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The Republican Legion and its many facets
Finally solved an anomaly with the Roman levy system. Before the completion of the 35 tribes, a cavalry squadron was created from two tribes and an infantry century from 10 tribes. I have allowed myself to be influence by Polybius’ description of the levy and his batches of four men. However, by removing Polybius’ batches of four men, I now have a levy procedure that has two tribes create one century of infantry and two tribes create one cavalry squadron.
I don’t like it when I am not running close to the primary sources, and the removal of Polybius’ batches of four men was doing just that. I have always trusted that the primary sources will provide the answer to a question, and surprisingly it was Polybius who provided the answer, which was found in his description of the military service of a soldier. Supporting this find are the Roman army replacement data that proliferates Livy from the end of the Second Punic War to the end of the Third Macedonian War. Snippets can also be found in the First Punic War from other ancient writers.
Realigning all the research to the two tribes makes a century, opened more doors. I’ve been told if this happens, you are doing something right. Besides each property class being graded by age, each property class is divided into the number of campaigns being undertaken by a soldier. This information was then applied to the Roman levy system, and when the math is done, there appeared batches of four men. Polybius’ account of batches of four men at a time being selected by the four legions belongs to the distribution of the men in relation to the number of campaigns they are undertaking for that year in each property class. This process (sorting out campaign years) was possibly conducted by the tribes before the men were assembled before the military tribunes conducted the levy.
After the 35 tribes have been created, regardless of the number of legions being levied, at all times only 30 tribes were involved, leaving five tribe exempt by lot from the levy. So for Cannae, 30 tribes were levied.
Starting from the Telamon campaign of 225 BC, the Illyrian war of 220 BC and the beginning of the Second Punic War, the Romans are, through being discharged due to having served their maximum number of campaigns, losing a good number of veteran and seasoned troops, which explain Livy’s claim that many of the soldiers at Cannae were raw troops. To maintain the campaign divisions the way it was designed, it would appear the Romans need to be constantly at war.
Hopefully, as I am now into my sixteenth year of research and writing, the Romans have finally given up all of their military secrets.
All in all, this is most impressive work Steven!
One thing, why were 5 tribes exempt - was it because the requirement for a set army size limit was reached at 30 tribes?
Michael wrote:
One thing, why were 5 tribes exempt - was it because the requirement for a set army size limit was reached at 30 tribes?
That is correct. The Romans could achieve the number of armies and replacements from 30 tribes. Each century in a tribe was greater than 100 men. This explains Varro’s (LL 5 35) comment “that when the century of 100 men was doubled, it still was referred to as a century, and a tribe still kept its name even when the numbers had multiplied.” That is something important to keep in mind, which is a Roman century does not mean 100 men.
The Roman can create 35 legions from the 35 tribes, with each tribe producing one legion. However, this is not the way the Romans went about it. To prevent tribal supremacy, division or loyalty to the tribe only, each legion was composed of an equal number of men from each of the 30 tribes. This allowed the legion to be a legitimate voting body. However, in order to do this, the Romans could only levy a maximum 30 legions. Therefore, Polybius’ levy of four legions amounting to 19,200 infantry required each tribe to present 640 men towards the levy. The Romans have always spread the levy over the maximum number of tribes required. That is why Livy makes the comment that in 448 BC, the levy was only conducted from 10 tribes. Livy is stating this was something out of the ordinary.
I have all the levy procedures detailed from the creation of the 20 tribes and up to the completion of the 35 tribes. After that I have down a complete analyst of Polybius levy of four legions. This is because after the Second Punic War, the number of men in a tribal century increased, therefore, new levy procedures. After that I describe the levy system by campaigns. For example, the Telamon campaign of 225 BC that has the levy for six legions. So whenever the number of legions being levied changes or has not been examined, I include it for that campaign, like the eight legions for Cannae. In some campaigns, 12 Roman legions are being levied amounting to 57,600 infantry, thereby requiring each of the 30 tribes to produce 1,920 men or 640 men multiplied by three. So three times the size of Polybius’ four legions.
Now with the inclusion of the campaigns undertaken by a soldier, this has produced some serious insights into Roman military doctrine.
My attention is now returned to Cincius Alimentus. I have not been able to find any critic of Alimentus from the other ancient historians. Professor Ridley has offered to help in this matter and is searching the Omnium annalium monumenta and translating any fragments of Alimentus.
Alimentus invented an alternative history of the Second Punic War so as to appease his hate and rage of Hannibal and the Carthaginians. And let’s not forget the Gauls as well. Having been freed in Africa from Carthaginian captivity, Alimentus was eternally grateful to Scipio and therefore, expressed it in his history. His work could have been considered a joke in his days, but by the time of Polybius, well the Aemilius family could have advised Polybius to use Alimentus as his source when relating to the Scipio family.

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