Weekend Reading: Polybius on the First Two Treaties Between Rome and Carthage

Note to Self: Early Roman Expansion:

Gary Forsythe: A Critical History of Early Rome   https://delong.typepad.com/forsythe-rome.pdf: "In 1892, H. von Arnim published a single leaf from a Greek text found in a Vatican collection. It contained a series of four anecdotes from Roman history. Since the text had gone unnoticed and unpublished, and since its author is unknown, it has gone by the name of The Ineditum Vaticanum. The second of the four anecdotes concerns an encounter between a Roman and a Carthaginian at the Strait of Messina on the eve of the First Punic War (von Arnim 1892, 121–22). The Carthaginian, who is in charge of the Punic garrison in Messana, warns the Romans not to cross the strait to take on Carthage, because unlike the Carthaginians, the Romans have no knowledge of naval warfare. The Roman ambassador or military tribune, probably dispatched to Messana by the consul Ap. Claudius Caudex stationed at Rhegium with his army, is made to reply to the Carthaginian in the following manner...

The Romans have always learned things from foreign peoples and have then bested them in the matter. The Romans learned from the Etruscans how to fight with round shields in a hoplite phalanx formation, and they then used this method of warfare to conquer all their neighbors. At a later time they learned from the Samnites how to fight in maniples armed with the pilum and scutum, and they turned this against the Samnites and defeated them. Although they had no knowledge of siege craft, they learned this art from the Greeks of southern Italy and used their newly acquired expertise to subdue the Greeks. Conse- quently, the Carthaginians should not force the Romans to take to the sea, because if they do, the Romans will likewise become unsurpassed in naval warfare and will defeat the Carthaginians.

Despite its rhetorical glibness, the passage is likely to be historically valid regarding Rome’s adoption of the manipular organization (contra Salmon 1967, 105–7). It differed in two basic respects from the hoplite phalanx previously employed by the Romans. Instead of being armed with a round shield and thrusting spear, the soldier was protected by a scutum and used the pilum and sword as his offensive weapons. Rather than being round, the scutum was broad across the top and tapered slightly toward the bottom edge (Livy 9.40.2 and 8.8.3). The pilum was a javelin which Roman soldiers hurled in concert when advancing toward the enemy in order to throw the opposing formation into confusion before closing for hand-to-hand combat. The sword was drawn and used instead of a thrusting spear when contact was made with the enemy. Each Roman legion consisted of sixty centuries, each commanded by a centurion; the centuries were paired together to form thirty maniples. The latter were drawn up in three lines...

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