasance. The first category concerned those offences which were also punished in the civilian world, such as theft or crimen maiestatis ( maiestas ). The second category included specific misconduct in military service, above all disobedience toward superiors, absence from the unit without leave, desertion ( desertor ), and treason ( perduellio ). The composition of the military tribunal and the punishments changed in accordance with the gener…

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…

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…

Military law

(674 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Military service in Rome was controlled by a variety of laws, the development of which was strongly influenced by established religious beliefs and collective mindsets. From the early days of the city, Roman citizens were obligated to perform military service; the ranks of the citizens were reinforced by the auxilia (auxiliaries) of the socii . When a citizen was drafted as a soldier, he was no longer subject to paternal authority ( patria potestas ), but rather had to subordinate himself to the disciplina militaris . The conditions of military …

Statio

(149 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] In the military context a police post in a Roman camp (Tac. Ann. 13,24,1; Tac. Hist. 1,28,1) or the soldiers who guarded the gates (Caes. B Gall. 6,37,3; Liv. 3,5,4; 8,8,1). The palace of the principes in Rome was also guarded by a statio (Suet. Tib. 24,1). A small garrison watching over a road junction was also called a statio. These military strong points increased greatly in number during the Principate, assuring security; they were commanded by a beneficiarius or a centurio . The stationarii of Late Antiquity were to be found in border regions in the countrys…

Testudo

(462 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The term testudo ('tortoise') was used by the Roman military in two senses; it described on the one hand various tactical formations in battle, and on the other hand various engines deployed in besieging cities. In the first case it consisted of soldiers, who, standing in a line, held their rectangular shields side to side without gaps in front of themselves, in such a way as to confront the enemy with a wall, as it were,  of wood and iron (Liv. 32,17,13). When the soldiers formed u…

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…

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…

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)…

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…

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…

Vigiliae

(265 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] One of the chief concerns of Roman generals was the safety of their troops; both in a fixed legionary camp and in the field, legions were protected by the posting of guards, positioned in front of the vallum, outside the camp, and on the gates or on the vallum; individual guards also had the task of protecting higher officers (Pol. 6,35f; Sall. Iug. 100,4). Polybius gives a precise description of the organization of guard duty (νυκτερινὴ φυλακή/ nykterinḕ phylakḗ: Pol. 6,33-37; cf. Onasander 10,10 f.; Veg. Mil. 3,8,17 ff.). To prevent the sentries becoming …

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…

Soldiers' pay

(831 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
Sources give only little information about the introduction and development of SP in Greece and in Rome, and they contain only few precise figures for the amounts. Hence modern works on SP are largely based on assumptions and estimates resulting from them. [German version] I. Greece In Greece, soldiers of the citizen contingent of a polis probably did not receive regular money until the 5th cent. BC, and this was initially used to pay for provisions (σιτηρέσιον/ sitērésion ); at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War the Athenian hoplítai besieging Potidaea were given pay (μισθός/ misthós…

Aeneatores

(102 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] were the musicians of the Roman legions and were already documented in the Servian centuria regulation. They included the tubicines, cornicines and bucinatores, who transmitted the officers' orders in the camp, while marching and during battle. The word aeneatores appeared only once in the imperial period (CIL XIII 6503): in the 4th cent. AD they were mentioned in Amm. Marc. 16,12,36 and 24,4,22.  Bucinatores;  Cornicines;  Tubicines Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon) Bibliography 1 A. Baudot, Musiciens romains de l'Antiquité, 1973 2 R. Meucci, Riflessioni di archeolog…
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