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Corniculum, cornicularii

(182 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] In the Republican period the corniculum was one of the   dona militaria (Liv. 10,44,5; Suet. Gram. 9; CIL I2 709 = ILS 8888); in the Principate the cornicula were then no more than insignia of rank. The exact meaning of the word is disputed. It is derived either from cornus (cornelian cherry) or from cornu (horn). Accordingly it meant either two small spears (cf. Pol. 6,39) or else small horns which hung from the helmets. The cornicularii represented the elite of the   principales and undoubtedly carried out administrative duties, since civil cornicularii are attested (Va…

Bow and arrow

(666 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The use of bow and arrow for war and hunting goes back a very long time, and was widespread even in prehistoric times. In the Near East, bows and arrows were important weapons of war. As demonstrated on reliefs from Mesopotamia, the Assyrian archers often stood in a war chariot (palace of Assurnaṣirpal II in Nimrūd ( Kalḫu), 9th cent. BC; London, BM); in the siege of cities, archers on foot were frequently deployed (relief of  Tiglatpileser III in Nimrūd, 8th cent. BC; London, BM)…

Strategemata

(273 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] (στρατηγήματα/ stratēgḗmata, 'war ruses') were systematically studied and used from the Hellenistic period onwards. Three types of strategemata were distinguished: at first, strategemata permitted strategic advantage to be gained even before direct military confrontation by deceiving the opponent as to the actual strength of one's own forces, choosing a suitable time for the battle or making use of particular climatic or geographical conditions (cf. e.g. Frontin. Str. 3,4,5 f.; time: 2,1,15; place: 2,2,…

Decanus

(127 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] A soldier who commanded a   contubernium ; he was appointed when the size of this unit was increased from eight to ten men (according to Ps.Hyg.). The inscription IGR I 1046 mentions δεκανοί ( dekanoí) who were either persons of this rank or else commanders of a squadron of ten ships, a fact which can no longer be determined in detail. The decanus is still attested for the 4th cent. AD, sometimes carrying the title caput contubernii (Veg. Mil. 2,8; 2,13). In other documents, this term refers to persons belonging to the lowest level of the palace guard (Cod…

Decimatio

(218 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] In the Roman army, the decimatio was a rarely applied form of punishment for a whole unit (Pol. 6,38; Frontin. Str. 4,1,34; 4,1,37; Quint. Decl. 348). The tribunes selected every tenth man by drawing lots; the punishment could also be reduced by selecting just one man in a hundred (SHA Opil. 12,2). The victims decided on in this manner were not executed with an axe but clubbed to death (Tac. Ann. 3,21,1). This punishment, considered to be very severe, was applied in case of serious mis…

Impedimenta

(404 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Two Latin words, impedimenta and sarcina, were used to describe the baggage train that accompanied the Roman legions. Impedimenta referred to the heavy packs containing the supplies and equipment of the entire legion. They were transported by pack animals (Pol. 6,27; 6,40; Liv. 28,45; Caes. B Gall. 5,31,6). These packs held tents, the officers' belongings, hand mills for the grain, food supplies, weapons, and after a victory,  war booty and money. Originally, the word impedimenta was used only in reference to things. However, as language evolved, it als…

Commeatus

(340 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Commeatus has two different meanings: it denotes either a limited leave of absence or suspension (as opposed to final dismissal, the missio), or specific logistical arrangements. The term stellatura denotes the misuse of either arrangement. 1. For soldiers, leave of absence meant being permitted to leave the vicinity of the standard (Tac. Hist. 1,46,4). Commeatus was wrongly confused with   immunitas or vacatio munerum, which signified exemption from the usual duties to be carried out by soldiers. The granting of such exemption was the prerog…

Tabulae honestae missionis

(103 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Tabulae honestae missionis is the name given to Roman documents certifying the good conduct of soldiers during their period of service; they were issued upon request to veterans at their retirement from military service, enabling them, if they were entitled, to receive the military diploma and thus citizenship. Only a few copies have been found, but these were distributed across the entire Roman Empire. Their structure corresponded to that of military diplomas: 1. confirmation of honesta missio [1], 2. the certifying officer, 3. authentication, 4. date, 5…

Vigiliae

(265 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] One of the chief concerns of Roman generals was the safety of their troops; both in a fixed legionary camp and in the field, legions were protected by the posting of guards, positioned in front of the vallum, outside the camp, and on the gates or on the vallum; individual guards also had the task of protecting higher officers (Pol. 6,35f; Sall. Iug. 100,4). Polybius gives a precise description of the organization of guard duty (νυκτερινὴ φυλακή/ nykterinḕ phylakḗ: Pol. 6,33-37; cf. Onasander 10,10 f.; Veg. Mil. 3,8,17 ff.). To prevent the sentries becoming …

Bucinatores

(114 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Along with tubicines and cornicines, bucinatores were musicians in the Roman army; the bucina was a bronze wind instrument (Veg. Mil. 2,11; 3,5), whose exact shape is contentious. In Republican times, the duties of the night-watchmen were regulated by bucina signals (Pol. 6,35; Liv. 7,36; Frontin. Str. 1,5,17). During the Principate, a bucina call signalled the end of the convivium in camp (Tac. Ann. 15,30,1); in late antiquity the bucinatores gave the signal for the execution of soldiers.  Aeneatores Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon) Bibliography 1 R. Meucci, Riflessioni di…

Soldiers' pay

(831 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
Sources give only little information about the introduction and development of SP in Greece and in Rome, and they contain only few precise figures for the amounts. Hence modern works on SP are largely based on assumptions and estimates resulting from them. [German version] I. Greece In Greece, soldiers of the citizen contingent of a polis probably did not receive regular money until the 5th cent. BC, and this was initially used to pay for provisions (σιτηρέσιον/ sitērésion ); at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War the Athenian hoplítai besieging Potidaea were given pay (μισθός/ misthós…

Aeneatores

(102 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] were the musicians of the Roman legions and were already documented in the Servian centuria regulation. They included the tubicines, cornicines and bucinatores, who transmitted the officers' orders in the camp, while marching and during battle. The word aeneatores appeared only once in the imperial period (CIL XIII 6503): in the 4th cent. AD they were mentioned in Amm. Marc. 16,12,36 and 24,4,22.  Bucinatores;  Cornicines;  Tubicines Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon) Bibliography 1 A. Baudot, Musiciens romains de l'Antiquité, 1973 2 R. Meucci, Riflessioni di archeolog…

Exauctorare

(226 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The verb exauctorare refers to the judicial act, by which a Roman military commander could release a soldier or an entire unit from their oath of allegiance. Such an act could be carried out at certain times defined in law, in the Republican era for example following a victory, at the time of the Principate at the end of a soldier's compulsory military service (Suet. Aug. 24,2; Suet. Tib. 30; Tac. Ann. 1,36,4; Tac. Hist. 1,20,6). In exceptional circumstances, this might be linked wi…

Labarum

(209 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge ( Pons Milvius) against Maxentius in AD 312, in a dream described as a vision, Constantine I was advised to have the first two letters of the name of Christ, in Greek chi and rho (Χ and Ρ), inscribed on the shields of his soldiers, if he wished victory: τούτῳ νίκα (‘By this sign be victorious’; cf. Lactant. De mort. pers. 44; Euseb. Vita Const. 1,26-31). This Christogram was later fixed to the tip of a standard consisting of a long lance with a flag bearing the Imperial medallion hung on a crosspiece. It is unclear whether the name labarum given…

Armour

(709 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Even the heroes of the Homeric epics protected themselves with armour made of bronze or linen (Hom. Il. 3,830; 11,15-28). In the archaic period, body armour (θώραξ/  Thorax ) was included as part of the equipment of the Greek   hoplítai ; during the classic period however, metal armour was increasingly replaced by armour made of lighter materials. In the Roman army, armour ( lorica) was worn by the prima classis (according to Liv. 1,43,2, this in the early days of Rome denoted the wealthiest class of citizens with assets of 100,000 As or more). Diff…

Imaginiferi, Imaginifarii

(215 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The imaginifer was a soldier who, at least at festivals, carried an image ( imago) of the princeps (Veg. Mil. 2,6; 2,7; Jos. Ant. Iud. 18,55); the imaginiferi certainly did not have any specifically military duties. There was an imaginifer in each legion, though he did not necessarily belong to the first cohort (  cohors ) (CIL III 2553: 3rd cohort). According to Vegetius (Mil. 2,7), imaginiferi also occurred in other units. Imaginiferi are attested in inscriptions for the cohortes urbanae and the   vigiles in Rome and for the legions and the units of the   auxilia ( alae, cohor…

Accensi

(147 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Originally, the accensi (also accensi velati, ‘clothed (only) with a cloth cloak’) were members of the army who were too poor to equip themselves. They accompanied the legions and, positioned behind the other soldiers, had to replace the dead using their weapons (Fest. 369 M; Liv. 8,8,8; Cic. Rep. 2,40). They were recruited according to their census income. After the introduction of pay for soldiers (in our record in 406 BC) they no longer appeared in this form. From then on the term accensi described a small, little respected part of the troops that was recruit…

Disciplina militaris

(943 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] The Latin term disciplina designates a) a field of knowledge or an academic discipline and b) obedience. According to Livy (Liv. 9,17,10), in Rome disciplina militaris had evolved into an ars. In conjunction with the Roman military, disciplina generally appears in its second meaning; Frontinus calls the knowledge of military matters rei militaris scientia (Frontin. Str. 1 praef. 1). The phrase is used by Valerius Maximus as well as Pliny and is furthermore epigraphically documented (Val.Max. 2,7; Plin. Ep. 10,29; S.c. de Cn. Pisone patre, 52; ILS 3809; cf. disciplina…

Decorations, military

(877 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] Decorations were used to reward soldiers' bravery and acts of courage in the Roman army as in all other armies, their advantage being that their cost to the common purse was slight, while at the same time they reinforced general awareness of military honour (Pol. 6,39). A pronounced feeling for hierarchical structures also had its influence on such decorations, as they were awarded according to the rank of the receiver (  dona militaria ). As A. Büttner has shown, the origins of Roman decorations may be found not only in Italy, but a…

Corvus

(137 words)

Author(s): Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon)
[German version] [1] Military The invention of the corvus (‘raven’) is attributed to C. Duilius, cos. in 260 BC and victor over the Carthaginians in the battle of Mylae. It was a boarding-plank attached to the bow of the ship, steered with the aid of a pulley and a rope. When it was thrown on to the enemy ship, a metal hook remained fixed to the deck; this was a way of damaging the enemy's rigging, which allowed the Roman soldiers to enter the ship (Pol. 1,22,23). With the invention of the corvus the tactic of boarding was given precedence over ramming. Le Bohec, Yann (Lyon) Bibliography 1 L. Poznans…
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