Torch:U.S. LXVII Summer 2018 - Page 8


Summer 2018 · Torch:U.S. · FEATURE


At its height, the Roman Empire was the most powerful nation in the world and spanned multiple continents. Despite the power of the Roman emperors, though, much of Rome’s success was owed to its large and disciplined military. But what were the daily lives of Roman soldiers like? This article will explore the routines and habits of Roman legionnaires, the basic unit of the Roman army.

Mornings: To begin his day, a legionnaire woke before dawn in the room he shared with seven other men. This group of eight soldiers, or contubernium, was the smallest unit of the Roman army. These eight men would train, march, and eat breakfast together. Soldiers cooked all of their own meals, and their breakfast typically consisted of flour-based porridge. After eating, the soldiers would don their armor. If their legion was on the march that day, they would pack all their belongings, including weapons, tools, and food, weighing around 30 pounds altogether! If the legion was not on the march, soldiers would report for duty. Morning tasks might include guard duty, equipment maintenance, duty at the bath house, or cleaning the latrines.

Sources/Further Reading:

Far Left: Two members of Legion XX at NJCL convention in 2017. Photo: Dennis Webb.

Left: A student-made reproduction of Roman armor. submitted at 2017 NJCL Convention Photo: Caitlin Johnston.