21 Facts About Roman military


Titus Flavius Josephus, a contemporary historian, sometime high-ranking officer in the Roman army, and commander of the rebels in the Jewish revolt describes the Roman people as if they were "born readily armed".

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At the time of the two historians, Roman society had already evolved an effective military and had used it to defend itself against the Etruscans, the Italics, the Greeks, the Gauls, the maritime empire of Carthage, and the Macedonian kingdoms.

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Military's campaign history stretched over 1300 years and saw Roman armies campaigning as far east as Parthia, as far south as Africa and Aegyptus and as far north as Britannia.

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The makeup of the Roman military changed substantially over its history, from its early days as an unsalaried citizen militia to a later professional force, the Imperial Roman army.

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The equipment used by the Roman military altered greatly in type over time, though there were very few technological improvements in weapons manufacture, in common with the rest of the classical world.

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Unlike opponents such as the Gauls, who were fierce individual warriors, Roman military training concentrated on instilling teamwork and maintaining a level head over individual bravery - troops were to maintain exact formations in battle and "despise wild swinging blows" in favor of sheltering behind one's shield and delivering efficient stabs when an opponent made himself vulnerable.

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However, since the Roman state did not provide services such as housing, health, education, social security, and public transport that are part and parcel of modern states, the military always represented by far the greatest expenditure of the state.

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Secondly, the Roman military boosted its numbers, possibly by one third in a single century.

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Third, the Roman military increasingly relied on a higher ratio of cavalry units in the late empire, which were many times more expensive to maintain than infantry units.

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Roman military engineering took both routine and extraordinary forms, the former a proactive part of standard military procedure, and the latter of an extraordinary or reactionary nature.

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Proactive Roman military engineering took the form of the regular construction of fortified camps, in road-building, and the construction of siege engines.

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The Roman military army had derived from a militia of main farmers and the gain of new farmlands for the growing population or later retiring soldiers was often one of the campaign's chief objectives.

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Up to half of the funds raised by the Roman state were spent on its military, and the Romans displayed a strategy that was more complicated than simple knee-jerk strategic or tactical responses to individual threats.

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However, Luttwak points out that whilst the uniform possession of armour gave Rome an advantage, the actual standard of each item of Roman military equipment was of no better quality than that used by the majority of its adversaries.

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The relatively low quality of Roman military weaponry was primarily a function of its large-scale production, and later factors such as governmental price-fixing for certain items, which gave no allowance for quality and incentivized cheap, poor-quality goods.

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Roman military readily adopted types of arms and armor that were effectively used against them by their enemies.

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Besides personal weaponry, the Roman military adopted team weaponry such as the ballista and developed a naval weapon known as the corvus, a spiked plank used for affixing and boarding enemy ships.

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Expansion of the Roman Empire was achieved through military force in nearly every case.

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The Roman military cavalry was known for their use of horses in combat and scouting purposes.

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Roman military surgery was quite intuitive, in contrast to common thought of ancient surgery.

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The Roman military surgeons used a cocktail of plants, which created a sedative similar to modern anesthesia.

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