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Optio equipment
#1
SALVETE OMNES!

My favorite rank in the legions is the optio, I would just like some clarification on what he would wear. I know his equipment was the same as the standard legion soldiers except he carried a staff and had a optio ring. Does anyone know what that ring looked like? I know some groups like The Ermine Street Guard put a white and black crest atop the optio's helmet which I think looks really cool but is it historically accurate? Also did the optio carry a satchel that carried a wax tablet with the orders of the day? I also wonder if the optio of the Primus Pilus century had anything different about his gear. I am looking into an early 2nd century optio. If there are any other facts I should know please tell me. Your help is much appreciated, GRATIAS TIBI!
AVLVS GALERIVS PRISCVS-Charlie Broder
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#2
I have been working on an Optio impression for nearly two years. MOst has been in trying to discover research on the rank. Quite sadly there isn't any substantial documentation or historical finds that have screamed out… "This was an Optio's…"

Sadly… there is not a lot of proof out there for that rank.
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#3
It's too bad, thanks though
AVLVS GALERIVS PRISCVS-Charlie Broder
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#4
There isn't much about optiones, but there is a grave stele of a Marine optio. He's dressed much the same as any other soldier of his era. Not sure how he would have been distinguished from any other marine. Probably, those in his unit would know, and that's not really "documented", either.
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#5
Replik-online.de sells a reproduction of an optio ring.
Joshua B. Davis

Marius Agorius Donatus Minius Germanicus
Optio Centuriae
Legio VI FFC, Cohors Flavus
[url:vat9d7f9]http://legvi.tripod.com[/url]

"Do or do not do, their is no try!" Yoda
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#6
So if i understand correctly there is no evidence at all for the use of the Optio crest? And are we even sure the Optio really excisted?
Marc Beermann
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#7
The Rank "Optio" certainly existed, several reliable literary sources attest to it.
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#8
AFAIK, the crest many use today as an "Optio Crest" was invented a couple of decades ago by the Ermine Street Guard.
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#9
Ah i see, thanks
Marc Beermann
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#10
Quote:AFAIK, the crest many use today as an "Optio Crest" was invented a couple of decades ago by the Ermine Street Guard.

This may apply also to "optio's staff". What's worse, many contemporary optiones take that staff to battles which I find ridiculous.
Krzysztof

Nobody expects the Roman invasion!
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#11
I agree, there is nothing dumber than using a staff on your own men in battle instead of a sword on barbarians!
AVLVS GALERIVS PRISCVS-Charlie Broder
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#12
Evidence for the optio staff includes the tombstone Caecilius Avitus of Legio XX.

http://vindolanda.csad.ox.ac.uk/exhibition/docs-5.shtml

I'm pretty sure there are a few other tombstones or funerary markers of optiones that depict the knobbed staff, as well as a tesserarius with one. Is the tombstone database still down? Perhaps Jasper could confirm this.


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Mark Graef
Clash of Iron
clashofiron.org
Staff Member, Ludus Militis
http://www.ludusmilitis.org
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#13
It surely makes sense to carry out the centurions orders with the staff, but I think there were more important things to do in the heat of battle.
AVLVS GALERIVS PRISCVS-Charlie Broder
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#14
There are certainly a few sculptures which show an Optio in 'undress uniform' with his knobbed staff and wax tablet case. As far as I know there are none which show an Optio in battledress, either with or without the accessories, so it is hard to say for certain if they carried the staff into battle too.

I think the idea that the staff was used to push and keep soldiers in line during the march or in battle may have developed from the use of staffs by sergeants in eighteenth century armies who used a staff called a spontoon for such purposes, as well as it being a badge of office. I have not heard of any reference to an Optio doing that in Roman times.

The Optio wearing a mail shirt with shoulder doubling worn over a brown leather arming doublet, a black and white helmet crest, carrying a staff with a silvered knob and a satchel for the wax tablets, was an impression created within The Ermine Street Guard in the late nineties. It was quickly adopted by other societies and if you Google 'Roman Optio' it has also clearly become the standard appearance of the Roman Optio amongst model makers!

However as has already been pointed out apart from the staff and a single example of a silvered ring bearing the title 'optio ', there is precious little evidence for a specific Optio's uniform.

Graham.
"Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream" Edgar Allan Poe.

"Every brush-stroke is torn from my body" The Rebel, Tony Hancock.

"..I sweated in that damn dirty armor....TWENTY YEARS!', Charlton Heston, The Warlord.
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#15
What you stated makes a lot of sense, and I also asked for your book for Christmas. I hope I get it!
AVLVS GALERIVS PRISCVS-Charlie Broder
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