Roman Army Training

Students in my Roman history class constructed replicas of the type of shield (scutum) used by Roman legionaries.

Emulating the experience of Roman recruits they took the legionary’s oath of service, and then practiced basic marching formations and weapons training under the watchful eye of their centurion.


One famous Roman formation was the testudo (tortoise) in which the soldiers overlapped their shields as protection from archers.

Training complete, they then engaged in battle.

The testudo advancing under fire.

After the battle, the bravest Roman soldiers were rewarded with metal disks called phalerae which they wore with pride.

Cowardice in battle was punished through a ritual known as decimation in which lots were drawn, and then one out of ten legionaries was beaten to death by his fellow soldiers.

Finally, some captured barbarians were forced to fight as gladiators for the amusement of the legionaries.

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