Classics Confidential: Keep it in Line!

The fine folks at Classics Confidential talk to  Dr Saskia Roselaar about Roman marching drills (I’m really finding these ‘poster session’ things interesting; they didn’t exist in our discipline back when I was a grad student):

6 thoughts on “Classics Confidential: Keep it in Line!

  1. I think its been taken over from the sciences. I hadn’t realized it has entered classics! I remember my confusion last year as a Biomedic friend tried to explain to me what these ‘poster sessions’ were. They seemed crazy to me, but, actually, they look thoroughly interesting.

  2. Did Roman armies actually march in step? I don’t think there is any evidence of that, or any necessity to assume that they did.

  3. I’m sorry, but I find this to be totally bogus – a demonstration of massive ignorance on the part of the “researcher”. Anyone who has been through basic training in (probably any) military learns how to march by adjusting his/her stride, managing the pivot for a turn (including making sure that the inside file takes shorter strides than the outside file), etc, etc.

    This person has NOT done adequate research into what any sergeant knows about how to march, including when and how to issue commands (to ensure the column turns exactly where it’s supposed to).

    And as far as ‘how often was it used,’ again there is substantial documentation on the value of keeping formation, whether by the legions, the Spanish or Dutch tercios, the ‘Thin Red Line’ at Waterloo or Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.

    1. There is certainly a great value in keeping formation, and there is no doubt that the Roman army used complex formations.

      The question is whether it’s necessary to walk in step to do so. I think not.

      e.g. Scottish clansmen managed to move and charge rapidly in line so well that 18th century regular infantry were impressed by the way they kept formation, yet there was never any question of them drilling or walking in step.

      1. I’m sorry, but I find this to be totally bogus – a demonstration of massive ignorance on the part of the “researcher”. Anyone who has been through basic training in (probably any) military learns how to march by adjusting his/her stride, managing the pivot for a turn (including making sure that the inside file takes shorter strides than the outside file), etc, etc.

        This person has NOT done adequate research into what any sergeant knows about how to march, including when and how to issue commands (to ensure the column turns exactly where it’s supposed to).

        And as far as ‘how often was it used,’ again there is substantial documentation on the value of keeping formation, whether by the legions, the Spanish or Dutch tercios, the ‘Thin Red Line’ at Waterloo or Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.

        For Mark F Davidson: let’s see the clansmen do a Testudo that way!

  4. @David Emery

    See the testudo on Trajan’s column
    Trajan's Column Detail Depicting the famous testudo formation during the Dacian Wars Roman 2nd century CE (11)

    The two men at the back are totally out of step.

    I’d be interested if you could find any ancient images of Roman soldiers who are walking in step.

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