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Brutal. Ruthless. Astute. The Roman army was one of the most notorious military organizations in history. The spreading of their influence and growth of their army was due to all the battles and wars they were able to win against their foes. Training for years, the Spartan army, which was part of rome, had the common citizens and elite military soldiers ready for any type of battle. The Roman army was able to spread its culture due to its organization, wealth revenue in resources, and advanced weaponry.
Within the Roman army, there are a multitude of ranks and groups. Clearly cut ranks were implemented and essential to the organization of the army. For example, there were large groups called Legions which included approximately 5,500 men. In those legions are ten cohorts, which held around 480 men. While only nine cohorts held 480 men, there was the tenth cohort that consisted of about 800 men in the front of the formation. The commander who ruled the overall legion was called the Legatus Legionis. The Legatus Legionis could be appointed by the emperor and were typically ex-tribunes and would serve as the Legatus Legionis for three to seven years. Another rank for instance would be the equites cohortales. They were an infantry with cavalry elements. However, they were considered, “inferior to that of the equites alares” (Tripod, Auxiliary Rank Structure). There was also a multitude of other roles within the Roman army that assisted in the development of Rome such as; Acceneus, Cacula, Aeneator, Clinicus, and many other more.
Burgeoning very quickly, the Roman army had a swift and massive uprising. Rome’s future possibility of becoming an Empire was reassured by Augustus. He wanted to stabilize the
Vaguely defined borders of the Roman Empire. His two ideas included his overcoming military power to take the regions of his boundaries by force, or by negotiating with other places on deciding proper boundaries This shows how Augustus knew his army was more superior than most and could easily overcome such an easy task. However, he particularly wanted to become allies with them so they would provide some sort of protection to Rome’s borders. But, before his army was able to take on conquests, they were typically practicing on small plundering raids. Their leaders could “Possibly be their leaders were the ancestors of those who would become the patricians” (The-Romans PAR 1). One of the first grand scale battles of the roman army was when Romulus was in charge. He kidnapped the Sabine women for his mostly male military to put them in wedlock with them. The Caeninenses king was outraged by this and attacked the roman army. He charged. He lost his army. He lost his life.
Being a large army, cost a lot of money, food, man-power, and supplies in the beginning, but would pay off in the end. The tax rate in rome depended on how much land you had and how much money you acquired. The tax was typically modest and was only about 1%. However, in times of war, or just overall lack of supplies, the tax rate would jump to 3%. Throughout the roman army’s conquests and siege, they had collected a plethora of silver and gold and other valuable resources that they no longer needed to levy a tax on its citizens, in Italy, and solely looked to the provinces for collection. Later, due to roman expansion, Augustus completely reformed tax farming. The tax when the roman army was first coming together was essential to their uprising and supplying of resources.
The Roman uniform and armor helped the soldiers not get wounded in battle. One of the many pieces of armor they wore, was the cassis, or the helmet. This helmet in particular was tactfully made for sword fights. Going around the metal helmet is a protruding piece that would protect against swift attacks to head. Also, the back of the helmet had a guard to defend against blows to the neck. Underneath the guard was a soft scarf to protect against the pressure of the helmet and guard on the neck. The body armor however, protected each side of the soldier, while the helmet only protected the top and back. It was made of overlapping strips of metal. Fastened with hooks and leather straps, the pieces would be pulled to the inside keeping it together. For the clothing aspect of the uniform, it was less complex however. The Roman soldier uniform consisted of a a woolen tunic that went down to their knees underneath their armor. The Romans “believed that it was effeminate to wear trousers”(John), so they would only be allowed to wear the tunic and in some different areas, leather, skin-tight, trousers. These parts of the roman outfit allowed for the best movement, and protection during battles in the Roman army.
One of the best army’s, comes with some of the best military technology advancements. It is said that the Romans were more advanced than their time,“it was undoubtedly the Romans who pushed the scope of progressive technologies and deep tactical developments that directly affected their battlefield effectiveness” (Dattatreya), is one example of people acknowledging the romans technological prowess. One of the Roman’s many military innovations is the, Carroballista. The Ballista mechanism is thought to be invented in the 5th century. Roman torsion catapult gadgets normally resembled a cross-bow in outline and had a wooden or, far superior, metal edge comprising of a stock, winch and base. ArcheoArt has portrayed the weapon in a few points of interest, in view of the reproduction of Michael Lewis:
“The caroballista: a powerful descendent of the Roman ballistae and catapultae. This two-man example is being used at some point in the Dacian War. It shoots heavy bolts, and is an extremely powerful weapon, thanks to the wide sweep of the arms, which transmit a huge amount of stored spring-energy to the ammunition. The sinew-loaded spring frames are made of iron, and have tough leather covers to protect them from enemy fire, and the weather… To shoot, one man turns the windlass to draw back the slider and rope, while his crew-mate holds it steady, and places a bolt on the slider; he then holds the tiller and aims, while the first pulls the trigger-bar. The whole weapon is light enough for its two-man crew to move it around and load it onto a cart when the division has to move; in this way, it is the equivalent of a WW2 Bren-gun.” (Dattatreya)
Another weapon that greatly advanced and assisted the Roman army in battle was the Corvus. Controlling the land, the romans were not able to have control of the mediterranean. They were considered “Relative newcomers to the mediterranean influence” (Dattatreya). So, to help themselves in naval battles, they created the Corvus. The Corvus was an essential piece to letting the romans take their boat battles to more hand to hand combat, which they excelled at, while still on the boats. Being a 12 foot long plank, the Corvus was able to attach to nearby ships and cling to them, allowing the soldiers to swiftly rush across and commence an assault on the enemies ship, typically the Carthaginians.
Passively assisting the romans, roads and pathways provided much swifter routes to other places to which they needed to go. Truth be told, expressways and streets were an inherent piece of the strategic degree kept up by the Roman Empire at its height, to such an extent that the monstrous network of streets following second century AD are about an incredible 250,000 miles, of which more than 50,000 miles were created with stone pavement. About 29 different highways all lead from Rome to other common areas. The many roads, over 340, and highways had an immense impact on the official communications for orders and transporting goods from areas they had conquered and were settling in. The roads were mainly used for military purposes and travelling though. According to Dattatreya, “…highways are estimated to have allowed the Roman legions to travel as fast as 25 miles per day.” This allowed for communication and the sharing of news and intel quickly to Rome and back to the Legions.
Unified. Technological advances. Taxes. These three ideas from Rome and its leaders helped construct Rome’s army to the best it could’ve been. The unity of the army and Rome itself help people identify with each other, protect themselves, and work as a team, or legion if you will. Most of their technological advances were original and surprising to their foes. This kept the Romans with the element of surprise to strike their enemies with when they least expected it. Taxing was also a lively influence on the army that helped its development. The large amounts of revenue flowing in from Rome, and from other areas of which they had control was able to provide food and resources when they needed it, until they found a source of precious metals in Italy. The diverse weaponry, formations, ranks, and people of the roman military lead it to be one of the greatest of the time. Wrapping up, this exemplifies how the roman army paved the ground, literally, for warfare and training at the same time through strategic plans and intense training.
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