Soldiers of the Antiquity (500 BC–500 AD)...

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by Lucky13, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Was the Roman soldier, the Legionare the best soldiers of this time period? Probably would be difficult to compare soldiers to each other, when time period covers a 1000 years, but let's try anyway. Which were better trained, had the better dicipline, could adapt more etc...?:D







    Btw Mods, as I don't see a subforum for anything before the 1800's, I put it here in the off topic section, feel free to move as you see fit...8)
     
  2. Butters

    Butters Member

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    It was not so much that the individual soldiers were better than everyone in the vicinity, as it was the discipline, training and tactics developed by the Romans from the military doctrine of the equally formidable Greeks.

    Historian Victor D Hanson makes the argument that the emphasis on closely regimented shock infantry, direct frontal assaults, and the doctrine of total annihilation of the enemy are the primary causal factor for the global military dominance of the West.

    JL
     
  3. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Equipment- and training-wise
    they were a step ahead of most of their neighbours. Rectangular shields that easily interlocked combined with the comparatively short stabbing weapon, the gladius, invited the enemy to come in close and fight on the inside; while they were attempting to break through the wall of shields, they invariably found themselves being mortally stabbed by a weapon flashing out from behind the wall. A century, either on the move or defending itself, was a difficult unit to break down.

    Tactics were good, strategy was not always so, marching a legion or two forwards, head-down with the intent of punching a big hole in the enemy's line usually worked, not sophisticated or elegant but it worked. The technique came unstuck big-time at Cannae against a clever, mentally agile and tactically mobile enemy.

    Hannibal learned the hard way that when you've got the Roman Army on its knees, you don't let them back up again.

    They moved with the times, so yes, definitely adaptable. They incorporated new weapons and learned from previous defeats, all were rolled into their order of battle so as to avoid making the same mistake twice. They deserve credit for seeing the importance of, and incorporating significantly into their campaigns, the forerunner of the combat engineer in fact all line soldiers had to possess building skills to include construction of military-application structures.

    Given conditions of their choice, they could and did take on armies that significantly outnumbered them, and won. Boudicca considerably outnumbered Paulinus's force but in allowing him complete initiative was utterly defeated.

    The Iceni learned the hard way not to let the Roman Army choose the venue for a punch-up, there was usually a reason for it.

    They came to depend far too heavily on foreign soldiers, I doubt this was the killer blow to the Roman Empire but it very likely didn't help.
     
  4. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I think if you are talking purely of military training, tactics, and weapons it would be difficult to beat the Spartans during their heyday.

    If you throw politics into the mix, probably have to go with the Romans.
     
  5. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Pure warriors....have to go with the Spartans.

    As previously stated, dicipline, training, tactics, armor and weapons, the nod goes to the Roman soldier.

    The Greeks (apart from the Spartans) were no slouches either. Just ask the Persians.

    TO
     
  6. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The Spartans were a force to reckon with, because they were the fore-runner of a professional fighting unit. They drilled and trained as a unit whereas the other city-states called up thier soldiers when needed.

    Not many militaries at the time that could best a phalanx of Hoplites!

    Unfortunately, the movie 300, while it was a kickass movie, was not close to accurate in many respects, including the Spartan's equipment. They actually looked more Roman than they did Greek. Spartans, like all the Greeks, wore personal armor. And in many armies (not just the Greeks), the more money you had, the better your equipment. Although it was not unusual for the Greeks to fight almost nude.

    As far as Rome goes, it was the first fighting force that was a standardized military that had a distinct and organized rank and file, with issued equipment and the soldiers were a vocational body. Even though the Roman military is rooted in antiquity, they are considered the first true military of the modern age.

    Unlike any other military before them, Rome had standard fighting units, special operations units and combat engineers that were co-ordinated into a system. They kept and maintained a certain amount of Legions and in the event of a campaign or an emergency, they called up their reserves and activated "dormant" Legions as needed.
     
  7. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Gotta go with everyone else on this one. Put the same weapon and the same armor on a Roman and a Greek soldier, and I'd put money on the Greek, for pure heart. Put the same weapon and same armor on a hundred of each, I'm gonna go with the Romans. Heart is good. Tactics are good. Together...they're unbeatable. Say what you will about their Emperors, the Roman soldier was a professional to the core.
     
  8. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    The Romans were a multi-faceted civilised society who had an excellent army
    The Spartans were a warrior society

    Whereas the Romans employed troops from all of their occupied territories, the Spartans were all home-grown. On top of this, warrior training for a Spartan boy began around age 7; this is a pretty lengthy training regime.

    This difference in systems would be illuminated positively for the Spartans if 100 Roman legionaires met 100 Spartans in combat, similarly armed, one would tend to favour the chances of the Spartans.

    It would be illuminated negatively for the Spartans in a protracted war with a powerful neighbour like Rome, losses would be impossibly difficult to match to the Romans ability to replenish their numbers; you couldn't imagine Sparta taking losses like Cannae, Trebia, Herdonia and Silarus - they'd be hurting for numbers.

    It could be argued that the Spartans would never have walked blindly into any of the engagements listed above but another key strength of Roman military doctrine that I neglected to mention was the number of battles the Romans were prepared to lose in order to win the war. If they couldn't outperform you on the battlefield, they'd grind you down in the long term - they could play the numbers game.
     
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