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Portal:Military of ancient Rome/Selected article/1 The structural history of the Roman military describes the major chronological transformations in the organization and constitution of ancient Rome's armed forces, "the most effective and long-lived military institution known to history". From its origins around 800 BC to its final dissolution in 476 AD with the demise of the Western Roman Empire, Rome's military underwent substantial structural change. At the highest level of structure, Rome's forces were split into the Roman army and the Roman navy, although these two branches were less distinct than in a modern national defence force. Within the top-level branches of army and navy, structural changes occurred both as a result of positive military reform and through organic structural evolution.The earliest Roman army mentioned in writing is ascribed by our much later sources, Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, to the 8th century BC; and is often referred to as Rome's curiate army, named for the subdivisions of the army based upon the three founding tribes (Latin: curiae) of Rome. This army was a relatively small force, and its activities were limited "mainly [to] raiding and cattle rustling with the occasional skirmish-like battle".

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Hannibal's route of invasion.
The Battle of Cannae was a major battle of the Second Punic War, taking place on August 2, 216 BC near the town of Cannae in Apulia in southeast Italy. The army of the Carthaginian Empire under Hannibal decisively defeated a numerically superior army of the Roman Republic under command of the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. Following the Battle of Cannae, Capua and several other Italian city-states defected from the Roman Republic. Although the battle failed to decide the outcome of the war in favour of Carthage, it is regarded as one of the greatest tactical feats in military history and the greatest defeat of Rome.Having recovered from their previous losses at Trebia (218 BC) and Trasimene (217 BC), the Romans decided to confront Hannibal at Cannae, with roughly 87,000 Roman and Allied troops. With their right wing positioned near the Aufidus River, the Romans placed their cavalry on their flanks and massed their heavy infantry in a deeper formation than usual in the centre. Perhaps the Romans hoped to break the Carthaginian line earlier in the battle than they had at the Battle of Trebia. To counter this, Hannibal utilized the double-envelopment tactic. He drew up his least reliable infantry in the centre, with the flanks composed of Carthaginian cavalry.

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Italia and surrounding territory, 218 BC
The Third Servile War, also called the Gladiator War and The War of Spartacus by Plutarch, was the last of a series of unrelated and unsuccessful slave rebellions against the Roman Republic, known collectively as the Servile Wars. The Third Servile War was the only one to directly threaten the Roman heartland of Italia and was doubly alarming to the Roman people due to the repeated successes of the rapidly growing band of rebel slaves against the Roman army between 73 and 71 BC. The rebellion was finally crushed through the concentrated military effort of a single commander, Marcus Licinius Crassus, although the rebellion continued to have indirect effects on Roman politics for years to come.Between 73 and 71 BC, a band of escaped slaves — originally a small cadre of about 70 escaped gladiators which grew into a band of over 120,000 men, women and children — wandered throughout and raided Italy with relative impunity under the guidance of several leaders, including the famous gladiator-general Spartacus. The able-bodied adults of this band were a surprisingly effective armed force that repeatedly showed they could withstand the Roman military, from the local Campanian patrols, to the Roman militia, and to trained Roman legions under consular command.

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The Roman Empire at its greatest extent under Trajan in 117 AD
The history of ancient Rome—originally a city-state of Italy, and later an empire covering much of Eurasia and North Africa from the ninth century BC to the fifth century AD—was often closely entwined with its military history. The core of the campaign history of the Roman military is the account of the Roman military's land battles, from its initial defence against and subsequent conquest of the city's hilltop neighbours in the Italian peninsula, to the ultimate struggle of the Western Roman Empire for its existence against invading Huns, Vandals and Germanic tribes after the empire's split into East and West. Despite the later Empire's encompassing of lands around the periphery of the Mediterranean sea, naval battles were typically less significant than land battles to the military history of Rome, due to its largely unchallenged dominance of the sea following fierce naval fighting during the First Punic War. The Roman army battled first against its tribal neighbours and Etruscan towns within Italy, and later came to dominate much of the Mediterranean and further afield, including the provinces of Britannia and Asia Minor at the Empire's height. As with most ancient civilisations, Rome's military served the triple purposes of securing its borders, exploiting peripheral areas through measures such as imposing tribute on conquered peoples, and maintaining internal order.

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The Southern Peloponessus
The War against Nabis or Laconian War of 195 BC was fought between the Greek city-state of Sparta and a coalition composed of Rome, the Achean League, Pergamum, Rhodes, and Macedon. During the Second Macedonian War (200–196 BC), Macedon had given Sparta control over Argos, an important city on the Aegean coast of Peloponnese. Sparta's continued occupation of Argos at the end of war was used as a pretext for Rome and its allies to declare war. The anti-Spartan coalition laid siege to Argos, captured the Spartan naval base at Gythium, and soon invested and besieged Sparta itself. Eventually, negotiations led to peace on Rome's terms, under which Argos and the coastal towns of Laconia were freed from Spartan rule and the Spartans were compelled to pay a war indemnity to Rome over the next eight years. Argos joined the Achaean League, and the Laconian towns were placed under Achaean protection. As a result of the war, Sparta lost its position as a major power in Greece. All consequent Spartan attempts to recover the losses failed and Nabis, the last sovereign ruler, was eventually murdered. Soon after, Sparta was forcibly made a member of its former rival, the Achaean League, ending several centuries of fierce political independence.

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A map of the southern Peloponnese
The Battle of Gythium was fought in 195 BC between Sparta and the coalition of Rome, Rhodes, the Achaean League and Pergamum. As the port of Gythium was an important Spartan base the allies decided to capture it before they advanced inland to Sparta. The Romans and the Achaeans were joined outside the city by the Pergamese and Rhodian fleets. The Spartans held out but one of the joint commanders, Dexagoridas, decided to surrender the city to the Roman legate. When Gorgopas, the other commander, found out he killed Dexagoridas and took solo command of the city. After Dexagoridas' murder the Spartans held out more vigorously. However, Flaminius of the allied forces arrived with 4,000 more men and the Spartans decided to surrender the city on the condition that the garrison could leave unharmed. The result of this battle forced Nabis, the tyrant of Sparta, to abandon the surrounding land and withdraw to the city of Sparta. Later that year, Sparta capitulated to the allies. The Macedonians had been defeated in the Second Macedonian War in 197 BC which left the Spartans in control of Argos. This Spartan gain was a setback for the Achaean League who had been trying to incorporate Sparta into their league for many years.

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Uniform of Roman legionaries wearing the lorica segmentata, 2nd-3rd century.
The Roman legionary was a professional soldier of the Roman army after the Marian reforms of 107 BC. Legionaries had to be Roman citizens under the age of 45. They enlisted in a legion for twenty-five years of service, a change from the early practice of enlisting only for a campaign. The last five years were on veteran lighter duties.

On the march in unfriendly terrain, the legionary would be loaded down with armour commonly (lorica hamata), (lorica squamata), and 1st-3rd century (lorica segmentata), shield (scutum), helmet (galea), two javelins (one heavy pilum and one light), a short sword (gladius), a dagger (pugio), a pair of heavy sandals (Caligae), a Sarcina (marching pack), about fourteen days worth of food, a waterskin (bladder for water), cooking equipment, two stakes (Sudes murale) for the construction of palisades, and a shovel or wicker basket. The Roman soldier underwent especially rigorous training; discipline was the base of the army's success and the soldiers were relentlessly and constantly trained with weapons and especially with drill — forced marches with full load and in tight formation were frequent. Discipline was important and infractions were heavily punished by the centurions.

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Roman auxiliary infantry crossing a river, probably the Danube, on a pontoon bridge during the emperor Trajan's Dacian Wars (101–106 AD).
Auxiliaries formed the standing non-citizen corps of the Roman army of the Principate (30 BC–284 AD), alongside the citizen legions. By the 2nd century, the auxilia contained the same number of infantry as the legions and in addition provided almost all of the Roman army's cavalry and more specialised troops. The auxilia represented three-fifths of Rome's regular land forces at that time. Like their legionary counterparts, auxiliary recruits were mostly volunteers, not conscripts. Auxiliary troops were mainly free provincial subjects of the Roman Empire who did not hold Roman citizenship and constituted the vast majority of the empire's population in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Auxiliaries also included some Roman citizens and probably barbarians. This was in contrast to the legions, which only admitted Roman citizens.

The auxilia developed from the varied contingents of non-Italian troops, especially cavalry, that the Roman Republic used in increasing numbers to support its legions after 200 BC. The Julio-Claudian period (30 BC–68 AD) saw the transformation of these motley temporary levies into a standing corps of regiments with standardised structure, equipment and conditions of service. By the end of this period, there were no significant differences between legionaries and most auxiliaries in terms of training, or combat capability. Auxiliary regiments were often stationed in provinces other than the one in which they were originally raised, both for reasons of imperial security and to foster the process of Romanisation and integration of the provinces. The regimental names of many auxiliary units persisted into the 4th century, but by then the units in question were different in size, structure, and quality from their predecessors.

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