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Old February 17th, 2017, 04:09 AM   #1

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Triarii - Romes Military Police


Just watched this video.

In which the role of the Triarri is discussed. (at the 18:24 mark)

He seems to think that they formed up as the rear guard to act both as a backstop to the enemy and to prevent any routed units from fleeing the battlefield. Forcing them back into the battle with their spears.

He says their doesn't appear to be any hard evidence for this, but suggests several things that indicate that this might be the case.

Firstly the Triarri were generally the oldest men on the battlefield and the most respected, men who were to old to enough to be assigned to the Principes but certainly not unable to fight. These men would've commanded the most respect from their comrades and may have been able to rally routing units.

They formed up in long lines at the rear of that army, instead of units like the rest of the army. Ideal to stop fleeing units from running through the gaps.

They were armed with spears, whilst the rest of the army used swords. It's very hard to run through a wall of spears to get away.

Any thoughts???

Do you agree/disagree if so why???
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Old February 17th, 2017, 04:32 AM   #2

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I wouldn't put much faith in a modern theory of a function that he admits the ancients never talked about and "probably never even thought about"... You don't subconsciously devote such a large percentage of your troops to a function that never occurs to you.

Sure, a line of your own veterans WILL help prevent men in front of them from fleeing! That's a side effect. The Romans state very clearly what the triarii were there for, and without something solid there is no real reason to start speculating wildly.

Lloyd has a lot of knowledge, but is all too willing to chuck his own opinions in as if they were facts. He also comes up with flat-out errors based on incorrect data, poor reconstructions, etc. I only watched a couple minutes of the video, and probably won't watch it all, but I did notice that he mentions triarii being shown as kneeling--not in any *ancient* artwork! Heck, there aren't really any Roman depictions of troops that we can be sure are triarii at all! The illustrations he is thinking of are MODERN. They are not evidence. Now, if Polybius or some other Roman writer mentions triarii kneeling, there we go, solid evidence, and not subject to his opinion of it not being comfortable.

I'm also puzzled by the question of lines versus units? All Roman troops were organized in centuries and maniples, and those units fought in lines. But like I said, I didn't watch the whole video.

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Old February 17th, 2017, 05:02 AM   #3

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Originally Posted by Matthew Amt View Post
But like I said, I didn't watch the whole video.
Neither did I.

As a side question, I think that the “videozation” of history brings new challenges to History itself as a Social Science. We are slowly but gradually abandoning the writing system (in books or even in e-books) to watch a videos. And the quantity (and quality) of information isn’t exactly the same. That video has 29 minutes and 57 seconds. How many pages of decent information can we read from a book (or several) in half an hour?
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Old February 17th, 2017, 05:15 AM   #4

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Neither did I.

As a side question, I think that the “videozation” of history brings new challenges to History itself as a Social Science. We are slowly but gradually abandoning the writing system (in books or even in e-books) to watch a videos. And the quantity (and quality) of information isn’t exactly the same. That video has 29 minutes and 57 seconds. How many pages of decent information can we read from a book (or several) in half an hour?
And this is bad because???


Just because it's on Youtube and not written down doesn't make it any more or less wrong/right.
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Old February 17th, 2017, 06:08 AM   #5
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And this is bad because???

Just because it's on Youtube and not written down doesn't make it any more or less wrong/right.
Its bad for history because its easier to bullsh*t people on video. Because there are no footnotes, detailed bibliographies, or sources policies in video. They are entertainment costumed as education, and the masses eat it up because its more fun to watch a video than read a book, for most people.
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Old February 17th, 2017, 06:24 AM   #6
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On video history vs written: One thing you can do in writing is use footnotes. Readers who want to track down which sources contributed to which part of the text, can do so, while readers who don't care about sources can ignore the footnotes and read right past them. Videos have more difficulty maintaining a smooth, rapidly moving flow to the presentation while still linking to specific sources. Listing the sources as a bibliography in the ending credits is not the same thing since it doesn't link the source to a specific part of the presentation.

On triarii: the Romans did not have NCOs, but the triarii did somewhat function like the modern NCO. They were older, more experienced soldiers. At the rear of the formation, they functioned like file closers whose main job was to ensure that the men in front of them did not run away. The different leadership styles of officers and NCOs is perhaps best illustrated by the way paratroopers jump out of a plane: the officer jumps first to give the men a good example. The sergeant jumps last. His job is to push the other men out of the door. This is a modern version of the ancient file closer. This interpretation of the triarii might not be supported in the sources, but soldiers haven't changed that much in 2,000 years. Certain types of leadership have always worked, and the temptation to run away has been present on every battlefield.
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Old February 17th, 2017, 06:45 AM   #7

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On video history vs written: One thing you can do in writing is use footnotes. Readers who want to track down which sources contributed to which part of the text, can do so, while readers who don't care about sources can ignore the footnotes and read right past them. Videos have more difficulty maintaining a smooth, rapidly moving flow to the presentation while still linking to specific sources. Listing the sources as a bibliography in the ending credits is not the same thing since it doesn't link the source to a specific part of the presentation.
Agreed! It's also naive to think that the average Youtube "history" video is even remotely of the quality of the average history book. Though compared to the History Channel, maybe they aren't that bad...

Quote:
On triarii: the Romans did not have NCOs, but the triarii did somewhat function like the modern NCO. They were older, more experienced soldiers. At the rear of the formation, they functioned like file closers whose main job was to ensure that the men in front of them did not run away. The different leadership styles of officers and NCOs is perhaps best illustrated by the way paratroopers jump out of a plane: the officer jumps first to give the men a good example. The sergeant jumps last. His job is to push the other men out of the door. This is a modern version of the ancient file closer. This interpretation of the triarii might not be supported in the sources, but soldiers haven't changed that much in 2,000 years. Certain types of leadership have always worked, and the temptation to run away has been present on every battlefield.
Weeeellll, yes and no. Greek phalanxes were always formed with a steady older man at the rear as a true file closer, to urge on the less experienced or less bold men in front of him. The Romans don't seem to have done that, really, though the optio was a traditional rear-ranker with his staff to help maintain order.

But the triarii were in their own battle line, separated from the units in front of them by several yards at least. Sure, their presence might be felt, but it was nothing like have an experienced hand literally on your shoulder.

And aggie will jump all over you about NCOs, too, ha!

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Old February 17th, 2017, 06:47 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Chlodio View Post
On video history vs written: One thing you can do in writing is use footnotes. Readers who want to track down which sources contributed to which part of the text, can do so, while readers who don't care about sources can ignore the footnotes and read right past them. Videos have more difficulty maintaining a smooth, rapidly moving flow to the presentation while still linking to specific sources. Listing the sources as a bibliography in the ending credits is not the same thing since it doesn't link the source to a specific part of the presentation.

On triarii: the Romans did not have NCOs, but the triarii did somewhat function like the modern NCO. They were older, more experienced soldiers. At the rear of the formation, they functioned like file closers whose main job was to ensure that the men in front of them did not run away. The different leadership styles of officers and NCOs is perhaps best illustrated by the way paratroopers jump out of a plane: the officer jumps first to give the men a good example. The sergeant jumps last. His job is to push the other men out of the door. This is a modern version of the ancient file closer. This interpretation of the triarii might not be supported in the sources, but soldiers haven't changed that much in 2,000 years. Certain types of leadership have always worked, and the temptation to run away has been present on every battlefield.
NCOs supervise, lead, and train junior soldiers, its literally why the position exists. What junior soldiers were Triari supervising/leading? None, since they were completely separated by class lines from younger soldiers, not in the same century or maniple. They had no day to day exposure with younger soldiers, until the time of the cohortal system, and even then, they were separated by numerous centuries with the younger guys. I believe the whole point was that the Romans (like a few other peoples) knew that men of varying age group shouldn't be stuck together in a single combat unit because they just wont get along all that well. Men that are 37 (like I am now) don't EVER want to serve with 17-20 year olds of the same rank. Ever. I can't think of a worse punishment, to be a private soldier in a group of kids, all of us equal in rank...

More so, most soldiers in the triari, principes, hastati were all the same rank anyway. A 37 year old Roman Triari not serving as a centurion or principales would be classed as a miles gregarius (common soldier), and would receive the base pay. Same as a 17 year old in the Velites. Neither had anymore power than the other. One just had more distinction.

The NCOs, if you want to call them that, were the principales, since they were appointed by the centurions. The warrant officers were the centurions themselves, as they were appointed by the commanders of the legions, the tribunes, the legates, and the generals, who were appointed by the Senate and later Emperor, being commissioned by the highest powers.

Triari fought as the reserve for their legion, with the whole third line being the reserve for the whole army. Being older and all veterans, less was expected of them in terms of fighting, they wouldn't be used typically unless everything went to hell. They didn't seem to be involved in building camps (they would guard the construction of them), they likely had less tiresome fatigue duties all around. But they weren't leaders of anything, just older soldiers.

Last edited by aggienation; February 17th, 2017 at 06:50 AM.
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Old February 17th, 2017, 08:22 AM   #9
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Like I said in my previous post, the Romans did not have NCOs. I suppose I could have elaborated and said the Romans did not have enlisted ranks. I guess I took that as a given. Nevertheless, the Romans did understand that soldiers of different ages and experience levels are best used in different ways. Assigning the men to different categories like velitite, hastati, principe, and triarii served much the same function that modern armies achieve by having different ranks.

The experience of my own military career showed a pretty close correlation between age, experience and rank so that the lines between the three were pretty blurry. If you want to think of an NCO as a leader and a trainer, that's certainly the textbook definition, but there's also room for understanding that NCOs are older, more experienced, and provide a certain amount of stability to an otherwise volatile organization of young men. NCOs also occupy a major niche in military society, being quartered and messing separately from other ranks and being assigned different duties. Kind of like the triarii.
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Old February 17th, 2017, 08:24 AM   #10
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Another advantage of books over videos: indexing. If your interest is much narrower than the book, you go to the index and find only that part of the book that interests you. You can't really do that with a video.

Another advantage of books over video: going back and rereading if you didn't understand something the first time. Depending on the exact media, you might not be able to go back and rewind a video.
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