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Hi guys,

I understand that prior to the reforms there were the 3 battle lines of the Legions: Hastati, Principles and Trarii who all provided their own equipment and came from differing social backgrounds. After the reforms there became a standing army open up to more areas of society.

My first question is how big a change in terms of size of the army did this include and secondly was there much of a change in terms of auxiliaries, their recruitment and use etc.
Standing army was not one of Marius' reforms. Marius commanded four separate armies during his lifetime, none were long standing.

The army he assumed command of for the Jugurthan War in 107 BC was initially raised in 111 BC by the Consul L. Calpurnius Bestia, then was commanded by the Consul Sp. Postumius Albinus, then the Consul/Pro-Consul Q. Caecilius Metellus, them Marius usurped Metellus' pro-consular command and he took the army and added to it a sizeable supplementum, which included Capite Censi (Head Count, propertyless citizens). At the conclusion of this war in 105 BC and after his Triumph, the army was discharged and the veterans of it received land grants in 103 BC by the tribune L. Appuleius Saturninus, who was allied with Marius for some years.

During the Cimbri Wars Marius took command of the Consular army raised by P. Rutilius Rufus in 105 BC, as it was considered more highly disciplined than the army used by Marius in Africa, which had been known for having quite a few discipline problems over the years and its many commanders. After the defeat of the Cimbri and Teutones tribal confederation in 101 BC this army was discharged, it too had Agrarian laws passed by Saturninus which awarded land to the veterans, though these laws might not have been followed following the Saturninus Affair in 100 BC.

Marius remained outside of any elected magistrate positions from that point forward. During the Social War he served as a Legate and then for a short time as a pro-Consul, assuming command of the army of P. Rutilius Lupus after he was killed in battle. Marius then fell ill and the army switched to the command of Gn. Pompeius Strabo, I believe.

During the Civil Wars, after Marius was expelled from Rome and declared outlaw, he took to Africa where a number of his previous veterans were living, his clients (as he had pushed to get them their land grants). Them and other Roman citizen loyalists/clients followed Marius to Rome and formed into legions when he and Cinna took Rome following Sulla's departure for the East to fight Mithridates. Following Marius' death these armies likely passed to Cinna, Q. Sertorius, Gn. Papirius Carbo, or Marius the Younger.

The Roman army as a whole did not become long standing until after about the time period of Caesar's Civil War and thereafter. By Caesar's time in Gaul, it had become typical to raise a legion from scratch for 10-16 years before discharging it, usually necessitating heavy bonuses after the 10 year mark. By the close of the Civil War period with Augustus' victories each of the remaining legions that Augustus had either raised or inherited from M. Antonius were either discharged or turned into standing legions, no longer being disbanded and permanently stationed in some garrison on the borders of the empire.

During his many years commanding various Roman armies Marius continued using the standard Socii attachments of Latins and Italian infantry and cavalry, as well as auxilliaries, no different as any other during the period. This was the case during the Jugurthine War and the Cimbri War, there are numerous mentions of various Italian elements within his army, as well as foederati, such as Thracians, Ligurians, Gauls, Numidians, etc.

The breaking down of the infantry classes, the abolishment of the traditional age and equipment classes of the Velites, Hastati, Principes, and Triari, likely happened during the latter stages of the 2nd Century BC, and were not directly attributed to Marius. Between G. Gracchus' military reforms and others, there was a general lowering of financial standards to qualify as assidui, propertied citizens liable for military service, added to this were partial subsidizing of at least some clothing, if not actual arms and armor. During the recruitment woes of the latter 2nd Century BC, stemming from the horribly unpopular Spanish wars against the Celtibernians and Lusitanians, as well as the repeated losses of numerous entire armies during the last two decades of the 2nd Cent. against the Cimbri, the Spanish, the Illyrians/Thracians, and others, there was likely a need to open up the ranks and standardize equipment even more than previous, as there was no way to guarantee age brackets during recruitment drives, it was hard enough just filling legions (enough so that they needed laws forbidding Roman citizens from leaving Italy itself without permission, done as a way of avoiding service).

Personally I think the last of the age barriers were broken long before Marius took command of his first army in Africa. By the time Metellus assumed command in 109 BC he had already needed to bring a sizeable supplementum draft of replacements to make up for losses suffered at the humiliating defeat at Suthul, as well as needing to reequip the entirety of the survivors (who'd been forced to strip off arms and walk "Under the Yoke" as Jugurtha's punishment). That reorganization of the army would be replicated again by Marius two years later in 107 BC when he would take command and add in over 5,000 citizen soldiers (not including Socii replacements, infantry and cavalry). To put that in perspective, the total Roman citizens serving in a consular army was of ~10,000, so Marius had needed to replace over half of them, and that group were the survivors of an army that had already been heavily replaced once already. Added to the need to break down old classes was that the unknown number of Capite Censi who would have been needed to be equipped fully by the state and were trained as normal infantry of the line, instead of serving as skirmishers, which had been the case in the past when it came to poor soldiers being recruited. Thus, for recruitment and organization purposes, it would have been much easier to fill up citizen bodies of infantry cohorts and have them organized and armed near identically from one another, instead of trying to maintain old fashioned infantry organizational classes that were no longer suited to the attrition style of warfare that was epidemic in the later 2nd Cent. BC, as well as issues with recruitment and replacement. And that doesn't even take into consideration the tactical benefits...

Overall, most of the reforms attributed to Marius are done falsely.
"I understand that prior to the reforms there were the 3 battle lines of the Legions: Hastati, Principles and Trarii who all provided their own equipment and came from differing social backgrounds. After the reforms there became a standing army open up to more areas of society."


Actually, not entirely true.. early Republican Legion was formed from Middle class Citizen who passed the census. so technically, there were no huge differences between them. (there is no mention in Polybius texts about better armor being used by Triarii.. he mentions better equipment being used by those with more wealth.. yet that means even hastatus from higher middle class could have better equipment than Triarius from lower middle class) Of course, there were higher middle class citizens and lower middle class citizens in the Legion, yet, lower class were not allowed into legions at all, and they could only serve with navy as rowers...

Also, organization into Hastati, Principes and Triarii was not done based on wealth, but based on age and physical strength and endurance. Hastati were the youngest, and Triarii the oldest, therefore kept in reserve as they were not entirely reliable with their physical capabilities and stamina... yet, due to their long term experience, they might be useful in defense, but it was the Principes - the prime men - who were actually the creme de la creme of Roman Republican Legion, men who saw combat previously, but yet not too old so they couldn't handle the prolonged combat...
The Roman Republican legion makeup was not just middle class, it was all propertied males of the iunores age bracket. The most powerful, of the Senatorial class and Equestrian order, they served as the officers commanding the legions and armies. The rich served in the cavalry as equestrians of the public or private types, the rest of the centuries of the Class I-V served as line infantry, as Hastati, Principes, and Triari, and the youngest and poorest served as Velite, skirmishers.

This description comes from Polybius and covers the period of 140 BC, the next detailed highly detailed and contemporary description of the Roman legions of the Late Republic comes from Sallust for the Jugurthine and Cataline Wars, which is similar, albeit there is no more direct references to the Velites or Roman citizen skirmishers. By the time of Caesar's Commentaries there is almost no reference to Roman citizen cavalry either, aside from some raised by Pompeius Magnus during the Civil War (Caesar had none in Gaul or during the Civil War). However, Caesar did possess lightly armored Roman citizen infantry, antesignani, however its unclear whether they fought as line infantry or as skirmishers, it doesn't appear to be, as they are said to have still fought as normal line infantry, they just marched faster.

There are of course many other sources that covers this period that I didn't mention that give great detail, however, many of them are either unclear or they are writing hundreds of years later and often using anachronistic language. Livy is one, Plutarch, and there are many others.
(08-02-2016, 08:39 PM)Bryan Wrote: [ -> ]The Roman Republican legion makeup was not just middle class, it was all propertied males of the iunores age bracket. The most powerful, of the Senatorial class and Equestrian order, they served as the officers commanding the legions and armies. The rich served in the cavalry as equestrians of the public or private types, the rest of the centuries of the Class I-V served as line infantry, as Hastati, Principes, and Triari, and the youngest and poorest served as Velite, skirmishers.

This description comes from Polybius and covers the period of 140 BC, the next detailed highly detailed and contemporary description of the Roman legions of the Late Republic comes from Sallust for the Jugurthine and Cataline Wars, which is similar, albeit there is no more direct references to the Velites or Roman citizen skirmishers. By the time of Caesar's Commentaries there is almost no reference to Roman citizen cavalry either, aside from some raised by Pompeius Magnus during the Civil War (Caesar had none in Gaul or during the Civil War). However, Caesar did possess lightly armored Roman citizen infantry, antesignani, however its unclear whether they fought as line infantry or as skirmishers, it doesn't appear to be, as they are said to have still fought as normal line infantry, they just marched faster.

There are of course many other sources that covers this period that I didn't mention that give great detail, however, many of them are either unclear or they are writing hundreds of years later and often using anachronistic language. Livy is one, Plutarch, and there are many others.

Actually, Velites were just young guys, that couldnt be used as front rank infantry therefore were used as light skirmishers.. they were from the same Middle Class citizens as other citizens that were allowed to join. It would actually make no sense let say force 44-45 old man run around the field with javelins at position which required speed and agility... eventually, when they got older, they were allowed to join Hastati.

 Lowest and poorest - Proletarii were not allowed to join Legions at all. Not until some crisis, like for example during second Punic war after Cannae, when anybody willing to serve was accepted.

Regarding Equestrian class, those were not being selected same way as Infantry. each year 1200 of those eligible "knights" were divided for 4 Legions, and only then actual selection from those who came began for the infantry. But Infantry was only formed from Middle class Citizens. not from the poorest.
"The tribunes in Rome, after administering the oath, fix for each legion a day and place at which the men are to present themselves without arms and then dismiss them. 7 When they come to the rendezvous, they choose the youngest and poorest to form the velites; the next to them are made hastati; those in the prime of life principes; and the oldest of all triarii, 8 these being the names among the Romans of the four classes in each legion distinct in age and equipment. 9 They divide them so that the senior men known as triarii number six hundred, the principes twelve hundred, the hastati twelve hundred, the rest, consisting of the youngest, being velites. If the legion consists of more than four thousand men, they divide accordingly, except as regards the triarii, the number of whom is always the same." Polybius, Hist, 6:21

Class I-V were all assidui, propertied citizens of the iunores age bracket (generally 17-46) who owed 10-16 years of military service (maximum). Senators and the Equestrian Order made up the top 18 centuries of Class I, until the Senators themselves created their own class in the early 2nd Cent. BC, they served as the officer class within the army and legions and as the cavalry; the rest of the centuries I-V served in one of the four classes of infantry, either in the line infantry (hastati, prinicpes, triari, based on age), or as skirmishers, velites, which was based on wealth, and with wealth in terms of the velite/accensi (as described by Livy). In addition, members of class V (and the Proletariat) also served as rowers and marines when fleets were raised for specific conflicts, as well as service as aeneator, which was separate from military service, themselves being their own specializing branch/guild

Proletariat/Capite Censi were not in the above classes, hence why they were called Head Count. Prior to Marius totally disregarding the already lowered property limits on service, only a few times, as stated previously, during emergencies such as the worst years of the 2nd Punic War, were the Proletariat ever given the chance to serve in the legions. Marius passed no law to change this, as there was no real law stating it, there were no Lex Marii passed at all (he never actually passed a single law himself). He simply chose not to follow the Mos Maiorum and allowed whomever to enlist, without wealth stipulation, largely because the Senate refused him the right to raise a proper army or even hold a proper Supplementum, as vengeance no doubt for him using the People's Assembly to steal Metellus' Pro-Consulship. Afterwards, the practice continued with other Consuls and Praetors who levied Roman legions, they too decided when they wanted whether or not they wanted to follow the previous property limits, after a while the practice stopped altogether, though the army was still filled with propertied soldiers. 

The number of Equestrians serving with each legion is highly questionable, 300 is commonly stated, but the sources fluctuate between 100 and 300. There was no requirement that cavalry first serve as infantry, there are numerous sources that describe very young Romans, later Senators, who were in their late teens serving as cavalrymen. According to Polybius, cavalrymen owed a maximum of 10 years total service obligation, infantry owed 16 total.
thats all nice, but there is not a single mention that Triarii were only from higher class, or Velites from the lowest.. on contrary, it says exactly what I wrote - Triarii were seniors, Velites juniors from the whole eligible group. and as such, there is no indication that those Velites would be poor, just because they are teenagers.. plenty of them were from well suited families, that sent their sons to war, yet, because they were still teenagers, they were not supposed to be in the front line when main fighting starts.

"They divide them so that the senior men known as triarii number six hundred, the principes twelve hundred, the hastati twelve hundred, the rest, consisting of the youngest, being velites." - as you can see, no mention of wealth here... just age

Roman society was not oriented towards age. Just because somebody is 40 years old, it doesn't automatically give him more wealth, than another who has just let say 25 years.. I repeat, there were well suited middle class Hastati using best armor they could afford, and there were low-middle class Triarii with no armor at all, just the helmet and shield..
You ignored the Polybius quote about the velites, why? Let me post it again:
"...they choose the youngest and poorest to form the velites..."

Velites were youngest and poorest. Not youngest or poorest.

Be careful when referring to Romans under the age of 47 as junior and seniors, those words, in Latin, already have a fixed definition on this subject, 17-46 were junior, older men were senior, exempt from military service and able to vote in their centuries before the iuniores.

In addition, I think it's much more likely that someone capable of serving in the Triari would have more money for fighting kit than someone in their late teens, early twenties. Namely that the younger soldier would likely not be financially independent, while the man in his late thirties or forties likely doesn't have a living father and is paterfamilia of his own family. Also, they have fifteen to twenty years head start earning/saving money from commerce or accumulating cheaply gained arms or armor while campaigning. Whereas Mr. Tyro Hastati is likely going to be wearing hand me down kit. 

Lastly, Republican Rome didn't have a middle class, that's a term coined in 1745 to poorly describe the merchant class of medieval and Renaissance era Europe. Also, hastati wouldn't be middle aged as you wrote, that would be mix between Principes ("prime of their life") and the younger of the Triari, assuming life expectancy is 65-70ish (discounting childhood mortality skewing the stats). That is if the age distinctions followed Polybius' rather strict guidelines, which were surely looser in practice.
why would he? Well suited families would not send their sons into war underequipped... we are talking about Middle class citizens, not Proletarii.. It doesnt matter when that term started to be used. Read his sentences again. There is no mention of Triarii being better equipped than Hastati, or Principes.

and yes, i have ignored the first sentence, because its complemented by the second where wealth is not mentioned at all, only age.

and regarding age, Velites were supposed to be 15-17 years old, Hastati 18-24, Principes 25-35, while Triarii 35-45. Lets not forget that all Middle class citizens (or citizens under census if you will - land owners, small business owners and their families) were supposed to serve 15 (or was it 20?) years in the legions, but that again doesnt mean, they were in the legion every single season, or that they served for 15 years at once... Of course Census limit was lowered multiple times, or ignored during crisis like situation after Cannae.. but poor proletarii were not normally summoned to join the legions, only those with particular wealth could..

You are making mistake assuming that some family would kick out their adult sons, but that was not the case. One example from Ukraine - when war started, and soldiers were sent to Donbass, Government had no money for soldiers ballistic protection, or even boots... practically all families who's sons were supposed to go there, spent all their money to buy whatever armor they could, so their sons had a chance to survive... better suited families bought the best protection they could..

I would expect same thing from Romans.. Usually, farms are family business.. sons work there together with father.. assumption that if somebody is supposed to go as Hastatus, he would be ill equipped is flawed.
technically speaking, with the fact that Census was lowered several times over time, it is quite safe to assume that actual Milites serving in Legions were becoming less and less well equipped over time.. If I remember right, at first it was at least 11000 asses to be eligible for service in legion, but then it lowered multiple times down, so eventually requirement was around 3000.. correct me if Im wrong, but price for Lorica Hamata or price of Bronze muscular cuirass at that time was something around 200 denarii (around 2000 asses).. pectorale would be much much cheaper.

Citizens with wealth greater than 400.000 sestertii(1 million asses) were allowed into Equites, so in Infantry service, we had citizens who's wealth was between 1 000.000 and 11000 asses..

So even the poorest of men who were allowed into legion, had wealth 5x more than a price of a Mail shirt, while there were young sons from well suited middle class families (with wealth well between those two numbers) who would have no problem to afford good armor for their family members...
One note about property for the census, it was not liquid wealth, as in cash. The census took in consideration the family's total assets and gave a number value to it (not individual, as sons were only independent upon marriage or death of paterfamilia/inheritance, by law of the 12 tables they had no property of their own until they were on their own). If someone had 4,000 asses to qualify for Class V (Polybius), or 1,100 asses (Cicero), that doesn't mean they had that much to spend on fighting kit. That was their total net worth, the sum of all property they possessed. Much of their wealth of course would be tied up in land, houses, day to day living expenses. In addition, being an agrarian society, Rome was a debtor society, as are most farming societies across the world since the dawn of time, so they likely would have been land rich, cash poor, one or two bad harvests away from being completely broke and losing their land as collateral to a debt.  

History and Evolution of the Term Middle Class

Where are you getting the cost for armor? I'd like to see the source for that, very interesting.
sorry, got busy so couldnt respond sooner -regarding price of armor, got it from several sources, mostly through secondary sources when working on some mods two years ago, if I manage to find those files i will share them here.

Regarding wealth, of course it was not in cash, and i know they didnt had to spend all money on their equipment (btw, it was 11.000 asses, not 1.100).. my premise is based more on the fact that people go to war, and wanna survive, therefore they would get the best equipment they could get, as they would not want to risk their lives unnecessarily. Also , even poor family would try to get armor for their son who is going into war to give him chance to survive. Plus, not all citizens enlisted every year, so even if one family had just one full panoply, it would be most likely used by the one who enlisted, no matter what age is he - again - even if he is 18 years old, they would want to give him chance to come back.. nobody would send his child to certain death.. (and another thing is, there were other forms of armor, not everything was as costly as Hamata.. Bronze Italic breastplates with side plates would be much cheaper than Musculata breastplate, and was much easier to fit to multiple people than Musculata which was most likely made for specific person)

But of course, it all depends on which era are we looking at... Census requirements were lowered few times, so citizens in 280BC could be better equipped than those who enlisted after Cannae when everybody was accepted..
The Servian Laws had Class V requirements at 11,000 asses. They were lowered over time as Rome suffered from manpower issues and recruitment, especially during the crisis of the 2nd cent. BC. Polybius reports that only 4,000 asses were needed to qualify for Class V, that was during the 140 BC period, and Cicero reports 1,100-1,500 asses (depending on translation), citing the times before he writes. In emergencies, like after Cannae, census requirements weren't lowered, they were ignored, which is how not only Proletariat were able to join, but also legions of slaves promised their freedom.

I'm of the mindset that most body armor, that is which covers the torso, is more a luxury than a requirement to survive ancient warfare. The Roman method of fighting meant that the primary means of defense was the shield and the helmet. The pectorale/cardiophylax was small enough that it actually covered little of the torso, barely covering the vitals (heart, lung, liver), and yet it was a primary type of infantry armor for hundreds of years, well into the Late Republic, I'd say probably into the time period of Caesar's wars. Which says to me that torso armor was more of a psychological benefit than of actual usefulness; it allowed the wearer to feel like he was invulnerable, which might make them fight harder, with less fear to protect oneself and fight defensively. Many Greek hoplites of the Peloponnesian War, the thureophoroi, many of the Gallic tribal warriors, later Germans and Dacians and Britains, and many others, they came to battle to fight as line infantry and wore nothing on their torsos, besides maybe a tunic, and yet they were all known to be rather effective at times. Shield and helmet is all someone really needs, the rest is luxury.
Brian, i wouldnt call it luxury.. in those times even small cut could get you killed eventually.. any bacteria infection was fatal.. so having some form of armor was not luxury but necessity.

I'm not really a fan of theory that Pectorale were main armor of Roman army until Caesar times... just because Polybius mentioned it once, it doesnt make it wide spread armor.. plus, they are actually not that common to find.. If I recall correctly there are like 20 pieces in private or museum collections, but large majority of those are not even simple cardiophylax plates, but ornamented breastplates even with side plate protection...

And regarding Greeks, not sure where you got that info, but i can cite multiple sources mentioning punishments for Hoplite that went to battle without armor... Yes, they did it sometimes, but more like a boast to enemy than necessity due to not be able to afford a protection... and commanders actually punished such foolishness...
(08-05-2016, 06:17 PM)JaM Wrote: [ -> ]Brian, i wouldnt call it luxury.. in those times even small cut could get you killed eventually.. any bacteria infection was fatal.. so having some form of armor was not luxury but necessity.

I'm not really a fan of theory that Pectorale were main armor of Roman army until Caesar times... just because Polybius mentioned it once, it doesnt make it wide spread armor.. plus, they are actually not that common to find.. If I recall correctly there are like 20 pieces in private or museum collections, but large majority of those are not even simple cardiophylax plates, but ornamented breastplates even with side plate protection...  

And regarding Greeks, not sure where you got that info, but i can cite multiple sources mentioning punishments for Hoplite that went to battle without armor... Yes, they did it sometimes, but more like a boast to enemy than necessity due to not be able to afford a protection... and commanders actually punished such foolishness...

Armor is always a luxury, most warriors in the ancient period wore none, most warriors in the history of warfare in general wore none. In the ancient Mediterranean area for infantry it meant they had a shield for protection and that was usually it. Romans had it better, their empire was more organized and prosperous, leading to a ranker Roman infantryman often being equipped better than a well to do tribal chieftains, but that doesn't mean everyone back then was as well kitted out, or that it wasn't a luxury.

Based on the Roman fighting stance (demonstrated by numerous surviving archaeological images), the only portions of the body not covered by the scutum of an infantryman was the head (covered by helmet and cheek guards), the legs (often protected with a single greave on leading leg, per Polybius and Livy), and the sword arm during a blow (trained not to expose the arm, manica added during the second century AD). Sure, small cuts can kill without antibiotics but while the ancients didn't know about Germ Theory they knew the healing properties of certain materials, honey, garlic, etc., and basic first aid. Besides which, the pectorale, which we know was used, did not cover the major of the torso, nor the vitals themselves. Besides a direct straight thrust to the heart, a blow avoided in close combat due to the natural protection of the ribs, the pectorale didn't adequately protect the lungs, the liver, and the abdomen, all mortal wounds during that period. Which means that the Romans either didn't care if they suffered wounds to such exposed areas because they were too manly and brave, or it meant that they didn't have a high likelihood of being wounded in those areas because it wasn't likely, because scutums are big and sturdy.

Polybius mentions the pectorales, so I don't know how you'd discount him while at the same time using him as a source for the triari being well armored. Besides him, there are many archaeological finds of that type of fighting kit, to include numerous from the dig at Numantia (130 BC time frame). I believe that the pectorales with side plates are nearly all Samnite or Italian cultural origin, not Roman/Latin. Starting in the Late Republic the property requirements for military service as line infantry were slashed and then ignored. Meanwhile we know that the state began at least partially subsidizing the issuing of equipment. I find it hard to believe that all of them received one of the most expensive types of armor, mail, or another type of expensive armor, musculata, or even cloth armor (no evidence of), when for hundreds of years a perfectly suitable type of body armor existed, pectorales, which was cheap to make, easy to maintain, though with limited coverage accepted by the wearers, being suddenly dropped from being issued at the time it would have made the most sense to retain its use. At the late 2nd century BC, we have numerous legions being raised from scratch year after year, we have entire armies needing to be reequipped in the middle of a war, we have dozens of legions needing to be raised quickly during the Social War, and then in Caesar's wars we have legions being raised from scratch and being sent into battle within weeks of being raised. I refuse to believe all these men were armed uniformily or with the best equipment initially, especially considering that the custom was that armor like mail was not only expensive but an unnecessary luxury for success on the battlefield. 


Lastly, please site the examples of hoplites being punished for not having armor, I'd like to know when this happened and which city state it referred to. Shields don't count, I'm talking specifically of torso armor. The consensus among historians that I'm aware of state that during the 4th Cent. BC, at the height of the Peloponnesian War, the panoply of the hoplite was simplified to shield, simplified helmet (pilos), sword, spear, tunic. No greaves, no torso armor, no thigh armor. Did some still wear that stuff? Surely. But many didn't, and still prospered in close quarters fighting. There is a whole lot written about this subject in RAT, I recommend you go search through older posts and you can find some awesome threads on the topic, filled with well sourced information from people who are literal subject matter experts in this field.  


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