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Old July 4th, 2009, 06:32 PM   #1
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Roman Army daily Life

I'm just curious as to what the typical roman legionnaire would expect out of an average day.

In terms of exercise, diet, camp duties, entertainment, etc.
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Old July 4th, 2009, 07:05 PM   #2

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Re: Roman Army daily Life

Well it depends on when and where they were...

On a march, especially in the campaigning seasons, it would be a very busy life. Legions were able to construct entire pallisaded camps with trenches around the outside and stakes, in just a few hours. Several thousand men would be put to digging trenches, others to building the pallisades, others to setting up all the tents. There would also be many sentry duties throughout the night. On a typical marching day they could cover 30kms in 5 hours depending on the terrain.

Generally, food was provided in camp but small groups of soldiers would usually cook their own food, usually stews, soups, and bread that would be provided by the bakers. Whenever possible they would hunt for deer or rabbit or whatever game they could, to get some extra meat into their diet.

They would cook and eat and share a tent with a group called a contubernium which throughout their history ranged between 8 and 10 men. They would serve together as a unit in a larger century of between 8 and 10 contubernium, again in a maniple of 2 centuries, a cohort of 5 maniples, and then the legion of 10 cohorts, plus several thousand auxillary troops that also camped with the legion. Of course these numbers varied slightly between all the periods, for example they changed under the reforms of Marius, but the structure was always similar.

During winter months or when not on campaign, soldiers were generally stationed in permanent forts, and often were even sent back to cities on leave to.. entertain themselves... in the brothels and taverns, or for such things as voting (during the Republic anyway). Generally, typical soldiers were not permitted to marry, so they usually did not have a family to worry about. When in camp, they would do standard drills and exercises, but often had lots of time to kill in camp. Their daily drills consisted of long distance runs, usually with heavy packs, long jumping, climbing walls, javelin throwing, and fencing/sword fighting. In the month or so before they began campaigning they would do large group exercises in their centuries, maniples, cohorts, or even their entire legions, to work on maneuvers and battle formations to get ready for fighting.

They did get paid a decent wage, and also evenly divided the spoils of their conquests.

It was certainly a lot busier during the late spring thru early autumn months, as they would be marching, fighting, or setting up camps and forts.
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Old July 4th, 2009, 07:41 PM   #3

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Re: Roman Army daily Life

Check out the book LEGIONARY:The Roman Soldier's(Unofficial) Guide by Philip Matyzik(sp?). I was skimming through it at Barnes and Nobles the other day and it looked pretty interesting. I t gave details on everything from keeping you weapons and kit clean to how to create camps, etc. I don't know if any of it is accurate buy hey...
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Old July 5th, 2009, 05:31 AM   #4
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Re: Roman Army daily Life

Thank you alex, this was a good response.

Also, I'll check that book out, it sounds interesting.

I'm currently reading a book called "Battles of the Bible" which is pretty interesting, not sure how accurate, but it's entertaining if nothing else.
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Old July 5th, 2009, 09:01 AM   #5

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Re: Roman Army daily Life

The daily life of a campaign can be seen on the column of Trajan .....

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

There are many sites showing the pictures of the column :

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