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Roman Centurions 31 BC-AD 500

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In the years between 31 BC and AD 500 the Romans carved out a mighty empire stretching from Britain to the deserts of North Africa. The men who spearheaded this expansion were the centurions, the tough, professional warriors who led from the front, exerted savage discipline and provided a role model for the legionaries under their command. This book, the second volume of a In the years between 31 BC and AD 500 the Romans carved out a mighty empire stretching from Britain to the deserts of North Africa. The men who spearheaded this expansion were the centurions, the tough, professional warriors who led from the front, exerted savage discipline and provided a role model for the legionaries under their command. This book, the second volume of a two-part study, reveals the appearance, weaponry, role and impact of these legendary soldiers during the five centuries that saw the Roman Empire reach its greatest geographical extent under Trajan and Hadrian, only to experience a long decline in the West in the face of sustained pressure from its ‘barbarian’ neighbours. Featuring spectacular full-colour artwork, written by an authority on the army of the Caesars and informed by a wide range of sculptural, written and pictorial evidence from right across the Roman world, this book overturns established wisdom and sheds new light on Rome’s most famous soldiers during the best-known era in its history.


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In the years between 31 BC and AD 500 the Romans carved out a mighty empire stretching from Britain to the deserts of North Africa. The men who spearheaded this expansion were the centurions, the tough, professional warriors who led from the front, exerted savage discipline and provided a role model for the legionaries under their command. This book, the second volume of a In the years between 31 BC and AD 500 the Romans carved out a mighty empire stretching from Britain to the deserts of North Africa. The men who spearheaded this expansion were the centurions, the tough, professional warriors who led from the front, exerted savage discipline and provided a role model for the legionaries under their command. This book, the second volume of a two-part study, reveals the appearance, weaponry, role and impact of these legendary soldiers during the five centuries that saw the Roman Empire reach its greatest geographical extent under Trajan and Hadrian, only to experience a long decline in the West in the face of sustained pressure from its ‘barbarian’ neighbours. Featuring spectacular full-colour artwork, written by an authority on the army of the Caesars and informed by a wide range of sculptural, written and pictorial evidence from right across the Roman world, this book overturns established wisdom and sheds new light on Rome’s most famous soldiers during the best-known era in its history.

30 review for Roman Centurions 31 BC-AD 500

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Brozyna

    Roman Centurions 753-31 BC is a solid addition to Osprey's Men-At-Arms series. Ancient history researcher and professor Raffaele D'Amato discusses the Roman centurion within the organization of the military, his social status, promotion, duties, arms, and equipment. The reader can be confident in D'Amato's knowledge of historic sources for clothing, armor, and weaponry of the centurion. He previously coauthored Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier (2009) with Graham Sumner, an expert in Roman Centurions 753-31 BC is a solid addition to Osprey's Men-At-Arms series. Ancient history researcher and professor Raffaele D'Amato discusses the Roman centurion within the organization of the military, his social status, promotion, duties, arms, and equipment. The reader can be confident in D'Amato's knowledge of historic sources for clothing, armor, and weaponry of the centurion. He previously coauthored Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier (2009) with Graham Sumner, an expert in the subject. Roman Centurions features many styles of armor, shields, and helmets & crests that one does not typically see in other illustrated books. I was most intrigued by the Caesarian-era leather armor based on period sculpture from Aquelia and Narbonne. The bronze shield seen on the cover is intriguing, but might need more evidence. There is sculptural evidence showing circular shields were sometimes carried in the late Republican period, yet the D'Amato does not provide support for the bronze material. For these armor and equipment reconstructions there is a strong reliance on ancient representational art (sculpture and frescoes). It is always best to compare art to actual archaeological finds, and D'Amato does this where possible. When there is no surviving example to compare (as with perishable leather or quilted armor), then a best guess is made using similar known objects as general guidance. Some of his interpretations might be debated, but there isn't anything especially controversial. There are often new discoveries being made, so the coming years may confirm these illustrated reconstructions. The artwork by Giuseppe Rava is just fantastic. I'm a big fan of his work. There are five fully illustrated plates (with backgrounds) and three plates of just the men (white backgrounds). Rava first caught my attention ten years ago with his box art for the 1/72 toy soldiers by Hat and Italeri. I'm very glad to see his art in Osprey's books.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John Nebauer

    This is concise summary of the evidence available on what was the backbone of the Roman beyond the dissolution of the Empire in the West. It covers organisation, career progression, pay, equipment and clothing. The thing that is striking is that, despite the tremendous changes within the Roman Military over the 500+ years covered, the role and status of the centurion remained remarkably stable. They were very well paid indeed: often as much as 15 times the salary of a legionary. But while they s This is concise summary of the evidence available on what was the backbone of the Roman beyond the dissolution of the Empire in the West. It covers organisation, career progression, pay, equipment and clothing. The thing that is striking is that, despite the tremendous changes within the Roman Military over the 500+ years covered, the role and status of the centurion remained remarkably stable. They were very well paid indeed: often as much as 15 times the salary of a legionary. But while they shared the risks of their men, they were also responsible for their men's performance on and off the battlefield. A perceived dereliction of duty could mean death. There were a several important distinctions that marked a centurion, but the one that characterised the whole period was the vine staff. This was a mark of office and it could be used to discipline their men. It was fascinating to see the evolutions in its shape. One illustration shows a staff peeking out from behind a shield, its shape a lotus. Apart from numerous references there is a lot of excellent archaeological information, including fragments of a leg greave. As you would expect, funerary monuments also feature prominently. Finally, the plate illustrations are first-class. I was pleased to see that the 5th century centurion in the final plate was based on the wonderful mosaics at Santa Maria Maggiore (perhaps my favourite church in Rome). A thin volume for the price but an excellent reference. I wouldn't recommend the kindle version unless you're reading on a tablet because the illustrations add so much.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Art

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nick Spenceley

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pexa

  7. 4 out of 5

    Plinius Britanicus

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bert Ricci

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eddy Pelckmans

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jason Hubbard

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  12. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Short

  13. 5 out of 5

    Philip

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarcasm

  15. 5 out of 5

    Steven McKay

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marcelo

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adam Lofthouse

  18. 5 out of 5

    Frank

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Roman

  21. 5 out of 5

    David

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  24. 5 out of 5

    Osvaldo Andrés SALINAS

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  26. 4 out of 5

    Duane E Cox

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristopher Swinson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Flynn

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peat

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eric Larsen

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