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Re: Re: Roman Pilum, Other Spears & Other Weapons

Here is a link to Osprey's new book on Roman battle tactics. The bottom picture shows 2 different scenes both kneeling and standing as does the S*R masters. Actually, I even wish there was an S*R master pose with the shield overhead, just like a kneeling Tortoise.

The book's cover shows the front ranks advancing with sword, the middle ranks throwing their pilum, and the back ranks moving up with pilum.

With both Auxillary Sets 1 & 2, and Set 1 having "ring-hands", it looks like just about any scene or situation with either weapons can be recreated. Link:

Re: Re: Re: Roman Pilum, Other Spears & Other Weapons

There were two types of pila usually light one thrown from a larger distance and a heavy one use when a legionary gets closer. Caesar wrote a long trained legionary could hit a target of a head size(which is really something). Pilum was that kind of javelin which usage could be compared to contemporary sub-caliber weapon. It was not meant only to stab and weigh down a shield. It pierced and killed an enemy hiding behind a shield sometimes pinning two enemies' shields together. Its long shaft supplied with a small four-angular tip could effectively pierced every type of shield made of wood/ hide or bronze. It was a deadly weapon used with success for killing not only for burdening which was a side – effect actually. In close combat as someone wrote here when it was impossible to throw away javelins, they could be used as a contemporary bayonet for thrusting possibly faces. Deadly weapon of those days.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Roman Pilum, Other Spears & Other Weapons

In the Roman three-line system used at the time of the Punic Wars, the first two lines were equipped with pilum and gladius. The third line (triari) was equipped with a thrusting spear, which I believe was called the hasta, or something like that. I think they had gladius, too.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Roman Pilum, Other Spears & Other Weapons

The third line Andy refers to were known as the Hastatii - so-called because they carried the hastatus, a spear.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Roman Pilum, Other Spears & Other Weapons

The hastati of the 'Polybian' legion were the FIRST or front line, and the first to be equipped with the pilum, followed in the 3rd Cent BC by the principes, while the triarii seem to have kept the thrusting spear until the Marian reforms. Rather confusing, but probably due to changing use of the word hasta over the centuries

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Roman Pilum, Other Spears & Other Weapons

I think Mike is correct: 'Polybian' Legion-Hastati in the front line, Princips in the second line, Triarii in reserve.

To add to the confusion I recall that Livy or another Roman writer commented (in translation) that in the front rank are 'hastati who hurl hastae'!!! Clearly the writer meant the pilum, but used the generic term for spears instead!

Polybius gives the clearest description of the Republican troop types.

Re: Roman Pilum etc

On checking I find I mis-dated the 'bendy' pilum - it seems this was the original version (I suspect by happy chance rarher than design) - the 'Marius' version made weapons recovered after action much easier to repair in the field. There is much debate about how long the carrying of two pila lasted, and how the second one was held inside the shield while the first was being thrown.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Roman Pilum, Other Spears & Other Weapons

The pila was adopted from the Etruscans and was originally called a "hasta longa"; I can't imagine why, as it was shorter than the 8-footer the triarii used.

Just to avoid confusion, the second lines were the "principes"; literally, the first, but this originally referred to their social position rather than their tactical one. The Romans had a long history, and some terms became "fossilized", and didn't keep up with contemporary practices.

Just my 2 bits.