Author Archives: imperia53

Blood Diamond (The Movie)

The movie, Blood Diamond, is about the controversy that surrounds what known as the conflict, or blood diamonds.  The movie begins with a scene where Solomon is waking his son up to go to school.  As he wakes him up he says, “Maybe someday you will be a doctor and be able to get out of this place.”

The year is 1999 and there is a civil war going on in the country of Africa.  The Rebels are making slaves of the villagers.  Mining diamonds, and using the money to fund the conflict.  Solomon’s village, including his family is attacked by rebels who are looking to make the men into slaves and the children into soldiers. Solomon’s son is taken, but he does not know it at the time.

There is a scene where Danny who is a smuggler meets with Colonel Zero concerning payment for some guns.  Zero tries to short him on the payment pay Danny insists that he pay the full price.  While trying to smuggle the diamonds out of the country, which are sewn into goats. Danny is arrested for smuggling.

The government comes into the mining operation and arrests all of the rebels as well as the slaves who were mining for them. Just before the soldiers come to arrest everyone, Solomon finds a large diamond and is able to hide it.  When Solomon and the guy who was in charge of the minors are in jail, the guy starts calling out to Solomon, asking where is the stone that he found.  This gets the attention of Danny who is also in jail.  When Danny gets out of jail he arranges to have Solomon bailed out.

This movie is about the adventures and conflicts that arise while Solomon and Danny are trying to get to the diamond.

Another key player is the woman reporter that Danny meets in the bar, where he goes to have the bartender score a gun for him.  The reporter wants to expose the true story about what is happening in Africa, and how the Van Decamp Corporation is secretly funding it because they are buying the diamonds.

Eventually, Danny and Solo come to an agreement about the diamond and set off to find it.  There are many people who die in this movie as a result of the conflict that is going on in the country of Africa.  The woman reporter helps Danny in exchange for the details about the Van DeCamp Corporation’s secret support of the diamond trade in Africa.  She distracts a soldier so that Danny can raid the supply tent for the supplies that he and Solomon will need on the trip to get the diamond.  They both see the diamond as a way for them to escape the conflict that is going on in their country.

On the way to the spot where Solomon has buried the stone, they are almost killed several times including the time when Solomon tries to rescue his son from the rebels.  He is captured and they try to make him find the diamond.  But, the colonel who is Danny’s associate intervenes and they get away.  Danny has been shot, so he sends Solomon and his son on to the place where a plane was to pick them up and take them to safety.  He gives them the woman reporter’s information and when they leave he calls her himself, to be sure she will help Solomon when he gets in touch with her.  Solomon is reunited with his family and money in exchange for the stone. The woman gets her story and Van DeCamp Diamond is exposed for what they are doing(Zwick.2006).

In April of 2003, The Kimberly Act was signed.  It prohibits the sale of diamonds that have not been certified by the Kimberly Process. The movie gives a very good depiction of the difficulties that many innocent Africans are going through because of the rebels who are enslaving people to mine the diamonds so they can fund the rebellion against the government.


Zwick, E. (Director). (2006). Blood Diamond [Motion Picture].

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The Sea! The Sea!

As the Greeks approached the Carduchian mountains, they were cautiously optimistic mixed with a little pride.  They had managed to survive and escape from the threat of Tissaphernes’ clutches.  The Persian satrap had given up perusing them because he thought that few of them would emerge for the treacherous mountains, but they would make through them. Since the Greeks had never subdued the Carduchians there was the threat of an encounter with the mountain tribes.  The mountains were covered with snow and when the tribes saw the army they took to the hills with their families.  This left no hope for neutral reception (Waterfield, 2006).

According to Xenophon the Carduchian tribes left the houses with plenty of food and bronze utensils.  The Greeks did not pursue the Carduchian people or take any of the bronze utensils.  They did however out of necessity take any provisions that they found. The Carduchians did not respond when the Greeks cried out to them.  At dawn the Greek generals met and decided to carry on with only the essential and strongest yoke animals, they would abandon the rest along with the recently captured slaves.  Their thinking was that many of the men were not able to fight because they had to care for the slaves and the animals and also they would need double the provisions for all of those people. The mountains would be hard to pass through and there could be attacks from their enemies.  Sure enough a there was a wintery storm followed by and attack were just a couple of men lost their lives (Xenophon, 2009).  The Greeks battled their way through Armenia and its wintery mountains.

Toward the end of their march, the men were actually staggering.  Days had stretched into weeks and the journey had taken its toll on everyone.  At Gymnias the local ruler had promised them a guide who would take them in five days to a place where the sea would be visible.  The men were full of optimism and hope that the long ordeal would finally come to a close (Waterfield, 2006).

Somehow the men managed to fight and pillage their way through the next four days.  On the fifth day they reached the mountain they called Theches. When the men arrived a huge cry went up.  Xenophon and the rearguard thought that they were being attacked.  The cry kept getting louder and nearer until it was apparent to Xenophon that something of significance was happening.  He mounted a horse and took Lycius and the calvary to lend assistance.  As they approached the front they could make out what the men were shouting.  They were shouting “The Sea! The Sea!”, everyone fell into each-other’s arms as they and even the company commanders and generals had tears in their eyes (Xenophon, 2009).

This marching republic had at last managed to reach the shores of the Black Sea at Trabzon.  This meant that they were at last among Greek cities.  It was not the last of their journey, which included a period of fighting for Seuthes II of Thrace, and ended with their recruitment into the army Thibron a Spartan general. (Anabasis (Xenophon), 2012).

Below is a map of the route that The Ten Thousand took during their march (Persian Empire, 2009).

Works Cited

Persian Empire. (2009, Aug 27). Retrieved Apr 23, 2012, from,_490_BC.png

Anabasis (Xenophon). (2012, Apr 20). Retrieved Apr 24, 2012, from

Waterfield, R. (2006). Xenophone’s retreat, Greece, Persia and the end of the golden age. Cambridge: Havard University Press.

Xenophon. (2009). The expedition of cyrus (2 ed.). (R. Waterfield, Trans.) New York: Oxford University Press.

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Xenophon is Elected to Serve as a General

The Greek mercenaries were a long way from home.  With Cyrus dead the victory belonged to the king.  Cyrus’ Asiatic troops had fled or deserted.  The Greeks found themselves isolated and in a strange land surrounded by the thousands of men they had just tried to kill.  Their baggage train had been ransacked, so they were low on supplies.  The defeat prompted a change of motivation for the mercenaries.  They missed their families and lacked the safety and self-enrichment that Cyrus had promised after he would take the Persian throne (Waterfield, 2006).

Meanwhile, a messenger from Artaxerxes arrived and demanded their surrender. The king had ordered that they surrender their weapons. The Cleaner of Arcadia who was the oldest man there said that he would rather die than surrender their weapons. To surrender the weapons, would possibly mean that they would lose their lives.  So the message was sent to the king that they would be worth more as friends with weapons in their hands rather than someone else’s and they would be more effective enemies with their weapons in their hands rather than someone else’s’ (Xenophon, 2009).

Although the king had sent a message to surrender the previous day, he sent heralds at sunrise to negotiate a truce.  The messengers asked to speak to the Greek leaders.  At this point the men were getting hungry because they had nothing to eat.  Clearchus  told the messengers that they must fight first before the truce because the men had nothing for their morning meal.  The messengers’ road away and came back with guides that could show them were they could get provision. They made their way to the villages where the men said they could get their provisions (Xenophon, 2009).

Days became weeks and eventually the generals of Cyrus’ army were arrested and slaughtered.  After considering the reasons which he had joined the army Xenophon has a dream in which his father’s house was struck by lightning and burst into flames—a sign that Zeus would illuminate his household.  Upon awaking he delivered a speech that blended encouragement with a bid for generalship.  The decision was unanimous and Xenophon was elected a general.  Other generals were also elected to replace the ones who had been lost in battle as well (Waterfield, 2006).

Unanimous assemblies were not always the norm, but the Ten Thousand maintained a hierarchy of generals, officers and men.  The most urgent need of the men was always food, and to find a way home.  There was a variety of other people who had lower ranks that comprised the camp followers and slaves.  Some of them were women or elderly.  This must all be taken into consideration. The camp was basically like a small city.  The minority view was not widely accepted in the middle of a unanimous assembly.  The Greeks demonstrated from time to time intolerance for minority view.  They would even resort to exile without appeal (Dalby, 1992).

Xenophon and the Spartan General Chrisophus would lead the retreat of The Ten Thousand who were trapped deep in the Persian Empire. The group would travel along the Tigras, across Armenia to Trapezus and then on to the Black Sea (Xenophon, 2004).

Below is a map of the shows the route of The Ten Thousand from the beginning of the journey to the end when they arrive at the Black Sea (Persian Empire, 2009).,_490_BC.png

Works Cited

Xenophon. (2004). Retrieved Apr 23, 2012, from Encyclopedia of world biology:

Persian Empire. (2009, Aug 27). Retrieved Apr 23, 2012, from,_490_BC.png

Dalby, A. (1992). Social organization and food amoung the ten thousand. The journal hellenic studies, 112, 16-30. Retrieved Apr 23, 2012, from

Waterfield, R. (2006). Xenophone’s retreat, Greece, Persia and the end of the golden age. Cambridge: Havard University Press.

Xenophon. (2009). The expedition of cyrus (2 ed.). (R. Waterfield, Trans.) New York: Oxford University Press.


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The Battle of Cunaxa

In late September, 401 BCE, the two huge armies engaged in The Battle of Cunaxa.  The plain was dusty and had been baked hard by the sun most of the summer on the eastern bank of the River Euphrates, in what is now Iraq.  Although the exact location of the encounter remains unknown, it was named after the nearby town Cunaxa (Waterfield, 2006).

According to Xenophon, midday came and there was no sign of the enemy, but by early in the afternoon there was a cloud of dust that appeared.  At first it looked like a white cloud in the sky, but it turned into a huge black smudge on the plain.  As the enemy drew nearer they could see the flashing of sun upon their bronze armor.  Before long the enemy drew closer and the tips of their long spears could be seen.  The divisions of the enemy army could be clearly seen.  On the left the cavalry under the direction of Tissaphernes; next to them were foot soldiers with wicker shields and long spears.  There were also heavily armed troops that were rumored to be from Egypt.  They had long wooden shields that reached down to their feet. There were also more cavalry units with arches. They also had scythe-bearing chariots which were designed to cut down anything in their path.  The plan was to use the chariots to break up the line of Greek lines (Xenophon, 2009).

The image below represents the way a Persian soldier would have looked (Rise of Persia, 2002)



Cyrus knew that his brother the king was approaching he had his men draw up in an army array.  He placed the Greek mercenaries near the river and they were further supported on their right by some 1000 strong calvary.  This was the traditional battle order of the day, so for the Greeks it was a place of order.  Cyrus was in the center surrounded by 600 body guards to the left of the mercenaries.  His Asiatic troops were on the left flank (Battle of cunaxa, 2012).

Cyrus was riding past, looking in both directions he could see both his enemies and his friends on either side.  Xenophon spotted him, road up to him and asked him if he had any instructions.  It was at that point that Cyrus reined in his horse and told him to spread the word that the sacrifices and the omens were favorable.  The three or four stades separated the two phalanxes when the Greeks struck up the paean and began to advance against the enemy.  The broke into a run and cried out the war-cry to Enyalius.  Some say they frightened the enemy horses by clashing the shafts of their spears on their shields. The enemy chariots that were abandoned hurled through the ranks of both enemy and Greeks but the Greeks made a path for them to go by (Xenophon, 2009).

Cyrus, still surround by his 600 body guards waited to see what the king would do.  The king was also surrounding by his 6000 men, but he still found himself to the left of Cyrus, so he had his men change direction to try to out flank his opponents.  It was at this point that Cyrus spotted him and hurled a javelin, striking him in the chest and injuring him. However, Cyrus was struck by that eye with a javelin, and fell to the ground.  This is how Cyrus died (Xenophon, 2009).

Works Cited

Rise of Persia. (2002). Retrieved from Joombla:

Battle of cunaxa. (2012, Feb 7). Retrieved April 23, 2012, from http://www.wikipedia:

Waterfield, R. (2006). Xenophone’s retreat, Greece, Persia and the end of the golden age. Cambridge: Havard University Press.

Xenophon. (2009). The expedition of cyrus (2 ed.). (R. Waterfield, Trans.) New York: Oxford University Press.




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Xenophon and the Rest of the Army

Most of the army came in ready-made units, most of them mercenaries, led by the men who had recruited them.  It was not the mere size of the army that made Tissaphernes suspicious, but the composition of it.  He took a troop of 500 cavalry and fled to inform the king about Cyrus’s expanding army.  This is the army that Xenophon had decided to join.  He did not come as a soldier, commander or mercenary.  He was there because of the request of his friend Proxenus.  It was said that there was an army and then there was Xenophon. He was motivated by the sense of adventure that the journey would provide (Waterfield, 2006).

Xenophon arrived just as the army was about to set out and just in time to be introduced to Cyrus.  By now the size of the army and the diversity of the troops were beginning to cause chaos on the outskirts of the city were they were camped.  They had already formed themselves into units. Xenias was to command 4000 hoplites, Sophaenetus another 1000 and Socrates another 500; Proxenus’ unit consisted of 1500 hoplites and 500 peltrasts, and Pasions 300 hoplites and 300 peltrasts (Waterfield, 2006).

When the army began their march, it is said that they spread across the land for many kilometers.  As they marched along through different towns, they continued to increase in numbers.  By the time they were fully assembled the men were owed over three months’ pay.  Cyrus kept them at bay with his promises of a wonderful future full of the rewards of the impending war (Xenophon, 2009).

The men were beginning to think that Cyrus was not being forthright concerning his motives for the march.  When accounting for the various nationalities separately, the Arcadians formed the largest contingent.  Xenias, Sophaenetus and Agias are among the original generals in the beginning of the march.   Xenias was one of the earliest to desert, and Agias was entrapped and   killed at the Great Zab (Radin, 1911).  It was Sophaenetus who was with the army the entire time.  In spite of some deserters the men continued their march to the inevitable battle that was to come.

The image below illustrates the size and reach of the Persian Empire at the time of Xenophon’s march up country The black broken lines indicate the the route the army took on the march. (Cyrus the younger, 2012)., Image of the Persian Empire at the time of Xenophon's March

Works Cited

Cyrus the younger. (2012, Feb 12). Retrieved from

Radin, M. (1911, Nov). Xenophon’s ten thousand. The classical journal, 7(2), 51-60. Retrieved April 23, 2012, from

Waterfield, R. (2006). Xenophone’s retreat, Greece, Persia and the end of the golden age. Cambridge: Havard University Press.

Xenophon. (2009). The expedition of cyrus (2 ed.). (R. Waterfield, Trans.) New York: Oxford University Press.

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Introduction and Background Information for Xenophon’s March Up Country

Xenophon was born in approximately 430 BCE and died approximately 354.  The son of Gryllus and Diodora was born into an aristocratic background and a family which had the means for him to study under Socrates (Xenophon, 2011).

Xenophon attached himself with a circle of privileged young men who identified themselves as followers of Socrates sometime in the 400’s.  According to Xenophon, one day he was walking down the streets of Athens and Socrates blocked his way.  Socrates began to engage in conversation with him concern where he could locate certain goods that were located in Athens.  The final question was, “And where can one get goodness?”  Xenophon looked puzzled, Socrates said, “Follow me, and find out (Waterfield, 2006)”.

This would be the beginning of Socrates’ influence on Xenophon.  He would also come to admire the values of the Spartans such as self-discipline, self-sufficiency and virtue.  These skill sets would serve him well in the following years of his life.

One day it would be Socrates that Xenophon would consult about an invitation which his Bohemian friend Proxenus had extended to him to accompany a group of mercenaries who were about to enter the service of Cyrus, the Persian satrap (govener) of Asia Minor.  Xenophon was told that they needed to “quail the revolt by the Piasidians,” who were an indigenous people who were protesting against Persian rule (Prevas, 2002).

This story begins in book one of Xenophon. He begins with telling the story of the two sons of Dareios and Parysatis.  Dareios becomes ill and expected to die, and he wants his sons to both be present.  The elder son, Artaxerxers, is there, but Cyros had to be sent for from the province where he was governor.  When he arrives he with is in the company of his friend Tissaphernes and 300 men-at-arms (Xenophon, 1964).

When King Dareios dies, his friend Tissaphernes turns against him and informs his brother who is about to become king that Cyros is plotting to against him.  Artaxerxers believes Tissaphernes and orders that Cyros be seized and put to death.  But, their mother begged for his life and sent Cyros back to his providence.  Cyros knows that his mother is behind him because he is her favorite. He also vows never to be under the power of his brother, now the king of Persia, again (Xenophon, 1964). This would be the beginning of the war that Xenophon would eventually write about as The March Up Country.  His accounts of this event would come to be known as the Anabasis which means an expedition or a going or marching up especially in the millitary.

Works Cited

Xenophon. (2006). Retrieved from

Xenophon. (2011). Retrieved from The Columbia Encyclopedia of World Biography 6th ed..:

Prevas, J. (2002). Xenophon’s march: into the lair of the Persian lion. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.

Waterfield, R. (2006). Xenophone’s retreat, Greece, Persia and the end of the golden age. Cambridge: Havard University Press.

Xenophon. (1964). The march up country (1 ed.). (W. H. Rouse, Trans.) Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

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The Gathering of the Troops

Xenophon was a follower and a student of Socrates.  So when his friend Proxenus had extended the invitation for him to join a group of mercenaries, which would be under the direction Cyrus, with a mission to “quail the revolt by the Piasidians” he consulted his mentor and friend Socrates concerning his decision (Prevas, 2002).  Socrates referred him to the divinely inspired Delphic oracle.  However, when Xenophon visited the oracle he did not inquire if he should go or not.  He asked which gods he should pray to and does sacrifice, so that he could best accomplish the mission.  When he returned and told his mentor what he had done, Socrates chastised him for being so disingenuous (Xenophon, 2012).

Xenophon had already made his mind up to go on the expedition.  According to Xenophon, this is the way that Cyrus went about gathering up his corps. “He instructed every officer in charge of a garrison in one of the cities of his providence to hire as many Peloponnesian troops as he could of the highest possible caliber, on the pretext that Tissaphernes had designs on the cities, because the Ionian cities had been given to him by the king (Xenophon, 2009).”

Tissaphenes discovered what was going on and had some of the men put to death, while others were exiled for seceding to Cyrus.  Miletus was the exception because he was the on the warned Tissaphenes about the people who were seceding to Cyrus. The exiles were rounded up and were assembled into an army which over took Miletus.  Then Cyrus sent a message to his brother the king and his mother that said that these cities should be given to him instead of Tissaphernes.  Cyrus’ mother supported him and the king granted the cities to him.  Cyrus continued to send money which he collected from the cities to the king in an effort to deceive him, so he would not be suspicious about the situation.  At this point the armies still did not know about what Cyrus intended to do. He would wait until he called them to Asia Minor.  However it is likely that the most senior commanders such as Clearchus, Xenias and Cheirisophus knew that Cyrus really intended to go against his brother the king (Waterfield, 2006).

Cyrus also applied to Sparta for aid when he began to assemble his troops for an attack on his brother.  His request was granted and admiral Samimus was ordered to render assistance.  A Spartan fleet, of 35 ships sailed, with Chirisophus and seven or eight hundred hoplites on board sailed to co-operate with Cyrus on the coast of Cilicia. Cyrus made every effort to conceal the report that Chrisophus would be in charge of the Spartans (Booner, 1915).  This demonstrates the lengths that Cyrus went to be sure that no one discovered his real intent to over through his brother. Below is an image of a hoplite in his armor (Ancient Greece, 2006).

Cyrus continued to assemble his army and when the time seemed right for the march up country, the excuse he gave was that he wanted to drive the Pisidians out of the territory once and for all. At this point he assigned the various troops to their commanders.  When all of this came to the attention of Tissaphernes, it struck him as too extensive for a campaign.  So, he traveled to the king as quickly as he could, and when the king heard from Tissaphernes about the size of Cyrus’ army he began to prepare to meet him (Xenophon, 2009).

Works Cited

Ancient Greece. (2006, Nov 18). Retrieved from

Xenophon. (2012, March 30). Retrieved April 9, 2012, from

Booner, R. (1915, Feb). Xenophon’s comrads in arms. The classical journal, 10(5), 195-205. Retrieved April 23, 2012, from

Prevas, J. (2002). Xenophon’s march: into the l.air of the Persian lion. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.

Waterfield, R. (2006). Xenophone’s retreat, Greece, Persia and the end of the golden age. Cambridge: Havard University Press.

Xenophon. (2009). The expedition of cyrus (2 ed.). (R. Waterfield, Trans.) New York: Oxford University Press.

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Becoming a Knight

Becoming a knight requires a certain set of circumstances.  It is often something that runs in families for the most part.  There are rituals and rites of passage that a man must undergo to receive the title.  The process begins when he is very young.  In most countries knighthood was reserved for nobility.  It was an expensive occupation and the man would need to be able to live a life where he did not have to work for the money to pay the equipment that was required. (Prestwich, 2010).

The son of a nobleman or a knight, a boy would most often begin his path to knighthood by being sent to live in a lord’s castle.  There he would serve as a page and learn to handle a horse, use a sword and practice archery, as well as perform other duties around the castle.  At the age of 10 he would be eligible to begin training as a squire, but this would depend on his physical size.  For some boys, it may not have been until they were 14 years of age.  For squires, training focused on strength, fitness and horsemanship, because a knight had to be strong, and skilled in the art of fighting while riding a horse.  Squires were also responsible for taking care of the knight’s horses.  Their duties consisted of cleaning stables and polishing the knight’s armor. He would also have lessons in chivalry because it is a very important part of being a knight (Training a Night, 2000).

The age when the boy would be considered a man and eligible to become a knight was usually 21.  It was known as the age of majority.  There are some instances where nobles where given the status of majority as early as age 15.  The reason for the age restriction was that a knight had to by physically strong and mature to be able to perform the duties of being a knight (James, 1960).

Observing and living the code a chivalry was as important as being trained to perform military duties.  They were asked to “Protect the weak, defenseless, and helpless and fight for the general welfare of all.” The image of a knight included owning expensive weaponry and being an impeccable horseman (Knights, 2012).

When a perspective knight had fulfilled all the requirements he would go through the ceremony of knighthood.  He would be bathed, which would serve as a symbol of going into the water a man and coming out of the water a knight.  He would then be given certain items of clothing which were also symbolic.  For instance, a red tunic symbolized willingness to shed blood, black stockings  symbolized mortality, a white belt symbolized chastity. After he was dressed, he would then proceed to the ceremony which was usually in a church (Prestwich, 2010).

Each knight had a unique code of arms which was used to identify him and used to cover his amour.  It design was unique to the individual and his family. The Dering Roll which is displayed below was used as a document to list the knights who owed the lord a debt of feudal service.  It was created between 1270-1280 and contains the coat of arms of 324 knights (Dering Roll of Arms, 2012).


Training a Night. (2000). Retrieved from Medivial

Dering Roll of Arms. Retrieved from

Knights. (2012, April 3). Retrieved from

James, E. (1960, Jan). The Age of Majority. The American Journal of Legal History, 4(1), 22-33. Retrieved from

Prestwich, M. (2010). Knight. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

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Marcus Ulpius Traianus, the Roman Emperor known as Trajan was born in about 54 AD in Spain. He was the son of a Consul which made him royalty.  Due to his exceptional public and military reputation he was chosen to be the successor of Nerva who adopted him in approximately 98 AD.  Shortly after his adoption, Emperor Nerva died and Trajan became the Emperor.  Just three years later Rome would embark on the first of two wars with the Dacians (Germanic barbarians) who lived across the Danube in what is now known as Romania. The leader of the Dacians was by Decebalus.  Emperor Trajan’s lead the Romans to victory in both wars (Beckman, 1998).Trajan’s Column is a monument located Rome, Italy and was created to commemorate Rome’s victory in the Dacian Wars.  Emperor Trajan was the leader of the Roman Army and he is the subject of many of the etchings which depict the Roman army in their daily activities as well as when they were in battle with the Dacians (Trajan’s column, 2012).

This section of the column below to the left depicts Trajan standing on a bridge welcoming his soldiers on the left. Upon close examination of the section the construction of the bridge is apparent.  Also, notice how the soldiers are wearing their armor.  The soldiers are depicted standing lower that Trajan and his advisors.  Trajan arrives at a campsite and is conversing with the soldiers.  Here the soldiers are dressed more casually.  The construction of the walls which the Roman soldiers are famous for is clearly shown in the background (Rockwell, Trajan interacting with his soldiers, 1980-1990).

Scene 50-51 Trajan interacting with his soldiers. Used by permission. Copyright Peter Rockwell

Scene 428 Trajan making a sacrifice on the danube. Used with permission. Copyright Peter Rockwell.

In the section of the column to the right, the army is standing in front of a fort on a bridge. Trajan appears to be offering a sacrifice in their behalf. He is bare headed and in wearing what is known as military undress uniform. He appears to be pouring something on the alter.  The people standing around Trajan seem to be at ease and there is also a small girl known as a camulis standing by with a incense box.  There is at least one high ranking officer standing next to Trajan.   (Rockwell, Trajan sacrificing by the danube, 1980-1990).


Trajan’s column. (2012, March 2). Retrieved March 8, 2012, from Wikpedia:’s_Column

Beckman, M. (1998). Trajans Column. (M. G. George, Editor, G. Rockwell, Producer, & The MacMaster Trajan Project) Retrieved March 8, 2012, from

Richmond, I. (1935). Trajan’s army in trajan’s column. Papers of the British School at Rome, 13, 1-40. Retrieved March 8, 2012, from

Rockwell, P. Trajan sacrificing by the danube. Retrieved March 8, 2012, from

Rockwell, P. Trajan interacting with his soldiers. Retrieved March 8, 2012, from

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Legionary Selection and Training

The Roman Army did not begin as a finely tuned fighting machine, but it did develop into one.  In the beginning it mostly consisted of Roman citizens who were farmers.  Part of the reason the leaders would choose the type of man for the legion is because they were in good physical condition because the work they did was physically demanding. In the beginning men would join part-time and then the men would return home after a summer of fighting.  Under the leadership of the Roman general Marius, the army began to be more of a profession (Gill, 2012).

The recruitment of soldiers was the foundation on which the army was built upon.  The plan for their training was geared specifically for the requirements of the work which they would be expected to do.  It would take great skill and courage to be able to leap into a trench or the opponent’s line of battle and engage in the type of combat the Romans were notorious for.  The length of time that a soldier would be in training would depend on his condition, skills, and how quickly he could master the tasks that would be required of him.  It was important for the recruits to be skillfully selected, learn to use and care for arms, be in top physical condition and strong.  In addition they had to learn about every situation they may encounter in battle and how to deal with it, as well as learn to obey orders (Stout, 1921).

  According to Vegetius the new recruits should be judged according to their strength as well as their moral characture.  He could see no benefit to training a coward.  They had strict requirements such as height (between 5’10” and 6 ft. at the minimum), good eyesight, muscular build, and long fingers.  Part of the process of becoming a soldier would be giving him a tattoo with the official mark, but the man would have to prove himself before he could truly become part of the military.  The potential soldier would have to prove his mobility and strength, as well as be able to learn to use weapons and prove he had self-confidence. After he proved himself, he would receive the mark and begin to learn the “science of arms” in his daily training (Vegetius, 1996).

The Romans were known for their ability to build military training camps.  This is where the training would take place.  It really didn’t matter if the site was a permanent installation or a place to stay for the night, the Roman military was good at it.  Vegetius wrote, “one could almost say that the Roman military carried a walled town with them were ever they went.”  New recruits would be trained in the art of building these camps as well as entrenchments (Davies, Breeze, & Maxfield, 1989).

Once the soldier was placed officially in training he would have to endure a rigorous routine of training to do many things.  Examples of things that the soldiers were required to be good at are: military step, both running and in jumping, swimming in case there was no bridge to cross a river.  They also had to train with wooden swords that were heavy and shields that were made of wicker.  They were also taught to use the point and not the edge when they were in combat, this way they would do more damage to their opponents.  They were also proficient at throwing javelins and using arrows, firing stones with slings, and using lead weighted darts.  They had to learn to vault onto horses.  This was done by practicing with wooden horses.  In addition to all of the things mentioned they were expected to carry about 60 pounds of equipment while they were marching in full armor (Vegetius, 1996).

All of this rigorous training was designed to give the soldier strength, courage, and the ability to face the enemy without fear, because the soldier would know that he was superior to his enemy.

The image below is a sketch of a what a Roman soldier may have looked like when he was getting ready to face his enemy.



Davies, R., Breeze, D., & Maxfield, V. A. (1989). Service in the roman army. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gill, N. (2012). The roman army and the roman republic. Retrieved from

Stout. (1921). Training soldiers for the roman army. The Classical Journal, 16(7), 423-431. Retrieved from

Vegetius. (1996). Epitome of military science (2 ed.). (N. Milner, Trans.) Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.


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