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Bill Thayer

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The Ancient Warfare Articles of Smith's Dictionary

[image ALT: An engraving of a man standing in a one-person chariot, holding in his left hand a staff topped with a carving of a bird, and in his right a branch of laurel. The chariot is drawn by four prancing horses. It reproduces an ancient Roman bas-relief and serves on this site as the icon for the 'military articles' section of Smith's <I>Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities</I>.]

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities
John Murray, London, 1875.

This index page collects the articles in Smith's Dictionary on ancient warfare: mostly the Roman army. For general information about the Dictionary, and for about 500 articles on other topics (including non-military weapons), see its homepage.

Roman Warfare Articles republished on my site
(major articles are in boldface)

A reminder also that new warfare articles continue to be added from time to time:
the What's New Page is here.
Topic Areas Entries

Exercitus (the main article on the Roman Army: 25,000 words)

Ala Alauda Cataphracti Decimation Evocati (reënlistment) • Fustuarium Legio (the Roman legion) • Palus Tessera (password) • Tiro (recruits) • Tumultus (state of emergency) • Volones (slave volunteers)

For the Roman legion specifically,
LiviusOrg's Roman Legions site is also useful.

camps & forts

Acropolis Agger (embankment) • Arx Cataracta (portcullis) • Porta (gate) • Vallum (palisade)


Abolla Caliga (boots) • Paludamentum Sagum
For dual-purpose and civilian dress see the Clothing index.


Ephippium (saddle) • Frenum (bridle) • Habenae (reins, and other straps with military uses) • Scytale (coding/decoding device) • Signa Militaria (military standards) • Testudo

navy, ships & boats

NAVIS (the Greek and Roman ship)

Acroterium Camara Cataphracti Contus Corvus (the famous boarding device) • Corbitae Cymba Harpago Insigne (figurehead) • Naumachia Navalia (dockyard) • Phaselus Praefectus Classis Remulcum Rudens Velum

Also useful: RomaEterna —
the best site, by far, on Roman ships and the Roman navy.


Calones (civilian orderlies; also Lixae, civilian suppliers) • Contubernales

siege machines, etc.

Agger Aries Exostra Helepolis Musculus Pluteus Sambuca (scaling device) • Scalae (ladders) • Tormentum (balistae, catapults, and similar machines) • Vinea


For an excellent contemporary summary of incentives and punishments in the Roman army during the republic, first of all see Polybius.

Aurum Coronarium Beneficium Corona (wreaths and crowns) • Ovatio Phalerae (decorations) • Praeda Spolia Stipendium Torques Tropaeum Triumphus

weapons, armor, and accessories

Acinaces Antyx Arcus (bow) • Balteus (various kinds of belts and straps) • Capulus (knife or sword hilt) • Cetra (a type of shield) Clipeus (the older round shield) • Crates (protective matting) • Cudo (cap) • Funda (slingshot) • Galea (helmet) • Gladius (sword) • Hasta (spear, lance, javelin, pike) • Lorica (cuirass) Ocrea (greaves) • Parma Pelta Pharetra (quiver) • Pugio (dagger) • Sagitta (arrow) • Scutum (the classic Roman rectangular shield) • Sica (curved dagger) • Tribulus (caltrop)

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Site updated: 18 Oct 14