Friday, January 21, 2011


In the Roman Empire the highest life expectancy was in the Legionnaires;
half of them lived to forty.

Several factors;
they were always feed,
they were selected for health and strength,
they were usually kept away from the cities, 
(where disease and plagues were common) and
their battlefield losses were minimal as they significantly outclassed MOST of their opponents.

            “They were taught not to cut, but to thrust with their swords.  For the Romans not only made jest of those who fought with the edge of their weapons, but also found them an easy conquest, a stroke with the edge, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are protected by the bones and the armor.  On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal.”                Vegetius    

The highest casualty rate in the Roman Army was amongst the Centurions who were usually promoted from the ranks of ordinary soldiers for bravery and ability. A Roman centurion led from the front. It was not uncommon in a battle for 10% of an armies casualties to be Centurions.
Recall, there was only one centurion for every 80 to 100 soldiers.

Nobles didnt live as long as Legionnaires because of political intrigue; assassination typically included you and your entire blood line.

The Romans had contact with the Norse
(who were large even by today’s standards)
but they did not make good soldiers -
couldnt march for long distances and did not have the immune system of their Mediterranean counterparts.

Norse mercenaries served as Elite Guards, as their large size made them both intimidating and formidable individual opponents.

Roman soldiers attacked in ranks of three;
The front rank armed with shortswords aimed for your face and throat . ..
The second rank armed with spears aimed for your axilla and the neurovascular bundle of the arm …
while the third rank armed with long spears sought the femoral artery in the leg or pelvis .

Caesar’s Civil War & Caesar’s Gallic Wars
by Adrian Goldsworthy


Nero's Killing Machine: The True Story of Rome's Remarkable 14th Legion
by Stephen Dando-Collins


  1. Interesting.

    I'd say that the Chinese Artillerist in the same era was the only other army officer that had the Legionaire's endurance and durability.

    Rome had the best army, the greatest range, and the best trained Infantry during its Height. The Army had access to the best medicine (ala Galen of Alexandria) but not always the "best" food.

  2. Roman soldiers were mostly vegetarians;
    this made sense for that era.
    Their simple, but crude diet protected them from many of the parasitic illnesses,
    that have been almost completely eradicated by modern food processing (i.e., trichinosis).