Christian History Project. This site contains the text of 12 volumes on the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years written from a 'collectively-denominational' Christian perspective.

Roman Legion |
The few, the proud, the Roman Legions are the schools and builders of the empire

Roman Legion is drawn from Chapter Four, beginning on page 108, of Volume Two, A Pinch of Incense of the twelve-volume historical series The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years. If you would like to order this book please visit www.TheChristians.info.

Discipline: If a man sleeps on guard duty, his buddies must beat him to death

Roman Legion - The few, the proud, the Roman Legions are the schools and builders of the empire

Roman Legion – The few, the proud, the Roman Legions are the schools and builders of the empire
(Top) The testudo or “turtle,” a fighting formation creating a protective shell of shields, used to close on the walls of a besieged city. Unlike the Germans, the Romans never had enough iron; their shields were made of oxhide-covered wood, their body armor usually bronze, their helmets often iron. The short sword or gladium was designed, not for slashing, but for stabbing.

It has been said that the fate of a civilization depends on finding something to challenge ambitious young men, born without privilege. If such spirited youth are not somehow brought into the system, they fester as malcontents and outlaws. Rome knew how to handle them. By the second century, its twenty-seven to thirty legions were recruiting almost ten thousand young provincials yearly into their ranks. The rustic young men would be taught how to bathe, how to wield the gladium or short sword, how to throw the pilum or barbed javelin, and mainly how to accept without question the Legion’s discipline. (The penalty for sleeping on sentry duty, for example, was to be beaten to death by one’s tent-mates or contubernium.) After twenty-five years of service, the provincial legionary would retire a Roman citizen, with rudimentary Latin, a full purse and the deed to a farm. Orderly, the legions certainly were. A contubernium of eight shared a tent, a mule and sets of cooking and excavating tools. Ten contuberia made up a century of eighty, commanded by a centurion (equivalent roughly to a captain, today). Six centuries (480 men) formed a cohort, with its head centurion (or pilus prior), standard bearers and horn blowers to maintain cohesion. (The elite First Cohort would have five double-centuries of 160, for a total of 800, including most of the legion’s clerks and specialized artisans.) Ten cohorts would make up a legion of roughly 5,500 soldiers; but it would fight as a unit only in a major campaign.

This is the end of the Roman Legion category article drawn from Chapter Four, beginning on page 108, of Volume Two, A Pinch of Incense. To continue reading more about Roman Legion from The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years we suggest experiencing the rest of the book, complete with hundreds of magnificent illustrations, by ordering it at www.TheChristians.info