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The Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan

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Although the common Roman fighting men themselves have left no account, much literature has survived from antiquity. The wealth of archaeological finds, plus the study of surviving Roman scultpure has allowed hisorians to learn much about the nature of the Roman army which conquered an astonishing expanse of territory. Michael Simkins brings all his substantial knowledge t Although the common Roman fighting men themselves have left no account, much literature has survived from antiquity. The wealth of archaeological finds, plus the study of surviving Roman scultpure has allowed hisorians to learn much about the nature of the Roman army which conquered an astonishing expanse of territory. Michael Simkins brings all his substantial knowledge to bear on this fascinating subject, covering such topics as army composition, recruitment, training, campaign routine and providing a wealth of detail on weapons, uniforms and equipment.


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Although the common Roman fighting men themselves have left no account, much literature has survived from antiquity. The wealth of archaeological finds, plus the study of surviving Roman scultpure has allowed hisorians to learn much about the nature of the Roman army which conquered an astonishing expanse of territory. Michael Simkins brings all his substantial knowledge t Although the common Roman fighting men themselves have left no account, much literature has survived from antiquity. The wealth of archaeological finds, plus the study of surviving Roman scultpure has allowed hisorians to learn much about the nature of the Roman army which conquered an astonishing expanse of territory. Michael Simkins brings all his substantial knowledge to bear on this fascinating subject, covering such topics as army composition, recruitment, training, campaign routine and providing a wealth of detail on weapons, uniforms and equipment.

30 review for The Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael Smith

    This is one of Osprey’s “Men-at-Arms” series of generally pretty good pictorial guides to historical military arms and uniforms, and while it’s useful for the student of Roman expansionism, it does have a few problems. While no information is given about the author’s qualifications, it’s evident that he’s a professional maker of museum-quality reproductions of arms and armor. Assuming his work is accurate, this means the reader can examine photos of new, undamaged helmets, cuirasses, and infantr This is one of Osprey’s “Men-at-Arms” series of generally pretty good pictorial guides to historical military arms and uniforms, and while it’s useful for the student of Roman expansionism, it does have a few problems. While no information is given about the author’s qualifications, it’s evident that he’s a professional maker of museum-quality reproductions of arms and armor. Assuming his work is accurate, this means the reader can examine photos of new, undamaged helmets, cuirasses, and infantry swords, as well as the usual artwork depicting fully equipped soldiers of the period. But it also seems to be assumed that the reader will be as familiar with the jargon as the author is, which is unlikely to be the case -- especially for students. The text is generally well-written, with detailed descriptions and references to archaeological finds, but a glossary is badly needed to explain the meaning of such terms as splice-block, chape, baldrick, palmette, and phalerae. It would also have been useful, in captioning the color plates, to describe briefly the functions of the signifer and aquilifer.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tacitus

    This book probably does what it set out to do, describing and depicting the arms and armor of Roman soldiers of this period. In that sense, and considering its brevity, it succeeds, although it was less useful to me. From his descriptions, its apparent that that Michael Simkins makes museum-quality reproductions. The process of doing so is revealed in his prose, which reveals that he bases his work on contemporary Roman depictions that have survived. These include not only artifacts that have sur This book probably does what it set out to do, describing and depicting the arms and armor of Roman soldiers of this period. In that sense, and considering its brevity, it succeeds, although it was less useful to me. From his descriptions, its apparent that that Michael Simkins makes museum-quality reproductions. The process of doing so is revealed in his prose, which reveals that he bases his work on contemporary Roman depictions that have survived. These include not only artifacts that have survived and that are in museums, but artwork from the time, such as grave stelae and Trajan’s Column. It’s not clear if the author has seen all of these things first hand, or relies on photographs, not that it matters, but the process of determine what these things may have looked like is interesting. Accompanying the text, there are many black and white photographs of reproduction pieces. There are also line drawings of museum pieces, though not in color, which makes them less useful, I think. I’m also not sure who did the line illustrations, as Ron Embleton is listed as having done only the color plates. The book is chock full of arms and armor jargon that are lost on me, but may be of interest to armor aficionados. As usual, the highlight of these Osprey books are the color plates. These are are very well done and described. I could see these being of value to miniature war gamers, and Osprey has certainly found a niche appealing to that market since this book was first printed in 1974 (and many printings since). I read a 1992 edition that was still in newish condition, and it made me wonder if the series needs (or has had) an update. The authors provide many depictions of various soldiers, which don’t seem that much different at first glance, but they do begin to stand apart when you look at them closely and read the accompanying captions. Roman soldiers wore more chain mail during this period than I expected (not the famous segmented armor), and apparently they picked up this technology from the Celts, it’s believed. There are depictions of sports and ceremonial armor, based on archaeological finds; these would have been more interesting if more context had been provided for their historical use. I have read and heard much about the gladiusof course, and didn’t realize that Roman cavalry used a longer-bladed sword, useful for slashing from horseback, no doubt. A centurion is shown holding a vine staff, which was “symbolic of the centurionate, but had a more practical application on the backs of the centurion’s charges,” Simkins writes. Readers may find similar tidbits, depending on their level of knowledge and interest. I received this book as a gift, and I’ve always shied away from these Osprey books for lack of content applicable to me (which, for ancient armies, has more to do with tactics and force structures, not covered in this book). All the same, I was glad to read this to learn more about the period, the people, and their possessions. The book also taught me to pay closer attention to the soldiers on Roman monuments, thus indirectly providing me a richer experience the next time I’m in a museum or site.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Better written than the early Roman Osprey books (# 283 and 291). As always, great prints and I liked the authors' reconstructions of their gear. Better written than the early Roman Osprey books (# 283 and 291). As always, great prints and I liked the authors' reconstructions of their gear.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Boyd

    Great reference book. Very good pictures and write ups of the various units. Recommended

  5. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Valentino

    A good, concise book on the subject.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Farmer

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ramberto

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mick

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peat

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Fort

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael Laflamme

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sean Mackintosh

  14. 5 out of 5

    James

  15. 4 out of 5

    Walt O'Hara

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hotspur

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

  19. 5 out of 5

    James

  20. 5 out of 5

    BuddhaLaughing

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lance Schonberg

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  24. 4 out of 5

    Scott Sparrold

  25. 5 out of 5

    M. J. Dougherty

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rikard

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Dorman

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  29. 4 out of 5

    Derrick

  30. 5 out of 5

    Larry Bell

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