Thursday, 11 November 2010

Plutarch's Wars: Romans of the Late Republic

The army of the Late Republic was led by a succession of generals who have made their mark on history. Julius Caesar is of course the most famous. But this is also the period of Marius and Sulla, Lucullus and Sertorius, Antony and Crassus. It is the time when the Republic's most deadly enemies were probably its own generals but it is also the time of Spartacus and Mithridates, Tigranes and Vercingetorix, Cleopatra and Surena.
 I wasn't particularly interested in this period when I was buidling armies 25 years ago, but I liked the look of the new (at the time) Freikorps Romans and I ended up buying a few. The metal was pretty brittle then, but most of them survived in my possession unpainted for the next couple of decades.
Once I had built a Pontic army I decided to start painting some Romans as an enemy for them. Since I had these Freikorps figures I decided to continue using them, especially as I wasn't keen on most of the others then available.
In the past year or so, the range has been redesigned so these figures are no longer available. Their replacements look pretty good though.

The figures were designed for the period covering the late Republic and into Augustus's reign. It isn't really clear how early the squared off oval shields began to be common, so I have included some with the others.
I painted the shield designs based on some from Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome. Designs like this seem to have appeared on the monument to Actium so were probably used in the Civil Wars. Other shields may have been plainer and at least some seem to have had the name of their commander painted on. Actual colours are debateable though Amato's book shows a fresco with a red shield. I have some others painted with a blue background and some with black. (Incidentally, if you are interested in ancient paints, Pliny, book 35, goes into some details. Some paints would obviously be more common than others).

The Freikorps range includes some interesting looking generals for the Romans but unfortunately the horses are substantially smaller than most other ranges now avaible, so I have never painted mine. Instead, I have a variety of generals.

These are from the Warmodelling range. When I bought them, the company only produced Mid-Republican figures but these are equally suitable for the later period. The main feature of Warmodelling figures which lets them down a bit is that the horses tend to have stumpy legs, but from a normal wargamers viewpoint this is not as apparent. 
The legionaries from Warmodelling look pretty good although I think the shields are a bit too broad. I'm tempted by their 'auxilliaries' in the same range  for use in a Slave Revolt army which I am very slowly building.

These are from the Alain Touller range. They mix well with the other companies' figures. Their legionaries have pretty accurate looking shields although I'd prefer a wider variety in appearance.

I have a few of the Corvus Belli legionaries which will get painted some day. I'm not sure whether they will become the most experienced troops of a Slave army or a second Roman army for Civil War use. Either way, they are probably the most dynamic range of legionaries available for this period.


Braxen said...

swampster, your progress is always interesting to follow, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Duncan Head said...

As for shield designs, the one hanging on the column at - the Fish Mosaic at Praeneste - may be the earliest coloured Roman shield design surviving (maybe late C2d, maybe Sullan).

Swampster said...

Thanks Duncan.

neldoreth said...

Excellent post, I appreciate your stuff! Thanks for the inspiration.