Full Version: Resources for Roman Swordsmanship?
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Anyone recommend any good primary source material on Roman drill and sword usage? Well footnoted with references Some good posts on tactics with references
Seems to have closed it's doors?
Quote:Anyone recommend any good primary source material on Roman drill and sword usage?
Unfortunately, all over the world living traditions and instructional texts appear just after it stopped being customary to teach boys spear and big shield or sword and big shield as their first armed martial art (European and Chinese martial arts do include some large-shield material, but it is always an afterthought to an art which is based on the sword alone or a sword and small shield; Africa is promising but not much is written about pre-colonial martial arts there). The only evidence I know of that such a thing ever existed is one offhand reference to Pliny the Elder's essay on cavalry throwing, a papyrus from Egypt which describes wrestling techniques, and an extensive early medieval literature on archery in Greek and Arabic which seems to have Roman antecedents. Learning how to fight was probably a purely oral affair in the ancient world.

Vegetius and other sources give us a general idea of how Roman soldiers learned to fight: lots of mock combat against a pell, possibly working up to paired drills and sparring, then mock battles with foiled swords and blunt javelins between whole units. Practice fighting as a group seems to have been much less prominent than many people today expect.

The only serious experiments which I know of are with gladiator fighting, and I have great doubts about those interpretations.
No, still open, GJC.

Hmm. Just checked and there's no place for new prospective members to log on. I'll alert the admins.
I'd start with Polybius 10.20, describing the training regime of Scipio's troops in Spain during the 2nd Punic War.

He himself remaining for some time in New Carthage constantly exercised his navy and instructed the tribunes to train the land forces in the following manner. 2 He ordered the soldiers on the first day to go at the double for thirty stades in their armour. On the second day they were all to polish up, repair, and examine their arms in full view, and the third day to rest and remain idle. 3 On the following day they were to practise, some of them sword-fighting with wooden swords covered with leather and with a button on the point, while others practised casting with javelins also having a button at the point. On the fifth day they were to begin the same course of exercise again.

Not too many details on the actual fencing techniques, but suggests a training program based on one on one duels with blunted swords.