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Arms of the Other Soldiers

The second rank, the Hastati, are ordered to have the
2. Arms of the Hastati, Principes, and Triarii.
complete panoply. This to a Roman means, first, a large shield (scutum), the surface of which is curved outwards, its breadth two and a half feet, its length four feet,—though there is also an extra sized shield in which these measures are increased by a palm's breadth. It consists of two layers of wood fastened together with bull's-hide glue; the outer surface of which is first covered with canvas, then with calf's skin, on the upper and lower edges it is bound with iron to resist the downward strokes of the sword, and the wear of resting upon the ground. Upon it also is fixed an iron boss (umbo), to resist the more formidable blows of stones and pikes, and of heavy missiles generally. With the shield they also carry a sword (gladius) hanging down by their right thigh, which is called a Spanish sword.1 It has an excellent point, and can deal a formidable blow with either edge, because its blade is stout and unbending. In addition to these they have two pila, a brass helmet, and greaves (ocreae). Some of the pila are thick, some fine. Of the thicker, some are round with the diameter of a palm's length, others are a palm square. The fine pila are like moderate sized hunting spears, and they are carried along with the former sort. The wooden haft of them all is about three cubits long; and the iron head fixed to each half is barbed, and of the same length as the haft. They take extraordinary pains to attach the head to the haft firmly; they make the fastening of the one to the other so secure for use by binding it half way up the wood, and riveting it with a series of clasps, that the iron breaks sooner than this fastening comes loose, although its thickness at the socket and where it is fastened to the wood is a finger and a half's breadth. Besides these each man is decorated with a plume of feathers, with three purple or black feathers standing upright, about a cubit long. The effect of these being placed on the helmet, combined with the rest of the armour, is to give the man the appearance of being twice his real height, and to give him a noble aspect calculated to strike terror into the enemy. The common soldiers also receive a brass plate, a span square, which they put upon their breast and call a breastpiece (pectorale), and so complete their panoply. Those who are rated above a hundred thousand asses, instead of these breastpieces wear, with the rest of their armour, coats of mail (loricae). The Principes and Triarii are armed in the same way as the Hastati, except that instead of pila they carry long spears (hastae).

1 For the Spanish sword see Fr. xxii.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 33-34, commentary, 34.14
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HASTA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), O´CREA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), SCUTUM
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