What the Roman soldiers feared so much
War in the ancient world: a weapon was the secret of the success of the legions of Rome
When King Philip V of Macedonia went to war against the Romans, he had an idea. In order to strengthen the morale of his people, he ordered the fallen of a reconnaissance troop to be brought to the camp so that they could be given an honorable burial in front of everyone, as the Roman historian Titus Livius wrote about the Second Macedonian War (200–197 BC) .) reported. But the well-intentioned company developed differently than expected.
Because the king's troops were only used to fighting Greeks and the tribes of the Balkans. So they were familiar with the wounds that arrows and lances struck, but hardly swords.
But what they saw now took their breath away: "Now they saw the Spanish sword (gladius hispaniensis) mutilated body, ”wrote Livy at the turn of the century. “Arms and shoulders were cut off. Or heads severed from their bodies, with the whole neck cut off, and exposed entrails and other hideous wounds, and they were generally horrified to see the men and the weapons to be fought against. Terror caught the king himself even before he had clashed with the Romans in a real battle. "
Livy 's Greek colleague Polybius founded the legions' victories 150 years earlier with an inconspicuous weapon that Roman generals apparently got to know in the wars against Carthage on the Iberian Peninsula: "The man wears this sword on his right side, and they name it the Iberian. Its strong and sturdy blade makes it not only an excellent thrust weapon, but also excellently suited for heavy blows with both sides. "
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