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Anonymous

I've often heard that the Roman legionnaire was stronger in his formation then his enemies, but alone he was usually weaker.<br>
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Based on what I've seen and learned of their training, it would seem to me that, even on his own, a legionnaire would generally be more skilled then the vast majority of his opponents.<br>
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Does anyone have any insight into this? <p></p><i></i>
although their counterparts would have enjoyed more personal freedom, a legionair was designed for close combat.<br>
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check out this pictures from LEG VI VICTRIX for the tv-serie "conquest". Although for tv, it has some nice pictures of romans vs barbarians.<br>
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[url=http://www.legionsix.org/Conquest.htm" target="top]www.legionsix.org/Conquest.htm[/url]<br>
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in terms of armour, weapons, training, dicipline etc. he would outclass most of his opponents. But, legionairs aren´t "supersoldiers". Most soldiers fight better in formation then alone (more protection etc.). <p></p><i></i>
I would have to agree with pelgr003 on that one.<br>
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Now I have a question of my own:<br>
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would there have been any class of soldiers comparable to todays green berets or navy seals in the roman army ( as these are considered soldiers who could operate as units, but also as single entities) ? <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

So, one-on-one in a ring, you think a typical barbarian warrior would generally be able to best a legionnaire?<br>
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I just don't really see what would put him over the top. His training (even in one-on-one), equipment and physical conditioning were generally inferior. <p></p><i></i>
I would have to disagree with anyone who thinks a trained Roman Legionary was some how a more deficient swordsman than most of the counterparts he was likely to go up against.<br>
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Of course he would have been better off working together with others and Romans trained to work as such. How many of his counterparts had a systematic standard regular training program to work as closely together as a Legionary?<br>
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But that being said, Romans also practiced regularly (depending on the competency of the Legion's leadership and it's likelihood of contact) individual sword techniques and fighting. Being that Legionaries were long term professionals, they would have had years of repetitive systematic practice in sword fighting. How many of Rome's enemies would have gone through the same program?<br>
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Take a guy and train him systematically in physical conditioning, weapons handling skills and teamwork for 4, 8 or 12 or 20 years and you will have a good swordsman and a good fighter. How many of Rome's enemies went through that process? Many of their enemies were farmers or smiths in ther regular jobs and formed armies for specific tasks before returning to regular life. We have the standard stereotype of the wild barbarian, great individual fighter and howling madman. No doubt good at generating violence and scaring the heck out of people, and certainly capable of being a great individual fighter, but on the average was he better off than a well trained legionary? I doubt it. Now throw three of four of them on one legionary than sure anyone would have an advantage.<br>
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I think at the very basic core of Roman military performance was that they had a systematic effective training program that brought individual soldiers up to the best level of training attainable, and then from there they layered on all the collective skills and maneuvers.<br>
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And the question about did Romans have SF units is very interesting. In most campaigns there were numerous activities duties and missions that fall outside the scope of commonly held views of Roman combat with testudos lines, all that stuff. Roman operations included many special operations. For example during the Roman Judeo war there are a number of accounts of Romans taking this or that fortification through infiltration or with small groups of men. These were all drawn form regular legion formations. (and even farther back the burning of the Carthaginian Camp in Africa after Scipio lands would have started out with a Special Op.)<br>
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Everyone makes a big deal about Caesar and his German Cav bodyguards. But when he was making his name in Gaul (and before he acquired the Germans) he often relied on a few legionaries (usually from the 10th) to accompany him on various missions.<br>
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Romans legionaries could expect to do a whole lot more in their combat careers than just marching in line and fighting as part of the legion whole. There would have been patrols, policing duties, skirmishing duties and special operations that all could have fallen upon him. He would have needed to be as capable an individual fighter as he was a team-fighter, hence the training regime as it was developed and implemented.<br>
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Los <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

I doubt it. Legionarys were trained in all aspects of combat, from Legion sized units to single one on one combat. I am sure they trained for all situations, as well as familiarized themselves with all weapons. <p>Magnus/Matt<br>
Legio XXX "Ulpia Victrix" Coh I<br>
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"I know I was born, and I know that I'll die. But the in between is mine."<br>
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- Number of posts: current +1248</p><i></i>

Anonymous

Depends on the barbarian and the period. Some barbarians were unafraid of death and longed for death in battle. Against a Roman who feared dying, this is an advantage.<br>
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Also barbarians were big into personal honor and individualism. Honor duels over percieved sleights were commonplace. So you could expect a barbarian to be much more aggressive in a one-on-one bout. And from my own experience, being aggressive can be an advantage against someone with more skill and training.<br>
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I think IMO that a germanic warrior of average caliber was more than a match for a average legionary *one-on-one*. Mileage may vary.<br>
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Problem is that the individualism causes big problems in any team activity: like an army. Cohesiveness and discipline are not high priority and against a team/ group/ army which *is* disciplined, it should be pretty much one sided in favor of the disciplined side.<br>
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Caius Livius Varus Germanicus<br>
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<p>================<br>
"Self-Pity"<br>
I never saw a wild thing<br>
sorry for itself.<br>
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough<br>
without ever having felt sorry for itself.<br>
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D. H. Lawrence<br>
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"Some barbarians were unafraid of death and longed for death in battle. Against a Roman who feared dying, this is an advantage."<br>
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But to a professional soldier it's not. Fear is good, it keeps you from doing something stupid. I don't think any Japanese in WW2 gained tactical advantage due to being "unafriad of death". Actually it's not being "unafraid of death" it's being afraid of showing fear to comrades or superiors that is the real core issue here. Being unafraid of death is just how most "mask" the real issue. But regardless how it is packaged, lack of fear without skill or profficiency is just a way to get many killed quickly.<br>
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"And from my own experience, being aggressive can be an advantage against someone with more skill and training."<br>
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Actually this in itself is a loaded issue. I would tend to lean towards skill and training. Aggression without skill and control just gets you killed faster. Proffesional soldiers are more than capable of generating aggression and violence and mastering the psycological aspects of combat, most importantly fear management. All the little "rituals", personal or organizational, that good units go through before combat bring them to this point.<br>
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Los <p></p><i></i>
Hey,<br>
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Thanks for the answers to my question....they were very enlightening. <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Quote:</em></strong><hr>But to a professional soldier it's not. Fear is good, it keeps you from doing something stupid. I don't think any Japanese in WW2 gained tactical advantage due to being "unafriad of death". Actually it's not being "unafraid of death" it's being afraid of showing fear to comrades or superiors that is the real core issue here. Being unafraid of death is just how most "mask" the real issue. But regardless how it is packaged, lack of fear without skill or profficiency is just a way to get many killed quickly.<hr><br>
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I disagree. Fear means hesitation and when you are in a melee situation, hesitation of even a milisecond can mean death. Look at the cultures that embrace an eternity in an afterlife if you die a good death/ die with weapon in hand/ die in struggle, etc. Death is accepted as due course. There are a lot of writings about the Vandals in the early 5th century (and later )being the most fearsome due to their certain acceptance and will do die in combat.<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>"And from my own experience, being aggressive can be an advantage against someone with more skill and training." Actually this in itself is a loaded issue. I would tend to lean towards skill and training. Aggression without skill and control just gets you killed faster. Proffesional soldiers are more than capable of generating aggression and violence and mastering the psycological aspects of combat, most importantly fear management. All the little "rituals", personal or organizational, that good units go through before combat bring them to this point. <hr><br>
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I have trained in martial arts (eastern for 7 years, SCA for 14 years) and have been an infantryman for 5 years. In hand-to-hand, even a trained soldier, when faced by an extremely aggressive combatant is placed on the defensive. Sometimes the well-trained guy can take out the aggressor. A lot of the time, the best chance a less-skilled guy has is to be as aggressive as possible and force the more-skilled guy on the defensive. (with me so far?) Sometimes, the more-skilled guy will snot the less-skilled aggressor out of hand, but sometimes not.<br>
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Now make one of the two (the aggressive, less-skilled one) willing to die in battle in order to secure an afterlife of wine, woman and song. This one is trained to fight as an individual, and generally uses a longer ranged weapon (say a spatha-type weapon).<br>
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Now make the other (the less-aggressive, disciplined one) who is trained in simple, tactics one-on-one, but is largely trained to be a part of a team. make him believe that upon his death it is all over, so he fears dying. Say he uses a gladius or even a spatha (even up the odds a little).<br>
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My money would be on the barbarian probably 75% of the time.<br>
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In a group fight, i'd back the romani all the way, but one-on-one...<br>
Nope.<br>
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Of course, this is all conjecture and opinion, kinda like Darth Vader versus Darth Maul.<br>
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Germanicus<br>
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<p>================<br>
"Self-Pity"<br>
I never saw a wild thing<br>
sorry for itself.<br>
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough<br>
without ever having felt sorry for itself.<br>
<br>
D. H. Lawrence<br>
<br>
</p><i></i>

Anonymous

IMO most barbarian soldiers were scared shirtless of dying, were armed with poor weapons and had no formal training.<br>
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Most Roman legionaries were scared shirtless of dying, were armed with good weapons, and had no formal training early on (they were called to arms annually, given a few days on the Fields of Mars and then marched off with their consuls) or quite a bit of formal training later on (say roughly from the end of the 2nd Punic war? Certainly by the time Marius instituted "professional" legions).<br>
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In both cases there were variable numbers of "seasoned veterans" of wars, tribal skirmishes or whatever with more "gung-ho" attitudes and greater confidence - often they had higher rank.<br>
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Anyone who wanted to die would be easy pickings for either.<br>
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Anyone who wasn't AFRAID to die was a different matter entirely - throughout history fearless warriors have scared the bejeezez out of saner folk - Viking Berserkers are perhaps the best known example, but I see no reason why anyone else would be different.<br>
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Just to head slightly off topic for a minute......IMO Japanese were the same early in WW2 when they were still mostly "regular" army & navy - but later on their infantry ranks were filled with a lot of Korean and Manchurian conscripts and service troops who could do little more than charge forwards to their deaths or commit suicide for no good reason - however these later weer still "trading on" the reputation that their better trained predecessors had established in the Western psyche. <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Caius Germanicus, you said that an average barbarian was a better match than the average legionary. I disagree on a few accounts. Legionarys had better, more stable dietary sources, were likely on average, in better physical shape than any barbarian as well. Also, I would like to quote Los from another topic in Reenactment/Reconstruction (hope you don't mind Los):<br>
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Quote:</em></strong><hr>Anyway, I think it's prety clear that in general, competent legionary swordsmanship training was approached in a systematic fashion. I say "competent" because there were clearly times when training was allowed to slide, even in good legions, most likely during long periods of sedentary life such as the state of the Xth a few years before the Roman-Judeo war when it was sationed in Syria. It is mentioned in some accounts that Galdiators were brought in for training, most likely during times when the in-house expertise had degraded due to casualties retirements or poor leadership or some legate wanted to add that extra umpff to his guy's training.<br>
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We have good evidence and accounts of how swordsmanship training was conducted, what types of training weapons and equipment were used, what the training grounds looked like (posts and what not) and the fact that they conducted armatura (sparring) and force on force combats. What's missing, unfortunately is detail on exactly the moves they would have used.<br>
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From medieval times there are still numerous books, codex and fectbuchs (sp?) surviving which have been reproduced, that show the actual moves used in training. We don't have any of that to my knowledge. Has anyone found an engraving showing the structured moves?<br>
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One thing is clear however. Combat soldiers performed their duty effectively based on the establishment of "muscle-memory". The Romans clearly recognized this from way back based on the way the organized and trained and fought. The initial pell work would have served two purposes. It would have been a strength bulding excercize for fighting to increase power and stamina. It would also have served to instill muscle memory in the basic moves required to thrust, smash, cut and parry while holding shield, in line, WITHOUT THINKING. These would have been the basic building blocks of fighting, and to that extent, they would bear some resemblence to the methods (but not the moves) sword fighters, fencers and what not use in their initial training.<br>
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Other key points during initial sword training would have included drawing the sword. In particular when the line is advancing you don't have a lot of time between release and contact. It's no time for one to be fumbling with his gear trying to get unstuck. I believe that the more competent the line the closer they can be to the enemy for release, the more effective the Piila volley would be. Two key determinates here would be effectivess of the line in hitting it's target (range and accuracy) and secondly, how quickly it could draw swords. while maintaining cohesion. This would have required constant practice to establish muscle memory. (Just like we spend hours learning how to draw pistols).<br>
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With this initial basics down, the experienced instructors would have then added the advanced details to make things work in real fights, Boss smashes, kickss and or foot stomps, grappling, dirty language, etc to take it to the next level. Everything would need to be simple to grasp and practice and approached in layers, so that muscle memory in all these things could be firmly established. And they would have been evaluated and graded along the way, hence poorer perfroming (or motivated) soldiers receiving punishments and deprivements such as extra fatigues or withholding of better foods until they met the standards.<br>
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Then they would have been cut loose on opponents in 1v1 action (Called armatura) perhaps this included an initial half speed drills (Since parrying normally requires somewhat to swipe at you), then this would have progressed up to full speed sparring, most likely one pair at a time while the instructors graded and critiqued and others watched and learned. Added to this would have been demonstrations of the different styles of fighting they would have encountered. Either with instructor demonstrating celt, barbarian, greek, and parthian methods and weapons in action or maybe even captured slave duels for demonstration. Who knows? But it wouldn't have done much good to just have Romans training against Romans (except during civil war times) using only Roman methodology if they were more likely to face say Celt attacks or Zealot fighting styles.<br>
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At this point our budding swordsmen would have had a firm grounding in 1v1. Now there would have been added 1v2, 2 v1 3v2 and other circumstances to practice the essential work of fighting with others. Eventually this would build up to squad and century level fighting.<hr> <p>Magnus/Matt<br>
Legio XXX "Ulpia Victrix" Coh I<br>
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"I know I was born, and I know that I'll die. But the in between is mine."<br>
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- Number of posts: current +1248</p><i></i>
This "Germanic-who-wasn´t-afraid-of-death" theory is, by my opinion, more myth then reality. Although you would have had some soldiers who weren´t afraid of dying, i doubt if this goes for the whole army. Saying that you aren´t afraid of dying is also a means of preparing yourself for battle. All people are afraid of dying, but if you know that you had a good training, weapons etc., you´ll feel more confident.<br>
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If you put a Legionnaire vs a half naked German/ Celt (one-on-one), I really doubt if that German or Celt stood a chance.<br>
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Also, history is told by the victors and i suspect that the Romans themselves were glorifying their enemies so that Roman victories sounded a whole lot better. Saying that you won a battle vs a brave enemy who was fighting really hard etc. sounds a whole lot better then winning battle vs an enemy who runs away when you come close to them.<br>
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A lot of these stories where also invented in the 19th century to picture the idea of the "noble savage", i.o.w. to glorify one´s past. Again, you would have had some people who were more zealous then others. But this doesn´t mean that the entire army (be it Romans or Germans/ Celts/ Parthians etc.) were "Death-or-Glory" guys. <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showUserPublicProfile?gid=pelgr003>pelgr003</A> at: 8/5/03 10:19 am<br></i>
I agree that the germanic physical superiority has been exagerated by many for many reasons ranging from Hitler-like propaganda to build feelings of racial superiority, to Roman-like propaganda that admires the enemy to better underline the ability in defeating them.<br>
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But there might be a seed of truth deep down below all this propaganda crap.<br>
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But I think that only those in a successful war band might have been exceptional good fighters and in good health. Outdoor living is healthy but only when nature is generous! This might have been true many times but most often it wasn't. Un-predictable famines and consequential diseases due to long or exceptional winters could easily make things very unhealthy: why else would the "barbarians" have been so frequently on the move. They risked starving or were being pushed aside by others that started moving far away for similar reasons.<br>
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The very existence of war-bands where young and able men were encouraged to leave home for adventure evolved because HOME could not sustain them. I believe there is some truth to some war-band individuals being remarkable fellows, but I would also not be certain the average germanic was Conan-like. And obviously not all war-bands were successful. And maybe they really weren't all that battle effective. The moment a leader lost face the younger followers, always encouraged to make a career for themselves by the very life style they lived, could easily leave him on the spot. The leader led simply because he was charismatic and capable to make his warriors live better off with successful rampages. Else he was no leader. I suspect the honor code rhethoric that many ascribe to the warrior myths arose much later and for obvious reaons: to re-program restless young warriors, that would rather run off, into reliable proto-soldiers that stick to long-term commitments in self-sacrifice such as to defend a permanent King or long term politician. Just guessing.<br>
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The roman army was professional: the individual signed up for a considerable length of his lifetime and corps-spirit was paramount, else how do get perfect strangers to stick their necks out for one-another. The length of service and the expected interchanability of the legionaries made their physical health (nutrition, hygene, pyscology) extremely important. The logistics and organization of the army had to ensure the optimal conditions.<br>
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Keeping these boundary condtions in mind I can easily conclude that on average the roman soldier was in better shape than his germanic counterpart. Of course there were fluctuations (exceptional warriors, lazy romans). I think the roman soldier was more dangerous and had a greater staying power. He was more battle effective and would come out on top also in a one-on-one duel. On average!<br>
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"The average american family eats 2.5 chickens a week".<br>
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p.s. Studying burial grounds is interesting and indeed one finds nice skeltons. But then is a warrior skelton really representative of the general health of the germanic warrior? I am only pretending to be humorous.<br>
It really is an issue of bias! How do I know the finds in a tomb represent the vast population of warriors and not just some small class that could afford/deserve a burial? Their success as individuals would then explain the quality of their bones (better health).<br>
<p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showUserPublicProfile?gid=goffredo>goffredo</A> at: 8/5/03 1:35 pm<br></i>
I think the Aggression vs Training in this context is probably a bit misleading. I too have a martial arts background as well as 25 years experience in the Army all in infantry and SF. (In fact I am retiring in seven days wohooo!) So I too have some little understanding of what happens when men get together to do harm to each other. But lets try some differnt tacts. There's a belief that:<br>
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1. The Legionary is afraid of dying because he doesn't believe in afterlife. Ok let me say right off the bat that I don't know very much about Roman "pagan" religeon. However I know that great effort was put into religeous rituals as well as unit-based rituals (like annoiting the symbols of the century/legion with religeous "validity".) It sounds like the average legionary was pretty religeous With so many cultures to draw from there were most likely a number of religeons practiced. But we need an expert to chime in here.<br>
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Most likely your typical Miles would have believed in an afterlife also. Even if it's not tied to having to have a glorious death in battle. However he certainly would have believed that his actions also reflect in the future history and past history of his century/legion. (Think of British regimental system here)<br>
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2. The Barbairan has got this aggressive bloodlust and he's chasing after a Legionary who seperated from his comrades (or maybe he's on a patrol somehwere? is now cowering in fear over this 1v1 encounter.) I believe that legionaries were more than capable of generating aggression necessary to fight in any circumstances (though raw recruits and some outliers would always exist in any unit that would be unable to master their fear or work up a good bloddlust) Violence and aggression are the bread and butter of proffessional soldiers. They would be no strnagers to it's use and mastery. We have no accounts of how the Centuries of Legions worked this angle other than accounts of stirring speeches and pre-battle religeous ceremonies.<br>
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I believe the stuff down at Centuries or lower in this regard are lost to history but we do know that the unit placed great emphasis on it's history it's porwess and all the other hallmarks of the legion. Processes that are carried down in professional armies even today. I believe that a legionary would have been just as aggressive as his compatriots. I also believe that every battle would have eventually degenerated down to many small 1v1 brawls due to shield wall collapse, skirmishing, pursuit phase of just general chaos.<br>
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Even medium expereinced legionaries would have been well trained in individual combat, they would have had past experience in individual fighting for real and they would have had a belief in their afterlife or at least the fact htat their actions would live on in the history of their century/legion, and they would have been able to muster the necessary level of agression needed.<br>
Even if their opponet would have been "more" agressive, they would have brought not just their own agression to the fight, but all the other mentioned assetts.<br>
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Of course in any given case, your mileage may vary, as situation always dictates. I just am cautioning against taking an out of hand attitude that once a legionary leaves the comfort of the shieldwall he's somehow a covwering lamb awaiting the slaughter. I'm exageratting a tad but that seems to be a common held belief I've seen in a number of threads both here and in other forums. Cheers!<br>
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Los<br>
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