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.
of the Roman Legionary Century
by Terry Nix, written in the mid-1990's
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
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.
suicides of Mark Antony and Brutus
by Terry Nix, written in the mid-1990's
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.
by Terry Nix, written in the mid-1990's
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."
translations from original Latin sources, collected
by John McDermott
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.
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
"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)
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
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
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.
For comments are remarks concerning any of the above, you can email
me at firstname.lastname@example.org.