Infamy: centurions and standards

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Richard
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Re: Infamy: centurions and standards

Post by Richard » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:06 am

The decanus seems to be a significantly later role, emerging around the 3rd or even 4th century AD. I'm totally unconvinced about Goldsworthy's view of the Immunes; he seems t be attempting to impose a modern command structure onto an ancient army. Personally I see personal acts by key leaders, at this level the Centurion and Signifer (whatever we call him) as being key. The optio provides discipline from the rear (rallies Shock) and steps up when the centurion is down.

I find it interesting that Roman accounts speak of the men's fear and dislike of the centurionate, not admiration and respect. They were mercilessly bullied and exploited by their leaders, needing to bribe them to avoid the worst duties. I see this as a very violent culture enforced through strict discipline and with an obligation to show aggression and with the greatest obligation being on the key Leaders.

As said, Pullo and Vorenus would today be viewed as a right pair of Charlies, but then? Their aggression excused all.

I'm in two minds about the level of standard with the group we have. Yes, I do know that larger forces would have a Vexillarius, but all detachments would have some standard as a rallying point, I'm not convinced that the signa would go with a mixed force, whereas a pennant seems more likely. Just grab a suitable one from stores and off you go. However, the fact is that we can never know on this issue. I'm hoping to find more as I research, but I'm not convinced I will. I'm a bit pissed off with Pliny the elder at present. If the silly old sod hadn't lost his history of the German wars we'd all be better off. Bloody pensioners!

Rich.

Richard
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Re: Infamy: centurions and standards

Post by Richard » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:07 am

Postscript. Good chat lads. I'm loving the research on this one.

poiter50
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Re: Infamy: centurions and standards

Post by poiter50 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 1:06 am

Oi you, leave us pensioners alone!!
Richard wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:06 am
If the silly old sod hadn't lost his history of the German wars we'd all be better off. Bloody pensioners!

Rich.

Richard
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Re: Infamy: centurions and standards

Post by Richard » Fri Nov 15, 2019 3:44 am

Pointer, I doubt even you are as old as Pliny the elder...

poiter50
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Re: Infamy: centurions and standards

Post by poiter50 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 4:26 am

lol Nor a pensioner really since our glorious government stripped us of that while fattening their own stocks.

Ben Nelson
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Re: Infamy: centurions and standards

Post by Ben Nelson » Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:25 am

Fascinating to see the different perspectives on the centurionate, including what Rich said about the men's attitude. I mainly teach New Testament studies these days, and the view of centurions there is almost entirely positive.

mellett68
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Re: Infamy: centurions and standards

Post by mellett68 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 1:04 pm

Richard wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:07 am
Postscript. Good chat lads. I'm loving the research on this one.
Fascinating so far. There's certainly contrast from the Primary school "men in red who built swimming baths and conquered the baddies" outlook.

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Captain Reid
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Re: Infamy: centurions and standards

Post by Captain Reid » Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:20 pm

Richard wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:06 am
The decanus seems to be a significantly later role, emerging around the 3rd or even 4th century AD. I'm totally unconvinced about Goldsworthy's view of the Immunes; he seems t be attempting to impose a modern command structure onto an ancient army. Personally I see personal acts by key leaders, at this level the Centurion and Signifer (whatever we call him) as being key. The optio provides discipline from the rear (rallies Shock) and steps up when the centurion is down.
The decanus is only a late mention so far as I can see. I don't think it's unreasonable to suppose his equivalent existed earlier (though equally, it's not unreasonable to suppose it did not). I think the immunes were simply 'maintenance specialists' and the like, excused digging and such drudgery but instead performing artisan labour.
I find it interesting that Roman accounts speak of the men's fear and dislike of the centurionate, not admiration and respect. They were mercilessly bullied and exploited by their leaders, needing to bribe them to avoid the worst duties. I see this as a very violent culture enforced through strict discipline and with an obligation to show aggression and with the greatest obligation being on the key Leaders.
I tend to agree. Though , as with most things, it's hard to be certain about how widespread corruption was in reality. But given the general levels of patronage and corruption in Roman society, I think you're not far wrong. The Optio being the centurion's 'picked helper' interests me. WHen the centurion moved on or was killed, did his optio go back to the ranks if the new centurion didn't like his looks?
I'm in two minds about the level of standard with the group we have. Yes, I do know that larger forces would have a Vexillarius, but all detachments would have some standard as a rallying point, I'm not convinced that the signa would go with a mixed force, whereas a pennant seems more likely. Just grab a suitable one from stores and off you go. However, the fact is that we can never know on this issue. I'm hoping to find more as I research, but I'm not convinced I will.
I'm not sure it matters. You can have your vexillarius as standard bearer, I'll use a signifer. It's more an aesthetic choice in game terms, I expect.
I'm a bit pissed off with Pliny the elder at present. If the silly old sod hadn't lost his history of the German wars we'd all be better off. Bloody pensioners!
I think part of the 'fun' with ancients is the need to extrapolate from rather meagre data. However, it's indeed also the most annoying thing too.
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DougM
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Re: Infamy: centurions and standards

Post by DougM » Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:47 pm

One of the standard roles for junior 'officers' in ancient armies was as the file closer. So essentially you had picked men at the front and back of the formation, and 8 ranks deep was common for spearmen. One of their key roles was to stop the blokes in front from taking a backward step. I suspect that folk conditioned to think of warfare in a modern context don't see the formation as a series of files, because we are conditioned to think of combat as a series of linear or semi linear formations.

Now don't get me started on 'Othismos' :)
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mellett68
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Re: Infamy: centurions and standards

Post by mellett68 » Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:17 pm

Captain Reid wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:20 pm
I'm not sure it matters. You can have your vexillarius as standard bearer, I'll use a signifer. It's more an aesthetic choice in game terms, I expect.
Unless there'll be a mechanically separate role this is what I'll do in all likelihood. After all by the time I've got through some plastic kits I'll have signifari covering every surface of my house.

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