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Soldier of Rome: The Legionary (The Artorian Chronicles)

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Soldier of Rome: The Legionary (The Artorian Chronicles)

  Soldier of Rome:

  The Legionary

  Book One of the Artorian Chronicles

  James Mace

  Legionary Books


  Electronic Edition Copyright © 2012 by James Mace

  All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the publisher.

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are based on actual events, but are used fictitiously.

  Legionary Books

  Meridian, Idaho 83642


  First Edition: 2006

  Revised and Reedited Edition: 2012

  Published in the United States of America

  Legionary Books

  “Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

  - Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

  Dedicated to the men of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 116th Cavalry

  “Cobra Strike!”

  The Works of James Mace

  The Artorian Chronicles

  Soldier of Rome: The Legionary

  Soldier of Rome: The Sacrovir Revolt

  Soldier of Rome: Heir to Rebellion

  Soldier of Rome: The Centurion

  Soldier of Rome: Journey to Judea

  Soldier of Rome: The Last Campaign

  Artorian Novellas

  Centurion Valens and the Empress of Death

  Empire Betrayed: The Fall of Sejanus

  The Great Jewish Revolt

  Kingdom of the Damned: Rebellion in Judea

  Kingdom of the Damned: Vespasian’s Fury

  Napoleonic Works

  Forlorn Hope: The Storming of Badajoz

  I Stood With Wellington

  Courage, Marshal Ney

  Cast of Characters


  Titus Artorius Justus – A legionary serving with the Twentieth Legion

  Magnus Flavianus – Artorius’ best friend and fellow legionary, he is of Nordic descent

  Statorius – Decanus (sergeant) of legionaries and Artorius’ section leader

  Marcus Vitruvius – Chief Weapons Instructor of the Second Century

  Flaccus – Tesserarius of the Second Century

  Camillus – Signifier of the Second Century

  Platorius Macro – Centurion of the Third Cohort’s Second Century

  Valerius Proculus – Commander of the Third Cohort

  Calvinus – Commander of the Fifth Cohort

  Flavius Quietus – Centurion Primus Pilus of the Twentieth Legion

  Pontius Pilate – A Military Tribune of the Twentieth Legion

  Praxus, Decimus, Valens, Carbo, Gavius – Legionaries

  Noble Romans:

  Tiberius Caesar – Emperor of Rome

  Livia Augusta – Mother of Tiberius and widow of Emperor Augustus Caesar

  Vipsania Agrippina – Former wife of Tiberius and mother of Drusus

  Germanicus Caesar – Adopted son and heir of Tiberius. He is the legate of the Twentieth Legion and the Commanding General of the Army of the Rhine

  Caecina Severus – Senatorial Legate and Deputy Commanding General of the Rhine Army

  Drusus Julius Caesar – Son of Tiberius and his first wife, Vipsania Agrippina

  Claudius – Brother of Germanicus; he suffers from lameness and speech impediment

  Livilla – Sister of Germanicus and Claudius and the wife of Drusus

  Antonia – Mother of Germanicus, Livilla and Claudius; she is the daughter of Marc Antony and widow of Tiberius’ brother Drusus Nero

  Agrippina – Wife of Germanicus and half-sister of Vipsania, she mistrusts and despises the Emperor


  Arminius – War Chief of the Cherusci and leader of the united tribes of Germania. A former Roman ally, he betrayed them in Teutoburger Wald

  Ingiomerus – Uncle of Arminius and a veteran of many wars against Rome

  Segestes – Father-in-law to Arminius, he is a staunch Roman ally. Warned Varus of the pending disaster in Teutoburger Wald

  Thusnelda – Daughter of Segestes and wife of Arminius

  Barholden – War Chief of the Marsi; allies of the Cherusci

  Haraxus – A sub-war chief

  Flavus – Estranged brother of Arminius, he still fights for Rome

  Roman Military Ranks

  Legionary – Every citizen of the plebian class who enlisted in the legions started off as a legionary. Duration of service during the early empire was twenty years. Barring any promotions that would dictate otherwise, this normally consisted of sixteen years in the ranks, with another four either on lighter duties or as part of the First Cohort. Legionaries served not only as the heart of the legion’s fighting force, they were also used for many building and construction projects.

  Decanus – Also referred to interchangeably as a sergeant in the series, decanus was the first rank of authority that a legionary could be promoted to. Much like a modern-day sergeant, the decanus was the first-line leader of legionaries. He supervised training, as well as enforced personal hygiene and maintenance of equipment. On campaign he was in charge of getting the section’s tent erected, along with the fortifications of the camp.

  Tesserarius – The first of the Principal ranks, the tesserarius primarily oversaw the fatigue and guard duties for the century. He maintained the duty roster and was also keeper of the watch word. On a normal day he could be found supervising work details or checking on the guard posts.

  Signifier – He was the treasurer for the century and was in charge of all pay issues, so was much-loved on pay days. On campaign he carried the century’s standard (Signum) into battle. This was used not only as a rallying point, but also as a visual means of communication. Traditionally he wore a bear’s hide over his helmet, draped around the shoulders of his armor. (A signifier wearing a wolf skin is a Hollywood invention). Because of his high level of responsibility, the signifier is third-in-command of the century.

  Optio – The term Optio literally means ‘chosen one’ for he was personally chosen by the centurion to serve as his deputy. He would oversee all training within the century, to include that of new recruits. In battle, the optio would either stand behind the formation, keeping troops on line and in formation, or he would stand on the extreme left, able to coordinate with adjacent units.

  Aquilifer – This man was a senior signifier bearing the Eagle Standard of a legion. (aquila means eagle). This standard was the most important possession of the legion – losing it brought shame and humiliation to the entire legion. This position carried great honor, though it is debatable whether or not he wore any headdress or animal skin. It is known that he carried a small, circular shield called a parma instead of the legionary scutum.

  Centurion – In addition to being its commander, the centurion was known to be the bravest and most tactically sound man within the century. While a stern disciplinarian, and at times harsh, it is borne of a genuine compassion for his men. The centurion knew that only through hard discipline and sound training could his men survive in battle. He was always on the extreme right of the front rank in battle; thereby placing himself in the most precarious position on the line. Mortality rates were high amon
gst centurions because they would sacrifice their own safety for that of their men.

  Centurion Pilus Prior – Commander of a cohort of six centuries, the centurion pilus prior was a man of considerable influence and responsibility. He not only had to be able to command a century on a line of battle, but he had to be able to maneuver his cohort as a single unit. Such men were often given independent commands over small garrisons or on low-level conflicts. A centurion pilus prior could also be tasked with diplomatic duties; such was the respect foreign princes held for them. At this level, a soldier had to focus not just on his abilities as a leader of fighting men, but on his skills at diplomacy and politics.

  Centurion Primus Ordo – The elite First Cohort’s centuries were commanded by the centurions primus ordo. Though the number of soldiers under their direct command was fewer, these men were senior in rank to the centurions pilus prior. Men were often selected for these positions based on vast experience and for being the best tacticians in the legion. As such, part of the duty of a centurion primus ordo was acting as a strategic and tactical advisor to the commanding general. Generals such as Caesar, Marius, Tiberius, and Agrippa were successful, in part, because they had a strong circle of First Cohort Centurions advising them.

  Centurion Primus Pilus – Also referred to as the Chief or Master Centurion, this is the pinnacle of the career of a Roman soldier. Though socially subordinate to the Tribunes, the centurion primus pilus possessed more power and influence than any, and was in fact third-in-command of the entire legion. He was also the commander of the elite First Cohort in battle. Upon retirement, a centurion primus pilus (and possibly centurions of lesser ranks as well) was elevated into the patrician class of society. He could then stand for public office, and his sons would be eligible for appointments as Tribunes. Even while still serving in the ranks, a centurion primus pilus was allowed to wear the narrow purple stripe of a patrician on his toga; such was the respect Roman society held for them.

  Tribune – Tribunes came from the patrician class, often serving only six month tours with the legions. Though there were exceptions, many tribunes stayed on the line only long enough to complete their tour of duty before going on to a better assignment. Primarily serving as staff officers for the commanding legate, a tribune would sometimes be given command of auxiliary troops if he proved himself a capable leader. Most were looking for a career in politics, though they knew they had to get as much experience as they could out of their time in the legions. In Soldier of Rome, Pontius Pilate is an example of a tribune who elects to stay with the legions for as long as he is able; preferring the life of a soldier to the soft comforts of a political magistrate.

  Laticlavian Tribune – Most commonly referred to as the Chief Tribune, he was a young man of the senatorial class starting off his career. Second-in-command of the legion, his responsibility was incredible, though he was often aided by the master centurion, who would act as a mentor. A soldier’s performance as chief tribune would determine whether or not he would be fit to command a legion of his own someday. Given the importance of military success to the future senator’s career, he would no doubt make every effort to prove himself competent and valiant in battle.

  Legate – The legate was a senator who had already spent time in the legions as a laticlavian tribune and had proven himself worthy of command. Of all the possible offices that a nobleman could hold, none was dearer to a Roman than command of her armies.

  Legion Infantry Strength (estimated)

  Legionaries – 3,780

  First Cohort Legionaries – 700

  Decani – 610

  Tesserarii – 59

  Signifiers – 59

  Options – 59

  Aquilifer - 1

  Centurions – 45

  Centurions Pilus Prior – 9

  Centurions Primus Ordo – 4

  Centurion Primus Pilus – 1

  Tribunes – 6

  Chief Tribune – 1

  Legate – 1

  Chapter I: Teutoburger Wald

  Teutoburger Wald, Germania

  August, 9 A.D.


  What a fool you are, Quintilius Varus!

  The mass of trees grew thicker, the sky darker, and what had started off as a mild summer shower had turned into a torrential downpour. The small contingent of Roman horsemen was already soaked and shivering, their Germanic guides laughing at their plight. Soon after entering the forest, they came upon a bog. The mud was thick and slimy, the water smelled rank with stagnation. The group halted as the Germans gazed around. Their leader’s face broke into a sly grin as he saw the path he was looking for. They were getting close.

  “How much further?” one of the troopers asked, the rain continuing to drench them, in spite of the tree canopy.

  “Not far,” the lead guide answered, “I promise, it will all be over soon.”

  “The gods curse this weather,” another Roman muttered.

  “Which gods?” still another one grunted.

  As the cold rain slowly trickled down the back of his neck, the barbarian guide laughed to himself. The weather will soon be the least of your worries, he thought. Just then a Centurion rode up to him.

  “What in Hades is the holdup?” he asked, irritated. “You were supposed to find the most expedient route for our column, and instead we’re at a standstill!” He was soaked and freezing, though he did not notice, so hot was his anger. Centurion Calvinus hated and deeply mistrusted the Germans. He could not for the life of him figure out how Varus had ever grown to trust them. The barbarian calmly turned his mount around to face him.

  “It was your commanding general who entrusted us with the leading of your men through the Wald. I am sorry that a little summer shower has soured your mood; however, I take it you are not questioning his judgment.” There was a sneer of defiance on the German’s face, something that only further enflamed Calvinus.

  He brought his horse alongside the German’s and leaned forward so that their faces were just centimeters apart. “Don’t think just because you wormed your way into Varus’ inner circle that you can take on airs with me, Arminius. If you don’t find us a way through this bloody mess right now, I will gut you myself!”

  The threat was very real, though Arminius’ face remained calm.

  “I already have,” he replied mildly, “there, past that fallen oak and the cluster of rocks, the path that will lead you straight through Teutoburger Wald.”

  Calvinus gazed over to where the barbarian was pointing. Sure enough, there was a path that led through the bog. However, it was very narrow, only wide enough for three to four soldiers to walk abreast in places. Steep rock formations rose up on the left side further down.

  “You want us to march along that?” His anger was boiling over. With the rocks on one side and an impassible swamp on the other, the path was the perfect lane for setting up an ambush. “One would have to be either insane or a complete half-wit to attempt that.”

  “Your own auxiliaries are already up on the slope, protecting your flank, but if you think you can find a better way, feel free,” Arminius replied with a bored sigh. “In the meantime, I suppose I should go and tell Quintilius Varus, Senator and Governor-General of Germania, that one of his centurions does not trust his judgment and, indeed, thinks him to be half-witted.”

  As Arminius started to turn his horse back around, Calvinus grabbed him roughly by the tunic. “I smell treachery on you, barbarian. If you in any way prove me right, I will follow you straight into the pits of hell and destroy you, be you Quintilius Varus’ friend or no.”

  “Shouldn’t you be getting back to your cohort, centurion?” Arminius asked as he jerked away from Calvinus’ grip. As he rode away, he thought to himself that it didn’t matter if this Roman trusted him or not. In fact, it did not matter if the entire army mistrusted him. All that mattered was what Varus thought, and he had Varus in the palm of his hand.

  Arminius was a Germanic warrior of great distinction, War Chi
ef of the Cherusci, and had previously served as an auxiliary commander of Germanic cavalry for the Romans. This had greatly appealed to the impressionable Varus, so much so that he had even taken Arminius to be one of his closest confidants.

  What a fool you are, Quintilius Varus, Arminius thought. Your head and your eagles will soon be mine! He took a glance over his shoulder to see if the rather troublesome centurion was still behind him, but Calvinus had gone.

  “That Roman’s become too suspicious,” one of the other scouts remarked as he rode up alongside his war chief.

  “It matters not,” Arminius replied, “his bones will soon be trampled into the mud, along with the rest of the Army of the Rhine.”

  As Calvinus made his way back to the column, his cohort commander rode out to meet him. The man had his cloak wrapped around him, though it was soaked completely through. He was shivering and miserable, as were the rest of their men.

  “What’s the delay up there?” the senior centurion asked impatiently.

  “The barbarians claim to have found us a way through, but I must tell you that I sense a trap.”

  The cohort commander lowered and shook his head. Here we go again, he thought. “Calvinus, for the last time…”

  “Gods damn it, why won’t any of you listen to me?” Calvinus barked in a complete breach of protocol. He was at his wits’ end and tired of being ignored. For weeks he had been warning his fellow officers about his suspicions, and he was desperate not to allow the Army to take the path that he knew in his heart led to certain death.

  His commander’s eyes grew wide in anger at the sudden outburst from his subordinate, but Calvinus was not about to back down.

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