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Roman Infantry Formation

© Ancient Warfare Magazine
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© 2014 - 2022 jasonjuta
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I start to create history videos about some characters, the video that I currently create is dedicated to Hannibal Barca! I was wondering if your image was free of rights? Of course, it would be normal for you to say no!!

*Forgive my English! I am French!

harryleung200411's avatar
The best Roman unit formation ever seen !
TheTrueEmperor's avatar
why are they using javelins as spears?
AMELIANVS's avatar
In reality Pilum was also used in close combat if needed as a improvised spear.This is several times recorded in original Roman sources and even directly depicted in their art.This picture is based on the description of Roman battle lines in battle against Alans during Hadrian.It was discribed by Roman governor of Cappadocia Arrianos who was also a Roman general here.
StickyDixon's avatar
Defence? With the tortoise formation, you are practically blind and can barely fight. And so, if you have a long pointy stick protruding from behind your shield, you are a lot less likely to be charged. And if you are charged, then you can hopefully spear a man
TheTrueEmperor's avatar
But they aren't spears they are Javens. I mean this particular form of the Pilum wasn't suppose to be used in melee.
StickyDixon's avatar
I mean, they aren't primarily melee-spears but they are closer to melee-spears than the gladius.
It's really not that far fetched to use javelins as melee-spears.
You are correct in saying that the Pilum was a javelin, but a javelin is simply a lighter spear. A spear at the end of the day is just a long pointy thing, and no matter the size or type of pointy thing, I still wouldn't want to run into one.
AMELIANVS's avatar
It really is a defensive formation.But its definitely not a "Testudo".Not all Roman formations using shields for covering were that famous testudo.This is Fulcum formation.Javelin and spear are not the same thing.They differ by their combat role.Javelin is to be throwed on enemy while spear is a weapon mean for close combat.At any case Pilum was without any doubt also ocassionally used in close combat as improvised spear if needed.Not my personal theory but well documented fact.In this painting Romans are resisting attack of heavy Alan cavalry not infantry and Fulcum was standardly used to repeal such attacks.Horses were sometimes distracted from fighting just by seeing sharp things pointed just on them and animals are not so stupid to run directly into it although military horses were normally trained to attack enemy even frontaly and to be ressistant to such fear it was still far from perfect so horses occasionally refused such frontal attack and turned away just before contact with enemy lines.
TheTrueEmperor's avatar
that model of  Pilum was I've only heard only once being used as a spear and it was an on the spot quick thinking to fend off a Calvary. It made clear that they aren't supposed to use it as a spear but they innovation it as such in the Battle of Pharsalus. The invasion did win them the battle, however, there was no set formations like this. just a smart command. that battle makes me skeptical of the idea that this was a real Roman formation.  
AMELIANVS's avatar
Use of Pilum as a improvised spear is recorded several times by ancient historians.But even if we were not so lucky to have it explicitely mentioned in ancient text it would be naive to suppose that it was exllusively used only as a javelin and never as spear.Spear-like use of the Pilum is also captured very clearly in Roman art.This painting is based on the description of Roman battle lines in battle against Alans during Hadrian.It was discribed by Roman governor of Cappadocia Arrianos who was also a Roman general here.Arrianos however wrote it in Greek and also military terms he use are greek.Some scholars think he could speak about pilum but others are mentioning that also Hasta could be meant by his Greek terms.
TheTrueEmperor's avatar
Your right I'm sure they used a pilum like a spear, but that particular one would not do to well, one jab and you cant use it anymore, they where made to Bend on impact to get stuck in shield and not be reusable, so enemys cant through it back. It would be naive to thing that would work at all in combat. let alone in a phalanx looking formation. 
AMELIANVS's avatar
That wouldn't be naive.Its a myth that Pila were designed to to bend on impact.You think Romans would ocassionaly used them as spears even in such in advance prepared situations as Caesar mentioned if they knew their Pila will bend so easily?

That Pilum bend on impact is now generally considered as outdated myth even by some of the most respected Roman army scholars.Mike Bishop which is likely the most respected scholar on Roman army equipment talked to Pilum bending myth even in his latest book which is directly about Pilum Javelins and concluded that Pilum Bending myth is generaly based on two things:

1)one is that Pilum shaft gets relativily often bend after fulfilling its role but clearly as secondary unintentional not designed effect.In most cases Pilum did not bend on impact at all as even practical experiments showed and it is very reasonable that it dont usually behave like that because primary objective of the Pilum was to sesurely penetrate shild and kill a man behind it.This was what Pilum was really designed for and if it was so easy to bend it its primary role would be endengered.
Moreover as practical experiments showed its actually very hard to extract Pilum from the shield even when shaft is not anyhow bend by the impact and when you have unlimited time for it and not fighting for your life in the middle of battle.Experiments also showed(same as actually archeological preserved specimens) that in those cases when Pilum ocassionally bend, it bends usually directly under the tip point of the Javelin head.

2)The second source behind this myth is short notice by Plutarch that according to him Marius was an inventor of Pilum inovation which consisted from replacing one of two iron rivets holding Pilum shaft at place by wooden rivet which made Pilum bend on impact.However Plutarch is the only one who ever mentioned this from ancient authors and although we have several Pila fragments from after the time of Marius none includes evidence for what Plutarch mentions-and more than that, if anything we actually have evidence for a direct opposite of what Plutarch claimed,an evidence for tendention to make pilum shaft even more tightly secured at place to prevent undisired bending since third Iron rivet started to be added to those two Pila usually had before.

Bishop concludes that its hard to completely reject what Plutarch recorded but it is likely that he might have misinterpret something other which Marius did with Pilum in reality(or even invent the story completely since as he notice Ancient biographers loved to attribute special inventions to famous persons they wrote about).He further talks about various reasons why such thing as described by Plutarch would be unlikely to be really used and mentions also opinions of other scholars on that subject and various possible interpretations of Plutarchs words.

Will be doing myself an artwork focused on Pila-such most people have no idea that existed.
ResonantChaos's avatar
Now who'd win in a field battle, the Mongolian hoard or the Roman legion?
TheTrueEmperor's avatar
Ones anchent ones medieval hard to compare and a multitude of factors to think about 
TheTrueEmperor's avatar
its hard to say, what century Rome 
AMELIANVS's avatar
Is better Enterprise or Imperial star destroyer?
when did the Testudo formation come into the main stay of the roman army?
jasonjuta's avatar
No idea, sorry!
it is ok AMELIANVS answered my question
AMELIANVS's avatar
This is not a formation called Testudo.
i was asking when it came into play
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