What We Learned From Ancient Rome Military

What We Learned From Ancient Rome Military

The Ancient Roman Military is widely accepted as the most powerful in all of history, and it continues to influence the way we think about warfare and organisation today. Throughout their history, The Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire, created and expanded a formidable force that was recognized for its level of training and discipline. Ancient Rome is viewed by many academics and historians as the apex of military strategy and innovation, and is considered the single most influential force in the history of warfare.

The organization of Ancient Rome’s military was based around specialized troops and forms of combat, which allowed for a combination of flexibility and overwhelming force. Roman troops were divided into legions and cohorts, and each legion was subdivided according to ranks. This allowed troops to be organized quickly and efficiently, creating an effective and mobile force. Training was intensive and often occurred in barracks, and included physical exercises, tactical drills and ideological instruction.

The Roman Army was renowned for its advances in weapons and equipment, which allowed it to shift tactics quickly and maintain a dominant edge in warfare. The most iconic of Roman equipment was the scutum, which was a two-by-four meter rectangular shield made of wood and metal, and was used to protect from spears, bullets and arrows. Roman soldiers also made use of the infamous galea helmet for protection and for identifying rank. This combination of equipment and tactics allowed Roman soldiers to endure in wars against more technologically advanced opponents.

While military might and success have typically been attributed to the organization and equipment of Rome’s troops, their psychological impact cannot may not be understated. The sheer relentlessness of Roman troops encouraged an attitude of audacity and immovability, which left opponents shell-shocked. This was systematically reinforced by greater rewards upon victory, elite veterans and long-term citizenship for those who joined with Rome in warfare. Ancient Rome was thus not just a military superpower, but one that instilled fear and terror in its opponents.

The ancient Roman military was consequently not only a most powerful military in its own right, but was transformative on how today’s armies think and operate. Rome’s training, organization and discipline continue to be emulated and improved upon even now, and its legacy has solidified its place as one of history’s most important military forces.

Legacy of Ancient Rome Military

The legacy of Ancient Rome’s military lives on even today. The complexities of Roman battle plans, military formations and tactical strategies continue to influence the tactics used by modern militaries. Not only that, but Rome’s impact can also be felt in other aspects of modern life as well. Its culture and laws were shared through the empires it conquered, while some of its technologies, such as concrete and roads, continue to be used even today. Moreover, the concept of nation-state, in which governments are formed through the notion of citizenship-states, can be traced back to Ancient Rome’s expansionist policy.

Modern militaries have sought to emulate the successes of Ancient Rome’s military. Many of their concepts, such as their distinct military caste system and weaponized infantry, have become the core of many modern armies, including those of the United States and United Kingdom. Similarly, the Roman model of organization and its influence on doctrine have made it easier for militaries to coordinate personnel, allowing for more focused and agile forces.

Blending the organizational strategies, weapons, and battlefield strategies of Ancient Rome into modern armies has helped to create the foundations of modern warfare. The effects of Roman culture, laws, and infrastructure are still seen today, helping to shape the contemporary operations of the world’s militaries.

Impact On Later Cultures And Civilizations

The legacy of Ancient Rome’s military can be seen throughout the ages. From the Late Republic through the Empire, Roman forces, tactics and strategies gave shape to the world’s militaries. This legacy endured beyond Ancient Rome into the Middle Ages, where Europe’s knights and soldiers employed Roman battle formations and weapons. This influence can even be felt today in many East Asian cultures who have adopted Roman clothing and armor into their own military styles.

Alongside the Military, Rome’s influence spread to its conquered territories in the form of its culture, political system, and technology. This paved the way for the creation of nation-states and centralized governments, creating the framework for many of the world’s modern societies. In terms of technology, Roman engineering and civic works, such as aqueducts and roads, have also endured to influence our own day to day lives.

Influence of Ancient Roman Military on Contemporary Militaries

Ancient Rome’s military is still influential even in the early 21st century. Its legions, weapons, tactics and strategies continue to shape the world’s militaries. Its emphasis on order and disciplined formations have become cornerstones of many nations’ militaries. Moderns armies such as the United States and the United Kingdom take much of their organization structures form Ancient Rome. Even the traditionally British tactic of using longbow archers as skirmishers dates back to Ancient Rome.

The use of Ancient Rome’s weapons and armor continue to influence contemporary tactics. The classic Roman shield, the scutum, is an iconic element of a modern soldier’s equipment. Originally used to help protect a soldier from spears, bullets and arrows, it is still used today as body armor and riot shields. Similarly, the use of helmets, such as the galea, are also still weaved into modern orthodoxies.

Finally, the sheer psychological force of Ancient Rome’s legions scared enemies, leading to a greater ease of victory. The same principles are used in modern militaries, with an emphasis on the psychological effects of force. The use of special forces and intimidating camouflage designs is a testament to this. Ancient Rome’s use of frightening imagery, combined with its powerful military force, is still greatly admired by military strategists.


The impact of Ancient Rome’s military on the world is undisputable. From its tactical genius to its psychological might, the Roman Republic and later Empire left an enduring legacy, still visible in some of the most powerful forces in the world. Its contribution to the organization, discipline and strategic thinking of modern armies cannot be overstated. It is through consistent study and admiration of Ancient Rome’s military forces that the world’s armies have come to their present state of sophistication and power.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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