Make Roma Great Again
ru | en

The reforms of Camille

Attention! The text below was auto-translated from Russian. You can switch the site language to Russian to see the text in its original language or wait until it is fully translated.

Marcus Furius Camillus (c. 447-365 BC) was a Roman statesman and military leader. According to Titus Livius, he held a number of senior government positions: he was censor in 403 BC, 6 times was a military tribune with consular authority (401, 398, 394, 386, 384 and 381 BC), 5 times appointed dictator (396, 390, 389, 368 and 367 BC), 4 times awarded a triumph, three times was interrex. For the expulsion of the Gauls, he received the title of "second founder of Rome". As a patrician, in the struggle between patricians and Plebeians, he consistently took the side of the Patricians.

Camillus ' father was Lucius Furius Medullinus, a military tribune. In 396 BC, Camillus captured the Etruscan city of Veii, which was under siege for 10 years. After that, he was accused of unfair division of loot. Considering these accusations unfair, Camillus went into self-imposed exile in the city of Ardea. In 387 BC, while he was in exile, Rome was invaded by the Gauls under their leader Brennus. It is believed that at this time the Roman Republic was on the verge of destruction. Camillus was invited to return from exile and lead the fight against the Gauls. Camillus was appointed dictator. He gathered troops in the allied cities and the remnants of the Roman army in Veii and drove the Gauls out of Rome. Soon after, the Roman army led by Camillus finally defeated the Gallic army.

After the defeat of the Gauls, some of the Plebeians decided to move from the devastated Rome to Veii. Camillus urged them not to do this, but rather to take an active part in the restoration of destroyed Rome. Taking the side of the Patricians in their constant struggle with the Plebeians, Camillus, however, persuaded them to make certain concessions to the Plebeians.

Later, the Roman army under the leadership of Camillus waged successful wars with the Equi, Volscians and Latins. When the Gauls again invaded Rome, Camillus was again appointed dictator in 367 BC. e. The Romans under his command defeated the Gauls at the Battle of Alba. Two years later, Camille died of the plague during an epidemic.

Marcus Furius Camillus

In the wars of Camillus, the dignity of his military reforms was clearly demonstrated.

One of the most notable components of Servius Tullius ' military organization is the difference between the Hoplite armament of the first-class warriors and the heavily armed warriors of the second and third categories, which instead of the round Hoplite shield (hoplon) had an oblong scutum. It is believed that the latter were adopted by the Roman army by Romulus, borrowing this form of shield from the Sabines and replacing them with the previously used "Argos shields". Then Servius Tullius, introducing the phalanx in Rome, replaced the scutum with the Hoplite shield used by the Etruscans. At the same time, some of the warriors, as we have seen, continued to arm themselves with scutum at this time. Finally, as Livy attests, the Romans again abandoned the use of round shields, returning to the use of oblong ones. This process coincided in time with the transition from the Hoplite phalanx to the manipular order:

"In former times, the Roman shields were round, but since the soldiers began to receive salaries, they replaced them with large oblong ones, and from the phalanxes resembling the Macedonian ones, they later formed a battle order made up of maniples."

Livy's reference to "since soldiers began to receive salaries" allows us to date this event to the time after the destruction of Veii in 396 BC. Therefore, some historians speak of the so-called "military reform of Camillus". These innovations are briefly mentioned by Plutarch in relation to the events of 367 BC, when Camillus, the second appointed dictator, defeated the Gauls at the Battle of Alba:

"He knew that the main strength of the Gauls lay in their swords, which they used to cut down, for the most part, hands and heads, roughly and without any dexterity. The dictator ordered that almost all soldiers wear helmets made entirely of iron, with a smooth surface, so that the sword either slides on them or breaks. The rim of the shield (υυρεος) he ordered to cover with a copper plate — one tree could not withstand the blow, and the soldiers themselves were taught to use javelins (σσσος) like long spears, exposing them to the blows of enemy swords."

As this story suggests, Camillus did not equip his warriors with new weapons, but improved on the previously existing ones. A large shield — this is the meaning of the termυυρεος in Plutarch-he ordered to be equipped with a bronze shackle. The heavy javelin, the pilum — Plutarch uses its Greek nameσσσος — Camillus suggested not to throw at the enemy when approaching, but to put it under the blows of his swords, so that their blades would become unusable. This innovation had an effect: the Romans defeated the Gauls.

If Plutarch's account is based on real data, it would be a good indication of the" rearmament " of the Roman army, which took place between 396 and 367 BC.However, the story of the blunted swords of the Gauls is hardly older than that of Polybius in the middle of the 2nd century BC. To his description of the Roman shield, perhaps, there is a mention of the bronze binding of the edge.

Related topics

Roman Republic, The Gallic Invasion