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The republican army of the Punic wars
#1
Salvete omnes,<br>
<br>
In most works on the Punic wars one supposes that the description provided by Polybius of the Roman army is valid for the entire preceding century as well, if not even for much longer. Do any of you hold other views on this matter ?<br>
<br>
Regards,<br>
<br>
Sander van Dorst<br>
<p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showLocalUserPublicProfile?login=sandervandorst>Sander van Dorst</A> at: 6/18/01 11:30:29 am<br></i>
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#2
Le Bohec, Histoire Militaire des Guerres Puniques (Monaco 1996), P.55-61, points to Livy, VIII.8, which is a description of the army in 340 BC and remarks that anachronsims are a possibility, but concludes that most points seem accurate. Besides, this same risk goes for Polybius as well, even for the Second Punic War.<br>
<br>
Greets<br>
<br>
Jasper <p></p><i></i>
Greets!

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
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#3
Salve,<br>
<br>
While it seems in my view likely that the legion as described by Polybius may be representative of the period of the Second Punic War, I am not so sure whether the same would be true for the first. The legion of Livius, which in my opinion likely to be largely genuine than pure fabrication, on the other hand predates this war again by a considerable margin. At what point a reform, or perhaps at what points reforms, should be placed in the intervening years remains unclear to me.<br>
<br>
Regards,<br>
<br>
Sander van Dorst <p></p><i></i>
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#4
I didn't mean to say that Polybius could be used as our source for the structure and composition of the Roman Army in the First Punic War (although Goldsworthy does do so, Punic Wars, p. 45). Le Bohec clearly states that Livy is better for the First War and Polybius for the Second. But, indeed, what are the differences?<br>
I can only find one in Le Bohec: the triplex acies was reduced from 15 maniples per ordo to 10. One other change he mentions that Polybius forgot is the change in size of the army. While there were only four consular legions during the First Punic War, that number rose quickly after the begin of the Second.<br>
<br>
Greets<br>
<br>
Jasper<br>
<p></p><i></i>
Greets!

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
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#5
In most of the books I've read so far, the author usually cites Livy and Polybius', and in what I can only suspect is a desire for fair play, will usually write a paragraph disclaiming the writers to each other. It's a usually a brief decription of how both ancient writers agreed with each other except for this or that point, and we can't really know for sure who is more accurate, etc.<br>
<br>
I have a few personal opinions on specific small-unit tactics that disagree with both authors, one of which is front line deployment. <p><br><i>SI HOC LEGERE POTES, OPERIS BONI IN REBVS LATINIS FRVCTVOSIS POTIRI POTES.</i></p><i></i>
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#6
Well, you're right about the shortness of the descriptions in most books, they usually are. But that's probably only because of the shortness of the sources. Sometimes there's just too little material to make the distinction who's right and who is wrong.<br>
Polybius is usually considered to be more trustworthy, because he was a witness to the Roman Army in action during the Third Punic War (149-146 BC) and was a guest to the Scipio family, who could probably provide him with data about the operations and the army of their ancestors.<br>
Livy lived another 150 years later and was a less conscientious historian with an agenda, so is usually considered less trustworthy.<br>
But these considerations only really come into play when both authors write about the same subject and we have to choose which one to accept. If there's only one to go by, as is the case here, Livy for the 4th century BC, Polybius for the Second Punic War and after, it is much more difficult. Even if we can decide that they can both be trusted for their period, how do we decide who is right for the period right in the middle, the First Punic War.<br>
So that's your basic historical problem in a nutshell, but Marius, please tell us your own opinions about the descriptions! There is no rule that says that good, new evidence can't prove both Polybius and Livy wrong.<br>
<br>
Greets<br>
<br>
Jasper <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/ujasperoorthuys.showPublicProfile?language=EN>Jasper Oorthuys</A> at: 6/19/01 8:30:22 am<br></i>
Greets!

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
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#7
Salve,<br>
<br>
Goldsworthy is not alone in assuming that the Polybian legionary structure was already used in the First Punic War. Lazenby also adheres to that view.<br>
<br>
An interesting point in the legion of Livius is that the light infantry of the third line, the <i> rorarii</i> and <i> accensi</i>, have distinct units of their own, whereas the <i> grosphomachoi</i> of Polybius are described as attached to the heavy infantry units without reference to their own subunits, as the <i> leves</i> were attached to the <i> hastati</i> in the Livian legion. Apparently none seem to be attached to the <i> principes</i> in the description. Polybius gives no info on the <i> antesignani</i> that are described by Livius as part of the republican legion on several occcasions. The identification of these with the <i> hastati</i> as doen by Sekunda in his Osprey books on the repulican army is I think not correct. There are some descriptions that explicitly refer to the <i> hastati</i> <b> and</b> the <i> antesignani</i> which indiates that they are separate troop types.<br>
<br>
At some points in his description, such as the cavalry equipment, Polybius refers to the state of things in the past, but he does not provide any indication how long ago that must have been. Do you have any ideas on that?<br>
<br>
Regards,<br>
<br>
Sander van Dorst <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showLocalUserPublicProfile?login=sandervandorst>Sander van Dorst</A> at: 6/19/01 8:12:44 am<br></i>
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#8
One of the things that I don't agree with is that the...I hate it when this happens. I can't remember what it's called.<br>
<br>
That metal thingy sticking out of the front of the scutum was most likely not used for punching an oponent. The position of the fist holding the scutum would make for a very weak punch.<br>
<br>
As far as formation is concerned, my experience on the field of battle is still too limited to write with authority. I'll try to address this after I've been to some more re-enactments and recreations. <p><br><i>SI HOC LEGERE POTES, OPERIS BONI IN REBVS LATINIS FRVCTVOSIS POTIRI POTES.</i></p><i></i>
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#9
Salve,<br>
<br>
You mean the shield boss, <i> umbo</i> (LA) or <i> konchos</i> (GR). There are actually several references in literary sources for the use of the shield to punch an opponent (in Tacitus and Ammianus). If you put your weight behind a punch with the shield you can try knock somebody over.<br>
<br>
Please do post your ideas on tactics and formations. All contributions are welcome.<br>
<br>
Regards,<br>
<br>
Sander van Dorst <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showLocalUserPublicProfile?login=sandervandorst>Sander van Dorst</A> at: 6/21/01 7:47:26 am<br></i>
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#10
After holding a scutum, I just don't see how you can put your weight behind a punch, though. It's awfully awkward, and you're more likely to snap your wrist than knock someone down.<br>
<br>
If the handle were positioned vertically or higher on the shield, I could see it. <p><br><i>SI HOC LEGERE POTES, OPERIS BONI IN REBVS LATINIS FRVCTVOSIS POTIRI POTES.</i></p><i></i>
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#11
Salve<br>
<br>
Rather than using just your wrist hold your entire forearm against the shield to prevent snapping your wrist, holding it slightly tilting backwards. That will spread the impact over a larger area and prevents the rim of the opening for the handgrip being painfully pressed on your wrist. Throw your shoulder against the shield if you want to knock your opponent down with your <i> scutum</i>.<br>
<br>
Regards,<br>
<br>
Sander van Dorst<br>
<br>
Addendum<br>
<br>
The use of the shield and shield boss for unbalancing an opponent is documented by the literary sources in several instances. In addition this move can also be observed in sculpture. Goldsworthy, <i> The Roman army at war</i>, page 207-212, 218. lists these references:<br>
<br>
Tacitus, <i> Annales</i> 14.36-37.<br>
Tacitus, <i> Agricola</i> 36.<br>
Plutarchus, <i> Caesar</i> 16.<br>
Metope 23 from Adamklissi.<br>
<br>
In addition Ammianus 31.5.9 provides another description of the offensive use of the shield, though at that occasion by the Goths.<br>
<br>
Regards,<br>
<br>
Sander van Dorst<br>
<br>
<p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showLocalUserPublicProfile?login=sandervandorst>Sander van Dorst</A> at: 6/21/01 7:20:47 pm<br></i>
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#12
I can't visualize how to press my forearm against the back of the scutum. The position of the handle makes it impossible to hold the forearm against the back without holding the wrist at a 90-degree angle to the forearm.<br>
<br>
I'm not trying to be difficult, but I really can't figure out how to do this.<br>
<br>
While I realize that the use of the boss on the scutum is well-documented as a punching device, I also know that it was well-documented until the 1930s that all the American Indian tribes in the U.S. were cannibalistic savages and that until last year Neanderthals never co-existed with homo-sapiens.<br>
<br>
All I know is that with me <i> very limited</i> experience with a scutum, I'm not about to use it for anything but crouching behind while I'm stabbing somebody. Hopefully the guy next to me is going to be doing the same thing. <p><br><i>SI HOC LEGERE POTES, OPERIS BONI IN REBVS LATINIS FRVCTVOSIS POTIRI POTES.</i></p><i></i>
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#13
Salve,<br>
<br>
In stead of holding the wrist at a ninety degree angle (risky because the shield may pivot as described in the post on the <i> testudo</i>) the elbow is held at an angle with the fore arm and wrist extended. The shield is not held with the entire arm stretched down, since then the area covered would leave the shoulders exposed and cover the legs, which are less vulnerable since a blow aimed at those parts of the body can more easily be anticipated, but with the upper arm at an angle too, so that the shield is held higher. It may be a good idea to tilt the shield slightly backward so that the risk of the shield pivoting when hit is further reduced. Also preferably one assumes a stance with the left turned to the opponent rather than standing with both feet next to each other.<br>
<br>
<br>
______\\<br>
..........\\ <- upper arm at an angle from the body<br>
-----...\\<br>
...........\\ <- fore arm held against shield<br>
............\\<br>
..........(_)..))) <-shield boss with hand behind it<br>
.................\\<br>
..................\\<br>
<br>
Forgive my poor drawing skills, but this is roughly the stance i am referring to seen in profile. The dots are for getting the lay out right, for spaces are removed.<br>
<br>
<br>
Ammianus and Tacitus had both been officers in the Roman army, the first one even a career officer, and can be expected to know what they were describing. Both have been attacked for lack of knowledge by modern scholars, but part of the arguments put forward are themselves resting on a shaky basis. I could post a lengthy defence fr their military expertise, but then I will be still be typing an hour from now. However such an essay may be posted later on in a discussion thread on trustworthiness of various sources.<br>
<br>
Regards,<br>
<br>
Sander van Dorst<br>
<br>
<p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showLocalUserPublicProfile?login=sandervandorst>Sander van Dorst</A> at: 6/21/01 8:15:14 pm<br></i>
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#14
Thank you. Now it makes sense. <p><br><i>SI HOC LEGERE POTES, OPERIS BONI IN REBVS LATINIS FRVCTVOSIS POTIRI POTES.</i></p><i></i>
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