Roman Empire

Louis

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Great scene!, Charlton Heston driving white steeds and Stephen Boyd as the roman tribune driving black ones in the chariot race of Ben-Hur film.
JVFZjiJ.jpg
 
Great scene!, Charlton Heston driving white steeds and Stephen Boyd as the roman tribune driving black ones in the chariot race of Ben-Hur film.
JVFZjiJ.jpg

Just noticed the legionary standing in front right against the wall -- his helmet is way too small -- I guess one size fits all from the costume department. Lucius Fatheadus. :D:D
 
It (the race) is certainly worth watching again while realizing it was done pre-CGI. And, IMHO, the original Ben Hur is soo much better than the recent remake its worth watching even if you've already seen the remake as the movie length provides a lot more flesh to the story line.

IIRC, shortly after the movie was released the story going around is that the famous scene where the charioteer is tossed waay into the air and subsequently trampled by the following chariot resulted in the stunt man's death. Maybe not true, but I can believe it as that scene remains clear in my memory to this day!

If you want to do your own chariot racing there is always this: https://store.steampowered.com/app/297760/Qvadriga/ It is a terrific little "beer & pretzels" game although damned tough to keep your men and horses upright.
 

Louis

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A Roman tourist ship along the Rhine river
I read this ship is an exact replica of a Roman river warship of late antiquity. And this ship was used on the Rhine to defend against the Germans. In the middle of the 3rd Century AD, after the Limes were overrun, the Romans withdrew behind the Rhine & Danube rivers. This new line effectively became the demarcation line between the Roman Empire & the free Germania.
JkrmNjs.jpg

ePgwUVx.jpg


Info:
http://www.lusoriarhenana.de/
 
B

Bert Blitzkrieg

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For me, there must be a better way to spend your holiday! Maybe steering the thing!
 

Bulletpoint

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Looks like a Rome Total War screenshot.

They were heavily photoshopped promotional screenshots published to hype the release of the game Rome: Total War II. The actual game didn't quite look like that.
 

Bulletpoint

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One thing about the Romans that really fascinates me is the way they fought and how all their equipment and training was focused on that. I think a lot of people don't really understand the point of the large shield and the short sword. I only understood it after taking up reenactment battles. Even though our weapons are not sharp, there's a huge mental barrier to stepping into a line of spears. Those things are terrifying. People just stop once contact is made. Then they stand and do what we call "the grind", stabbing away, hoping to take out some enemies before they themseves get taken out.

I am convinced that the Roman way of fighting was to walk straight into the spear line and just keep going. Once you get past the spear points, the spears can't fight effectively, and that's the point where the gladius gets to work.

However, this only works if you and all your comrades are heavily armoured and carry a huge shield. And if the whole unit has the discipline to attack att the same time. If some of your budies hesitate, then you walk into the enemies without support, and you're done for. Each soldier must have the courage to keep walking, and the confidence his brothers in arms will not fail him. That is why the Roman legionaries couldn't just be copied by other peoples. The level of central authority, training, and sheer discipline required was simply not possible in their cultures at that time.

At the moment of contact, the legionaires would have crouched slightly to protect their feet, and ducked down behind the rim of the shield, to protect their face and eyes as they stepped through the spear points. Then they would have raised their heads again and started stabbing.

Unfortunately, this special training, discipline, and tactics is not portrayed in ANY wargame. Instead, the Romans are shown to stop at the moment of contact and then start fencing away, keeping distance to the enemy. That would never have worked against enemies armed with spears.

Dixi.
 
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Badger73

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One thing about the Romans that really fascinates me is the way they fought and how all their equipment and training was focused on that. I think a lot of people don't really understand the point of the large shield and the short sword. I only understood it after taking up reenactment battles. Even though our weapons are not sharp, there's a huge mental barrier to stepping into a line of spears. Those things are terrifying. People just stop once contact is made. Then they stand and do what we call "the grind", stabbing away, hoping to take out some enemies before they themseves get taken out.

I am convinced that the Roman way of fighting was to walk straight into the spear line and just keep going. Once you get past the spear points, the spears can't fight effectively, and that's the point where the gladius gets to work.

However, this only works if you and all your comrades are heavily armoured and carry a huge shield. And if the whole unit has the discipline to attack att the same time. If some of your budies hesitate, then you walk into the enemies without support, and you're done for. Each soldier must have the courage to keep walking, and the confidence his brothers in arms will not fail him. That is why the Roman legionaries couldn't just be copied by other peoples. The level of central authority, training, and sheer discipline required was simply not possible in their cultures at that time.

At the moment of contact, the legionaires would have crouched slightly to protect their feet, and ducked down behind the rim of the shield, to protect their face and eyes as they stepped through the spear points. Then they would have raised their heads again and started stabbing.

Unfortunately, this special training, discipline, and tactics is not portrayed in ANY wargame. Instead, the Romans are shown to stop at the moment of contact and then start fencing away, keeping distance to the enemy. That would never have worked against enemies armed with spears.

Dixi.

Right. Additionally, the Romans first disrupted their opponents somewhat by flinging their pila into the enemy formation; both inflicting casualties and hindering some of their own shield work as the pila bent when sticking in. Then, their discipline allowed Roman soldiers to "rotate" through the fight when their opponents could not. Every few moments, their centurion would signal for the second rank to step forward past the front rank, and for the front rank to step back to the rear. This allowed them to catch their breath and ready themselves for their next round of front rank combat. Their opponents, however, whether Macedonian pikes or Gallic swordsmen, were locked into hand-to-hand fighting for the duration of the melee. Romans just wore them down and tired them out. Best example of that Ive seen is in the first scene of HBO's "Rome". (Except for Titus Pullo, of course . . . :eek:)

 

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Then, their discipline allowed Roman soldiers to "rotate" through the fight when their opponents could not. Every few moments, their centurion would signal for the second rank to step forward past the front rank, and for the front rank to step back to the rear. This allowed them to catch their breath and ready themselves for their next round of front rank combat. Their opponents, however, whether Macedonian pikes or Gallic swordsmen, were locked into hand-to-hand fighting for the duration of the melee. Romans just wore them down and tired them out.

We agree about the pila, but I don't see how the Romans would be able to fight effectively at range using just short swords. They would need to physically walk into the massed spear or pike formation of the enemy to be effective.

At that point, it would have been imposible even for the romans to disengage. But it would have been carnage, because if the spear formation is deep, the front ranks are unable to retreat, so they would get caught between the advancing Romans and their own comrades behind them. A bit like how sometimes there is a crush at concerts or large gatherings - the mass of people has its own momentum.

If the Romans did rotate troops in and out of combat, they would have needed to be fighting with spears. In that case, rotating could have been effective. Not only would it replace the front ranks with fresh troops, it would also disrupt the enemy.
 
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Badger73

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We agree about the pilae, but I don't see how the Romans would be able to fight effectively at range using just short swords. They would need to physically walk into the massed spear or pike formation of the enemy to be effective.

Please pardon me for not writing more clearly. I didn't mean to infer that short swords were effective at range, just that the Romans initially engaged briefly at short range with a heavy throwing weapon while they closed in for the hand-to-hand sword and shield work. I agree with everything you said about the "grind" and appreciated how your personal experiences contribute to understanding it better.

At that point, it would have been impossible even for the Romans to disengage. But it would have been carnage, because if the spear formation is deep, the front ranks are unable to retreat, so they would get caught between the advancing Romans and their own comrades behind them. A bit like how sometimes there is a crush at concerts or large gatherings - the mass of people has its own momentum.

If the Romans did rotate troops in and out of combat, they would have needed to be fighting with spears. In that case, rotating could have been effective. Not only would it replace the front ranks with fresh troops, it would also disrupt the enemy.

All the ancient writers I've read indicate that the Romans did something in particular in the hand-to-hand melee whereby the front ranks in each file cycled to the rear as the rank next rank behind behind them stepped forward upon a signal to push into the enemy as the new front rank. I think they stepped forward into the foe by pushing and punching with their large shields as they jabbed and stabbed with short swords about mid-shield height. It was particularly effective against pikes and spears used by Eastern/Greek armies but also superior to other swordsmen armies like Spaniards and Celts.

I agree with everything you described in your original post. I only mentioned the pila and melee drill as additional details. The Romans fascinate me too.
 

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No worries @Badger73. I find it really fascinating how the Romans identified the weak point of the massed spear formations of their day and designed their whole doctrine around exploiting that weakness to the maximum.

By the way, about the pilum... I've often heard the story about how it was designed to bend on impact, getting stuck in shields. But recently I watched some videos from a British bloke who makes some very good arguments about why he thinks it was not intended to do so.

I'd recommend it for anyone interested in Roman warfare.

 
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Badger73

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By the way, about the pilum... I've often heard the story about how it was designed to bend on impact, getting stuck in shields. But recently I watched some videos from a British bloke who makes some very good arguments about why he thinks it was not intended to do so.

This is a great video. Thanks for posting. A friend of mine observes that the irony of history is that we're always discovering new things about it . . . ;)
I always thought that the pilum shank was designed to be anti-personnel and shield imparing. While the iron pegs sometimes bent and made enemies shields a useless defense, I thought their real use was to make it easier to re-fabricate recovered shanks and shafts after the battle. I suspect the real Roman genius for war was how economical they made logistics; the economies of scale in mass production as well as the cheaper solution of repair and re-use. It took some pretty bad-ass discipline to make that work. I think that they institutionalized warfare as cheaply as possible both tactically and logistically better than their opponents ever could.
 

Louis

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"Flamma, secutor, lived 30 years, fought 34 times, won 21 times, fought to a draw 9 times, defeated 4 times. A Syrian by nationality."

fSwwa5E.jpg

Illustrative image

There are few gladiators who, when offered the rudis (a small wooden sword symbolising freedom), would turn it down in favour of continued combat. Syrian slave and legend of the arena Flamma rejected it on four separate occasions. Of his 34 bouts, 21 were victories, four were missus (a loss, but when the gladiator is spared death by the audience), and nine were stans missus (when both fighters were declared the winner). This went down as one of the most impressive records in gladiatorial history. He lived until the age of 30, when he was killed in the arena.
 
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