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Legionnaire (red shield), The Roman Army of the Late Republic, Armies and Enemies of Ancient Rome--single figure

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Item Number: RR-19R

Legionnaire (red shield), The Roman Army of the Late Republic, Armies and Enemies of Ancient Rome--single figure

Republican Romans

The Roman Republic was the era of classical Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BCE, and ending in 27 BCE with the establishment of the Roman Empire.  It was during this period that Rome's control expanded from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world.

Roman government was headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and advised by a senate composed of appointed magistrates.  As Roman society was very hierarchical by modern standards, the evolution of the Roman government was heavily influenced by the struggle between the patricians, Rome's land-holding aristocracy, who traced their ancestry to the founding of Rome, and the plebeians, the far more numerous citizen-commoners.  Over time, the laws that gave patricians exclusive rights to Rome's highest offices were repealed or weakened, and leading plebeian families became full members of the aristocracy.  The leaders of the Republic developed a strong tradition and morality requiring public service and patronage in peace and war, making military and political success inextricably linked.  Many of Rome's legal and legislative structures (later codified into the Justinian Code, and again into the Napoleonic Code) can still be observed throughout Europe and much of the world in modern nation states and international organizations.

During the first two centuries of its existence, the Roman Republic expanded through a combination of conquest and alliance, from central Italy to the entire Italian peninsula.  By the following century, it included North Africa, most of the Iberian Peninsula, and what is now southern France.  Two centuries after that, towards the end of the 1st century BCE, it included the rest of modern France, Greece, and much of the eastern Mediterranean.  By this time, internal tensions led to a series of civil wars, culminating with the assassination of Julius Caesar, which led to the transition from republic to empire.

Historians have variously proposed Julius Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon River in 49 BCE, Caesar's appointment as dictator for life in 44 BCE, and the defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE.  However, most use the same date as did the ancient Romans themselves, the Roman Senate's grant of extraordinary powers to Octavian and his adopting the title Augustus in 27 BCE, as the defining event ending the Republic.

The Roman Army of the Late Republic

The Roman army of the late Republic refers to the armed forces deployed by the late Roman Republic, from the beginning of the first century B.C.E. until the establishment of the Imperial Roman army by Augustus in 30 B.C.E.

Shaped by major social, political, and economic change, the late Republic saw the transition from the Roman army of the mid-Republic, which was a temporary levy based solely on the conscription of Roman citizens, to the Imperial Roman army of the Principate, which was a standing, professional army based on the recruitment of volunteers.

Continuous expansion, wars, conflicts, and the acquisition of a growing, overseas territory led to an increasing degree of professionalism within the army.

The late-Republic saw much of its action taking place within the Roman borders and between Roman commanders as they vied for control of the republic.  There was a significant intertwining of military and politics in the acquisition and maintenance of power.  After the Social War, and following the establishment of the First Triumvirate by Julius Caesar, Licinius Crassus, and Pompeius Magnus, there grew an emphasis on the expansion of a united republic toward regions such as Britain and Parthia.  The effort to quell the invasions and revolts of non-Romans persisted throughout the period, from Marius’ battles with the wandering Germans in Italy to Caesar's campaign in Gaul.

After the completion of the Social War in 88 B.C.E., Roman citizenship was granted to all its Italian allies (the socii) south of the Po River.  The alae were abolished, and the socii were from now on recruited directly into uniformly organized and equipped legions.  The non-Italian allies that had long fought for Rome (e.g. Gallic and Numidian cavalry) continued to serve alongside the legions, but remained irregular units under their own leaders.

For reasons that remain uncertain to this day, the structure of the Roman army changed dramatically during the late Republic.  The maniple, which had been the standard unit throughout the mid-Republic, was replaced by the cohort as the new standard tactical unit of the legions, while the Roman citizen cavalry (equites) and light infantry (velites) disappeared from the battlefield.  Traditionally, many of these changes have been attributed to the reforms of Gaius Marius, but some scholars argue that they may have happened far more gradually.

The Scutum was a type of shield used among Italic peoples in antiquity, and then by the army of ancient Rome starting about the fourth century BCE.  The Romans adopted it when they switched from the military formation of the hoplite phalanx of the Greeks to the formation with maniples.  In the former, the soldiers carried a round shield, which the Romans called clipeus.  In the latter, they used the scutum, which was a larger shield.  Originally it was an oblong and convex shield.  By the first century BCE, it had developed into the rectangular, semi-cylindrical shield that is popularly associated with the scutum in modern times.  This was not the only shield the Romans used; Roman shields were of varying types depending on the role of the soldier who carried it.  Oval, circular and rectangular shields were used throughout Roman history.

By the first decades of the 1st century, the COHORT had replaced the maniple as the standard tactical unit of the legions.

The three lines of the manipular legion were combined to form the cohort, which generally numbered about 480 to 500 men.  Maniples and centuries continued to be used as military and administrative subdivisions for the cohort.

There were six centuries in a cohort, which were now all 80-men strong. 

Each Centuria was commanded by a Centurion, and also included an Optio, a Signifer, and a Cornicen.

Due to be released in JULY 2021.