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Labarum

(209 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge ( Pons Milvius) against Maxentius in AD 312, in a dream described as a vision, Constantine I was advised to have the first two letters of the name of Christ, in Greek chi and rho (Χ and Ρ), inscribed on the shields of his soldiers, if he wished victory: τούτῳ νίκα (‘By this sign be victorious’; cf. Lactant. De mort. pers. 44; Euseb. Vita Const. 1,26-31). This Christogram was later fixed to the tip of a standard consisting of a long lance with a flag bearing the Imperial medallion hung on a crosspiece. It is unclear whether the name labarum given…

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…

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…

Accensi

(147 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Originally, the accensi (also accensi velati, ‘clothed (only) with a cloth cloak’) were members of the army who were too poor to equip themselves. They accompanied the legions and, positioned behind the other soldiers, had to replace the dead using their weapons (Fest. 369 M; Liv. 8,8,8; Cic. Rep. 2,40). They were recruited according to their census income. After the introduction of pay for soldiers (in our record in 406 BC) they no longer appeared in this form. From then on the term accensi described a small, little respected part of the troops that was recruit…

Disciplina militaris

(943 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The Latin term disciplina designates a) a field of knowledge or an academic discipline and b) obedience. According to Livy (Liv. 9,17,10), in Rome disciplina militaris had evolved into an ars. In conjunction with the Roman military, disciplina generally appears in its second meaning; Frontinus calls the knowledge of military matters rei militaris scientia (Frontin. Str. 1 praef. 1). The phrase is used by Valerius Maximus as well as Pliny and is furthermore epigraphically documented (Val.Max. 2,7; Plin. Ep. 10,29; S.c. de Cn. Pisone patre, 52; ILS 3809; cf. disciplina…

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…

Corvus

(137 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] [1] Military The invention of the corvus (‘raven’) is attributed to C. Duilius, cos. in 260 BC and victor over the Carthaginians in the battle of Mylae. It was a boarding-plank attached to the bow of the ship, steered with the aid of a pulley and a rope. When it was thrown on to the enemy ship, a metal hook remained fixed to the deck; this was a way of damaging the enemy's rigging, which allowed the Roman soldiers to enter the ship (Pol. 1,22,23). With the invention of the corvus the tactic of boarding was given precedence over ramming. Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon) Bibliography 1 L. Poznans…

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…

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…

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…

War, consequences of

(1,115 words)

Author(s): Burckhardt, Leonhard (Basle) | Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] I. Greece The consequences of a war in Ancient Greece for individuals, cities or kingdoms depended on its duration and size, and a systematic or general assessment is thus not unproblematic. Several authors describe the terrible sight of a battlefield (Xen. Hell. 4,4,12; Xen. Ages. 2,14f.; Plut. Pelopidas 18,5; cf. Thuc. 7,84f.). During a hoplite battle in the classical period, on average 5% of the victors and 14% of the vanquished would fall [4]; in addition there would be the woun…

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…

Castra

(2,134 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon) | Förtsch, Reinhard (Cologne) | Šašel Kos, Marjeta (Ljubljana) | Lombardo, Mario (Lecce) | Todd, Malcolm (Exeter) | Et al.
A. Military camp [German version] [I 1] General The Roman soldiers always made sure that they were protected by fortifications. This also applied when they only stopped for a night on campaigns. In the evening of their arrival the field camp had to be set up and destroyed again on the morning of departure. The plural castra was the name given to any kind of military camp, the singular castrum certainly existed but was not used in mil. vocabulary. Castellum is the diminutive form of castra (Veg. Mil. 3,8) and also had a civilian meaning. The origin of the Roman camps is uncertain; because …

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…

Strategemata

(273 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] (στρατηγήματα/ stratēgḗmata, 'war ruses') were systematically studied and used from the Hellenistic period onwards. Three types of strategemata were distinguished: at first, strategemata permitted strategic advantage to be gained even before direct military confrontation by deceiving the opponent as to the actual strength of one's own forces, choosing a suitable time for the battle or making use of particular climatic or geographical conditions (cf. e.g. Frontin. Str. 3,4,5 f.; time: 2,1,15; place: 2,2,…

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…

Sword

(862 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon) | Pingel, Volker (Bochum)
[German version] I. Classical Antiquity The sword used in Rome's early period is referred to as ensis or gladius in the transmission (Verg. Aen. 7,743; 9,431; 12,458; Liv. 1,43,2). According to Livy, the soldiers of the first three classes ('divisions') in the Servian order of centuriae were equipped with swords (Liv. 1,43,2). The Gallic sword was longer and had no pointed tip, the Hispanic sword was short, had a tip and was more suitable for thrusting than for slashing (Liv. 22,46,5). In the period of the 2nd Punic W…

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…
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