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Early Roman Armies (Men-at-Arms) Paperback – 17 Jul 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (17 July 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1855325136
  • ISBN-13: 978-1855325135
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 0.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 512,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Nicholas Sekunda was born in 1953. After studying Ancient History and Archaeology at Manchester University, he went on to take his Ph.D. in 1981. He has taken part in archaeological excavations in Poland, Iran and Greece, participated in a research project on ancient Persian warfare for the British institute of Persian Studies. He has published numerous books and academic articles, and is currently teaching at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Torun, Poland. Simon Northwood is a former lecturer at Manchester University in the Department of History. He has a particularly passionate interest in the Ancient world. This is his first title for Osprey Publishing. Richard Hook was born in 1938 and trained at Reigate College of Art. After national service with 1st Bn, Queen's Royal Regiment, he became art editor of the much-praised magazine Finding Out during the 1960s. He has worked as a freelance illustrator ever since, earning an international reputation particularly for his deep knowledge of Native American material culture; and has illustrated more than 30 Osprey titles. Richard is married and lives in Sussex.


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Early Rome and the Romans were only one of a number of peoples and settlements in Iron Age Italy. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For anyone interested in the origins of Roman military history this is as
good a place to start as any. This Osprey title is well researched and
does a very good job to illustrate ancient roman warfare from the founding
of Rome through the Pyrrhic invasion, 275. The black and white photographs
of archaeological sources supplement the text nicely. The book also
features 8 colour plates which are excellent, even if the representations
are unavoidably a bit more speculative. As said, this book is a good
primer for anyone interested in early roman warfare, especially anyone who
is looking for a source of reference to support their wargaming or
reenactment hobby with some authenticity. Within 48 pages it does that
very well and might have all you are looking for. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good basic introduction to the subject - and to be honest, as there isn't that much information to begin with, and greater depth would involve listing small bits of archaeological evidence and going into detailed academic arguments over the interpretation thereof.

The Contents are:
P03: Rome's Early History
P08: The Pre-hoplite Army
.Warrior-burials on the Esquiline Hill; The Salii; Salian dress and equipment; The tribal system
P13: The Hoplite Army
.Livy's account of the reforms; The Servian 40 century legion; The 60 century legion
P18: Early Cavalry
.The sex suffragia; The public horse and true cavalry
P21: The Expansion of Roman Military Strength
.The infantry; Legionary blazons; The cavalry
P33: Manipular Warfare
.The Gallic invasions; The Cerosa Situla; Samnite warfare; The Manipular army in Livy
P42: The Plates
P48: Index

I have to admit that more could have been done to explain maniples and cohorts and the various formations; some diagrams would have been useful (and as the font in this volume is VERY BIG, space could have been found by reducing the font size). However, one of the authors has kindly provided a separate Osprey volume on Roman Tactics.

The colour plates are:
A: The Earliest Roman Warriors, c. 700 BC. Here we see `Romulus' and `Remus' -two exemplars of what Roman warriors may have looked like, standing over a fallen Etruscan warrior (who is holding a long sword in very dangerous proximity to Remus - maybe it wasn't his brother who killed him after all...). The authors also give an interesting origin for the myth.
B: Roman Warrior Bands, seventh century BC. This shows warriors and priests warming up for a battle.
C: Horatius at the Bridge, 508 BC.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
The perfect companion for all Roman history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

This Osprey title covers Roman armies from the founding of Rome, 753 BCE, through the Pyrhhic invasion, 275. Indeed, the first plate is of Romulus and Remus ­ it doesn¹t get any earlier than that!

The first section is the history of the early conquests within Latium from the expulsion of the last Etruscan King, Tarquinius Superbus, in 509, through the Samnite Wars, 290 BCE. They use Peter Connolly¹s excellent Greece and Rome at War as a major source, and list the cities conquered, including the sub-tribes, the Sabine, Aequi, and Volsci. Kudos for having maps of the areas. This early history includes discussions on the Salii priests.

The authors essentially divide the book into three major sections: pre-hoplite, hoplite, maniples. Sections are:

Rome¹s Early History
The Pre-Hoplite Army
The Hoplite Army
Early Cavalry
The Expansion of Roman Military Strength
Manipular Warfare
Rome learned of the phalanx from the Etruscans, and converted to it under Servius Tullius, ca. 550. The book shows the gradual organizational changes within the phalanx, emphasizing the recruiting aspect. The authors credit battling the Samnites -- and not the Gauls -- for the change from phalanx to maniples. They conclude it was a gradual transition in the 4th century. The text covers the Samnite army in detail, devoting about 4 pages. Oddly, the plate chosen for the cover of The Early Romans is one showing Samnites, who didn¹t get incorporated into the Roman sphere until after the close of this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x98e00b58) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x993dc4f8) out of 5 stars Whence the Roman legion? 25 Jun. 2001
By Aaron Larsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book revolutionized my understanding of the Roman legion. Everyone acknowledges that the legion somehow evolved out of the Greek phalanx, which had come to dominate warfare in the years between 500-350 BC to such an extent that we know it was used by peoples as diverse as the Carthiginians and the Etruscans. In fact, it was from the Etruscans that whom most commentators assume that the Romans learned it, while under the rule of Etruscan kings. Sometime between about 400 and 275 BC, however, two new formations came to dominate warfare, the Macedonian phalanx and the Roman legion. Sekunda argues for a very different interpretation of the development of the legion, arguing that it was done in response, not to the Celtic invasion of the early 4th century, but much later due to the defeats at the hands of the nimble samnites. His interpretation may be radical (and may dim the reputation of Camillus, its traditional inventor), but it makes sense. Anyone who wants to weigh in on the early development of the legion needs to at least take his arguments into account to do the topic justice.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98e02354) out of 5 stars Rather Good. 2 April 2006
By SUPPORT THE ASPCA. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For a book series like Osprey that is more devoted to regalia details and great color plates. This book was filled with a fine amount of historical details that have scarcely been mentioned in most military histories. The author proves his three main points. First, the legion came from the Etruscans, not the Greeks. Secondly, it was developed to meet the more formidable threat of the Samnites, rather than the Gauls. Lastly, he proves how resourceful and tenacious even the earliest of Roman armies were.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99503e34) out of 5 stars The Origins of the "Classic" Roman Legion 4 April 2008
By James - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book provides to the general reader a good account of how the "classic" Roman legion came into being. As the authors illustrate, it was a very long process of change and adaptation. They make scholarly use of a wide range of literary and archaeological evidence to describe this process. It is a somewhat technical work due to the nature of the surviving evidence, and one should keep this in mind.

Roman historical writing began in 200 BC, and this book studies Roman warfare from 753 BC to 275 BC. For those not too familiar with Roman historiography, Livy is our chief literary source for this period, and he is not always trustworthy. Do not expect this account of Roman military history to flow like a typical narrative of Caesar's Gallic War.

The title of the book is slightly misleading. Italic warfare was dynamic, with a myriad of peoples in close interaction. The book also covers Latin, Etruscan and Samnite armies. This was necessary for the author to explain Rome's early armies, which borrowed a great deal of ideas and equipment from their enemies. This book is certainly not the first to argue this, nor to suggest that the Romans' borrowed their manipular tactics from the Samnites. This book should be read as a supplement to other works like Parker's "Roman Legions", Salmon's "Samnium and the Samnites", and especially Connolly's "Greece and Rome at War".

The book does not provide a conclusion, nor does it provide an adequate context to put Rome's early armies into. This may be due to the book's very short length. What the last part of the book describes is one of the most important military revolutions in European history: the creation of the Roman manipular legion, which allowed Rome to master Italy and then become master of the Mediterranean world.

Overall this a book worth buying. It studies an important topic in Roman history. Osprey's tradition of excellent color illustrations continues here and complements the excellent text.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99503840) out of 5 stars A very good introduction to the subject 17 Oct. 2012
By Squirr-el - Published on Amazon.com
This is a very good basic introduction to the subject - and to be honest, as there isn't that much information to begin with, and greater depth would involve listing small bits of archaeological evidence and going into detailed academic arguments over the interpretation thereof.

The Contents are:
P03: Rome's Early History
P08: The Pre-hoplite Army
.Warrior-burials on the Esquiline Hill; The Salii; Salian dress and equipment; The tribal system
P13: The Hoplite Army
.Livy's account of the reforms; The Servian 40 century legion; The 60 century legion
P18: Early Cavalry
.The sex suffragia; The public horse and true cavalry
P21: The Expansion of Roman Military Strength
.The infantry; Legionary blazons; The cavalry
P33: Manipular Warfare
.The Gallic invasions; The Cerosa Situla; Samnite warfare; The Manipular army in Livy
P42: The Plates
P48: Index

I have to admit that more could have been done to explain maniples and cohorts and the various formations; some diagrams would have been useful (and as the font in this volume is VERY BIG, space could have been found by reducing the font size). However, one of the authors has kindly provided a separate Osprey volume on Roman Tactics.

The colour plates are:
A: The Earliest Roman Warriors, c. 700 BC. Here we see `Romulus' and `Remus' -two exemplars of what Roman warriors may have looked like, standing over a fallen Etruscan warrior (who is holding a long sword in very dangerous proximity to Remus - maybe it wasn't his brother who killed him after all...). The authors also give an interesting origin for the myth.
B: Roman Warrior Bands, seventh century BC. This shows warriors and priests warming up for a battle.
C: Horatius at the Bridge, 508 BC. Horatius dressed in a colourful equipage of the period, escaping from Etruscan and Latin hoplites.
D: The Venetic Fighting System, fifth century BC. Four figures "representing the various components of the Venetic battle-line" showing the different armament of the successive lines of the formation.
E: Roman Hoplites defeated by Celts, fourth century BC. Three fairly uniform Romans being massacred by Celtic warriors.
F: Samnite Warriors, c. 293 BC. A member of the `Linen Legion' and five other colourful warriors; a wargaming-figure painter's dream (or nightmare).
G: Sacrifice establishing a treaty between Romans and Samnites. Taken from a mosaic discussed in the text, this is a mixture of ceremonial and warrior figures.
H: Roman Hastatii fight one of Pyrrhus' elephants. An Indian elephant with driver and three crew in a tower, attacking a group of uniformly-equipped Romans.

This is a set of excellent plates, each one full of colour and informative detail.

Further reading:
Roman Battle Tactics 390110 BC (Elite)
Early Roman Warrior 753321 BC
Roman Centurions 75331 BC (Men-at-arms)

Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome (Hellenistic Culture and Society)
Andrea Palladio and the Architecture of Battle with the Unpublished Edition of Polybius' Histories
New Perspectives on Ancient Warfare (History of Warfare (Brill))
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x993dc4e0) out of 5 stars Must-read 27 Jun. 2000
By Jeffrey Leow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is one that is informative. It gives depth and detail about the early roman armies that Caesar used to expand his vast empire. I recommend this book to all interested in history, or even warfare. It will be an eye opener to all new to Rome. Great book.
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