RomanArmyTalk

Full Version: Wounds in Front
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
The brochure for the upcoming "Ancient Warfare" magazine contains a fascinating article on the political importance of battle scars during the Republic (would that we had such a requirement now). I was struck by the numerous scars on the chest attested in the ancient sources. Since these were upper-class men who could afford the best armor, why so many chest wounds? I speculate that it was because armor, while protective, was not perfect and the occasional point or edge got through, enough to cause a superficial wound. Also, the men running for the highest offices probably did most of their soldiering on horseback and carried small, light shields and generally wore less armor than the foot soldiers. Any other thoughts?

Incidentally, wonderful brochure. Congrats.
Quote:The brochure for the upcoming "Ancient Warfare" magazine contains a fascinating article on the political importance of battle scars during the Republic (would that we had such a requirement now). I was struck by the numerous scars on the chest attested in the ancient sources. Since these were upper-class men who could afford the best armor, why so many chest wounds? I speculate that it was because armor, while protective, was not perfect and the occasional point or edge got through, enough to cause a superficial wound. Also, the men running for the highest offices probably did most of their soldiering on horseback and carried small, light shields and generally wore less armor than the foot soldiers. Any other thoughts?

Incidentally, wonderful brochure. Congrats.
My impression is indeed that the Roman elite mostly started serving as cavalry under the Republic. Republican cavalry were notably better at fighting than scouting/patrolling/ravaging the countryside, and this may have had something to do with the desire of young aristocrats to show their virtus.

This desire to win glory in battle undoubtedly encouraged Roman military aggression- one disadvantage of making courage on the battlefield a requirement for political success.
Possibly, many scars were recieved during a young aristocrats training as well!? The fact that he had stood and fought, rather than turning tail, would be to his credit.
This is a heads-up for those who can receive BBC2 TV.
There's a 'Timewatch' documentary on at 21:00 on Friday
11th May. The subject is a five year long study of hundreds
of gladiator skeletons found at Ephesus in Turkey by
forensic anthropologists. 8)

Ambrosius/Mike

Ross Cowan

John, I am pleased that you found the article so interesting.

The sources are not always specific about chest wounds (despite the examples I give in the article), but more generally to wounds to the front of the body. The implication of these wounds is not necessarily that the men who sustained them were more lightly equipped or that the wounds were superficial, as wounds to the front, often mortal, are also emphasised for Republican centurions. Having one’s armour pierced or helmet shattered, e.g. Scaeva at Dyrrhachium and implied for Manius Aquilius in his fight with Athenion, indicates the strength and ferocity of the enemy, but nonetheless the Roman still overcomes. Of course literary conventions are at play, cf. the usual theme in accounts of single combats of young, small and inexperienced Romans 'unexpectedly' conquering huge enemy champions.

More discussion of the display of scars, how they were exploited in the courts and politics, and considered a form of dona militaria can be found in chapter 3 (Single Combat) of my 'For the Glory of Rome: A History of Warriors and Warfare'.

R.
That sounds facinating Mike! As usual, I will be offshore for the interesting programs.... :roll:

Hello Ross, sorry to be so ignorant, but is your book out now, or an old issue? (also, if I have asked this question before, send me a virtual 'kick up the rear' for being absent minded.......)

There seem to be more people in scotland popping up who are into roman history than I ever imagined...... I have been under the false impression that most scots would rather cling to the belief that Roma never made it past hadrians wall, (and there are many I know who are totally amazed when you tell them about the Antonine wall Confusedhock: :roll: )

Would be nice to know someone so close to pick the brains of......

Ross Cowan

Quote:Hello Ross, sorry to be so ignorant, but is your book out now, or an old issue? (also, if I have asked this question before, send me a virtual 'kick up the rear' for being absent minded.......)

Hi Byron,

'For the Glory of Rome' came out on May the 1st. Some sites still list it as unavailable until May 15th or June 1st, but it is in the shops now. I look forward to the reviews of RAT members. Smile

Re. Roman Scotland, I think there always has been an interest, it's just a case of making more people aware of their country's history. There is a lot of good work being done in primary schools and museums with projects on Celts and Romans etc., but, as far as I know, it's rare for any ancient history to be taught in the high schools. The first full issue of Ancient Warfare concentrates on Agricola and Mons Graupius, so there is hope!

R
Thanks , I will add it to my list! I am awaiting the first issue of Ancient Warfare with anticipation! Also this months edition of skirmish...... my group is in it! Big Grin D oops:
Impact effect of a sharp weapons (like a blunt weapons) can cause lacerations or impact abrasions also when they dont pass the armour, and leave scars on the skin. And other scars, as Robert says, can be caused by piercing or slashing hit who pass the armour but leave only superficial wounds.