Vol. X, no. v, May 2000
THIRD TRUMPET--ROMAN DAYS!
Roman Days is coming up fast! (Ack! I'm not ready!!) The date is June 10-11, and the place, as before, is Marietta Mansion, Glenn Dale, MD. Military and civilian living history displays/camps will be lined up on the upper lawn near the house, with merchants and educational static displays down on the field ("Forum") as before. A large area will be roped off for tactical displays, weapon demonstrations, and other activities. There will be some new activities aimed mostly at children, such as mosaic-making, Bean the Barbarian, and the "Kids' Cohort" (teaching them to drill with cardboard shields). Obviously we want as many Romans as we can get, plus Celts, Greeks, and any other Ancients out there. Remember that you do NOT need to have period clothing or a full set of equipment to participate! Come and have fun!
The schedule so far:
Arrival and set-up, general hobnobbing
10 AM, OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
11 AM, Full muster and opening remarks
11:30, Kids' Cohort
12 Noon, Lunch--cooking and eating demos
1 PM Massed tactical and drill demo
1:30, Kids' Cohort
2 PM, Fashion Show
3 PM Evolution of the Roman Soldier
4 PM Close to the Public
10 AM, OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
11 AM Olympic competition--Armor Race, Pilum Throw, Hamata Toss, Wrestlin, various ball games, etc.
11:30 Drill and Kids' Cohort
12 Noon, Lunch and rehabilitation
1 PM Massed tactical and drill demonstration
1:30 Kids' Cohort
2 PM, Fashion Show
3 PM, Closing parade
4 PM, Close to the public
Admission for the public will
$2, and there should be plenty of space on the grounds for
Participants may camp in period or modern tents--the latter should
be set up out of sight on the lower field or simply taken down during
hours. There are a number of hotels within a few miles, mainly on
Rt. 450 near the Beltway. There will be a large pavilion canopy
a number of smaller pop-up flies for sun and/or rain
Legio XX Members will be issued the usual eats, but other participants
should supply their own food--you can contact Merlinia and the Settmour
Swamp contingent about their meal plan. There will probably also
be a hot dog and snow cone vendor present. There are stores,
and fast food places within a couple miles, farther west/north along
193, or near the Beltway.
Marietta Mansion is located at 5626 Bell Station Rd., just off Rt. 193. From I-95/495, the Capital Beltway, take Exit 20 onto Rt. 450 East, go 4 miles, turn left on Rt. 193, then left onto Bell Station Rd. and immediately left into Marietta.
Susan Wolfe, the site manager at Marietta, can be reached at 301---.
Busy month! Saturday at Marching Through Time we had 6 men and a woman (JJ Moskey), and it drizzled off and on all day. We did our drill for a couple dozen spectators, and put a lot of oil on the armor. Sunday we were down to three guys, but at 11 o'clock the sun came out, and stayed out, and it actually got hot! There were no spectators to watch us drill, however, so Susan Wolfe (the site manager) said that next year our display would be later in the day instead of first, because everyone wants to see the Romans. And we did get a chance to do our schtick at the end of the day. The tent even dried out!
The Universal Soldier event at Fort Washington seems to be following its own pattern: warm and sunny with no public! I was happy just to be dry, but a few scheduled activities and some more visitors would make for a much more worthwhile event. There were only about eight groups--ours was about the largest with seven people each day. And there were some visitors, just never really a steady trickle. So we set up a pilum range, poked through the fort, and generally had an easy weekend. There's a couple photos on George Metz's Legio XXIV website (http://www.legionxxiv.org), in the photo gallery. Good turnout and good weekend, we just wish we'd had more people to talk to.
Jamestown was great!! We
were the first group in a little armor time-line, intended to
an exhibit of 17th century armor from Virginia and Europe.
Mike and I drove down Friday afternoon to find that we alone of
five groups there had complete all-day shade in which to set
Jason joined us that night and valiantly took all the bugs for
It was very strange to camp at Jamestown and NOT be the least bit cold!
On Saturday we were joined by Tom and George, and set up our own spread of armor and weaponry, ranging from 500 BC (my Greek stuff) to about 200 AD (George's Newstead lorica). Actually, George's Arthurian-era helmet pushed that end a couple centuries farther. We each picked a different era to dress in. It was the big debut for my Greek hoplite equipment, the first time I'd had a chance to put it all on. It is WAY COOL, and all seemed to work reasonably well. Many people admired it, and some took photos which I hope to see soon. We spent some time on the missile range, throwing pila (or at least attempting to!).
As the temperature quickly climbed into the 90s, the members of the other camps were reduced to lolling around in their undergarments pointing to their armor. We held out a little longer due to our more sensible clothing, but eventually the heat won.
That evening after closing, all the participants got a guided tour of the armor exhibit, which was fascinating and air-conditioned. Then Jamestown fed us all a wonderful supper. As bedtime approached, much lightning could be seen closing in, and we assumed we'd have a typical Jamestown night (i.e., wondering if we'd survive). But the storm passed us by with nary a drop of rain! Amazing.
Sunday was much nicer, and we did our thing all day even though the crowds were somewhat smaller than expected. (Still, any one of the numerous bus-loads of kids was more public than we got all weekend at Fort Washington!) When closing time arrived we packed the wagons in our usual efficient manner, and were on the road before the Vikings and knights had emptied their tents. A big Thank You goes out to the Jamestown Settlement staff for inviting us to this event, and for their sincere hospitality.
I know everyone is going to ask me about the new movie "Gladiator" starring Russell Crowe, so here goes. Roger and JJ Moskey made arrangements with a local theater for us to get free passes to the show in return for hanging around the lobby dressed as Romans.
Overall, the movie was better than I had expected, but then again I had expected unmitigated garbage. The sets were terrific, the large masses of troops in the opening battle scene were very impressive, and there was some fun action. There is a very brief shot of a street theater which is fabulous (Lucius's favorite part!).
Now for the bad news (take a deep breath):::
The plot is blissfully free of the ravages of historical fact, aside from Commodus being a cretinous wretch. The premise is that he bumps off his dad, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, because Aurelius plans to restore the Roman Republic--gimme a break! Oh, there's a Republican faction in the Senate in Rome, too. The rest of the story is a basic one of Good Guy hurled from power and stripped of home and family (brutally murdered on Bad Guy's orders), then clawing his way against the odds towards ultimate vengeance, and making a lot of stolid friends along the way. Lots of opponents get chopped up along the way, too. As far as acting goes, I'm not the best judge, but Russell Crowe didn't strike me as an Oscar-winner.
And then we move to my personal nemesis, hardware. It's bad enough that the vast majority of equipment in the movie is at least partly fantasy (or Hollywood-esque), and in all fairness it's often hard to tell what's right an what's not. The worse part is that almost everything is black or brown, not shining like metal. What is this bizarre obsession Hollywood has with black and brown? There are a few items that look much better, such as the shields the gladiators carry in the "Battle of Carthage" show: nice rectangular scuta with shiny brass bosses, excellent brass rims, and even the reinforcing strips on the backs. Trying to rationalize the brown and black legionaries in the German forest as showing the wear and tear of a long campaign just doesn't cut it--soldiers keep their gear clean. Besides, what about the general's armor? And why would gladiators all be wearing brown bronze helmets? Why are the Praetorian Guards in Rome all in black armor, black helmets, black shields, and cute little black capes, like a bunch of budding Darth Vaders? Those were nice shields, too, Republican oval scuta with excellent spine bosses, but all black. One of the members of the ArmaList email discussion group is in the movie industry, and tried to convince me that shiny metal makes for too many reflections when filming. But there were pieces in the movie which had at least a satin shine, including Crowe's helmet in the first fight in Rome (though it looked like something from Conan or Samurai Cat), and the bronze armor and helmets of the charioteers in the arena. All of the swords were pretty accurate, and had very shiny blades. So it's obvious that shine is possible, and it would help a great deal.
Other problems were the flaming arrows and gasoline bombs hurled by the catapults during the opening battle in Germany, very silly. And the actions scenes were all filmed in a very jerky style, apparently to give the viewers authentic headaches. There was a little too much martial artistry in the fights, and too many swords being thrown. Someone needs to be told that gladiators' tunics can indeed be hemmed. A number of people have commented on the goriness, but actually, for the number of guys getting lopped apart, the amount of blood spraying around is pretty tame.
My gripes may seem like minor points, but I find such errors obvious, unnecessary, and iritating. Imagine trying to have an interesting conversation while someone spits on your shoes every two minutes. It would have been so easy for this movie to have been so much better in many ways. But as usual, it's clear that This Writer is nearly alone in his opinions, since "Gladiator" is raking in more denarii than any other flick at the moment. This movie proves again that Hollywood hates ancient history, and gets a Quintus Rating of only one star.
After the show, we changed into our Roman stuff and hung around the theater's lobbies for a while. That was fun, especially when we discovered that the cardboard figure of Russell Crowe could be removed from his big display! We checked customers for their tickets, tried to divert people from "U-571" to "Gladiator", and generally acted Roman. Good grief, I've spent more than a page on this bomb, in spite of pointing out only the worst problems. Oh well, you asked for it.
GET COOKING, II
Merlinia and a couple other people commented on the Polenta recipe sent in to last month's issue by Brian Crawford, pointing out that corn, tomatoes, and green peppers are New World plants. Brian responds that it wasn't really intended to be an authentic Roman recipe, and my defense is that I didn't have time to look it over before publishing! Also, my suggestion of using wheat flour instead of corn meal would apparently result in a tasty wallpaper paste... Hey, I'm not a cook! Maybe we need a Cooking Editor.
There is an article about scale armor by Mart Shearer on the Net, http://www.mtsu.edu/~kgregg/dmir/02/0218.html.
Mark Martin of the Colchester Roman Society has set up a new forum to discuss the Roman Army at http://network54.com/Hide/Forum/62396.
For those interested in ancient Greek subjects, a new email discussion group has been started, called The Phalanx. To sign up, go to http://www.egroups.com/group/thephalanx
For sale by Mike Schauer, a nearly complete panoply from Museum Replicas, which he purchased some years ago for doing church plays. Included is a helmet (the "Trooper's Helmet", I believe), Newstead lorica, Pompeii gladius, belt, and greaves; there is also, from other sources, a black quilted subarmalis with black leather pteruges (flaps) at shoulders and waist, burgundy fine wool cape with gold trim, and a brass canteen with wood and leather stopper. The lorica has been embellished with brass bosses on the shoulder guards, and has a broken hook at the back. The gladius scabbard has a baldric, the helmet has some foam padding glued in, and the greaves and belt are pretty much as Museum Replicas still sells.
Mike is asking $500 for everything (current retail value over $800). Note that none of these items, except perhaps the sword, are authentic enough for the Twentieth Legion, but if anyone out there is looking for a quick batch of gear for a stage production, etc., contact Mike Schauer at 301---.
WEST COAST EVENTS
Sean Richards of Legio IX Hispana in San Diego asked me to spread the word on these events, being put on together with Legio X Fretensis:
June 17-18, History Timeline at the Grand National Irish Fair, Pasadena CA
June 24-25, San Diego Highland Games, Vista CA
July 1-3, SCA War, Eureka CA. also with Legio II Augusta of Oregon.
July 8-9, Old Fort MacArthur Days, military reenactments from Rome to WWII, San Pedro, CA
May 26-29 --Settmour Swamp Quest (SCA). Not an official Legio XX event, but a fun time if you want to attend. Contact Fred Henninger Jr., at 609---
June 3 --Monthly Moskey Muster
June 10-11 --ROMAN DAYS, Marietta Mansion, MD.
Sept 30-Oct 1 --Timeline encampment at Fort Washington, MD
Date Change--The large timeline event in Paris, France, scheduled for Sept 29-Oct 1, has been postponed to May 2001. Contact Bruno Dienot, firstname.lastname@example.org. (This isn't an official Twentieth Legion event, but a number of people have expressed interest.)
Roman Days are here again,
The Roman folks can cheer again,
And practice with their spear again,
Roman Days are here again!
(Thanks, Katy and Emilie)
ADLOCVTIO is the officially late newsletter of the Twentieth Legion, and is supposed to be published on the Ides of each month. So I ain't gonna waste any more time trying to think of something brilliantly witty to say here. Editor: Matthew Amt, http://www.larp.com/legioxx/index.html. Valete!