How many legions and equivalents at Zama?

Nov 2011
1,002
The Bluff
I think not (Appian, Hann. 8):

When the Romans in the city learned of this third defeat on the Po (for they had in fact been beaten by the Boii before Hannibal arrived), they levied a new army of their own citizens which, with those already on the Po, amounted to thirteen legions, and they called for double that number from the allies. At this time the legion consisted of 5000 foot and 300 horse. Some of these they sent to Spain, some to Sardinia (for they were at war there also), and some to Sicily. The greater part were despatched against Hannibal under Cn. Servilius and Gaius Flaminius, who had succeeded Scipio and Sempronius as consuls...
Appian clearly thought that the regular legion size in 217/16 was 5,000 foot and 300 horse. In any case, this not about the army size at Cannae but rather Zama. I raised this only as another instance of Livy reporting conflicting sources on numbers. Sailing off on a tangent regarding Cannae (which I'm certain has several hundred threads on this forum) serves little purpose. As I say, I'm agnostic on the matter.

What is at question is the number which Scipio takes to Africa and, on that, I think Livy is pretty plain. Dismissals of those overstrength legions, based on the fact such aren't attested until Pydna in 168, I find intellectually curious. To paraphrase the argument: "this number is unlikely as we aren't told of legions in such strength until the campaign of Pydna where they were brought up to 6,000 foot". Thus, arguing that the Pydna campaign is the first time our sources attest such numbers involves dismissing the actual first time such numbers are attested. The evidence for Pydna is Livy. Curious, as Spock would intone. Even more curious is the fact that the reported number of hastai with Flamininus before Thebes (in 196) indicate that his legions, too, were overstrength (Livy, 33.1.2):

Thence the next day, taking the soldiers of one company and Attalus and the numerous embassies which had come in from all directions, he set out to march towards the city, ordering the hastati of the legion — they amounted to two thousand men — to follow at the distance of a mile.
That would be 2,000 Hastai, 2,000 pricipes, 800 triarii and a minimum 1,000 velites ( near enough to 6,000 if the velites are also beefed up)
 
Last edited:
Nov 2011
1,002
The Bluff
I was referring to your assumption that Delbruck was basing his opinion solely on Appian....
I can only go off what you provide...


But the 86,000 figure for the Romans stems, as Appian proves, drawing on Roman sources, from their own side, and as we shall establish further below in a closer examination of the composition of the Carthaginian army, no objective reason exists to cause us to doubt the strength of that army.
 
Quite so. As I explained to Nick some pages back, Polybios' Greek nowhere mentions weapons, only that the third line was ordered to "present arms" (προβαλέσθαι / probalesthai) and so cannot be used to justify "spear" or any other armament for that matter. In any case, Nick would seem confused as he is now arguing this third line of veterans, which he's long insisted were not there, actually were there and "were fighting in the Spanish style, because they were using captured roman (sic) kit". Because this apparently "also proves they were not spearmen", I'm assuming that the Carthaginian hoplite spearmen he insists were there, and who made up the third line, were not there also.

This is eerily reminiscent of the 4,000 Macedonians who were claimed as elephant accompanying light troops who subsequently simply weren't there either...
You need to read POLYBIUS more carefully. History 3 87.3
He also re-armed the Africans in the Roman fashion with select weapons, being, as he now was, in possession of a very large quantity of captured arms.

The question is not whether the Africans were now fighting in the Spanish style, which I believe is considered a forgone conclusion by academia, but how they fought before being re-equipped. Classical wisdom considered them Hoplites, or even pikemen, although the latter is about as credible as Livy's Macedonians. As many have pointed out, troops victorious in one fighting style, are hardly going to adopt one their enemies lost with. Hannibal's veterans were almost certainly not Hoplites. Like everyone else, they were pseudo legionaries.

Your post, as usual, shows you choose to mistake my position, and distort it. I never said the Macedonians were light troops. I said the Macedonians were almost certainly not there, a point that is generally agreed with by most historians. I did say that elephant accompanying light infantry would make up the missing total of troops not included in Polybius's account, to round Hannibal's army up to c40k. Elephant escorts were standard operating practice by this point, and almost not stated, as an obvious military element to the readers at that time.

Your tactics on this thread are actually very interesting.
1. You misrepresent what I have said.
2. You try to use 'barbs' to elicit an emotional response against those you cannot intimidate with your selected wisdom. Not just me. Your unreasonable use of Hissy Fit against another poster springs to mind.
3. You try to help close a thread when you realise you do not have the information to be definitively correct on a subject.

Finally, be nice. Even if I am wrong, civilised debate is healthy.
 
Jul 2016
8,950
USA
He also re-armed the Africans in the Roman fashion with select weapons, being, as he now was, in possession of a very large quantity of captured arms.

The question is not whether the Africans were now fighting in the Spanish style, which I believe is considered a forgone conclusion by academia, but how they fought before being re-equipped.
These two contradict one another. How were they armed as Romans but its a forgone conclusion they fought in Spanish style, a term that doesn't mean anything since it was a land of numerous completely different tribes and city states.

What does Spanish style mean to you?
 
These two contradict one another. How were they armed as Romans but its a forgone conclusion they fought in Spanish style, a term that doesn't mean anything since it was a land of numerous completely different tribes and city states.

What does Spanish style mean to you?
Javelin and shortsword in a more open 'peltast' style, rather than traditional close order spear/pike phalanx.

The Roman Hastati and Principes fought in the Spanish style at this time, the Triarri as Hoplites, ie Greek style. When Hannibals 3rd line 'veterans' lowered their spears to prevent retreat of the first two lines, Polybius may have thought the Carthaginians three lines fought in the same way?
 
Mar 2018
711
UK
Javelin and shortsword in a more open 'peltast' style, rather than traditional close order spear/pike phalanx.

The Roman Hastati and Principes fought in the Spanish style at this time, the Triarri as Hoplites, ie Greek style. When Hannibals 3rd line 'veterans' lowered their spears to prevent retreat of the first two lines, Polybius may have thought the Carthaginians three lines fought in the same way?
Perhaps this is something the completed spreadsheet could answer. Makes it easier to avoid double counting or continuous shifting around of numbers from one group to another.
 
Jul 2016
8,950
USA
Javelin and shortsword in a more open 'peltast' style, rather than traditional close order spear/pike phalanx.

The Roman Hastati and Principes fought in the Spanish style at this time, the Triarri as Hoplites, ie Greek style. When Hannibals 3rd line 'veterans' lowered their spears to prevent retreat of the first two lines, Polybius may have thought the Carthaginians three lines fought in the same way?
- Javelins and short swords, with fully body shields, is NOT Spanish style. What made you think it was?

- As I've already said, there is no Spanish style. What does that even mean? Celtibernian? Lusitanian? Saguntines? Which tribes? Which city states? Are you suggesting they all fought the same because they were "Spanish?"

- From what I've read, the Roman style is documented as the Roman style by ancient sources and modern. The Roman Republic didn't even really campaign in the Spanish peninsula until the late 3rd Century BC, so how did Rome and Italy learn and adopt their unique fighting style? And who is this according to? When did this happen? Source?

- You wrote this earlier: "forgone conclusion by academia" What are some papers or books, and authors, that state the Roman Hastati and Principes fought in the Spanish style?

- Polybius knew the Roman system different from the Spanish system, he wrote pretty extensively about the history and military peculiarities of Rome. The only thing he described of Spanish origin was their sword, at least off the top of my head that is all I can think of. Did he not know the origins? What about Livy? How about all the rest? Which source?

- The Roman Triarii carried scuta, which are different enough from the clipeus/aspis that the battle tactics would differ. Just because a warrior used a shield and spear doesn't mean that hoplite, let alone Greek. While Livy states the Triarii fought at least sometimes in what appeared to be a shield wall, that also doesn't make them hoplite based, as a significant number of ancient societies that had no relation to the ancient Greeks also fought in shield walls.

For more info on hoplite warfare, I recommend reading the excellent "Hoplites at War: A Comprehensive Analysis of Heavy Infantry Combat in the Greek World, 750-100 BCE", by Paul Bardunias and Fred Ray, both of whom are also Historum members, though they don't post often. At the end, especially after reading a truly informative paper or book on the Roman Republic, I truly challenge anyone to continue making the distinction that the Triarii were like hoplites. If nothing else, the Romans of the First Class, which included many serving as Triarii, had previously carried an aspis type shield. They stopped. Because they stopped fighting like hoplites.
 
Javelin and shortsword in a more open 'peltast' style, rather than traditional close order spear/pike phalanx.

The Roman Hastati and Principes fought in the Spanish style at this time, the Triarri as Hoplites, ie Greek style. When Hannibals 3rd line 'veterans' lowered their spears to prevent retreat of the first two lines, Polybius may have thought the Carthaginians three lines fought in the same way?
But they didn't 'lower their spears'. Salaminia has now explained this twice.
 
Nov 2011
1,002
The Bluff
You need to read POLYBIUS more carefully. History 3 87.3
He also re-armed the Africans in the Roman fashion with select weapons, being, as he now was, in possession of a very large quantity of captured arms.


Quite and they were now fighting in the "Roman" fashion as is agreed. Your notion of "Spanish style" is, as Aggienation has pointed out, as accurate as saying a group fought in the Greek style of this time. Would that be hoplite, thureophoroi, peltast or pike armed phanagite?

. Classical wisdom considered them Hoplites, or even pikemen, although the latter is about as credible as Livy's Macedonians.
Whatever "classical wisdom" considered them, it was not pike armed. That, I'm afraid, comes from Paton's mistranslation of longchophoi; something you seem not to be aware of.

Your post, as usual, shows you choose to mistake my position, and distort it. I never said the Macedonians were light troops. I said the Macedonians were almost certainly not there, a point that is generally agreed with by most historians. I did say that elephant accompanying light infantry would make up the missing total of troops not included in Polybius's account, to round Hannibal's army up to c40k. Elephant escorts were standard operating practice by this point, and almost not stated, as an obvious military element to the readers at that time.
Really? You've claimed, only after having been told so, that the elephants had to be accompanied by light-armed infantry. You leapt upon Livy's 4,000 Macedonians and converted them from Livy's notice of said Macedonians into 4,000 elephant accompanying light-armed - even though, according to you, these troops so noted by Livy weren't there. The basis for this is the assumption that everyone (of the time) knew about elephant accompanying light-armed (so no need to mention them) and so Livy must have turned these into propaganda. You've thus been able to keep the slingers and javelin throwers in the Carthaginian front line to facilitate keeping your inflated numbers of Roman hastai.

This done, you have not once explained how such missile throwers and slingers hope to engage a Roman legionary in such close quarter combat. You make great play of Livy's description (even though he is "crap") of the Carthaginian front line's "greater speed" and agility implying the light-armed did engage in hand to hand combat. Never mind this is Livy, copying Polybios, describing the differing fighting styles of the Roman legions and the Celtic and Ligurian mercenaries.

You've unequivocally stated that Hannibal's veterans were not at Zama claiming that you believe the third line was an unattested Carthaginian hoplite levy. Your basis for this is your continued reliance of this line lowering their "spears". Nothing whatsoever necessitates "spear"; the word is not within cooee of the text in question. They are simply ordered to forward or present arms - whatever they be.

Lastly, when all this and more has been rebutted - with source testimony - you simply restate your farrago again. Just as you have with the "spears" on this very page. Any wonder another asked directly for the thread to close.

Finally, be nice. Even if I am wrong, civilised debate is healthy.
Only if debate actually gets somewhere. With you, that is not possible. On that, I would go back to Aggienation's question about the number of times and sites you've run this. Two versions on ACG, one on Historum and, just this month, again on RAT. You came here looking for good historical debate. Presumably you did not get that at ACG. You've had pages of such debate here but, unsatisfied, have taken the self-same subject to a third forum. Why would that be? I'd have to suggest it is because you've not got the answers/affirmation you want.