New new part 5
Roman Equipment, in the age of Claudius: 1st Century AD
During the 1st Century AD, the Imperial Roman legionary expanded and consolidated Rome’s borders and provinces. Numbering around 100,000 these professional soldiers were among the most successful in history, and brought the Roman state to the heights of its power. Training and discipline were essential to make these soldiers into proper legionaries, and so was the latest equipment. Rome was great at acquiring its competitors most innovative features and applying them to her own end. The simple tunic worn under their armor was dyed red, being associated with the Roman god Mars, and it was also cheap and readily available. Most legionary tunics were made of either wool or linen. Green were also used, as well as brown, to a lesser extent, and black—though black was considered unlucky to the average superstitious Roman. Sometimes those assigned to naval duty wore blue, to be associated with the Roman god Neptune. A recruit was required to be able to march 22 miles in as little as 6 hours. It has been noted that many times the Roman armies had defeated their enemies by simply out-marching them. The ‘caligae’ is the sandal used by the soldiers in the First Century AD, which had form-fitting features and drains well after water crossing, and they are also equipped with ‘cingulum militare’ which is the belt of the Roman soldier. This belt would jingle, the dangling metal making a sound which announced the approach of a legionary. Personal details and embellishments are added to these belts, again the superstitious or simply prideful Roman can display lineage or charm spirits—yet another outlet for appeasing spirits. The waistband itself is called the ‘fascia ventralis.’ The ‘focale’ was a neck-scarf used when wearing plate or mail armor, which was used around the time when segmented armor started to become introduced, to prevent scaring or chaffing from the tight-fitting armor. Worn off-duty, this can be another indicator of a legionary. The ‘gladius’ is a sword made for short-thrusting and chopping, for use within a densely packed formation of men. These swords evolved from a late 3rd Century BC design of the Spanish, which Rome had encountered in the first Punic Wars against Carthage. A thrust to the belly is the primary attack.
The ‘galea’ was the helmet of the Imperial legionary and was the amalgamation of the best design features of local Italian and Gallic helmets. A substantial neck-guard, visor, ear cut-outs, and eyebrow ridges were a few of its most prominent features; the hinge-cheek piece allowed for the helmet to rest on the chest while marching. The ‘lorica segmentata’ was the segmented plate armor came into use during the reign of Augustus. Each class of armor had its own virtues and it’s own drawbacks. Segmented armor was quicker to manufacture, offered the greatest protection, and was more light-weight than mail; on the down side it was much more costly and time-consuming to maintain and repair when put to heavy use. The ‘pugio’ was a small, wide dagger which resembled a miniature gladius. It was also encountered by the Spanish during the Punic Wars. The ‘pilum’ was a very specialized type of heavy javelin. Designed for use at close range, the pilum was meant to bend on impact so that the enemy could not easily pick them up and throw them back at the Romans. The ‘scutum’ was the large shield carried by the legionary, and has a distinctive rectangular, curved shape. It’s design is believed to be attributed to Celts of the 6th Century BC, and the patterns painted on the shields had varied widely but were standardized down the centuries. During the reign of Augustus wings and thunderbolt patterns became widespread. The ‘manica’ was a metal arm-guard sometimes used which was originally a piece of gladiator equipment. These limited the legionaries flexibility, to some extent, and wasn’t something standard-issued.
Roman Equipment when fighting against Carthage: in 4th and 3rd Century BC
In the Second Punic War,
The Roman solders at Cannae use their ‘pila’, or heavy javelin, and ‘hastae’, or thrusting spears. They had traditional bronze helmets, bodyshields, and body armor.
In Greek the word ‘Phoenician’ is the equivalent to the Roman’s ‘Punicus,’ which is where we get the term for the ‘Punic Wars.’ There are three wars contained within this monicker, lasting from 264-146 BC.
Carthage, literally translated to “new city,” was the dominant naval empire within the Mediterranean, and possibly the world, during its prime and was a stiff competitor to Rome during its assent as the predominant empire of the known world it would one day become.
‘Hispania’ was the Roman name for the Iberian peninsula which later became Spain. A famous general during the Punic Wars against Rome, Hannibal Barca, seems to be featured on a coin which was officially depicting the god Melqart, however, the facial features are believed to also be of either Hannibal Barca or his father Hamilcar Barca.
The god Melqart Ba’al
The god Melqart was an important Phoenician god as well as the patron deity of the city of Tyre. Associated with the monarchy, colonization, and commercial enterprise, this deity appears on the Carthaginian ‘shekel,’ dated 237-227 BC. This deity seems to be the somewhat equivalent to Hercules/Heracles; on the reverse is a man riding a war elephant, one of the primary advantages Carthage expertly utilized against Rome during the Punic Wars. Melqart is considered to be the progenitor to the Tyrian royal family, and is often also labeled the “Lord of Tyre,” or ‘Ba’al Sur.’ As Tyrian trade and colonization expanded Melqart became venerated in Phoenician and Punic cultures from Lebanon to Spain. Alexander destroyed the Carthaginian home city of Tyre in 332 BC, and refugees flooded into Carthage as a result.
The First Punic War occurred from 264-241 BC, a memorable battle occurring in 241 BC was a fight called the ‘Battle of the Aegates.’
The Battle of Cannae occurred during the Second Punic War.
Melqart Baal is likely to have been the particular Ba’al found in the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible) whose worship was prominently introduced to Israel by king Ahab and largely eradicated by King Jehu.
In Tyre the high priest of Melqart was second only to the king. Hamilcar is a Carthaginian name which reflected the importance of Melqart. Melqart protected the Punic areas of Sicily. Hannibal almost certainly does not refer to Melqart, but instead refers to Ba’al Hammon, the chief god of Carthage; a god who was identified to the Greeks to be Cronus and by the Romans as Saturn.
Because of the scanty evidence scholars vary widely on what kind of a god Melqart was. It had been postulated that Melqart was a god of the underworld partly because of the connection to the Mesopotamian god Nergal. Nergal’s name means “king of the city” and reigns within the underworld.
Hannibal Barca was a faithful worshipper of Melqart, and he made a pilgrimage to the most ancient seat of Phoenician worship in the west where he strengthened himself in prayer and ritual sacrifice at the altar of Melqart and bolstered his spirit before setting off on his march to Italy.
He returned to New Carthage, literally translated as ‘new-new city,’ with his mind focused on the god, Melqart, and on the eve of his departure he saw a vision which he was sent by the god. A youth of divine beauty came to Hannibal in the night and he told Hannibal he had been sent by the supreme deity Jupiter in order to guide the son of Hamilcar to Italy. In the ghostly encounter he goes to follow the apparition but as he turned his head he saw a serpent crashing through forest and thicket, causing destruction everywhere. It moved as a black tempest with claps of thunder and flashes of lightning gathered behind the serpent. He was told when inquiring about the dream: “What thou beholdest is the destruction of Italy. Follow thy star and inquire no further into the dark counsels of Heaven.”
Leave a Reply