Duncan B. Campbell
This chapter discusses the war in imperial Rome. The legions in the Principate were highly protected assets, even during an aggressive advance. It is observed that tactical victory on one field did not offer Romans control of the area. Few Roman opponents benefitted from the relatively infrequent battle, even when they picked the ground, often choosing hillsides for gathering momentum. Romans were only defeated by their own former auxiliaries who had broken their camp. Roman military deployment on the northern frontiers had to deal with immigration control, refugee management, river patrol, and prevention of crimes against property. Romans largely obtained resilience and avoided collapse at the strategic level after a tactical or even grand tactical defeat through a synergistic interaction of factors including a military culture of adaptability to local tasks, unit cohesion, and prior success.
This chapter describes the rise of Rome. The end of the seventh and the first half of the sixth century were marked by the beginnings of urbanization, and by a substantial population increase in Rome. The cavalry was significant in the early regal and Republican battles. The Roman army had undergone a tactical revolution by the middle of the second century that included substantial numbers of allied forces in the Republican period. Early Roman tactics were usually aggressive and designed to break the enemy formation by a frontal assault. The growth of the semi-professional army in the late Republic allowed the development of legions of veteran soldiers, offering the commander a tactical advantage that could be especially effective against formations of new recruits.
This chapter demonstrates the continuity and change in, and problematic sources about, Roman rituals, which were linked to the incidence of war and peace. The augurium salutis and the closing of the shrine of Janus Geminus are the two rituals that could only be conducted in time of peace. The burning of enemy arms after a victory was a Roman combat ritual. Another, much rarer, ritual of military return came into renewed prominence under Augustus, namely the dedication of spolia opima, a tradition that was subsequently used to serve the purposes of the Augustan regime. The fetials' rituals were concerned with the preliminaries of war, the solemnization of treaties, and the surrender of Roman offenders. The ritual activities of the fetials addressed the issue of communal responsibility.
A. D. Lee
This chapter explains the warfare between the Roman Empire and Sasanian Persia, specifically presenting an historical review of Roman–Persian warfare. The Roman Empire presented many new military challenges, one of the most serious and certainly the most consistent of which was that introduced by Sasanian Persia to the east. The Sasanian regime was able to pose a more serious military threat to the Roman Empire compared with its predecessor. Sasanian siege capability led to increased Roman investment in the fortification of cities and towns on and near the frontier. A recent re-examination of the evidence has prompted a revised interpretation involving Persian tunnellers deliberately collapsing their tunnel on top of Roman pursuers after a grisly underground fight in the dark.
This chapter discusses the first world war of the ancient Mediterranean: the Second Punic War. It was fought on two continents from Spain and Africa to the Aegean, and was marked by the generalship of the initially victorious Hannibal and the ultimately victorious Scipio Africanus. The war shows that Punic military strength still matched Rome's. Hannibal successfully employed all the elements of an ancient army, and was not only an attractive and successful leader but a careful one. The Romans' solution to his tactics was to avoid battle entirely, instead shadowing his army as it marched and meanwhile molesting his Italian allies or Hanno's secondary force. Since Punic armies were comprised of non-Carthaginian conscripts and mercenaries, and Punic fleets seldom opposed big battles, manpower losses fell largely on Libyans, Spaniards, Gauls and others. In general, the high quality of agriculture in Punic North Africa impressed the Romans.
This chapter describes the status of war and society in the Roman Empire. The bias of the upper classes and fears of the lower are shown. The influences of civil war and rebellion could be profound in the Roman Empire. Any army is designed to fight wars, surely in a militaristic society such as Rome. Soldiers were employed in a range of activities in support of local administrative officials. Their internal administrative duties included their role in the collection of taxes. The army also had direct demands in terms of food supply, equipment and weapons, and their transport and delivery, but also indirectly in that the presence of soldiers naturally provided trading opportunities for provincial inhabitants. In general, the Roman soldiers were at the center of both the physical and societal fabric of the provinces of the empire.
Randall S. Howarth
This chapter offers a synoptic view of the evolution of Roman war and warfare, highlighting the threshold moments and key and problematic issues pertaining to the understanding of the Romans at war. Romans routinely distributed at least seventy thousand soldiers in consular and pro-consular armies every year by the last third of the third century