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Thread for further discussion of tactics employing the gladius continued from topic "Vembraces". How was the Gladius employed? Why did the Romans only rarely employ hand and arm protection(Manica)? How did the tactics affect the need for such armor?
During the Dacian ward Manica became popular cause of falxes.. I think that's the correct spelling. They could amputate a head and de-limb legionaries very easily. When the soldier had him sword hand out that is. But I'm sure this has been talked about enough, someone give this guy several thousand links!

Sam
I'm sure that standard use of the gladius was: thrust, stab and back behind the scutum just as fast as possible, much like a boxer throwing a punch. Done properly, the arm is exposed for only a tiny fraction of a second.
In the previous discussion one poster suggested that extending the hand past the scutum was superfluous - in effect that only the blade itself should ever be visible. This was (if I recall correctly) predicated on the legion advancing in formation into "point blank" close quarters with the enemy.

Also a link to the (somewhat derailed) original thread: http://romanarmytalk.com/rat.html?func=v...&id=288937
Before we talk here about the Mechanics and use of Gladius it is important to determine what type of weapon with which blade length.

Christian Miks has in his book the following classifications:

Gladii=> Double edged with a blade length from 350 to 550mm
Semispathea=> Double edged with a blade length from 551 to 600mm
Spathea=> Double edged with a blade lengths longer than 600mm
From these classification Pugios and also single edges knives had blade lengths shorter than 350mm

This topic being about the Gladius is then about the 350 to 550mm blade length range.
Which is a useful close combat length.
The pugio seems like another important question, if the gladius was shortened to be useful in tight spaces why did the Romans need to carry an even shorter weapon?
Quote:The pugio seems like another important question, if the gladius was shortened to be useful in tight spaces why did the Romans need to carry an even shorter weapon?

Hmmm, maybe as a secondary weapon, so that they wouldn't be without weapons, in case they lost the gladius? I'm imagining a scenery where a soldier loses his shield and gladius in a violent hit, falling to the ground and resorting to it to try and defend himself, when being attacked out of formation?

I have a very action based imagination though :mrgreen: Good question, very interesting topic this one, for a newbie like myself.
My impression is that the correct employment of the Gladius is related to the overall tactics of the formation rather than individual combat with the Century/Cohort/Legion striving for close combat where the enemy is pushed back crowded together unable to employ their weapons effectively and literally run over.
I assumed (without any factual basis) that the pugio was more of a flashy tool / eating utensil / badge of office which a soldier could carry freely in areas where swords might not be welcome - i.e. when visiting the local taverna off-duty.

But that sounds like a discussion which might belong to another thread.
The "Vambrace" thread made it sound like the hand was never exposed beyond the scutum (talk about close quarter combat if you are stabbing a barbarian who is within 2 feet of you), however this may be a figment of my imagination, but wasn't it established that a Roman tactic was to block a hit with the scutum, and them almost simultaneously (assuming that the barbarian had some sort of armor, would be the best cause for this), bring your sword around and strike your attacker from behind the calf/hamstring, and then deliver the killing blow once the man was down?

As I believe Matt L (Magnus) mentioned in the 'Vambrace' thread that at Lafe, if the barbarians are smart they stay outside of reach of the gladii, and use skirmishers with pikes to jab at the legionaries. This is where I see a problem with the "hands behind the shield only" solution.

I have no actual reenacting/warfare experience (beyond walking around the house in my armor, and practicing my gladii thrusting in the mirror lol), I have never been to Lafe, so if I misinterpreted the previous paragraph, I apologize
For those of you who train with rectangular scuta, how far out from your body is it comfortable to hold them? European martial arts from 1300 to 1600 prefer to keep the forward edge of the shield in front of the sword hand to protect it, but I don't know how well that would work with the odd shape and grip of the rectangular scutum and the very compact starting position which Roman art shows.

The description in Vegetius of soldiers dancing around a pell is interesting here, as is all the sources that indicate that gladiators could teach a useful military skill. A lot of modern visions of Roman combat seems a bit too uniform to me, with packed files thrusting in unision like early modern musketeers.
I think it likely that training included individual combat for the occasions when that became necessary (thinking of the standard bearer defending the standard, the Centurion in the Temple etc) but that the ideal was the formation grinding over the enemy. We do have records of Legionaries receiving training in other areas Bow. Sling, rock throwing,riding for when those skills were needed.
Blocking a weapon with a shield, can be done but is hard work and can be very tiresome.
Especially when the shield weighs more than 3 Kilograms.
An average Gladius could weigh about 900grams or more.
Blade weights of 600grams of surviving Gladii are recorded.

A Pugio or knife could be an off duty weapon.

From my personal experience you have to be very close, within blade length, to hit your opponent.
The hit being either a cut,slash or stab to whatever target the opponent presents like the abdomen or his throat/face.
Even a Scutum can hinder your movement by its weight and size.
A effective move is to knock your opponent down with the upper rim of the shield under his chin and than take him out with the Gladius.
But this is in a one on one situation.
In a close/tight formation you simple don't have the room to move like a Gladiator in a Arena.
It is documented that Gladiators (swordfighters) have trained Legionairs and even in some occasions have joined the Legions ranks.
Quote:My impression is that the correct employment of the Gladius is related to the overall tactics of the formation rather than individual combat with the Century/Cohort/Legion striving for close combat where the enemy is pushed back crowded together unable to employ their weapons effectively and literally run over.

I agree with you. This text seems to go in the line you mention. It is situated at Zama (202 BC).

"Consequently by the first attack the Romans at once dislodged the enemy's line. Then beating them back with their shoulders and the bosses of their shields, being now in close contact with men forced from their position, they made considerable progress, as no one offered any resistance, while as soon as they saw that the enemy's line had given way, even the rear line pressed upon the first, a circumstance which of itself gave them great force in repulsing the enemy".

igitur primo impetu extemplo mouere loco hostium aciem Romani. ala deinde et umbonibus pulsantes in summotos gradu inlato aliquantum spatii uelut nullo resistente incessere, urgentibus et nouissimis primos ut semel motam aciem sensere, quod ipsum uim magnam ad pellendum hostem addebat (Livy, XXX, 34, 3-4).


David S.
Thank You!

It's from Livy Book XXX.

http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/livy/liv.30.shtml
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