Osprey - Warrior 156 - Early Roman Warrior 753-321 BC

NIC FIELDS ILLUSTRATED BY SEÁN Ó’BRÓGÁIN EARLY ROMAN WARRIOR 753–321 BC © Osprey Publishing • www.os - pdf za darmo

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EARLY ROMAN WARRIOR 753–321 BC

NIC FIELDS

ILLUSTRATED BY SEÁN Ó’BRÓGÁIN © Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com

WARRIOR • 156

EARLY ROMAN WARRIOR 753–321 BC

NIC FIELDS

ILLUSTRATED BY SEÁN Ó’BRÓGÁIN Series editor Marcus Cowper

© Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com

CONTENTS INTRODUCTION

4

CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR EVENTS

7

ITALY BEFORE ROME Villanovans

Etruscans

Latins

9 Sabines

Oscans

Greeks

EARLY ROMAN WARFARE Clan warfare

LEVYING Clan gathering

27 Citizen muster

EQUIPMENT AND APPEARANCE Spear

Sword

18

City-state warfare

Shield

Citizen phalanx

BELIEF AND BELONGING Gods of crops and war

44

Group identity

ON CAMPAIGN Raid and ambuscade

33

49 Pitched battle

GLOSSARY

62

BIBLIOGRAPHY

62

INDEX

64

© Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com

EARLY ROMAN WARRIOR c.753–c.321 BC

Ludovisi Mars Ultor, Mars the Avenger (Rome, MNR Palazzo Altemps, inv. 8654). Rhea Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus, was of the bloodline of Aeneas, the ultimate ancestor of the Romans. She claimed that the conception of her twins was a divine event, the father being Mars. Whatever the reality of their origins, this fantastic story, which intermingles the human and heavenly, expresses how the Romans chose to view and represent themselves, namely as the embodiment of their inborn strength and their overwhelming superiority in warfare. (Fields-Carré Collection)

INTRODUCTION We are unlikely to ever know for certain whether Romulus really lived, but regarding the existence of the city that bears his name there is no uncertainty. Distant enough from the sea to protect its first inhabitants from the danger of piracy, the site of Rome lay 20km upstream on the left or eastern bank of the Tiber at its lowest crossing place. This convenient ford, tucked just below an island in the river, was overlooked by a group of hills that harboured an adequate number of freshwater springs, while the surrounding countryside was suitable for tilling, grazing and hunting. The hills themselves were well wooded, fairly precipitous and defensible. In that way, the site allowed escape for early settlers from flooding and some protection against predators. This is the Rome that concerns us here, the non-grandiose Rome of the turbulent centuries when Italy consisted of a patchwork of settlements and peoples, among them the Celts in the north, the Etruscans in the centre, the Sabines next door, the Samnites along the spinal massif and the Greeks on the southern coasts. This was a time when the villagers of Rome struggled to survive, and viewed from a distance of several hundreds of years it seems one of constant conflict, as the different peoples strained for living space and the bare necessities of life. When the hill-built city of Romulus joined the ranks of those cities that have been once, however briefly, the greatest on earth, it would become fashionable to call the rise of Rome prodigious. Cicero himself gave it an air of the miraculous when he boasted ‘that Romulus had from the outset the divine inspiration to make his city the seat of a mighty empire’ (De re publica 2.10). Yet the Rome of Cicero and the Rome of Romulus belong to two different universes, which we now know rather firmly from local archaeology. In the early days of its career nothing seemed to single out for future greatness a puny riverine settlement that lay sleeping. We should not assume, from our present vantage point in time, that this mighty empire came about by some automatic, let alone divine, process. In these obscure times Rome was allied with other Latin settlements in Latium (now Lazio), the flat land south of the river Tiber’s mouth,

4

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and the seasonal battles that preoccupied these Iron Age Italic people were little more than internal squabbles over cattle herds, water rights and arable land. Rome did not flourish suddenly; nor did it simply happen. Romulus’ Rome patently was not Cicero’s Rome. When, during the last two centuries of the Roman Republic, the first writers of Roman history, collectively known as the annalists, set about their job, they looked back into murkiness. Thus the most celebrated of them, Livy, whose first ten books are our single most important source for the story of Rome from its origins, mixes genuine historical material with a heap of legend, speculation and mythology, from which it is difficult to extract the truth. However, the human curse of imagination and the tendency to guess aside, these myths are of tremendous importance because they furnish us with significant clues. By comparing the written record – confused as it is – with evidence from archaeology, it is possible to reconstruct, at least in outline, the origins of Rome. While annalistic tradition places the foundation of Rome in the year 753 BC, local archaeology tells us that in the beginning there were two separate and distinct palisaded settlements, one on the Palatine and one on the Esquiline. The Palatine was the supposed site of Romulus’ city, and his thatched hut, the casa Romuli, was preserved there down to Livy’s day as a sort of museum piece (Livy 5.53.8, Dionysios of Halikarnassos 1.79.11, Cassius Dio 48.43.4). Its postholes are still visible on the south-west corner of the Palatine, a spot Plutarch names as ‘the so-called Steps of Fair Shore’ (Romulus 20.4), but he must have meant the Scalae Caci, the Steps of Cacus. Indeed, investigations

Marble panel (Rome, MNR Palazzo Massimo alle Terme) from a 2nd-century AD altar from Ostia dedicated to that divine couple, Venus and Mars. From bottom right to top right: the river-deity Tiberinus, the starving twins suckled by the she-wolf, the eagle of Iuppiter, the Palatine hill, the twins as hunters and shepherds and their foster father Faustulus. (Marie-Lan Nguyen)

5

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Rome’s founding by Romulus is traditionally dated to 753 BC. Abandoned at birth, Romulus was believed to have been suckled by a she-wolf and raised by the wife of a simple shepherd. The sharp truth is rather more mundane as the myth is much later than this, but the date itself is plausible. This is an Etruscan sculpture known as Lupa Capitolina, from around 450–30 BC, with the suckling twins added in the late 15th century, possibly by Antonio Pollaiuolo. (FieldsCarré Collection)

have proved the existence of Iron Age wattle-and-post dwellings and pit burials (a pozza cremations) on this spacious hill at the time of the traditional foundation, and even earlier. As with the Palatine, archaeological evidence also exists for Iron Age settlement on the Esquiline. Although the inhabitants of these hilltop hamlet communities partook of the same Latial culture, which is diagnosed by the hut urn, finds from this site have their parallels at Tibur and in southern Latium, those from the Palatine being closer to the Villanovans of the Alban hills in typology. Moreover, the Esquiline trench burials (a fossa inhumations), which belong to the 8th and 7th centuries BC, contain grave goods that suggest an intrusion of the Sabines, a theory considered far too audacious by some scholars. The original migrants to the site of Rome were not primitive hunters. They were also pastoral people who had learned the art of cereal-based agriculture. Their social organization was below the institutional level of the state; for our purposes we can call it tribal. It seems likely that the easily defended hills of Rome, rising at a convenient crossing of the Tiber and with good pasture, attracted two separate bands of semi-nomadic warrior herdsmen down from the Alban and Sabine uplands. There is, therefore, some substance in the legend, as retold by Livy, that the first settlers came from Alba Longa (1.3.4), the native city of Romulus and Remus, and of the fusion between the Romans and the Sabines (1.13.6). Despite the very shadowy nature of Numa Pompilius, traditionally the second king of Rome, his name is definitely Sabine. And so Rome began as squalid clusters of herders’ hovels that formed independent hamlets with communal cemeteries linked to them, which coalesced only gradually and painfully into a unified village settlement (the process contemporary Greeks knew as synoikism, or ‘joining together’). It was all very rough, savage and ugly – indeed, hardly the sort of place anyone wrote histories about really. This, then, was the Rome into which our first Roman warrior was born.

Isola Tiberina, the island in the Tiber that divided the river’s current and made it easy to ford at this point. The hills on the left bank overlooking the ford also singled out this site as one desirable for human habitation. It is said to have been called the Albula and to have received the name Tiberis from Tiberinus, a king of Alba Longa who was drowned crossing its swift, yellow waters. (Fototeca ENIT)

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CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR EVENTS Without dates, historical discussions kindle a kind of giddy weightlessness that is the result of an inability to reason sequentially. The dates for Roman affairs before 300 BC, when the Roman list of consuls (Fasti Consulares Populi Romani) is secure, are those of a chronological system worked out by the Roman antiquarian Atticus, an intimate friend of Cicero, who published it in his Liber Annalis in 47 BC. This chronology was accepted by the greatest Roman antiquarian of all, Marcus Terentius Varro (hence the modern term ‘Varronian chronology’), and was correspondingly employed thereafter by the Roman state as the official system for determining an absolute date from the supposed foundation of Rome (ab urbe condita: AUC). Varronian chronology dates the foundation of Rome to the year 753 BC (21 April, to be exact), the first year of the Republic to 509 BC, and the Gallic sack of the city to 390 BC.

753 BC

Traditional date for foundation of Rome by Romulus (814 BC according to Timaios).

535 BC...

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