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The Military of ancient Rome Portal

Animation of the growth and decline of Rome throughout its history.

The Military of ancient Rome relates to the combined military forces of Ancient Rome from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. Originally The Roman military consisted entirely of the Roman army, but a small navy was first added during the Samnite Wars and later significantly expanded. The Roman military was intertwined with the Roman state much more closely than in a modern Western nation. Josephus describes the Roman people as "as if born ready armed." and the Romans were for long periods prepared to engage in almost continuous warfare.

For a large part of Rome's history, the Roman state existed as an entity almost solely to support and finance the Roman military. The military's campaign history stretched over 1300 years and saw Roman armies campaigning as far East as Parthia, as far south as Africa and as far north as Britannia.

The makeup of the Roman military changed substantially over its history, from its early history as an unsalaried citizen militia to a later professional force. The equipment used by the military altered greatly in type over time with the Romans adapting to circumstance and showing a willingness to utilise the technology of their enemies, though there were very few technological improvements in weapons manufacture, like the rest of the classical world. For much of its history, the majority of Rome's forces were maintained at or beyond the limits of its territory, in order to either expand Rome's domain, or protect its existing borders.

Selected article

Uniform of Roman legionaries wearing the lorica segmentata, 2nd-3rd century.
The Roman legionary was a professional soldier of the Roman army after the Marian reforms of 107 BC. Legionaries had to be Roman citizens under the age of 45. They enlisted in a legion for twenty-five years of service, a change from the early practice of enlisting only for a campaign. The last five years were on veteran lighter duties.

On the march in unfriendly terrain, the legionary would be loaded down with armour commonly (lorica hamata), (lorica squamata), and 1st-3rd century (lorica segmentata), shield (scutum), helmet (galea), two javelins (one heavy pilum and one light), a short sword (gladius), a dagger (pugio), a pair of heavy sandals (Caligae), a Sarcina (marching pack), about fourteen days worth of food, a waterskin (bladder for water), cooking equipment, two stakes (Sudes murale) for the construction of palisades, and a shovel or wicker basket. The Roman soldier underwent especially rigorous training; discipline was the base of the army's success and the soldiers were relentlessly and constantly trained with weapons and especially with drill — forced marches with full load and in tight formation were frequent. Discipline was important and infractions were heavily punished by the centurions.


Selected biography

Statue picturing Emperor Trajan.
Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus, commonly called Trajan, lived from September 18, 53 to August 9, 117. He was a Roman Emperor from 98117. He was the second of the "Five Good Emperors of the Roman Empire". From 101-102, and then from 105-106 he launched the Dacian Wars, ending with Dacia being added to the Roman Empire as yet another province. From 113-116, he led the successful invasions of Armenia, Persia, and Mesopotamia, bringing the Empire to its greatest territorial extent. He died soon after the invasions in 117, and his adopted son Hadrian took the throne. Soon after Hadrian took the throne, he lost most of the eastern territory, yet Dacia remained a Roman province.

Did you know...

Did you know...

  • that there was a Roman saying 'It has come to the triarii' which described a desperate situation?
  • that the Colosseum's construction was funded by treasure taken from the temple of Jerusalem after the Romans sacked the city in AD 70?
  • that Hannibal Barca swore as a young child that he would never be an ally to Rome,and he upheld that oath until he committed suicide in 183 BC?
  • that the word "palace" came from the Palatine Hill in Rome? On that hill was built the palace of the Roman Emperors.
  • that the year AD 69 was a year in which Rome had four emperors, ending with Vespasian who then ruled for ten years?
  • that on the night July 18 to July 19, 64, the city of Rome suffered from a great fire? The emperor Nero blamed Christians for the fire, but some suspect that it was he who was the arsonist.

Categories

Quotes

  • Roman, remember that you shall rule the nations by your authority, for this is to be your skill, to make peace the custom, to spare the conquered, and to wage war until the haughty are brought low., Virgil, Aeneid
  • Alea iacta est (The die is cast), reportedly said by Gaius Julius Caesar before crossing the Rubicon
  • Silent enim leges inter arma (Laws are silent in times of war), Cicero
  • War gives the right of the conquerors to impose any conditions they please upon the vanquished. , Gaius Julius Caesar
  • The outcome corresponds less to expectations in war than in any other case whatsoever, Livy
  • A bad peace is even worse than war. , Tacitus
  • Veni, Vidi, Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered), Gaius Julius Caesar
  • I found Rome brick, I left it marble., Caesar Augustus

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A lot of the announcements in the Classic Warfare task force of the Wikipedia Military History Project (see box to right) will relate directly to the Roman military - please help out with any of these tasks where you can. In addition you can:

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