Vol. VII, no. xi, November 1997
There will be a workshop session on Saturday, December 6, starting at 1:00 PM at Matthew and Jane's house. Bring your projects and repairs. Around 5:30 or so we will knock it off and start the annual Saturnalia potluck party (until 9 PM). Call us at 301--- to let us know what you want to bring (no alcohol, please). This is open to members and non-members alike!
TRICK OR TREAT
Darren Nunez of Legio X mustered a few of his troops to escort young relations while trick-or-treating on Halloween. Not only did this serve as a chance to drill, but at each house they advertised for their upcoming November event. A brilliant and simple idea! Expect to see a vexillation or 2 from Legio XX among the witches and ghouls next year.
I recently obtained and read Training the Roman Cavalry by Ann Hyland (London: Grange Books, 1993, ISBN 1-85627-899-9). The first 25 pages taught me more about horses and riding than I ever knew, and it didn't stop there! The book is primarily a detailed analysis of the Hippika Gymnasia or "cavalry sports" described in Arrian's Ars Tactica. Ann Hyland not only has great experience as a horse trainer, but also a deep knowledge of ancient horse breeds and horsmanship, and connections to "hardware" experts such as Peter Connolly. This allowed her to test numerous Roman maneuvers on her own horses, using reconstructed saddles, bits, and weaponry, and it's clear that she knows what she's talking about. If you've ever wondered about ancient cavalry, you need to read this book.
Many of you may have seen the biographies of six emperors on "Hail, Caesar Week" shown on cable TV's A&E Channel. I've only seen three episodes, but they've been pretty enjoyable so far. The one on Hadrian was particularly educational for me since I have not studied him. Nero's episode was pretty accurate, as far as I could tell. Their analysis of Julius Caesar also seems to be basically truthful, though it's very different from the much more likable personality put forth by Colleen McCullogh in her historical novel, Caesar's Women. Obviously, a biography can be slanted, so it's hard to say who is closer to reality--Ms. McCullogh gives good arguments for her interpretations. Overall, the series may be on the shallow side, but in covering the subject in a limited time for a general audience, it does a pretty good job.
Finally, many people have mentioned to me a new book by Graham Sumner, The Roman Army: Wars of the Empire. I'll be getting it as a birthday or Christmas present (don't tell Mom that I know!), but Mike Cope has it so I got a peek. It's great! It has reenactors as well as color reconstructions, and the address of our humble Legio XX is listed in the back with other Roman groups! Order yours today.
This may not seem directly relevant, but Tom Kolb just got a Greek Corinthian helmet from Joe Piela of Lonely Mountain Forge. It's going back to the shop for an adjustment at the back, and I thought that some of the rough edges and stray file marks could have been cleaned up better, but otherwise it is REAL nice and Tom is pretty pleased. The exciting part is that, except for the ends of the cheekpieces, the whole helmet is forged in ONE PIECE. (Each cheekpiece has about two inches brazed on at the bottom because the metal wasn't quite big enough.) Tom had to supply the metal (brass, for lack of anything better), which cost c. $50, and Piela charged c. $150 for labor. Got that? A one-piece Corinthian helmet for $200. Get yourself some brass or bronze and send it off to Mr. Piela before he comes to his senses! Now, any good tips on making a hoplon?
On a slightly more relevant note, I made a pectoral, the little 9"square breast and back plate worn by less-wealthy legionaries in the 4th-2nd centuries BC. It has side plates and HINGED shoulder plates (to prove that it's Roman), all attached to the main plates with rings and little leaf-shaped tabs--I couldn't do it the easy way with leather straps, oh, no... But it is pretty and weighs almost nothing. Stay tuned--Tom and I aren't the only ones diddling with early Republican gear.
The bearskin is now operational, with its paws lashed together and a thong in the head to tie to a helmet's crest holder. Tom Kolb will be wearing it, as signifer, at MTA. Eventually we may consult a taxidermist about restoring the old beast's misshapen nose, and adding eyes and teeth.
"Avete" to our new-found brethren in Australia and New Zealand, Cohors III Batavi and the Punic Wars Re-enactment Society, who recently sent me a copy of their newsletter, Ballistae. Other groups mentioned therein are Legio II Augusta (New Zealand), Legio IX, and a large barbarian contingent, all of whom gather at their annual Valley of the Gods event. They do some kind of competitive combat, but whether it's SCA style or the British kind of limited contact with blunt steel is unclear. From the photos I'd say these folks are pretty authentic. Several armorers are advertised in the newsletter, and the prices look reasonable. Thanks for the introduction, amici, and I'll try to keep in touch!
Mark Graef is planning to host a workshop/party at his new house in January or February. More details as they become available.
Jamestown sent me a card to say they got our application for Military Through the Ages, and "should your unit be selected for participation" we will get more info next month.
There is an idea being tossed around about doing our own little Roman timeline display at Marching Through Time this coming April, with each soldier being from a different era: one from the Punic Wars, one Caesarian, one Augustan, etc. It's just an idea at the moment, and much will depend on how much pre-Imperial gear gets made over the winter--it's amazing how little evidence there is for basic items like belts and footwear. If you only have the normal mid-first century kit, don't fret, that's still our main period! We may very well just do our usual 43 AD scenario. Options are becoming available, however.
All over the world, Romans are getting together to have bigger events and exchange ideas: Kirby Hall in England, Valley of the Gods in Australia, and the SCA Great Western War in California. So, is it about time for us to host a gathering of ancient reenactors? Perhaps May or June at Marietta? Mind you, we'd be starting small, here--Legio XX would field 5 or 6 men and a couple women. How many of you other Romans out there would travel out here for a weekend encampment? Should we be snobby and limit it to just people with authentic kit, or throw it open to those with less accurate combat gear as well? What about Celts? Many of you have heard of this idea before, or suggested it yourselves, but now I want to get a serious feasibility study going. Send me your thoughts! I know Legio IX Hispana has generously invited all and sundry to their events, and are planning a pan-Roman muster at the SCA Pennsic War in Pittsburgh in a few years, but an SCA war is a less than ideal setting for non-SCA reenactors (especially if there are large entrance or membership fees). But I'm open to suggestions, and I'm not bent on running the thing myself--it's just that if it's in Legio XX territory, I won't have to drive too far! If travel distance turns out to be the biggest sticking point, maybe a more central location could be chosen. (Pittsburgh is good for that, actually!) Talk to me!
ADLOCVTIO is still the official newsletter of the Twentieth Legion. It is still published more or less on the Ides of each month (15th of March, May, July, and October, 13th of all other months). The Editor and primary author is still Matthew Amt, who still lives at ... The Legion web site is still http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/3761/legndx.htm Be still, my mouth...