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Lucius Papirius Cursor, his nickname and training

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Roman legionnaires training
Roman legionnaires training | Photo: Great Military Battles, A History of Warfare - Kindle edition by McRonald, Gerald

Lucius Papirius Cursor (c. 365 – after 310 BCE) was one of the most valued and respected Romans in history. He held the office of consul five times and was a dictator twice. It was thanks to him that the Romans won the so-called Second Samnite War (326-304 BCE) and took revenge for the shameful defeat of the Caudine Forks in 321 BCE. Lucius Papirius Cursor received his nickname Cursor (“Runner”) because of his outstanding speed and efficiency in running.

Before joining the legions, young recruits (iuvenes), mainly from the upper classes (aristocracy, equites), had to undergo extremely demanding military training (lasting 1-2 years), which was carried out in Republican Rome at Field of Mars, outside the city’s holy limits. It was referred to as tirocinium militiae. Young men exercised in groups and, under the guidance of an instructor, trained in hand-to-hand combat, horse riding and swimming. Sports activities were also organized (exercitatio ludusque), athletic exercises, long and demanding marches, races were ordered. The recruits had to get used to a lot of effort and being able to carry heavy loads. This type of activity was referred to as ludus miltaris.

It is also worth mentioning that the aforementioned Cursor was appreciated not only for his physical strength but also for his “spirit power” (vigor animi), as stated in Titus Livy.

Sources
  • Ireneusz Łuć, Od fortes milites do muli Mariani – fenomen siły fizycznej żołnierzy wojsk rzymskich w okresie republiki rzymskiej, "Res historica" 46, 2018

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