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troops in the descending scale of distinction: the garrison of Rome, the legions, the auxilia, and the fleet.



The garrison of Rome consisted of the pretorian guard, nine, later ten, cohortes praetoriae; three, later four, cohortes urbanae; and seven cohortes vigilum, the police and fire department organized in 6 A. D. All these cohorts had an individual strength of 1,000 men. The soldiers of the pretorian cohorts received 720 denarii a year, 3 and served 16 years; those of the urban cohorts received probably 360 denarii and served 20 years. Sejanus as praefectus praetorio concentrated the pretorian cohorts in a single fortified camp on the Viminal Hill in Rome, which increased their esprit du corps and confidence in their own strength. Their insolence became proverbial. It reached a climax when they murdered Pertinax and sold the Empire by auction to Julianus. Septimius Severus took vengeance upon them, dissolved the existing body, and replaced it by a guard composed of soldiers of tried valor chosen from the legions.



Augustus set up a dual system of provincial administration, undertaking himself the management of the provinces in which permanent forces were quartered, and entrusting the others to the control of the senate. The armies in the provinces were composed of legions and auxilia. The legion was the traditional and characteristic division of Roman troops. There were from 5,500 to 6,000 men in each legion. These were divided, at first, into 10 cohorts of about 600 men each, and the cohort into three maniples or six centuries. Later the first cohort received 1,000 men, but was divided into only five



There were twenty-five legions in 23 A. D., and the number in each province was as follows:


Lower Germany 4, Upper Germany 4, Spain 3, Africa 2, Egypt 2, Syria 4, Pannonia 2, Dalmatia 2, and Moesia 2.


Throughout the second second century there Septimius Severus increased them to thirtythirty. 8 three and this was the number under Alexander Severus. 9

Each legion was designated by a number, and an appellation derived from the place of origin, the foe

1 Tacitus, Annales 4, 5.

2 Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VI, 208 (112 a. d.) and III, Diploma LVII, p. 900 (298 a.d.).

3 The denarius was equivalent in value to about twenty cents in the earlier imperial period.

4 Tacitus, Annales 4, 2.

5 There was one noteworthy exception to this rule. In the first century legionary troops were stationed in Africa, a senatorial province.

6 Thus the legion consisted of one cohort of 1,000 men, and nine of about 500 men. The first cohort probably took its stand in the most important position in the legionary battle line.

7 Tacitus, Annales 4, 5.

8 Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VI, 3492 a. b. Dio Cassius 55, 23, 24 and 55, 24, 4.

against whom they operated, special merits, names of deities, methods of formation, etc. The adjectives pia, fidelis, vindex, aeterna, felix, victrix, and firma were frequently added as honorary distinctions. The legionaries served twenty years and received 225, after Domitian, 300 denarii. At the expiration of their term of service they were given allotments of land. The legionaries were clad in a close-fitting woolen tunic. Over this they wore a leathern doublet or cuirass for protection, and, when the weather required it, over the doublet a military cloak (sagum). They wore hob-nailed sandals (caligae). They had a metal helmet with cheek pieces, a rectangular leathern shield (scutum) rimmed with iron with a metal boss (umbo) in the center. The shield was about 4 x 212 feet in dimensions. The characteristic Spanish sword of the legionaries (gladius) was twoedged, the blade 20-24 inches in length, suitable for stabbing rather than cutting. Each man was provided with two javelins (pila) serviceable for hurling or thrusting.

All non-legionary bodies of troops in the provinces were known as auxilia. They were distinguished by the great variety in their equipment and manner of warfare, as contrasted with the uniformity of the legions in these respects, and by their organization into much smaller units of command. The term ala denotes a permanent body of auxiliary cavalry under a single officer, cohors as similar division of infantry. But some cohorts contained both infantry and cavalry, and there was a two-fold basis of strength for both alae and cohorts, some containing about 500, others about 1,000 men. It follows, therefore, that the auxilia according to numerical strength and type of soldiers fall into six different groups.

Ala miliaria
Ala quingenaria..
Cohors miliaria equitata

Cohors miliaria peditata... Cohors quingenaria equitata



240 cavalry, 760 infantry. .1,000 infantry.

.1,000 cavalry. .500 cavalry.

120 cavalry, 380 infantry. Cohors quingenaria peditata .500 infantry. The period of service for the auxiliaries was twenty-five years. They were distinguished from the legionaries by their lighter armament. The auxiliaries were recruited in the earlier imperial period from the non-Roman population. With the extension of Roman citizenship this distinction was gradually eliminated, and the so-called cohortes Italicae civium Romanorum voluntariorum, or cohorts of Roman volunteers, were a noteworthy exception to the rule of non-citizenship in the early period. The auxiliaries not possessing the rights of Roman citizens received them upon the completion of their term of service. In addition to cohorts and alae the auxiliary forces included the numeri. The term numerus denotes a unit of command in a general sense. But in a more limited sense it came to be applied to those units. which were not included within the meaning of the


10 The names applied to these groups and their composi tion are:

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special terms ala and cohors. The exceptional formations called numeri in the limited sense correspond to the irregular bodies in some modern military systems. They varied in size from 300 to 900. They may very likely have grown out of provincial militia, and their equipment and manner of fighting reflected the customs of particular tribes included within the Empire.

The army was quartered in permanent fortified camps and redoubts. The immediate protection of the frontier was regularly entrusted to the auxiliary troops. The legions were usually stationed at some distance to the rear of the actual boundary, where they were held in reserve for real warfare as distinguished from marauding raids. The combination of large fortified camps (castra) 11 for the legions with series of smaller forts (castella) for the auxiliary troops is the distinctive feature of the system of defensive works on the borders of the Empire. Where the frontier was not protected by Nature, continuous defensive barriers were erected. The term limes merely means the boundary as marked off in some way. But from association with the marvelous defensive works erected along the boundary line the word limes inevitably suggests these monuments of Roman energy. 12

Eventual forms of the 'limes defensive barrier are the famous stone wall extending across Britain from the Solway Firth to the mouth of the Tyne, which is commonly attributed to Hadrian though really later than Septimius Severus, the earthen rampart with accompanying ditch called "Pfahlgraben in Upper Germany, and the stone wall known as the Teufelsmauer on the northern line of Rhaetia. The castella stood at convenient intervals, and usually protected the points where highways traversed the fortified boundary line. 13 They varied in the extent of their enclosed area according to the numerical strength of the bodies of troops which they were intended to shelter. 14



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The legionary castra were intended, from the time of Domitian, to shelter each a single legion. We

11 The term castra includes temporary as well as permanent camps. As is commonly known, the Romans fortified their camps when making a halt even for a single night. Fortified camps intended for occupation for a long period were distinguished as castra hiberna.


12 Allusion has already been made to the monumental publication of the discoveries made along the "limes Germany. Investigations of the Roman defensive works in Scotland have been brought together by Macdonald in "The Roman Wall in Scotland," London, 1911. For England the reader may be referred to J. C. Bruce, "Handbook to the Roman Wall," London, 1895, which requires correction as regards the chronology of the various works of fortification by comparison with Krüger, “Die Limesanlagen in nördlichem England," published in the Jahrbücher des Vereins von Altertumsfreunden in Rheinlande, Vol. 110 (1905).

13 A general discussion of the castella may be consulted in George H. Allen, "The Roman Cohort Castella," University Studies, Series II, Vol. III, No. 2, Cincinnati, 1907. 14 5,000 to 60,000 square yards.

know less about them than about the castella. The usual form of castra and castella is that of a rectangle more or less elongated and with rounded corners. The reconstruction of one of the castella on the German line called the Saalburg about fifteen miles north of Frankfurt affords a fascinating picture of the garrison life of one of the bodies of auxiliary troops guarding the Roman boundary. The highway leading to the principal gate of the Saalburg was lined for some distance on both sides with wine-shops and other places of business which provided for the needs or amusement of the soldiers.

The chief stations of the Roman fleet were at Misenum and Ravenna on the opposite coasts of Italy. The period of service in the fleet was twenty-six years. The war vessels varied in size from those of one (actuariae), to those of eight, or even more, banks of rowers. A trireme (three banks of oarsmen) was 149 feet in length, fourteen in width at the water-line, eighteen on deck, with a draught of 232 tons, manned by 174 oarsmen developing twentyfour horse-power, twenty sailors, and ten marine soldiers. 15

2. THE RECRUITING DISTRICTS AND PROFESSOR SEECK'S THEORY.-Under the Early Empire three distinct areas were set off in connection with the enlistment of Roman citizens into the army. The relative dignity of the bodies of troops drawing recruits from each of these areas corresponded with the length of time that Roman citizenship had been possessed within the respective area. Thus the pretorian guard was recruited in Rome, the regions adjacent to Rome, and the oldest burgher colonies in Italy. The legionaries were drawn from the remainder of Italy. The citizens in the provinces who wished to serve were enrolled in the cohorts of volunteers, which have already been mentioned. Whenever either of the more distinguished recruiting areas did not afford the required number of men, the deficiency was supplied from the area next below it in dignity. Our records bear witness to a progressive exhaustion of these areas beginning at the heart of the Empire and proceeding outwards. As early as the time of Claudius the pretorian guard was recruited from all Italy, citizens from the provinces were admitted into the legions, and the distinction of origin between the soldiers of the volunteer cohorts and those of the other auxilia passed away. By the time of Hadrian, Italy no longer supplied the entire pretorian guard, and under his successor, Antoninus Pius, the requirement of previous possession of Roman citizenship for legionary recruits was abandoned. Henceforth each legion was recruited in the locality where it was stationed. As a natural consequence, from the time when Septimius Severus established the rule of selecting the pretorian guard from the legionary troops, recruits from Italy disappeared altogether from the army, and one of the characteristic features of the early medieval period was thereby brought into ex

15 The corresponding figures for a quinquereme are 168 feet, eighteen feet, twenty-six feet, 534 tons, forty-two horsepower, 310 oarsmen, and 375 men in all.

istence, -the exclusion of Italians from military activity. Delbrück 16 has strikingly illustrated the fact that the superiority of the Romans over their enemies in the imperial period was exclusively a superiority in civilization. But the effect of the tendency just indicated was to lower continuously the standard of culture in the Roman army, while at the same time the barbarians were taking on some degree of civilization by contact with the Romans. Thus the difference between the opposing forces gradually disappeared. Eventually, when the military vigor of the provincials had been undermined, the barbarians were the only useful soldiers, and were eagerly engaged as mercenaries by the imperial authorities to protect the enfeebled Empire.

That Italy, which provided more than 150,000 soldiers of the legions and garrison of Rome under Augustus directly after the exhausting civil wars, could not maintain with the necessary recruits the 10,000 men of the pretorian guard two centuries later, is clearly the result of a revolution in national temperament of fundamental importance. This transformation is interesting, alike for the student of history and sociology. It is intimately connected with the discussion of a very practical question in the world to-day. Professor Otto Seeck attributes the enervation of Italy and of the Empire to the method of supplying the army by means of volunteer enlistments. 17

According to Seeck's theory the bravest and hardiest in every community were systematically attracted as recruits for military service by the comparatively favorable terms, and their own thirst for adventure. But those who possessed in this way a monopoly of military employment, and presumably of military qualities, were, by reason of their long period of service and the rule that deprived them as soldiers of the privilege of marrying, prevented from leaving an adequate offspring. This continual drain upon the warlike element in Roman society, permitting no opportunity for replenishment, finally exhausted it completely, and left the Romans incapable of defending themselves. In his searching examination of the causes of the downfall of the ancient world, Seeck ascribes a prominent place to this factor. The question of expediency in methods of raising armies is charged with absorbing interest at the present time, when the two most prominent opposing powers in the European struggle maintain their permanent military establishments, one on the basis of the universal obligation to service, the other on the basis of volunteer enlistments. German authorities maintain that the system of universal conscription

16 Hans Debrück, Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politischen Geschichte," 2d ed. First Part, Berlin, 1908. Second Part, Berlin, 1909.

17 O. Seeck, 66 Geschichte des Untergangs der antiken Welt," Berlin, 1897. The chapters on the Roman Army (Das römische Heer), Vol. 1, pages 235-269, on the Elimination of the Fittest (Die Ausrottung der Besten), pages 270308, and on the Emperor and His Officers (Der Kaiser und seine Offiziere), Vol. 2, pages 3-51, are especially illuminating.


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by equalizing the burden and supposed advantages of military service ensures the maintenance of national vigor and the propagation of the qualities which are necessary for military efficiency.

3. OFFICERS. The emperor (imperator) was supreme commander of all the forces. The officers in the military establishment of the Roman Empire may be divided on the basis of a somewhat loose analogy with military hierarchies of the present day, into generals, regimental officers, and company chiefs. We may reckon as generals the praefectus praetorio, praefectus urbi, and praefectus vigilum, commanders of the three bodies of troops making up the garrison of Rome; the legati Augusti pro praetore, or lieutenants of the emperor, commanders of the armies in the respective imperial provinces as well as civil governors of the same, the legati commanding the individual legions (legatus legionis), together with the bodies of auxiliary troops associated with each legion, and the prefects commanding the two principal fleets. As regimental officers may be classed the tribunes in the garrison of Rome, one for each cohort, the praefectus alae, one in command of every body of cavalry, the tribuni militum, six to every legion, the praefectus legionis, one for every legion, and the praefectus cohortis, one commanding every auxiliary cohort of 500 men, those of 1,000 men having tribunes as officers. As company chiefs may be counted the centurions of all centuries of infantry and the decurions of all turmae, or companies of cavalry, also the trierarchi, navarchi, centurions, etc., commanders on individual ships in the fleet. In addition to the classes of officers enumerated, there was a large number of subalterns, known as principales, between the rank of common soldier and centurion, corresponding to the non-commissioned officers and men detailed from the ranks for special duties in modern armies.


The division of society into classes was reflected in the selection of officers. A careful investigation of the annals of the republican period has failed to reveal a single certain example of an officer who did not possess the equestrian census, or property qualification, and when we reflect that the highest magistrates exercised military as well as civil authorabove statement, we perceive how in reality the govity, and were therefore included as generals in the ernment of Rome was far from being a democratic republic. Under the Early Empire, the senatorial, equestrian and plebeian classes were officially distinguished. In the main, the generals were chosen from the senatorial class, regimental officers from the equestrian class, and centurions and principales from the plebeian class; but there were some very important exceptions to this rule arising chiefly from two causes, which are historically significant. The first of these causes was the distrust felt by the emperors for officers of high birth, which led them to choose the praefectus praetorio, or pretorian prefect, and

18 Madvig, "Kleine philologische Schriften," Leipsic, 1875, pages 477-560. Officer is here used in a sense corresponding to that of the expression commissioned officer, that is, including all who took rank above the centurions.

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praefectus vigilum from the equestrian class, these two being the most important military commanders in Rome. The second cause was possibly related to the first. It was an arrangement by virtue of which deserving centurions could pass the social barrier and receive promotion to positions reserved to officers of the equestrian class. A discussion of this institution, which may be called the primipilate, involves a general consideration of advancement. 19

Subalterns (principales) in the garrison of Rome who wished to remain in the army after the completion of their sixteen years of service formed a special class called evocati, with functions appropriate to their experience. Centurions in Rome were always selected from the evocati. The legionary centurions were chosen largely from among the centurions and principales in Rome, although legionary principales also appear among them. Some officers commenced their military career as centurions, although those who did this were members of the equestrian class for the most part. The ranking centurion in each legion was called primus pilus. Upon completing their tenure of this position primi pili received a gratification from the emperor sufficient to qualify them for admission to the equestrian class, and formed a group known as primipilares. Some primipilares retired at once from the service while others remained as aspirants for further promotion. The tribuneships in the cohorts composing the garrison of Rome were almost exclusively reserved for those who had passed through the primipilate. The emperors evidently desired to have about them regimental officers of well tested fidelity, who owed their positions to imperial favor.

A preliminary period of military service was required of members of both the higher classes before entering upon their customary civil career. In fulfilling this obligation the representatives of the equestrian class usually occupied, probably during the period of a year respectively, some or all of the positions as praefectus cohortis, tribunus militum (legionis), and praefectus alae, while those whose birth entitled them to aspire to the senatorial career held the position of tribunus militum (legionis). The latter returned to the army, after having held magistracies in Rome, as generals and provincial gov


The growing aversion for military service, to which allusion has been made, extended to the upper classes, with the result that by the third century officers of senatorial and equestrian birth disappeared almost entirely from the army, and their places were taken by those who had been promoted from the ranks.


A single article by Mommsen, although published in 1889, and with the expressed intention of stimu


19 The epigraphic evidence is collected in George H. Allen, "The Advancement of Officers in the Roman Army," Supplementary Papers of the American School of Classical Studies in Rome," Vol. 2, New York, 1908, pages 1-25.

20 Das römische Militärwesen seit Diocletian," Hermes, Vol. 24 (1889), pages 195-279.

lating investigation in this field, contains practically all that we know to this day about the military system of the Late Empire. A few words must suffice to indicate the vast political and social movements which determined the most significant features of the system of this period.

The civilizing process which was active in the provinces had greatly diminished the degree of social superiority and political prestige originally enjoyed by Italy. One effect of this levelling process is seen in the general grant of Roman citizenship by Caracalla to the inhabitants of the Empire. Although a fixed rule of succession to the imperial throne had never been established, the choice of new emperors during the first two centuries had usually been effected without violence. But in the third century, when the provincial populations believed themselves to be just as truly Roman as the people of Italy herself, and Italians no longer made up the core of the military establishment, ambitious generals laid claim to the purple with startling frequency, and were supported by their respective armies. For a considerable period the Empire was filled with turmoil and seemed to be on the point of dissolution, and the barbarians took advantage of this condition to ravage the frontier provinces far and wide. Added to these evils, a monetary crisis, the almost complete disappearance of the precious metals from circulation, reduced the Empire to the primitive economic system of exchanges in kind.

When stable government was at length re-established, the military organization had undergone an almost complete transformation. In the earlier period the army had been distributed along the frontier; no large bodies of troops had been kept together in readiness for war on an extensive scale. But the more threatening aspect of the barbarians now made such field armies necessary, and in consequence the fundamental distinction arose between the milites ripenses, riparienses, or limitanei, who were stationed in detachments to guard the frontier, and the comitatenses, or mobile forces, who were concentrated mainly at the four imperial residences, Nicomedia, Sirmium, Milan, and Trier. The numerical strength of the military establishment, which was probably about 350,000, under the Early Empire, seems to have been greatly increased, but the efficiency of the limitanei at least fell far below the former standard. After the disappearance of an adequate medium of exchange, provision was made for the army by contributions of food, clothing, and weapons levied upon the civil population. The limitanei received territories adjacent to their forts, the produce of which was to provide wholly or in part for their maintenance, and these lands passed from one generation to the next, together with the obligation of military service. Thus the limitanei became a militia of peasants, and were of very slight historical import


A body of troops under the regular command of a single officer was called in this period a numerus. The numeri of cavalry were known as cunei equitum,

equites, and alae; those of infantry, legiones, auxilia, and cohortes. They varied in strength from 500 men to 1,000 men. Even the older legions seem to have been divided into units containing about 1,000 men each. The officers in command of numeri bore the titles of tribunus, praefectus, and praepositus. The duces corresponded as generals to the former legati Augusti; but military and civil administration were no longer exercised by the same persons. highest generals, who accompanied the emperor, were called magister equitum and magister peditum, re


Blackboard Work in History Classes


That the value of blackboard work to history students is so little appreciated is a fact to be deplored. As a means of instruction in history classes, it should stand high, because it gives such an excellent opportunity for self-activity and self-expression, as well as for memory test, sense appeal, accuracy, and neat


The conscientious history teacher who prepares large classes for college usually finds himself overwhelmed with an avalanche of papers that threaten to crush him entirely, or at least destroy those blessed possessions cheerfulness and joy in his work. He must either throw many of these laboriously written themes aside, uncorrected, or spend an enormous amount of time and of energy correcting them, only to see them all too often crumpled and tossed into the waste basket by their owners who care more for marks than they do for mistakes. Much of this unprofitable labor might be avoided by substituting for many of these compositions the sensible method of blackboard exercises. This is not difficult to do, as children enjoy writing on the board; and soon grow used to expressing their ideas upon it in a careful, orderly manner.

spectively, or, when their functions were combined in the same individual, magister utrius que militiae.

The old standard of relative distinction according to the nationality of the soldiers was now reversed, the soldiers being most esteemed who were most barbarian. Finally the terms miles and barbarus came to be employed synonymously, and we may note in conclusion that the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West was not the consequence, in a military sense, of the defeat of Romans by barbarians, but of the substitution in the Roman armies themselves of barbarians for Romans.

At the first of the recitation hour, the instructor might assign several topics for composition to be written immediately upon the board. Later the pupils should read aloud their themes for the class to criticize. By such an exercise the pupil's powers are tested, his ambition aroused to do his best, and his memory trained by expression; while the realization that such an effort may be expected of him, spurs him to study more definitely, to read more extensively, and to think more clearly. The class as a whole also reaps many benefits; for many children, instead of a few, are given an opportunity for oral or written expression within the period; the powers of criticism are trained; facts are made more comprehensible, more interesting, and easier to remember when seen written and heard read in a pupil's words; while discussions that arise over disputed points are of inestimable value in impressing ideas and in offering

lively topics for oral debates. Another important effect of this board work is improvement in spelling. Greek and Latin proper nouns are particularly troublesome to young people. These bugbears may be most quickly and easily conquered by writing and seeing them frequently written on the board.

Every instructor of college preparatory classes has been surprised when certain of his best pupils have failed in examinations. The reason for such failure is usually lack of ability to group ideas in good form, rather than lack of knowledge of the subject matter. This fault may be overcome to a large extent by blackboard work which requires quick thinking coupled with careful expression.

Some other board exercises more often used than compositions are, of course, the drawing of maps and diagrams. These, too, are excellent, as they so often make for clearness and vividness. Outlines, also, should frequently be written on the board by the stu dents. Thus in reviewing the Second Punic War, one pupil might write in topic form the causes; another, the events; and a third, the results. Then the class might be called on to recite on certain subjects selected from the outline. By writing such a plan and by seeing it on the board, all the students would be likely to note the correct order of events and to clarify their hazy knowledge of the war.

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