The Roman Legion Illustration

Roman Legion


The ancient Romans loved pomp and spectacle.  The Roman legion provided that.  Each legion had its own special banner, its own name, and its own number.  Within the legion, centuries (groups of 100 men) also had a banner.  The legion also had trumpet players, drummers and other noisemakers, so a Roman legion on the march was certainly spectacular.

When a legion moved camp, they would totally break apart the old camp and march away.  When they stopped for the night, they would build a new camp, complete with walls, towers, and even roads.

Their armor - in spite of what you might have seen in the movies - most probably did not shine.  Some armor was made of leather, with metal on the inside. A legionary's uniform included a rectangular shield, a short sword, a dagger, jacket, belt, helmet, kilt, shirt, and sandals.  The legion wore special hob-nailed sandals, which were designed to make a loud noise and even create sparks on rocky ground.  A new legionary was issued these items.

Most legionnaries were from the plebian or poor class.  They were foot soldiers.   Officers were from the patrician class and bought their own armor and weapons. If an officer wanted a horse, that officer had to provide and care for a horse themselves. 

The Roman legion was very organized and very successful.  Its reputation as an invincible fighting organization was so great that sometimes, when they moved into a new region, the people gave up without a fight.

Each legionary served for a minimum of 25 years before he could retire.  When a legionary retired, he was given land in the provinces and a small pension.  This gave Rome retired but trained military men who could help to protect towns and villages all over the empire.

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