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Swords of the Republic and Empire

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:37 pm
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Salvete, amici -

From the 'Introductions/Avete New Sodales' thread:

Re: Avete New Sodales! (Intros)
by caiavaleria on Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:01 am
- Salvete Valeri Claudi iohannes! If this is not grammatically correct, Please do correct my latin.
Indeed - I do know a lot about metallurgy. Comparatively few Roman swords survive as they were often recycled. The gladii and spathas are the two known Roman swords.
- Gladii being a lot shorter and broader than spatha for use by the cavalry, which often consisted of foreign auxilliaries. It is generally thought that the gladius were made with high phosphorus iron, which improved the hardness of the sword at the expense of flexibility.
- Some experiments have been done to establish the optimum blade length for close combat to be 15 to 17 inches. I could go on...
Valete! Caia Valeria Aena

I'm hoping our nova socia Caia Valeria Aenea will share a bit more of her knowledge with us.

Bene valete.

Re: Swords of the Republic and Empire

PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 9:29 pm
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
The Wikipedia articles on Gladius ( ) and the Spatha ( ) are pretty informative.

The gladius was worn on the right, if I understood correctly, whereas the spatha was worn on the left, it being better drawn from a scabbard worn on that side. Not being a re-enactor, I'm curious about how well one COULD draw a right-sided gladius - the Scuta was on your left arm, your right arm was still your sword arm - I guess one threw the Pilum and then pulled the gladius out, ready for action as you closed with the enemy.

Another good link: to the Legio XXIV Mid-Atlantica's site, a lot of info there.

Re: Swords of the Republic and Empire

PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:18 pm
by Cleopatra Aelia
With the scutum holding on the left side you can't draw a sword which sits on the left side. With the cingulum and the balteus the scabbard is fixed so it is easy to draw the gladius from the right side. And since it is a short sword it is also managable. (But I as a gladiator reenactor actually don't have to worry about these things >({|;-) )

Re: Swords of the Republic and Empire

PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:53 pm
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Salve, Cleopatra Aelia -

Well - at least you have a clue about it! I guess my "sword experience" is limited to watching faux knights, samurai and Roman legate-types draw their swords on Hollywood sets. :shock:

Bene vale.

Re: Swords of the Republic and Empire

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:48 am
by Primus Aurelius Timavus
The Romans were on good ground in adopting a thrusting weapon. Years later, many, many duels to the death proved the speed and superiority of the thrust as opposed to the cut. Which is why modern fencing relies on the foil and epee (the saber grew out of mounted combat).

Re: Swords of the Republic and Empire

PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:07 pm
by caiavaleria
How nice to see such a strand developing! As far as I know there is still some dispute as to where the gladius was worn during combat. As I said earlier, experiments showed that wearing it on the back when the legion was tightly wedged together may have been an option. Drawing a sword requires some space and the theory was that in battle a vertical movement would be easier than a lateral one. If the shields had to stay locked as in the testudo any movement would be very difficult.
I will post some references soon. Was the sword named after the flower or vice versa? Also remembered reading once that the stakes which each soldier carried to 'plant' in the trenches (even marching camps would often have a defensive trench around it) were called 'lilium'. Now just where such a trench would have been outside the Roman Wall of the City of London there is a lane called "Lilliput lane". Other surviving indicators of actual places: Cancelarius Vicus becomes Candlewick street and is now Cannon Street. The cancelarius vicus was more or less the bonded stores of the times and indeed the Roman harbour is just behind Cannon Street. This information came from a book called " the London that was Rome". Unfortunately I have never found it again, there are several other books with that title, but none deals exclusively with the survival of streetnames through the centuries.

Bene Valete

Caia Valeria Aena