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Another primary consideration in introduction & eventual disappearance of Segmentata?
#1
I've seen this topic debated to death with great passion with no end in sight, and it's indeed something has interested me.  Most people think the primary reasons the contemporarily christened "lorica segmentata" appeared and then fell out of use were combat effectiveness, cost, maintenance, ease of production, standardization, and barbarisation of the military.  In fact, I do not think any of these above reasons were the primary motivations for military commanders to introduce and subsequently abandon this distinctly early form of plate.  I think the primary, there were of course many secondary considerations, was something entirely different and something I've yet to see discussed.
 
     I recently read a great thesis on the "fall of the Roman empire" and something that stood out was one phrase: "to go fight, sacrifice, and even die for Rome" was one of the most popular and successful advertisements in history.   He compared it to Anqituities version of the popular Nike slogan in the '90s.   He's right.  During the principate, when we first see this armour appear, we also see other endearing nationalistic figures such as Eagle and Triumphant Arch which are still both deeply symbolistic of Western Civilization.   Those  very images have been so endearing that they've lasted until modern times.

    So if the Romans were nationalistic and militaristic, and at almost constant warfare for roughly four to five hundred years, then why do we assume that they don't know the effects of pride, individualism, and more specifically espirit de corps?  
  
     Being a Roman soldier or Roman citizen was something of great pride.  There they were, the light against darkness, civilization versus barbarisation, the eternal city and it's denizens fighting to bring their governance to the very world.    In modern times uniforms, medals, flags, and even the very military machines they use (such as the m1 Abrams) are something of that military men, and even civilians, take great pride in.  That's why several nations continue to have military holidays and parades.  Again, if we take pride in our uniforms then why do we assume the Romans didn't?  

     If maile and plate were roughly the equivalent, give or take, then I think the main accomodation would be the morale, the unit cohesiveness, the espirit de corps.  They wanted to be different, they wanted to be civilized, they wanted to be Roman.  To do that, they did that in every way they could that didn't sacrifice combat effectiveness, and to that end they were able to introduce this armour, one of the only times that the Romans didn't adopt something from an enemy.    Centurions used maile and did everything they could to stand out from the standard legionnaire, and I think the legionnaires wanted to stand out from the enemies they were fighting.  So the introduction happened and was in use until some time shortly after the Antonine plague decimated the Empire's population, much like the Black Death did Europe.   

    It is at this point the Crisis of the Third Century occurred and Romans were no longer fighting barbarbarians, Africans, or Greeks but other Romans.   It was legion versus legion for a hundred years of almost constant civil war, and when nations are at civil war we see nationalistic pride break down.  Why was there a need to "stand out?" to "be different" when you were fighting your countrymen with the same equipment and standards?    The armour falls out of disuse during this time, a time when after the Antonine plague the legions were reformed into Limitanei and Comitatenses.   Barbarians were recruited en masse, and they used maile.  Roman enemies used maile, which they could quickly scavenge and reuse.  Vegetius writes that there was a general breakdown in moral and effectiveness in the army, even though the late Roman Army did score some great victories I don't think they were as effective as that of the Principate.  People frankly no longer had the same fervor as you even see the aquila disregarded during this period.  

    Rome was no longer an expanding Empire fighting, plundering, and thriving against the outside world but merely trying to contain it.  They weren't building extravagant new cities, opening new trade routes, they were merely trying to sustain the ones they had.  It was during this time that we see maile standardized with the "segmentata" never to return.  Being Roman was something granted to everyone in the empire.  They were all citizens.  It's arguable that sixth and successive century Byzantines never new about segmentata because it was never mentioned in surviving literature, there was a drastic breakdown in education after the Antonine plague through to the Dark Ages in the West, and there were unlikely any surviving examples.   It was under these conditions that perhaps the greatest Empire the world has ever seen, and it's distinct armour, evententually faded away into history.

In short, I think the armours were very similar when measure by combat effectiveness, with the edge going to maile due to ease of use and availability. How many times do you think that small sacrifices in "considerations" have been sacrificed to make a specific modern military vehicle look cool? I emphasize small, perhaps very small, but it's probably better common. The Humvee is perhaps one example. It was a flawed, vulnerable, but very American vehicle.
Christopher Vidrine, 30
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#2
Hmmmmmm....

I cannot agree with that old Canard that the Late Roman military forces pre-Adrianople were inferior to those who existed up to the reign of Diocletian.

The Roman's did mount several campaigns beyond the frontier of the Empire during the 4th Century, against the Germanic tribes north of the Rhine, against the Goths north of the Danube and against the Sassanids. Constantine, Constantius II and Valen's all planned massive invasion of Sassanid Persia, their untimely death's prevented the invasions from happening whilst Julian perished on his invasion of the Sassanid's. The aim of those invasions was the elimination of the Sassanids and the incorporation of Sassanid territory into the Roman Empire.

My own personal view is that the Segmented armour fell out of favour because it was difficult to manufacture and repair, whilst mail is a bit easier to both make and repair in the numbers required for the increased size of the army.
Adrian Coombs-Hoar
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#3
I'd have to agree with Adrian about the effectiveness of the later Roman army.

There never really was a Roman 'uniform' as such. Trajan's Column might present a very unified appearance for the legionaries and auxiliaries, but other monuments of the same period (Adamklissi, for example) suggest a much more diverse look. Tunics and other clothing may have been similar for most soldiers (especially in the third century), and legionaries certainly took pride in their belts, decorations and weapons (the belt was the identifying mark of the soldier), but as far as we know the type of armour they used had no wider significance.

Roman soldiers fought each other frequently and enthusiastically - in the civil wars of the 40s BC, again in AD69, again in AD89, again in AD193-6 and throughout the third century. There are suggestions that individual soldiers may have identified first with their legion, then with their province or home base and only then with the overarching idea of Rome; they may have had little idea of belonging to a corporate entity called 'The Roman Army'.

Segmentata went out of use very gradually - there are finds from Spain dating to the late third or perhaps early fourth century. Eagles and triumphal arches were still around in the early fourth century too, after the 'third century crisis'.

Armour, like all military kit, adapts and evolves to suit the exact requirement of the day. If the legions stopped using segmentata, it was because it no longer fitted their purpose, not because they themselves had lost something.
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#4
Segmentata seems to have been phased out during the time that Rome was enjoying a period of expansion - of economic and military success.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#5
I'm not saying the Late Empire was totally inept, but it was definitely a period marked by high inflation and instability compared to Pax Romana when the armor was in its heyday.

I personally don't believe that it was the corruption of the Emperor's past the Five Good Emperors, because look at the fifth...Marcus Aurelius, and it's no coincidence that during his rule the Antonine Plague occurred which I think is markedly understated as a cause of decline in the Empire.

When you lose 25-30% of your civilian population, a lot of terrible things occur. We lost 3,500 during 9/11 and it scared the shit out of 270 million. The healthy people were no longer available to feed the infirm, people fled cities, entire municipalities were depopulated, and this is the period in which things started going declining, fast. It wasn't the corruption of Commodus, it was the Antonine Plague.

It is no coincidence that the very same disease, Smallpox, was responsible for the destruction of the Aztec Empire. The Spanish were able to conquer a city of nearly 800,000 people with a couple thousand men due to this disease, so many died that the ones left were unable to harvest the grain needed to feed the population and a massive die-off resulted and the city was depopulated.

This happened across the Empire, and it's after this period that Segmentata disappears. Sure, the population rebounded but by then the damage had been done and it's a blow from which it never recovered...not to mention there were numerous subsequent outbreaks that just kept hitting the populace. There were no known massive plagues during Pax Romana and the Republican years, but several hit the Romans following the reign of Marcus Aurelius. They just kept on coming. You can point to the population in later centuries and say it rebounded to the 60 million mark, but these weren't people who completely identified with Rome, a lot of them would not have been considered citizens during the Republic. They were foreigners, barbarians, etc. who had flocked to the Empire.

I mean the threads about the armour but the Antonine Plague literally marked the end of an era. It is the fine border between where we see the transition of the Principate to the Late Empire and you cannot tell me that Roman culture, and civilization was thriving during a period marked by plague. Can you imagine losing 30% of a population? It's unthinkable by modern standards. It would change almost ever single person's outlook on life, because almost every survivor would have known loss and despair.

I'd argue that Commodus was decadent because he knew death. People who are surrounded by it at a young age do not grow to value life, like we do. They look at it completely different and that's why we view Commodus as corrupt. It's like being traumatized as a child. It's ALSO noted that during this period, Roman and Greek education virtually disappear. There are no more tutors, or institutions of learning. Pax Romana was ended by a plague, and within 40 years you never see plate armour again.

That's why I don't buy the "Late Empire's military was exceptional" conclusion. Less learned people, leading less learned troops doesn't equate to great changes being made. Sorry guys, I'm going with the judgement of Julius and Augustus who were both exceptionally brilliant even by modern standards, and even Marius, Hadrian, Trajan, Pompey, Cicero, etc. over the likes of... Constantine, who was the Empire's "greatest" Emperor of that period. Constantine just doesn't match up to them, you can tell that he wasn't as educated.

There is a reason that MA was the last "good Emperor" until the late 3rd century.
Christopher Vidrine, 30
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#6
I would be very interested on the evidence you base your conclusion that during the Late Roman period they were 'Less learned people', have you documentary proof of this?
Adrian Coombs-Hoar
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#7
The Romans were, throughout their history, economically naive. They never got a handle on monetary inflation, those periods when inflation was not an issue were the result of luck rather than management.

I think that the opposite was true, that late imperial generals, were more skilled, on average, than those of the Principate. This is simply a reflection of the greater elaboration of later armies. The Pricipate army had a uniform basis of reliable heavy infantry, backed by some light and specialist troops and a rather weedy, and also more-or-less uniform, cavalry. It was a relatively flexible but simple army to direct on the battlefield. The late army had more types of specialised troops: heavy infantry had a greater variety of weapons available, therefore  a greater variety of deployment options, and archery was of greater prominence than it had been earlier. Cavalry had become more diverse, with the introduction of super-heavy shock cavalry and horse archers. The late army had a greater similarity to the army of Philip and Alexander of Macedon in its complexity and reliance on combinations of troops with specialised battlefield roles, than it had to the army of the Principate. A more complex army requires a higher level of generalship.
Martin

Fac me cocleario vomere!
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#8
(11-26-2015, 11:21 PM)CNV2855 Wrote: the Antonine Plague... is markedly understated as a cause of decline in the Empire... and it's after this period that Segmentata disappears... a blow from which it never recovered... that's why we view Commodus as corrupt... Roman and Greek education virtually disappear... and within 40 years you never see plate armour again.

You seem to be conflating a lot of different things here - the plague, the disappearance of segmentata, imperial corruption and declining literacy. I'm not convinced they're so easily connected!

The Antonine Plague was doubtless very severe, and the empire may have taken a decade or even two to recover. But under Septimius Severus (AD193-211) the army increased in size, and the empire reached its greatest extent. And the Arch of Severus in the Roman Forum appears to show that many of his troops were still wearing segmentata when they conquered Parthia.

The craziness of Commodus is described by contemporaries like Dio. If people at the time thought he was a bad emperor, his badness could not have been a product of the time, surely?

The idea that the post-Commodan age saw a decline in Roman culture is a bit of a 19th century myth, drawing on Gibbon, and on Dio's own melodramatic claim that the empire fell from an age of gold to one of iron and rust. In fact, the Severan era (right through to the mid 3rd century) saw a flowering of literature and philosophy across the empire. Styles changed in art and architecture, as they tend to do, but we no longer see that as a decline.

Education certainly did not disappear, although the literacy of the average Roman seems to have suffered. Many of the 'barracks emperors' of the later 3rd century were no longer drawn from the elite educated class - they were common soldiers risen to the top - and were naturally less well educated (Maximian was alleged never to have heard of Scipio Africanus!), but that does not seem to have affected their military abilities.

Constantine may have been the son of a soldier, and a bit of a drunk, but anyone who can compose and deliver the two-hour-plus Oration to the Saints is clearly both literate and educated. Constantine appointed Lactantius as tutor to his son, Caesar Crispus, just as Valentinian appointed Ausonius tutor to his son Gratianus; the virtues of a classical education were still accepted in the fourth century!
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#9
(11-27-2015, 09:10 AM)ValentinianVictrix Wrote: I would be very interested on the evidence you base your conclusion that during the Late Roman period they were 'Less learned people', have you documentary proof of this?

I had thought this was common knowledge? It's the first major epidemic that we have proof of and it caused the disintegration of the widespread Roman/Greek education and tutelage system that had existed probably until back to 700BC. Isn't it one of the reasons we have so many literary sources for 300BC-200AD and so few from 300-800AD? The ultra-elite probably got a decent education but when a large portion of the population dies, then not only were people afraid to congregate but a lot of knowledge perished along with those people. When the tutor of your teacher perishes then the education of your teacher also suffers, and subsequently the quality of your education is lessened. Especially in an age without the printing press and or cheap mediums for long term knowledge. Literacy rates absolutely plummeted after the Antonine plague and they never really recovered until the Renaissance. That's a millennia. It wasn't just the Antonine plague but every epidemic that followed and then the other major epidemics (Plague of Justinian & Black Death) that kept education from flourishing during this period.

The romans had state-subsidized education and it faltered due to the economic, cultural, and societal effects of the plague.

Quote:The extent of the epidemic has been extensively debated: the majority of authors agree that the impact of the plague was severe, influencing military conscription, the agricultural and urban economy, and depleting the coffers of the State. The Antonine plague affected ancient Roman traditions, also leaving a mark on artistic expression; a renewal of spirituality and religiousness was recorded. These events created the conditions for the spread of monotheistic religions, such as Mithraism and Christianity. This period, characterized by health, social and economic crises, paved the way for the entry into the Empire of neighbouring barbarian tribes and the recruitment of barbarian troops into the Roman army; these events particularly favoured the cultural and political growth of these populations.
Quote:Disease killed as much as one-third of the population in some areas, and decimated the Roman army. The epidemic had drastic social and political effects throughout the Roman Empire, particularly in literature and art.

Two quick quotes regarding the plague, but as far as an academic source google is useless. It's discussed in several books and documentaries but it's difficult to pinpoint which and where. Though the plague's effects on education was discussed in detail in one great paper I read recently. I searched but was unable to find it. I need to print it out, so when I find it again I'll give you the source.

Quote: You seem to be conflating a lot of different things here - the plague, the disappearance of segmentata, imperial corruption and declining literacy. I'm not convinced they're so easily connected!

The Antonine Plague was doubtless very severe, and the empire may have taken a decade or even two to recover..

You might be right, but you have to understand the Antonine plague was not one event. It was a wildfire that wasn't fully extinguished for centuries. Every few decades it would return.

The Romans were hit again, and again, and again by smallpox. Then as soon as it looked like they were recovering the infamous Yersinia pestis hit with the Plague of Justinian in 527. The effects of this was the ruination of education in the West for twelve-hundred years.

Quote: The craziness of Commodus is described by contemporaries like Dio.

Not disputing that he was crazy, but we assign too much to this ONE MAN in an age when communication was slow, that was decentralized; an age in which one man really did not have the power that the leader of a Great Power in the modern world has (the capacity to destroy the world). Do you think it's possible that he was crazy because he was surrounded by death in his youth, perhaps traumatized like a molested child? Do not forget that his father likely died of smallpox, which was not an easy way to go. Why do we see such a breakdown in morals, and restraint after Marcus Aurelius? I don't think it's a coincidence although we can't know for sure.

It's just my theory that the first major epidemic was responsible for the Crisis of the Third Century in numerous ways. An example would be the change in outlook and attitude due to widespread death and despair. It's no secret that religion flourishes in times of great distress, such as these epidemics.

Quote: In fact, the Severan era (right through to the mid 3rd century) saw a flowering of literature and philosophy across the empire. Styles changed in art and architecture, as they tend to do, but we no longer see that as a decline.

Then it's a widely purported myth because every source I read on this era discusses the topic in a way contrary to which you are describing. I cannot find one source on the Antonine plague that doesn't say it destroyed Roman culture - and likely education and philosophy with it.


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Something you guys have to explain to me is why the Roman Empire had a better educated people and lower illiteracy rates than Europe during the Dark and Middle Ages?

That is an indisputable fact.

Literacy dropped for 1000-1500 years, depending on when illiteracy skyrocketed. At what point does the literacy drop? After 475 AD? If so then how can you argue that the WRE "slowly diminished" and that the fall wasn't as disastrous as we think? That the Dark Ages weren't really Dark?

It really looks to me that this sudden drop occurred around the 3rd century, but I'd like to be educated by someone with more knowledge on this era. If you believe otherwise then aren't you really saying that 475 AD was really as precipitous a catastrophe for the West as formerly thought?

::back on topic::
This thread has taken a U-turn...but it's one hell of a coincidence that we see plate armor rise during an age with high literacy, fall during a period with low literacy, and then rise again with the return of a more learned society.

The Principate had great metal. The capacity for Roman metalworkers is drastically underrated. They had folded steel, they had imported steel. The outside of segmentata was hard to deflect the blade, and the inside was soft iron to absorb the shock. Segmentata is case hardened, that's a pretty advanced technological innovation. Yeah, mail was in widespread use for two millennia but I think you guys are reaching for reasons to prefer it over other armours. It wasn't preferred in ANY age in which there was plate armour, period.::
Christopher Vidrine, 30
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#10
(11-27-2015, 08:12 PM)CNV2855 Wrote: I cannot find one source on the Antonine plague that doesn't say it destroyed Roman culture - and likely education and philosophy with it

I'd like to see one decent source that does!

The immediate effects of the plague were severe - how severe is very hard to judge - but the longer term effects are a matter for much debate. Richard Duncan-Jones's paper 'The Impact of the Antonine Plague' makes the case for high mortality; other scholars have questioned this (and there's a good summary of the debate here from Christer Bruun).

Commodus was unpopular with the senate, and had some strange ideas, but the empire did fairly well under his rule. 'A breakdown of morals and restraint' is a purely subjective opinion. It might be that the successive disasters of the Antonine era contributed to the rise of various sect-based monotheisms, including Christianity, but this swing away from traditional public religion may have had other causes, and was part of a much wider social shift.

For culture and social change in the post-Commodan era, I would recommend David Potter's The Roman Empire at Bay, and Swain's Severan Culture. Both contain plenty of evidence and debate on the flourishing intellectual life of the 3rd century (the 'second sophistic').



(11-27-2015, 08:12 PM)CNV2855 Wrote: The Principate had great metal.

And the dominate had better metal (technology). Just look at the development of the Roman sword between the 1st and 4th centuries. Simon James's Rome and the Sword is good on this.

Meanwhile - I still don't see how declining literacy would make an army less effective. Nor do I see how this affects the end of segmentata, which as we've pointed out above continued in use throughout the third century.

Perhaps if you want to discuss the wider effects of the Antonine Plague you could start a new thread on that topic, maybe in the 'civilian' section?
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#11
Few quick questions Nathan,

-Do you doubt that source we have for 2,000 people dying per day in Rome at the plague's height, out of a city of one million? We at least should know that Rome suffered dire consequences, and thus the entire Empire. Eventually the capital was moved, never to return. 

-Would armour, made out of metal, not continue to survive for ten to twenty years after it's production?

-Wouldn't some of the smiths who produced it, or their sons and apprentices, continue their work for a while? 

-Also isn't it true that the latest examples of segmentata show simplification and worsening quality?  I may be incorrect on this, but I do recall it somewhere.

-Did literacy NOT drop during some time during the Roman period throughout the Dark and Middle Ages until the Renaissance?
If so, when exactly would you hazard a guess?
Christopher Vidrine, 30
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#12
(11-27-2015, 10:10 PM)CNV2855 Wrote: Do you doubt that source we have for 2,000 people dying per day in Rome at the plague's height, out of a city of one million?

It's probably true that this number could have died, on any number of days. But there are no accurate statistics for this period, so all we have is hearsay. Does this source tell us for how many days this level of mortality continued?

Again, I don't dispute the severity of the plague - nobody really does - but it's very hard to gauge accurately what kind of effect it might have had in subsequent decades.

(11-27-2015, 10:10 PM)CNV2855 Wrote: Would armour, made out of metal, not continue to survive for ten to twenty years after it's production? Wouldn't some of the smiths who produced it, or their sons and apprentices, continue their work for a while? Also isn't it true that the latest examples of segmentata show simplification and worsening quality?

Why would it not survive? Technology wasn't just forgotten - if something ceased to be produced, there was either some reason why it could not be produced (lack of infrastructure, as seems to be the case sometimes in the 5th century) or it was obsolete. Since the Roman state had the capability to produce large quantities of good quality armour in the 4th century, we must assume that the segmentata was obsolete by this date.

The segmentata finds from Leon in Spain, dating to the later 3rd century, include both Corbridge and Newstead style fittings and do not, as far as I'm aware, show any decline in quality from earlier production.


(11-27-2015, 10:10 PM)CNV2855 Wrote: Did literacy NOT drop during some time during the Roman period

As I've said, it probably did yes - although again it's very hard to gauge accurately. There was a decline in epigraphy from the 3rd century onward, and those later inscriptions we have (particularly from frontier areas) are often comparatively crude and incorporate spelling or grammatical errors. So the change probably happened during the third century some time. Social changes - the Antonine Constitution, and the subsequent incorporation of many part-Romanised provincials into the citizen pool, and the division of society into humiliores and honestiores - may have made widespread education and literacy less of a prized asset in the later era?

(incidentally, literacy in elite circles suffered no decline, as we see from the vast corpus of letters, philosophical works, orations and other documents from the later centuries)
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#13
The ultra-elite are always going to have access to the most valued resources, including tutelage.

Though the pool shrinks and shrinks.  There are far more elite in North America than North Korea, but the North Korean elite are just as extravagant as any. You admit that loss occurred during the third century which is mighty close to ca. 170AD. No telling what an epidemic and it's after effects may have done.

Again, I cannot imagine 30% of any population dying out in the modern day and our society not coming to a complete and utter halt. It would be a disaster of which we haven't seen, nor could we imagine. Not a single person alive could be testament to that loss of life. Why do we assume that it was business as usual, or that they were "good as new" just ten years later? The after effects would last for generations as people's perspective on life would be changed permanently, and their children, and so forth.

Pax Romana ended with the Antonine Plague. 180AD. I think Nationalism suffered as well. They no longer were ancient people working for their prior goals, but many turned to new religions, and other aspects of life that weren't currently in the mainstream.

Do you think Commodus was affected mentally by the plague? He was born in 161AD so he was probably nine or ten when it was at its height, when thousands of people were dying around him. If so, were other Romans? Undoubtedly so.

I honestly think that segmentata did not "last" as long as hamata. It may have been better, cheaper, easier to produce, or any combination of them... but if hamata lasts a lifetime, and could be scavenged from the dead, and easily repaired, then it's economically far easier to just produce massive amounts of it and it be far cheaper, regardless of quality or combat effectiveness. There was a reason the Romans used plate for three hundred years, during their height. I don't think when they had an unlimited economy, so extravagant that Caligula built massive ships in Lake Como or to transport obelisks from Egypt, that they would use -any- inferior equipment when better was available. There is absolutely no rational explanation for that. It'd be like equipping United States Army soldiers with m1 Garands and T-72 tanks.

The simple fact is that plate armour was used by an Empire during its golden age, and then fell out of use, only to return a thousand years later when Europe was revitalized and again going through a period of prosperity. If that doesn't sum it up, then I don't know what does. We don't have a single Principate source, of which there are many, criticizing the military for ineffectiveness like we do Vegetius for the Dominate. He literally says the military is a shell of its former self, and yet we disregard him. People want to like hamata because it's comfortable, I get it. We don't put air conditioners in tanks and the commanders of these very hardened troops did not give a ---- about skin chafing.

The only evidence we have to say otherwise is the "say-so" of people with no melee combat experience, wearing modern recreations, and thinking that it's better. And then they say that Vegetius was a civilian and not to be trusted. Really? REALLY? We don't have ANY idea how tight formation melee battles really played out. The lines could've been separated by a small distance for the vast majority of the fight, or they could've been constantly clashing. We don't even know THAT! http://scholars-stage.blogspot.com/2015/...utely.html

Why would they use an inferior armour for roughly twelve generations, at a time when they were literally throwing gold around like it was nothing? It's absolutely preposterous!
Christopher Vidrine, 30
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#14
(11-27-2015, 10:50 PM)CNV2855 Wrote: I cannot imagine 30% of any population dying out in the modern day... I think Nationalism suffered as well... Do you think Commodus was affected mentally by the plague? I honestly think that segmentata did not "last" as long as hamata.

30% is a very high estimate. A low estimate would be 1-2% (see the Bruun paper I linked above). The truth is probably somewhere in between. Either way, it's a lot of people. But all we have to go on is the evidence available - in military terms, the army grew larger under Severus, and its comparative effectiveness does not seem to have suffered. The army of the Principiate knew defeats, civil wars and mutinies too.

'Nationalism' is a modern concept, and one not easy to equate to ancient ideas of patria, citizenship or even euergetism among the elite classes.

You seem to mean that Commodus was emotionally traumatised. If he was, then so were many of his contemporaries - including those who criticised him! Trying to psychoanalyse ancient emperors is fraught with subjectivity - which doesn't stop people trying, of course...

Mail was in widespread use for nearly two thousand years, so it was obviously very effective armour. Segmentata, by contrast, clearly met the needs of its day but fell out of use eventually when it was no longer considered fit for purpose, as they say. The change was almost certainly due to the battlefield and logistical needs of the era.
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#15
Sorry Nathan, I edited and added quite a bit to my post.  Apologies.

The culture of the Romans did change after the epidemics, after the end of Pax Romana. Whether it changed for the better or worse is subjective, but it did change. The army under Severus was large, yes, but it wasn't the same Roman army that had existed a couple generations before. It had a very, very different ethnic and cultural makeup.

The Romans did not show anywhere near the level of wanton spending or affluence that they did during 100BC-180AD. It was during this time they went with the economical choice, something that would last a large amount of time, fit a large number of troops, be easily scavenged, and repaired. They couldn't maintain their own "specialized" armour that probably had to be completely repaired everytime it suffered combat damage, unlike a maile tunic which could have a couple rings thrown in here and there. That doesn't mean that maile was superior to segmentata at all, in fact for all we know segmentata may have been far superior (in combat) and they still would have adopted maile.

Hamata may have been more expensive but it lasted generations, therefor it was the far better economical choice. You could take it from a dead soldier, spend almost nothing fixing it, and give it to a new recruit. Maile has no leather parts and is said to resist rust, so it's fair to assume that it lasts a hell of a lot longer than segmentata. If you have to bring the armour back to the smith and have it completely retooled every time it's used in combat, then it'll have very high maintenance costs. If the armour only lasted five to ten years then again costs would mount as it'd have to replaced very often, and we do know that metal armour was not inexpensive.

These people weren't stupid. Surely generals, and brilliant people, such as Julius Caesar and Augustus would've discarded segmentata immediately if they thought troops would be better served by maile. Augustus was furious when Varus lost his legions. Obviously the welfare and state of the military was a concern.

Quote: You seem to mean that Commodus was emotionally traumatised. If he was, then so were many of his contemporaries - including those who criticised him! Trying to psychoanalyse ancient emperors is fraught with subjectivity - which doesn't stop people trying, of course...

I'd say Domitian was emotionally traumatized too. See:
"This ambiguity of character was further exacerbated by his remoteness, and as he grew older, he increasingly displayed a preference for solitude, which may have stemmed from his isolated upbringing.[15] Indeed, by the age of eighteen nearly all of his closest relatives had died by war or disease."

Not having a family will typically traumatize a child, or at least have significant effects on his personality and outlook on life.
Christopher Vidrine, 30
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