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1. These words were used to signify the manœuvres of the Roman army, by which the soldiers were taught to make long marches in a given time, under arms and without quitting their ranks. They are frequently mentioned by Livy (23.35, 6; 24.48, 11; 26.51, 4; 42.52, 4). These manœuvres sometimes consisted of a sham fight between two divisions of the army. ( “Mos erat . . . exercitum decurrere et divisas bifariam duas acies concurrere ad simulacrum pugnae,” Liv. 40.6, 5.) With the standing armies under the empire these manœuvres assumed a more regular form, and were constantly practised. Augustus and subsequently Hadrian ordered that the infantry and cavalry were to march out three times a month ten miles from the camp and ten miles back fully armed and equipped. This is called by Vegetius campicursio (Veget. 1.27 ; 3.4), and by Suetonius campestris decursio (Suet. Galb. 6: cf. Ner. 7; Tac. Ann. 2.55). Maximinus ordered that these manœuvres should take place every five days (Capitol. Maxim. duo, 6). (Cf. Marquardt, Röm. Staatsverw. ii. p. 548.)

2. The same words were used to signify the military honours paid by soldiers at the funeral of distinguished generals or emperors. Such a

Decursio on coin of Nero. (British Museum.)

decursio is first mentioned in connexion with the funeral of Sempronius Gracchus, killed in the second Punic war (Liv. 25.17, 4, 5). The soldiers marched three times round the funeral pyre (Verg. A. 11.188; Tac. Ann. 2.7; Suet. Cl. 1; Lucan 8.735; Herodian. 4.2, 19). On the base of the Antonine Column this decursio is represented.

3. The decursio, which occurs on the coins of Nero, probably refers to the military manœuvres or sham fights in the circus. The preceding cut represents a horseman with a spear, and another carrying a standard. These games date from the time of the republic, and were continued under the empire. (Liv. 44.9, 3; Eckhel, vi. pp. 271, 503; Becq de Fouquières, Les Jeux des Anciens, p. 256; Saglio, Dict. s. v.)


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