10 Amazing Facts on Alexander the Great

 

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1. Alexander was made King of Macedon at just 20 years old.

2. He was actually afraid of beards.

3. Alexander’s army reached India but his troops refused to march on, reaching the extent of his empire.

4. He was tutored by the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

5. His horse was named Bucephalus, meaning “ox-head.”

6. The wives and children of Darius, Alexander’s most notable enemy, were spared after the Battle of Issus. Darius fled, yet Alexander chose not to harm his family as respect for royalty.

7. The siege of Tyre was conducted because the native Phoenicians chose not to let Alexander commit a sacrifice inside the city temple.

8. Alexander married a Persian even though they were his sworn enemies.

9. Alexander died of a raging fever at just age 33.

10. The Macedonian army traveled over 20,000 miles during Alexander’s reign.

 

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Rome’s Reserves: The Auxilia

Rome’s powerful military was made up of legions recruited throughout its empire, but the large portion of auxiliary troops is widely overlooked. Auxilia were the reserves for the Roman Army, made up of non-citizens who did not enjoy full legal rights as a regular Roman. After 25 years of service, however, the soldier was granted citizenship and left the army. The auxiliary were formed under the reign of the first emperor, Augustus. The auxilia were formed into cohorts of 480 men and were named by their region of recruitment. There were three types of “regiments” in the auxilia:

  • Alae were made of only cavalry
  • Cohortes peditatae were simply foot soldiers
  • Cohortes equitatae were a mix of infantry and cavalry and numbered 600 troops instead of the regular 480. There would be 480 infantry and around 120 cavalry
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An Auxiliary Cavalryman and Infantryman

Huge amounts of soldiers were recruited for the auxiliary during the reign of Augustus because of the large expansion of the empire. The majority of auxilia came from Gaul, or modern day France. By the reign of Hadrian, the number of auxiliary troops was nearly double that of the regular legionnaires. Hadrian recruited from Germany, England, the Balkans, Switzerland, the Danube, the Middle East, Egypt, and North Africa. Troops were not required to speak Latin, and many chose to retain their native languages.

Treatment of the auxilia was much worse than that of the legionaries. A legionnaire was given much better armour than an auxiliary, who mostly received chain mail, lamellar armour, or no protection at all. A regular legionnaire was paid 255 denarii each year while an auxiliary was given only 188. Even a tesserarius (equivalent to a corporal) did not make as much as a regular legionary.

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Roman Auxilia Reenactors

Many of the auxilia were deployed to border provinces or areas in conflict. They were the prime fighting force in the Batavian revolt and the Illyrian revolt. They were also an important part of Trajan’s Dacian Wars in modern-day Romania. Though not as revered as the legions, Rome’s auxiliaries were still a key component of their empire’s success.