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” A state may have all the culture, art, philosophy, and glitter and glory in the world, but it’s all for naught if the country doesn’t have a powerful military to defend itself. ” 


CIAO GUYS! This is a short clip on the series "ROME" for your entertainment! The series features a spread of various characters , many of whom are based on real figures from historical records, where the two main leads are, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo.

One of the most important foundation for a country is to have the ability to defend itself through a strong, formidable army. A country can only enjoy peace and attain greater things if they have a successful army backing them up, and such was the case for Rome considering the numbers they started with. With this in mind, we would like to look at their trainings, tactics and formations which led to numerous victories.


The Romans soldiers had to undergo vigorous land training and the first thing they learnt to do was to march in line. The soldiers had to march 29.6km in five hours during the summer months to instill discipline and cooperation in them, because to the Romans, teamwork and keeping the army together was key in winning a battle.

Another important component was weapon training.  Soldiers had to be precise and accurate in their swordplay during a battle, because any single mistake could result in a defeat. They were given shields and swords twice as heavy as the original combat weapon during training, because it was believed that this would make the soldiers more effective during actual combat

The next phase was to undergo the armatura training , a term for sparring.After they had successfully mastered how to handle the sword, they proceeded to pilum (spear)  training. The spear was about 2 metres long and weighed between 2-5kg. Spears were favored because soldiers were able to strike their enemies without putting themselves within reach of the opponents. Furthermore, they were easier to manufacture than swords, making them a more suitable choice for war weapons.

rome spear


Armour was also exceptionally important tool for every battle.The technology of armour may have evolved, but the fundamental behind it remains unchanged, which is to protect the wearer during battle. The Rome armour was designed to protect mainly against weapons such as spears or javelins, arrows, swords, or daggers. The armour was mostly made or iron and leather as they were strong materials.

The following are the basic parts of the battle gear: 1. Tunic – It was a loose fitting garment with an open bottom and holes for the head and arms, which was commonly worn by everyone. . These garments were worn knee-length on men and the wool was usually red. 2. Body Armour – It was a protective layer covered the clothes of the soldier and usually made of metal to protect them from getting wounded in a battle. However, they usually weigh between 10-20kg which made it difficult for the soldiers when they had to run. 3. Helmet –  The front of the helmet had a rim to protect the forehead and it extended all the way till the neck. This was to protect the most delicate parts of the soldiers as they often were attack by swords at these areas. 4. Shield – It was also known as the scutum. It was a curved and rectangular in shape and made from wood. It was extremely heavy, however it was one of the best defence mechanism as it could deflect missiles and protect them from the impact of hand weapons. 5. Sandals – You must be thinking sandals as shoes for war gear?! But this one of the best footwear for a battle! These sandals were designed to help the Romans march for long distances. They were strong, well ventilated and had metal spikes at the bottom of the shoes. The spikes prevented them from slipping and falling during a battle. The thick soles also protected them from underlying traps set by their enemies.


The Romans, with their original small sized army had to devise a strategic plan that would be advantageous to them. They realized that they could not simply have troops charging from all over the place and hence turned to various strategies and formations as per below.

A common formation would be as per below, where every soldier will keep a distance of 3 feet between each row. This is to ensure that there is space for the soldiers to fight yet it does not create any opportunities for the enemy to penetrate through. The infantry will be placed in the centre and the cavalry on the wings. This was to protect the infantry (COHORTS) as they were the main fighting source. The cavalry would be the first to attack as they could move faster and wipe out their enemies first.

Typical Legion Formation

Alternatives formations  1.  Testudo – This is commonly known as the tortoise formation. All the men would hold their shields above their heads, except for the front rows and at the sides, where they would place their shields in frontor beside them. This is to shield themselves from missiles from all directions.


2. Wedge formation – It was formed by small groups of legionaries in the shape of a triangle. There will be soldiers reinforcing from the wedge behind to ensure that the enemy lines will be destroyed.

rome wedge

3. The skirmishing formation – This formation was a widely spaced line up of troops. The wide spaces allowed for greater mobility and it could allow for quicker withdrawals if the enemy were to create an ambush.

With the tough trainings, durable gear and invincible tactics, it was no surprise that the Roman army was one of the most successful armies in world history.Even though Rome eventually fell, but the Roman army was one of the longest surviving fighting forces in military history and it acted as a foundation towards the successful Roman Empire that dominated the Mediterranean world and beyond. It is important knowledge for us to learn about the success behind the Roman army as we can make use of the lessons learnt to make decisions for the future. While some might continue to model and learn from the Roman Army, others might argue that they still could not prevent the eventual fall of Rome. However, we should show some appreciation for the ones who fought with much tenacity for the sake of their country.

For those who are very interested in the Roman military and wish to know more , the following are websites you can refer to for more information: