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Author Topic: Uniform advice on Roman Police  (Read 686 times)

Offline dadlamassu

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Uniform advice on Roman Police
« on: June 22, 2020, 04:54:27 PM »
I am in the process of writing a scenario that should be played at the club after lockdown.

I would like to involve a few "police" and would like to paint up figures to represent them.  I know that the Vigiles and Cohortes Urbanae performed a police role in Rome and the Praetorian Guard also did on occasion but I am unsure of their uniforms as my google-fu has yielded many variations - tunics, mail, leather, lorica segmentata.

That said the setting is in one of the Syrian Provinces so I am not sure whether policing was provided by a similar organisation to the vigiles or by the army.

Thoughts, information and ideas welcome.
'He could have lived a risk-free, moneyed life, but he preferred to whittle away his fortune on warfare.'
-- Xenophon, The Anabasis

Offline bluewillow

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2020, 09:17:55 PM »
From memory yellow tunic, but will need to check
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Offline Mad Doc Morris

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2020, 09:31:15 AM »
The topic of "Roman uniforms" creeps up regularly, so won't go once more into that fray. General consensus nowadays: choice is yours.
Vigiles and cohortes urbanae were a distinctly Roman, as in 'the city of Rome', thing. The latter may have been garrisoned in the provinces at times, but that seems to have been limited to urban centres of imperial rank like Carthage or Lyon.

In smaller cities and towns firefighters (double-functioning as watchmen) were probably drawn from craft, trade or religious associations, the so-called collegii. Apart from the odd active or retired soldier of the regular army who may have been present, we know of more or less irregular forces acting as city guards, like the rather infamous Samarians in Jerusalem before the uprising of 66 CE. In some instances, according to Josephus, they appeared from the crowd, so were indistinguishable from civilians. At least in the 3rd century CE there's also evidence for some kind of local militia (populares, per the Augsburg Victory Altar), yet we have little clue how and when they were recruited.

In essence, I'd use civilian figures armed with clubs and spears – but little to no armour. Not unlike today people may have been very wary of guys in full battle-dress hanging about, because this signalled unrest and martial law.

Offline Poiter50

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2020, 09:42:36 AM »
I like the idea of using Foundry's Unarmoured Legionaries from their Caesarean range. I think there are 4 different packs with Pilum.
Cheers,
Poiter50

Offline WuZhuiQiu

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2020, 02:20:32 PM »
I like the idea of using Foundry's Unarmoured Legionaries from their Caesarean range. I think there are 4 different packs with Pilum.

That's the purpose that I had bought some for. The ones with pila are going to be converted with clubs or staves for general crowd control; the ones with drawn gladii are for when things get "serious".

Offline dadlamassu

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2020, 02:31:22 PM »
Excellent assistance chaps.  I have some spare Agema Velites that will now be repurposed to become vigiles.

Offline rumacara

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2020, 08:19:50 AM »
Well, just a idea...

Offline Poiter50

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2020, 08:26:43 AM »
Nice, Rui, what make?

Well, just a idea...

Offline rumacara

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2020, 09:22:15 AM »
Quote
Nice, Rui, what make?

They are all Foundry figures.
The figure ordering to stop is from a macedonian pikemen pack, the rest are caesarian romans with the odd head swap and sticks glued.

Offline dadlamassu

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2020, 02:08:29 PM »
Well, just a idea...

Now that is the look that I am after!  Thanks for the ideas, everyone!

Offline custosarmorum

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2020, 02:35:40 AM »
I think in Greece and Asia Minor, you would find that most policing would be carried out by local constables called diogmitai under the command of a local magistrate called the Eirenarchos.

 There is a stele with inscription from Athens showing one of the diogmitai from the reign of Marcus Aurelius (as I recall).  I have a photo of the stone but can't seem to figure out how to insert it in the post.  I can send a copy to you if you or interested (or will post it if someone can advise how to do that...).  He is equipped with a cudgel and sword and has banded armor and oval shield.

Offline WuZhuiQiu

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2020, 04:38:08 PM »
I think in Greece and Asia Minor, you would find that most policing would be carried out by local constables called diogmitai under the command of a local magistrate called the Eirenarchos.

 There is a stele with inscription from Athens showing one of the diogmitai from the reign of Marcus Aurelius (as I recall).  I have a photo of the stone but can't seem to figure out how to insert it in the post.  I can send a copy to you if you or interested (or will post it if someone can advise how to do that...).  He is equipped with a cudgel and sword and has banded armor and oval shield.

Hi, could you please send a copy? Thanks!

Offline Mad Doc Morris

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2020, 05:28:30 PM »
There is a stele with inscription from Athens showing one of the diogmitai from the reign of Marcus Aurelius (as I recall).  I have a photo of the stone but can't seem to figure out how to insert it in the post.  I can send a copy to you if you or interested (or will post it if someone can advise how to do that...).  He is equipped with a cudgel and sword and has banded armor and oval shield.

This isn't by chance one Marcus Aurelius Alexys, is it? His tombstone can be seen here. If so, Alexys was rather a regular soldier, KIA somewhere in Persia.
Thanks for the suggesting the diogmitai though. It reminded me of Brent D. Shaw's work on "Bandits in the Roman Empire" (JSTOR link), which contains a photo of a relief from modern Turkey depicting militiamen (paraphylakes, p. 15).
For further reading, Christopher Fuhrmann's "Policing the Roman Empire", which I don't have at hand right now, may or may not contain some more useful images.

Offline custosarmorum

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2020, 03:01:22 AM »
@WuZhuiQui -- I am happy to send you a copy of the photo -- I think it is a bit larger and clearer than the one posted by Mad Doc.  Let me know your email and I will send you a copy.

Mad Doc -- Yes, the stele is that of Alexys.  I seem to recall, that there is an interpretation (maybe in O. Hirschfeld) that he is one of the diogmitai taken into the Roman Army under Marcus Aurelius based on the SHA (not the best source, but...) where we are told that Marcus armavit et diogmitas (v Marci, 21.7) and Ammianus says that the diogmitai were semiermis, half-armed.  We know the customary arms were swords and clubs (St. Luke, 22.52, which presumably are the "customary weapons" referred to in the Martyrdom of Polycarp, 7.1) and Marcus seems to have equipped them with other, probably more military, equipment (the banded armor, for example?).

I also know the Metras the paraphylax inscription from Buyuk Kale.  It is worth looking at M. P. Speidel, "The Police Officer, A Hero:  An Inscribed Relief from near Ephesus," Epigraphica Anatolica 5 (1984), 159-160. 

Offline Mad Doc Morris

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Re: Uniform advice on Roman Police
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2020, 08:01:27 AM »
Mad Doc -- Yes, the stele is that of Alexys.  I seem to recall, that there is an interpretation (maybe in O. Hirschfeld) that he is one of the diogmitai taken into the Roman Army under Marcus Aurelius based on the SHA (not the best source, but...) where we are told that Marcus armavit et diogmitas (v Marci, 21.7) and Ammianus says that the diogmitai were semiermis, half-armed.  We know the customary arms were swords and clubs (St. Luke, 22.52, which presumably are the "customary weapons" referred to in the Martyrdom of Polycarp, 7.1) and Marcus seems to have equipped them with other, probably more military, equipment (the banded armor, for example?).

I also know the Metras the paraphylax inscription from Buyuk Kale.  It is worth looking at M. P. Speidel, "The Police Officer, A Hero:  An Inscribed Relief from near Ephesus," Epigraphica Anatolica 5 (1984), 159-160.

Sound advice, thanks! :)

 

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