The Life and Times of the Typical Roman Legionaire

The

Life and Times of the Typical Roman Legionaire

The life of a typical Roman Legionaire
was a hard one. The combination of brutal training, discipline and organization,
and long forced marches with many pounds of equipment all contributed to
this, but because of these, the Roman Legions were a force to be reckoned
with in the ancient world. The purpose of this website is to demonstrate
that though the life of a Legionaire was a tough one, it is because of
this that the Roman Empire was so succesful. This website will describe
the hardships of training, discipline and organization, and the marches
that contributed to the hard life of a legionaire.

The brutal training of the Roman Legionaire
was tough, but very neccesary in order to make the lethal war machine of
the Empire function properly. First of all, to even become eligible for
the army, you had to be a 5'8" Roman citizen, you could be another nationality
but you would be classified as an auxilliary, and you had to be in good
health. You would then be rigorously trained by the Centurions whom you
would fear worse than the enemy, for they would be swift and brutal with
punishments. Forced marches while in precise formation and carrying all
your equipment and armour would all be part of a normal day. You would
be expected to be able to swim with and without your armour on, and be
able to march for 20 miles with 60-80 lbs of equipment without breaking
formation. The soldiers were trained relentlessly in fighting in formation
with different types of weapons, and also single combat. The standard drill
involved using a sword against a post embedded in the ground, or against
a real opponent, over and over again so a soldier could learn where to
hit, and to hit that point accurately. The Armatura, or Gladiatorial drill,
was also used to allow to equally, or otherwise, matched opponents to spar
against each other. All this training lead to the final orginization of
the legion.

The training, coupled with the orginization
and discipline of the legionaires made them the premiere fighting force
of the ancient world. The Roman army was divided up into ranks, much like
a modern military is today, which allowed a great amount of control to
be used in a tough battle situation. A new soldier accepted into the army
was given the rank of hastati and was assigned to a contubernium, the smallest
unit in the Roman army, which was comprised of 8 men, a tent and an ass.

The hastati were the front lines in battle, so high death rates were to
be expected, but these were much less than that of the other armies the
legions fought, due to the training the hastati got before battle. The
next rank, principe, was given to the soldier who had survived 2 or more
battles, and was deemed worthy by his Centurion, and these soldiers comprised
the second rank. The job of the principe was to make sure that the formation
stayed together, and to deal swift punishment by means of death if any
hastati broke ranks and began to run away. The final rank given to a mile
(ordinary soldiers) was that of triarii, or the most vetran soldier of
the unit. This rank was obtained through sheer determination and skill
displayed on the battlefield, and was often the highest rank awarded to
a soldier not of noble blood. The job of the triarii was the same as the
principe, but was also to keep the principes from running and to help fend
off flanking and rear attacks. Because they were the most battle hardened
troops, triarii could enforce punishments given by the centurion of the
unit, and to punish anyone who did not follow orders. The rank given to
soldiers of noble blood, or to triarii who had proven themselves, was the
rank of Centurion. The Centurion was the commander of a unit, similar to
a Battalion Commander in modern day militaries. They had the job of not
only fighting alongside his men, but also dealing punishments, such as
decimation, where one soldier out of ten was selected for the wrongdoings
of another, and the other nine soldiers would stone the luckless soldier
to death. If a Centurion was found worthy, he might even be promoted to
general, but the common Centurion had no hope of this. The Centurion was
also in charge of making sure that all his mens' equipment and armour was
ready to go for the next march out of camp.

The men of a Roman Legion were the best
equipped soldiers in