Friday, 10 November 2017

Early Imperial Roman Legionaries


More Romans!  These are more 28mm Romans from Wargames Foundry which I purchased 2nd hand many years ago. They needed a serious re-paint and and they have patiently waited their turn as I have got round to them (they have seen many new figures queue jump of course as new goodies were bought at shows!).  I have always found it more satisfying to paint new shiny silver figures than repaint painted/semi painted 2nd hand figures.


The Early Imperial Romans which appear in earlier blog posts (of several years ago) were painted when I believed that each cohort would dressed in tunics of different colour for each cohort.  I decided then (without evidence) that for command and control purposes it would make sense for a commander to be able to see who each of his cohorts was by the easy method of colour identification.


This theory makes some sense but given the number of cohorts in a Legion, and the sheer logistic monstrosity that a large military formation is, it just makes little sense for commanders to be burdened by ensuring they had massive amounts of 9 or 10 different colours of tunic stocked (ok they could have kept different colours of dyes in store but why would they if they could avoid it).  You would then have issues of men transferring between cohorts, promotions, demotions and men just being transferred because they were just hated by their fellows (seen that before in the regulars!), and the whole tunic swapping thing starts to become a nonsense.


My understanding from books so far is that evidence in painted sources and finds at Vindolanda and elsewhere seem to favour white or red as the tunic colours in this period.  Between the two colours I made the choice of red.  The reasons for this are:  Red is known as a historic martial colour, going back to the Spartans and beyond.  Red hides blood nicely (the old Royal Navy ship interior method).  There is another reason for me which one rarely reads about and that is rust.  I can only imagine that the poor Legionary sweating on his long forced marches with heavy load and wearing armour in the pouring rain of Britain, would have been covered in rust in a very short space of time from the rust blooming on the inside of his armour.  Red would hide this much better than white which would surely have been ruinously stained in a few days of such treatment.  White would have made a nice parade uniform, especially in Rome, where cleaning would surely have been easier.  Red also just shouts out 'Imperial Roman Legion!' from our conditioning from movies and illustrations so the subconscious is already making the connection.


So red it is!  However, I still want my units to look different from one another and be identifiable.  I decided that shield colours (and helmet crests) would be a uniform colour for each cohort. Given the amount of work which went into the painting of surviving Roman shields, I think it reasonable that a lot of effort could have been made back in the day to make these unique.  I have no evidence of this, merely a feeling that this is reasonable and also a desire to make each cohort unique.


So - I will repaint my other Roman Legionary Cohorts in due course - hopefully within the next couple of decades!  Priority will be given to new units until I get at least a legion on the board, then I think I will go back and carry out the re-painting.


Painting Romans is always such a rewarding part of the hobby.  Little says 'Power' like the sight of an armoured cohort on the march!

10 comments:

  1. Cracking EIR legionaries Jason!

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    1. Thanks Cyrus - more to follow soon at some point!

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  2. Great work on these Jason. Red and Romans always seem to go well together.

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    1. Thanks Lawrence, yes it was immensely satisfying to paint them red. Using different colours before just never seem to be quite right and I always looked forward to doing a red cohort. Now all my cohorts will be red :-)

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    1. Thanks Jonathan, I'm glad you like them :-)

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  4. Fantastic details (impressive close up) and great looking Romans Jason!

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    1. Hi Phil, Many thanks - I have just bought some more on a recent foray to the Wargames Foundry shop! I couldn't resist them.

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    1. Hi Peter, I'm glad you like them :-)

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