The Early Roman Army Essay

378 WordsFeb 2, 20142 Pages
The Early Roman army of the Roman kingdom and of the early republic (to c. 300 BC). During this period, when warfare chiefly consisted of small-scale plundering-raids, it has been suggested that the Roman army followed Etruscan or Greek models of organization and equipment. The early Roman army was based on an annual levy. According to Michael Ivanovich Rostovtzeff, “the army consisted of the entire population”. The infantry ranks were filled with the lower classes while the cavalry, equites or celeres, were left to the patricians. This was done so because the wealthier could afford horses. Moreover, the commanding authority during the regal period was the high king. Until the establishment of the Republic, as well as the consuls, the king assumed the role of “commander-in-chief”. However, in 508 B.C. Rome no longer had a king. The commanding position of the army was given to the consuls; “who were charged both singly and jointly to take care to preserve the Republic from danger”. The term legion is derived from the Latin word “legio”; which ultimately means draft or levy. At first there were only four legions. These legions were numbered “I to IIII”, with the fourth being written as such and not IV. The first legion was seen as the most prestigious. The latter being a reoccurring theme in many elements of the Roman Army. As mentioned before, the bulk of the army was citizens. These citizens did not get to choose which legion the wanted to be in. Any man “from ages 16-46 were selected by ballot” and assigned to a legion. Up until the Roman military disaster of 390 B.C at the Battle of Allia, Rome’s army was organized in similarity to the Greek Phalanx. This was due to Greek influence in Italy “by way of their colonies”. Patricia Southern quotes ancient historians Livy and Dionysius in saying that the “phalanx consisted of 4000 infantry and 600 cavalry”. Each man had
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