Polybian Roman, II/33 (275BC- 105BC)

DBA list:
1x 3Cv (General): Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus
1x 3Cv
6x 4Bd
2x 4Sp
2x 2Ps

The Polybian Roman (or Republican Roman) army covers the wars of the Republic and its expansion around "Mare Nostrum", the Mediterranean Sea. It is called Polybian after the Greek historian who recorded the history of this time, approximately from the end of the Pyrrhic Wars until the Marian reforms altered the constitution of the legion.

This is the time of the "manipular legions", so-called after the maniple, the basic fighting unit of the legion. In the legion of 4000-6000 men, an annual levy of citizens who provided their own arms and armor were divided into various combat classes. The lowest propertied class formed the Velites, skirmishers with very little armor. The heavy infantry was divided into three groups, based on age and military experience. In the earlier part of the period, the amount of armor worn by these troops increased by class.The Hastati ("spearmen") formed the front line during battle, and consisted of twelve hundred younger individuals. The second line , known as Principes, (men in their "prime"), included twelve hundred men in their late twenties to early thirties.The first two heavy infantry classes were armed with short sword ("gladius"), an oval shield ("scutum"), and heavy throwing spears called pila.The third line, the Triarii, consisted of six hundred older, veteran soldiers. They were armed with sword, shield, and heavy spear.These three lines were divided into maniples, an organizational grouping of two centuries (120-160 men), which were spaced in a checkerboard formation. A small mounted component (200-300 men) of wealthy individuals ( the "equites") and allied troops complemented the infantry. During the Polybian period, the Roman state normally levied and supported four active legions of Roman citizens (two Consular armies of two legions each) each year for annual service, which were supplemented by an equal number of cohorts provided by ally/subject Italians. The Italic allies were organised in alae sociorum, one of which was attached to each Roman legion. The name of ala or wing was derived from their usual position on the flanks of the citizen troops. Generally the allied formations had double or triple the number of cavalry that was attached to the Roman citizen units.

One of the greatest Roman commanders of the period was Publius Cornelius Scipio, or Scipio Africanus (235- 183BC). During the Second Punic War, in 209 BC, Scipio fought his first major battle, defeating Hasdrubal Barca at Baecula. With many Hispanian chiefs now allied to his cause, Scipio achieved a decisive victory in 206 BC over the Carthaginians remaining in Spain at Ilipa. In the following year, Scipio was unanimously elected to the consulship at the age of 31. Scipio sailed in 204 BC and landed near Utica, after training an army in Sicily. The following year he destroyed the combined armies of the Carthaginians and Numidians by approaching by stealth in a massive surprise attack. Polybius and Livy estimate that the death toll in this single attack exceeded 40,000 Carthaginian and Numidian dead, and more captured. The Numidian commander, Syphax, was later replaced by Masinissa, a firm ally of Scipio. In this manner, the balance of light cavalry superiority now fell into the Roman camp.

At Carthage, Hannibal could field 80 elephants, 58,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry. Scipio approached with 34,000 infantry and 8,700 cavalry. The two generals met at Zama, a site between Carthage and Utica on October 19, 202 BC. In a hard-fought battle, the Roman-Numidian cavalry enabled Scipio to decisively defeat Hannibal. At the decision of Scipio, Hannibal was allowed to become the civic leader of Carthage, a decision which enraged many of the Romans at home. Scipio was welcomed back to Rome in triumph with the new agnomen of Africanus.

In 190 BC, when the Romans declared war against Antiochus III of Syria, Publius offered to join his brother Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus if the Senate gave the chief command to him. The two brothers achieved a decisive victory at Magnesia in the same year. Africanus later retired to his country estate at Liternum, and died there in 183BC. Scipio is considered by many to be one of Rome's greatest generals because he never lost a battle.


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