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He was born in Rudiae , [1] formerly a small town located near modern Lecce in the heel of Italy ancient Calabria , today Salento , and could speak Oscan as well as Latin and Greek. Although only fragments of his works survive, his influence in Latin literature was significant, particularly in his use of Greek literary models. Very little is reliably known about the life of Ennius.

His contemporaries hardly mentioned him and much that is related about him could have been embroidered from references to himself in his now fragmentary writings. Ennius seems to have been given to making large claims, as in the report by Maurus Servius Honoratus that he claimed descent from Messapus, the legendary king of his native district. The public career of Ennius first really emerges in middle life, when he was serving in the army with the rank of centurion during the Second Punic War.

Art and Literature in the Roman Republic | Western Civilization

While in Sardinia in the year BC, he is said to have attracted the attention of Cato the Elder and was taken by him to Rome. There he taught Greek and adapted Greek plays for a livelihood, and by his poetical compositions gained the friendship of some of the greatest men in Rome whose achievements he praised. Amongst these were Scipio Africanus and Fulvius Nobilior , whom he accompanied on his Aetolian campaign Afterwards he made the capture of Ambracia , at which he was present, the subject of a play and of an episode in the Annales.

It was through the influence of Nobilior's son Quintus that Ennius subsequently obtained Roman citizenship. But he himself lived plainly and simply in the literary quarter on the Aventine Hill with the poet Caecilius Statius , a fellow adapter of Greek plays. At about the age of 70 Ennius died, immediately after producing his tragedy Thyestes. In the last book of his epic poem, in which he seems to have given various details of his personal history, he mentioned that he was in his 67th year at the date of its composition.

He compared himself, in contemplation of the close of the great work of his life, to a gallant horse which, after having often won the prize at the Olympic Games , obtained his rest when weary with age. Ennius continued the nascent literary tradition by writing plays in Greek and Roman style praetextae and palliatae , as well as his most famous work, a historic epic in hexameters called the Annales.

The Annales was an epic poem in fifteen books, later expanded to eighteen, covering Roman history from the fall of Troy in BC down to the censorship of Cato the Elder in BC. It was the first Latin poem to adopt the dactylic hexameter metre used in Greek epic and didactic poetry, [8] leading it to become the standard metre for these genres in Latin poetry. The Annals became a school text for Roman schoolchildren, eventually supplanted by Virgil 's Aeneid. About lines survive.

A copy of the work is among the Latin rolls of the Herculaneum library. The Epicharmus was inspired by the philosophical hypotheses developed by the Sicilian poet and philosopher Epicharmus of Kos , after which Ennius's work took its name. Here, he met Epicharmus, who explained the nature of the gods and taught Ennius the physics of the universe. The Euhemerus presented a theological doctrine based on the ideas Greek of Euhemerus of Messene , who argued that the gods of Olympus were not supernatural powers that interference in the lives of humans, but rather heroes of old who after death were eventually regarded as deities due to their valor, bravery, or cultural impact this belief is now known as euhemerism.

Both Cicero and Lactantius write that the Euhemerus was a "translat[ion] and a recount[ing]" of Euhemerus's original work the Sacred History , but it is unclear if this means Ennius simply translated the original from Greek into Latin, or added in his own elements. Most of what is preserved of this work comes to us from Lactantius, and these snippets suggest that the Euhemerus was a prose text. The Hedyphagetica took much of its substance from the gastronomical epic of Archestratus of Gela. As a result, many of Rome's poorest citizens flocked to enlist in the army.

These changes also meant that Rome had a standing military force which could respond to threats immediately rather than having to raise, train and deploy a force. After the Marian Reforms, citizens would report to recruitment posts fro generals who were looking for soldiers. The ideal recruit would be:. After a man had made reached a recruitment post they would undergo probatio. This is where the recruit's physical capabilities were assessed before he received his position.

If they had skills, for example, as an accountant, they would be given a bookkeeping role. After probatio had been completed the new recruits would begin four months of training to prepare for life in the Roman army. Roman soldiers might also be transferred from one legion to another. This began to happen more during the later years of the Roman Empire, known as ' vexillaio ', small groups of soldiers would be re-deployed from one region to another.

Once they had completed their objective, they would return to their original post. The daily life of a soldier was pretty intense with long marches carrying heavy equipment; this was enough to keep them in good physical condition. Roman soldiers would also participate in several specialised training exercises each month. If a legion had many new recruits, a general would often take them into minor conflicts to give them an experience of battle before starting on the army's main campaign objective. The training of horses was also very important. Horses were used not only in combat but also for supplying the front lines with necessary supplies and sending messages.

It was vital that horses were able to: withstand the weight of an armoured cavalryman, remain calm in battle, to swim across shallow rivers, jump over obstacles and small defences. After recruitment, each soldier would have to take an oath, known as the ' sacramentum militare '.

Early writers

By taking the oath a soldier denounced his civilian rights, and if he broke it, he would be at the hands of his commander and whatever punishment he saw fit. By taking the oath, he swore to follow all orders he was given, including that:. The Roman army consisted of the legions, auxiliaries, and other allied forces. The Roman legions were exclusively made up of full Roman citizens. The auxiliaries, on the other hand, consisted of men from the provinces. The Roman legion was the main body of the Roman army. Following the Marian reforms in BCE, each legion would consist of 4, infantrymen.

Before the Marian reforms, the Roman 'legion' looked somewhat different. The history of the legion can be split into three eras: the early period, the manipular period and the cohortal era. Click here to read more about the Roman Legions. It only took fifty years for the number of soldiers in the auxiliary ranks to surpass the legions. The Roman auxiliaries were made up of men who did not have full Roman citizenship. Most auxilia units were paid less than legionaries, receiving sestertii per year a sixth less than legionaries.

Once a soldier completed his 25 years of service, he would receive full Roman citizenship for him and his family. The auxilia were essential to the Roman army as they provided specialist units, including cavalry and ranged units. They received a similar level of training as the legionaries and were well equipped to deal with the hardships of Roman military life.

Click here to read more about the Roman Auxilia. Alliances were an important part of Rome's territorial growth. Early alliances with other cities and towns in Italy allowed Rome to gain dominance over the Italian peninsula. During the late Roman Empire alliances grew even more important. The Senate signed treaties with more and more 'barbarian' tribes in an attempt to protect Rome's vast borders. A foederati was a treaty between Rome and a tribe requiring them to fight with Rome. Unlike the auxiliaries, these units would fight under their own commander.

An example of this came after the battle of Adrianople in CE, where the Romans were unable to beat the Goths in battle and instead offered them land in Thrace if they would fight with Rome against future enemies. The Romans were reluctant to recruit mercenary forces. However, these mercenaries quickly betrayed Rome and joined the enemy.

This didn't do much to encourage Rome to employ more mercenary forces anytime soon. It wasn't until the third century CE that Germanic tribes would be hired to protect the Roman Empire's borders. The Roman army was a highly organised force with a well-defined hierarchy. Officers had total command of their underlings and soldiers knew exactly what was required of them on a daily basis. As stated above the Roman army had a very rigid and well set out hirearchy. This meant that each man knew who he reported to and who reported to him. These two men had total control over Rome's armies.

However, as time passed and Rome's territories grew, more soldiers and legions were required. Thus there was a need more generals. To take command of a legion a man would have to hold the position of praetorian rank or higher in the Senate. The man in charge of a legion was called a legatus.

This position afforded the man an enormous amount of power: they would receive large amounts of booty won on campaign.

Additionally, they had absolute authority over their men and civilians, being able to issue any punishment they saw fit. As a result of all this power, Augustus restricted the time a man could serve as legatus to two years. This was later extended to four years and in many cases, the legatus would serve indefinitely. Below the legatus there were seven senior officers.

These officers were often appointed by the legatus based off recommendations from other high ranking Romans. The tibunus laticlavius was the son of a senator. This position was one of the first steps in his political career which would more often than not take him back to a life in Rome. Next in command were the five tribuni angusticlavii. These men were from the equestrian class and were each in charge of two cohorts. The praefectus castrorum was the camp-prefect. He was in charge of discipline and overseeing construction projects. This was the highest position a normal Roman citizen could reach.

He would often be promoted from the position of primus pilus the most senior centurion of a legion. For each legion, there were sixty centurions, who were each in control of 80 men. Each centurion was responsible for training, discipline and other daily activities. The centurion fought on the front lines alongside his men and was critical in maintaining the order and formation of soldiers.

Centurions earned considerably more than the standard foot soldier, they had their own separate quarters on camp and could also take their own slaves with them on campaign. Below the centurion was the optio , the second in command of a century. He would take control if for some reason the centurion was incapacitated. The optio was also responsible for ensuring the centurion's orders were carried out. His pay was double that of a standard legionary. He would also likely be promoted to centurion later on in his career.

The non-commissioned officers were legionaries who held specialised tasks which allowed the legion to function normally. A soldier in this position would be known as an ' immunes '. They would have performed any number of jobs, for example, carpenters, stone masons, musicians, etc. While these soldiers did not receive higher pay, they were exempt from performing the more mundane tasks other soldiers had to do. To be eligible for this role a soldier would either have to be promoted by their centurion after several years of service.

Alternatively, if when a soldier enlisted, they had a letter of recommendation from a highly respected Roman citizen they would often be immediately appointed to one of these positions. Once a soldier had served as an ' immunes ' for several years and had shown potential and ambition they would be promoted to become a ' principales '.

A soldier of this rank would often take control of training and other positions of responsibility, as well as a nice pay rise. The infantry was the backbone of the Roman army. However, during the Samnite Wars, this formation had to be abandoned as the terrain was rough and not suited to the phalanx formation. Instead the ' maniple ' was adopted.

In this new system, the Roman infantry consisted of velites, hastati, princeps and triarii. In BCE, under the Marian reforms the 'maniple' was abandoned in favor of cohorts. This was the modern Roman army which most people are familiar with. The infantry was standardized with identical equipment and training. Each legion now consisted of 4, infantrymen.

The legion was also supported by auxiliary infantry, they were equally capable on the battlefield as the legionary infantry. However, they were often deployed on the more vulnerable wings in battle. The Roman army heavily relied on its infantry for military success. However, the infantry was also supported by a small contingent of cavalrymen. During the Roman Kingdom and the early Roman Republic, only the wealthiest Roman citizens were eligible to serve as cavalrymen. There would usually be lightly armored cavalrymen equites accompanying an infantry force of around 4, men.

After the Marian Reforms BCE , the army was organised into legions which were accompanied by a similar amount of legionary cavalry. In roughly 30 BCE, Augustus founded the auxilia. It would be from here that much of the Roman army's cavalry forces would be raised. Specialised cavalry units such as horse archers would be raised from the eastern provinces Armenia and Anatolia.

Click here to read more about Roman Cavalry. A wide variety of ranged units were utilised by almost all armies of the ancient world. Whether they were archers, slingers, javelin throwers or artillery units they were all integral parts of ancient warfare. Before the battle commenced, ranged units would fire volleys at the enemy to soften up the opposition's infantry.

Between BCE and BCE maniple era , the front line of heavy infantry, the Hastati, would carry pila to launch at the enemy before engaging in hand to hand infantry combat. This tradition also continued after the establishment of the auxilia infantry.


These units would carry projectiles to launch at the enemy. During the Roman Empire, many of Rome's ranged units were recruited from the provinces. Rome's auxiliary ranks also boasted mounted horse archers recruited from the eastern provinces, Armenia and Anatolia. These units would ride into range of the enemy and fire a volley of arrows at the enemy and then retreat before they could be hit. A common tactic used by these units was the 'Cantabrian circle'. The ranged horse units would make a single file rotating circle in front of the enemy. The cavalrymen nearest the enemy would launch their projectiles resulting in a continuous fire on the enemy.

The horsemen would be difficult to hit due to their constant movement. This tactic would often frustrate the enemy and disrupt their formation. Artillery was commonplace in the Roman army, whether it was used against besieged cities or soldiers on the open battlefield. Much of Rome's knowledge of artillery came from the Greeks. These machines were too bulky to transport fully assembled. They would be dismantled and then be re-built at the battlefield.

The range of some of Rome's larger artillery machinery was? However, it was only accurate when within a range of meters or less. Each Roman legion would be equipped with roughly seventy units of artillery. Vegetius wrote that each cohort would carry an ' onager ' while each century would be equipped with a ' scorpio '. In some instances, Roman artillery would not be able to break through well-fortified stone defenses. In this case, onagers would be used to destroy towers which the defenders were using to rain down projectiles on the advancing Roman forces.

This would provide enough cover to mount ladders onto the walls allowing the breach of the settlement. On the open battlefield, it was the ballista and scorpio which were used to gain an advantage. These would be utilised to achieve the following objectives:. Naval fleets would often be equipped with artillery that would be used to damage enemy ships before close quarters combat.

The Roman army used a wide variety of weapons and armour over the entirety of its existence. The auxilia had a diverse selection of units whom each used their own specialised weaponry and armour. This all goes to say that this subject is a little more complex than what one would first think. The weapon of choice of the Roman legions was the gladius , a short sword that was around half a metre in length. This weapon was very good for thrusting into the enemy as it was double sided. It was used during the later Roman Republic and throughout most of the Roman Empire.

A pilum was a javelin which was carried by many of the frontline infantry units. They would launch it at the enemy before engaging in hand to hand combat. A pugio dagger was carried by all legionary infantry. It was around twenty centimetres in length and would be used in very close quarters when a soldier was for whatever reason unable to use his gladius.

Click here to read more about Roman weapons. What armour a Roman soldier wore would depend largely on his function. Roman legionary infantry would be equipped with a helmet, body armour, shield and greaves. Clothing varied based on where a soldier was located. Wool was commonly used in all clothing used by Roman soldiers. Clothing would include a tunic, cloak, padding, scarf, shoes and accessories. Click here to read more about Roman armour and clothing. There are three levels of military strategy: Grand strategy which is the overall objective of a campaign. Strategy proper which is concerned with how the army funtions in order to achieve the grand strategy.

Finally, operational strategy, which is how smaller groups within the army i. A stratagem was a trick which aimed to outwit the enemy to gain an advantage. A senator named Frontius wrote four books regarding stratagems. He distinguished between three types of stratagem:. An example of a stratagem is an ambush. Hannibal executed this with perfection at the Battle of Lake Trasimene.

He left his main camp exposed giving the Romans an opportunity to strike. The Romans marched across the shore of the lake.


However, the previous night Hannibal had deployed soldiers behind the hills. When the time was right these men came pouring over the hill pinning the Roman soldiers against the lake. Hannibal won an overwhelming victory. The psychology of soldiers was critical for Roman military success. Creating an environment to nurture the state of a legion's psyche was critically important and would directly impact the outcome of a campaign. There are numerous potential influencing factors:.

Fear was a large factor in a soldier's decision-making process, and generals would go to great lengths to ensure their soldiers feared them more than the enemy. The life of a Roman soldier was certainly not easy. From the day a soldier enrolled in the Roman military he knew he had a tough next twenty-five years ahead of him. However, this was not without its reward and there was plenty of motivation to put some armour on and fight with the Roman army.

The daily life of a Roman soldier was tough and not all that exciting. A majority of a soldier's time would be spent: training, marching or completing daily tasks. All political careers in Rome would start with military experience. It was necessary for members of the senatorial and equestrian ranks to hold positions in the army before being appointed to more senior positions in Rome and in the provinces.

Young budding politicians would hold the position of 'tibunus laticlavius' , second in command of a legion, for one year in their early career. He would later take up the position of 'legatus' for a period of about three years. Most soldiers who joined the Roman legion would remain a basic infantryman for the twenty-five years they served for. However, some would rise through the ranks of the legion. Roman soldiers received different pay based on their rank and specialities, various deductions would be taken from a soldier's pay for food, clothing and armour. Soldiers were paid on the first days of January, May and September.

On joining the Roman army, a soldier received sestertii reward. Likewise, when a legionary infantryman finished their twenty-five years of service they would have received a bonus of 12, sestertii This would have been significantly more for officers. There were many rewards available for those serving in the Roman army. One of the most important was Roman citizenship for those who did not have it. This was the main motivation for many men when deciding to join the Roman auxilia.

Other rewards included:. If a soldier completed his military service, he received ' bona castrensia' , the wealth he had amassed over the many campaigns he had served in throughout his career. Additionally, a plot of land for farming in one of the provinces of the Roman Empire. Once a soldier had sworn the military oath, he sacrificed his civilian rights and was under the rule of his legatus.

This meant that if he deviated from his commands he would be disciplined as his legatus saw fit. These punishments would be harsh to ensure the soldier would not re-offend.

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It was vital that Roman soldiers feared and respected their legatus more than the enemy. Thus generals would go to great lengths to achieve this. During the Roman Republic, Titus Manlius Imperiosus committed his son to death for disobeying his orders. The Romans had well written out punishments for each crime. For example, they distinguished between desertion and defection Defection was punishable by burning or impalement, a more severe penalty than for desertion. If a soldier did escape the grasp of the Roman army he would have several choices: head to Rome or another corner of the Roman Empire where he was unlikely to be recognised.

Alternatively, they could join a gang of bandits. There were two severe punishments available to officers. The first being ' fustuarium ' which was the punishment for desertion.


The guilty soldier would be either beaten or stoned to death by the soldiers he endangered. However, if the soldier managed to escaped he would not be chased down instead banished. The second punishment was decimation whereby a group of men who deserted their positions would be split into groups of ten and forced to draw lots.

One of the ten would be beaten to death by the others. A soldier's diet would have consisted of a lot of wheat and barley. However, they would have had access to a wide variety of foods depending on where they were located. This could include bread, cheese, oil, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, spices, salt, beer and wine. A Roman soldier would consume around 3, calories per day. However, this would depend on whether there was a shortage or surplus of food in a region. Soldiers would also drink between two and ten litres of water per day, depending on the climate. The amount of food required to sustain a single army was monumental, requiring extensive agricultural efforts.

Crops would regularly fail and this would directly affect Rome's armies, as rations would have to be cut. Additionally, a Roman army would travel with a large amount of animals who would require large amounts of food and water also. There were several types of discharge. The first was ' honesta sissio ', or honourable discharge which was awarded once a soldier completed their service. Secondly, ' causaria missio ', which was awarded to soldiers who had been injured too severely to finish their full service.

They would receive a bonus based on the amount of years and campaigns served while in the army.