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How much do you know about Roman legions? [QUIZ]

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Republic period legionary | Photo credit: Joseph Qiu
Republic period legionary | Photo credit: Joseph Qiu

To this day, the Roman legions are considered one of the best armies in the history of mankind. Disciplined, brave and deadly effective Roman troops were able to defeat many times a much more numerous enemy. Check how much you know about the legions of Rome!

  1. Musculus was a Roman war machine. What exactly was it used for on the battlefield?
    1. It was a kind of crane, which could crush selected points of defensive walls.
    2. It was a machine that protected soldiers during earthworks to clear an access route to the walls for Roman siege towers.
    3. It was a kind of catapult that was placed on the siege tower and thus supported the storming of the walls.
  2. During the First Punic War, unfamiliar with sea warfare, the Romans sought to gain an advantage over the Carthaginians. What invention allowed them to successfully compete with the enemy from Africa?
    1. A ramp equipped with a spike (resembling a bird’s beak) which, when lowered onto the deck of an enemy ship, allowed boarding.
    2. A metal-reinforced battering ram that allowed for more effective destruction of enemy units.
    3. A special vantage point on a high pole that allowed better observation and navigation of the unit.
  3. Velites was a special Roman unit that was effectively used during the Roman Republic. It was composed of young and poor men who could not afford to buy Roman armor. What was their role on the battlefield?
    1. Their main task was to fight the cavalry with long spears, stabbing the horses in the abdomen.
    2. Their primary weapons were javelins, which they hurled at enemy javelin units, cavalry, or infantry.
    3. Their role was to try to break through to the rear of enemy units, attack in selected places and cause confusion.
  4. Militant gases are associated primarily with the First World War and their terrible effectiveness. It was then that chemical weapons were used on a massive scale, but this way of fighting was by no means new. The ancients were ingenious enough to use chemical weapons on the battlefield. When did it happen?
    1. During the siege of Dura Europos in the 3rd century CE, the Persians dug tunnels under the city walls and, encountering the Romans, used bitumen along with sulfur crystals. The fumes of this poisonous mixture killed Roman soldiers.
    2. Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BCE is known to us as the decisive clash between Caesar and Pompey. Caesar was to use sulfur smoke to poison the enemy’s left flank.
    3. Octavian Augustus, during the siege of Perusia (41 BCE), had a huge fire set around the city to smoke the defenders, which made it possible to enter the city.
  5. How numerous were the individual units of the early imperial Roman legion?
    1. Contubernium – 8; centuria – 80; cohort – 480 soldiers
    2. Contubernium – 10; centuria – 100; cohort – 600 soldiers
    3. Contubernium – 20; centuria – 200; cohort – 1200 soldiers
  6. Aquiliferwas a Roman standard-bearer who was extremely important on the battlefield for the legion. Why?
    1. This soldier was the legion’s treasurer and kept the soldiers’ savings.
    2. The soldier carried the image of the emperor, which was the pride of the unit.
    3. This soldier carried a legionary eagle made of gold, which was the pride of the unit.
  7. In what situation was Julius Caesar supposed to say: “I have you, Africa!”?
    1. Caesar’s words when he came to Egypt in pursuit of Pompey, who had previously been defeated at Pharsalus in 48 BCE.
    2. Caesar’s words when he defeated at Thapsus (now northern Tunisia) in 46 BCE Pompey’s supporters.
    3. Caesar’s words as he capsized in front of his soldiers while disembarking from a ship off the coast of Africa.
  8. What was umbo in Roman armament and what was it used for?
    1. It was a special gladius hilt that provided a better grip on the sword.
    2. It was a metal reinforcement on the shield (scutum) that protected the arm (which held the shield) of the soldier, and at the same time with which he could strike and stun the opponent.
    3. It was a part of the javelin that caused the blade to bend when it hit the shield and prevent it from being removed from the shield.
  9. Why did it become common to refer to the legionnaires of Gaius Marius as “Marius’ mules”?
    1. Marius, in order to improve logistics and increase the mobility of the legion, decided to reduce the wagon train to a minimum, and the soldiers carried on their shoulders and backs food, items and tools necessary for survival and warfare – for some time.
    2. Marius made fun of the Roman legionnaires in this way, because they were very durable.
    3. Marius used the soldiers for private purposes and had them transport large amounts of stone to the capital.
  10. Indicate which sentence is false.
    1. Romans on warships did not use slaves for service. The oarsmen, sailors and marines were ordinary auxiliares.
    2. Praetorians were the bodyguard of the emperors, who were obliged to always wear armor during their service in the palace and the capital.
    3. Hippika gymnasia was a Roman sports competition intended for cavalry formations, which consisted of simulated combat between two groups of soldiers

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