Think of a Roman soldier, and you might think of a man with a steel hat, a red tunic, some shiny armor, and a small side sword called a Gladis. If this is what you picture, you are pretty accurate, but life as a roman soldier was far from simple or easy. Here are some basic facts.
The Roman Army
The Roman Empire existed for around 2205 years, between 753 BC to 1453 AD, but that timeline is somewhat misleading because the Empire changed a lot. The Roman army went through changes in size, tactics, and traditions, often merging with local cultures in the Empire.
Roman Soldier: Marching
For centuries, the Roman army was the ultimate fighting force across all of Europe. The Empire expanded outwards from Rome, incorporating all native tribes and cultures in the region: and Romanizing them. A soldier was expected to march 20 miles a day carrying heavy equipment.
Roman Soldier: Legionary
In the early days, a Roman soldier was called a legionary and had to be of Roman origin; they also had to be male, above 17 years old, and under 45. They had to be strong to build forts and march; they were also training to fight. As more places fell, the natives were considered Roman.
Roman Soldier: Culture
Although a Roman soldier had to be Roman, strong, and dedicated for life on the front line of the Empire, they could also enjoy some time off. Roman soldiers enjoyed saunas in their forts and even married the locals from time to time. It wasn’t all hard graft for a Roman legionary.