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Rome versus Pyrrhus
#31
Quote:According to Plutarch (Pyrrh. 16.7), Pyrrhus highly praised the contruction or Roman military camps. But, accirding to Frontinus (Strat. II. 1. 14), it was Pyrrhus who first began to fortify his camp by rampart. Which of the authors is right?
Ah, the delights of source criticism. Smile I suppose the temptation is to automatically choose Frontinus, because he was "a military man"; and he was in good company, because there was a strong tradition in the ancient world of Pyrrhus as camp-builder. Livy got essentially the same information (from his source, C. Acilius), and it percolated down through Ammianus Marcellinus. All we can say is that Plutarch represents a different tradition (whether he made it up or read it somewhere doesn't much matter). (Is it more important for us to pin down the inventor of the temporary camp, if there ever was such an individual, or to acknowledge that the ancients revered Pyrrhus as a military genius?)
posted by Duncan B Campbell
https://ninth-legion.blogspot.com/
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#32
Quote:David wrote:
Sorry for coming back to this Steven, but I confess I’m not entirely sure what you are saying. I understand that you are challenging Cornell’s notion of state-provided equipment, but are you also challenging Fraccaro’s theory that the centuriate organisation corresponds to the structure of the legion?

Sorry for not answering sooner but I did not realise the posting was now of two pages. Actually I am stating the opposite. Although the numbers add up to 60 centuries, the Servian army is not based on a 60-century structure. Fraccaro has been lured by a mathematical red herring. The maths in the original source has been incorrectly added up with the total of the iuniores and seniores added together. As to Cornell, going by the passage in the posting, the Romans were issuing state armed equipment in the reign of King Tarquin. I think the original postings stated Cornell believed it started with the beginning of pay in 406 BC.
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#33
Quote:D Campbell wrote:
As positive as any of us can ever be in ancient history.

Then what is your explanation to such devices used in siege warfare in Livy’s early books on the republic and Dionysius up to 449 BC?

Quote:D Campbell wrote:
Your original criticism was of scholars who bend the sources to support their own theories. I don't see any of that in the snippets you quoted. Just the usual cut and thrust of debate. Bending evidence is quite a different thing, implying dishonesty: I just wondered if you could actually support such a serious allegation.

It would seem whatever I present is not going to be adequate. Bell’s paper is a strong example of poor academic practice, or selective use of the sources to reinforce an erroneous theory. I have given examples of a variety of poor academic practices. As I come across more I will post them, but no matter what I present I believe it will be futile in your eyes.

Quote:D Campbell wrote:
I might equally ask how you reconcile Caesar's 120-man century with Plutarch's 5000-man legion. They can't both be right. (Or can they?)

Mr Campbell, I do not need to reconcile Caesar and Plutarch as I am not the one claiming a century contained 80 men and a legion numbered 4800 men during the time of Caesar. If I published such a claim then I would give proof to support it. However, proof is the casualty in all of this. It is no longer required. The standard now is to make statements without evidence.

So the question is: how does Ross Cowan reconcile Caesar's 120-man century with his 80-man century and his 4800 man legion with Plutarch's 5000-man legion? Mr Cowan must have his reasons for doing this. I am interested in those reasons, as I imagine he was not given the space by Osprey to include them. Has Plutarch rounded his legion from 4800 men to 5000 men? If so how can it be confirmed Plutarch has rounded his number. If Plutarch has not rounded, who are the missing 200 men? Either way Mr Cowan should be able to answer this question as he specifically informs us a legion numbered 4800 men. In addition, what about Caesar’s 120 man century and Cowan’s 80 man century. Does Caesar have it wrong?

How does Mr Cowan reconcile Festus (453L) that after Marius a legion was 6200 men? Cicero (Letter to Atticus IX 6) writes that Pompey crossed to Greece with 30,000 infantry, while Caesar (BC III 4) claims Pompey crossed with five legions. If so, a Pompeian legion numbers 6000 men.

Also Mr Cowan in his other Osprey “Imperial Roman Legionary AD 161 – 284 BC, Warrior series number 72, page 11 writes “throughout our period the legion composed of 10 cohorts. Cohorts II to X were built around six centuries each containing 80 men, making a cohort 480 men strong. Cohort I had only five centuries but these were double in size, making a complement of 800 legionaries. Uniquely, legio II Parthica had six centuries in its first cohort but it is uncertain if these were of double size. With the additional 120 cavalry the legion numbered 5240 at maximum strength.”

How does Mr Cowan reconcile Hyginus (I 4) remark a century contained 80 men (which implies a legion of 4800 men) with Hyginus’ comment a cohort numbered 600 men, which implies a legion of 6000 men. The problem is a cohort of 600 men is not divisible by centuries numbering 80 men.
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#34
Quote:Then what is your explanation to such devices used in siege warfare in Livy’s early books on the republic and Dionysius up to 449 BC?
I don't have the references to hand, but (from memory) there aren't many, and (again from memory) they're fairly vague. The kind of thing that an Augustan author might've used to embroider an otherwise dull account of a siege. So you think there was artillery at Veii?

Quote:
D B Campbell:33cxusao Wrote:Your original criticism was of scholars who bend the sources to support their own theories. ...
It would seem whatever I present is not going to be adequate.
Not so. I simply wondered if you see a difference between disagreeing with a previous scholar (citing alternative evidence, pointing up poor methodology, etc) and villifying the profession for bending evidence to suit its own agenda.

Quote:Bell’s paper is a strong example of poor academic practice, or selective use of the sources to reinforce an erroneous theory. I have given examples of a variety of poor academic practices. As I come across more I will post them, but no matter what I present I believe it will be futile in your eyes.
Again, not so. This is the kind of material that should go in your thesis. You are disagreeing with a previous scholar by citing alternative evidence and pointing up poor methodology. This is the cut and thrust of academic debate that I mentioned before. This is what is expected of a PhD candidate. It doesn't mean that everybody else is a mendacious charlatan. Only that you have identified new areas for advance.

Quote:
D B Campbell:33cxusao Wrote:I might equally ask how you reconcile Caesar's 120-man century with Plutarch's 5000-man legion. They can't both be right. (Or can they?)
Mr Campbell, I do not need to reconcile Caesar and Plutarch as I am not the one claiming a century contained 80 men and a legion numbered 4800 men during the time of Caesar. ...
As you are studying the Republican army, I wondered if you had a view on why Caesar and Plutarch might come up with different evidence for the size of a legion. (This seems to be fundamental to your thesis.) You stated before that you "trusted" Plutarch. But surely you also "trust" Caesar?

Quote:... If I published such a claim then I would give proof to support it. However, proof is the casualty in all of this. It is no longer required. The standard now is to make statements without evidence.
Hyginus, De mun. castr. 1 states that the century numbered 80 men, as every good Roman scholar knows. Smile
posted by Duncan B Campbell
https://ninth-legion.blogspot.com/
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#35
Quote:D B Campbell wrote:
I don't have the references to hand, but (from memory) there aren't many, and (again from memory) they're fairly vague. The kind of thing that an Augustan author might've used to embroider an otherwise dull account of a siege.

Which means, without conclusive evidence, we cannot pass judgement on an Augustan author, or any ancient author.

Quote:D B Campbell wrote:
So you think there was artillery at Veii?

I have no idea. Artillery is not my field of research. I rely on the expertise of those who are interested in this subject. This means I place a certain amount of trust they have carefully researched their subject matter.

Quote:D B Campbell wrote:
This is the cut and thrust of academic debate that I mentioned before. This is what is expected of a PhD candidate.


Yes I am aware of the cut and thrust of academic debate. However, Mr Campbell, so far the cut and thrust method has not produced a consensus among academics regarding the various legion organisations. Maybe it’s time to introduce new methodologies….like working with the primary sources instead of against them.

My bugbear with some academics is they make claims but offer no proof to support them. If an academic cannot know how a legion is organised for a certain period, then that academic is not in a position to declare an ancient author’s legion numbers as worthless. Taking an example from a previous post of mine on this lists, if I make the statement in my book the hastati are aged from 18 to 27, the principes from 28 to 36, and the triarii from 37 to 45 years of age, then I better be able to prove it. To prove my case I introduce ALL those authors in the primary sources who give the ages of the iuniores and seniores, then I show how I have come to my conclusion. I point out that the ages from 18 to 45, when subtracted equates to 27 years (45 minus 18 = 27). Then when 27 is divided by the three age divisions the answer is 9 (27 divided by 3 = 9). Therefore the age divisions are in increments of 9 years, so 18 years old for the hastati plus 9 =27. The hastati are aged from 18 to 27 years of age. Then I would introduce Livy’s comment during the Second Punic war the age was lowered to 17 years old, which gives the age of the hastati from 17 to 27 years old. I have provided evidence to support my claim, and most importantly I only employ information found in the primary sources. I have no need to discredit any ancient author’s empirical data in order to comply with my analyst.

Quote:D B Campbell wrote:
As you are studying the Republican army, I wondered if you had a view on why Caesar and Plutarch might come up with different evidence for the size of a legion. (This seems to be fundamental to your thesis.) You stated before that you "trusted" Plutarch. But surely you also "trust" Caesar?


I trust both Caesar and Plutarch. I do have a mathematical explanation on why Caesar and Hyginus come up with different views. Same with Appian, Lydus, Festus, Suetonius, Isidore, Josephus and Hyginus. I’m sure I missed some here. My methodology is to use all empirical data within the same period to show the organisation of a legion. The late republican army is easy to fathom. It is the Servian army that provides the most challenges.

Quote:D B Campbell wrote:
Hyginus, De mun. castr. 1 states that the century numbered 80 men, as every good Roman scholar knows.

I am aware of Hyginus states a century numbered 80 men. I am aware Hyginus states a cohort numbered 600 men. So how are they reconciled if Ross Cowan tells us a legion is 4800 men strong made up of 60 centuries of 80 men per century. No ancient author states a legion numbered 4800 men. Not one! The fact of the matter is Ross Cowan cannot reconcile Caesar, Plutarch and Hyginus with Hyginus. In doing so, Ross Cowan has not informed his readers of all the facts that contradict his claim, expressed in a manner of certainty, that a legion for the time of Caesar had 80 man centuries. If an academic publishes such statements, he should be prepared to defend them when challenged. That Mr Campbell is the bottom line of my debate.
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#36
Quote:Which means, without conclusive evidence, we cannot pass judgement on an Augustan author, or any ancient author.
You may say that, "without conclusive evidence, we should not pass judgement on any ancient author", but we would then be so firmly gagged that nobody would ever say anything. Conclusive evidence is hard to come by. I am generally satisifed with likelihoods that can be drawn from an accumulation of evidence. Mea culpa.

Quote:
D B Campbell:nfg1pkm4 Wrote:So you think there was artillery at Veii?
I have no idea. Artillery is not my field of research. I rely on the expertise of those who are interested in this subject.
I only mentioned it as you had originally raised the subject, so I assumed (in error -- I apologise) that you might have had at least an idea.

Incidentally, I think you are being disingenuous when you say that you "rely on the expertise of those who are interested in this subject", given your obvious contempt for fellow academics. Maybe I just picked you up wrong.

Quote:I trust both Caesar and Plutarch. I do have a mathematical explanation on why Caesar and Hyginus come up with different views. Same with Appian, Lydus, Festus, Suetonius, Isidore, Josephus and Hyginus.
That sounds fantastic. I'm sure I speak for everyone on RAT when I say that we cannot wait to see your exposition.
posted by Duncan B Campbell
https://ninth-legion.blogspot.com/
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#37
Sorry about not replying earlier, working plus Ancient Warfare arrived, with the Varus special supplement and the binder. Lovely goodies to read on cold winter nights.

Quote:D B Campbell wrote:
You may say that, "without conclusive evidence, we should not pass judgement on any ancient author", but we would then be so firmly gagged that nobody would ever say anything. Conclusive evidence is hard to come by. I am generally satisifed with likelihoods that can be drawn from an accumulation of evidence.


I disagree heartedly with your premise Mr Campbell. Without stringent standards we fail to progress from a position of comfort or laxity to one of achievement and understanding. The standard we should be working with is the primary sources are correct until categorically proven they are not. With the implementation of this standard, it raises the bar and because of this hopefully more diligence, exploration and new methodologies will be applied to the challenge. However, if the standard is to dismiss textual and empirical data in the primary sources on the basis the ancient author is the culprit (which is a shortfall for the academic not being able to understand the sources), then yes, we continue to have likelihoods but no consensus. So far the traditional methodologies have only created a merry go round. Anyone who has followed the historiography on the Roman army since Lipsus in 1510 will quickly realise this.

I have posted on this forum twice my research and evidence for the ages of the hastati, principes and triarii. So far no one has commented either way. If my premise is wrong, I’m sure Mr Campbell you would have amassed your scorpions and ballistae to give me an artillery barrage greater than that inflicted by the Russians on the Germans during the opening of operation Bagration in 1944. So far you have not. Is there a reason for this?

Quote:D B Campbell wrote:
Incidentally, I think you are being disingenuous when you say that you "rely on the expertise of those who are interested in this subject", given your obvious contempt for fellow academics. Maybe I just picked you up wrong.

Well I do get the distinct impression you like to redefine what I am saying. There are many academics I do admire and respect. However, I have no respect for academics writing on the Roman army who cannot or have not been able to successfully interpret the empirical data in the primary sources, but have the audacity to state an ancient author’s numbers and reliability is worthless. I have stated my position on this numerous times- if you make an claim in print in an authoritative manner then prove it. Without evidence, an academic carries the same weight professionally as the opinion of my Aunty Marge.

Quote:D B Campbell wrote:
That sounds fantastic. I'm sure I speak for everyone on RAT when I say that we cannot wait to see your exposition.

“Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so that we can discover them!” Orville Wright, 7th June 1903.

The mathematics it the primary sources are available to everyone, so it is a level playing field. Although legions numbers differ they are not ad hoc organisation as they strictly follow a system, and this what Livy’s is referring to in 171 BC when he says “in accordance with the long established practice; for Macedonia it was ordered that 6000 infantry should be enrolled.” The key words here is “the long established practice” which means the Romans are returning to an older but established organisation for the legions being sent to Macedonia.
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#38
Quote:I have posted on this forum twice my research and evidence for the ages of the hastati, principes and triarii. So far no one has commented either way. If my premise is wrong, I’m sure Mr Campbell you would have amassed your scorpions and ballistae to give me an artillery barrage greater than that inflicted by the Russians on the Germans during the opening of operation Bagration in 1944. So far you have not. Is there a reason for this?
Only that I have no interest in the ages of hastati, principes and triarii. I'm beginning to realise that we are at cross-purposes. I am looking at the big picture, whereas I suspect you are focussing on specific details relating to a specific period. (I am unaware of the title of your thesis.) So I shall allow the Pyrrhus scholars to step up.

Quote:I have no respect for academics writing on the Roman army who cannot or have not been able to successfully interpret the empirical data in the primary sources, but have the audacity to state an ancient author’s numbers and reliability is worthless.
I think perhaps you over-simplify the research process. There are many reasons why a scholar "cannot, or has not been able to, successfully interpret" an ancient source, and not all of them involve deceit. As you probably realise, everyone brings his/her own experience to the reading of an ancient text, and may notice details that previous readers have missed. (As a simplistic example, this is exactly what happened when I "discovered" handheld mechanical weapons mentioned in Arrian's Techne Taktike. It's not that every previous reader was incompetent, ignorant or deceitful. Just that they didn't realise the implications of what they were reading.)

Similarly, few scholars (in my experience) state their case with "audacity", but rather with neutrality, occasionally even humility. Your experience seems to have been different, which is why I was interested to see examples cited.

Quote:The mathematics it the primary sources are available to everyone, so it is a level playing field.
Only for those who have (a) the interest, (b) the inclination, © the opportunity, (d) the experience, (e) the skills ... Probably not so level after all? :wink:
posted by Duncan B Campbell
https://ninth-legion.blogspot.com/
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#39
Hello to all,

I think one of the major problems is that in any definition of 'empirical data', ancient sources would be very unlikely to make the list. The problems of numbers in ancient sources will never be reconciled even if they can be made to fit a particular theory or if they seem right or whatever.

Attempting to make ancient numbers fit is fascinating (and has dominated the modern history of the Roman Legion) but to expect all numbers to fit that theory or else be explained away is dangerously thin ice. The idea of a mathematically divisible army which does not account for sickness, casualties or any other form of attrition is flawed (and yet such numbers seemingly occur again and again in our sources). For instance, breaking your toe on the march would leave you incapacitated and unable to participate in battle but no source that I know of mentions such an accident and there cannot have been no such mishaps, especailly with several thousand men carrying multiple pointy sharp things close to one another).

Many of the didactic manuals which I have had the pleasure to research divide armies mathematically (and get abused for being armchair texts). And, as with the castrametation texts, not a single 'real' camp has been found to conform with the theory of that text. It is interesting that Maurice stresses that unit sizes should be non-uniform so that an enemy cannot guess your army's size.

More than that, any writer from any later age will apply their understanding to what they write about - it is, like Duncan said, 'the cut and thrust' of academic debate. This has been true of any age. However, in the past (when there were not rigorous rules to apply or when they were not applied rigourously (and this, unfortunately, will continue as long as there are historians) what has been analysed and argued has been at best anachronistic and at worst deliberately misleading.

In the case of all our sources for early Roman history we must be almost as concerned with the time at which the sources wrote and what might colour their perception and thus their presentation of anything we might like to call 'facts' or indeed 'empirical data'.

The discrepancies in numbers in cohorts etc show this immediately. The understanding of our sources, for whatever reason, caused them to represent the strength of the legion etc in a particular way. This may or may not represent the wider reality of the 'real' legion at that or any other time. Unfortunately we cannot, in the majority of cases, read up alternatives and so we cannot put our evidence to a rigorous corroborative test (and even when we can that doesn't help - just look at the sources for Marius - if we were to trust our sources we would give credit for his victories to everyone else just on the weight of the number of sources who take credit away from him)

Just because a source says something does not make it true regardless of whether anyone has read that source before or if they have all misunderstood it or misinterpreted it until you read it in a particular way (It is, lets face it, a wonderful feeling to read a source and understand it for the first time - and is why many of us (I assume) research and publish our understandings. Our ability to convice others of the validity of our arguments is what makes academic publishing so rewarding, because it is so challenging and so difficult. I published an article which was read by 20 different editorial readers and all suggested changes and any one of them could have pulled the plug on that article. If we are not convinced by your arguments the problem does not, necessarily, lie with us.

Even if the numbers fit a theory the source that provides that number should be put through a rigorous testing procedure. I have not, and please forgive me if I have missed it, read a defence of Livy or Dionysius or the other sources, in regard to why they should be trusted as sources for numbers in legions in early Roman history or indeed for whether the state provided arms (which they did at the time the authors wrote). Yes we don't have (many) alternatives but that does not mean that the sources we do have are right.

This is not meant to present a bleak picture akin to 'whats the point' but if you state a case and do not sway your reader with your arguments for that case that does not necessarily make us flawed. History is not a case of the emperor's new clothes.

All we can do is argue a case and try to be as rigorous as possible (and regardless of your efforts someone will always point out your failings) in order to add to the wider understanding of any particular academic field. How a researcher does that, whether polite and deferent or collaborative or obstinate, is up to them. No one can claim infallability whether it be in methodology or interpretation and a disrespect of the scholars of the past (and indeed the present) is, in a discipline such as this, extremely foolish.

Hold to your arguments and interpretations by all means but do not expect to sway anyone with 'I am right you are not' type statements. Keep in mind that all we do is offer interpretations of evidence, we do not deal with incontrovertable truth

Cheers

Murray
Murray K Dahm

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\'\'\'\'No matter how many you kill, you cannot kill your successor\'\'\'\' - Seneca to Nero - Dio 62

\'\'\'\'There is no way of correcting wrongdoing in those who think that the height of virtue consists in the execution of their will\'\'\'\' - Ammianus Marcellinus 27.7.9
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#40
First of all, this is a really, really good thread. Bravo!

Quote:Attempting to make ancient numbers fit is fascinating (and has dominated the modern history of the Roman Legion) but to expect all numbers to fit that theory or else be explained away is dangerously thin ice. The idea of a mathematically divisible army which does not account for sickness, casualties or any other form of attrition is flawed (and yet such numbers seemingly occur again and again in our sources). For instance, breaking your toe on the march would leave you incapacitated and unable to participate in battle but no source that I know of mentions such an accident and there cannot have been no such mishaps, especailly with several thousand men carrying multiple pointy sharp things close to one another).

Many of the didactic manuals which I have had the pleasure to research divide armies mathematically (and get abused for being armchair texts). And, as with the castrametation texts, not a single 'real' camp has been found to conform with the theory of that text. It is interesting that Maurice stresses that unit sizes should be non-uniform so that an enemy cannot guess your army's size.

This is a good point; I believe it was Don Rumsfeld who said "you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had," so maybe there is no need to reconcile, for example, Ross Cowan's 4,800 man legion with a 5,000 man legion from some other source.

An earlier post said that one of Cicero's letter's indicated that Pompey entered Greece with 30,000 men, while Caesar said Pompey had 5 legions, which makes 6,000 men per legion.

But if memory serves correctly, Pompey was caught somewhat unprepared when Caesar crossed the Rubicon, and he had to raise his legions in haste using Italians who had no experience. And he knew he would end up having to defeat Caesar's hardened veterans.

So, maybe Pompey sent out orders to raise as many men as possible for each legion? Maybe the standard practice was to have 4,800 per legion, but in this particular case Pompey knew he'd need to win with numbers?
Maybe, in a perfect world, he would have preferred 4,800 hardened veterans in each legion, but he had to make due with 6,000 conscripts.

Even today, it's hard to maintain a completely uniform military. For example, how many men are in one US Army regiment?
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#41
Quote:Even today, it's hard to maintain a completely uniform military. For example, how many men are in one US Army regiment?

...which makes a point valid throughout history, and one universally known to any who have served in the military. Below are some brief observations, including a personal anecdote that illustrates this universal truth.....

1. The ancients did not place the same value on "orbats" or organisation tables we do.....obviously for ration purposes, pay etc it was important to know how many were actually present at a given time, but apart from scraps of information on surviving papyri from Imperial times about ACTUAL strengths ( as opposed to 'table ones'), we have little or nothing to go on for the Republic.

2. The literary sources are obviously not those official beaureacratic forms set out above, and authors frequently have little or no Miltary experience, and, for example, an exact "4,850" in one source can easily become "5,000" in another, because the latter chooses to use round numbers. All too often too, numbers given exclude ‘supernumeraries’ for example a calculated strength for a late 1st C AD legion is often given as 5,240 ( 9x 480 cohorts plus 1st cohort 800 plus 120 horsemen) but if we add in ‘supernumeraries’ – say 1 Legate, 1 Tribunus Laticlavii, 1 Praectus Castrorum, 5 Tribuni angusticlavii, 1 Aquilifer, 53 Centuriones, 53 Signifers, 53 Tesserarii 54 Cornicens and 53 Optiones (N.B. the exact number is uncertain for some of these, and whether all of them are ‘supernumerary’ or not), the real “Table Number” may be as high as 5,514 ( aprox) .

3. Even in modern times, the "orbat" total is NEVER the actual number of troops on the ground.

For example, during my military service I commanded a platoon with a paper strength of 33. With recruiting shortages it never reached that number, and was frequently much lower, due to men on leave, on detachment, on courses, ill, injured and so on, so that in the field I usually had twenty something men to carry out the tasks allocated to a nominal 33. On one glorious field exercise, another platoon was understrength and it's commander absent on a course and for the duration of the exercise I had an overstrength platoon of 42 !
The surviving military returns reflect a similar situation in Imperial Roman Armies, and doubtless stretched back to the dawn of time !! :wink: :wink:

In ancient times, and up until the twentieth century, armies all too literally 'melted away' with large numbers deserting or dying from illness....we get glimpses of this from some of the numbers Caesar gives as a 'for instance'.

I would venture to suggest that not one Legion ever marched out of Rome with the exact number of men it was supposed to have.

However, accepting this, we can still try to determine how many men there should have been, for that information can be useful.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it should also be noted that over its thousand years or more of existence, the Roman army changed and evolved constantly, including its numbers.

Even the numbers over a short period could change, especially under the exigencies of War, as the following survey demonstrates:

Legions raised in 218 BC 4,000 Infantry and 300 cavalry (Livy XXI.17 )

Legions at Cannae 216 BC: an unprecedented 5,000 infantry and 300 cavalry strong, as opposed to the standard 4,000 Infantry and 200 cavalry (Polyb III.107)

After Cannae; Legions of 'volones' : 4,000 Infantry, no cavalry (LivyXXII.57 )

Herdonea 212 BC ; Legions and Allies together; 18,000 - implying Legions of standard strength (Livy XXV.21)

Scipio’s Legions for the invasion of Africa 205 BC; 6,200 Infantry and 300 cavalry (Livy XXIX.24) – though other authors ( e.g. Appian) imply 5.000 strong.

Italian North-West frontier/Liguria 182 BC; 5,200 infantry and 300 cavalry.(LivyXL.1&18)

Spain 184 BC ; Legions not to fall below 5,000 infantry and 300 cavalry (LivyXXXIX.38)

Spain 180 BC ; Legions not to fall below 5,200 Infantry and 300 cavalry (Livy XL.36)

Macedonia 171 BC ; 6,000 infantry and 300 cavalry (Livy XLII.31)

Macedonia 169 BC ; 6,000 infantry and 300 cavalry; Spain and Liguria 169 BC 5,200 Infantry and 300 cavalry (Livy XLIII.12 )
– an example of different sized Legions on different fronts in the same year.

Polybius, in his detailed discourse on the Legion (VI.19) refers to “..anciently the custom to choose the cavalry; and to add 200 horsemen to each 4,000 infantry”.
He then goes on to describe the Legion in detail, presumably of his own day c. 160-150 BC as “ In the present times… 300 cavalry are assigned to every Legion…The number allotted to each Legion is 4,200 and sometimes 5,000, when any great or unusual danger is foreseen.

Even this short survey demonstrates the point that the numbers, even on paper let alone actuality, could vary depending on circumstance. A reading of Caesar also highlights just how low actual numbers could get on the battlefield on occasion.
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
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#42
Quote:Taking an example from a previous post of mine on this lists, if I make the statement in my book the hastati are aged from 18 to 27, the principes from 28 to 36, and the triarii from 37 to 45 years of age, then I better be able to prove it. To prove my case I introduce ALL those authors in the primary sources who give the ages of the iuniores and seniores, then I show how I have come to my conclusion. I point out that the ages from 18 to 45, when subtracted equates to 27 years (45 minus 18 = 27). Then when 27 is divided by the three age divisions the answer is 9 (27 divided by 3 = 9). Therefore the age divisions are in increments of 9 years, so 18 years old for the hastati plus 9 =27. The hastati are aged from 18 to 27 years of age. Then I would introduce Livy’s comment during the Second Punic war the age was lowered to 17 years old, which gives the age of the hastati from 17 to 27 years old. I have provided evidence to support my claim, and most importantly I only employ information found in the primary sources. I have no need to discredit any ancient author’s empirical data in order to comply with my analyst.
Hi Antiochus,

Have you read Nathan Rosenstein's “Rome at War”? He makes a strong argument that the vast majority of Republican soldiers were in their teens and early twenties (whereas in your system equal numbers would be aged 18-27 and 28-36 because there were equal numbers of hastati and principes). I also can't see any practical benefit of assigning men to different units based on their exact age. Many Romans didn't know their exact age, and there is no garuntee that the number of men in a particular age range would match the number of men needed to fill a particular unit. And as others have said, military units rarely match their standard strength anyways. So it would be unnatural if all figures for unit strengths followed the same system ...

Sean
Nullis in verba

I have not checked this forum frequently since 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value. I now have a blog on books, swords, and the curious things humans do with them.
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#43
I would agree with Antiochus/Steven as to what the ideal/theoretical splitting of age grpoups might be, but also with Sean that in practise it wouldn't necessarily work out so. Without reading Rosenstein, I would have to say that such a proposition is extremely unlikely, not least for population statistics reasons, and the fact that soldiers, even the conscripted peasants of the Punic wars, could serve up to twenty years ! The literary evidence too says otherwise ( witness the career of Spurius Ligustinus, called up once more in his 51st year- the senate having decreed that no-one under 51 should be exempt).

Note that this is an exception to Antiochus' theoretical call-up ages !

Polybius too, in his detailed account, clearly implies that 'adjustments' were made:
Polyb VI.20
The division and appointment of the tribunes having thus been so made that each legion has the same number of officers, those of each legion take their seats apart, and they draw lots for the tribes, and summon them singly in the order of the lottery. From each tribe they first of all select four lads of more or less the same age and physique. [note the more or less] When these are brought forward the officers of the first legion have first choice, those of the second,second choice, those of the third, third, and those of the fourth last. Another batch of four is now brought forward, and this time the officers of the second legion have first choice and so on, those of the first choosing last. A third batch having been brought forward the tribunes of the third legion choose first, and those of the second last. By thus continuing to give each legion first choice in turn, each gets men of the same standard. When they have chosen the number determined on — that is when the strength of each legion is brought up to four thousand two hundred, or in times of exceptional danger to five thousand — the old system was to choose the cavalry after the four thousand two hundred infantry, but they now choose them first, the censor selecting them according to their wealth; and three hundred are assigned to each legion.

21 The enrolment having been completed in this manner, those of the tribunes on whom this duty falls collect the newly-enrolled soldiers, and picking out of the whole body a single man whom they think the most suitable make him take the oath that he will obey his officers and execute their orders as far as is in his power. Then the others come forward and each in his turn takes his oath simply that he will do the same as the first man.

At the same time the consuls send their orders to the allied cities in Italy which they wish to contribute troops, stating the numbers required and the day and place at which the men selected must present themselves. The magistrates, choosing the men and administering the oath in the manner above described, send them off, appointing a commander and a paymaster.

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. 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, these being the names among the Romans of the four classes in each legion distinct in age [ note that Polybius does not nominate specific ages - implying that numbers required were the governing factor, and a certain amount of approximate 'fudging' of ages went on] and equipment. 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. [ evidently they worked backwards - the most senior 600 becoming the Triarii and so on ] 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.
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#44
Hi Paullus,

Population statistics are the reason that most Republican soldiers were probably young. Basically, from an early date Roman soldiers were away from home for long periods of time (too long to help on the farm or in the shop), so war had to fit into Roman men's lives in such a way that they could have children and support their families. We also know that wealthy Roman men tended to marry in their late twenties to women about ten years younger, and this seems to be true for the lower classes. So starting in their late twenties, most Romans would transition from soldiering to setting up a household and supporting themselves, and would be less sensible candidates for conscription than younger men for the next few years. Rosenstein has showed that there were more than enough young men to fight under ordinary circumstances. So in his view a typical hastatus or velites would be a teenager, a principes in his twenties, and most of the older men would be triarii. Spurius Ligustinus is reported to us precisely because he was exceptional, and notice that he volunteeered for most of his campaigns and was clearly known to the political class as a good man to have in your army.

Sean
Nullis in verba

I have not checked this forum frequently since 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value. I now have a blog on books, swords, and the curious things humans do with them.
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#45
Hi Sean ! Smile

Well, I wouldn't disagree that when it came to the 'call-up' they almost certainly started with the youngest, and worked up, and that only rarely were over 45's ever used...but as can be seen from the Spurius anecdote, on occasion even 50 year olds ( technically 'seniores') might not be exempt. ("The Senate decreed that no exemption should be given to anyone under the age of 51."Livy XLII.34) Confusedhock:

...And sure, the anecdote of Spurius Ligustinus shaming others into accepting the senior 'call-up' is exceptional, but it also demonstrates the fallacy of assuming that the over-30's were at home farming and breeding, for Spurius, despite his constant campaigning and twenty-two years service in the Army, managed to have no less than six sons and two daughters who made it to adulthood ! :wink:
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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