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Cohort commander?
Quote:Come on Renatus, stop pretending to be the victim here. You were not expressing an interest in my theories…you were being sarcastic. Had you taken a more positive approach you would have received a positive response. And for the record, I have been writing the book for years and now it is finished. I'm also not asking you to expend money on the book…I have put you on the free list.
I'm sorry, my friend. You have it totally wrong. I have challenged you on a couple of points in the past but that does not mean that I am not interested in your theories or that I reject them out of hand. I find them difficult to understand, coming as they have in fits and starts, but when I can read them all of a piece I will be in a better position to judge. I may or may not agree with them in the long run but, for the time being, I have an open mind. As to your last sentence, I wish it were so but I fear that it is you who are being sarcastic there. Nevertheless, may I take you up on it?
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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Today I have read another small hint, which I forgot in our discussion so far.

The auxilia and ala were commanded by a prefect if quingenaria (500 men) or a tribune if millaria (1000 men). But there was one exception: an auxilia cohors c.R. (of roman citizens) had to be led by a tribune. A prefect was not enough, even if he is also of equestrian rank like the tribune.

So the romans were obviously very traditional if it comes to roman citizens and even for the auxilia they requested for the traditional republican rank of a tribune for commander.

No proof, because we are talking about auxilia here, but another hint, that a centurio perhaps had not the proper rank by tradition in order to lead a cohors of romans citizens. Centurions commanded cohors of non-romans, but for romans even a prefect was not sufficient.

Well, perhaps you guys can find examples which proof the authors (Francois Jacques and John Scheid) wrong, but I have read this rule more than once.
Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas
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Quote:a centurio perhaps had not the proper rank by tradition in order to lead a cohors of romans citizens.

Yep, that was the point I was trying to make here and Tom Wrobel was, I think, making here. It may have been the case, but until we find either clear evidence of a centurion commanding a cohort or larger sized legionary detachment, or some actual statement that he could not, we're still guessing!
Nathan Ross
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Renatus wrote:
As to your last sentence, I wish it were so but I fear that it is you who are being sarcastic there. Nevertheless, may I take you up on it?

Well I can comfortably go to my grave knowing I was not being sarcastic. And my offer stands…you are on the free list. As to the book, I have six illustrators lined up and the first artist is free of contractual obligations in April. I’ve been waiting for over a year to get these guys. So much for the starving artist. There are also around 101 diagrams required. The plan is to have it published this year and when published it will show all references in the primary sources relating to cohorts pre-dating Marius are correct. When published some may disagree with some of my hypothesis, but they will not be able to refute the empirical evidence.

Steven
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Quote:And my offer stands…you are on the free list . . . The plan is to have it published this year
Good. I'll look forward to that.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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Adding to my statement that Polybius is confused about which classes the velites belong to, there is another area that also confuses Polybius. In his account of the Roman legion Polybius (Book 6) states the legion numbered 4200 men. On two other occasions Polybius (2 24 13), (3 107 11) mentions a 4200 man legion was accompanied by 200 cavalry. Although Polybius gives three references to a legion numbering 4200 men, they are not the same legion. Taking a mathematical approach, 200 cavalry equates to two thirds of 300 cavalry, which is the standard complement assigned to a legion. Now if a legion has 60 centuries, then 40 centuries equates to two thirds of 60 centuries. So are those two references of 4200 man legion accompanied by 200 cavalry referring to a 40 century legion? By dividing 4200 by 40 centuries, a century amounts to 105 men, which unfortunately exceeds the century value by five men. Now it is stated the Roman cavalry are on the same century roll as the infantry and it is this doctrine that Polybius does not understand or is completely ignorant about. By taking 40 centuries and multiplying it by 5 men this will produce 200 cavalry. So what we now have is a 40 century legion or 4000 men accompanied by 200 cavalry and this is how Polybius should have written it.

For the past 500 years, Polybius’ description of the maniple legion has been widely accepted by historians of all ages, while Livy’s version has been either rejected outright, or viewed with extreme scepticism. It is difficult to ascertain with any certainty how this transpired, but a small snapshot of commentaries by generations of historians since the advent of the printing press will highlight the comparison in popularity between Livy and Polybius.

Military Essays of the Ancient Grecian, Roman and Modern Art of War, James Turner (1670), page 84. “Titus Livius, that famous historian, in his eighth book giving a particular account of the great battle fought between the Romans, and their allies the Latines, marshals the Roman legion in such a confused way, that he is not at all intelligible, and hath given just a reason to both the learned and military men, to think that place is corrupt, and a sense made of it, never intended by the author.” Page 95 “Polybius…being a person of so great abilities, as those parcels of his history, yet extant, speak him to have been, and truly we have reason to be sorry that we are robbed of those books of his which all devouring time has deprived us.”

A Critical Inquiry into the Constitution of the Roman Legion; Robert Melville (1703), page 1-2 “Polybius, having had the best opportunities of knowing the Roman militia, and having been always esteemed a judicious and accurate author, merits the highest credit. From him we have a distinct account of the method of encamping, and of the order of the troops in marching out of, and into, the camp. He has likewise described the disposition of the legion, when in order of battle. The passage of Titus Livius (Book 8 8), relating to the legion, is declared, by all the commentators, to be corrupted almost in every sentence, insomuch as scarcely to admit of correction; besides, though the legion underwent different changes in different periods of the state, neither he nor Vegetius mention particularly to what period they refer.”

Warfare in Antiquity, Hans Delbruck (1908) page 291. “The 15 maniples Livy reports here may, however, very well be historically accurate. It is conceivable that originally the old phalanx was divided into only 2 echelons, of 15 maniples each, and that a recollection of this was retained in the account. It is true of course, that Livy does make the mistake of giving all 3 echelons 15 maniples. But a legion of 45 maniples certainly never existed. The original legion of 42 centuries is definitely proved for us by the voting organisation of the century elections, and the relationship between this legion and that described by Polybius, in which there are 1200 lightly armed men allocated to 3000 hoplites, equalling 42 centuries, is completely clear.”

Livy: His Historical Aims and Methods, P. G. Walsh (1961) page 157 “Livy’s geographical vagueness is a weakness; still more crippling is his ignorance of military matters. The parts of his history left to us are in large measure concerned with commanders and their armies; how unfortunate therefore that he had not the mind of a Xenophon, which readily apprehended the use of weapons and mechanical devices. Equally unfortunate was his lack of military experience which made him ignorant of battle tactics.”

Hannibal’s Legacy: The Hannibalic War’s Effects on Roman Life, A. J, Toynbee, (1965), Vol. 2 page pp 506-507. “Our earliest trustworthy description of the Roman legion is Polybius. He is almost certainly describing it as he had seen it in his own time: that is to say in the generation of Scipio Africanus Minor…Livy, writing more than a hundred years later than Polybius, gives two descriptions of the legion which he attributes to pre-Polybian dates. One of these Livian descriptions purports to describe the legion as it was in the reign of King Servius Tullius, at some date in the second half of the sixth century BC; the other is dated by Livy to the time of the Romano-Latin War (340 – 338 (337 -335 or 336 -334 BC). We do not know what authorities Livy is following in these two passages; we have no means of testing his statements; and, even if we had reason to believe that these two descriptions do correctly represent two stages in the evolution of the legion before the Hannibalic War, we cannot be sure that the dates which Livy assigns to them are right. It therefore seems wisest to leave these two Livian descriptions out of account, except in so far as any points in them may turn out to be confirmed by the Polybian evidence.”

The Roman Imperial Army, Graham Webster, (1969), page 21; “Livy describes in detail the new organisation of the legion, but there are difficulties in reaching a full understanding.” Page 27; “It is for this time also that we have a detailed description of the army by Polybius. This stands as the most complete and accurate account, surpassing all others.”

The Legion and the Centuriate Organisation, G. V. Sumner, The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 60. (1970), page 69. “Now Livy under the year 340 offers a mystifying account of the state of the Roman army at the outbreak of the Latin Revolt (VIII 8 3). The four-legion army he describes is already a manipular one, but it is oddly different from Polybius…The whole farrago appears as an antiquarian reconstruction, concocted out of scattered pieces of information and misinformation, mostly to do with the manipular army. One of its underlying features seems to be a strained attempt to establish some sort of relation between the new military order and the five categories of the census classification. In short, Livy's account should not be treated as a valid description of any form of the manipular legion. Only the details confirmed by other sources have any claim to credence.”

The Literacy Sources for the Pre-Marian Army, Elizabeth Rawlinson, Papers of the British School at Rome, 39 (1971), pp 13-31, “We come to the conclusion, then, that Livy’s account is an interesting attempt at reconstruction, at times enterprising and correct, at times improbable in the extreme.”

The Making of the Roman Army, L. Keppie, (1984) page 20. “Livy’s account must be largely derived from much later sources, especially Polybius, so that its independent value is not great. Yet its very incongruities may lend it a certain measure of authority. Livy may have been attempting to reconcile patchy and discordant source-material; but it is difficult to suppose that the legion he describes ever existed in reality…For the organisation of a Roman legion solid ground is reached only with Polybius himself.”

Lines, Maniples and Cohort, Dr Philip Sabin (1997). “Our second major source is Polybius. He was a careful historian and experienced military man who had personally observed the Roman army in action in the mid second century BC. Later Sabine adds “Unfortunately, Livy was writing in the Augustan era, centuries after the events concerned, and he is by far the least reliable of our three key sources.”

Cannae, the Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War, Gregory Daly, Published in 2002. Page 54; “The most detailed and generally reliable source of information on the army of the mid-republican Rome is the description of it in the sixth book of Polybius.

The Republican Roman Army; A Source Book, Michael M. Sage, Routledge (2008) “Finally, it is hard to make sense of Livy’s view of the number of men in the legion. Various calculations have been offered but there are too many uncertainties for it to be possible to reach a firm conclusion.”

Early Roman Armies, Nick Sekunda and Simon Northwood, Osprey Men-At-Arms Series 283, (1995), page 40. “Although there is a certain internal logic in Livy’s account, which makes a literal interpretation of his manipular system perfectly possible, severe doubts arise concerning the historicity of Livy’s description…Livy’s account must surely be rejected. Page 41 “As he is making the accensi combatants, Livy has to invent weapons for them to carry and consequently he has created an entirely spurious five-line formation with three rear lines.”

There has been much discussion about Livy having the accensi acting as triarii. I think I can recall one historian who has defended Livy in this matter. The majority of historians castigate Livy for his account in the same manner as Sekunda. However, there is another way of looking at this. The normal complement of triarii is 600 men. This indicates a legion can be deployed 200 men wide or 300 men wide. Now if the additional accensi number 1000 men then they can be deployed 200 men wide by five men deep, and when added to the existing 600 triarii deployed 200 men wide by three men deep, then the triarii and accensi are deployed 200 men wide by eight men deep, which makes a traditional phalanx. Livy is correct about the men being accensi, but in this case they are not camp servants but accensi can also apply to men from Class V. Looking at the Servian constitution, Class V is the second largest class next to Class I. What is happening here is originally an emergency legion consisted of additional triarii taken from Class V, and then later as Polybius indicates, the emergency legion was made up of additional hastati and principes, with the triarii remaining constant at 600 men.
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I don't know if Polybius is confused, but I certainly am.
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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Quote:I don't know if Polybius is confused, but I certainly am.

Ditto.

When Antiochus' much-anticipated book appears, I will read it with great interest, but, as far as I can see, his lengthy post has nothing to with the problem of command of the legionary cohort. Perhaps it should be deleted or moved to a more appropriate thread?

As to the topic of this thread, I have little to say. There is no evidence for a legionary cohort commander. Troubling as that is to us moderns (who expect battalions to be commanded by colonels), we have to accept it and move on.
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Quote: as far as I can see, his lengthy post has nothing to with the problem of command of the legionary cohort. Perhaps it should be deleted or moved to a more appropriate thread?.
Threads do wander on occasion, and as such I'll leave the comment in place. However I urge those in this discussion to remain on topic because the thread is confusing enough.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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M. Demetrius wrote:
I don't know if Polybius is confused, but I certainly am.

Ross Cowan wrote:
Ditto.


I can understand the difficulty you both are experiencing in grasping the concept that Polybius has included the cavalry numbers with the legionaries then mentions the cavalry numbers again…called a doublet. I can also understand you do not understand Vegetius claim that “the cavalry are joined to the legion” and are “incorporated on the same rolls.” This simply means the cavalry are assigned to an infantry century. The number of cavalry assigned to a century is five cavarlymen. So in a 40 century legion the legion will have 200 cavalry. But how is that possible. Well you mulitiply 40 centuries by 5 cavalrymen per century and you get 200 cavalry, a number supported by Polybius. In a 60 century legion the number of cavalry works out to be 300 cavalry. Again you mulitiply 60 centuries by five to get 300 cavalry. Now if you don’t know the number of centuries in the legion, you take the cavalry numbers and divided by five. On occasion Livy (40 36) mentions a legion of 5200 men being accompanied by 400 cavalry, so if we divided 400 by five the result is 80 centuries. Wow, what have we got here…an 8000 man legion. No, but if you multiply 80 centuries by 60 men per century the result is a legion of 4800 men. Could the legions also have variable century values? So how did Livy arrive at a figure of 5200 infantry accompanied by 400 cavalry if the legion is suppose to be 4800 men? The answer is because Livy’s source is Polybius, which comes with Polybius’ distinct trademark of the cavalry numbers being included with the infantry. So if we subtract 400 cavalry from 5200 men, the answer is a legion of 4800 men.


Ross Cowan wrote:
There is no evidence for a legionary cohort commander. Troubling as that is to us moderns (who expect battalions to be commanded by colonels), we have to accept it and move on.


I prefer to challenge your stance Mr Cowan rather than “accept it and move on” simply because you have instructed us to do so. As academia cannot arrive at a consensus concerning what the centurion command structure for a given legion is, what makes you think you are right? Perhaps knowing the centurion command structure could answer many questions, but to do that we still need to know how a legion is organised for a given period. My views are also expressed by Istvan Kertesz The Roman Cohort Tactics – Problems of Development, Oikumene 1 (1976):

“All writers on Roman military history tend to connect the cohort, which succeeded the maniple as a new tactical formation in the Roman army, with the military reforms of Marius. This generally accepted view does not take into account or is unaware of the clear evidence in ancient historiography that the nucleus of cohort tactics existed long before the reforms of Marius. Data concerning the early appearance of the cohort tactics were well known, nevertheless, they were not analysed with the required degree of precise textual criticism.”

I’d like to emphasis Kertesz statement “the early appearance of the cohort tactics were well known, nevertheless, they were not analysed with the required degree of precise textual criticism.” And this is the crux of the problem. There are references to allied cohorts being commanded by a prefects before the consulship of Marius, and we have Livy’s (8 6) statement that in 340 BC:

“Their (the Romans) anxiety was increased by the fact that it was against the Latins that they had to fight, a people resembling them in language, manners, arms, and especially in their military organisation. They had been colleagues and comrades, as soldiers, centurions, and tribunes, often stationed together in the same posts and side by side in the same maniples. That this might not prove a source of error and confusion, orders were given that no one was to leave his post to fight with the enemy.”

Clearly this indicates the Latin and Roman command structures as well as the legion organisations were identical. So if the allieds have cohort commanders then so do the Romans. So Mr Cowan, as you believe there was no cohort commander, then you must have made your readers in your article aware of Livy’s statement “a cohort was commanded by two senators” and thereby given your analysts as to why this is incorrect. Or were you unaware of this reference and any other that contradicts your theory? As no one has done a serious analyst of the army or legion’s organisation for 462 BC, then how can anyone dismiss Livy’s claim.

The scientific methodology today seems to be that “if everyone believes it is must be right.” This does not work for me. Livy states a cohort was commanded by two senators (who are people of authority and importance) and senators are reported to have died at Cannae so why would Livy make this claim if there were no cohort commander?

Steven
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Quote:I can understand the difficulty you both are experiencing in grasping the concept that Polybius has included the cavalry numbers with the legionaries then mentions the cavalry numbers again…called a doublet. I can also understand you do not understand Vegetius claim that “the cavalry are joined to the legion” and are “incorporated on the same rolls.” This simply means the cavalry are assigned to an infantry century.
I'm afraid our friend Antiochus is confusing apples with oranges, and not for the first time. The Polybian legion cannot be compared in any detail with the imperial legion (the latter being the subject of this thread -- or at least it was the subject of this thread! :errr: ). The two are very different, particularly in the make-up of the cavalry component. Polybius' legionary cavalry are provided by the Roman gentry ("equestrians"), and are quite separate from the infantry levy. For example, they are billetted separately in camp. The imperial cavalry, on the other hand, appear (from the limited evidence available to us) to be promoted from the ranks of the infantrymen (there are no known examples of a man enlisting as a legionary cavalryman), and hence remain on the rolls of their original centuria. Whether they remained in their original barrack or were billetted elsewhere remains unknown (but may go some way to explaining the large number of rooms in known legionary barrack blocks, as cavalrymen seem to have required -- or deserved? -- more space).


Quote:I prefer to challenge your stance Mr Cowan rather than “accept it and move on” simply because you have instructed us to do so.
Dr Cowan does not ask us accept his position "because he has instructed us to do so", but rather because that's where the evidence points. Out of hundreds of known centurial careers from the period of the Principate, not a single man ever claims to have commanded his cohort, but only his century. Statistically speaking -- and I know you'll respect statistics -- this must be significant, and cannot simply be glossed over with appeals to the well-known, much-abused maxim that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".


Quote:The scientific methodology today seems to be that “if everyone believes it is must be right.”
This is rather a sweeping statement that shows no familiarity with Dr Cowan's usual questioning stance (a product, of course, of the solid Scottish education system! ;-) ).
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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Mr Campbell wrote:
I'm afraid our friend Antiochus is confusing apples with oranges, and not for the first time. The Polybian legion cannot be compared in any detail with the imperial legion (the latter being the subject of this thread -- or at least it was the subject of this thread! The two are very different, particularly in the make-up of the cavalry component. Polybius' legionary cavalry are provided by the Roman gentry ("equestrians"), and are quite separate from the infantry levy. For example, they are billetted separately in camp.


Thank you for concern Mr Campbell, but although it will come as a surprise, I can assure you I know an apple from an orange. In 423 BC Livy describes a decurion leading a cavalry cohort into battle. With an infantry cohort made up of six centuries and with five cavalry allocated to each century, a cavalry cohort equates to 30 men. Now because there are 10 cohorts to a legion, there can be 10 cohorts of cavalry each at 30 men. Therefore, an ancient historian is correct in labelling 30 cavalrymen a squadron or a cohort. This year when the book is published I can guarantee you I can prove without a doubt that the cavalry are assigned to centuries and have been so since the introduction of the Servian constitution. This policy never changes and can be found in Vegetius who also assigns cavalry to cohorts. Now although the cavalry are assigned to centuries, they can act independent of that century. For example, when on the battlefield the cavalry can be deployed on the wings of the infantry. But in the beginning the Roman cavalry deployed behind the infantry and were termed the reserve and this is why the policy of cavalry being assigned to a century was conceived. And this is why the infantry were organised into cohorts and as Livy states, were commanded by senators. Later the term changes to prefect.

Mr Campbell wrote:
Out of hundreds of known centurial careers from the period of the Principate, not a single man ever claims to have commanded his cohort, but only his century.

Well that is because centurions command centuries!

Mr Campbell wrote:
This is rather a sweeping statement that shows no familiarity with Dr Cowan's usual questioning stance (a product, of course, of the solid Scottish education system!


Yes it was a sweeping statement and not aimed at Mr Cowan. My concept of a good academic is one whose self imposed method is to include all references in the primary sources that both support and contradict his theory.
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Antiochus,

Since the smallest cavalry unit is a decuria(decury) of ten horsemen, wouldn't the division be a decury per maniple (two centuries) instead of a leaderless half-decury per century?
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As far as I know, cavalry was made up of turmae, a unit of 32 horsemen. This was the smallest recognised unit. Am I totaly mistaken?
Salvete et Valete

Nil volentibus arduum


Robert P. Wimmers
Archeologie Beleven!
>http://www.ferrumantica.eu  (The NEW Fabrica of Vvlpivs!)
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Robert wrote:

As far as I know, cavalry was made up of turmae, a unit of 32 horsemen. This was the smallest recognised unit. Am I totaly mistaken?

Polybius writes that a decurion commands the turmae, with an additional two other decurii as deputies. (6, 25).

I always deduced this as the three decurions each commanded a group of ten horsemen, while the most senior wore a second hat, so to speak, and commanded the whole turmae. Kind of like two centuries to a maniple. While the senior commands the whole as a larger group, broken down both command their own centuries. Hence why they are called centurions (and decurions).

I might be mistaken, though. You know the old saying about assumptions...
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