Roman battle tactics, 109 BC-AD 313 by Ross Cowan, Adam Hook

By Ross Cowan, Adam Hook

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One army, following Antony's route from Armenia into Media, caused chaos. A second followed the Euphrates towards Ctesiphon (just south of modern Baghdad), expecting to rendezvous on the way with a third army under the command of the emperor Severus Alexander, but he failed to leave Roman Mesopotamia. The Sassanian king, Ardashir, abandoned attempts to contain the Romans in the north, and gathered his forces (the usual cataphracts and horse archers) for an all-out attack on the second invading army.

2), and certainly vastly outnumbering the Romans. Like Catilina at Pistoria, Paulinus secured the flanks of his army by forming up in a defile, while a wood blocked the approach to his rear. The army was deployed in the typical manner, with the legionaries at the centre, auxiliary cohorts on either side, and the cavalry holding the wings: At first, the legionaries stood motionless, keeping to the natural defences of the defile; but when the enemy had advanced close enough to allow it they hurled their pila with accuracy until the supply of missiles was exhausted, and then erupted forwards in cuneus formations.

The Parthians did not attack; close as they were to the border with Armenia, they unstrung their bows and saluted the Romans. Six days after this - the eighteenth battle of the retreat - the Romans were back in friendly territory (Plut. 24-31). More than 260 years after Antony's abortive invasion of Parthia another Roman army advanced eastwards, making for Ctesiphon, now capital of the Sassanian Persian empire. AD 224, and almost immediately declared their intention to seize Rome's eastern provinces.

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