By Adrian Goldsworthy, John Keegan
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Additional resources for Roman Warfare
This veteran soldier from the third line of the thirdcentury BC legion replaces the pilum with a long spear. He wears a mail shirt made from linked rings, a type of armour which the Romans probably copied from the Gauls. It was flexible, but heavy, and he wears a belt to relieve some of the burden which otherwise rested entirely on his shoulders. The light infantry of the third- to second-century BC legion were recruited from the poorer citizens and those too young to join the hastati. This man carries a bundle of light javelins, a round shield and has a gladius at his belt.
Each maniple had to be positioned carefully in relation to its neighbours in its own and the other two lines to ensure that the legion's front was properly and uniformly supported. Even when the army had camped only a few kilometres from the enemy it still formed itself into three columns and marched to within one and a half kilometres or less of the enemy position, and then, at the point which would form the left of the army's position, wheeled to the right and marched along the army's intended front to form the triplex acies.
During the third and fourth centuries the spatha appears to have been adopted by most, if not all, Roman infantrymen. but this was done without ever varying the number of triarii. The sixty centurions and thirty decurions were overseen by six military tribunes, two of whom held overall command of the legion at anyone time. The tribunes were elected, usually from young aristocrats in the earliest stages of a political career. A consul was normally given an army of two legions, but in times of crisis this was increased to four.