09-22-2016, 02:41 PM

Speeds for Roman marches are often based on Vegetius' description of conditioning marches:

"Recruits were to be hardened so as to be able to march twenty miles in half a summer's day at ordinary step and twenty-four miles at quick step. It was the ancient regulation that practice marches of this distance must be made three times a month."(DRM, Book 1)

It sounds fast but its not. I'll do the conversions for the faster of the marches to put it in perspective.

The 24 Roman miles converts into 22 modern statute mile. Since the summer days are longer than any other and that in ancient Rome daylight hours were divided equally into twelve hours, it means that it wasn't six hours as many would assume. Based on the latitude of the northern Mediterranean half a summer's day means eight hours (sixteen hours of total sunlight). 22 miles divided by eight hours equals 2.75 miles per hour. Which isn't very fast.

The slower of the two march speeds described by Vegetius, 20 Roman miles in eight hours, that converts into 18.5 statute miles in eight hours, which equals 2.3 mph. Even slower.

Of course the time limits were the slowest they were allowed to complete the marches, so they likely finished under the time limit. Take into account unlevel ground. Additionally, since nobody actually marches eight hours without a break they'd probably have marched a bit faster in order to make up the time for rest stops.

"Recruits were to be hardened so as to be able to march twenty miles in half a summer's day at ordinary step and twenty-four miles at quick step. It was the ancient regulation that practice marches of this distance must be made three times a month."(DRM, Book 1)

It sounds fast but its not. I'll do the conversions for the faster of the marches to put it in perspective.

The 24 Roman miles converts into 22 modern statute mile. Since the summer days are longer than any other and that in ancient Rome daylight hours were divided equally into twelve hours, it means that it wasn't six hours as many would assume. Based on the latitude of the northern Mediterranean half a summer's day means eight hours (sixteen hours of total sunlight). 22 miles divided by eight hours equals 2.75 miles per hour. Which isn't very fast.

The slower of the two march speeds described by Vegetius, 20 Roman miles in eight hours, that converts into 18.5 statute miles in eight hours, which equals 2.3 mph. Even slower.

Of course the time limits were the slowest they were allowed to complete the marches, so they likely finished under the time limit. Take into account unlevel ground. Additionally, since nobody actually marches eight hours without a break they'd probably have marched a bit faster in order to make up the time for rest stops.