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Anonymous

Valete! I have heard of two "special forces" corps in the late empire: Herculiani and Gioviani.<br>
<br>
Who were they? How did they fight?<br>
<br>
Germanicus <p></p><i></i>
Germanicus,<br>
<br>
I think what lies behind the idea of the Herculiani and Ioviani as 'special forces'is the reference to them by Vegetius as excellent troops that were the original units using the plumbata (lead-weighted dart).<br>
<br>
"We formerly had two legions in lllyricum, consisting of six thousand men each, which from their extraordinary dexterity and skill in the use of these weapons were distinguished by the same appellation. They supported for a long time the weight of all the wars and distinguished themselves so remarkably that the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian on their accession honored them with the titles of Jovian and Herculean and preferred them before all the other legions.<br>
<em>Flavius Vegetius Renatus Epitoma Rei Militari Book I.17</em><br>
<br>
Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Were they somekind of ancient grenadiers? Did'n they really fight in the first lines?<br>
<br>
Vale<br>
<br>
Germanicus <p></p><i></i>
Hi Germanicus,<br>
<br>
No, from what we know (which is not overmuch) we can only conclude that these two units, which seemed to have operated together in a fixed pair, fought as every other unit. It was just that they seem to have been the first to develop throwing the plumbata, which was a newly developed weapon.<br>
<br>
No grenadiers or other such specialised type. Just normal with extra weapons.<br>
The plumbata was different in that is is said to have exceeded all other hand-thrown weapon, and with the weighted shaft was very capable of doing much damage. The dart was meant to fall straight down on top of the opponent -hiding behind a shield is useles, and a plumbata can easily penetrate a shield from above.<br>
<br>
Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert<br>
<p></p><i></i>