The Might of the Roman Army
“Barritus!” The Roman soldiers’ battlecry, dramatically uttered, as dramatic as their movements in battle…like when the Roman soldiers dropped down to one knee and held their shields out as a defensive barrier, protecting themselves by positioning their shields in a formation called the “testudo” or “tortoise”, which was first used by Mark Antony during his invasion of Parthia in 36 BC.
In the battlefield, armed with swords, spears, javelins, daggers, bows, arrows, and stones, they had with them the superior commitment, discipline, organization, and loyalty to the empire.
There were several types of soldiers in the Roman army but the best Roman soldiers were called legionaries belonging to the army units called the legions. Each legion was composed of 3,000 to 6,000 infantry soldiers and more than 100 troops on horseback. Each unit of 80 to 100 legionaries had a commander called centurion.
The Roman army played a significant role in Roman history…it helped build the empire… one of the largest empires in world history!
The images on the slideshow were taken from Colonna di Marco Aurelio or Column of Marcus Aurelius in the middle of Piazza Colonna.
Marcus Aurelius was Rome’s emperor from 161 to 180 with Lucius Aurelius Verus Augustus as co-emperor from 161 until Verus died of plague in 169. Marcus was an intellectual, a Stoic philosopher whose personal writings on the book Meditations reflected a deep and peaceful nature.
However, he reigned during the time when Rome was immersed in invasions and disease. The Germanic tribes crossed the Danube River and attacked Rome. The challenges of his time brought out the warrior in him…and he was a great warrior.
This majestic column was built after Marcus’ death in 180 AD to commemorate his triumph over the wars in the Danube, which he personally led. It was a series of wars against the Germanic Marcomanni and Quadi and the Sarmatian, from 166 AD until the end of his life. Completed in 193 and modeled on Trajan’s Column, it depicts scenes from the Marcomannic Wars carved in reliefs winding up the column.
In 177, he proclaimed his 16-year-old son Commodus as co-emperor who succeeded him after his death in Vienna on 17 March 180.
The marble column has been standing on its original location but through centuries, it encountered numerous challenges and changes. In 1589, some changes were done by Pope Sixtus V and the most apparent one was the top of the column which had a statue of Marcus Aurelius replaced with the statue of St. Paul, complementing the statue of St. Peter on top of the Trajan Column.
Named after the Marcus Aurelius Column, Piazza Colonna is in the historic center of Rome, along Via del Corso. The piazza has the column at the center surrounded by the Church of Santi Bartolomeo, some palazzi, among which is Palazzo Chigi, the official residence of the prime minister of Italy.