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My First Film...
Hello everyone!

After two years of research on first-century Judaism for the upcoming film, Isaac the Roman, I am beginning the second phase of research which delves deep into the world of those crazy, meddling Romans. Setting the stage for the opening act, the Siege of Jerusalem, I have the basics down.

One thing I learned in the last go-round is that forum enthusiasts often know this stuff better than university professors. Not to denigrate scholars with letters after their names – I have great respect for them. It’s a little nugget of knowledge I picked up from my years as a World of Warcraft aficionado. People who are passionate about a particular subject and gather in forums to discuss the details tend to check each other (often in creative ways) and in a sense that is the ultimate form of peer-review.

That said, back to the story.

69-70 CE: Nero is dead. Two men clamor for the Emperorship and are handily dispatched leaving the military to install Vespasian as Emperor. Titus is left in charge in the Judean theatre. Joined by V Macedonica, X Fretensis, XII Fulminata and XV Apollinaris, Titus digs in. Stealing a page out the playbook of Caesar’s sacking of Alesia, he sets up a blockage siege but ups the ante by allowing Passover celebrants into the city and then shutting the doors putting pressure on the city resources. We all know what happens next.

Here’s my question: One of the three main characters in the film is a centurion called, Quintus. He is highly decorated and has been with V Macedonica for 25 years and, after a successful skirmish in Sepphoris, is on his way to Caesarea Maritima to get his honorable discharge papers and a nice plot of land in hillsides north of Rome. In short, and without giving too much away, he is intercepted by one of Titus’ officers and sent back to Emmaus to prepare for the siege.

1) Does anyone know of a case where an officer was just “too good to let go” even after serving his time?

2) The story calls for Quintus, an equestrian, to take charge of the entire legion. Is this too far-fetched?

3) Most importantly, I have yet to discover how generals bandied about with distance communication. Did they send runners? Who were the messengers? Were they cavalry?

Thanks much for any help! I am really enjoying the process of researching this part of the story but a lot of holes need to be filled. I hope you’ll be patient with a noob as I expect I’ll be posting here from time-to-time as I hammer out the script.

As a side note, I will be mentioning this forum in the closing credits of the film. THanks again, guys!

- John
Set partly during the siege of Jerusalem: If you portray what went on accurately it will earn you an x rating for violence. It was a pretty rough time and no one looks good by modern standards. If you have not already you must read Josephus's account.
John Kaler MSG, USA Retired
Member Legio V (Tenn, USA)
Staff Member Ludus Militus
Owner Vicus and Village:
Thanks, John! I am pretty familiar with Josephus' accounts as well as some of Tacitus' and Seneca's write-ups. Josephus' works are rough-going because he had an interest in placating his patrons to some extent but it's really all we have. As far as the X-rating goes; you aren't kidding. It was a brutal three years. And you're right - all sides were complicit in some really nefarious and under-handed shenanigans. That's what I'm intending to portray. Unlike Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ (which I did enjoy, by the way!), this account doesn't leave anyone looking too terribly angelic.

Thanks, again!

Hey!Someone tends to make a film with respect to the true reality?This is quite a miracle.Thumbs up :-)
Another book you might consult, if you have not already, is Apocalypse - The Great Jewish Revolt Against Rome AD66-73 by Neil Faulkner (c2002). He gives a good account of the various engagements and the siege as well as pointing out some interesting archeological finds.

As to you main question about the centurion being called back to active duty -- I believe he would be made an evocatii and as such, taking over command of a legion would not seem unreasonable, particularly as he was already of the Equestrian Order. A but unusual perhaps, but then I gather this character is a bit extraordinary.

However, there are others here more versed than I who might have a more precise answer for you.

I do believe they legion commanders would use their small contingent of cavalry, organic to each legion, for the dispatch of messages.

Evocatus (plural Evocati) was the Latin term for a soldier in the Roman army who had served out his time and obtained a discharge (missio) but had voluntarily enlisted again at the invitation of the consul or other commander.[1]
There always existed a considerable number of evocati in every army of importance, and when the general was a favorite among the soldiers, the number of veterans who joined his standard naturally increased. The evocati were released, like the vexillarii, from the common military duties of fortifying the camp, making roads, et cetera,[2] and held a higher rank in the army than the common legionary soldiers. They are sometimes written of in conjunction with the equites Romani,[3] and sometimes classed with the centurions.[4] They appear to have been frequently promoted to the rank of centurion. Thus, Pompey induced a great many of the veterans who had served under him in former years to join his standard at the outbreak of the civil war with the promise of rewards and the command of centuries.[5] Not all evocati could, however, have held the rank of centurion,[6] nor could they belong to certain cohorts in the army. Cicero[7] speaks of a Praefectus evocatorum,[8] an officer in charge of the evocati.

1 Dio Cassius, Roman History 45.12
2 Tacitus, Annals, 1.36
3 Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico 7.65
4 Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Civili, 1.17
5 ordinum, Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Civili, 1.3
6 Ib. 3.88
7 Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, 3.6 §5
8 Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, 15.4 §3; Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Civili 3.91; Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Augustus 56; Justus Lipsius, De Militia Romana 1.8


David Reinke
Burbank CA

Thanks for your insightful reply! That helps a lot. I haven't read Faulkner's book but I will look it up today. Yes, Quintus is quite extraordinary. The three lead characters have an interesting chemistry. Isaac, a Jewish boy from the north of Israel is out finding his place in the world. Quintus lost his wife and son in the Great Fire (under Nero's watch) and sees Isaac as sort of a vicarious carrying-on of his son's spirit. Yarko is Quintus' slave whom he allows a lot of freedom (though unbeknownst to Quintus, Yarko is also a secret Zealot who is plotting to ambush him but because Isaac has joined Quintus' small entourage - he is constantly having to change plans to protect the ten-year-old). And that's just the first 20 minutes of the film. Wink

I'm heading out Monday to begin the process of scripting the film. I have a bit of reading to do yet on the Equestrian Order and browsing through some of the posts on the forum have filled a few of those holes already. It seems I've found a few gems here in stumbling upon this board quite by accident. Lucky for me, I guess.

Thanks again for your help!

Ha! Miracle, indeed. Maybe I should have it ratified by the Church first, eh? Wink

Soft question pertaining to my ego!

Have you thought about the corniciens, tubicines and buccinators?

I'm no expert, but wasn't there still a heavy bias in favor of a patrician commanding a legion, particularly during such an important campaign?

It seems that a recalled centurion could find himself a camp prefect easily enough. Work in a plot development where the legate and and young tribune are unable to take command for whatever reason, and bingo! A historically plausible situation where an equestrian achieves command of a legion without upsetting the social order too much. After all, what happens in the field can't be solved overnight in Rome, right?
Take what you want, and pay for it

-Spanish proverb
Quote:Does anyone know of a case where an officer was just “too good to let go” even after serving his time?

Once a man had been promoted to the centurionate, the usual terms of enlistment didn't seem to apply - there are centurions attested serving into their 50s or even 60s. So if he did leave the army, it would be his own choice - whether this choice was always approved by senior commanders is anybody's guess!

Quote:The story calls for Quintus, an equestrian, to take charge of the entire legion. Is this too far-fetched?

Hmm, yes... In the first century, legions were always commanded by senatorial legates. During the final conquest of Jerusalem the tenth legion was commanded by a very junior senator who had only been quaestor (legates were normally at least praetors), and had apparently been brought in specially from Cyprus - so there were plenty of senators about to take command positions. Equestrians only really attained this sort of rank in the later second century. Even the praefectus castorum of Egypt (the most senior centurial position of all) only commanded legion detachments in AD70.

As an equestrian, your man would probably have joined the army as a directly-commissioned centurion (ex eques romano) - so would have been a member of the lower aristocracy and a substantial landowner already.

However, the actual battlefield command of a legion might have been a different matter. Senior centurions, and especially the Primus Pilus (senior centurion of the legion, probably aged around 50) quite possibly took a far more active role in front-line command than the legates.

Quote:wasn't there still a heavy bias in favor of a patrician commanding a legion... a recalled centurion could find himself a camp prefect easily enough.

Senators commanded legions, and were both patricians and plebians - there was no political distinction between them in the first century AD. To become camp prefect, a man would first have to serve as Primus Pilus - this was the gateway to various roles in the higher centurionate and the equestrian cursus.

There are examples of camp prefects commanding legions in the absence of the senatorial legate - in Britain, notoriously, in AD61, and I think in Armenia - but these were emergency expedients. In a campaign army with a large command corps, there would have plenty of available commanders, I would think...
Nathan Ross
There is much good stuff in here...not saying I agree with it all, however (and the book is reduced! If you are from the US there is a different log in to Oxbow Books:

(You can get cheaper paperback versions)
Moi Watson

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Thanks, Nathan! I think you've helped solidify the character a bit. It may not even make sense for Quintus to lead the entire legion. But having him operate in a more "boots on the ground" leadership capacity over and above the responsibilities of a centurion might be a bit more credible...and interesting. It could lead to some great push-and-push-back exchanges between him and the Senatorial Legates that Titus, himself, comes to respect in Quintus.

I'll check out the references you mentioned. Thanks, again!

Soft answer...validating your ego:

I haven't heard of them. But I'll look them up. Wink Thanks, man!
Is this your website?
John Kaler MSG, USA Retired
Member Legio V (Tenn, USA)
Staff Member Ludus Militus
Owner Vicus and Village:

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