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Musculus – Roman war machine

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Musculus - Roman war machine
Musculus | Author: Giovanni Milani

The Latin word musculus means “little mouse” as well as “muscle”. The ambiguity comes from the fact that some of the moving muscles under the skin look like little mice in motion. Interestingly, musculus was also a term for the Roman war machine.

According to the message of the late Roman writer and military Vegetius (in the work Concerning Military Matters), the Romans used the musculus machine during the siege of the fortress, which protected the soldiers during the earthworks to clear the access road to the walls for Roman siege towers (turres ambulatoriae). The structure had a roof, which was covered with a material that would prevent the wooden structure from burning easily.

Julius Caesar – with his work Civil War – mentions that the machine was over 2 meters long. It was probably a different variety of musculus which was certainly larger in the Vegetarian version.

  • Photo: Giovanni Milani
  • Smith William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

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