Siege of Capsa, 107 BC

Siege of Capsa, 107 BC

Siege of Capsa, 107 BC

The siege of Capsa (107 BC) was Marius's first major military success in Numidia, but although it helped him conquer the south-east of the kingdom it failed to bring an end to the war any nearer (Jugurthine War).

Marius arrived in Numidia with a new army in 107 BC. Many of his new troops were entirely inexperienced, so he began a series of low risk raids into prosperous parts of the kingdom, capturing weakly defended places and winning a number of minor encounters. At the start of the campaign he faced two opponents - King Jugurtha, with an army of Gaetulians, and King Bocchus of the Mauri - but once the fighting began the two kings separated, and Bocchus didn't play any further part in the year's fighting. Jugurtha also refused to risk a battle, frustrating Marius.

Marius decided to force Jugurtha into action by attacking Capsa, a sizable city in the south-east of the city. Sallust reports that he was also motivated by a desire to equal the achievements of his predecessor Metellus, who had captured the equally inaccessible city of Thala in the previous year. Capsa (modern Gafsa) was surrounded by deserts, getting its water from a single spring within the city and from rainwater.

Marius planned the advance towards Capsa very carefully. He gathered a sizable amount of cattle, which he distributed as supplies during the six day march to the River Tana. The men were ordered to make new water bottles from the hides after they had eaten the cattle.

After reaching the Tana, Marius began a series of night marches. Well before dawn on the third night he reached a location two miles from Capsa, where he waited for daybreak. The defenders of Capsa had no idea that he was nearby, and were unable to defend themselves when Marius sent his cavalry and light infantry to capture the city gates. The surprised defenders attempted to surrender, but Marius refused to accept their submission. Instead he had the city burned down, the adults killed and the rest sold into slavery, with the profits distributed amongst his soldiers. Sallust describes this as against the usages of war, but also as being carried out because Capsa was so difficult to reach that it would be hard to return if the city was went back to Jugurtha.

After the destruction of Capsa, Marius returned to the heart of the kingdom and continued to attack those cities hold out for Jugurtha. Most were deserted before he arrived, as news spread of the massacre at Capsa. This campaign may have taken place late in 107 BC or during 106 BC. The next significant event reported by Sallust is the siege of a fortress near the Muluccha River, in the far west of Numidia, which must have happened in 106 BC.


Genealogy and History

The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) was created by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. It’s used to create sound, credible genealogical proof statements, and gives genealogists a standard to measure conclusions against.

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History at Home: A Guide to Genealogy

An article by Andrea Davis, this gives basic information for starting family research.

Seeking Michigan

Seeking Michigan is the online platform for the Michigan Historical Center. It includes Archives of Michigan research guides and indexes, a blog, and educator resources – all from the Michigan Historical Center and Archives of Michigan staff.

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Roman Timeline of Events - Table of Contents

Roman Empire Wall Map
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The Twelve Tables are the first attempt to make a law code, and remained the only attempt for nearly one thousand years.

Typically, Roman prisons were not used to punish criminals, but instead served only to hold people awaiting trial or execution.

The Tribune of the Plebes (tribunus plebis) was a magistracy established in 494 BC. It was created to provide the people with a direct representative magistrate.

A copy of the acts of the Deified Augustus by which he placed the whole world under the sovereignty of the Roman people.

This book reveals how an empire that stretched from Glasgow to Aswan in Egypt could be ruled from a single city and still survive more than a thousand years.

This second edition includes a new introduction that explores the consequences for government and the governing classes of the replacement of the Republic by the rule of emperors.

During the period, the government of the Roman empire met the most prolonged crisis of its history and survived. This text is an early attempt at an inclusive study of the origins and evolutions of this transformation in the ancient world.

Swords Against the Senate describes the first three decades of Rome's century-long civil war that transformed it from a republic to an imperial autocracy, from the Rome of citizen leaders to the Rome of decadent emperor thugs.

Rome's first emperor, Augustus, the adopted son of Julius Caesar, has probably had the most lasting effect on history of all rulers of the classical world. This book focuses on his rise to power and on the ways in which he then maintained authority throughout his reign.


6th Century BCE

578-535 BCE – Reign of Servius Tullius. Treaty with Latins.

535-510 BCE – Reign of L. Tarquinius Superbus. Erection of the Capitoline Temple. Treaty with Gabii. Roman territory extended to ca. 350 square miles.

510 BCE – Downfall of the last Tarquinian king, Tarquinius Superbus. Brutus liberates Rome. Establishment of the Roman Republic headed by two magistrates (later called consuls) elected annually.

509 BCE – Treaty between Rome and Carthage

507 BCE – Consecration of the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitol

504 BCE – Migration of the Sabine Claudii clan to Rome

501 BCE – Appointment of the first dictator


The Royal Inscriptions of Amēl-Marduk (561&ndash560 BC), Neriglissar (559&ndash556 BC), and Nabonidus (555&ndash539 BC), Kings of Babylon

The kings of the Neo-Babylonian Empire left hundreds of official inscriptions on objects such as clay cylinders, bricks, paving stones, vases, and stelae. These writings, ranging from lengthy narratives enumerating the deeds of a monarch to labels identifying a ruler as the builder of a given structure, supplement and inform our understanding of the empire. Beginning with a historical introduction to the reigns of these three kings and the corpus of inscriptions, Weiershäuser and Novotny then present each text with an introduction, a photograph of the inscribed object, the Akkadian text in a newly collated transliteration, an English translation, catalogue data, commentary, and an updated bibliography. Additionally, Weiershäuser and Novotny provide new translations of several related Akkadian texts and chronicles.

Featuring meticulous yet readable transliterations and translations that have been carefully collated with the originals, this book will be the standard edition for scholars and students of Assyriology, the Neo-Babylonian dialect, and the Neo-Babylonian Empire for decades to come.

Frauke Weiershäuser is Tenured Academic Researcher of the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship for the Ancient History of the Near and Middle East at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. She is the primary author on the Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Babylonian Empire (RINBE) project and author of Die königlichen Frauen der III. Dynastie von Ur.

Jamie Novotny is Tenured Academic Researcher of the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship for the Ancient History of the Near and Middle East at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Codirector of the Munich Open-Access Cuneiform Corpus Initiative, and Editor-in-Chief of the RINBE project. He is the author, editor, or coauthor of several books, including The Royal Inscriptions of Ashurbanipal (668&ndash631 BC), Assur-etal-ilani (630&ndash627 BC), and Sin-sarra-iskun (626&ndash612 BC), Kings of Assyria: Part I, also published by Eisenbrauns.


Political Turmoil

Marius returned from his Germanic campaign in triumph once again. First hailed as the 3rd founder of Rome (Romulus was first of course, followed by Marcus Furius Camillus of the 'conquest of Veii' fame), and savior of the city, his success would be short lived.

Elected to his 5th straight, and 6th overall Consulship in 100 BC, he was proven to be out of his element without a war to fight. With the Republic secure from outside threats such as Jugurtha and the Germanics, Marius' policies were no longer to be tolerated. Directly on the battlefield after the defeat of the Cimbri, Marius had already pushed the envelope too far in the eyes of the Roman senate.

To appease his army, and of course to secure political support through their loyalty, Marius made unauthorized grants of citizenship to the Italian allied soldiers fighting for him. He then further pushed the Senate by demanding colonization and settlement rights for his large body of veterans. This strategy, under normal circumstances, would've been shot down immediately, but in this age of political turmoil, anything was possible. Using a popular and outspoken Tribune, Saturninus, Marius pushed through these proposals and others like it through the use of the citizen assemblies, mob tactics and open street violence. Saturninus used Marius to climb the political ladder, while Marius used Saturninus to push through his popular agenda, ripping apart the status quo and tearing down the traditions of Roman politics.

Marius lost what little credibility he had as a politician, and his strong-arm tactics eventually led to the exile of his old enemy Metellus. With the situation spiraling out of control already, Saturninus continued to push the limits of Tribunal power. In 99 BC, Saturninus organized the assassination of a political rival and mob violence grew to an unprecedented level. With Saturninus effectively taking control of the streets, the Senate had little choice but to turn to the one man who could stop it, the one man who gave Saturninus the power in the first place. A senatus consultum ultimatum, the highest authority provided for in the Roman constitution beyond the dictatorship, was issued by the Senate giving Marius the authority to stop Saturninus. Marius then ordered his troops into the city to quell the violence and take control from his former political ally. Saturninus and his supporters sought refuge in the Senate House, but despite efforts to have him arrested peacefully, angry political opponents took matters into their own hands. Climbing onto the roof of the Senate house, they pelted Saturninus and his mob with roof tiles, killing the majority of them. The crisis was over, but at the cost of Marius' reputation and the effectiveness of Republican law.

Except for the settlement of Marius' veterans, the Senate then declared the laws of Saturninus illegal and removed them from practice. While its probable that they would've like to void the veteran settlement laws as well, Marius' veterans proved an intimidating force of their own that would not go unnoticed by rising men such as Sulla. Even Marius' nephew, Julius Caesar, born only the previous year in 100 BC, would be highly influenced by Marius' use of the army to achieve political ends. Caesar, however, not only had the popular will of the people on his side, but the finest line of patrician roots as well. For Marius, however, his political career was coming to a temporary end. The Senate recalled Metellus, despite objections by Marius, and he knew life in Rome was getting to be too dangerous for him to stay.

At the close of his consulship, when a former magistrate could become legally liable for actions taken during his term, Marius went into a form of self-imposed exile. Satisfying the anger of the Senate, he took a voluntary leave and went east. But while his reputation as a politician in Rome was crumbling, Marius the general was a different matter. While traveling he met with Rome's future enemy Mithridates VI. Simply through a single conversation and his military reputation, he apparently convinced Mithradates that any plans for actions against Roman territory would be a disaster for him. His reputation as a force of power increased substantially, even while the Senate reviled him. While Marius drifted into political obscurity however, it was not to be the last of him. Rebellion among the Italians would force Marius to return within a decade, just as one major opponent, Sulla, was growing in power.


Siege of Capsa, 107 BC - History

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How Human Beings Almost Vanished From Earth In 70,000 B.C.

Add all of us up, all 7 billion human beings on earth, and clumped together we weigh roughly 750 billion pounds. That, says Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, is more than 100 times the biomass of any large animal that's ever walked the Earth. And we're still multiplying. Most demographers say we will hit 9 billion before we peak, and what happens then?

Well, we've waxed. So we can wane. Let's just hope we wane gently. Because once in our history, the world-wide population of human beings skidded so sharply we were down to roughly a thousand reproductive adults. One study says we hit as low as 40.

Forty? Come on, that can't be right. Well, the technical term is 40 "breeding pairs" (children not included). More likely there was a drastic dip and then 5,000 to 10,000 bedraggled Homo sapiens struggled together in pitiful little clumps hunting and gathering for thousands of years until, in the late Stone Age, we humans began to recover. But for a time there, says science writer Sam Kean, "We damn near went extinct."

I'd never heard of this almost-blinking-out. That's because I'd never heard of Toba, the "supervolcano." It's not a myth. While details may vary, Toba happened.

Toba, The Supervolcano

Once upon a time, says Sam, around 70,000 B.C., a volcano called Toba, on Sumatra, in Indonesia went off, blowing roughly 650 miles of vaporized rock into the air. It is the largest volcanic eruption we know of, dwarfing everything else.

That eruption dropped roughly six centimeters of ash — the layer can still be seen on land — over all of South Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian and South China Sea. According to the Volcanic Explosivity Index, the Toba eruption scored an "8", which translates to "mega-colossal" — that's two orders of magnitude greater than the largest volcanic eruption in historic times at Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which caused the 1816 "Year Without a Summer" in the northern hemisphere.

With so much ash, dust and vapor in the air, Sam Kean says it's a safe guess that Toba "dimmed the sun for six years, disrupted seasonal rains, choked off streams and scattered whole cubic miles of hot ash (imagine wading through a giant ashtray) across acres and acres of plants." Berries, fruits, trees, African game became scarce early humans, living in East Africa just across the Indian Ocean from Mount Toba, probably starved, or at least, he says, "It's not hard to imagine the population plummeting."

Then — and this is more a conjectural, based on arguable evidence — an already cool Earth got colder. The world was having an ice age 70,000 years ago, and all that dust hanging in the atmosphere may have bounced warming sunshine back into space. Sam Kean writes "There's in fact evidence that the average temperature dropped 20-plus degrees in some spots," after which the great grassy plains of Africa may have shrunk way back, keeping the small bands of humans small and hungry for hundreds, if not thousands of more years.

It didn't happen right away. It took almost 200,000 years to reach our first billion (that was in 1804), but now we're on a fantastic growth spurt, to 3 billion by 1960, another billion almost every 13 years since then, till by October, 2011, we zipped past the 7 billion marker, says writer David Quammen, "like it was a "Welcome to Kansas" sign on the highway."

In his new book Spillover, Quamman writes:

We're unique in the history of mammals. We're unique in this history of vertebrates. The fossil record shows that no other species of large-bodied beast — above the size of an ant, say or an Antarctic krill — has ever achieved anything like such abundance as the abundance of humans on Earth right now.

But our looming weight makes us vulnerable, vulnerable to viruses that were once isolated deep in forests and mountains, but are now bumping into humans, vulnerable to climate change, vulnerable to armies fighting over scarce resources. The lesson of Toba the Supervolcano is that there is nothing inevitable about our domination of the world. With a little bad luck, we can go too.

Radiolab regular Sam Kean's new book on genetics, The Violinist's Thumb, tells the story of Toba, the supervolcano, to explore how human genes record a "bottleneck" or a drastic narrowing of genetic diversity 70,000 years ago. David Quammen's new book Spillover is about people pushing into forests, swamps and places where viruses have been hiding. Those viruses are now beginning to cross over into horses, pigs, bats, birds and, inevitably, they threaten to "spillover" into us. For a virus, or bacteria, 7 billion potential hosts look like a fantastic opportunity.


Age of the Roman Emperors

Augustus’ rule restored morale in Rome after a century of discord and corruption and ushered in the famous pax Romana–two full centuries of peace and prosperity. He instituted various social reforms, won numerous military victories and allowed Roman literature, art, architecture and religion to flourish. Augustus ruled for 56 years, supported by his great army and by a growing cult of devotion to the emperor. When he died, the Senate elevated Augustus to the status of a god, beginning a long-running tradition of deification for popular emperors.

Augustus’ dynasty included the unpopular Tiberius (14-37 A.D.), the bloodthirsty and unstable Caligula (37-41) and Claudius (41-54), who was best remembered for his army’s conquest of Britain. The line ended with Nero (54-68), whose excesses drained the Roman treasury and led to his downfall and eventual suicide. Four emperors took the throne in the tumultuous year after Nero’s death the fourth, Vespasian (69-79), and his successors, Titus and Domitian, were known as the Flavians they attempted to temper the excesses of the Roman court, restore Senate authority and promote public welfare. Titus (79-81) earned his people’s devotion with his handling of recovery efforts after the infamous eruption of Vesuvius, which destroyed the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii.

The reign of Nerva (96-98), who was selected by the Senate to succeed Domitian, began another golden age in Roman history, during which four emperors–Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius–took the throne peacefully, succeeding one another by adoption, as opposed to hereditary succession. Trajan (98-117) expanded Rome’s borders to the greatest extent in history with victories over the kingdoms of Dacia (now northwestern Romania) and Parthia. His successor Hadrian (117-138) solidified the empire’s frontiers (famously building Hadrian&aposs Wall in present-day England) and continued his predecessor’s work of establishing internal stability and instituting administrative reforms.

Under Antoninus Pius (138-161), Rome continued in peace and prosperity, but the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161�) was dominated by conflict, including war against Parthia and Armenia and the invasion of Germanic tribes from the north. When Marcus fell ill and died near the battlefield at Vindobona (Vienna), he broke with the tradition of non-hereditary succession and named his 19-year-old son Commodus as his successor.


Visually Reconstructed Evolution of the Ancient Roman Soldier from 8th century BC to 3rd Century AD

Roman soldier at the Battle of Dyrrhachium, circa 48 BC. Source: Radu Oltean (http://art-historia.blogspot.in/)

Starting out as a backwater inhabited by cattle rustlers who made their camps and rudimentary dwellings among the hills and the swamplands, Rome emerged as the eternal city that was the focal point of an ancient superpower marshaling its influence from the mines of Spain to the sands of Iraq. And while the incredible feat wasn’t ‘achieved in a day’, the sheer scope of Roman ascendancy was fueled by the ancient juggernaut of a military establishment. In a space of less than a millennium, the Romans eclipsed their powerful Italic neighbors survived the sacking of Rome itself possibly lost one-twentieth of their male population in a single battle, fought numerous economy-shattering civil wars – and yet managed to carve out an empire that has been termed as the ‘supreme carnivore of the ancient world’ (by historian Tom Holland). In all of these, the singular factor that played its crucial role was the Roman military, an institution driven by the exploits of the determined and trained ancient Roman soldier.

Now our popular culture tends to identify the Roman soldier as the quintessential Roman legionary of the first centuries of the common era. And while part of this scope holds true, since the Roman Empire did reach its greatest extent in the early phases of 2nd century AD, the notion of a Roman soldier is obviously not a static entity that remained unchanged over the centuries – in terms of both his social status and the arms he bore. Keeping that in mind, let us take a gander at the evolving nature of the ancient Roman soldier over a period of almost a millennium, from circa 8th century BC to 3rd century AD.

The Ancient Roman Soldier, circa late 8th century BC – early 6th century BC

Roman soldiers, circa 8th century BC. Illustration by Peter Connolly

While it may come as a surprise to many, but the Roman army equipment’s archaeological evidence ranges far back to even 9th century BC, mostly from the warrior tombs on the Capitoline Hill. As for the literary evidence, they mention how the earliest Roman armies were recruited from the three main ‘tribes’ of Rome. In any case, the transition of the Roman army from ‘tribal’ warriors to citizen soldiers was achieved in part due to the Roman society and its intrinsic representation (with voting rights) in the Roman assembly.

Early Roman soldiers, circa 7th century BC. Illustration by Richard Hook.

To that end, the early Romans were almost entirely depended on their citizen militia for the protection and extension of the burgeoning faction’s borders. These militiamen were simply raised as levy or legio – which in turn gives way to the term ‘legion’. In essence, the so-called legions of early Rome were ‘poor’ predecessors to the uniformly-equipped and disciplined soldiers of the later centuries.

Early Roman soldier and Italic allies, circa 8th -6th century BC. Source: Pinterest

In fact, the legions of early Rome were conscripted only as part-time soldiers and had their main occupation as farmers and herders. This stringent economic system prevented them from taking part in extended campaigns (that hardly went beyond a month), thus keeping military actions short and decisive. Moreover, these legions had to pay for their own arms and armaments – which at times was compensated only by a small payment from the state.

The Ancient Roman Soldier, circa late 6th century BC – early 4th century BC

Roman hoplite (on right) fighting against the Etruscan warriors. Source: WeaponsandWarfare

The popular notion of the Roman army fighting in maniples is a correct one if only perceived during the later years after 4th century BC. However, in the preceding centuries, the Roman military system was inspired by its more-advanced neighbor (and enemy) – the Etruscans. In fact, the hoplite tactics of mass formation of men fighting with their shield and spear were already adopted by the Greeks by 675 BC and reached the Italy-based Etruscans by early 7th century BC. The Romans, in turn, were influenced by their Etruscan foes, and thus managed to adopt many of the rigid Greek-inspired formations along with their arms.

The Roman hoplites formed the first three classes under the Servian reforms of 6th century BC.

As per historical tradition, the very adoption of the hoplite tactics was fueled by the sweeping military reforms undertaken by the penultimate Roman ruler Servius Tullius, who probably reigned in 6th century BC. He made a departure from the ‘tribal’ institutions of curia and gentes, and instead divided the military based on the individual soldier’s possession of the property. In that regard, the Roman army and its mirroring peace-time society were segregated into classes (classis). Celts attacking the Roman hoplites, early 4th century BC. Illustration by Richard Hook.

According to Livy, there were six such classes – all based on their possession of wealth (that was defined by asses or small copper coins). The first three classes fought as the traditional hoplites, armed with spears and shields – although the armaments decreased based on their economic statuses. The fourth class was only armed with spears and javelins, while the fifth class was scantily armed with slings. Finally, the six (and poorest) class was totally exempt from military service. This system once again alludes to how the early Roman army was formed on truly nationalistic values. Simply put, these men left their homes and went to war to protect (or increase) their own lands and wealth, as opposed to opting for just a ‘career’.

The Ancient Roman Soldier, circa late 4th century BC –

Republican Roman Army, circa late 4th century – illustration by Johnny Shumate.

The greatest strength of the Roman army had always been its adaptability and penchant for evolution. Like we mentioned before how the early Romans from their kingdom era adopted the hoplite tactics of their foes and defeated them in turn. However, by the time of the First Samnite War (in around 343 BC), the Roman army seemed to have endorsed newer formations that were more flexible in nature. This change in battlefield stratagem was probably in response to the Samnite armies – and as a result, the maniple formations came into existence (instead of the earlier rigid phalanx). The Samnite Warriors, circa 4th century. The Romans were probably equipped in a similar Italic fashion. Illustration by Richard Hook.

The very term manipulus means ‘a handful’, and thus its early standard pertained to a pole with a handful of hay placed around it. According to most literary pieces of evidence, the Roman army was now divided up into three separate battle-lines, with the first-line comprising the young hastati in ten maniples (each of 120 men) the second line comprising the hardened principes in ten maniples and the third and last line consisting of the veteran triarii in ten maniples – who probably fought as heavy hoplites (but their maniples had only 60 men). Additionally, these battle-lines were also possibly screened by the light-armed velites, who mostly belonged to the poorer class of Roman civilians.

Triarius and Hastatus, circa late 4th century- early 3rd century BC. Source: Pinterest

Now if we go back to Livy’s description of the classis, we can certainly draw similarities between the economic classes and their corresponding statuses within the manipular system. For example, the primary three classes were now divided into the main fighting arm – and they comprised the hastati (the young and relatively poor) the principes (the experienced and belonging to the middle class) and the triarii (the veterans and relatively well-off citizens). They were complemented by the equites (cavalrymen who belonged to the richest sections of the Roman society) and the contrasting velites (the lightly armed skirmishers who were the poorest).

The Ancient Roman Soldier, circa 3rd century BC – late 2nd century BC

Roman hastati, circa 3rd century BC – lllustration by Johnny Shumate

The military overhaul, indicating the transition from phalanx formations to manipular ones, is sometimes referred to as the Polybian reform (especially in the post 290 BC period). By this time, the citizen militia (or soldiers) of Republican Rome were levied and then assembled in the Capitol on the day that was proclaimed by the Consuls in their edictum. This process was known as dilectus, and interestingly the men volunteers were arranged in terms of their similar heights and age. This brought orderliness in terms of physical appearance, while similar equipment (if not uniform) made the organized soldiers look even more ‘homogeneous’. Starting from left – Hastati, Velites, Triarii, and Principes. The soldiers represent the Polybian reforms, after 275 BC.

The Roman army recruits also had to swear an oath of obedience, which was known as sacramentum dicere. This symbolically bound them with the Roman state, their commander, and more importantly to their fellow comrade-in-arms. In terms of historical tradition, this oath was only formalized before the commencement of the Battle of Cannae, to uphold the faltering morale of the Hannibal-afflicted Roman army. According to Livy, the oath went somewhat like this – “Never to leave the ranks because of fear or to run away, but only to retrieve or grab a weapon, to kill an enemy or to rescue a comrade.” Roman soldiers fighting against Macedon, at the Battle of Pydna, circa 168 BC. Illustration by Angus McBride.

However in spite of oaths and morale-drumming exercises, the bloody day of the Battle of Cannae accounted for over 40,000 Roman deaths (the figure is put at 55,000 by Livy, and 70,000 by Polybius), which equated to over 80 percent of the Roman army fielded in the battle. Now, according to modern estimation, the male population of Rome circa 216 BC was around 400,000. So, considering the number of casualties at the Battle of Cannae, the baleful figures pertained to 5 to 10 percent of the total number of Roman males in the Republic (considering there were also Italic allies present in the battle) – with all the casualties occurring in a single day!

The Ancient Roman Soldier, circa 1st century BC –

Caesar’s legionaries advancing into Gaul. Note the similarity of arms and armaments. Source: Pinterest

The last phase of the Roman Republic was marked by yet another military overhaul, better known as the Marian reforms (circa 107 BC). Alluding to a far more influential course of action than the previous centuries of military reorganizations, these reforms resulted in the military inclusion of the capite censi, the landless Romans who were now assessed in the census and counted as potential recruits that could bolster the army. Consequently, the state was responsible for providing the arms and equipment to these previously disfranchised masses, thus allowing many of the poorer men to be employed as professional soldiers of the burgeoning Roman realm.

Pompey’s guards attacked at the Battle of Pharsalus, circa 48 BC. Source: Pinterest

The reforms also focused on the formation of a standing army, as opposed to conscripted militias who were available seasonally within the timeframe of a year. Furthermore, the amends also touched upon the provision of retirement pensions and land grants to military men who had completed their terms of service. Suffice it to say, the series of reforms credibly improved the prowess of the Roman military machine, especially with the adoption of standardized equipment and training of most ranks of soldiers. Simply put, by the end of this epoch, the Roman legions were far more uniform in their appearance, while adopting systematic policies, orderly discipline, and reliable battlefield tactics. The armies of the ‘very’ Late Roman Republic before the turn of the century. Illustration by Angus McBride.

On the flip side, the Marian reforms indirectly paved the way for the fall of the Roman Republic. The legions, by virtue of their intrinsic organization and habitual fraternity, were more loyal to their ambitious generals than the state and senate. In essence, this was the very same epoch that was witness to the ‘alarming’ triumphs of the soldiers of Julius Caesar, Pompey and Marc Antony (as opposed to the ‘collective’ armies of Rome).

The Ancient Roman Soldier, circa 1st century AD – 2nd century AD

Roman legionary, armored in lorica segmentata, circa mid 1st century AD. Illustration by Angus McBride.

By 6 AD, the initial length of service for a Roman soldier (legionary) was increased to 20 years from 16 years, and it was complemented by the praemia militare (or discharge bonus), a lump sum that was increased to 12,000 sesterces (or 3,000 denarii). And by the middle of 1st century AD, the service was further extended to 25 years. Now beyond official service lengths, the protocols were rarely followed in times marked by wars. This resulted in retaining the legionaries well beyond their service periods, with some men fighting under their legions for over three to four decades. Suffice it to say, such chaotic measures frequently resulted in mutinies.

Roman soldiers during the Second Roman–Dacian War, circa early 2nd century AD. Illustration by Nikolay Zubkov

Many potential recruits were still drawn to the prospect of joining a legion because of the ‘booty factor’. In essence, many charismatic commanders touted the apparent prevalence of loot (and its ‘fair’ distribution), especially when conducting wars against the richer and powerful neighbors. According to Cicero, this might have been the prime factor that motivated the disparate troops under Marc Antony. The popular practice also alludes to the penchant for plundering – with the soldiers tending to strip the dead as the very first act after achieving victory over their foes. Roman-Celtic auxiliaries during the Marcomanni Wars, circa late 2nd century AD. Illustration by Angus McBride.

However, the life of a legionary was not all about triumphs, mutinies, and plundering. There were definitely some progressive measures put forth by the Romans when it came to bravery. For example, if the soldier was severely injured and couldn’t continue further with his military tenure, he was given a missio causaria or medical discharge that was equivalent to honorable discharge or honesta missio. This, in turn, equated to a societal status that was higher than ordinary civilians, which made the discharged legionary exempt from taxes and other civic duties.

The Ancient Roman Soldier, circa 3rd century AD –

Roman soldiers, circa 3rd century AD. Illustration by Nikolay Zubkov

While Roman legions fighting with their full capacity was a regular occurrence during the early 2nd century AD, by the middle of the 3rd century the conflicts faced by the Roman Empire (and the changing emperors) were volatile from both the geographical and logistical scope. And so it was uncommon and rather impractical for the entire legion to leave its provincial base to fight a ‘distant’ war on the shifting frontiers of 3rd century AD.

Phalangarii of emperor Caracalla. Illustration by Johnny Shumate

As a solution, the Roman military commanders sanctioned the use of vexillationes – detachments from individual legions that could be easily transferred without compromising the core strength of a legion (which was needed for fortifying and policing its ‘native’ province). These mobile combat ‘divisions’, comprising one or two cohorts, were usually tasked with handling the smaller enemy forces while being also used for garrisoning duties by strategic points like roads, bridges, and forts. And on rare occasions when the Romans were faced by a large number of opposing troops, many of these different vexillationes were combined to form a bigger field army.

Roman officers, circa late 3rd century AD. Source: Pinterest

Moreover, the importance of detachments was not only limited to the combat-duty bound vexillationes. Emperor Gallienus (who ruled alone from 260 to 268 AD) created his own mobile field army consisting of special detachments from the praetorians, legio II Parthica, and other guard units. Hailed as the comitatus (retinue), this central reserve force functioned under the emperor’s direct command, thus hinting at the ambit of insecurities faced by the Roman rulers and elites during the ‘Crisis of the Third Century’. Interestingly enough, many of ‘extra’ equites (cavalry) that were assigned to each conventional legion, were also inducted as the elite promoti cavalry in the already opulent (and the militarily capable) scope of the comitatus.

Timelapse Showcases The Evolution of a Roman Soldier from circa 9th century BC to 6th century AD –

In the creator’s own words –

The evolution of the Roman heavy infantryman from the dawn of Rome right down to the coming of the Arabs. I’ve deliberately (and to save time) not included light infantry and officers. And while I’ve tried to keep the gear as authentic as I could, my focus was style rather than accuracy.

Book References: The Roman Army: The Greatest War Machine of the Ancient World (Editor Chris McNab) / Roman Legionary 58 BC – AD 69 (By Ross Cowan) / The Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan (By Michael Simkins) / Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier: From Marius to Commodus, 112 BC-AD 192 (By Raffaele D’Amato)

And in case we have not attributed or mis-attributed any image, artwork or photograph, we apologize in advance. Please let us know via the ‘Contact Us’ link, provided both above the top bar and at the bottom bar of the page.


War and Diesease

Greek / Persian War led by Xerxes

Greek/Persian Wars, a series of wars fought by Greek states and Persia over a period of almost half a century. The fighting was most intense during two invasions that Persia launched against mainland Greece between 490 and 479. The Greek triumph ensured the survival of Greek culture and political structures long after the demise of the Persian empire. The league had mixed success, and in 449 BC the Peace of Callias finally ended the hostilities between Athens and its allies and Persia.

The Greek/Persian wax is an important time in period showing how two colonies can hate each other and go into war but end up still living next to each other and adapting to the ways of the other colony.

Julius Caesar Murdered by Senators

The assassination of Julius Caesar was the result of a conspiracy by many Roman senators that he wanted to be dictator. Led by Romans, they stabbed Julius Caesar to death in the Theatre of Pompey in March, 44 BC. Caesar was the dictator of the Roman Republic at the time, having recently been declared dictator perpetuo by the Senate. This declaration made several senators fear that Caesar wanted to overthrow the Senate in favor of tyranny. The conspirators were unable to restore the Roman Republic. Which the assassination led to the Liberators' civil war and, ultimately, to the Principate period of the Roman Empire.

I think this is important because now day conspires mess with a lot of peoples minds especially during political outgoings like debates and disagreements.

Charlemange became Emperor

Charlemange's role as a zealous defender of Christianity, he gave money and land to the Christian church and protected the popes. As a way to acknowledge Charlemagne’s power and strength, his relationship with the church, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans in December, 800 AD, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. As emperor, Charlemagne proved to be a talented diplomat and able administrator of the vast area he controlled. He promoted education and encouraged the Carolingian Renaissance, and instituted economic and religious reforms.

In now days the Pope is still strongly respected and I think this is important in out history because if you are a saint and follow the rules you should be reigned as emperor from the honorable Pope.

The First Crusade

The Crusades were a series of religious wars between Christians and Muslims started primarily to secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groups. In all, eight major Crusade expeditions occurred between 1096 and 1291. The first Crusade consisted of the Crusaders and their Byzantine allies attacking Nicaea, now Turkey, the Seljuk capital in Anatolia. The city surrendered in late June.

This is an important thing to know about in our history because religions are often fought about or against, which in america is your rights to choose whatever religion you want, but other countries are bound to repeat the past if they don't leave each other alone about their religion.

The Black Death

The Black Death arrived in Europe by sea in October 1347 when trading ships docked at the Sicilian port of Messina after a long journey through the Black Sea. The people who gathered on the docks to greet the ships were met with a horrifying surprise: Most of the sailors aboard the ships were dead, and others who were still alive were ill. They were covered in mysterious black boils that oozed blood and pus and gave their illness its name: the “Black Death.” Over the next five years, the mysterious Black Death would kill more than 20 million people in Europe, almost one-third of the continent’s population.

The Black Death is an important aspect to me because I'm interested in diseases which this definitely was and it's just so awing that something so small can wipe out such a large amount of people.