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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…

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…

Corniculum, cornicularii

(182 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] In the Republican period the corniculum was one of the   dona militaria (Liv. 10,44,5; Suet. Gram. 9; CIL I2 709 = ILS 8888); in the Principate the cornicula were then no more than insignia of rank. The exact meaning of the word is disputed. It is derived either from cornus (cornelian cherry) or from cornu (horn). Accordingly it meant either two small spears (cf. Pol. 6,39) or else small horns which hung from the helmets. The cornicularii represented the elite of the   principales and undoubtedly carried out administrative duties, since civil cornicularii are attested (Va…

Bow and arrow

(666 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The use of bow and arrow for war and hunting goes back a very long time, and was widespread even in prehistoric times. In the Near East, bows and arrows were important weapons of war. As demonstrated on reliefs from Mesopotamia, the Assyrian archers often stood in a war chariot (palace of Assurnaṣirpal II in Nimrūd ( Kalḫu), 9th cent. BC; London, BM); in the siege of cities, archers on foot were frequently deployed (relief of  Tiglatpileser III in Nimrūd, 8th cent. BC; London, BM)…

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)…

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…

Exauctorare

(226 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The verb exauctorare refers to the judicial act, by which a Roman military commander could release a soldier or an entire unit from their oath of allegiance. Such an act could be carried out at certain times defined in law, in the Republican era for example following a victory, at the time of the Principate at the end of a soldier's compulsory military service (Suet. Aug. 24,2; Suet. Tib. 30; Tac. Ann. 1,36,4; Tac. Hist. 1,20,6). In exceptional circumstances, this might be linked wi…

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…
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