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Lecture: Jeremy Armstrong (Auckland)

Title: Making Sense of the Roman Army c. 300 BC

Abstract: "The second half of the fourth century BC has always been remembered as a period of immense change for Roman society. With the final conquest of the Latins and the ‘Latin Settlement’, the ending of the ‘Struggle of the Orders’, and the successful conclusion of the ‘Great Samnite War,’ in a few short decades Rome supposedly went from being a large, but internally divided, city-state to the master of all Central Italy. Perhaps not coincidentally, this period was also remembered as an era of change for the Roman army, often associated with the adoption of new military equipment (traditionally, the oblong scutumpilum, Montefortino-style helmet, etc.) and the advent of Rome’s so-called ‘manipular’ structure. And whether these changes were accurately remembered or not, whatever the Romans were doing militarily c. 300 BC did seem to serve them well. While previously they seem to have been on reasonably equal footing with many of their Latin and Italian neighbors, by c. 300 BC the Romans seem to have moved into a league of their own – at least within Italy. Featuring the ability to recruit massive numbers of troops quickly, immediately integrate allied soldiers, and field effective armies containing an impressive amount of diversity, the Romans are often argued to have struck upon an almost perfect military model during this period. This talk will explore the elusive nature of Rome’s military system during this period, highlighting new directions in scholarship and searching for the key(s) to Rome’s military success in the middle Republic."