Date line: A.D. 114 - "War in the Gulf Blazes"
by Terry Nix, written originally in 1992 after the first Gulf War

Tension in this mother of all wars rises as a friend of the Western powers has been toppled by a deceiving and unscrupulous menace to world peace. A combined force, representing many provinces of the Mediterranean world and their allies have moved towards the Persian Gulf area to settle the military question there. These united armies traveling east to meet this threat are accompanied by the latest in technical siege warfare. The enemy which calls Mesopotamia its home can find no place of rest as the Euphrates and Tigris rivers do little to impede the armed might of this unified power we call Rome and it's client Kings. The Basra areas is said to be in flames, as the allied commander, Emperor Trajan becomes the only Roman Emperor to ever sail in the Persian Gulf. The sands have made no hiding place for King Chosroes and his Parthian army either. Our friend King Axidores, who had been invested by Trajan with the principality of Armenia, was disposed by King Chosroes of Parthia. This King Chosroes is even suspected through his predecessor, to have had terrorist connections with the treasonable King Decebalus of Dacia. Informants say that Trajan has plans to place a Roman governor over the Parthians, if all goes well after King Chosroes has been toppled.

A witness reported that when Emperor Trajan was leaving the new province he had passed through a small villiage on the Tigris river near the city of Seleubeia. The witness said he was seen there to be shaking the sand from his sandals in a violent manner. He gave no reason for this action. Maybe we shall know something of it in the future.


On the night of January 29, 1991, four separate Iraqi battalions thrusts across the Saudi Arabian border in an intended hit and ran maneuver against Desert Storm forces. Saddam Hussein declares on the following day," My armies shall fight in our ancient way of hit and run." This was the dreaded Parthian shot tactic, when 2,000 years ago, mounted archers could shoot arrows at their enemies, while running to and from them at full gallop. This threat would have carried real weight with the legions, as they had experienced it before to their own misfortune.


Origin of the Roman Legionary Century
by Terry Nix, written in the mid-1990's

In the Republican period, there were three voting assemblies: the comitia centuriata, the comitia tributa and the concilium plebis. Every eligible voter, whether patrician or plebeian belonged to both of the first two assemblies. The Comitia Centuriata met in the Campus Martius (field of Mars) and were divided into voting units called centuries. Each century group consisted of 100 men, but this could vary. Each century was made according to property value and age, so that all the wealthiest men were grouped together and so on. Censors were in charge of placing these men in their particular group. Each century had one vote as a whole for elections and legislation. There was a total of (373) centuries. The century was used as will as a method of organizing the militia as well as for the muster. The comitia centuriata elected consuls, praetors and censors. The men would also fight in these same centuries as they voted with.


The military Tribunes of Rome
by Terry Nix, written in the mid-1990's

The rank of military Tribune in the Imperial Roman army held considerably social prestige and was usually attained by young aristocrats whose appointments were political. Most Tribunes were equestrian, but one in each legion was Senatorial. An equestrian Tribune had to have have a net worth of 400,000 sestersuis, a Senatorial (more) 800,000 and later 1,000,000 sestersius net worth. The military Tribunes (tribuni militia) were so called because in very early Rome, there were only three tribes. the word tribus "tribes" is itself derived from the Latin word for three, tris or tres. The tribuni plebei (tribunes of the plebeians) were so called because it was from the military tribunes that the tribunes of the plebeians were first created for the purpose of defending the plebeians rights againts the Senators who were all rich. The old money talks and &*%#@ walks routine we still have today. Now here is a question I pose to the reader. Which of the following fathers could NOT have been your father if you were a military Tribune? A Patrician father, a Plebeian father, a freedman father, or even a slave father. Actually any of these could have been your father. The proof of this lies with an inscription found on the Appian way near Rome and reads as follows," Marcus Aurelius Zosimus, freedman of Marcus Aurelius Cotte Maxium and business agent for his patron. I was a freedman, I confess, but in death I have been honored by my patron Cotta. He generously gave to me the equivalent of an equestrian's fortune. He ordered me to raise my children, he helped support them, and he was always generous to me with his money. He provided dowries for my daughters as if he was their father. He obtained for my son Cottanus the rank of military tribune which he proudly held in the imperial army, and now he has with sadness paid for this message which can be read on any tombstone." So now Zosimus, who had been a slave of Cotta (patron) was given his freedom (-freeman or freedman were freed slaves) and he was given the equivalent of an equestrians fortune. (400,000) sestersis. This money enabled his son to be enrolled in the equestrian order. Thus the son of a slave had risen to one of the highest ranks in the Imperial Roman Army. Quite a remarkable story even if I say so myself.


The suicides of Mark Antony and Brutus
by Terry Nix, written in the mid-1990's

Mark Antony and Brutus are perhaps the best known Romans to have committed suicide by most people today. There is a sense of courage that is usually seen portrayed in their act. I would rather die than be taken prisoner version appears somewhat heroic for some of us. They were both very wealthy men and came from prominent Roman families. Suicides among wealthy and prominent men, however was not unusual for Romans who were in trouble with those in authority or power over them. Roman law states that Romans who were sentenced to death forfeited their property and were forbidden burial, whereas suicides were rewarded for this acceleration by burial and recognition of their wills. Lets see here. The trial will be fixed anyway if you are seen as a traitor and I will be sentenced to death. I will be forbidden burial. My wills will be forbidden to be carried out. My family would lose all our lands and wealth to the state and if I kill myself, none of the above happens. Yes, I think I will be heroic today and go down in history as well as a doing a manly heroic deed and kill myself. Oh well, so much for the Hollywood version.


Roman doctors
by Terry Nix, written in the mid-1990's

As Latin is used today in many medical terms, the Romans themselves trusted Doctors more who wrote in Greek, of which they could not understand. So the next time you get a prescription from a Doctor, and after looking at it, remember it was all Greek to the Romans. How many of us can read a Doctors signature? It's Greek to me still. Here is a reading of a Graffiti found at Pompeii. It said the following "until recently, Diaulus was a doctor; now he is an undertaker. He is still doing, as an undertaker, what he used to do as a doctor."


Precision swordsmanship
translations from original Latin sources, collected by John McDermott

As you can see from this photograph, Romans were trained to be as precise in their sword hits as modern day U. S. Marines are trained at marksmanship. Vital areas of the body were targeted. The evidence for this comes from a cemetery for gladiators. The pictures of bone fragments are from gladiators and show exactly where the sword hit occurred on these deceased men.

"The ancients (as we find in their writings) trained their recruits in this manner. They made round wickerwork shields, twice as heavy as those of service weight, and gave their recruits wooden staves instead of swords, and these again were of double weight. With these they were made to practise at the stakes both morning and afternoon. The employment of stakes is of the greatest benefit both to soldiers and to gladiators. No man has ever distinguished himself as invincible in armed combat, either in the arena or in the Campus, who has not carefully trained and instructed at the stakes.

"A stake was planted in the ground by each recruit, in such a manner that it projected six feet in height and could not sway. Against this stake the recruit practised with his wickerwork shield and wooden stave, just as if he were fighting a real enemy. Sometimes he aimed as against the head or the face, sometimes he threatened from the flanks, sometimes he endeavoured to strike down the knees and the legs. He gave ground, he attacked, he assaulted, and he assailed the stake with all the skill and energy required in actual fighting, just as if it were a real enemy; and in this exercise care was taken to see that the recruit did not rush forward so rashly to inflict a wound as to lay himself open to a counterstroke from any quarter. Furthermore, they learned to strike, not with the edge, but with the point. For those who strike with the edge have not only been beaten by the Romans quite easily, but they have even been laughed at.

"The recruit should be instructed in that system of arms drill which is called armatura and is carried on by drill-masters. It is still partly kept up. For it is clear that even today those trained in the armatura are superior to the rest in all encounters. From this it should be realized how much better a trained soldier is than an untrained one. Those who have any experience of the armatura at all outstrip the remainder of their comrades in the art of fighting. With our ancestors so strict was the attention paid to training, that weapon training instructors received double rations, and soldiers who failed to reach an adequate standard in those exercises were compelled to receive their rations in barley instead of in wheat. The wheat ration was not restored to them until they had demonstrated by practical tests, in the presence of the praefectus legionis, the tribunes or the senior officers, that they were proficient in every branch of their military studies."


"Once the Gauls had rendered their swords useless by slashing at the spears, the Romans closed with them and rendered them helpless by denying them the room to slash with their swords; this stroke is unique to the Gauls, and their only one, because their swords have no points. The Romans, on the other hand, did not use slashing moves, but instead used their swords in a straight thrusting motion, using the sharp points which were very effective. Striking one blow after another at the chests and faces of the enemy, the Romans killed most of them."

- Polybius, 2.33 (battle against Insubrian Gauls)

"However, according to the Roman methods of fighting each man makes his movements individually: not only does he defend his body with his long shield, constantly moving it to meet a threatened blow, but he uses his sword for both cutting and for thrusting. Obviously, these tactics require a more open order and an interval between the men, and in practice each soldier needs to be at least three feet from those in the same rank and from those in front of and behind him if he is to perfom his function efficiently. "

- Polybius, 18


Phoenician Conspiracy Theory
By Terry Nix

Note: Looking back.
In the mid 1990's, I was apart of a Carthaginian Historical Society. I was the only one without a college degree, but--because of my knowledge of Carthage from a Roman perspective--they appointed me their Roman expert on Carthage. Their intention was to show Carthaginian contributions to the world. Although I enjoyed reading all ancinet history, Rome was my main focus. The paper below was part of a presentation I made one night. I also showed them a silver coin I owned with the head of Hamilcar Barca (Hannibal's father) on the front and an elephant on the back. To my knowledge, the material below has never before been brough to light. It is based upon my own suspicions, but can never be proven as a fact. That is why I call it a "conspiracy theory." It is, however, quite intriguing to think about and wonder if, as our Brittish friends say, "something was afoot."

Before Rome ever became an enemy of Carthage, the Carthaginians fought the Greeks for control of the sea-routes to the west. Controlling these routes was their chief foreign policy, as well as fighting for land bases vital for the control of trade in the West. Carthage itself was a Phoenician colony founded by Tyre in 814 BC or somewhat later. The tie between Carthage and it's Phoenician parent city were very strong. Carthage was even dependent on Tyre on an annual basis. Melkart (the capital of Tyre) became identified with Hercules at Tyre as well as at Carthage and is portrayed as Hercules on both of their coinages. This identification was so strong that when Alexander the Great laid siege to Tyre in 322 BC, the Tyranians tied down their statue of Melkart-Hercules with golden lassoes to keep him from changing sides to the Macedonians. The reason for this is that Alexander and all of the kings of Macedon before him claimed direct decent from Hercules. To reinforce this connection, Alexander had all of his silver coinage minted with the portrait of Hercules on the front. It would only be fifty years after this great siege that Rome and Carthage would themselves conclude a treaty where Roman legions and the Carthaginian fleet would join forces to drive out Pyrrhus from Sicily and Italy. There was a silver coin struck by the Romans to confirm this pact. The front side had the head of Mars wearing a Corinthian helmet and saying ROMA at the bottom. The reverse of the coin showed a Horses head which was done in the same style of the common reverse coins for Carthagian at this time. As we can see from this bit of history that although Carthage eventually became a great power on her own, she still had very close ties to her eastern Phoenician parents. They shared mutual beliefs and had common enemies which were the Greeks at this time. I believe that it is no accident that the powerful Carthaginian fleet and army of Carthage in the West and the powerful Phoenician fleet under Xerxes in the East both made war on the Greeks in 480 BC for control of tragically placed Sicily in the West. The Carthagians ended up losing the battle at Himera against the tyrants Gelon & Theron. Likewise a massive Phoenician fleet along with allies attached the Greek fleet at Salamis in 480 BC. Although it itself was defeated after it's admiral was killed early in the battle. The admiral of the Persian fleet was a Phoenician as well. Now leaderless, the Phoenician squadrons attempt to back off into more open water causing confusion as more Persian ships were advancing. The Greeks attach in a classic pincer movement as Phoenician & allied ships of Persia run afoul of each other with a loss of 200 ships for the Persians and 40 for the Greeks. Although it can never be proven, it seems highly likely that these two Phoenician (peoples) lead attacks on the opposite ends of the Mediterranean in 480 BC shared some intelligence with each other prior to their campaigns. Carthaginians may have planned their attack on Greeks in Sicily thinking that the overwhelming Persian fleet would defeat the smaller Greek fleet and would control the seas around Greece. Thus cutting off any help from Greeks to Sicily from the mainland as well as delivering a great blow to Greek trade itself. Xerxes invasion of Greece in the East could have also been a moral defeat for Greeks in Sicily. The conflict would already have been a great diversion, of which Carthage was poised to use to their advantage with the hopes of catching them somewhat off guard. If both of these campaign's would have been successful, the Mediterranean could have acquired a new name. Maybe something like The Phoenician Mare Nostrum, or Our Phoenician Sea.


Roman Centurion helmet
by Terry Nix

Note: The following study was done while I was President of the Houston Numismatic Society, in the 1980's. It is based upon a presentation I made at the Houston Hights Library.

The great crista transversa of feathers is a mark of the centurions rank. The helmet is of the imperial Gallic type. All the notorious emperors of Rome would have had centurions with helmets similar to this one, despite what Hollywood has shown us in movies. A Centurions pay was 20 times that of the legionnaire. Most were Italians during the first and second centuries AD, with many coming from the praetorian guards. They were considered the back bone of the army and were permitted to meet out corporal punishment to recalcitrant soldiers. A legionnaire feared his centurion more than the enemy which helped to keep discipline during times of battle. During times of legionnaire rebellion how ever centurions were always the first ones killed by their own soldiers. The transverse crest would be of either horse hair or feathers as most would agree. This particular crest was built to represent the chief centurion of the legion, the Primus Pilus. He could only hold this office for one year. His duties included leading the first cohort, which was the biggest and composed of all the best soldiers. He also worked with the tribunes. He also swore to guard with his life, the legions gold sacred (quasi religious) eagle. A study of Romans remaining monuments shows that the feathered crest were held in higher esteem then the horse hair, since the elite praetorian guards, the gods: Mars and Roma and high ranking officers are always depicted with feathered crests. I also chose white for his feathers and believe this was an honorary color for the Romans. White bulls were used in state sacrifices. The Vestal virgins wore white, and now as then, white means not tinged or tinted; pure and unsullied; lucky; favorable, and being the opposite of black or dark. (thus a good centurion) Best Optimo.

Modern follow up of the study above

Although the above was my study, it is based on Roman marble relief's. I brought a helmet with this type of crest attached to it to show the members. Current thinking now is that a centurion wore a red crest. A Primus Pilus however is as different from a regular centurion as a Senatorial Tribune compared to an Equestrian Tribune. One was bound for greater things as a Primus Pilus could be made Governor or hold other high ranking office after his one year at the post. The Primus Pilus was the highest honor a centurion could hold in a legion. Roman tradition also shows that sometimes an honor could be incorporated into a Roman name and sometimes it actually became his name. Also sometimes Romans would also call you by a name that was not actually an honor but was connected with you or who you were at one time. Some examples of these are Germanicus, Caligula and Caracalla. Based on this practice, it would not seem too incredible that our famous Roman Governor of Judaea, Pontus Pilate, Pontius Pilatus or Pontius Pilot, which are several different spellings I have found could have in fact been appointed to that same post after first being a Primus Pilatus for a Legion. Ah yes, the follow up was better then the study itself.



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