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Numerus- who was counted?
#1
Sorry for all the new threads, I haven't posted in a while and thought this was worthy of a split-off.

I looked at the rosters from http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/17-roma...sters.html and thought the sources not much help with my query. So I thought I'd ask the question directly: when we come across a battle account, are slaves and camp-followers included in the numerus? Logic would tell me that they weren't, but I am looking for a more deductive proof. Were there any types of infantry not included?

What accounting procedures were used to arrive at the numerus anyways?
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#2
Just the term numerus is enough content for a dissertation.
So what do you mean with numerus exactly: numbers, unit, irregular unit, ...?

Did you ask, if the calones and civil employees of the roman army counted to military strength?
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#3
Quote:So what do you mean with numerus exactly: numbers, unit, irregular unit, ...?

Numbers.

Quote:Did you ask, if the calones and civil employees of the roman army counted to military strength?

Yes, and if there were any other units in the army not counted in military strength.
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#4
So, what you are practically asking is what the numbers given in the sources usually mean?

If this is the question, then in the numbers given in the sources are all fighting men, officers and other military personnel which played a role in the combat itself, essentially all enlisted men. Often we have mentions as to the existence and number of non-combatabts, attendants, drivers, craftsmen etc and these are usually given either vaguely or, less often, in numbers. Rarely, especially in the case of barbarian tribal masses, we are given numbers that clearly -and I mean here stated by the text, not because of common sense- state the sum of the tribe's population/casualties etc.

So, normally, when you read of a Roman consul leading an army of 20,000 foot and 1,500 horse, these are usually all fighting men, enlisted in the legions -sometimes, the texts usually make it clear, allied auxiliaries could be included in numbers given in this manner-, so apart from them there would be a great number of attendants and camp-followers too.
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#5
Quote:So, what you are practically asking is what the numbers given in the sources usually mean?

If this is the question, then in the numbers given in the sources are all fighting men, officers and other military personnel which played a role in the combat itself, essentially all enlisted men. Often we have mentions as to the existence and number of non-combatabts, attendants, drivers, craftsmen etc and these are usually given either vaguely or, less often, in numbers. Rarely, especially in the case of barbarian tribal masses, we are given numbers that clearly -and I mean here stated by the text, not because of common sense- state the sum of the tribe's population/casualties etc.

So, normally, when you read of a Roman consul leading an army of 20,000 foot and 1,500 horse, these are usually all fighting men, enlisted in the legions -sometimes, the texts usually make it clear, allied auxiliaries could be included in numbers given in this manner-, so apart from them there would be a great number of attendants and camp-followers too.
And other numbers are wild guesses, propaganda figures, or the result of rough calculations ("He had five legions, and a legion is 6,000 men, so I will say that his army was 30,000 strong").

The evidence that Roman authors counted all infantry and cavalry in their own armies, but not calones or lixae or noble hangers-on, is army strengths which correspond to multiples of the numbers of combatants which other sources tell us were in a legion at a given place and time, and those other sources which tell us which types of soldier were counted. Edit: From the imperial period we also have documents showing internal record-keeping within the army.
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I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#6
According to theories surrounding the nature of the Ducenarius, and based on the Numerus of the Strategikon most assume it was slightly smaller than 200 men and used to divide smaller cohort-sized units for battle.
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#7
Quote:So, normally, when you read of a Roman consul leading an army of 20,000 foot and 1,500 horse, these are usually all fighting men, enlisted in the legions -sometimes, the texts usually make it clear, allied auxiliaries could be included in numbers given in this manner-, so apart from them there would be a great number of attendants and camp-followers too.

Ok, in what instances do texts mention allied auxillaries?

Quote:The evidence that Roman authors counted all infantry and cavalry in their own armies, but not calones or lixae or noble hangers-on, is army strengths which correspond to multiples of the numbers of combatants which other sources tell us were in a legion at a given place and time, and those other sources which tell us which types of soldier were counted. Edit: From the imperial period we also have documents showing internal record-keeping within the army.

And which sources are these? As well as the documents.

I do know with some figures that there is a distinction between milites (soldiers) and homines (men). Of course slaves would've been counted as homines but not as milites.
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#8
Just keep in mind that as far as I am concerned, I can only profess certainty regarding sources in the Greek language. Regarding the Latin sources, of course I have read translations but I cannot be sure about the original texts. Oh! And one more thing I should have said was that when I mentioned allied auxiliaries, I also meant no Italian "legions" too. These are mostly also included in the number given.

Two examples of what you asked was Appian's account of the Roman army to first engage Mithridates in Asia. They were allies raised by Lucius Cassius from Bithynia, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia and Galatia who then joined with the existing Roman forces to be divided in three armies of 40,000 (or 40,000 foot and 4,000 horse) each. App. Mithridatica, s.60 and the 60,000 men of Cornelius Scipio the Younger against the Numantians App. Iberica, s.403, which included Romans and allies.

Of course, as Sean correctly pointed out, this has nothing to do with the actual credibility of the source material, so deciding on whether the numbers are realistic or not is another thing altogether.
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#9
Quote:
Quote:So, normally, when you read of a Roman consul leading an army of 20,000 foot and 1,500 horse, these are usually all fighting men, enlisted in the legions -sometimes, the texts usually make it clear, allied auxiliaries could be included in numbers given in this manner-, so apart from them there would be a great number of attendants and camp-followers too.

Ok, in what instances do texts mention allied auxillaries?

Quote:The evidence that Roman authors counted all infantry and cavalry in their own armies, but not calones or lixae or noble hangers-on, is army strengths which correspond to multiples of the numbers of combatants which other sources tell us were in a legion at a given place and time, and those other sources which tell us which types of soldier were counted. Edit: From the imperial period we also have documents showing internal record-keeping within the army.

And which sources are these? As well as the documents.

I do know with some figures that there is a distinction between milites (soldiers) and homines (men). Of course slaves would've been counted as homines but not as milites.
I am at a conference (CACW 2013), so I only have time for a short answer: See Polybius 6 (where Polybius ignores servants and civilians but assumes they will be present), the Strategikon attributed to Maurice, and Tabulae Vindolandenses 154 (available online). In general, see Roth's book on Roman logistics. But as soon as we move from who a Roman army counted, to who the numbers in the literary sources represent, things get more complicated.
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I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#10
Quote:See Polybius 6 (where Polybius ignores servants and civilians but assumes they will be present)

I looked through book 6 (assuming that's what you meant) using the Penelope translation, and couldn't find any reference.

Quote:the Strategikon attributed to Maurice

Couldn't find a copy on the internet.

Quote:and Tabulae Vindolandenses 154 (available online)

It appears that the strength reported represents ualentes, which would be the total strength without absences (absentes) and those unfit for service (eorum). I can't find the term ualentes used by any classical author, and a net search only comes up with King Alfred the Great fragments and Crusader books.

However I did find this enlightening: http://www.academicroom.com/article/mili...vindolanda. And:

http://vindolanda.csad.ox.ac.uk/tablets/...hand.shtml
http://vindolanda.csad.ox.ac.uk/tablets/...army.shtml

It would be interesting to see what Fink had to say in his book on Roman Military Payri as well as Teitler, since they are referenced by Bowman a lot.

Quote:In general, see Roth's book on Roman logistics.

I think I know what passage you are referring to. Roth references his own article on the organization of the Roman Imperial Legion from 1994. In the article, his reference for the claim that slaves aren't part of the numerus was Digestus 49.16.11. The problem with this is that the text in question does not even mention numerus. It simply says that slaves are forbidden to become soldiers in the army, not that they weren't counted in the numerus.

Quote:Of course, as Sean correctly pointed out, this has nothing to do with the actual credibility of the source material, so deciding on whether the numbers are realistic or not is another thing altogether.

In the instances where the strength reports do represent troop strength (and not tribal numbers), the figures given are logistically reliable. You and me did a thread on that a while ago and we came to the conclusion that, although the numbers handed down by Herodotus are unreliable, they are not as unreliable as most historians would think.
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#11
Quote:What accounting procedures were used to arrive at the numerus anyways?
Am I alone in finding this thread quite surreal? One minute, we're talking about units ("regiments"), and the next we're talking about numbers ("quantities"). I'm having trouble imagining where this discussion started, far less where it's going. And I haven't even had a glass of wine yet.

Why would the Roman army include non-combatants in their roster of soldiers? If you see a number of men attested in a military source somewhere -- again, the discussion seems to be so vague that I'm not sure what you have in mind -- why would they be anything other than soldiers? Are you suggesting that some of the men on the (handful of fragmentary imperial-era auxiliary) strength reports might not be soldiers?

Maybe I'm missing something? (Actually ... probably I'm missing something. :errr: )
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#12
Quote:In the instances where the strength reports do represent troop strength (and not tribal numbers), the figures given are logistically reliable. You and me did a thread on that a while ago and we came to the conclusion that, although the numbers handed down by Herodotus are unreliable, they are not as unreliable as most historians would think.

Reliability is something subjective. Sources can and should be criticized and sometimes even dismissed, it is the method that is mostly debatable. That mistakes were made is certain. The proof for that lies in the discrepancies among the different sources themselves, which can be so great that you literally wonder if they are not actually describing the same thing. So, when source A says 20,000 and source B says 50,000, it is certain that at least one of them is dead wrong. It is up to the researcher then to try and conclude which one is more reliable and thus more probable to be true or nearer to the truth. Not all sources are equally reliable and of course nothing is ever certain. My objection to the methods usually applied nowadays is that they tend to completely ignore sources and tend to downgrade the capabilities of the ancient world. In no way do I support that criticism and (to me more importantly) comparative study of sources are not necessary to form the most probable picture.
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#13
To avoid confusion, I should make it clear that whenever I use the term numerus it is supposed to represent the size of armies that are reported to us by primary sources.

This could be the total size or just the size of the infantry.

E.g. Arrian 3.8, Diodorus 17.53, Dio Cassius 62.8.2, Tacitus 14.34, etc.

Quote:again, the discussion seems to be so vague that I'm not sure what you have in mind

Maybe I'm missing something? (Actually ... probably I'm missing something. :errr: )

Macedon said what I was looking for:

Quote:So, what you are practically asking is what the numbers given in the sources usually mean?

What I tried to find in the rosters was if there was anything that explicitly said if slaves and/or non-combatants were not included in the numerus. Clearly, that did not help.

Quote:Are you suggesting that some of the men on the (handful of fragmentary imperial-era auxiliary) strength reports might not be soldiers?

No.

Quote:If you see a number of men attested in a military source somewhere, why would they be anything other than soldiers?

If the numerus is given in terms of homines, then it would clearly consist of slaves and camp-followers since they were "men". A good example would be Livy 21.8.3 where the strength (numerus) of Hannibal's army is given:

"abundabat multitudine hominum Poenus"

Which would be 150,000 men, not 150,000 soldiers.

I'm not sure where you got the impression that I was talking about units/regiments.
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#14
Numerus or arithmos in Greek was also a specfic unit. This is what Evan thought you were asking about.

Regarding the "homines" issue, as I admitted, I cannot speak with authority regarding Latin sources but in Greek, whenever the word "andres = men" apears in such a context, it always means military personnel only.
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#15
Quote:Regarding the "homines" issue, as I admitted, I cannot speak with authority regarding Latin sources but in Greek, whenever the word "andres = men" apears in such a context, it always means military personnel only.

Your Latin skills aside, I would still be interested in the instances that andres was used. Would you have any examples at hand?
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