Legionnaires in the Roman army wore marching boots, called caligae (singular caliga). These may appear to be merely an open sandal. However, they were sturdy enough to wear all day, every day, even on long marches.
A thick lower sole would be attached to a mid sole with hobnails. This added strength to the boot and increased its durability. (I don’t know enough about shoe construction but that is the comment made by several sources.)
For a conception of what hobnailed Roman caligae might look like, consider this photo of a hobnailed boot of the U.S. Union Army. The boot is thus circa 1861 to 1865.
Roman soldiers would wear a belt around their waist.
I have not seen much discussion on the purpose of the belt. It would be the base for carrying some items. For example, a dagger, called a puglio, would be on the left side. A money pouch could be carried on the belt, I suppose.
The gladius is a short sword, about 2 feet long, used by soldiers in the Roman army. In the hands of trained legionnaires, the gladius was a potent offensive weapon.
Roman soldiers would advance side-by-side with their shield, called a scutum, held in their left hand and a gladius in their right hand. In this position, the sharp tip of the gladius was best used as a thrusting weapon to stab the enemy, aiming for the torso. In ancient times, an abdomen wound was usually fatal.
With a two foot length and sharp double edges, the gladius could also be used as for slashing or cutting. From comments I’ve read, the main use was for thrusting.
Pay for a legionnaire soldier in the Roman army increased substantially over time, from 225 denarii a year around the turn of the millenium to 600 denarri in the early 200s.
The amount of silver in a denarii was also steadily reduced over that same time. That is called inflation, which as we know from other reading, was driven by Roman Emperors intentionally debasing the currency as a way to help finance the empire.
First, let’s look at the declining value of a denarius. Here is the silver value of each coin, measured as the number of denarii minted from each pound of silver, along with my point estimate of the year of the change:
What was the payroll cost to staff a Roman Legion?
Earlier post discussed that until around 81 A.D. a Legionnaire was paid 225 sesterces a year.
With the help of a Wikipedia article, we can make a guess at the total payroll for a Legion. (A side note, amusing to me, is that several of the sources of this article are books I’ve previously read.)
As the first step, let’s look at the estimated staffing of a Roman Legion in about 100 A.D. Keep in mind this is assuming the Legion is fully staffed, which was never the case, as I’ve read in several places. This is also for a legion with 50 centuries instead of the authorized strength of 60 centuries earlier.
Another indication of average pay for Roman foot soldiers can be found in Wikipedia’s articleImperial Roman Army.
This pay rate applied during the reigns of Emperors Augustus and Vespasian, which means until about 81 A.D. After that point, debasement of the currency led to inflation and rising pay for soldiers. More on that later.
For general framework, this is the pay structure in effect during the time of the New Testament.
For most of history, one of the main challenges was getting enough food to eat. Keeping your family alive through the winter until you can harvest the first crop in the spring has been a worry for thousands of years.
That point is important when considering ancient finances back in the days of the Roman legions or Viking raiders. The following discussion, which is cross-posted from my other blog Outrun Change, provides some context on food scarcity.
Johan Norberg describes the tremendous progress in the last several hundred years in so many areas, such as life expectancy, health, sanitation, liberty, education, and equality in his book Progress: 10 Reasons to Look Forward to the Future. Here are a few more tidbits I found fascinating.
Consider the scarcity of food in the past and the drop in cost to feed a family in the last 150 years.
Look at just a few of the statistics on availability of food, or rather the long running issue of scarcity of food:
Johan Norberg describes the tremendous progress in the last several hundred years in so many areas: life expectancy, health, sanitation, liberty, education, and equality. He discusses these wonderfully delightful trends in his book Progress: 10 Reasons to Look Forward to the Future. I will highlight merely a few of the many things I found fascinating in the book.
This discussion is cross-posted from my other blog, Outrun Change, because the information from ancient times is useful on this blog.
In particular, notice the major trend that there was no change in life expectancy from prehistoric times through the early 1800s.
People in the Reformation era lived roughly as long as during the Viking Age, who lived about as long as during the Roman era and New Testament times, who in turn lived about as long as during the time of Alexander the Great and stories in the Old Testament after the book of Genesis.
Book provides the following estimates of life expectancy, which I graph above: