Vol. VIII, no. vi, June 1998
AFTER-ACTION REPORT--ROMAN DAYS
Simply put, Roman Days was a great success. In spite of a couple last-minute cancellations, the Legion fielded 9 men over the weekend plus Jane, Linda, and Olivia as Hortensia the herb seller with her slave and child. George Metz came as his own Legio XXIV, and Darren Nunez brought 2 of his men up from Louisiana--the rainy demise of their vexillum on Saturday night inspired them to make the name change they had been mulling, from Tenth Legion to Legio III Gallica. (Leaving the U.S. with only three Legio X Fretenses.) Four or five members of Nova Roma were selling T-shirts and antiquities; three Celtic ladies from the SCA in New Jersey displayed food and cooked wonderful things all weekend; John Kolb (Titus' brother) had a display of wargames and miniatures; and Katy Amt Hanna(my sister) had a table of sale goods. There were nearly 200 visitors on Saturday, and closer to 300 on Sunday.
Naturally, there were imperfections: it rained once or twice on Saturday, with an incredible thunderstorm arriving about closing time. No real surprise--hey, what's a Twentieth Legion event without rain? Darren's truck was trapped in the lower field by fallen trees, until his brother-in-law ("Hercules") used Mike's dolabra to cut a path to freedom. Most of us who were planning to camp out fled for more stable structures. Someone apparently stole one of the phallic pendants that Mark had cast, so we do need to remember security in the future. It also turned out that the schedule I had devised was too ambitious, and I'm sure there were ways we could have improved the arrangement of the display areas, parking, etc. Send me your suggestions so we can do a better job next time. (Darren's advice made immediate improvements to our tactical demos.)
Other than that, everyone is already looking forward to the next Roman Days. The visitors were great, very appreciative of our efforts and asking intelligent questions. Dr. E (my other sister, Emilie) is still gushing enthusiasm, and says the event seemed "very smooth and seemless and effortless from a visitor's point of view." It was really good to get our various groups together, and next time I'm sure even more will come. Individuals, including new and former members, came from several states away to see us, and we may even get a couple recruits. The Olympics on Sunday morning were a scream. Tom Kolb won the armored footrace by a nose (mostly because young David of Legio III fell in the turn), then he took first in the javelin throw, as well. We did a little maul ball, and a volley of pila for fun, which looked better than usual because we put out a target marker.
An enormous "Thank You" goes out to everyone who came to make this event a success. A very special thanks goes to Susan Wolfe, site manager at Marietta Mansion, who was so helpful in arranging the facilities, fences, pavilion roof (it saved our lives!), and the young volunteers who directed parking and sold snacks. We simply could not have done this without her help and generosity. (She didn't even object when I told her that if we were going to hold more big Roman events at Marietta, we'd have to clear off that old brick house and put up something in marble!) I'd also like to thank Toe Johnson of the Punic Wars Re-enactment Society in Australia--when I told him how many of us dreamed of doing a massed Roman event but didn't think we could until our numbers grew larger, he said, "Don't wait, mate, just go ahead and do it!" Well, we did it, and I think we will indeed do it again. (Next year, however, we'll ask Jupiter to leave his thunderbolts at home...) So if you missed it this time, you'll have another chance to see the best Roman living history event on the continent!
As many of you already know, the Legion's web site has been expanded to include the rest of the Handbook text, the Civilian Clothing guide, and lists of books, suppliers, and other Roman groups and websites. And there will always be more to add, so don't consider this project "done".
There has been a slight change to the end of the address: "legndx" is now "index", so the whole URL is http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/3761/index.htm . The old address has a forwarding link to the new one, so no one should get too lost. Thanks again to our websitarius, John Novicki, for all his work.
The Legion has been invited to march in a Columbus Day parade in Piermont, NY on Sunday, October 11, 1998. We would have space to set up our tent and display as part of the festivities celebrating Italian heritage, and the hosts would feed us and provide overnight accomodations. We've never done a parade before so it would be interesting to try. Unfortunately, I'll be in the Middle Ages that weekend, inspecting clothing at the Battle of Hastings. We could still send a contingent, if it's more than just a couple people, so let me know if you are interested, and I'll get more details.
A while back Legio IX Hispana sent out notice of a Military Time Line event in Canada on August 1-2, and I've just contacted John MacLeod, the coordinator. This is the first year they've opened the event to pre-18th century groups, and he encouraged me to forward his invitation to any other interested people. You can find information and an on-line appication form at www3.sympatico.ca/john.macleod1/TIMELINE.HTM, or you can contact him directly at 519---. There is a cluster of lone Romans in the Windsor-Detroit area--is this incentive or what? This is pretty short notice, and it's about a ten-hour drive for most of us in Legio XX, but is anyone interested in looking into this event? Even if we don't attend in force we could send a scout.
One of our old favorites, Peter Connolly's Greece and Rome at War, has been reprinted, and is available for about $35. I got a quick look at Mike's copy and found a couple new illustrations, notably of some Republican-era gladii, but I don't know if there are any important changes in the text. (But heck, even the old edition is still invaluable!)
There is also a new Connolly book, The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens and Rome, actually co-authored by Hazel Dodge. (Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-19-917242-0) It's full of his usual wonderful reconstructions of buildings, clothing, furniture, etc. The half on Athens and Greece is all the more valuable because there is so little info like this about Greece, compared to what's available about Rome. But even the Roman section has new stuff!
Yet one more correction to the List of Groups and Web sites--I gave the URL for Legio IX Hispana's OLD web site, which you might or might not find there. Their NEW address is http://www.legio-ix-hispana.org . Sorry 'bout that. Oh, and of course you have to change Tenth Legion in Louisiana to Legio III Gallica (but that ain't my fault). No doubt there will be more changes by next month.
Needless to say, there were a few new toys to see at Roman Days. I wore my early Republican pectoral and greave for a while, and swore that I'd never go back to heavier Imperial stuff again! To go with that look I made a Greek hoplite sword out of an old "Prince Valiant" blade (Thanks, Hobbit!), though it needs just a little more work and a scabbard. It sat with Tom's falcata and Corinthian helmet to make a little Greek corner on our blanket display. Tom also brought his new Montefortino helmet, beautifully done by Stallari, and his republican scutum. Mike Cope, having gotten himself elected praetor in Nova Roma, was sporting a new tunic with senatorial clavi and a purple-bordered toga, in which he looked realistic and a bit smug. Bill Bennett had a gorgeous new gladius scabbard made by Joe Piela, and Tom Coker made a crest to go on the knob that Mark and I just made for him which I'd been promising since delivering his helmet over a year ago. It was the first event for Charles Miller, Joe Thompson, and Vince Thomas, the latter wearing his Coolus type C plus belt and dagger, the others in mostly borrowed gear.
I found out a while back (don't ask me where) that the wax in writing tablets was apparently black, so that letters scratched on it showed up white. So I bought a 69 cent packet of charcoal sticks from an art supply store, ground them up, and stirred the powder into melted bees wax. Presto, black wax! Now Jane has a nifty and more authentic tablet, and I'll have to re-do mine.
Jane made a toy pig for Olivia out of wool scraps, and of course Mark has been casting a few buckles, frogs, fibulae, and other goodies.
Agent Tiberius (Dan Hight, Kentucky) recently travelled to Britain, and his report is below. He gave me copies of Legio II Augusta's "Background Notes", stuffed with tons of info on general history, Latin vocabulary and pronunciation, their drill commands, etc. There is also part of the catalog from Dawn of Time Crafts, showing some nice brooches and the best-looking scutum I've yet seen for sale, but a tad expensive-- 300 pounds sterling (UKP) for the scutum, helmets from 450, tunics from 120. (Yipe!)
Ave, Fellow Romans,
Tiberius Julius Marcellus here. I have just returned from the Northern frontiers of the Empire where I was on an inspection tour of the Legio XX Valeria Victrix and Legio II Augusta. Having left my villa outside of Rome (Owensboro, KY) I was transported by the gods (American Airlines) to Londinium. I then proceeded to obtain local transportation, a Celtic chariot (4-door Astra auto) and struck out on my own toward Bath. These barbarian Celts are the only conquered people to travel our Roman roads on the left hand side. Our Legions are hard at work making repairs to the roads and I encountered long delays. The local people were friendly and very hospitable. Lodging was adequate (B&B) and the food was excellent.
After a gruelling week (2 hours) of travel I reached Bath and it was a welcome relief to rest at this remote outpost of the Empire. Underground hot springs feed the baths, built by Legio II Augusta. The local Celtic tribe "Dobunni" believe this spring is sacred to the goddess "Sulis" and possesses curative powers. After a brief rest, I again ventured out on my way north to Hadrian's Wall. The main roads (M5, M4, A5, A4) are well maintained byh the Legions; however, if you get off on the side roads, they are just wide enough for chariot wheels to pass. A short diversion tooWales brought me into the Roman site at Caerleon. Here the Ermine Street Guard has a display of equipment, tools and information about the local conditions during the year AD 74-75.
A short trip to Gloucester and I met up with Chris Haines, Primus Pilus of the XXth, at their Headquarters. After a brief tour of the camp and workshops, and a inspection of their equipment, I ended another long day at a local inn (B&B). As I ventured farther North, the landscape opened up into green rolling hills and the traffic on the roads decreased. Having reached my objective (Hadrian's Wall) I rested at a local hotel before proceeding to Corbridge. From Corbridge I proceeded West along the Wall, stopping at Chesters, Housesteads, Vindolanda and theRoman Army Museum. At Vindolanda I met a local archaeologist, Robin Birley, as he was digging on the headquarters building (principia). Most of the Wall's garrison was composed of auxiliaries.
Having finished my inspection I spent the next three weeks (one day) traveling back to Londinium and finished up with the Legio II Augusta, heaquartered in Portsmouth. Here again I was able to obtain information, drawings and pictures of the camp, workshops and equipment maintained by this unit. After returning my chariot to its owner, I was again transported back to my villa, and I am now resting from my trip. My inspection was a success and all is well with the Empire in the Northern Frontiers.
Enough! This rag is LATE! ADLOCVTIO is the official monthly newsletter of the Twentieth Legion. If you wanna know more, talk to the Editor and Commander, Matthew Amt, Valete!