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Full Version: \'darts\' and \'corn\' in ancient Roman manuscripts
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Reading various ancient Roman manuscripts translated into English from the Republican era (what is available on Loeb or current translations). The ancient writers refer to legions attacked by 'darts' by their enemies. and 'corn' for food
Corn to my understanding was first raised in the New World (Central America) and wasn't native to that time period in Europe.
And being attacked by 'darts'? I thought 'darts' plumbata were from a later time period in the Roman history.

Quote from The African War

Meanwhile, both the main bodies advancing to
engage, the enemy's cavalry, intermixed with
some light-armed Numidians, suddenly sprang
forward, from their crowded troops, and
attacked the legions with a shower of darts
.

The Latin word for dart in the passage translated (via GOOGLE) is iacula

Acies interim mediae cum
concurrere conarentur, subito ex condensis
turmis pedites Numidae levis armaturae cum
equitibus procurrunt et inter legionarios pedites
iacula coniciunt.

Are these small spears? I know in some other account - Gaul and Civil War- Caesars writes about darts being used by his men and on his men.

With regards to corn-quote also from The African War

Here he (Caesar) deposited the baggage of the army; and
marching out with a light body of troops to
forage, ordered the inhabitants to follow with
their horses and carriages. Having by this
means got together a great quantity of corn, he
came back to Ruspina.

LATIN
sarcinis exercitus relictis ipse cum expedita
manu proficiscitur circum villas frumentatum
oppidanisque imperat ut plostra iumentaque
omnia sequantur. Itaque magno numero
frumenti invento

By 'corn' (frumenti ) do they mean grain or forage?
I can answer the one about corn -- it's the generic English word for grain, and is cognate to it (grain being a French borrowing). It only specifically refers to maize in American English. So if you're seeing it in reference to ancient Roman grain, your translation was likely made by a Briton or some other English-speaker, or perhaps by an American in earlier times when the word was still more generic here.
Thank you for your prompt reply. :-)
A iaculum is a pretty generic terms for a light throwing spear, although more specific than telum which can be a range of missile weapons. Plumbata is late Roman usage.

frumentum is generic term for grain in general (usually in a harvested state), although in the Roman military context this would mean mostly wheat for troops and barley for animals. In this British-style translation, it would not refer to what the English call "maize" and Americans call "corn." Forage, in obtaining grass, hay or feed for animals, is referred to as pabulum.