The Western Frontiers of Imperial Rome

By Steven K. Drummond; Lynn H. Nelson | Go to book overview
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The Army of the Frontier

The study of the Roman army, its history, organization, and development, has a long and illustrious past. Machiavelli Discourses on Livy is one of the more famous works of this tradition, but it was neither the earliest nor the most influential. From the beginning of the early modern period, professional soldiers, military planners, and would-be generals have turned to the works of Vegetius, Caesar, Livy, Sallust, Tacitus, Josephus, and other ancient authors for inspiration and guidance in military affairs. Shakespeare pokes fun at this tradition in King Henry V, when the Welshman Fluellen heatedly urges his companion to speak more softly in camp:

It is the greatest admiration in the universal world, when the true and ancient prerogatives and laws of the wars is not kept. If you would take the pains but to examine the wars of Pompey the Great, you shall find, I warrant you, that there is no tiddle taddle nor pibble pabble in Pompey's camp. I warrant you, you shall find the ceremonies of the wars, and the cares of it, and the forms of it, and the sobriety of it, and the modesty of it, to be otherwise. 1

Given all of the commentary and debate that has accumulated over the centuries on the subject of the Roman army, it is inevitable that there should be many disputed areas. It is also true that the army changed over time and there are exceptions to almost any general statement one may make. It is nevertheless useful to present at least the


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The Western Frontiers of Imperial Rome


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