Pax Romana to everyone! Number four on countdown is something that drove me to my college major and is probably my favorite ancient civilization of all time. Let’s go Roman on them!
#4 Roman Legionary
Welcome to the Roman war machine and its foot soldier, the legionary. The Roman legionnaires were the professional infantry of the Roman army that propelled the empire to take over the Mediterranean World and beyond for centuries.
So what made the legionary one of the best soldiers in the ancient world? Well, its starts with their training. The average soldier joined the army early on and no one was over the age of 45, giving the Romans a young, athletic and well trained army. They were schooled from the start from the Campus Martius (Camp of Mars, aka the God of War). They were trained in various battle tactics, different weapons, and were very disciplined. They followed the command and were incredible.
Aside from the training that they all underwent, what else made them so great? Well, let’s start with the gear. The infantry wore heavy armor from head to tow, had large shields called a scutum, that they would line up (in the image above) in formations to give them protection from everything. They also fought with spears including one called a pilum that was designed to be thrown and would bend after hitting an enemy or their shield, making it impossible to throw back or making their shield unusable. Then they have their go-to sword called the gladius that was ideal for stabbing. Basically (not including the artillery, archers, cavalry, etc.), the Roman war machine would push forward with their mass of troops, shields and swords, and just push into an enemy and hack and stab an enemy to death. They were deadly, trained, and would march against any foe no matter what. If you want to really see the war machine in action, just watch the opening of the movie Gladiator. While the movie is not accurate, the opening with the military launching projectiles and then marching forward, properly demonstrates how they operated.
The Roman military was the best of the ancient world for a long time and the Roman civilization was one of the most powerful that history has ever seen. In there later years the army relied on foreign conscripts to bolster their ranks, but during Augustus and before, the legionary could best anyone that was foolish enough to take the field against these warriors.